KNOWING THE ALL-INCLUSIVE LORD
John 13:3 says, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all into His hands, and that He had come forth from God, and was going to God.” This verse says that the Father had given all into the hands of the Lord Jesus. What does “all” mean? In this verse all means all things and all people. Hence, the Father has given into the hands of the Lord Jesus all things and all people. If we would understand the significance of the foot-washing in this chapter, we need to know this all-inclusive Lord, the One to whom the Father had given all things and all people. Because the Lord Jesus knew that the Father had given all into His hands, He washed the disciples’ feet. The One who washed their feet was the One who had received such a great commission.
KNOWING THAT HE HAD COME FROM GOD AND WAS GOING TO GOD
Verse 3 also tells us that the Lord Jesus knew that He had come forth from God and was going to God. The Lord came from a wonderful source—the almighty, infinite God. The Lord’s source was not Nazareth, Bethlehem, or even heaven. As the One who came from the source of the almighty, infinite God, the Lord washed the feet of His disciples.
Furthermore, verse 3 tells us that the Lord Jesus knew that He was going to God. It is significant that in chapters thirteen through seventeen of this Gospel the word “heaven” is not mentioned. We are told not that the Lord Jesus came from heaven and that He was going to heaven, but that He came forth from God and was going to God. However, due to the influence of traditional religious interpretation, we are accustomed to saying that the Lord came from heaven and was going back to heaven. According to verse 3, the Lord came from God as His source, and now He was returning to this source.
In 13:3 we see three factors related to the Lord’s washing His disciples’ feet: first, that all things and all people had been committed to Him by the Father; second, that He had come forth from God; and third, that He was going to God. These three factors indicate that the Lord Jesus is a great Person. Surely, as such a great Person, He had come to accomplish something great. He did not come into the world simply to pay us a visit. No, the Lord came because He was commissioned to accomplish a great thing.
THE COMMISSION THE LORD RECEIVED FROM THE FATHER
When verse 3 says that the Lord Jesus knew that He was going to God, this indicates that He had fulfilled the purpose for which He had come from God. The Lord Jesus had come from God, lived on earth for thirty-three and a half years, and now He was going back to God. Certainly, He had come to do something on earth. The fact that He was going to God indicates that this purpose and commission had been accomplished.
The Lord Jesus had been commissioned by the almighty, infinite God. Hence, the One who commissioned the Lord was great, and the commission given to Him was also great. What was this commission? What did the Lord Jesus come to accomplish? Different answers can be given to these questions. Some may say that the Lord came to accomplish redemption; others, that He had been sent to bring God into man. The commission God the Father gave to His Son was divine and mysterious. The commission was to bring fallen, natural, sinful, satanic, and demonic man into the holy, glorious, infinite God. This is what the Lord came to accomplish.
The commission the Lord Jesus received from God the Father was to bring us into God. Do you realize what we are in ourselves? We are natural, fallen, sinful, satanic, and demonic. Furthermore, in ourselves we are in sin, blindness, and death. But the Lord Jesus was commissioned by the Father to come to earth in order to bring such people out of sin, darkness, and death into the almighty, infinite God. This was, and still is, the Lord’s commission.
In verse 3 the word “knowing” means realizing. The Lord Jesus realized that all things and all people had been committed to Him. He also realized that He had come from God for the accomplishment of the commission given to Him and that now He was going back to God. Knowing all this, He washed the feet of His disciples. This indicates that foot-washing is a matter of great significance.
LOVING THE DISCIPLES TO THE UTTERMOST
In 13:1 we see that the foot-washing in chapter thirteen is also related to the Lord’s love for His disciples: “Now before the feast of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that His hour had come that He should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the uttermost.” Verse 1 says that the Lord loved the disciples to the uttermost. This love to the uttermost is related to foot-washing. To be sure, the Lord manifested His love for us by dying on the cross for us. Nevertheless, not even that love was called love to the uttermost in the Bible. The uttermost love was the love shown in washing the feet of His disciples. This is a further indication of the importance of foot-washing. In the next message we shall consider the sign of foot-washing (vv. 1-11) and the sign of brotherly love in foot-washing (vv. 12-38).
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 33, by Witness Lee)