John Chapter 13:
He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
The garment laid aside would be the outer garment, which would impede His action, leaving the tunic, which was the ordinary dress of a servant.
6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
“The Savior’s ministry was one of compassion and service. It is beyond my ability to comprehend how any of us today could conceive of the tidal wave of emotions that would come to anyone whose feet would be washed by the very Son of God. No wonder Peter in complete reverence asked, ‘Lord, dost thou wash my feet?’…Some things seem to violate every foundation principle we have used to guide our lives. To have him who was the center of all Peter held precious and dear wash his feet was beyond consideration. Peter would have done the same for the Savior, undoubtedly would have crawled on cut glass to him, but to have the Master serve him in this way was too much. Peter said, ‘Thou shalt never wash my feet.’ (John 13:8.) Each of us would probably have felt as Peter, and thought as he did.
“Many things could have been said to Peter to get him to change his mind. The Savior in a sentence struck at the great nerve center of Peter’s loyalty, love, and very life. ‘If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.’ Peter’s firm stance then collapsed to total submission: ‘Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.’ (John 13:8-9.) The Master was teaching servant leadership.” (Vaughan J Featherstone, More Purity Give Me [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 16.)
By the act of washing their feet, He, their Lord, taught the spirit of self-sacrifice and love in opposition to the spirit of self-seeking and pride which ruled even in the Apostles’ hearts. That lesson every servant and apostle of Jesus Christ must learn, for the servant is. not greater than the Lord, nor the Apostle than the Sender. That lesson Peter was refusing to learn in the pride of his own impulsive will, which seemed to be humility. But unless he learns to accept the love of Christ’s humiliation, and is so cleansed by its power that he yields his human will wholly to the divine, and learns in self-sacrifice what the spirit of Christ really is, he can have no part in Him. The lesson is a hard one, but it is necessary; the sacrifice of will may be harder than that of life; but the strong man must become as the little child before he can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)
12 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?
13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16 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.
17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
“He their Lord and Master had washed their feet. It was a kind and gracious task, and such ought to be the nature of all their dealings with each other. He had done it to teach them humility, … self-denial, [and] love” (Farrar, Life of Christ, p. 559)
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
A new commandment – This command he gave them as he was about to leave them, to be a badge of discipleship, by which they might be known as his friends and followers, and by which they might be distinguished from all others. It is called new, not because there was no command before which required people to love their fellow-man, for one great precept of the law was that they should love their neighbor as themselves Leviticus 19:18; but it was new because it had never before been made that by which any class or body of people had been known and distinguished. The Jew was known by his external rites, by his uniqueness of dress, etc.; the philosopher by some other mark of distinction; the military man by another, etc. In none of these cases had love for each other been the distinguishing and special badge by which they were known. But in the case of Christians they were not to be known by distinctions of wealth, or learning, or fame; they were not to aspire to earthly honors; they were not to adopt any special style of dress or badge, but they were to be distinguished by tender and constant attachment to each other. (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)
“Imagine for a moment the result if everyone were to love one another as Jesus loves his disciples. We would have no bickering, quarreling, strife, or contention in our homes. We would not offend or insult one another either verbally or in any other way. We would not have unnecessary litigation over small matters. War would be impossible, especially war waged in the name of religion.” (Joseph B Wirthlin, Finding Peace in Our Lives [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 28.)
‘Have you ever wondered what language we all spoke when we lived in the presence of God? I have strong suspicions that it was German, though I suppose no one knows for sure. But I do know that in our premortal life we learned firsthand, from the Father of our spirits, a universal language—one that has the power to overcome emotional, physical, and spiritual barriers.
That language is the pure love of Jesus Christ.
It is the most powerful language in the world.
The love of Christ is not a pretend love. It is not a greeting-card love. It is not the kind of love that is praised in popular music and movies.
This love brings about real change of character. It can penetrate hatred and dissolve envy. It can heal resentment and quench the fires of bitterness. It can work miracles.’ Dieter F Uchtdorf, Young Women Conference, April 2013)