And so, as some disciples went to get their lamb sacrificed at the Temple, two others, Peter and John, according to the Gospel of Luke (22:8), asked where they should meet for the Passover meal. This is when Yeshua spoke, and this is when we get into the heart of the story. See what He says: Vs.13-15 And He sent two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. And wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?” And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.”
Here we are brought to a situation of many unknowns. When and how these arrangements for the room were made we are not told. And then we meet another unnamed individual, the owner of the house, who knows Yeshua as the Teacher. Who he is and how did he know Jesus by that name? This is also an unknown. Perhaps he was following Him from far and heard His words, just as some centurions had also done. Perhaps he met Him by way of the prophecies. And we know there is the Holy Spirit, the Ruach Hakodesh, Who is constantly working in convicting the world of sin, of judgment and righteousness (John 16:8). He does this with or without the help of man.
Carrying the Water
Let us start by considering the first man. We see that he is carrying a water jug while leading the disciples to the place of their Passover meal. What is significant here? He was carrying a lot of water. We understand this by the term that is used for the pitcher. The Greek word used is keramion, found only here and in Luke for the same event. A keramion was a big earthly jar which could hold a minimum of 15 liters of water and could weigh around 17kg or 33 pounds. Perhaps this is why it is a man who is carrying it.
The question is, why would they need so much water in this house and on this particular night? It would not be for drinking because they had wine. It would not be for washing hands because they would need only a few liters of water. It is in John’s gospel where we are given a good reason for this quantity of water. John places the washing of the feet of the disciples just after Mark’s account of the man carrying the water. More precisely, right after vs.17 in Mark 14 when the account of the supper began. And by placing the events chronologically, something major emerges from the text.
During the Passover meal, there are 3 washing of the hands that were done in order to recall the washing that the priests did at the Temple. The Bible relates the first time the priests were washed. It was done by Moses himself during the ordination ceremony. This is found in Leviticus 8:6 where we read that Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water. He washed them only once, and later the priests would wash themselves every time they began a work at the Tabernacle or later at the Temple. In the commandments, we can see the importance of washing the hands and the feet, found in both Exodus 30:19 and 21. There we read, “Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet from it; 21 “So they shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they will not die; and it shall be a perpetual statute for them, for Aaron and his descendants throughout their generations.”
The Inauguration of a New Priesthood
Consider how so many elements fit in pointing to something new. First, we see the actions of washing the feet and later the hands through the different ceremonies during the meal. The water speaks much of our sanctification. In the Bible, water is a symbol of the Word of God. Second, we take note that Yeshua spoke of a New Covenant marking the beginning of a new era. This word covenant takes a high priority, being mentioned 3 times in the Gospels. All of this brings us to consider the ordination of new priests, something believers function as today. And this is an important event for us. With Yeshua as our High Priest and under this New Covenant, we share in His priestly status.
The priests washed themselves every time they had to undertake a mission. Likewise, we too should be so immersed into the Word of God, and by its regenerating power, we grow closer and closer to the Lord.
Furthermore, at the time, it was only the servants who washed the feet of the guests but here Yeshua took the place of a servant, teaching the disciples and all believers that we ought to serve each other in humility. And what a powerful teaching this must have been for the disciples, for we learn from Luke 22, that on the same day, the 13th of Nisan, they were arguing about who was the greatest among them. Another awkward moment in the Gospels; they had forgotten that Yeshua hears all these things. And so, as He washed their feet, there must have been an unbearable silence and embarrassment, except for Peter, but he must have realized this later.
There He told them in John 13:13-15,“You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.
Do as I did to you. A disciple of Yeshua is one who serves and does not seek to be first, or the greatest. Humility, the antidote for pride, should then be the mark of every washed and born again believer.