I'm working on a book about the history of feet washing among the Baptists, so with my mind on the subject, I thought I'd post this here. The brief of Matthew Henry's commentary is not meant to imply that he believed in feet washing as a rite. I just thought his comments were good and appropriate. More can be found here:
Matthew Henry Commentary, John chapter 13
Washing the Saints’ Feet, (Common Meter)
Thou, dying Lord, once did descend
Before the saints of old.
By such an act so did commend
That which the saints were told.
From Thy blest lips gave words so true
When Thou hadst took Thy seat,
“If I have done this task for you,
Then wash each other’s feet.”
So when we stoop before a saint
To wash his precious feet,
We with our frames a picture paint -
A message dear and sweet.
A message of our Lord who once
To earth did condescend;
To bear upon a cursed tree
The sins of dying men.
So here within Thy Church, O God,
We would desire a seat;
To eat Thy flesh and drink Thy blood,
And wash each other’s feet.
(© 1994, by author) permission granted for use with proper credit of author and a suggested mention of this site.
According to Matthew Henry, the feet washing was:
1. Sure evidence that Jesus loved them -- "having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end."
2. A demonstration of His humility -- "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God" yet he "began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded." Cf. Mark 10:45
3. A sign of spiritual washing -- "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all."
4. An example for His disciples -- "I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you."