John 13:1 (NIV) 1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
On verse 1: I like how other translations translate the second sentence: “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (v1). In other words, Jesus didn’t just love for a little while. Rather, he loved until the very end. May the same be said of you and me, not that we loved God and the people around us for a little while, but even when things got hard, that we loved all the way until the very end.
John 13:2-5 (NIV) 2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
On verses 2-5: Satan prompted Judas to betray Jesus (v2). The Father prompted Jesus to serve Judas (v3). How could Jesus serve his disciples, even washing the feet of the disciple whom he knew would betray him? It’s because “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God” (v3). In other words, Jesus was secure in who he was and secure in his relationship with God. When you are secure in who you are and secure in your relationship with God, you can serve others with humility. Insecure people have the toughest time serving others because they’re constantly thinking about themselves. May we be like Jesus, secure in who we are and in our relationship with the Father, such that we don’t mind getting up and serving others.
John 13:6-11 (NIV) 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” 9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 10 Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
On verses 6-11: This has always been to me a funny exchange between Peter and Jesus. The big lesson I learn here comes from Jesus’ statement, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (v8) Religions tell us that we can wash ourselves and make ourselves clean, clean enough to earn a place in heaven, clean enough to become a god yourself. But the truth is that unless Jesus washes you, you can’t be with God and you’re not really clean. If you want a relationship with God, you first need to humbly receive what Jesus has done for you, receiving by faith the truth that His blood washes away our sins. Don’t say, “I’ll do it myself.” You can’t. Let Jesus wash you, for unless Jesus washes you, you have no part with him.
Finally, it amazes me that while Jesus clearly knew he was going to be betrayed by one of his disciples, he nonetheless served all his disciples including his betrayer (v11). That is the incredible grace of God. He loves us and serves us even when we are bent on selling him out. What an incredible God we have and what amazing grace He shows us.
Jesus, I stand in awe of You and how You would willingly serve those whom You already knew would leave and betray You. I pray that, like You, I would be completely secure in who I am and secure in my relationship with You, and that such security would enable me to love and serve others without thinking too much about how I look. Thank You for loving us with such humble, courageous, unconditional love. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!