Bathe and Wash
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Peter initially balked at letting his feet be washed by Jesus. But after the Lord=s admonition, Peter reversed himself and asked Jesus to wash his hands and head also. This provided Jesus a teaching opportunity.
John 13:10a (Holman) AOne who has bathed, A Jesus told him, Adoesn=t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean.@
To illustrate the process of spiritual cleansing, Jesus used a metaphor from everyday life. After a person bathed their whole body, their only need for a while was to wash off dust that collected on their feet from walking.
This physical metaphor pictured a vital spiritual truth. Regeneration, being born again, is the bath that washes a sinner thoroughly. The sins a Christian commits after conversion are like dust that sticks to a traveler=s feet.
Judas and Peter perfectly portray both of the needed cleansings. Judas needed a full bath; Peter needed only a washing.
Two images from the Old Testament might help. When bathing us, Jesus is the Passover Lamb who redeems us from bondage. When washing us, Jesus is the morning and evening sacrifice cleansing us from daily guilt.
The sins we commit after conversion cannot undo the eternal effect of our spiritual bath, but they do need to be removed. Believers need a daily cleansing from the sins we commit.
Priests, when consecrated to their office, were washed all over with water. This full-body cleansing was never repeated, but they were required to wash at the laver when they ministered. Failure to do this was punishable by death.
Fortunately, post-salvation sin does not alter a believer=s everlasting legal standing before God. Each child of God is positionally clean forever, having received Christ=s righteousness.
Any who have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus are eternally secure. They need only to wash off by confession and repentance sins they commit in daily living.
I urge us to make sure we are, first of all, spiritually bathed. This must come first. Daily washing helps no one who has not had prior regeneration.
On the other hand, once we are spiritually bathed, don=t forget to come asking daily for cleansing. It is wonderful when Christ bathes us at conversion. He redeems us from slavery, resurrects us from death, adopts us as children.
This drying up the flood of our sin is wonderful, but not all God wants to do for us. He wants to take away the constant dripping of our everyday sins. We are to pray each day, AForgive us our trespasses@ (Matthew 6:12).
Constant confession of sin by Christians is important. If we do not sense a need for this daily cleansing, we are overly proud, not understanding ourselves.
For many unbelievers, it is difficult to come to Christ the first time. For many believers, it is difficult to come to Jesus continually.
Even Peter had to have daily cleansing. He preached the Gospel, healed the sick, and cast out demons. Shouldn=t this have been enough to satisfy the Master?
Peter saw Jesus transfigured. Wouldn=t this honor suffice? Peter walked on water. Isn=t this good enough to be allowed to share in Christ=s work? Peter was the first to confess Jesus as the Christ.
Didn=t this prove Peter=s worthiness? No, despite these and many other achievements, Peter had to go repeatedly to the Lord for cleansing.
Don=t let this long, downward drag of sin drive us to despair; let it send us to Jesus often for washing. When we think of our present sinfulness, the accuser taunts us, AYou blew it. You=ll never get back in God=s favor.@ All we can do at such times is repeatedly pray, AWash me, Jesus, and I shall be whiter than snow.@
To have God=s blessing, we must be bathed by Christ once, washed by Him often. Each is an act of grace. Good deeds we do cannot compensate for the bad. Penance doesn=t work.
Nothing is ever imputed to us on the basis of merit. We must run repeatedly to Christ for cleansing. This continues to be true for a lifetime. In fact, the holier a person becomes, the more they mourn whatever unholiness remains in them.
Never think we can by ourselves attain a level of holiness necessary for acceptance before God. Merit? No. Mercy? Yes.
John 13:10b-11 AYou are clean, but not all of you.@ For He knew who would betray Him. This is why He said, AYou are not all clean.@
At the table, three types of character traits were represented: the perfectly clean, Jesus; the partially clean, the Eleven; the entirely unclean, Judas. These three traits are still present when believers gather.
Fortunately, the presence of one defiled disciple at the Last Supper did not alter the worth of the group. Christ did not reject the whole due to one bad part.
They had all, including Judas we suppose, been baptized by John the Baptist. But Judas, like many others through the ages, had received the outward sign without having experienced the inward reality signified.
The fact there was a Judas among the Twelve teaches us at least three lessons. One, when hypocrites are discovered among us, it should be neither a surprise nor a stumbling block to us. Two, Christ loves His church, though hypocrites are in it.
Three, Judas= sin should make us wonder about our own spiritual condition. Always be on guard, asking, AIs it I? Am I an unclean one among the clean?@