In John 13, Lord Jesus is seen taking the basin and the towel in utmost humility to wash His disciples’ feet.
But How could the Son of God- the object of worship in heaven, glorious in power; undertake such a humble act of a servant? What was He thinking of Himself when He took the basin and the Towel? Let the Scripture give these Glorious answers…….
Passage of Reference
Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. John 13:3,4
These two verses speaks of two definite actions
1. Jesus Knowing
2. He Riseth
These verses shows the transition of the Son of God from the Throne of God to the the feet of Men. How could one who was seated high above the Heavens, the very Son of God be found at the feet of Men? Moreover, it goes unsaid that it was to clean the filty feet of His Disciples..
Lets learn what our Lord was just thinking before He took the basin and the towel.
First of all , verse 3 states “Jesus knowing”
Or another translation states “Because Jesus knew…..”
There was something that our Lord knew; that would ultimately prompt Him to take the basin and the towel. It was some knowledge that caused our Lord to take this humble step.
What was this knowledge that our Lord was knowing? what kind of knowledge is it that our Lord was knowing and that He should be immediately moved to take the basin and the towel?
The Verse states two things that the Lord was knowing and these were two glorious things about Himself. They in fact described the greatness of our Lord.
The First of all
1. Father had given all things into his hands
ALL things were in the hands of the Son of God.
This truth is listed throughout the Bible on how the Son of God was all Powerful and held all things in His hands
In John3:35, we read
“The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. “
In one of the most beautiful passages describing the greatness of our Lord -Col 1:16-19, this is what we read
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;
Notice how many times the word “all” appear
In short the above passage says that
1.all things were created by Him, for Him.
2.He is before all things
3.In Him all things consist
4.He has preeminence in all things
5. In Him, all Fullness Dwells.
In fact, John the apostle starts this book with the very same thought that
“All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything that was not made” John1:3
Moreover , Our Lord Himself left these following words with His disciples after His resurrection, before leaving for Heaven –
Matthew 28:18- All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
The Hebrew writer in complete accordance to the thoughts of our Lord in John 13, puts it this way :-
Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him…. For it was fitting for him, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory. Heb 2:8,10
Moreover the Hebrew writer, just like John the apostle; starts His epistle with the same thoughts, that Christ is “upholding all things by the Word of His power ” Heb1:3
All these verses put together, just elaborates beautifully the thoughts of our Lord, just before He took the basin and the towel.
Let us remind ourselves that verse 3 starts with the words ” Jesus Knowing” or ” Because Jesus knew“.
In other words, whatever our Lord was to do in the next instance was because of something He knew. And we have only seen the first of the glorious thoughts that our Lord knew or that captivated our Lord’s mind before he picked the basin and towel in absolute Humility.
The second is “he was come from God, and went to God;”
He was no Man. He was the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
“He was come from God” or as John puts it “The WORD was with God and the WORD was God”
John the baptist testifying of the Lord said:
He that cometh from above is above all…. he that cometh from heaven is above all. John 3:31
The Lord speaking to Nicodemus said
And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. John 3:13
Many hours later when our Lord prayed a prayer unto His Father before He entered Gethsemane; He prayed this way-
…… I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. John 16:26-27
The Lord when speaking to the Jews re- emphasized this very truth by these words Ye are from beneath;
I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. John 8:23
As we can see that even the second thought of our Lord, spoke of the greatness of the Son of God just like the first.
It is even wonderful to see that our Lord was preoccupied by these two thoughts just before he took the basin and the towel. These thoughts in all dimensions speak about His Greatness.
And it’s even more beautiful the read to read the way verse 3 starts- Because He Knew.
Because He knew these two glorious things about Himself, He goes ahead to pick up the basin and the towel and demonstrate the meekest and most humble actions in his ministry as never before.
He left the throne above and was made lower than the angels- born of a woman, born under the law. And these passages show how the same almighty Son of God in flesh, knelt down to the heights of the feet of man.
From the highest heights of His throne to the deepest depths of sinful Man!!! Can it get lower than this?
One part of the sentence says of His Greatness and the other half of his absolute Meekness.
He is thinking of His divinity and in the same breath showing the most humble of all acts seen in Humanity.No sooner He is thinking of His glorious divinity than He is found in the form of a Servant. He is surely God!!
Even before the sentence gets over, we read these words- He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
Having now seen His thoughts just before he rose to wash His disciples feet; its now time to hit the nail- How could He do it???
Is it possible that one should think about His absolute greatness and in the same instant take the most humble forms of servant? How could someone who had all reasons to glory about Himself suddenly take the basin and the towel? Moreover having seen the two thoughts that pre-occupied the mind of Jesus before this act; it should actually take us by complete surprise to find our Lord so.
We can learn this answer ultimately from the words of Apostle Paul to the Corinthians
1 Cor 8:1- Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies
It cannot be said in any better way than how Apostle john starts chapter 13 itself in verse 1:- having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
At one instant the Lord is thinking His own greatness; but that knowledge did not puff Him up. It was in-fact LOVE that brought His hands to the filthy feet of His disciples.
Verse 3 starts ”Jesus Knowing”. Yes Jesus was knowing all the glorious truths about Himself. He knew that all things were given in His hands and He came from God and returned back to God. But His love brought Him down to the the feet of His disciples and ultimately to the cross.
In the words of the Hymn writer: Jesus loves me, and I know I love Him; Love brought Him down my poor soul to redeem; Yes, it was love made Him die on the tree; Oh, I am certain that Jesus loves me
Meekness and majesty
Manhood and Deity
In perfect harmony
The Man who is God
Lord of eternity
Dwells in humanity
Kneels in humility
And washes our feet
God the invisible
In frailty appears
Lord of infinity
Stooping so tenderly
Lifts our humanity
To the heights of His throne
O what a mystery
Meekness and majesty
Bow down and worship
For this is your God
This is your God
Ever wondered how could someone humble Himself so much,to take the form of a servant and eventually to die the death on the tree?
The Answer is God is Love (1 John 4:8) and He having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them TO THE END (John 13:1)