John 13:8
Peter said to him, You shall never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash you not, you have no part with me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Thou shalt never wash my feet.—For the word “never,” comp. Note on John 8:51. The incidental touches of character where individual apostles are named in this Gospel are in striking agreement with the more fully-drawn character of the other evangelists, and the value of their evidence for the authorship cannot be over-estimated. They are perfectly artless, but are beyond the most consummate art. We feel that it is the loving, impulsive, but self-confident Peter of the earlier Gospels who is speaking here. He does not wait for that after-knowledge which our Lord promises him. He sees no ground on which our Lord’s act can possibly be one which he can permit. Note that the emphasis is on the negative. The pronoun “my” is again not to be emphasised, nor is “Thou” in this passage. “Thou shalt never wash my feet.”

If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.—Our Lord has already intimated (John 13:7) that His deed was symbolic, and He now refers to the truth underlying the outer act. The key to His meaning is to be found in His own words in John 13:13-17. By the act of washing their feet, He, their Lord, taught the spirit of self-sacrifice and love in opposition to the spirit of self-seeking and pride which ruled even in the Apostles’ hearts. That lesson every servant and apostle of Jesus Christ must learn, for the servant is. not greater than the Lord, nor the Apostle than the Sender. That lesson Peter was refusing to learn in the pride of his own impulsive will, which seemed to be humility. But unless he learns to accept the love of Christ’s humiliation, and is so cleansed by its power that he yields his human will wholly to the divine, and learns in self-sacrifice what the spirit of Christ really is, he can have no part in Him. The lesson is a hard one, but it is necessary; the sacrifice of will may be harder than that of life; but the strong man must become as the little child before he can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

For the phrase, “Thou hast no part with me,” which is again a Hebrew thought in Greek dress, comp. Matthew 24:51, and Luke 12:46. It is frequent in the Old Testament. See, e.g., Deuteronomy 12:12, “He hath no part nor inheritance with you.”

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.Thou shalt never wash my feet - This was a decided and firm expression of his reverence for his Master, and yet it was improper. Jesus had just declared that it had a meaning, and that he ought to submit to it. We should yield to all the plain and positive requirements of God, even if we cannot now see how obedience would promote his glory.

If I wash thee not - This had immediate reference to the act of washing his feet; and it denotes that if Peter had not so much confidence in him as to believe that an act which he performed was proper, though he could not see its propriety - if he was not willing to submit his will to that of Christ and implicitly obey him, he had no evidence of piety. As Christ, however, was accustomed to pass from temporal and sensible objects to those which were spiritual, and to draw instruction from whatever was before him, some have supposed that he here took occasion to state to Peter that if his soul was not made pure by him he could not be his follower. Washing is often thus put as an emblem of moral purification, 1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5-6. This is the meaning, also, of baptism. If this was the sense in which Jesus used these words, it denotes that unless Christ should purify Peter, he could have no evidence that he was his disciple. "Unless by my doctrine and spirit I shall purify you, and remove your pride Matthew 26:33, your lack of constant watchfulness Matthew 26:40, your anger Matthew 26:51, your timidity and fear Matthew 26:70, Matthew 26:74, you can have no part in me" (Grotius).

Hast no part with me - Nothing in common with me. No evidence of possessing my spirit, of being interested in my work, and no participation in my glory.

8. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash, &c.—more emphatically, "Never shalt Thou wash my feet": that is, "That is an incongruity to which I can never submit." How like the man!

If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me—What Peter could not submit to was, that the Master should serve His servant. But the whole saving work of Christ was one continued series of such services, ending with and consummated by the most self-sacrificing and transcendent of all services: The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but TO MINISTER, AND TO GIVE His life a ransom for many. (See on [1844]Mr 10:45). If Peter then could not submit to let his Master go down so low as to wash his feet, how should he suffer himself to be served by Him at all? This is couched under the one pregnant word "wash," which though applicable to the lower operation which Peter resisted, is the familiar scriptural symbol of that higher cleansing, which Peter little thought he was at the same time virtually putting from him. It is not humility to refuse what the Lord deigns to do for us, or to deny what He has done, but it is self-willed presumption—not rare, however, in those inner circles of lofty religious profession and traditional spirituality, which are found wherever Christian truth has enjoyed long and undisturbed possession. The truest humility is to receive reverentially, and thankfully to own, the gifts of grace.

Peter rashly replies, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Here was a seeming reverence for his Master, but (like the Jewish zeal mentioned by Paul, Romans 10:2) not according to knowledge. Christ tells him, that except he washed him, he had no part with him; that is, he should never be saved. But will some say, Was not this too severe, for our Saviour to threaten Peter with an exclusion from a co-inheritance with him in heaven, for modestly refusing to suffer him to wash his feet?

Answer.

1. The least disobedience not repented of, is enough to exclude a soul from the kingdom of heaven.

2. But Christ seems to take an advantage here, from this ceremony of his washing their feet, to discourse to him the necessity of his washing his soul with his blood, from the filth of sin and corruption; and of this washing it undoubtedly is that Christ here speaketh, the necessity of which is very often inculcated in holy writ. Peter saith unto him, thou shall never wash my feet,.... Before he had behaved with modesty, but now with obstinacy and perverseness; and though these expressions might arise from great reverence to Christ, yet they were wrong and rashly spoken. Peter ought to have been satisfied with Christ's reply, and have submitted, since though he then did not know the reason of such surprising conduct, he should hereafter. In order therefore to bring him to a compliance,

Jesus answered him, if I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me; he does not say, if I wash not thy feet, but thee, meaning not with water, but with his blood, and by his Spirit; for Christ uses the word wash here, not literally, but in a mystical and figurative sense, and takes an occasion, as he sometimes does, from things natural, to discourse of things spiritual: moreover, he does not say, thou hast no part "in" me, but thou hast no part "with" me, that is, no fellowship and communion with me; see 2 Corinthians 6:14; and it is as if he should say, Peter, if I had not washed thee with the washing of regeneration by my Spirit, and if I should not shed my blood for thee, and wash thee in it from thy sins, sad would be thy case; thou couldest have no communion with me in this world, nor any part and portion with me in the heavenly inheritance hereafter. Hence it may be observed, that unless a man is washed by Christ, he can have no part with him in this, or the other world. God's elect have a part, an interest in Christ through eternal, electing, and covenant grace, and in consequence of this are washed by Christ both with his blood, and with the washing of regeneration: and this is done in order that they may have a part with Christ, spiritual fellowship with him now, and possess with him the undefiled inheritance, when time shall be no more.

Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast {d} no part with me.

(d) Unless you allow me to wash you, you will have no part in the kingdom of heaven.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 13:8. Peter, however, cannot accept the disciple’s attitude, but persists, Οὐ μὴ νίψῃς μου τοὺς πόδας εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, “never shalt Thou wash my feet”. The εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα was prompted by the μετὰ ταῦτα. No future explanation can make this possible. Peter’s humility is true enough to allow him to see the incongruity of Jesus washing his feet: not deep enough to make him conscious of the incongruity of his thus opposing and dictating to his Master. To this characteristic utterance Jesus, waiting with the basin, replies, ἐὰν μὴ νίψω σεἐμοῦ. Superficially these words might mean that unless Peter allowed Jesus to wash him, he could not sit at table with Him. But evidently Peter found in them a deeper significance, and understood them as meaning: Unless I wash you, you are outcast from my fellowship and cease to share in my kingdom and destiny. Here the symbolic significance of the eating together and of the washing begins dimly to appear. That Peter saw that this deeper meaning was intended appears from the eagerness of his answer.8. Thou shalt never wash my feet] The negative is the strongest form possible; ‘thou shalt certainly not wash my feet for ever.’ See on John 8:51, and comp. Matthew 16:22.

no part with me] The Greek is the same as in Matthew 24:51 and Luke 12:46. The expression is of Hebrew origin; comp. Deuteronomy 10:9; Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 14:27. To reject Christ’s self-humiliating love, because it humiliates Him (a well-meaning but false principle), is to cut oneself off from Him. It requires much more humility to accept a benefit which is a serious loss to the giver than one which costs him nothing. In this also the surrender of self is necessary.John 13:8. Λέγει, saith) A second protestation against it need not to have been added.—εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, ever at any time) Peter opposes this to the μετὰ ταῦτα, hereafter, John 13:7. An emphatic form of denying: 1 Corinthians 8:13, “I will eat no flesh εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, while the world standeth.”—ἐάν, if) We ought to yield to the will of the Lord.—σέ) thee, saith He, not thy feet. This brevity of expression is strictly accurate; for he who has not his feet washed, is accounted as wholly unwashed.—οὐκ ἔχεις, thou hast not) The necessity for that grace [humility] was shown to them through the washing of their feet. There is no doubt but that the wonderful humility of the Lord very much changed and melted the souls of the disciples. Peter especially was in need of it.—μετʼ ἐμοῦ, with Me) Jesus therefore [notwithstanding this act of humiliation] still remains their Lord.Never (οὐ μὴ - εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα)

A very strong expression. Literally, thou shalt by no means wash my feet as long as the world stands.

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