Jesus Set the Example
Lesson 6 of 13
Jesus demonstrated by example the pattern of spiritual government and our need for separation and cleansing by truth under His Apostolic Governance as He washed the feet of His apostles (John 13:1-17). Jesus was not setting an example of self-humility, but one of submission to His government for cleansing.
As the apostles submitted to Christ’s authority to wash their feet, so must believers also submit to His authority through Apostolic Governance for doctrinal cleansing. Jesus was setting a pattern and spiritual tradition through this example, saying, As I have done unto you, so I give authority to you (my apostles) to go and do likewise and cleanse my church from unclean knowledge by providing them with the sanctified truth of Jesus Christ. By this Jesus was speaking specifically of how the heart is spiritually prepared with truth to walk in God’s commandments, and also of how God uses truth for cleansing.
When the church left her first love, believers also left their first spiritual works and by the precept of man initiated many carnal traditions, rites, and ceremonies. The physical foot washing ceremony is one of those carnal traditions. Thinking that God instituted a religious rite in foot washing by which believers were to demonstrate humility, many tried to manifest humility by reenacting this scene.
But Jesus was not giving a lesson in humility. Rather, He was showing how He is the contact point for cleansing. As Jesus said, "Now are you clean through the words which I have spoken unto you,” (John 15:3). He also said, "Sanctify them through your truth; your word is truth,”
(John 17:17), and “That he might sanctify and cleanse it (the Body) with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26).
The apostles would do as Jesus did, prepare the heart of the believer in truth to walk in God’s commandments. Apostles function in the church to separate believers unto the truth by which they may be cleansed. Without the cleansing of truth Christians are not prepared to partake of Christ. As Jesus said to Peter, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” (John 15:8).
Through the example of foot washing Jesus was establishing that He is the head of the church; "The servant is not greater than his lord; neither is he that is sent greater than he that sent him" (John 13:16). No apostle can project a truth that is greater than Christ. This is the apostolic pattern that the church fell away from. By the precept of man the servant has tried to make himself greater than the Master. We have seen preachers and teachers using scripture to support their own aspirations and principles, causing believers to err from the truth.
Please keep in mind that Jesus did not set the pattern of apostolic governance for the purpose of exalting one individual above another. Rather, the believer in need of washing submitshimself to the one doing the washing (apostle),not to the individual, but to Jesus Christ through the office of spiritual government, according to truth. We can see this also demonstrated through the stewardship of God’s grace; we are all subject one to another as each believer stewards the grace he or she has received for growth from God. And again, as we obey this command, our submission is not to the individual, but rather to Christ, who issued the grace. Thus, we are all subject to the grace of God that is ministered through each vessel (1 Corinthians 12:13,14).
Jesus is again establishing apostolic order for His church and is again calling and confirming His own covenant prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to work together with His apostles. When the Body is restored in truth, the true gospel will be preached to the world, and Christ will return for both a spotless church and the harvest of souls.
Jesus gave another example of the apostolic pattern in chapter 14 of the book of Matthew when He fed the multitudes in the wilderness. He broke the bread and gave it (first) to His apostles, who He then instructed to give to the people (Matthew 14:19). Jesus said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). So through this event we can see how Jesus was establishing His order of government in the Body of Christ, selecting His apostles to be the distributors of that bread of life (truth). By Jesus’ second example we understand how truth feeds the soul as well as cleanses the soul.
Apostle Paul taught about the apostolic pattern and wrote, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:28). When people think about “being first” in carnal terms of self-importance they rival, striving against the inequity they feel within their own hearts. However, when thinking from God’s perspective about His divine order for spiritual government, believers can work with the Spirit, enabling God to put an end to the hostility whereby peace reigns in the soul.
Apostles, called to that office of government, have been given the revelation knowledge of God. As Paul affirmed, “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me [as an apostle] to you-ward: 3How that by revelation he made known unto me [apostle] the mystery [of Christ]; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” (Ephesians 3:2-4).