The Farewell Ministry of Jesus Christ
Presented by Lucas Griffin on May 8, 2019
Highway Gospel Hall, West Kelowna, BC
- John chapters 13-17 have been called a number of things:
- Upper Room Ministry – because Jesus teaches this before, during, and after The Last Supper in the Upper Room
- Farewell Ministry of Jesus Christ – Jesus is preparing them for his departure and farewell. These teachings will act as a transition from His presence to the Holy Spirit.
- The Last Words of Christ – these are the last teachings of Jesus to his disciples. Often, we put a tremendous amount of weight on someone’s last words. These should be no exception!
- Summary Teachings of Christ – before He leaves earth, Jesus wants to summarize all that he has said and taught and shown. “These five chapters of the Gospel of John are the very heart and core of Christ’s teaching, and of Christianity itself.” (T. Ernest Wilson)
- “Jesus was no longer walking among the hostile Jews. He had retired with His disciples to an upper room in Jerusalem for a final time of fellowship with them before going forth to His trial and crucifixion.” (MacDonald 1541).
- “In the earlier part of the Gospel, recording the public ministry of Christ (ch 1-12), the emphasis is on the word LIFE (50 times) and on LIGHT (32 times). But in this section (ch 13-17), the emphasis is on LOVE, which occurs 31 times.” (T.Ernest Wilson 20)
- “We might have expected this incident to be in the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of the Perfect Servant. But the fact that it is in John, the Gospel of the Son of God, makes it all the more remarkable.” (MacDonald 1542)
John 13:1-17 – Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
- The immeasurable love of Christ for his disciples, despite their faults and failures.
- The perfect example of the Perfect Servant.
- The importance of practical service to one another.
Verse 1a – It was just before the Passover Festival.
- This is a little hint and reminder that Jesus Christ is the final Passover Lamb.
- Jesus had been under observation of God for 33.5 years and the Nation of Israel for three and a half years.
- He had proved to be without blemish and without spot.
- John 1:29 – “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
- Revelation 13:8 – “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
- “Jesus is that once-for-all Passover Lamb. Jesus knew He was about to die and become the fulfillment of what the Passover meal pointed to.” (Quicknotes 190)
Verse 1b – Jesus knew that his hour had come.
- This proves the omniscience of Jesus Christ. He knew what was about to happen
- The complete knowledge of Christ is emphasized three times (vs 1, vs 3, vs 11)
- It also shows us that God has a plan for the ages. Everything was happening exactly when and how it should happen. “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)
- “The term “His Hour” occurs ten times in John. Five times we read that His hour had not yet come, then in John 12:23 for the first time, He intimates that His hour had come.” (T. Ernest Wilson 19)
- The word “hour” refers to the whole period of His capture, abuse, crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension.
- “John is making the point that Jesus knows He is ending His full-time public ministry and, therefore, will die, then ascend into heaven, completing the task of redemption.” (Quicknotes 190)
Verse 1c – Having loved his own which were in the world.
- Chapter 13 opens and closes with love – vs 1 – Christ’s immeasurable love and vs 35 – our love for one another.
- Jesus loved each of his disciples even though they were not perfect.
- Peter was an impetuous man; James and John wanted pre-eminent places in the Kingdom, Thomas was a doubter, and all had their faults.
- Jesus knew he would be betrayed by one of his disciples, denied by another, and deserted by all of them for a time. Still he loved them to the very end.
- Jesus loved them all despite their faults and failures and shortcomings.
- “We cannot know the depth of Jesus’ love unless we are willing to face the fact that he knows us completely. Otherwise we are fooled into believing he must love the people we pretend to be, not the sinners we actually are. John and all his disciples convince us that God is able and willing to accept us as we are.” (Life Application Study Bible)
- Jesus loves us with a matchless, immeasurable, unconditional love.
Verse 1d – He loved them to the very end.
- He could not love his disciples any more than he did. He loved them to an
infinite degree. He loved them to the uttermost.
- His love could go no further, in fact his love would take him to the cross.
- But he also loved them right to the very end of his life. His love never ceased, his love didn’t grow cold, and loved them right to the very end.
- He will continue to love them (and us) throughout eternity.
- “To love someone to the end means to love someone to perfection. It’s unconditional love. The cross is the place where Jesus’ perfect and complete love is manifested.” (Quicknotes 190)
Verse 2 – And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him,
- Again, we are reminded of the deity of Christ through his omniscience
- Jesus knew that Judas would betray him. He was not concerned, he did not feel threatened, and at this point he even showed love to Judas.
- Judas was not the obvious betrayer. After all, he was the one the disciples trusted to keep the money.
- “In betraying Jesus, Judas made the greatest mistake in history. But the fact that Jesus knew Judas would betray him doesn’t mean that Judas was a puppet of God’s will. Judas made the choice. God knew what that choice would be and confirmed it.” (Life Application Bible)
- Knowing everything, Jesus still washed the feet of Judas in the coming verses.
- Jesus fulfilled his own teaching in Matthew 5:44 – “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”
Verse 3a – Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands
- NIV – Jesus knew that the Father had given all things to his power.
- It’s interesting to note that Jesus does not seem to have power over his enemies throughout the next 24 hours. It seems as though his enemies have power over him. However, we are reminded by Christ himself that all power is given to Him.
- Everything that is about to happen, will happen according to God’s will.
- Mark 2:10 – “The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”
- Matthew 28:18 – “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” he said to his disciples before going to heaven.
- John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Verse 3b – He had come from God and was returning to God.
- God was His master, who had sent Him on a mission. Jesus Christ would soon finish the mission for which He had come and then return to his father.
- We sing “He came from Heaven to Earth to show us the way.”
- “The Son of God became the Son of Man so that the sons of men may become the sons of God.”
Verse 4 – He got up from the table, took off his outer garment, and wrapped himself with a towel.
- This is so symbolic of his life work. Phil 2:5-8 describes this downward stoop.
- He veiled his glory in human flesh. He was Emmanuel, God With Us. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the father, full of grace and truth.
- The towel was the garb of a lowly servant. Christ was the perfect servant.
- “In 1 Peter 5:5, he exhorts us to be clothed with humility. The word ‘clothed’ is the term used in John 13:4-5 where the Lord ‘girded’ Himself with the towel! Peter never forgot this lesson of humility and cleansing.” (T.Ernest Wilson)
- Isaiah 42:1 – “Behold my servant, mine elect, in whom my soul delights.”
- Luke 2:49 – “Don’t you know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
- John 4:24 – “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.’”
- John 6:38 – “For I have come down from heaven,not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
- His outer clothing is symbolic of his glory from that outer realm of heaven.
- “It was the consciousness of who He was, and of His mission and destiny, that enable Him to stoop down and wash the disciples’ feet.” (MacDonald 1542)
Verse 5a – After that he poured water into a basin.
- I wonder if he was reminded of those prophetic words, “Isaiah 53:12 – He poured out his soul unto death.”
- Psalm 22:14 – “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”
- He was and is the Water of Life, and He soon would pour out his life at the cross.
- John 7: 37 – “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”
Verse 5b – And began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
- Jesus had said earlier in Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
- Feet washing was “servant’s work”, but it was a very practical, necessary task.
- “In that day people usually wore sandals. Walking on dusty, sometime filthy roads would make their feet dirty. It was the role of the lowest slave to actually clean the feet of the guests as they arrived. At the home the disciples used for this meal, there were no servants, and therefore, their feet did not get washed.” (Quicknotes 190)
- This is the ultimate example to us to provide basic, practical help to one another.
- Literal feet-washing is probably not necessary today, but what about mowing lawns, fixing plumbing, helping grocery shop, helping move, and so much more. These are the things that Christ would do if he lived among us.
- As Christians, we are his hands and his feet. It is our responsibility to help those around us in this way.
- Galatians 6:10 – Let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
- Our good works should be to both saint and sinner.
Verse 6-8a “Then He came to Simon Peter. And Petersaid to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
- “Imagine being Peter and watching Jesus wash the others’ feet, all the while moving closer to you. Seeing his Master behave like a slave must have confused Peter. He still did not understand Jesus’ teaching that to be a leader, a person must be a servant.” (Life Application Bible)
- This is not a comfortable passage for leaders who find it hard to serve those beneath them.
- How do you treat those who work under you (whether children, employees, or volunteers)?
- “Peter’s interpretation of leadership was that of being served, not of serving. Once Peter understands the cross, the foot washing will make more sense.” (Quicknotes 190)
Verse 8 – “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
- Jesus here is reminding Peter that salvation is through Christ alone.
- We must be washed in the blood of the Lamb. If we are not washed, we are not saved, and we are not fit for heaven.
- What a searching statement for all of us – have we been washed in the blood of the Lamb? Are we part of the family of God?
- On a practical note…unless Peter submitted to him and allowed Jesus to minister in this way, Peter would never learn the lesson of humility.
- “As Christians walk through this world, we contract a certain amount of defilement. We need to be constantly cleansed. This cleansing takes place by the water of the Word. As we read and study the Bible, as we hear it preached, and as we discuss it with one another, we find that it cleanses us from the evil influences about us. On the other hand, the more we neglect the Bible, the more these wicked influences can remain in our minds and lives without causing us any great concern.” (MacDonald 1542).
Verse 10 – Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet, and their whole body is clean.
- Even as Christians, we will fall, and we will fail – just like the disciples did.
- But the Word of God is clear that we can “confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” 1 John 1:9
- “The priests had a twofold washing: the bathing when they were consecrated (Lev. 8:6), which was once for all, and the subsequent frequent washings of hands and feet whenever they entered the sanctuary (Ex.30:19). We receive the once-for-all bathing when we are born again, but we need daily cleansing from the defilement contracted in our walk through the world. (T.Ernest Wilson 26)
- “The bath speaks of the cleansing received at the time of ones’ salvation. Cleansing from the penalty of sin through the blood of Christ takes place only once. The basin speaks of cleansing from the pollution of sin and must take place continually through the Word of God. There is one bath, but many foot-washings.” (MacDonald 1542)
- You do not need to go beyond what Jesus offers for salvation. His work is enough for a lifetime, and for all eternity.
Verse 10b-11 – Ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
- “The disciples had received the bath of regeneration, except Judas. He had never been saved. With full knowledge of all things, the Lord knew that Judas would betray Him, and so He singled out one as never having had the bath of redemption.” (MacDonald)
Verse 12a. He put on his clothes and returned to his place.
- This is what he would do in 50 days. He would return to his place in heaven, glorified and victorious.
- Jesus would again have his outward Glory – it would no longer be veiled in flesh when he sat down on the right hand of the throne of his Father in heaven.
Verse 12b. He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?
- The questions of the Saviour form one of His most effective methods of teaching.
- “Jesus did not wash his disciples’ feet just to get them to be nice to each other. His far greater goal was to extend his mission on earth after he was gone. These men were to move into the world serving God, serving each other, and serving all people to whom they took the message of salvation.” (Life Application Bible)
Verse 13-14 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
- His example showed that the highest rank in the power structure of the kingdom is that of servant.
- Wash one another’s feet – practical helps
- Keep each other clean by constant fellowship over the Word
Verse 15 – I have given you an example to follow.
- What an example He was in every way.
- If even He, God in the flesh, is willing to serve, we his followers must also be servants, willing to serve in any way that glorifies God.
- Are you willing to follow Christ’s example of serving? Who can you serve today?
- “If pride or personal animosities prevents us from stooping to serve our brethren, we should remember that we are not greater than our Master. He humbled Himself to wash those who were unworthy and unthankful.” (MacDonald 1543)
- “The example that Jesus has set is that of humility. True love is an enduring love that seeks to serve others at expense to self.” (Quicknotes 191)
Verse 17. Now that you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
- There is truly a blessing when we follow the example of Christ in anything.
- “To know these truths concerning humility and unselfishness and service is one thing, but one can know them and never practice them. The real value and blessedness lie in doing them!” (MacDonald 1543)
- In this passage, Jesus is promising that if we offer practical help to those around us, we will be blessed. Amen!