May 13, 2013
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
The Girded Christ
He riseth from supper, laid aside His garments; and took a towel,
and girded Himself … and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and to wipe them with the towel
wherewith He was girded.
John 13 and the scene in the upper room when the Lord Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, is often referred to as an ‘action-parable.’ This simply means it is an event which has deeper significance, or a parabolic meaning. To understand something of the picture being painted, consider first of all, the atmosphere on this occasion. There was the Satanic hatred burning in the heart of Judas. There was also the lack of humility on the part of disciples. None of them took the lead in feet washing. There was the honor which belonged to Christ as heir of all (v 3), and there was the horror that Calvary would mean (v 1).
Into this scene of hatred, haughtiness, approaching horror, and conscious honor and dignity, the Spirit of God introduces a girded Christ. We are told that He loved His own and loved them unto the end or uttermost. Just as He rose from supper, He once rose up from the throne eternal, from the Father’s side, and came into the world.
In a similar manner, He laid aside His garments; He is the One Who laid aside the outward insignia of deity and glory and came. In the upper room, He girded Himself with a slave’s apron. The One Who held the highest place above, willingly took servant form and came to serve His Master, doing His will.
But to all this is added the lovely touch, that He stooped even lower; He began to wash their feet and to dry them with the towel with which He was girded. Likewise, the One Who became a Servant of Jehovah, stooped still lower and became obedient unto death, even a cross death. Another has noted how that the hands into which the Father had given all things, are now holding the dirty feet of proud disciples!
You can be sure the water He used was not frigid, nor the manner in which He handled their feet rough or callous. You cannot doubt that when He wiped and dried their feet, it was gentle and soothing. Imagine a God who would stoop so low! And He has not changed! He was giving His disciples an overview of all He had done and a preview of His final stoop to Calvary.
1. Our chapter begins with the Lord Jesus loving ‘His own.’ Back in John 1:11, we have the same expression used, ‘His own.’ But now the circle is different.
2. The teaching of the chapter is actually cleansing from defilement and not salvation. But is the Cross as necessary for cleansing day by day and for communion with Christ as it is for salvation?
3. Trace some of the garments of Christ from the swaddling bands of Luke 2 to the seamless garment of John 19.