Jesus Girded

John 13:1‑10  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 8
The attitude in which our blessed Lord Jesus appears in this scripture is one of infinite grace. We behold Him furnished with a basin, girded with a towel, and stooping down to wash and wipe his disciples' feet. Yes; Jesus, the Son of God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, is here seen laying His holy hands upon the defiled feet of His followers, in order to wash away every soil which, even unknown to themselves, they might have contracted. The dignity and glory of the Person magnify the grace of the act. There could be nothing higher than the place from which Christ bad come; and there could be nothing on earth lower than the defiled feet of a sinner; but such is the glory of Christ's Person that He fills up all the space between. He can lay one hand on the throne of God, and the other on the feet of His saints, and form, in Himself, the mysterious precious link between the two. "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God and went to God; he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded."
Observe this. Jesus, knowing that all things were in His hands—knowing whence He had come and whither He was going, enters upon the deeply significant work of washing His disciples' feet. What marvelous grace! What full provision is here! How true it is that Jesus meets us, at every stage of our spiritual history, with the very thing we need. He meets us at the first, when bowed down beneath the crushing load of guilt, and, by His precious blood, removes the load and casts it into the mighty waters of divine forgetfulness. He meets us day by day, as we pass along through a defiling scene, and with the basin and towel removes the defilement which we unavoidably contract, so that we may ever appear before God " clean every whit," and tread the courts of the sanctuary with feet as clean as Jesus can make them. He cleanses our conscience by His blood, and He cleanses our ways by His word.
This gives immense relief to the heart. Jesus has made us clean; and Jesus keeps us clean. There is not a soil on the conscience, not a soil on the feet of the very weakest member of the household of faith. Both the one and the other are cleansed according to the lofty demands of the sanctuary. All that God saw on my conscience has been washed away by the blood; and all that He sees in my ways is washed away by the word, so that I am "clean every whit." This is what Christ declares; it is founded upon His perfect work; and it maintains the heart in unruffled repose. The action of the basin and the towel never ceases for one moment. As we pass from the bath to the robing-room- from the fountain where our sins were washed away to the place where we shall put on our robes of immortality, our feet necessarily contract defilement; and if we did not know upon divine authority, that all that defilement was removed by a divine action continually going on, what should we do? We should either be in a most wretched state of soul, fearing all was not right, or else we should have a very low apprehension of the holiness of our position and path. But when, by the eye of faith, we see Jesus girded—when we gaze upon that mysterious basin—when, in the light of divine revelation, we interpret the whole mystic scene in John 13:1-101Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; 3Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. (John 13:1‑10), then, while we have the most elevated view of the purity of that position in which the blood of Jesus has set us, our hearts enjoy profound peace, because we know that the One who was nailed to the cross to bring us thereinto, is girded for the gracious purpose of keeping us therein.
Nor need we, for one moment question the full application of all this to our own souls, for as surely as Christ washed the feet of those who sat around Him at the last supper, so surely is He washing our feet, yea, and will continue to wash the feet of His saints until we all stand upon the golden pavement of the upper sanctuary. " Having loved His own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." Yes, right through and through to the very end of time, through all the changes of this ever changing scene, His love endures. The love of Jesus is not a love for a day, a month, or a year; it is a love for eternity. What He did over eighteen hundred years ago, He is doing now, and He will continue to do until we shall no longer need to have it done, and then " He will gird Himself, and come forth and serve us" in the glory of the kingdom. We are bound to Him forever, not only by our deep necessities, but by the powerful attractions of His Person.
Yes, my beloved Christian reader, you are as surely in-eluded in the mystic action of John 13 as you are in the powerful intercession of John 17 Of the latter, you are assured by His own words of thoughtful, tender love, when He said, " Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;" and of the former you are assured by the comprehensive expression, "His own....unto the end." Wherefore remember, for the abiding peace and consolation of your heart, Jesus is ever washing your feet. He has washed you already, so that you need not be washed over again; but your feet, your ways, need to be cleansed, and that He is doing for you, without any interruption, morning, noon, eventide, and midnight. He is always doing it, because you always need it to be done. It is not merely when you have committed some sin of which your conscience takes cognizance, but at all times your feet need to be washed, and this Jesus is doing for you, else you would have no part in Him.
Peter, like many in our day, did not quite understand the meaning or object of Christ's gracious act. He evidently thought it demeaning for His blessed Master to perform such an office, whereas it was but a beauteous outshining of His moral glory. In one sense, the mount of transfiguration itself had not yielded a brighter testimony to the glory of Christ, than that afforded by the basin and towel in John 13 But the ardent Peter did not apprehend this, and hence he refused to allow Jesus to wash his feet; and when told of the terrible consequences of such a refusal, he said, " Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." This, as we know, was another mistake, for poor Peter was often mistaken, though his heart was right after all. The grand truth is this—the moment a person believes in Jesus, he is as clean as the blood of Jesus can make him- " clean every whit;" and, as a consequence, he does not need to come again and again and be washed. " The worshippers once purged, should have no more conscience of sin." (Heb. 10) The idea of repeated washing would lower the blood of Christ to the level of " the blood of bulls and goats." To be washed in the blood of Jesus is to be rendered perfectly and eternally clean—clean enough for God. What more is needed? Jesus replies, nothing more, " save to wash his feet." And what makes this needful? Because the believer is, in himself, a poor, feeble, failing creature; and, moreover, he is passing through a defiled and defiling place; and hence the unspeakable blessedness of knowing that the Lord Jesus is ever girded on his behalf, in order to wash away every soil which he contracts in his daily walk, 80 that he may ever be maintained practically in the integrity of the position into which the blood has introduced him. The Lord be praised for such ample provision! Well may we say, " Thou, O, Christ, art all I want."
May we enter into the truth and value of all this, and thus be able to follow the blessed example set before us in this chapter. "I have given you," says our Lord, "an example that ye should do as I have done to you." How are we to do this? By walking in communion with Christ, we shall be able to cleanse each others ways through the action of the word of God. If I see a brother pursuing a wrong course, adopting a wrong habit, or standing in an unclean association, I should bring the word to bear upon him so that he may be fully delivered from the evil thing.