|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
13:1-17 Our Lord Jesus has a people in the world that are his own; he has purchased them, and paid dear for them, and he has set them apart for himself; they devote themselves to him as a peculiar people. Those whom Christ loves, he loves to the end. Nothing can separate a true believer from the love of Christ. We know not when our hour will come, therefore what we have to do in constant preparation for it, ought never to be undone. What way of access the devil has to men's hearts we cannot tell. But some sins are so exceedingly sinful, and there is so little temptation to them from the world and the flesh, that it is plain they are directly from Satan. Jesus washed his disciples' feet, that he might teach us to think nothing below us, wherein we may promote God's glory, and the good of our brethren. We must address ourselves to duty, and must lay aside every thing that would hinder us in what we have to do. Christ washed his disciples' feet, that he might signify to them the value of spiritual washing, and the cleansing of the soul from the pollutions of sin. Our Lord Jesus does many things of which even his own disciples do not for the present know the meaning, but they shall know afterward. We see in the end what was the kindness from events which seemed most cross. And it is not humility, but unbelief, to put away the offers of the gospel, as if too rich to be made to us, or too good news to be true. All those, and those only, who are spiritually washed by Christ, have a part in Christ. All whom Christ owns and saves, he justifies and sanctifies. Peter more than submits; he begs to be washed by Christ. How earnest he is for the purifying grace of the Lord Jesus, and the full effect of it, even upon his hands and head! Those who truly desire to be sanctified, desire to be sanctified throughout, to have the whole man, with all its parts and powers, made pure. The true believer is thus washed when he receives Christ for his salvation. See then what ought to be the daily care of those who through grace are in a justified state, and that is, to wash their feet; to cleanse themselves from daily guilt, and to watch against everything defiling. This should make us the more cautious. From yesterday's pardon, we should be strengthened against this day's temptation. And when hypocrites are discovered, it should be no surprise or cause of stumbling to us. Observe the lesson Christ here taught. Duties are mutual; we must both accept help from our brethren, and afford help to our brethren. When we see our Master serving, we cannot but see how ill it becomes us to domineer. And the same love which led Christ to ransom and reconcile his disciples when enemies, still influences him.
Verse 16. - The Verily, verily reveals the solemnity with which our Lord touched the frequently quoted aphorism (Matthew 10:24; Luke 6:40; and again John 15:20). The servant - the slave - is not greater than his lord; you have already called me Lord, and so I am; neither is (one that is sent) an apostle greater than he that sent him on his great mission. Therefore if I, your Lord and Teacher, have set forth this principle of self-abnegating service, a fortiori should ye in love serve one another, the greatest should render even menial service to the humblest; he that would be first to him that is the last, and each to all. This is one of the essential marks, and ever will be, of the mind that was in Christ Jesus (comp. Matthew 10:23, 24, where an analogous phrase justifies the disciples in expecting and fleeing from persecution - a step in which they would simply be following their Lord's example; cf. a very different use of the proverb in Luke 6:40, where it is used to warn a blind man from assuming the office of a guide, and the resemblance of the character, etc., between the Teacher and disciple).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Verily, verily, I say unto you,.... This is a strong way of asseveration, and is used when anything of moment and importance, and worthy of attention and observation is delivered.
The servant is not greater than his Lord; it is enough that he be as his Lord, which was a common phrase among the Jews; See Gill on Matthew 10:24, Matthew 10:25; and as it is there made use of, to inform the disciples they must expect persecution, and to encourage them to bear it with patience; here it is designed to engage to humility; for if a master condescends to perform such an action, much more may a servant:
neither he that is sent, is greater than he that sent him. This is also a way of speaking in use among the Jews;
"R. Meir says, (z) who is greatest, he that keeps, or he that is kept? from what is written in Psalm 91:11, he that is kept, is greater than he that keeps: says R. Judah, which is greatest, he that carries, or he that is carried? from what is written in Psalm 91:12, he that is carried, is greater than he that carries: says R. Simeon, from what is written, in Isaiah 6:8, , "he that sends, is greater than he that is sent".''
Which is the very phrase here used by Christ; and his meaning is this, that if it was not below him, who had chose and called, and sent them forth as his apostles, to wash their feet, they who were sent by him, should not disdain to wash one another's.
(z) Bereshit Rabba, fol. 68. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16, 17. The servant is not greater than his lord, &c.—an oft-repeated saying (Mt 10:24, &c.).
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them—a hint that even among real Christians the doing of such things would come lamentably short of the knowing.
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