8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Peter now attempted to reverse the role between him and his Master. How thoughtless this was! Impulsive Peter saw the incongruity that the Teacher and Master would wash his feet and that of the other disciples. This was an intolerable thought to him. As usual, Peter blundered his way into the scene.
Imagine a disciple opposing his Lord! Here is another instance where Peter stuck his foot in his mouth. The Greek is very strong— “You will never ever wash my feet.” Peter was in a dilemma of two incongruities: (1) the problem of the Lord washing the feet of a subordinate and (2) his obliviousness in rebuking the Lord.
Peter completely failed to understand the Lord’s purpose by this act of humility. If he could not grasp the lesson of humility in washing feet, he would not comprehend the absolute humiliation of Jesus on the cross. The two events convey the same principle.
Peter saw the incongruity of Jesus washing his feet, but he completely missed the incongruity of a disciple giving an order to his Master. He wanted to dictate the terms of his relationship with the Lord. It is ironic that he confused himself with his Lord.
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part [participation] with Me.”
Peter did not understand the symbolic significance of Jesus washing his feet. He saw only the part, not the whole. He understood only what was happening before him. Jesus thought in terms of God’s whole plan for salvation, not the part. Peter only looked at the incongruity of his Lord washing his feet.
The word “part” in “you have no part with Me” refers to participation in humble ministry with Christ. We need to be in solidarity with Christ in how He ministers to others. Peter would have had no linkage to Jesus without acceptance of the cleansing blood of Christ. Although Peter did not understand this point, it was what Jesus pointed to here.
The word “part” may also refer to fellowship with and service for the Lord (Jn 13:14-17). Peter needed to grasp the slave-nature of service for Jesus; otherwise, he would not serve like the Lord would have him minister. The main thrust of Jesus’ footwashing was not cleansing—whether of sin at salvation or post-salvation—but in the nature of service for Him. Jesus did not say that Peter would have no relationship with Him but that he would have no fellowship with Him (2 Co 8:9; Php 2:7; Mt 11:29). We cannot have fellowship with the Lord or serve Him without daily cleansing from our sin (Ps 139:23-24).
Once we accept this kind of service, no doubt we will need ongoing cleansing for our sin. John himself clearly made this point later in one of his epistles:
1 Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Those who serve the Lord need to recognize the slave-nature of following Him.
It is always true that if we are not washed in the blood of Christ we cannot have eternal life. Additionally, neither can we walk with the Lord without constant acceptance that Jesus paid for our sins. It requires humility either to become a Christian or to walk with the Lord on a daily basis.
Believers in Christ need to receive graciously as well as give graciously. To not to be open to receiving from the Lord means that we are not vulnerable to God Himself. We have a self-sufficient tendency. We find it difficult to receive both from the Lord and others. We deem ourselves as high achievers; this puts us in a place of depending on self.