Jesus Wants You to Know that Repentance is Essential
John 13:1–11 (NASB95) — 1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. 2 During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, 4 got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. 5 Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” 8 Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” 10 Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.”
Growing up in Memphis, my family lived in a cove. The cove had ten houses, with four families having children about the same age. In the summer time, it wasn’t unusual for all of us to play freeze tag in the middle of the cove, while our parents sat and talked in my family’s front yard.
Because it was summer time in hot and humid Memphis, none of us wore shoes. When the mosquito bites finally forced us inside, you can imagine the state of our feet. They were solid asphalt black. I had to scrub my feet with a wet washcloth before walking through our kitchen and into the den.
We can all relate to a child’s dirty feet, whether you grew up city or country. Dirt or asphalt leave their trace. You cannot mistake where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing.
Like us, the disciple’s feet needed washing. During the Passover celebration on the night He was arrested, Jesus stood up from the meal to wash His disciples’ feet. He knew that “His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father.” After three years of ministry, countless sermons, miracles, and teachable moments with the disciples, the cross had arrived. In less than twenty four hours He would be dead, having paid the penalty for the sins of the world.
Most likely, Jesus didn’t begin by washing Peter’s feet. Instead, the group seemed to have remained silent until Peter objected. In verse six he asked, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus assured Peter that it would all make sense in the future. Peter still objected. In verse eight, Jesus said, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” This warning prompted Peter to ask Jesus to wash all of him. Peter didn’t understand what Jesus was teaching. Jesus assured Peter that he and the other disciples were clean, only their feet needed to be washed.
What was Jesus teaching His followers? He was showing that even though they had been saved, or washed, sin remained. It had dirtied their spiritual feet. There was no need to be washed again. They only needed to take care of their continued sin.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” When a person repents of their sin and places their faith in Jesus, they have been washed. However, until Christ returns a believer continues to sin.
John wrote in 1 John 1:8-10, “8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” A Christian’s sin impedes closeness to God. While salvation cannot be lost, intimacy with Christ can. To wash our feet is to confess sin.
Whatever sin you struggle with, if you know Jesus as Lord and Savior, God has given you the spiritual power to overcome. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” We must repent of the sin we’ve allowed into our lives. We must wash our feet.