Is “feet washing” confession of sins?


Jesus . . . rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean” (John 13:3-11 NKJV).

There are many people who use the above verses and argue that:

a) As Judge, God declared us pardoned and accepted into His family when we put our trust in Jesus. But as God’s children, we can remain in close fellowship to Him only when we daily acknowledge our sins and ask His help in overcoming them. Jesus said that a person who has been bathed doesn’t need another bath; his only need is to have his feet washed; and

b) The bath of which Jesus spoke is that once-for-all, complete cleansing received at salvation. Foot washing symbolizes the family forgiveness maintained by daily repentance and confession.

It is pertinent to note this incident happened before Jesus died.

Let’s be objective. Has Jesus died? The answer is obvious. No. Hence to teach likewise to teach that you are forgiven on the basis of your confession.

Matt 3:6: Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River

That’s not Christianity. That’s Judaism. That is the ministry of John the Baptist. He was the last prophet of the Law. [“For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” (Matthew 11:13) ]

You are justified when Jesus rose from the grave. Your sins were taken away on the cross and placed into the body of Jesus for its condemnation. Romans 4:25 “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

The object lesson of John 13 is not about salvation. Matthew records for us that about a week ago, John and James had just asked to sit on the left and right of Jesus’ throne. They wanted to be no. 1. All of them.

So this was a lesson of humility. The untying of shoes was the work of a slave. The washing of the feet a lower slave. John the Baptist once said that he was unworthy to untie the sandals of Jesus: [John answered their questions by saying, “I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am–so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. Luke 3:16]

Now Jesus did the ultimate. He showed them the need to consider others better than themselves. Hence he began to wash feet. Peter shocked by this wanted full cleansing. It is pertinent to note cleansing is not justification from sins but a ceremonial cleansing.

When Jesus told him that only the feet needed washing, he was trying to get Peter to focus on the issue. Being a slave to one another.

This is simple. If Jesus could ‘cleansed’ by your confession, then Judas would have been ‘cleansed’ since Jesus washed his feet too. The reference of ‘cleansed’ cannot be referring to being cleansed by sin.

It was a way of saying ‘he is the bad guy.’

John 13:10-11
10 Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs to wash only his feet. The rest of his body is clean. And you are clean. But not all of you are.”
11 Jesus knew who was going to hand him over to his enemies. That was why he said not every one was clean.

See it does not refer to justification. So what is Jesus trying to say?

John 13:14-16
14 I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. So you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have given you an example. You should do as I have done for you.
16 “What I ‘m about to tell you is true. A servant is not more important than his master. And a messenger is not more important than the one who sends him.

So the point here is humility. How to love one another. We are forgiven because of the cross. Justified through the resurrection.

The reason Judas was unclean was because he was going to betray Jesus. He was soon to be possessed by Satan. He wasn’t unclean because he didn’t confess his sins. Notice this. Jesus even cleansed his feet.

Had Judas not killed himself Jesus’ death would have provided him the justification he needed. Sadly Judas kills himself. He couldn’t bear with betraying a friend. So he did what every self righteous man would do. He paid for his sins with his own life. I guess you call it the ultimate confession of sins.

We are not saved by confession. We are saved by death. Jesus provided that death. Hebrews tells us that he tasted death for everyone. You must see yourself dead when Jesus died. He provided your death for you.

That’s it. Your sins are all paid for. You are the man who died on the cross. You have paid everything there is to pay. In Christ. That is your ultimate confession.

Galatians 2:20-21
20 I have been crucified with Christ. I don ‘t live any longer. Christ lives in me. My faith in the Son of God helps me to live my life in my body. He loved me. He gave himself for me.
21 I do not get rid of the grace of God. What if a person could become right with God by obeying the law? Then Christ died for nothing!


  1. Your argument- “We are not saved by confession. We are saved by death. Jesus provided that death.”- would negate even the need then for what Paul says is required to be saved initially: “For with the mouth CONFESSION is made unto salvation…” Paul says CONFESSION is NECESSARY to original salvation, and procures what Jesus’ DEATH provided. This contradicts what you wrote-“We are not saved by confession.”

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