Washing One Another’s Feet: -- By: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 01:2 (Summer 1992)
Article: Washing One Another’s Feet:
Author: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Washing One Another’s Feet:

S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.1

An Exposition of John 13:1–17

John’s Gospel has been regarded by many as the paragon of the gospels, particularly in the spirituality of its teaching. Clement of Alexandria is often quoted as saying that John was moved by the entreaty of his intimate friends and inspired by the Spirit to compose a “spiritual gospel.” This sentiment may, perhaps, be traced to the nature of the Upper Room Discourse which is found in chapters 13–17.

Many years ago I heard Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder and first president of Dallas Theological Seminary, say in a chapel message to students, “The Upper Room Discourse contains the purest Christian teaching that we have anywhere in the New Testament.”2 This may be something of an exaggeration. Dr. Chafer was occasionally guilty of using the “shock technique” in his teaching methodology. But he properly underscores the purity and significance of the teaching found in this discourse. He also called this discourse “the seed plot of all grace teaching,” containing “in germ form every essential doctrine.”

It is helpful to note the place of this passage in the unfolding process of thought in the Gospel of John. Seven signs of the Lord Jesus are used by John in the first eleven chapters to present the revelation of God’s Son. This revelation is complete in chapter eleven with the seventh sign and its effects, the raising of Lazarus. The reaction of the people and the little flock of believers to the ministry of Christ is described in chapter twelve (cf. 12:37–50). It now remains for the Lord to prepare the apostles for the time when He will no longer be physically present with them. This is the purpose of the teaching in the upper room (chapters 13–16) and the high-priestly prayer which follows (chapter 17).

It is not surprising, then, that our Lord should spend some time with His apostles preparing them for the future. It originally required months of preparation to ascend

Mount Everest. Roger Bannister, the British physician who broke the barrier of the four-minute mile run, prepared for his accomplishment for years. So the Lord prepares His disciples for His death and departure from them.

His message is essentially very startling. Even though He is going away, He will b...

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