15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
15 For I have given you an example,
An example is a model to be copied. Jesus was a model of self-giving service in going to the cross to die for our sins. The example is to follow the same pattern of humility that the Lord did. The word “example” indicates that Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet was no casual event; it had great intent behind it.
The humility it takes disciples to wash another disciple’s feet was nowhere near the degree it was in the case of Christ. Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet was a model or example for the disciples to follow.
The example that Jesus expected of His disciples was not a new ordinance of footwashing. The idea was that they, of their own volition, would follow His example of humility.
that you should do as I have done to you.
The “as” in this phrase provides a link between what applied to Jesus and then what applied to the disciples. What applied to Jesus as He related to the Father applies to believers in their relationship to Jesus. Just as the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus sent the disciples.
To follow Christ is more than simple footwashing. There is a distinction in following Jesus—humility and love. Humility is more than just a nice idea that Jesus presented; He expected the disciples to serve one another after His death. He does not expect an outer rite but an inner attitude of humility.
This issue of washing feet was a humility issue, not a physical rite.
Footwashing is not a church ordinance. Some churches have taught this. Their churches practice footwashing as a sacrament. This is not a wide practice in today’s churches.
It is true that widows washed the feet of the saints, but this was done as a service and not as an ordinance (1 Ti 5:10). It was practiced in the first-century church as a matter of courtesy. We need to follow Jesus’ principle of greater to lesser.
There is no need to institutionalize footwashing as an ordinance or sacrament. Baptism and the Lord’s supper are clearly set forth as ordinances for the church. Other than John 13, there is no passage that even implies the idea of footwashing as a sacrament. Neither is it found in extra-biblical documents about the church. The only clear Scripture, other than our passage in John 13, is 1 Timothy 5:10, but it is no exception. The argument in that passage is about the good deeds of a widow willing to serve others. To make a rite out of Jesus’ argument is to miss the point of the passage. That point is an illustration of humility toward others.