THIS FEETWASHING FORM WAS NOT A MERE MEANINGLESS ACTION
"Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore, said he, Ye are not all clean".
1. A further outburst on the part of Peter clearly indicates that the disciples did not understand what Christ was doing. We can be grateful that Peter was the type of man he was. More than once his expressed confusion provides the occasion for Christ to say something that lifts the veil from matters that might otherwise remain utterly obscure. You can see that Peter is convinced that if his feet are dirty and need washing, then the same thing is true of his hands and his head. In fact, he feels completely dirty and in need of a complete bath. Even though a complete bath would not have been possible in the upper room, Peter urges Christ to perform this act.
2. The explanation brings two things to the attention of the disciples, both of which strike at the very heart of this symbolism. The first has to do with a complete bath. The second has to do with a washing of a part of the body. The first word "washed" does refer to a complete bath. It is the word "louo". It is always used in reference to the washing of the entire body. It could better be translated by the word "bathed". The second term "wash" is the word "nipto". It has appeared in every verse preceding (5,6,8), in reference to the washing of the feet, a part of the body. One bath is sufficient. But there is a need for continual washing of the feet.
Now Jesus says something that is utterly separated from the material symbol he is performing. "Ye are clean, but not all." The word "ye" is plural, and this refers to all the disciples. All have had a complete bath with the exception of one. This statement could remain obscure and give rise to endless debate if it were not for the fact that the apostle John explains exactly what it meant.
3. The explanation appears in vs. 11. "For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean". There was one in the group who was destined to betray Him into the hands of His enemies. That was Judas.
In fact he had his plans all laid for betrayal and was just waiting for the proper time. Before the events of the evening were completed Satan entered into Judas and he went to perform his dastardly deed (John 13:27, 30). This demonstrates the fact that the word "bathed" had spiritual significance. It meant that Judas was not saved. He had not had a complete bath. But the word "nipto" also takes on spiritual significance. It refers to a washing of a part of the body which acquires defilement just by walking thru the world. He was thus pointing out the fact in this symbolism that daily defilement requires the washing of water in the word in order that a believer might have part with Christ. So this act of feetwashing was lifted to the level of spiritual meaning.