Have you heard the saying “a lick and a promise?” Generally, in my understanding, this would mean a quick cleanup before going out. Something like washing the face, armpits, hands and maybe brushing the teeth followed by a spray of deodorant and a brush through the hair. It’s all cosmetic … the clothes cover the rest of the body. On the other hand, a shower or a bath implies cleaning the whole body (and hair). We find an interesting passage on John 13 about washing:
Jn 13:2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”
11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not everyone was clean.
We have two words both translated as “wash” or “bath”. One means to wash parts of the body (verses 5, 6 and 8). In verse 10 (translated as “bath” in the NIV), it means to perform a complete ablution. These two words or concepts reveal two truths. The one is our standing in Christ and the other our experience in Christ. Our standing never changes because through the merits of the Cross we are positionally holy and righteous. Our standing in Christ is solid and secure. We see this in Ephesians 1:
Eph 1:13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
On the other hand, our experience changes from time to time during the course of our life on earth. Someone got it spot-on when saying. “Union with Jesus is so strong, that nothing can break it. Communion with Jesus is so fragile that the slightest sin can break it.” You see, our experience in Christ is dependent upon our faithfulness to holiness-making. When we slip and fall spiritually, our experience is lessened and filled with embarrassment and guilt.
Throughout the Roman Empire of the First Century, the government established public baths in its cities. A citizen would have a complete bath at the ‘baths’ ,and after walking home, he would only need to wash his feet because of the sand / dust / gravel roads. He was completely clean, but his feet became dirty. As Jesus went from disciple to disciple, He came to Peter who responded:
Jn 13:8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Then Jesus responded:
Jn 13:8 … “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Unless I wash your, feet Peter, you can’t have fellowship and communion with Me.” To this Peter said:
Jn 13:9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
That is, “Give me a complete bath!” But Jesus then says:
Jn 13:10 Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean.”
The first lesson coming through here is that a person who has repented through confession of sin and receiving Jesus as Lord has had all his or her sin and guilt removed through a “spiritual blood bath” because of the merits of Calvary.
That is your position in Christ. You are eternally secure through the Blood stained Cross. This can never change or be lost. This ought to be an enormous encouragement and help to every believer! Meditate on these two verses:
Ro 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
Ro 5:9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
This means that if you sin, you don’t lose your standing in Christ! You don’t lose your salvation. You don’t need to return to the Cross to be saved all over again. It’s like the Roman citizen (Peter) … once he walked home, he did not need to return to the “baths” for a complete wash again. Only his feet were dirty!
Your feet represent your “walk” … that is, your experience in Christ. It is so sad … we don’t want to sin, yet as we travel towards heaven we do sin. When we sin, we need to be cleansed of that sin because our walk with Jesus is defiled! Remember Jesus said, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” If we are not cleansed of our daily sin, our fellowship with Jesus is corrupted … that is why we need daily to confess our sins:
1 Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Once cleansed, our relationship and fellowship with our precious Lord is restored. What a great comfort to know these principles!
Dear Loving, Merciful Heavenly Father, thank You for the initial and eternal cleansing that comes with salvation. Thank You that salvation cannot be lost! Thank You that You made provision for each sin to be cleansed as we come to You, as Your children, through faith and sincerity through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.