Published May 2, 2017
In John 13, we read the familiar story of how Christ, at what's known as the Last Supper, washed His disciples' feet.
Peter initially protested, saying, "You shall never wash my feet!" But Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet..."
Many sermons have been preached about Jesus' desire to set an example of Christian service to others through His washing of the disciples' feet something normally only a servant, not a master, would do. And it is, certainly, a good example for us.
But recently this account struck me in a different way. Could Jesus have been providing a reminder to us of something even more significant to our daily lives?
The simple phrase Christ employed "He who is bathed..." reminds me of the washing, the cleansing that Christ provided when we accepted His offer of salvation. Titus 3:5 puts it this way: "...according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit..."
So when we are born again, we are washed clean of the penalty of sin. As the old hymn says,
"Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?"1
But what about that other part of what Christ said, that "he who is bathed needs only to wash his feet...?" What else could He have been trying to tell us here?
The writer of Hebrews cautioned us that, even though we are Christians, even though we've been washed, there is still "sin which doth so easily beset us..." (Heb. 12:1). We might be perfect in God's eyes, but that's only because He sees us as forgiven through the covering of Christ's blood as a result of our acceptance of, and belief in, that fact.
But is there a Christian who never, ever sins? Even the Apostle Paul complained, "For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do" (Romans 7:15). Frustrating! Every day we "slip and fall," in ways big or small. This doesn't surprise the Lord, "For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust" (Psalm 103:14).
But here's the good news of our verse. Even though we've been washed, Jesus is ready, willing, able and even eager, to "wash our feet." He's ready to respond immediately when we ask Him to forgive our sin. He's ready to make us, once again, "completely clean."
As Joseph Habedank wrote and sings,
"...there is nothing the Savior loves more
Than seeing surrender, so He can renew and restore..."2
On our own, we are prone to failure. Although saved, we are not yet fully sanctified, which, although begun, is an ongoing process3 to be completed only when we get to Glory. So isn't it great to know that Christ wants to forgive us, to wash us again, to make us "completely clean," whenever in our day-to-day life we "get our feet dirty." We just have to ask.
1. Refrain from "Are You Washed in the Blood?" by Elisha A. Hoffman
2. Lines from "Just When You Thought," by Joseph Habedank, Michael Farren and Wayne Haun, on Joseph's new "Resurrection" CD
3. See Philippians 1:6
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