Christ has gone to prepare a place for us. He need not have left the glory at all if it had not been for our sakes. He took flesh and blood, but it was for us; because the children were partakers of flesh and blood He took part in the same; He laid down His life, but it was for us. He rose, but it was for us. He has gone into the presence of God, but it is for us. All that He has done, He has done for us.
No, you say, “He has done it for the glory of God.” Of course He has; all He has done He has done for the Father’s glory most surely, but it is just as true, on the other hand, that all that He has done He has done for us, and the place He now occupies is the place that belongs to us; He has taken hold of it for us, it is our proper place even whilst here in the world. When we go to be with Him we shall enjoy it perfectly; there will be no hindrance when we are there, but while we are on earth His desire for us is that we might have part with Him in the place where He has gone.
How can we have that? Well, He sets before us in figure what is necessary whilst walking through this defiling world in order that our feet might be kept clean. He takes water in a basin, girds Himself with a towel, and begins to wash the disciples’ feet. Peter demurs to his Lord stooping to an act usually performed by a slave and refuses to have his feet washed. Jesus says, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.” Peter did not know the meaning of what the Lord was doing, so the Lord replies, “What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.” Evidently then it was not merely feet-washing, not merely a down-stooping to perform a lowly act. Peter knew He was washing the disciples’ feet with water and only thought of menial service, but “thou shalt know hereafter” points to a spiritual meaning typified by the act of feet-washing, which went far beyond Peter’s thoughts.
We should love each other, and be ready to do the most menial service to one another; that is perfectly true, you do get that in the passage, “If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another’s feet”; but it is just as true, on the other hand, that Peter and the other disciples did not know what He was doing. What He was doing is a figure of what would be done for them spiritually during His absence. Peter says, “If I cannot have part with Thee without having my feet washed, well then, wash also my hands and my head, because at all costs I must have part with Thee.”
Now we get another truth, and that is that it was not necessary to do that. He says, “He that is washed all over—that is what the word means—needeth not save to wash his feet,” he is clean every whit. Now that is true of all believers; they are clean every whit.
If you are born of God, you are born of water and the Spirit; you are as clean as the work of Christ can make you; there is not only a new nature produced in you, but the death of Christ has been brought home to your soul with such power that you are cleaned from every defilement; You are washed, you are bathed all over, you are perfectly clean, you are fit to have part with Christ, fit for the glory now. The moment a person is converted, he is as fit for the glory as if he lived to the age of Methuselah and walked with God every day. His walk would not make him one bit more fit for the glory of God at the end of that time than he was at the beginning.
The thief never had his feet washed because he was not left to walk through this defiling scene, but those who remain here continually need their feet washed. The disciples could not help picking up defilement; you and I cannot help picking it up, because it is a defiling world. The Lord Himself never needed His feet washed, He was undefilable, there was nothing in Him that answered to the defilement of this world, it would not cleave to Him at all; but it cleaves to you and me, because there is in us that which responds to the defilement that is in the world, and we need that removed, and the only thing that will remove it will be the Word of God, which speaks of the death of Christ and the unfathomable grace of God in that death brought borne to our souls in the power of the Spirit of God. That is what feet-washing is; it is the death of Christ, and all the love expressed in that death brought home to our hearts in the power of the Spirit of God.
The world appeals to us at every step, we cannot avoid getting defiled; it may or may not be an open act of sin, it may not come to that; but whether it does, or does not, our feet must be washed in order to have part with Christ where He is. Think of being associated with Him before the face of God. What a wonderful place! In John 20, after He had risen and the work of redemption was accomplished, He says what He had never said before, “I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.” We have His place; we are in His relationships, the same relationship to the Father in which He as Man is now.
In the world we have natural relationships and affections that belong to them, and they are exceedingly sweet. To have relationships without affections would be a horrible thing. Think of parents and children not having affections; think of husbands and wives having no affection for each other. The relationship would be intolerable. So it would be intolerable to have to do with God—if you could think of such a thing—if there were not the affections that belong to the relationship; but there are the affections as well as the relationships; the relationship is set forth in Christ, and the affections also; we are brought into the relationship of children and the affections are produced in our hearts by the Spirit of God, so that we may have part with Him in the place where Christ has gone. The affections are seen in the love that is between the Father and the Son; that is the peculiar nature of the intimacy into which we are brought; if we enjoy that intimacy we shall be conscious of the slightest shade that would come in between us, and be very anxious as to our walk and ways through this world, so that we may not contract defilement. Should we do so, the filth will cleave to us unless we have our feet washed. The disciples needed feet-washing, and if they needed it, you may be perfectly sure you and I need it as long as we are here in the world. Blessed be God, Christ not only intercedes for us before the face of God, but He washes our feet by the Word. He washes our feet whenever it is needed, in order that we may be able to receive, and take our place along with Him in that holy place into which He has gone, and be able to enjoy the blessedness of those relationships formed in that heavenly sphere.