“Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” (John 13:1)
During the summer of 1983, I met missionary Isaac Kim and Rebekah Kim first time in my life. During the summer I was working and taking ‘intermediate accounting’ course at CSULB. I understood about 30% of what my professor had said during my class. When I began to have fellowship with missionary Isaac Kim he said to me several times “Teacher Kwon” in Korean, “Kwon sun sang Lim”. The expression, ‘sun sang lim” which means ‘teacher’ is not used for younger people in Korean society and culture. It is used for seniors and it is term used for people of better honor and position.
At that time I was only wandering young man of 28 years old. I did not marry and I did not know God. So I did not know the purpose of my life. However, missionary Isaac Kim had already been married for 10 years and had two children. He was already in the Lord more than 10 years. He had been a public persecutor and lawyer in Korea and at that time he came to LA as a missionary. Surely he was qualified to be my teacher in every way. How then could he call me as his “Teacher”? When he called me “kwon sun sang im” I was shocked. Yet, at the same time I was deeply moved because of his humility. I can never forget those words. His word showed me his love. It showed how much missionary Isaac Kim valued me and honored me. Why did he do so? He did so because I was his own sheep. He loved me and therefore he wanted to make sure that I meet God personally and God may use me to save many others.
Now in today’s passage Jesus did the same thing for his disciples. He showed them how much he loved them when he had to leave this world leaving his own disciples in the world. He showed his full extent of his love so that they would remain in Jesus and overcome the devil’s work and become foundation of God’s salvation work for all peoples’ on earth. Jesus showed his full extent of his love in a way to protect them from the devil’s work which is to make man sin. So he showed his love by washing their feet which is symbol of washing their sin. He helped them to wash one another’s feet so that they would be united and grow to be mighty servants of God.
Now let us see how Jesus showed his love for his disciples more in detail. He showed his full extent of his love in two ways. First, by washing his disciples’ feet. Second, by helping them to wash one another’s feet.
Part I. Jesus showed the full extent of his love by washing his disciples’ feet. (v.1-11)
Look at verse 1a. “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.”
Today’s event happened just before the Passover Feast. The point of Passover Feast is freedom from slavery based on the sacrifice of a lamb. When God wanted to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt he asked them to put the blood of lamb on their door posts through Moses. Then at midnight the Lord went through the land of Egypt and killed all the first born of men and livestock of all houses which did not have blood of lamb. (Ex 12:29) However, when the Lord saw blood he passed over the house, and this is how the name “Passover” came out. Now more than 1000 years had passed. Then Jesus came and he was with his disciples just before the Passover Feast. Very soon Jesus would shed his blood and die as the true Passover Lamb to save all peoples on earth.
Jesus knew that the time had come. So personally he should prepare himself for the upcoming crucifixion. Think about it! If you know that you will be crucified very soon what would you do? Probably you would be crazy and would look for a way to avoid it. If you know you cannot escape it you want to find the best way to reduce the pain of the crucifixion. Even if you would accept the crucifixion voluntarily would you not be troubled when you think about the pain and suffering of it?
But what did Jesus do at that time when he knew the time had come?
Verse 1b reads, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”
He showed his full extent of his love for his disciples. Verse 1b describes Jesus’ disciples as ‘his own’. What does it mean? They were his because he called them out of the world. He chose them as his own and they belonged to him although they were in the world. Out of all peoples on earth they were, the handful 12 people, were his own. They would be seedbed for God’s salvation work after him. He loved them while he was with them. Although sometimes he rebuked them and trained them he loved them deeply in his heart.
They were ‘his own’. There is no difference between Jesus and his disciples. They were part of him. Jesus and his disciples live together and die together. One servant of God shocked me when I asked his advice about how to help one sheep. He said that I should regard my sheep and myself as the same person. Jesus’ disciples were Jesus’ own.
Now he knew that the time had come to leave this world which means to leave his own. He knew that his own would be left in the world all by themselves. Because he loved them he wanted to show his full extent of his love at the last moment. Jesus was like a mother who had to leave her children and because of her love she showed her full extent of love by hugging them and giving them candies.
The meaning of “The full extent of his love” is to love someone as his own ‘to the end’. We know to love someone to the end is challenging. But Jesus loved his own to the end despite his own situations and their weaknesses.
He loved them when they were terrible sinners. He loved them when they did good jobs. He loved them when they miserably failed.
Now look at verses 2
“ 2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.”
The meal could be the last supper, and the devil had already started to work among Jesus’ disciples. Devil wanted to destroy Jesus and his disciples. The devil wanted to wiped them out so that God’s salvation work would be removed.
Verse 3 reads, “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”.
But Jesus was not shaky. He knew that the Father had put all things under his power. If Jesus wanted he could bring legions of angels and take care of Judah and the devil. Jesus also knew that he had come from God and was returning to God. The place where he was going was not unknown place. It was where he came from. He was just returning to his home after finishing his short business trip in the world. Since he knew that all things were under his power and he knew where he was going he was very secure. He knew that he was in control rather than the devil or Judas Iscariot. The world did not know what Jesus knew. His disciples did not know what Jesus knew. But Jesus knew who had the power and where he came from and where he was going. So Jesus was confident and he was in charge. So he began to wash his disciples’ feet.
Washing the feet of visiting guests was a custom in Jesus’ day because roads were dirty and they all wore open sandals. Usually the job belongs to servants or slaves or whoever is in the lowest position in a family. A host or a master would never wash other’s feet because it was regarded as most humble job in the culture.
When Jesus’ disciples entered the eating place they did not have anyone to wash their feet. So they should wash their feet by themselves or they should wash one another. But they did not want to. So they end up eating with their smelly feet. They were not comfortable in a room where 24 smelly feet spread bad odor. But none of them wanted to wash their own feet or others although there was water and basin and towel. Why? None of them wanted to stand as servants among them all. No one thought that others could be better than him.
The author graphically described how Jesus began to wash their feet. Verses 4-5 reads, “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.”
When Jesus began to wash their feet they all became so quiet. They must have been shocked and they did not know how to respond to Jesus. When Jesus came to Simon Peter he dared to question Jesus.
John 13:6-8 ”6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied,
Peter could not bear the idea that Jesus would be humiliated by doing the job of a servant because he loved Jesus. So he refused to be washed by Jesus. Even though Jesus replied “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” he did not clam down. 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” What did Jesus say to him?
Verse 8b “Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“No part with me” means ‘no relationship or fellowship with Jesus’. If Peter would not be washed by Jesus he would not have anything with Jesus. Wow! Jesus’ words must have been like a “A bomb” to Peter.
Yet, the statement “Unless I wash you you have no part with me” has a spiritual meaning in it. Physical washing has symbolic meaning that is washing us of our sins. When we are washed from our sins we can have right relationship with Jesus and others.
So “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me” reveals that the fundamental basis of all men’s relationship with Jesus is his forgiveness of their sins. Spiritually speaking our feet refers to our sin. Spiritually our feet should be washed by Jesus because we cannot wash away our sins.
Furthermore we should be washed by Jesus whenever sinful desires arises in our hearts. We have many sins. As if our feet becomes dirty sinful desires arises in our hearts constantly. Some people think that every 8 seconds we are suffering from sexual thoughts, and others claim that we think about it 18 times a day. Whoever is correct it is true that the devil attacks more than once a day through sin.
How can we overcome our sin and stay clean? The answer is to be washed by Jesus.
We may think that it is okay to remain in sin as long as we repent once in a while. Yet, during the time when we remain in sin we cannot have intimate relationship with Jesus and we cannot grow or bear fruit. So we should be washed by Jesus whenever sin enters into our hearts.
Jesus stands among us as the one who washes our sins. Therefore we should never allow even one moment to remain in our sin. We need to come to Jesus and be washed by him whenever sinful desires arises in our hearts because we cannot wash our sins, and we cannot grow by ourselves and we cannot bear fruit by ourselves. Only by having part with Jesus can we grow and bear fruit. Jesus said the same truth in John 15:5
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Indeed Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and he washes our feet. The one who said to Simon Peter, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me” says the same thing to us. ‘Unless I wash you, you cannot have my holiness. You cannot have my love. You cannot have my peace. You cannot have my humility. You cannot have my joy. You cannot have anything from me.”
When Peter heard that he would have no part with Jesus, he said, “9 “Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (verse 9)
He wanted to take a whole bath right there. But “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.”
Once man’s sin is fully washed by Jesus’ blood and he is born again by the power of the Holy Spirit he cannot be born again a second time. However, he needs to be forgiven of his sins whenever it enters into his heart. Repentance and experiencing of Jesus’ forgiveness through his washing restores our relationship with Jesus. That is the only way for us to have part with Jesus and grow and bear fruit.
Jesus revealed that Judas Iscariot was not clean because he did not believe in Jesus. He was not saved. Although Jesus loved him dearly he could not see the love of Jesus.
Part II. Jesus showed the full extent of his love by helping his disciples to wash one another’s feet. (v.12-17)
After Jesus washed their feet including the feet of Judas Iscariot, Jesus asked them “”Do you understand what I have done for you?” (v.12b) Then he explained the meaning of washing their feet.
13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
Jesus washed their feet to set an example. It was to help his disciples to wash one another. Now what does it mean to wash one another’s feet? It means to forgive each other.
”13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
To wash one another’s feet means to love one another.
”8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. “
To love someone does not mean there is no sin in him. There is still multitude of sins. But love covers over them all. If we love someone his sins are covered. If we wash one another’s feet by forgiving each other we can become one in love.
In today’s passage Jesus did not say ‘Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet that you also should wash other’s feet.” But rather he said, ‘you also should wash what?” “one another’s feet”. What does it mean by ‘one another’?
It means we need to wash other’s feet but we also should be ready to receive others’ love like children. So in this way our washing is mutual. We should love others but we also should receive others’ love with great gratitude in Jesus’ name.
Jesus kept on teaching
16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Jesus is master and we are his servants. Jesus is the one who sends us and we are his messengers. So he is greater than us. Jesus’ teaching is superior to our own thought. Jesus said we will be blessed if we do it. True blessing comes from doing.
Our church is like Jesus’ disciples. The devil wants to divide us and destroy us so that God’s salvation work would not continue. The devil does it by making us sinning and brining divisions. Our HBF and JBF members and their parents went to a mountain for a conference during Thanksgiving day. There parents washed their children’s feet and children washed their parents’ feet and they exchanged love letter which show how much they love each other. We should do all the more so that we may not be divided because of our sins and pride but be united all the more because we are God’s seedbed like Jesus’ disciples.
In conclusion, Jesus showed his full extent of his love by washing his disciples’ feet and encouraging them to wash one another’s feet. To know the love of Jesus and to be washed by Jesus is the way for us to be a part of Jesus and grow and bear fruit.
One word: The Full extent of his love