“He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For He knew who was to betray Him; that was why He said, “Not all of you are clean.”” (John 13:6–11, ESV)
Misunderstood once again. This is exactly what Peter evidenced by his words. He and probably the rest of the disciples with him could not fathom Jesus stooping to the role of washing their feet. Peter asked Him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” as if to say “Why you? Why do you do what a servant should do? Someone should be washing your feet, and not you washing ours!” Jesus responded to Peter acknowledging the obvious truth which was that they clearly did not understand the significance of what He was doing. He went on to tell them that while they did not understand this now there would be a time that they would.
Peter would not relent. Understanding Jesus or not, Peter was not willing to let Jesus wash his feet now or ever. This was not something that Peter would stoop to let Him do as he saw things. Jesus continued His response to Peter telling Him that if He would not let Jesus wash him that he would have no future with Him. And in having no future he would not share in any portion of the glory which awaited Jesus and all who are cleansed not by water but by His blood. The symbol here was a little bit of water being used to cleanse their feet, but just a few hours away Jesus would shed His blood for the forgiveness of His disciples’ sins and of all who believed. By His blood they will have been made clean, and through His resurrection power they would all be made alive.
All who believe will be totally washed once and for all. They will not have any need to have their sins re-forgiven, as Jesus’ work to do this is absolutely perfect and complete once and for all time. The reality is that while totally cleaned and in no need of having been re-cleansed, there is the sense that we do continue to sin. While those sins have been forgiven, there is a responsibility on our part to admit those sins before God and to move forward from them committed to walking right before Him in the power of His Spirit. 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, ESV)
Jesus knew the heart and the future of every one of His disciples. He knew those who believed and were to be totally cleaned and in no future need of being cleaned again, and He knew the one who was unclean and who would betray Him. John tells us this in pointing to Jesus’ own words, “Not all of you are clean.” Here Jesus spoke of Judas who had already set his plan of betrayal into motion.
But for the rest, Jesus spoke with full assurance that His act of washing their feet as a humble servant would was a small foreshadowing of what He was soon to do as the Son of God who “who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6–8, ESV)