John 13:8, You will never wash. Peter rejected Yeshua’s washing his feet not because of human obstinateness, but because of his honor for Yeshua. Washing the feet of one’s guests was an act of hospitality on the part of a host and was usually performed by a servant, not the host. Peter considered it to be demeaning for the Master to be performing the task of a servant, yet this is exactly what Yeshua was attempting to demonstrate. As the Messiah, he came to lay down his life in loving service for his disciples and not to be served (Matt 20:28; John 10:15; 15:13). Yeshua then made the point that his disciples should following his example in serving one another (vv. 12–17).
John 13:14–15, You also ought to wash. Yeshua is giving a simple and clear command here for the saints to wash one another’s feet. How many Christian churches who claim to be followers and imitators of Yeshua actually wash each others’ feet? If Christian leaders in most churches are teaching their people to obey this command, now many other of Yeshua’s other commandments are they not teaching and obeying?
John 13:35, By this all will know. Love was to be the identifying mark of a disciple of Yeshua. The Bible defines love in several ways. We love Yeshua by keeping his (Torah) commands (John 14:15; 1 John 5:1–3). Yeshua defines the Torah as loving Elohim with all of our heart, soul mind and strength and loving our neighbor as ourself (Mark 12:28–31). Paul says that all the laws of Elohim can be summed up in love (Rom 13:8–10). Yeshua said that the greatest expression of love is to lay one’s life down for another as Yeshua did for us (1 John 3:16; 4:11). Without love, all the good—even religious works—we may do YHVH counts as nothing (1 Cor 13).
It’s important to note that most disciples of Yeshua (including Christians) believe this principle, but, sadly, when it comes down to reality, many fail to live out the identifying principles of love. How easy it is to view our religious works as the main identifying marks of our relationship with Yeshua. We may pride ourselves in the fact that we keep the Sabbath or the biblical holidays, practice full water baptism, speak in tongues, believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, practice the gifts of the Spirit, identify ourselves with the teachings of notable religious leaders, are Torah-obedient, eat or don’t eat certain types of foods, or other external practices and identifying marks. In truth, Yeshua looks less at these than the heart condition of the disciple. Does one have a heart of love, and is he obeying his Master and his neighbor as himself out of love to the best of his ability according to the light of the truth he has been given? This is the most important issue.
It’s interesting to note what Yeshua didn’t say in this verse. He didn’t say that all men will know that you’re my disciples because you have the right Bible version, pronounce the name of Elohim (i.e. YHVH) using the correct ancient pronunciation, observe the biblical Sabbath and feasts, follow every jot and tittle of the Torah perfectly, or dress a certain way. Yet, sadly, these prescriptions and strictures often become those things by which people identify themselves, and that end up keeping people separated from each other into exclusivistic tribal clan-like groups who will have nothing to do with anyone outside their group. Acting in this manner is not the heart of Elohim! In reality, in we’re not careful, our obedience issues can become points of pride—something YHVH hates (Prov 6:6–19).
Once again, Yeshua, in this succinct teaching, pulls the rug out from the religious hypocrites and the deceived who focus on the legalistic and religious externals of what the Bible teaches, but miss the heart and spirit that Yeshua indicates should be the spiritual force driving our obedience—what he calls the weightier matters of the Torah-law, which are justice, mercy and faith (Matt 23:23).