He that is washed - That is, he who has been in the bath, as probably all the apostles had lately been, in order to prepare themselves the better for the paschal solemnity; for on that occasion, it was the custom of the Jews to bathe twice.
Needeth not save to wash his feet - To cleanse them from any dirt or dust that might have adhered to them, in consequence of walking from the bath to the place of supper. The washing, therefore, of the feet of such persons was all that was necessary, previously to their sitting down to table; The Hindoos walk home from bathing barefoot, and, on entering the house wash their feet again. To this custom our Lord evidently alludes.
If these last words of our Lord had any spiritual reference, it is not easy to say what it was. A common opinion is the following: He who is washed - who is justified through the blood of the Lamb, needeth only to wash his feet - to regulate all his affections and desires; and to get, by faith, his conscience cleansed from any fresh guilt, which he may have contracted since his justification.
Ye are clean, but not all - Eleven of you are upright and sincere; the twelfth is a traitor. So it appears he had washed the feet of all the twelve; but as no external ablutions can purify a hypocrite or a traitor, therefore Judas still remained unclean.
He that is washed - This is a difficult passage, and interpreters have been divided about its meaning. Some have supposed that it was customary to bathe before eating the paschal supper, and that the apostles did it; Jesus having said, “he that hath bathed his body is clean except in regard to his feet - to the dirt contracted in returning from the bath, and that there was need only that the feet should be washed in order to prepare them properly to receive the supper.” They suppose, also, that the lesson which Jesus meant to teach was that they were really pure John 15:3; that they were qualified to partake of the ordinances of religion, and needed only to be purified from occasional blemishes and impurities (Grotius). Others say that there is not evidence that the Jews bathed before partaking of the Paschal Supper, but that reference is made to the custom of washing their hands and their face. It is known that this was practiced. See the Matthew 15:2 note; Mark 7:3-4 notes. Peter had requested him to wash his hands and his head. Jesus told him that as that had been done, it was unnecessary to repeat it; but to wash the feet was an act of hospitality, the office of a servant, and that all that was needed now was for him to show this condescension and humility. Probably reference is had here to internal purity, as Jesus was fond of drawing illustrations from every quarter to teach them spiritual doctrine; as if he had said, “You are clean by my word and ministry John 15:3; you are my followers, and are prepared for the scene before you. But one thing remains. And as, when we come to this rite, having washed, there remains no need of washing except to wash the feet, so there is now nothing remaining but for me to show you an example that you will always remember, and that shall complete my public instructions to you.”
Is clean - This word may apply to the body or the soul.
Every whit - Altogether, wholly.
Ye are clean - Here the word has doubtless reference to the mind and heart.
But not all - You are not all my true followers, and fitted for the ordinance before us.
(Galatians 6:14.) The Cross a Center in the World—The cross stands alone, a great center in the world. It does not find friends, but it makes them. It creates its own agencies. Christ proposes that men shall become laborers together with God. He makes human beings His instrumentalities for drawing all men unto Himself. A divine agency is sufficient only through its operation on human hearts with its transforming power, making men colaborers with God (The Review and Herald, September 29, 1891). 5BC 1138.1Read in context »
Feet Washing More Than a Form—We do not come to the ordinances of the Lord's house merely as a form.... Ev 274.1
He has instituted this service, that it may speak constantly to our senses of the love of God that has been expressed in our behalf.... This service cannot be repeated without one thought linking itself with another. Thus a chain of thought calls up remembrances of blessings, of kindnesses, and of favors received from friends and brethren, that have passed out of mind. The Holy Spirit, with its quickening, vivifying power, presents the ingratitude and lack of love that have sprung from the hateful root of bitterness. Link after link of memory's chain is strengthened. The Spirit of God is at work upon human minds. The defects of character, the neglect of duties, the ingratitude to God, are brought to the remembrance, and the thoughts are brought into captivity to Christ.—The Review and Herald, June 7, 1898. Ev 274.2
Heart Preparation—In the early days of the advent movement, when our numbers were few, the celebration of the ordinances was made a most profitable occasion. On the Friday before, every church member endeavored to clear away everything that would tend to separate him from his brethren and from God. Hearts were closely searched; prayers for a divine revelation of hidden sin were earnestly offered; confessions of overreaching in trade, of ill-advised words hastily spoken, of sins cherished, were made. The Lord came near, and we were greatly strengthened and encouraged.—Manuscript 102, 1904. Ev 274.3Read in context »
In the upper chamber of a dwelling at Jerusalem, Christ was sitting at table with His disciples. They had gathered to celebrate the Passover. The Saviour desired to keep this feast alone with the twelve. He knew that His hour was come; He Himself was the true paschal lamb, and on the day the Passover was eaten He was to be sacrificed. He was about to drink the cup of wrath; He must soon receive the final baptism of suffering. But a few quiet hours yet remained to Him, and these were to be spent for the benefit of His beloved disciples. DA 642.1Read in context »
In all that Christ said to His disciples, there was something with which, in heart, Judas disagreed. Under his influence the leaven of disaffection was fast doing its work. The disciples did not see the real agency in all this; but Jesus saw that Satan was communicating his attributes to Judas, and thus opening up a channel through which to influence the other disciples. This, a year before the betrayal, Christ declared. “Have not I chosen you twelve,” He said, “and one of you is a devil?” John 6:70. DA 720.1
Yet Judas made no open opposition, nor seemed to question the Saviour's lessons. He made no outward murmur until the time of the feast in Simon's house. When Mary anointed the Saviour's feet, Judas manifested his covetous disposition. At the reproof from Jesus his very spirit seemed turned to gall. Wounded pride and desire for revenge broke down the barriers, and the greed so long indulged held him in control. This will be the experience of everyone who persists in tampering with sin. The elements of depravity that are not resisted and overcome, respond to Satan's temptation, and the soul is led captive at his will. DA 720.2
But Judas was not yet wholly hardened. Even after he had twice pledged himself to betray the Saviour, there was opportunity for repentance. At the Passover supper Jesus proved His divinity by revealing the traitor's purpose. He tenderly included Judas in the ministry to the disciples. But the last appeal of love was unheeded. Then the case of Judas was decided, and the feet that Jesus had washed went forth to the betrayer's work. DA 720.3Read in context »