John 13:8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
We have this fallen inclination, like Peter, to try and clean ourselves up before coming to Jesus to clean us. We think: “I better stop doing that, and start doing this.” Which is probably true, but first things first. Our desire to be cleaned is from God, but our inclination to do it ourselves is broken. Christ must clean us.
We see it throughout scripture. Adam and Eve try to improve on their situation by grabbing some fig leaves. This only makes things worse. Cain tries to impress God with his green thumb. However, only a perfect sacrifice was acceptable. Uzzah was only trying to help when he reached out to keep the Ark from touching the ground. Uzzah falsely assumed the ground was dirtier than he was. Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things,” (including dirt). Dirt does what it is suppose to do, it is people who do not. If Uzzah really saw his sin, and understood God’s holiness, he would never have reached out and touched the ark, (1). Peter never would’ve tried to bypass Jesus washing his feet. When it comes to cleansing sin God does not need your help! He is the only one who’s heart is clean enough, intentions pure enough, to wash us clean. “Either Peter would be washed or he would be excluded from being an heir of Jesus. The thunderous force of “no part with me” is devastating, (2). Before we can do anything we must come to Jesus and let Him wash us. This must precede everything else.
1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” We must first allow ourselves to be loved before we can ever adequately love. We must be served before we will ever adequately serve. First things first. “The Law is not the source of righteousness, but it is always the way of the righteous,” (3). When God washes us the Holy Spirit is the cleansing agent. “When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment,” (John 16:8). The Holy Spirit keeps cleaning us, changing us, restoring us. This is what Paul was getting at when he said to the church in Philippi “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 1:6). When Jesus washes us we are “completely clean,” (John 13:10). The Greek word for completely is holos which means: being complete in extent, whole, entire. Stop trying to get ready for Jesus. Quit trying to help Him. When we do that we are actually getting in His way. So what are you waiting for? You will never be more ready than you are right now. The repentance will come. The obedience will come. The freedom will come, But first things first. Jesus must wash you.
1. Keller, Timothy: Sermon
2. Borchert, G. L. (2002). John 12–21 (Vol. 25B, p. 81). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
3. Willard, Dallas “Life Without Lack” Nelson Books