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sciousness of what He was, whence He came, and whither He was going, that the Lord condescended to this servile act. Observe how circumstantial our Evangelist is in his record of this event. We have each step in the transaction get before us as in a mirror.2 The Lord will instruct them, not by word only, but in deed. He lays aside his garments who had already laid aside His glory. See Him now girding Himself with a towel, the only thing wanting to complete “the form of a servant.” “Not only by performing a servile act, but by even assuming a servant's attire," - He exhibits
4 “in emblem the character which He had seen fit, in the fulness of His Divine condescension, to assume. pared, the Lord of glory, in the garb of humility, proceeds to His significant task, who “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”
THE SAME SUBJECT —continued.
St. John xiii, 6–11.
Then cometh he to Simon Peter : and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no
| Phil. ii. 5-7. This is Augustine's wrote, had been administered in some view of the passage (in 8. Jo. Tr. lv. places daily for many years; and the 6). Though He knew that He came probable reference here to the proout from God, and was going to God, phetic discourse concerning it at He filled the office not of the Lord Capernaum. Compare v. 18 with St. God, but of a serving man.”
John vi. 70. Bp. Wordsworth notes the num- 3 Heh. xii. 1. ber of present tenses, not all of which • A Plain Commentary. “The waitare observed in the E. V., adding, ing at table with the dress succinct, “The whole is described and pre- or girded up, was a mark of servitude, sented to the eye with the graphic which to keep in mind makes more liveliness of a picture." See his wonderful the condescension of the remarks as to St. John's silence con- Son of God in His saying, Luke xii. cerning the Institution of the Eu- 37, and in His doing, John xiii. 4.”— charist, wbich we know, when he Abp. Trench, Parr. xxyii.
part with me. 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.
By the time our Lord arrived at Peter, taking them probably in the order in which they were reclining at the table, the Disciples seem to have so far recovered from their first surprise. And Peter is the first to ask that question ? which was doubtless also in the minds of the rest. Full of instruction is the Lord's answer to His Church for evermore. In an extended sense we may apply the assuring sentence. Submit to all my dispensations. Believe that there is a reason, although for the time it be hidden from thine eyes.3 But Peter is not to be so persuaded. He is obstinate in his opposition. It is only when the Lord glances at the symbolical meaning of His act, and intimates the possibility of a separation, that the ardent Apostle is overcome. Then, with characteristic ardour, he becomes as eager for the benefit as he had before been resolute in refusing it. In order to understand the saying that follows, perfectly intelligible to those conversant with the country, it is needful to bear in mind the climate and customs of the East;4 where, before
1 V. 23 below. Chrysostom sup- The great . . . Poet of heathen anposes that He began with the un- tiquity : represents his deities as blushing Judas; but if the conjecture not recognized at once in their conin the text is correct, our Evangelist verse with men, but in their retirings would be the first to be so ministered and departure to come evidently to. Certain Roman commentators of discernible as divine. . . . In the course are anxious to make St. Peter meantime it is the trial of faith and here, as everywhere, the first.
patience . . . and anticipates the ? The contrast in the original is time when we shall look back and more striking than can be conveyed behold God in all those His dealings by any translation. Compare St. Luke that now appear dark.”—I. Williams v. 8.
On the Gospels, part ii. sec. 3. So 3 St. John iv. 25; 1 Cor. xiii. 9, The Christian Year, Fourth Sunday 12. “There seems to be also some- after Easter, “ Till death the weary thing of the same kind in the events spirit free, etc.” 2 Esdras v. 34. and occurrences of our life, wherein • Clarius describes the custom of the providences and overruling in- the ancients in their baths. After tentions of God are not perceived at the bath they betake themseves to the time, but are ... discerned after- the apodyterium to put on again the wards when they bave passed. ... clothes which there they had put off. Then and there they again wash their meaning, describes as last to be feet, to get rid of the dust which they washed, and first to be defiled. had collected in that passage.
going to any banquet, the guest takes his bath; so that on arriving at his host's house, all that he requires is to wash his feet; which, in a country where sandals only were worn, might be soiled by the way. This being done,-and in the East opportunity for such ablution was always accounted a part of hospitality,—the guest would be altogether clean, prepared to take his place at his host’s table. So with him who has been already washed in “ the laver of regeneration,' who has been already cleansed by Christ with that washing of which Baptism is the sign and seal, that“ great absolving act” needs not to be repeated, as indeed it is not capable of repetition. Yet needs ever such an one evermore, as it were, to wash his feet; submitting himself to the same gracious Lord who is evermore ready to cleanse him from those defilements he gathers as he moves through a sinful world. But let none deceive himself. Even in that little band was one who had failed of this grace of God.
CHRIST INTERPRETETH HIS OWN ACTION.
St. John xiii. 12-17.
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you ? Ye call me Master and Lord : and ye say well ; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet ; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, Verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord ; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
3 On the two distinct verbs, ren1 Tit. iii. 5.
dered indifferently in the E. V. by ? The feet, which Bengel with his the one word wash, see Abp. Trench, perception of the finer shades of Synonyms of the N. T., p. 188.
The Lord was sometimes His own interpreter. As sometimes we have from His own lips both parable and interpretation, so here He teaches His Disciples both by word and deed. Observe the calmness which characterises all His actions. He quietly resumes the garments which, when adopting the character of a servant, in accordance with Eastern custom He had laid aside, and seats Himself again upon the couch in His character of Lord and Master. These titles, and the order in which they occur, are not without their significance The Disciples had first looked Jesus as little more than a Teacher. Afterwards, and by degrees, He led them to reverence Him as Lord. So here, first, He puts these terms in the order in which they had learned to regard Him; Teacher first, and then Lord. Afterwards He repeats them in the order of fact, Lord first, and then Teacher. By these terms too they confessed themselves His scholars and His servants. Let us think, whenever we use them, what the words imply. Not that by this symbolical action we are to suppose that the Lord actually meant that His followers must necessarily occupy themselves in such ministrations; any more than when He bade them take up their Cross and follow Him, He meant of necessity a literal so doing. Thus to interpret would be indeed a servile keeping to the letter, neglecting the spirit of His teaching. And indeed when the Church began to depart from the spirit of her Master's teaching, we find her thus servilely returning to the letter; and from that time, on certain occasions, the supreme Pontiff did actually and ceremoniously wash, as in Rome at this day, the feet, first of twelve, and afterwards of thirteen persons, prepared for the occasion. But He bids
I V. 13. See St. John iii. 2. (as even Estius remarks) that is here
? The mode of expression in the intimated by the species. This partioriginal is remarkable. The word is cular was a custom of Patriarchal, in the nominative, with the article ; and even of Apostolic times. 1 Tim. as quoting another's words. Compare
The Milanese, even in the Jer, xxii. 18.
days of Ambrose, seem to have begun 3 The Lord bids them do not what that practice which the l'odonipta, but as He has done. It is the genus (those " tares” of Reformation times)
them imbibe that spirit which would stoop, if needful, to this or any other act of charity. Let it be enough for us, when called to do or to suffer anything to which the natural heart is reluctant, that our Lord and Master was content so to do and suffer. Language like this often fell from His lips; and of this very saying He afterwards in this same Gospel a reminds them. Now He adds that new beatitude, from which we may learn that “the knowledge of Religion is worthless apart from the practice of it.”3 Vain indeed “light without love." 4
imitated. The nearest approach to a ignudo, che vien sostenato a ciaschespirituo-literal fulfilment of His charge duno di esse dal Suddiacono in Toniwould seem to be found in the labours cella biancha, senza manipolo, a mano of Christian women, in hospitals and destro del Papa, che genuflesso ne fa elsewhere. The ceremony in Rome la lavanda, con acqua apprestatagli in takes place on the Thursday in Easter un bacile d'argento dorato da uno week, when, in the right hand tran- Scudiere in abito rosso, e poi lo sept of St. Peter's, the Pope washes asciuga, e lo bacia. Due Camerieri the feet of thirteen Priests, who re- segreti gli sostengono lo strascico present the twelve Apostles, and a della Falda, e due Camerieri extra lo thirteenth, said to have appeared seguono con due Bacili d'argento. miraculously to Gregory the Great on Uno di essi contiene tredici sciugatrii, such an occasion. The Pope after- e l'altro altrettanti mazzi di fiori wards assists at a banquet given to
freschi : . Poco dopo i suddetti the same in the galle-ry over the tredici Apostoli erano condotti in portico. The following account is una Sala del Vaticano ... ove trovasi taken from Cancellieri's Descrizione imbandita una mensa lautissima ... delle Funzioni della Settimana Santa: Nello stesso tempo, in cui si faceva il -" Appena incomincia questa can
Banchetto priora descritto, potea tilena ... s'alza il Pontefice, a cui vedersene un'altro più magnifico, vien levato il Piviale dal Cardinale disposto in altra sala . .
per i CarDiacono Assistente, e preso un gre
dinali . . . Queste tavole s'incomin. miale di cinque palmi di tela battista ciarono a tralasciare per economia arriciata, ornata con diciotto palmi di nel 1793." merletto, che gli vien legato alla · St. Matt. x. 24, 25; St. Luke vi. cintola dall' altro Cardinale Diacono 40. Assistente, preceduto dal Sottoguarda- 2 Ch. xv. 20. roba in Cappa rossa, e servito dal 3 A Plain Commentary. Jer. Tayuno Maestro di Ceremonie, e da due lor speaks of those who believe “the Cardinali Diaconi Assistenti, salo propositions of Scripture as we believe sopra lo Steccato, per incominciare la a proposition in the metaphysics, conlavanda de' piedi a tredici sacerdoti, cerning which a man is never the o almeno Diaconi, detti gli Apostoli, honester whether it be true or false." che stanno a sedere sopra banchi - Ser. x., The Flesh and the Spirit. elevati, vestiti di abito di lana fina " It matters not,” he says, biancha, con un Barrettone a guisa religion any man is of, if he be a di Cappuccio in testa, che scende loro villain.”- Via Intelligentiæ. sopra lo spalle, e attorno al collo. 4 The Christian Year, Advent SunQuesti Sacerdoti fanno il destro piede day.