The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 153

Passion Week ~ The Upper Room ~ Part 2

In our last post, we continued to examine the final days of Yeshua’s life and ministry. This post continues to explore the events that may have occurred on Thursday.

Yeshua Washes the Talmidim Feet

1 It was just before the festival of Pesach, and Yeshua knew that the time had come for Him to pass from this world to the Father. Having loved His own people in the world, He loved them to the end. 2 They were at supper, and the Adversary had already put the desire to betray Him into the heart of Y’hudah Ben-Shim’on from K’riot. 3 Yeshua was aware that the Father had put everything in His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God. 4 So He rose from the table, removed His outer garments, and wrapped a towel around His waist. 5 Then He poured some water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the talmidim and wipe them off with the towel wrapped around Him.

He began to wash the feet of the talmidim. Foot washing was a courtesy shown to guests in a home, usually performed by a servant or the host’s wife when the guests entered the house or while they were reclining at the table (see Lk 7:44, Mk 1:7). Here, Yeshua acts out his teaching of Mark 10:43–44 that the greatest must be a servant.

6 He came to Shim’on Kefa, who said to Him, “Lord! You are washing my feet?” Yeshua answered him, “You don’t understand yet what I am doing, but in time you will understand.” 8 “No!” said Kefa, “You will never wash my feet!” Yeshua answered him, “If I don’t wash you, you have no share with me.” “Lord,” Shim’on Kefa replied, “not only my feet but my hands and head too!” 10 Yeshua said to him, “A man who has had a bath doesn’t need to wash except his feet—his body is already clean. And you people are clean, but not all of you.” 11 (He knew who was betraying Him; this is why He said, “Not all of you are clean.”)

Compare Exodus 30:20: “Aharon and his sons are to wash their hands and feet … when they come near the altar to minister …, so that they will not die.” The cohanim were already cleansed from impurities, but even so, they had to wash their hands and feet. Once sins of the past have been forgiven, we need not have them forgiven again; the initial confession and immersion that washes away past sin need not be repeated. But there is a continual need to repent of newly committed sins, make reparation for them and seek forgiveness for them. Compare these verses with the more explicit teaching at 1 Yochanan 1:5–2:2.

12 After He had washed their feet, taken back his clothes, and returned to the table, He said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me ‘Rabbi’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because I am. 14 Now if I, the Lord and Rabbi, have washed your feet, you also should wash each other’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, so that you may do as I have done to you. 16 Yes, indeed! I tell you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is an emissary greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. [1]

A talmid is not above his rabbi but can become like his rabbi. This pattern was standard in both the first century and later Judaism.

In our next, we continue to follow Yeshua into Yerushalayim for His Crucifixion by the end of the week and continue in The Upper Room.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Yochanan 13:1-17

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