At the final Passover meal that Jesus shared with His closest friends, He gave new meaning to the bread and wine, using them to point to His upcoming sacrificial death on the cross. Today we share Communion as a church family and reflect on that meal, as well as the lessons Jesus was teaching His first followers. After dinner Jesus took a basin of water and began to wash the feet of his students and taught them life principles about stooping, cleansing and serving.
"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" John 20:31.
Believe:879 is an epic journey through the book of John led by Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary of Albuquerque. As we explore each of the 879 verses of this gospel, we'll grow in grace and in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. From His pre-incarnate existence, to His public ministry, through His death and His resurrection we'll traverse familiar territory and embark on new adventures of faith.
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Applying Basin Theology:
Greek Terms: Λούω - louo - to wash the entire person; the whole body; Νίπτω - nipto - selectively wash a portion of the body
Figures Referenced: Max Lucado
Publications Referenced: Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth, by Charles Ryrie; The Last Supper, by Leonardo Da Vinci; The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams
Cross References: Psalm 139:23; Isaiah 59:1-2; Matthew 7:21; Matthew 16:21-23; Matthew 17:1-5; Matthew 20:21; Matthew 20:25-26; Mattew 27:24; John 13:4-5; John 18:10; Acts 10:9-15; Galatians 6:1; Hebrews 8:12; 1 John 1:9
Keywords: foot washing, service, humility, hypocrite, Peter, Judas, restoration, confession
Would you turn in your Bibles now to the Book of John, Chapter 13, let's pray.
Lord once again we're your people, who have gathered together because we believe that we need to hear from heaven about our life on earth. We believe that this book, we call the Bible, though written by men is authored by God. It is inspired, that every single word are words, that though the personality of the author is included, the end result is exactly what you wanted to say and what we're to read. So, as we read about the evening Jesus celebrated that last supper and as we take the Lord's supper together at communion, Lord, I pray that we might learn how to interact better with one another, in Jesus name, amen.
I brought a book with me this morning with a simple title, it's called, "Basic Theology." Basic Theology, the subtitle, A Popular, Systematic Guide To Understanding Biblical Truth. I've lots of books that are similar to this. I like this one it's a one volume book on Theology, Basic Theology. You've heard of things like Systematic Theology, probably, or Historical Theology, or Biblical Theology, Johanian Theology, which is the Theology of John, et cetera. I want to suggest to you another kind of theology, and its not basic theology, its Basin Theology. Basin Theology, though you probably wont find a book about it in the bookstore.
Basin Theology is the Theology of John, chapter 13. It's a theology that is too little practiced in the church, today. It comes to us in the previous verses, verses 4 and 5 of chapter 13 that says, "Jesus rose up from supper, laid aside his garments, and took a towel and girded himself. After that he poured water into a basin and he began to wash his disciples' feet, and to dry them with a towel with which he was girded." He called for a basin. That is Basin Theology. You know, we all use one of two basins in life. Let me explain, there's the basin of Pontius Pilate and there's the basin of Jesus Christ. Remember when Pontius Pilate was confronted with Christ and he knew that Christ was innocent and should be acquitted, yet, he called for a basin of water to wash his hands of the situation, remember that? That's the basin of Pilate, that's the basin of self preservation. But on the night before Jesus died, he also called for a basin of water and washed his disciples' feet, that's the basin of self sacrifice. So which basin will you use? The basin of Pilate, self preservation or the basin of Jesus Christ, self sacrifice?
Basin Theology is when we see the needs of other people and we desire to meet those needs, help serve those needs. Basin Theology is when we take Basic Theology and actually decide, I'm going to live it. I'm going to actually do it. I'm going to make this a part of my life. Basin Theology is when we emerge from being cleansed ourselves, of our sin before God and seek to forgive others and teach them how they can be cleansed. Its basic to scripture but it's too often little practice.
Almost 10 years ago now, I was in New York City, right after the towers fell and for three weeks I was working at ground zero. Some of you remember that. And when I was there, there was a perimeter that was set up and there were certain people that weren't allowed into the ground zero itself. And those of us who were working there would go out everyday and we would be greeted by different organizations, giving out food and water and masks and helmets, things that people would need.
On one particular evening, as we were walking out of ground zero, there was one organization that caught my eye. They had set up basins, tubs of water and disinfectant, and they were taking the boots and the shoes of the workers and cleaning them. Because the dirt inside ground zero, as you can imagine, was totally contaminated. Pulverized cement, broker sewage lines, human debris and so they were washing the boots and the shoes of the workers. Well as I was in line, waiting to get my boots disinfected, I saw one of guys, crouched over somebody's feet, scrubbing the boots with a brush.
And so I said, "Hey, you remind me of Jesus Christ." And he looked up at me, like I was from Mars, he said, "What?" [Laughter] And I told him the story of Jesus washing his disciple's feet, and it's a -- you can imagine it was a great conversation opener. We had a great conversation about Jesus and serving. I said, "You remind me of Jesus Christ." Well, a lot of you, here today also remind me of Jesus Christ. The way you serve in this body or serve the community is so note worthy that you love to wash the feet, to clean, to meet a need of people around you.
Now, this morning in our text and we're going to look at John 13, beginning in verse 6, down to verse 17. There are three activities that are attached to three principles that I want to give you about Basin Theology 101. Here's the first principle, stooping is often misunderstood, stooping I mean, humility. Stooping is often misunderstood, let's look at verse 6. Then he came, that is Jesus, to Simon Peter, and Peter said to him, "Lord, are you washing my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I'm doing, you do not understand now, but you will know after this." 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." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not only my feet but also my hands and my head." We love Peter, don't we?
We love him for this kind of stuff. Now, let me just talk about the scene in the Last Supper, this meal we're dealing with. As much as I love Leonardo Da Vinci's artwork, he has done us a great disservice in his painting, called The Last Supper, you've all seen it. It's where they're all on one side of the table, facing the camera, posing. You know that one? It's a long table, there's a table cloth, they're sitting in chairs and it's like somebody said, "Okay, smile." And they're all kind of leaning inward, six on one side, six on the other side, that's The Last Supper. Erase that from your mind, they weren't at a table, sitting in chairs, they were reclining, lying down on one side around a three sided table, called The Triclinium. As they were leaning, their feet would have been to one side toward the back. Jesus would have worked the perimeter of the room to wash their feet. Now, imagine it, an uncomfortable hush fell upon that room as they heard Jesus pouring water into a basin. And so, he comes to Matthew's feet and to Andrew's feet, and even Judas' feet, he would have washed those feet too. Then he comes to size 13 D.
This big old, Galilean, fisherman, named Peter, and Peter asked a very profound question, "Are you washing my feet?" Like, keen eye for the obvious Peter, that's exactly what I'm doing. What tipped it off, was it the water or the towel?
And one thing we love about Peter is he so much like us, and Peter was always trying to be jaw(ph) spiritual and can I add, without much success. So go back in your mind to -- in Matthews 16 when they were up north in the northern part of Galilee, and Jesus announces to the disciple's that he is going to Jerusalem, they're going to arrest him and he's going to die. Peter, being Peter, ushers Jesus to the side, puts his big fisherman arm around him and says, "Now Jesus we're just not going to let that happen to you."
I'm going to protect God and Jesus says, "Get thee behind me, Satan." It's quite a rebuke to that little man. The next time we see him is the very next chapter, Matthew chapter 17, it's the mount of transfiguration. This time, there's Jesus appearing in glory with Moses, the law giver and the prophet Elijah, and they're discussing privately, among themselves, the kingdom of God. And guess who would interrupt that conversation? Yup, it was Peter and what Peter said was pretty interesting, he goes, "It's good to be here." He just interrupts the conversation, "It's good to be here." And I think Moses and Elijah, kind of went like this, like, "Where did you get this guy?"
And then Peter said," You know, we could build three shrines, right here.
One for you, Jesus, one for Moses, one for Elijah, I vote for that." And God had to interrupt him and say, "Shhh," basically, that's what -- this is my beloved son, listen to him, is all about. Next time we see him after this, actually, is in the garden of Gethsemane, when Peter wants to defend God with a sword. He pulls out a sword and he starts swinging and he cuts off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Now, he's in this upper room and I bet Peter is thinking, as Jesus start washing the feet of Matthew and Andrew, and Judas and the disciple's. He's thinking what are these guys doing? Letting him wash their feet, wait till he comes to me. So he comes to him and Jesus starts washing Peter's feet and Peter goes, "Are you washing my feet also?" And Jesus, "Never mind Peter, you don't get it right now but you will later on." And then Peter says something that you don't get, as much as you do in the original language, it's a strong double negative and it should be translated, this way, "You shall, by no means, under any circumstances wash my feet, no, never."
Now, before you say, "Well, actually that's a sign of Peter's humility. He's just being humble, he's being self effacing, and he know this is Jesus so he says no." No, that's not humility. Last time I checked, you don't tell God what to do and call that humility, which is what he is doing. This is a pattern with Peter. You're going to see it later on in the Book of Acts. When a vision of a huge sheep is let down from heaven, Peter sees this vision and there's unkosher animals on it, and the Lord says, "Peter, get up, kill them and eat them." And Peter, being Peter, doesn't go, "Okay, yes whatever you say Lord." He goes, "Not so Lord, I've never eaten anything unclean." Can I just say, you can't say in the same sentence, "Not so Lord." He's not the Lord for you to say, "Not so" to. You could say, "Not so friend, Not so you." But you can't say, "Not so Lord." If it's the lord, you say, "Yes sir, Lord." So Peter objects, it is not humility. You see, humility is often misunderstood. A lot of people think humility is where you walk around with your head down, all the time and you just say, "Hi" You're talking in a real mealy voice, "Hi, I really can't do anything and I'm really not good in anything. If anything ever good to me it's just the Lord." That's not humility, that's just weirdness.
Because here's why, humility isn't thinking poorly of yourself. Humility is simply, not thinking of yourself, at all. And there is a sort of false humility that is actually a pride. And I believe that Peter, wanting to be spiritual is making this all about Peter. Then Jesus says, "Well, Peter if I don't wash you, you have no part with me at all." Now, we see a pendulum swing from objection to over reaction. Look what he says, he says, "Lord, not only my feet also but my hands and my head. Lord just give me a bath." Just give me works, I want the interior done, the wheels, everything. I want the full works." From objection now to over reaction, Peter has a hard time with seeing Jesus wash the disciple's feet and I believe it's because Peter, himself, had a hard time washing those feet. And so, Jesus starts doing it, he's feeling a little bit convicted, "Oh men, look how humble Jesus is. Well I'm not going to let him out humble me, watch this. No way Lord, you're not going to wash my feet." Humility is often misunderstood, stooping is often misread. I spoke to a husband, a while back, who had a radical conversion and he started loving his wife, he started serving his wife and his wife became so suspicious, like there's no way that's my husband, he's on drugs or something.
It took a long time before she was convinced that he really loved her and really wanted to serve her. There's got to be an ulterior motive, there's got to be something else, stooping is often misunderstood. Here's the second principle, cleansing is never unnecessary. Look at verse 10, Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed, needs only to wash his feet but is completely clean and you are clean, but not all of you.
You are clean Peter, you don't need a bath, you've had a bath, and you just need your feet washed." Your clean but not all of you, verse 11 explains, for he knew who would betray him, therefore, he said, "You are not all clean."
Okay, here's the deal, here's the explanation. In those days, before you go out to dinner, you go home after a day of work and you take a bath, you clean yourself. A total bath of your entire body, then you put sandals on your feet and you take a walk to wherever you're going to have dinner, especially here, the pass over meal. By the time you cross town with dusty roads that are not paved in open toed sandals, by the time you get there, your feet are gnarly, and they're dirty. So there was a pot of water and a servant who would wash the feet. You don't come to the house after you've had a bath and you just have dirty feet and you go, "I need to take another bath." No, you just need your feet washed, and that's the idea here. Look at verse 10 a little more carefully, there are two words I want you take note of. First is the word bathed, Jesus says, "He who is bathed." The word is "Luwo(ph)", and it means to take a total bath, as washing the entire body. A bath all over, that's what you did at home.
The second word is the word wash, he who is bathed needs only to wash his feet. That's a different word, it's the words "Nypto" it means to selectively wash a portion of the body, here it would be the feet. Here's the spiritual illustration, when to you come to Jesus Christ, that's the bath. He washed you away of all of your sins, Hebrews 10 says, "Their sins and their inequities, I will remember no more." But, what happens as you start walking through this world, the world is defiled, it is contaminated. You get your feet dirty, from day to day you and I get dirty feet. And so the bible says, "If we confess our sins, 1 John 1:9, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." So think of it this way, all Christians have union with God because of what Jesus did, all of you have union with God but not all Christians have communion with God.
Communion with God can get broken by a barrier of sin that is put up on a daily basis that should be confessed, if we confess our sins, John 1:9, he is speaking to believers. So it's not like you have to get born again, again and again, and again, and again. I had a guy say, "I've been saved many times." No, you haven't, you've been saved one time. Its -- the one time will do it. It's not like, well the first time didn't take maybe it will take this time. You get saved once; you get dirty feet a lot and so sin needs to be confessed because unconfessed sin hinders a relationship with God. That's what Jesus means when he says, "You will have no part with me, you will have no communion with me if I don't wash your feet."
So a disciple, a follower of Christ will keep short accounts with God and as sins are committed as we fall down, we ask him to forgive us. We examine ourselves daily, we search our hearts as David prayed in Psalm 1:39, "Search me oh God and know my heart, try me and know my ways, and see if there's anything wicked in me and lead me in the way everlasting." So confession of sin is necessary for fellowship. So sin builds up a barrier between us and God, understand that. Isaiah, the Prophet said in Isaiah 59, "The Lord is not too weak to save you, he is not becoming deaf, he can hear when you call but there is a problem, your sins have cut you off from God. Because of your sin, he has turned away and will not listen anymore." So cleansing from sin isn't an event that happened, the day you got saved. Yes it did happen but there are other such confessions to restore communion with the one you have union with.
Listen to what Max Lucado said, he said, "Give a man religion without reminding him of his filth and the result will be arrogance in a three piece suit." That's all you'll have is a bunch of religious, cold, formal people, who aren't dealing with the necessity of their own sin.
He mentioned something else in verse 11, for he knew who would betray him, therefore, he said, "You are not all clean." Who is he speaking of? Judas, we're going to read more about Judas next time but for a moment just think about, think about Judas, think about what Judas has heard and think about what Judas has seen. Judas heard Jesus give the Sermon on the Mount, he was there. Judas heard Jesus tell people, your sins are forgiven, and he was there. Judas saw people rise from the dead, he was there and people get healed, and Jesus walked on the water and multiplied the loaves and the fishes, he was there. And Judas kept the money bag and sounded so spiritual, a couple of chapters back when Mary pours that ointment of Jesus' feet, Judas pipes up and says, "That could have been sold, that ointment and the money given to the poor." We listen to guys like that and we go, "I want him on my staff. He's really frugal, he sounds so spiritual."
That's why I think when Judas betrayed Jesus, the disciples were floored, they couldn't believe it. I think if Judas were among us today and we found us he was a betrayer, we go, "No, not that guy. It's impossible." But he was a phony, he was a hypocrite, he sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and here is the problem, Judas was never bathed all over. He never had the first bath, he might want to participate in the little foot washings along the way but he never have the initial bath to make him clean. You know, a person can be very close to salvation and hear all the right things and sing all the right songs, and carry a bible, and say, "Praise the Lord, Hallelujah." And be lost forever if they have never personally invited Christ to wash them of their sins.
You've all heard of Jessie James, yes? The notorious criminal? Jessie James, one day killed a person in a train robbery and the same day got baptized in his local church, afterwards. You say well maybe he felt guilty, maybe but then on another day Jessie James, in a bank robbery, killed two people and joined the church choir that day. He was the singer, maybe he had a great voice. Jessie James used to say, "I love Sundays, I love going to church." Of course, the problem is he was often occupied killing people and robbing banks, so he couldn't make church all the time. He was a hypocrite like Judas, in the choir. Jesus put it this way in Matthew 7, "Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as Lord, they still will not enter the kingdom of heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my father in heaven. So you see, it doesn't help to get your feet washed, if you haven't had a bath to begin with.
Now, let's look at the third and final truth activity and that is serving here, serving. Jesus is serving his disciples and here's the principle, serving is always indispensable, it's always indispensable; it's always needed among God's people, verse 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? You call me teacher and Lord, you say well, for so I am. If I then, your teacher and Lord, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is he who is sent greater that he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed or happy are you if do then." You noticed that Jesus asked his disciples if they understood what was going on. Now, it didn't tell us if they said anything or not, "Hey do you guys understand this?" My opinion is they went like this, when the true answer was, no we don't get it.
I don't think they got it, I think they will get it later on. So Jesus asked them, "Do you understand what has happened?" "Oh yeah, I get It." The reason I say they didn't get it is because during this meal, they have been arguing about who would be the greatest in the kingdom. Now back up a little bit, let me give you the whole dynamic. Two days before this very meal, they're walking up toward the city, actually two days before Jesus arrives in Jerusalem. They're walking up.
Mrs. Zebeddee, the mother of James and John, gets Jesus aside and says, "Jesus a mother's request, in the coming kingdom could you make sure that my two boys, James and John are sitting right next you in the kingdom, in glory. I like to give a position, a title." Well when the other disciples found out that they had their mom talk to Jesus, they were so torqued and an argument broke out. And so Jesus said, in the midst of that conversation, "The rulers of the gentiles lorded over them, it shall not be that way among you."
Then they have this upper room, this supper, in the midst of the supper they start arguing. So Jesus washes their feet and then he says, "Now do you guys get it?" "Oh yeah, we get it." They didn't get it, they were still thinking about the immediacy of the kingdom and their position, and their titles on the flow chart. And Jesus is basically saying, serving one another is always indispensable and he gives three reasons. Number one, he says, "I'm your boss, I'm your Lord, and I'm your master. If you Lord and your master did this to you then you should do it to each other. Second reason Jesus gives is I'm your example. Notice he says, "I have given you an example." The better translation would be a model, a template for you to follow. So if you want to know what to do, you watch what I have done and you do that, you act that way toward other people. Just look at the life of Jesus, the supreme exemplar, the apophiosis of all servanthood. And here's the third reason, not only am I your boss, not only am I the example but I know that if you do what I'm telling you, it will make you happy. Look at verse 17, if you know these things, blessed, better translation, happy are you if you do them. If you know these things, notice how it's worded, it didn't say, if you know these things happy are you if you know these things. You're really happy if you're intellectually stimulated and emotionally moved, no. If you know these things you'll be happy if do these things.
Here's the principle, humbleness equals happiness. When you humble yourself before a person its counter intuitive but you'll emerge from that much more content and much happier that you pleased the Lord. You see, studying this passage could move you emotionally, I don't know if it has or not, it could. Studying this passage could challenge you intellectually, I don't know if it has or not but it could. But this will never help you or change you spiritually unless you and I decide, we're going to actually do this, we're going to take Basic Theology and actually live it until it becomes Basin Theology.
One of the great deeds in the church is to see feet washed, is to come and restore people who have fallen and are struggling. But there's a way to wash feet, in Galatians, Paul puts it this way, if there's any brother who's over taken in any fault or trespass, you who are spiritual, restores such a one in the spirit of meekness, gentleness, considering yourself lest you're also tempted. Wash feet but do it gently, don't use, for example, ice cold water. So people, it's cold, I don't want to get my feet in there and some people are so cold and so formal, don't wash feet that way.
The other extreme is don't use scalding hot water, that angry, judgmental criticism. I know some people that don't even use water; they'll scrape the dirt off the feet, they're just so abrasive in their approach. It's like get those people away from everybody, do it gently. Knowing that when you serve people and love people enough to assure them that they can be forgiven and your going to teach them how to walk, and your going to relate to them by stooping before them that they're not always going to get it, they're not always going to understand it but it's okay if they don't understand it because God understands it and he's the one that's given the command.
I offer this to you before we pass out the communion elements, its part of one of my favorite stories ever, Marjory Williams wrote the Velveteen Rabbit. She writes the skinny horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others; he was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath.
And most of the hairs in is his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise for he had seen a long line of succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by and by break their main springs and pass away. And he knew that they were only toys and would never turn into anything else for nursery magic is very strange and wonderful.
And those play things that are old and wise and experienced, like the skinny horse, they understand all about it. What is real? Asked the rabbit, one day, when they were laying side by side on the nursery fender, before Nana came in to tidy the room. Does it mean having things that buzz inside of you and stick out like a handle? Well, real isn't how you were made, said the skin horse, it's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become real. Does it hurt? Asked the rabbit, sometimes said the skin horse, for he was always truthful. When you are real you don't mind being hurt. "Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked or bit by bit? It doesn't happen all at once, said the skin horse. You become, it takes a long time, that's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are real most of your hair is lobbed off, your eyes drop out and you get lose in the joints, and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all because once you're real; you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.
God wants us to be real, authentic and the best way to be authentic is to do what he has done, and to humble ourselves before him and confess our sins, and get our feet washed and emerge from that cleansing designed to help other people walk in this world. Knowing that they are going to fall too but we wash gently and we encourage, wholeheartedly. Those are things we'll muse on as we take the Lord's Supper, and as I pray I'm going to ask the communion board to come forward.
Heavenly father, we're about to hold tokens that speak of humility and stooping, self sacrifice that speak of the basin of Jesus Christ who washed the disciples feet on that night but the next day, the next evening would wash away the sin of the world by that sacrifice. As we take a portion of bread, which, speaks of your broken body and a little cup of the fruit of the vine, which, speaks of the blood of Jesus. We thank you that we have had a bath and that we've had our feet washed, time and time again, and these elements speak of not only what you've done for us but our testimony of what we could do by your strength for others. Thank you Lord.