What Did Christ Mean?
By Washing Feet after the Bath
Jesus the Christ (Gk. Christos: the Anointed One, the Messiah), the Son of God (i.e., God manifested in the flesh), made a number of exceedingly significant statements during His ministry prior to being crucified on Calvary.
Near the end of Christ’s earthly ministry to Israel, when it was quite apparent that as a nation repentance would not take place and “when Jesus knew that his hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father” (vs. 1), He “poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet (vs 5). When Peter inquired as to what Christ was doing, the following exchange between Christ and Peter took place:
(7) Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
(8) Peter said to Him, “You shall never 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, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”
(10) Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed [Gk. louo] needs only to wash [Gk. nipto] his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”
(11) For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”
(12) So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?
(13) You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.
(14) If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
(15) For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
(16) Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.
(17) If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
In verse 10 is the key to what Christ was endeavoring to symbolically teach His disciples. There He states that one “who is bathed needs only to wash his feet.” The Greek word translated “bathed” is louo, meaning to wash the entire body. The Greek word translated “wash” is nipto, meaning to wash a part of the body. With His actions and words Christ reveals a momentous revelation to Christians, then and now. And the lesson is:
Just as a person who has been bathed clean will collect dirt on his feet by walking about, such is a Christian who has been bathed clean of all sin by faith in Christ will thereafter accumulate sin during his mortal life. And the accumulation of this sin should be routinely washed away by and in accordance with the Word of God, Jesus Christ.
Upon one’s decision to place his faith in Christ for one’s eternal destiny, based solely upon Christ’s payment of sin on the cross, he is initially and permanently “bathed” – “washed” (Gk. louo) in the blood of Jesus Christ (signifying His death upon the cross) from all sin.
. . . To Him [Christ] who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. (Revelation 1:5; cf. 1 John 1:7)
The Christian walk is subject/influenced by (1) his sinful nature (the flesh, carnal mind) and (2) forces of evil that war against him, two areas of which the apostle Paul was keenly aware.
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (Galatians 5:17)
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. . . . For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:14, 15; 19-23)
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:7, 8)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
As a Christian continues his “walk through life” he will sin, more or less (depending upon certain factors to which are available to him and with which as a child of God he may or may not attain). And although such transgressions will not alter his eternal state, acquired solely by faith in Christ Jesus, they will, if not routinely cleansed, most definitely and adversely affect his temporal life and his life during the coming Messianic Era.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
(1 John 1:8)
(To accurately understand the difference between “eternal life” [life throughout the ages to come] and the intermediate Messianic Era [the “kingdom age” – the 1,000 year reign of Christ and His bride over the earth], please read Salvation by Grace through Faith and Salvation of the Soul, both by Arlen L. Chitwood, which may be accessed in their entirety by clicking on the following links: http://bibleone.net/SGF.htm and http://bibleone.net/SOS.htm.)
But just as Christ initially bathed a person in/with His death, cleansing him from all sin relative to eternal life, He is available to continually cleanse a Christian from the accrual of sin that may be collected throughout his walk through life, a cleansing that should be performed daily.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
The word “confess” is homologeo in the Greek, meaning to “acknowledge” – to own up to, not avoid or excuse. Scripture teaches the Christian that upon becoming aware of sin in his life, his responsibility is not to ignore or make any excuse (blame something or someone else) for it, but to willingly admit it as “his fault” before God. Immediately upon this kind of confession, God forgives the sin, to never again hold the Christian responsible for it. And this forgiveness is certain, which should never be subject to doubt or question by the child of God.
And as Christ is always available to “wash” (forgive) the Christian for transgressions throughout his mortal life, so each Christian should be willing to forgive others who transgress against them, as is taught in verse 15 of the subject passage (for that matter, this is also expressed in what is normally called “The Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:12).