John 13:15                           The Underlying Principle                         1/1/2006         ßà   

  • An Unconditional Love (John 13:1-17, Eph 1:4, 5:25, 2Cor 5:17, John 3:8, Heb 13:8)





#1.       Bathing and Cleansing (John 13:10-11, 15:3, 13:8)





  • Know Ye What I Have Done to You? (John 13:12-13)



#2.       Christ’s Example for Us to Follow (John 13:14-15, Mat 6:14-15)





  • Love and Forgive One Another (Rom 12:10, 1John 4:7-13)





#3.       A New Commandment (John 13:34-35, 15:12-13)



  • How Do We Apply the Underlying Principle? (Acts 2:42-47, Mat 24:12, 10:8, 1John 1:3-4)








Please open your Bibles to the Gospel according to John, John 13:1 (2X). We have here the story of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet. It is a familiar story. It is so familiar because in many churches throughout the world this washing of feet is practiced and repeated every time the congregation comes together. And why do we not do this in our congregation? Well, let us take a good look at this chapter in the Gospel account of the Apostle John, and let us find out what our response must be. We read in:

Joh 13:1  Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.              Before we continue, I want to point out that we have here a statement of:

·        An Unconditional Love (John 13:1-17, Eph 1:4, 5:25, 2Cor 5:17, John 3:8, Heb 13:8)

When Jesus knew that His hour was come” that is when He demonstrated His love by washing the disciples’ feet, and this was one of His last messages before He went to the Father. If John 13 through John 17 were His last messages, don’t you think that these were of utmost importance in the mind of the Lord Jesus? “Having loved His own”. These were the most important messages that the Lord wanted to print in the memory of His own faithful disciples. And Christ now comforted His heart by lavishing His love upon His own who did not despise Him. Who were “His own”? Does that include Judas Iscariot? Absolutely not! In chapter 17 we read that Judas was “the son of perdition”, which means “the son of Hell”. The Lord Jesus did not love Judas Iscariot. When we read that Jesus loved His own, it refers only to the other 11 disciples. Who presently are “His own”? We belong to the Lord Jesus in a threefold way. First, we belong to Christ by the Father’s eternal election: “We were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world”, Eph 1:4. Secondly, He purchased us, He bought us for Himself: “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it”, Eph 5:25. Thirdly, We belong to Him by the effectual call of God the Holy Spirit: “If anyone be in Christ he is a new creation”, 2Cor 5:17, and we were created anew through the 3rd Person of the Holy Trinity who made us “born of the Spirit”, John 3:8. And then we read in John 13:1, “He loved them unto the end”. Unto what end did the Lord Jesus love His disciples, and unto what end does the Lord Jesus love us? #1, He loves us unto the end of our earthly pilgrimage. This is the perseverance of the saints. We need this assurance of His love while we pass through this wilderness. #2, He loves us not only to the last day, but He loves us to the farthest extent of our earthly needs. He loves us unto the end of our miserable failures, unto the end of our wanderings. He loves us unto the end of our unworthiness, unto the end of our deep needs. #3, He loved us from the farthest end of eternity past, and unto eternity future, and forever. Therefore His love never varies. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever”, Heb 13:8. Let us continue in:

Joh 13:2-3  And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;       Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;

Joh 13:4  He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

Joh 13:5  After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

Joh 13:6  Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?

Joh 13:7-8  Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.             Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.

Joh 13:9  Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

Joh 13:10  Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.

Joh 13:11  For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

Joh 13:12  So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?

Joh 13:13  Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.

Joh 13:14-15  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.          For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

Joh 13:16-17  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.    If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

Now we know what historically came to pass in the upper room. But what is the Gospel message in this historical event? What is the underlying principle? Therefore I chose this for the title of the sermon today: The Underlying Principle (2X). The Lord said very explicitly: “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you”. This is a command! This event is not to be glossed over as if it were just a historical event, where Jesus gave us another command as if it were another ceremonial law. All the ceremonial requirements went out the door when Christ died on the cross. We need to know the spiritual meaning of this foot-washing ceremony. We need to understand the difference betw:

#1.      Bathing and Cleansing (John 13:10-11, 15:3, 13:8)

The Lord gave us a hint in verse 10 about the difference between bathing and cleansing. We read:

Joh 13:10  Jesus saith to him, He that is washed (lit: having been washed) needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.

Joh 13:11  For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

The Lord Jesus referred to Judas Iscariot as not having been washed. Jesus did not mean that they all had taken a bath that morning except Judas. Jesus did not refer to the outward cleanliness of their bodies. The word “clean” that appears 2X in verse 10 is basically the Greek word for “pure”. Like in John 15:3, where Jesus said, “Now ye are clean (or “pure”) through the word which I have spoken unto you.” (2X) In other words the word “clean” has to do with “having been saved”. Paraphrased Jesus said in verse 11, “You all have been saved, except Judas Iscariot; he is still defiled with dirty rotten sins”. Let us now come back to Peter in verse 10. Paraphrased the Lord Jesus said to him: “Peter, you have been washed by Me through the word which I have spoken unto you; therefore you are already saved; you do not need to be washed all over, since you are already clean every whit.” And what does it mean that we have been saved? It means that we have been cleansed in our soul, and not one sin is left in there, for on the cross the Lord Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for each and every sin that was there. It also means that each future sin was also paid already by the Lord Jesus, for when He suffered on the cross all our sins were future sins. And thus if we have been saved we remain perfectly clean in our soul for the rest of our life. But then, why would the Lord Jesus very demonstratively wash the disciples’ feet? And why was this foot-washing absolutely necessary, for He clearly said in verse 8, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me”? Were their dirty feet a symbol of sin? The only reason we cannot come into heaven is if there is still some sin found in us or on us. And thus these dirty feet must have something to do with sin. But we cannot take this foot-washing too literally, for there are many soldiers who die on the battlefield with dirty feet. What about them? Will there be no grace for them, just because they died with dirty feet? And so, where do we find the solution to this problem?

Then we notice that it is only the feet that are washed, not the hands, or the mouth. And now we notice that our dirty feet are symbolic of our walk in this life. We may be saved, and we have a totally cleansed soul, but in our body we are still not saved. Our body still lusts after sin. And thus our walk in this life is characterized by many errors and mistakes, which are actually no errors or mistakes at all, but they are sins. So often our acts are un-Christlike in character, and so often our disposition and our ways have “the flesh” stamped upon them. And even though outwardly we do not show our evil thoughts, still we are conscious of much sin in us that remains hidden to the world outside. The Lord Jesus Christ forgave His disciples these sins, and this was symbolized when He washed their feet. But at the same time we need to remember that no sins are washed twice. And thus, it could not be that only a portion of our sins were washed at the cross and another portion during foot-washing. The meaning of foot-washing begins to shine through in the following verses. The Lord Jesus said:

·        Know Ye What I Have Done to You? (John 13:12-13)

Joh 13:12  So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?

Joh 13:13  Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.

It was a searching question, for Jesus did not ask them what they had seen Him do. They could see with their own eyes what He has done. They could see with their own eyes that their Lord and Master had stooped down and did the work that normally was done by slaves. They could see that He humbled Himself to the utmost by washing their feet. But that was not what Jesus was referring to when He asked them this question. He asked them if they understood the deeper spiritual meaning of this action that He demonstrated. Now this was one of the last acted out parables of the Lord Jesus, and thus we must regard it as important that we understand it very well. We must understand it as if our salvation depended on it, for He said, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.”

#2.      Christ’s Example for Us to Follow (John 13:14-15, Mat 6:14-15)

Joh 13:14-15  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.          For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

In other words, this was not a gentle advice, but a mandatory compliance is required. This is what we must do! For this reason many churches have incorporated into their worship service a ceremonial foot-washing. This is also not correct. They are going through the motions without giving due regard to “The Underlying Principle”. 2000 years ago people wore open sandals. After a day of walking through their dirty streets their feet became dirty, and had to be washed. Did the Lord Jesus know that there would come a time when streets would be paved, and that people would wear shoes instead of sandals, and that their feet would not become dusty? Of course He knew that. And that is why He asked His disciples if they understood what He had done to them. What is “The Underlying Principle”?

The Lord Jesus washed His disciples’ feet as an outward symbol that He forgave them their sins of the day. It does not mean that He forgave them those sins at that particular moment that He washed their feet, for there is only one day in all of history that sins were forgiven, and that was on Friday, April 3, in the year AD 33. But He said, “ye also ought to wash one another’s feet”, and we know that we cannot wash away other people’s sins. But we can forgive one another. And is that not “The Underlying Principle”? Is this not the command that God gave in many places throughout the Bible? When the Lord Jesus said, “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you”, He did not mean that we should atone for other people’s sins, and He did not mean that we mindlessly go through the motions of foot-washing as a ceremonial requirement. He meant that we must forgive one another. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to Matthew, Mat 6:14 (2X). It is not an option for Christians to forgive others what they have done to us. This is a command that must be obeyed absolutely. Here in Mat 6 the Lord Jesus told His disciples a prayer which is known as “the Lord’s Prayer”. But it is not the Lord’s prayer, and it is not the prayer of a sinner for salvation, but it is the prayer of a saint to his heavenly Father. And in this prayer we find the words, “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”. Do we really mean that when we pray this prayer? And is this required of us? It absolutely is required of us! We can read that here in Mat 6:14,

Mt 6:14  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

Mt 6:15  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

This does not mean that we lose our salvation when we do not forgive others. But the Lord Jesus says here that the character of a person who is saved is that he has a forgiving spirit. It is the second nature of a saint to forgive those who have trespassed against him. And conversely, someone who has an unforgiving spirit shows by his attitude that he still has an unsaved soul. God the Holy Spirit does not dwell in his soul, because he shows on the outside that he has an unforgiving spirit on the inside. That is the message from Mat 6:14-15. And that is also the message of John 13. Why is it so important that we forgive one another? Is not The Underlying Principle that we:

·        Love and Forgive One Another (Rom 12:10, 1John 4:7-13)

O yes! A big principle that shines through the Gospel of John as well as in the Epistles of John is that we must love one another, especially in the church, for the church is the gathering place of the saints. Please turn in your Bibles to the 1st Epistle of John, 1John 4:7 (2X). You find the Epistle of 1John in the back of your Bibles; just before Jude and Revelation you find the Epistles of 1John, and 2John, and 3John. Please turn to 1John 4:7. While you look that up, let me read to you what God says in Rom 12:10, “Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” This is how we practice our brotherly love, by being “kindly affectionate one to another”. And what does this mean? We show our kind affections by forgiving one another. If we do not forgive one another, it shows that we do not love one another. Let us now read what God commands in 1John 4:7,

1Jo 4:7-8  Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.      He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1Jo 4:9-10  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.              Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1Jo 4:11-12  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.     No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

1Jo 4:13  Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

And because we love one another we will automatically forgive one another. All this talk about loving one another is vain if we first of all do not forgive one another. And let us see if this agrees with many more passages we find in Scripture. Please turn again to the Gospel according to John 13, and let us see if The Underlying Principle truly is the love of Christ for us, and our love for each other. The Lord Jesus, who came to do good to mankind, was persecuted and killed by men who hated Him, and who envied Him, and who were ungrateful to the God who made them. When we proclaim to the world the Gospel that the Lord Jesus communicated to us, we intend to do good to mankind, but we too will be persecuted and silenced by men who hate Christ, and who envy us, and who are ungrateful to the God who made them. It is characteristic of the unsaved that they will try to stamp out those who intend to do good unto them, and to carry out their wicked intent they join hands with those who are in the camp of Satan, who also hate Christ. It is ironic, but they do not know that thereby they are joining hands with those who are actually their enemies, whose intend it is to destroy them. For example, the Roman governor Pontius Pilate was not on friendly terms with king Herod, the king of Galilee, the son of Herod the Great who murdered the babies in Bethlehem. But when the time came to destroy Christ, or so they thought, they became friends, and remained friends from that time on. This is the world in which we are sent. We are sent as sheep into a world of wolves. Is it any wonder that the Lord Jesus said that we must love one another? We need each other’s support, for we face a wicked world.

#3.      A New Commandment (John 13:34-35, 15:12-13)

Joh 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Joh 13:35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

A new commandment! There were not many new commandments the Lord Jesus gave in the NT, but this was one of them. Can we see that these words in verses 34 and 35 are in fact The Underlying Principle of entire chapter 13? Since the OT already declared that we must love our neighbor as ourselves, why did Jesus call this a new commandment? The answer is that it is not any more a command to love our neighbor, or an acquaintance, or a visitor, or a stranger, but now it is a command to love our fellow church members as our own family. Please drop down to John 15:12 (2X). This is not an option, this is a command. We see it even more emphasized when we turn to chapter 15.

Joh 15:12  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Joh 15:13  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

What did the Lord Jesus mean when He said in verse 13, “that a man lay down his life for his friends”? He referred to Himself laying down His life for all those whom the Father had given Him; not for the whole human race, but only for those whom the Father had given Him. But in verse 12 the Lord Jesus said, “That ye love one another, as I have loved you”. We need to understand this properly. We know that we cannot atone for the sins of other people. We live in a time when it is very rare that any of us would be in a position to die in the place of someone else. And thus, in order to obey this command we need to understand in what other ways could we lay down our life for someone else?

·        How Do We Apply the Underlying Principle? (Acts 2:42-47, Mat 24:12, 10:8, 1John 1:3-4)

Did the people in the early church love one another? Yes they did! And they were drawn all the more together because in the fierce persecution they could be killed any moment. Let us then learn from the early church how they loved one another. Please turn in your Bibles to the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 2:42 (2X). You find Acts of the Apostles right after the Gospel of John. Acts 2:42. Peter preached one sermon and about 3000 people became saved. This was how the NT church was born. And the Lord added to the church daily the ones having been saved. We read in Acts 2:42-47,

Ac 2:42-44  And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.         And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.     And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

Ac 2:45  And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Ac 2:46-47  And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house

to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,                Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Is this not amazing? It is altogether amazing grace; it is the Lord’s doing, but we can see what the Lord has done in the hearts of those whom He saved. And God has put this in the Bible so that we can see how we are doing compared to the early church. First of all “they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship”. Can we say that our congregation is stedfastly together in Bible Study? O we claim to do our Bible studies, but are we together? No! We have found more important things to do on Sunday afternoons, or on Sunday evenings, or on Wednesday evenings. Let the pastor spend all day in church on Sunday, but we will not give in to such inconvenience. Why do we need to learn from the activities of the early church? I will tell you why. We live in a Narcissistic Society. I wrote those words on the board so that the children may know how to spell them. This is not a society where everyone walks with a narcissus flower, or a daffodil, in their pocket. A Narcissistic soc is an egocentric society. We live in a society were everyone thinks only of his or her own wants or needs. And that is just the opposite of the attitude in the early church. We also live in a time which is near the end of time, and God promised that near the end of time more and more people will be lukewarm toward the Word of God. The people of the church will more and more take the world into their church, “and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold”, Mat 24:12. What do you think should be our attitude in the church? Should we be as a sponge, soaking up as much as we can from what the church can provide for us? Or are we in the church to see if we can be of service to others? You can see, these are two different attitudes. One attitude is: What can the church do for me? The other attitude is: What can I do for the church? Of course you recognize that the first attitude is that of an egocentric personality, but the second one is that of a saved human being, someone whom God calls a saint. The reason saints come together in the church is because it is a second nature of saints to be drawn into the presence of other saints. They enjoy their fellowship in Bible study and in prayer.

Let us move on in Acts 2:42. “They continued stedfastly in the breaking of bread”. The expression “breaking of bread” is symbolic for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The Bible does not prescribe how frequently we must celebrate the Lord’s Supper. We celebrate it 4X per year. But do we enjoy to be together when we do have a Lord’s Supper service, like the early church enjoyed it? I have noticed, when we have a Lord’s Supper service the church is half empty. This is not an incidental observation; this occurs every time. Could it be that the reading of the Preparatory Exhortation to the Lord’s Supper, which is read a week before the Lord’s Supper service, is scaring people away from partaking of the Lord’s Supper? Could it be that they fear to partake, because I warn the congregation that whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup in an unworthy manner shall eat and drink damnation to himself? And thus they are scared. But that is terrible. It means that these people are not ready when the Lord comes, and He can come any time now. The stage is set. All the conditions are in place. We all should be ready when the Lord comes, for He can take your life away today. And how terrible if we are not ready. The reading of the Preparatory Exhortation should be no more scary than reading the Bible.

 Let us move on in Acts 2:42. “They continued stedfastly in fellowship.” Do we love each other’s fellowship? Do we love one another? The underlying principle of all the actions in the early church was that they loved one another. That love manifested itself in fellowship, and their love and fellowship resulted in their service one for another. Do you realize that the early church as well as our church exists because of our volunteer services? For this you all have to be commended. Even your pastor is a volunteer. And why do we do that? It is because the Lord Jesus commanded us, “Freely you have received, freely give”, Mat 10:8. And that is also the reason why we donate our money freely, for at least 70% of our collections is spent on evangelism through the Radio, and through the Internet, and through the Tape Ministry. We gladly spend our money that way, for this is pleasing in the sight of the Lord. The same motivation for fellowship has led us to engage in a potluck lunch every Sunday. This is when we bring our very best dishes, because we love one another, and we bring more than we can eat so that there is always food for visitors who occasionally walk in.

Let me show you two pictures: As you know, the Sea of Galilee has a river flowing into it, and it has another river flowing out of it. Both rivers are called Jordan River. Water is flowing into that Sea, and water is flowing out of it. The Sea of Galilee is teeming with life, the hills are green with vegetation, and there are cities of people are all around the shores of the Sea of Galilee. On the other hand the Dead Sea has only one river flowing into it. The Dead Sea continuously swallows tons of water from the Jordan River, but it gives nothing back. There is no water flowing out of it. The Dead Sea is absolutely dead. There is no life in the Sea and there is no life on its shores. It is a wasteland. These two pictures are examples of people who are engaging in church fellowship. One person is like the Sea of Galilee. He takes in spiritual food like the water of the Gospel, and he receives other spiritual and material blessings from people around him, but he also gives out more than he receives because he loves the brethren. As a result his spiritual condition is alive and well and he is a blessing to those around him. On the other hand, imagine a person who only receives spiritual and material blessings, but gives out nothing. Spiritually he will be as dead as the Dead Sea, because his love for the brethren is practically absent. He is like a dead sponge.

Today we have three young people making a public profession of their faith. They will be declaring “I DO”, much like when they get married. And indeed this is like a marriage, for when they become the Bride of Christ they publicly declare that they will be members of this church, and publicly declare that they will love and serve their fellow believers in Christ. Like marriage, this is a lifelong commitment. To these young people I have this one advice: Do not become like the Dead Sea. Talk to me after the service and let us find a place where you can serve.

Please turn almost to the end of your Bibles to the 1st Epistle of John, 1John 1:3 (2X).     In the foot-

washing ceremony of John 13:1-17 the Lord Jesus commanded us to forgive one another our faults. That is basically the meaning of the foot-washing ceremony. And this forgiving must not be an action as if we are going through the motions, but it must be from the heart, because we love one another. That is the Underlying Principle of this story. Our love for one another shows up in our fellowship. Do not neglect our fellowship, for here is the evidence of our love for one another, and at the same time our love for the Lord. There are many more examples of acts of love for one another I could give you from the passage in Acts 2:42-47. You know we discussed only one verse. And there are many more passages I could bring up concerning the love that the Lord Jesus commanded us to have for one another. But before we go home I want to leave in your memory this passage from 1John 1:3-4.

1Jo 1:3  That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

1Jo 1:4  And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

Paraphrased the Lord says here that your fellowship with us is not only with us, but also with the Father and with the Son, because you will be doing what is pleasing in His sight. And what you have heard today is true, that your joy may be full.

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.