Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Washing The Disciples’ Feet

John 13:1-20

“Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” (John 13:1)

Matthew, Mark and Luke describe a three day interval between the triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the Passover feast.  During that time we find some of Jesus most concentrated teachings.  John stresses that Jesus was showing his love for his people during the time, preparing them for the hurt and confusion they would feel when he was crucified, knowing that even the apostles would abandon them for a short time.  He loved them in spite of it. 

“And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.  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.” (John 13:2-5)

Judas had already agreed to betray Jesus to the Pharisees.  He was just waiting until he could be sure where they would be able to make the arrest without causing an uproar by the people.  They had been given permission to use a certain room to celebrate the Passover, and the disciples had prepared it themselves.  They had no servants to wash their feet as was customary.  After they had eaten the main meal, Jesus took a wash basin full of water and towels and washcloths and began to worship the disciples’ feet.  Nobody else had even thought about doing so.    

“Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?

Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.

Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet.

Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.

Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.  For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.” (John 13:6-11)

When Jesus started to wash his feet, peter questioned why the Lord would do it because that was a menial job, usually done by the least important servants.  He was probably embarrassed that none of them had stepped forward and the Lord had been forced to do it.    Jesus said Peter didn’t understand his purpose, and Peter told him it wasn’t right to ask the Lord to wash his feet, and he wasn’t going to let him. 

Jesus used the opportunity to make an important point, that unless a person allows the Lord to cleanse him, he cannot be forgiven or saved.  Hearing that, Peter then said he wanted to be cleaned completely.  Jesus continued with his point.  People who have been cleansed, do not lose their salvation, but they do come in contact with sin from time to time and need to have it dealt with.  He also pointed out that while most of them had received Christ and were forgiven there was one that had not. 

“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?  Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.  For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.  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.  If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” (John 13:12-17)

When Jesus finished washing their feet, he took his place at the table again, and asked if they understood what he had just done.  They considered him their Lord and Master, and he was, yet he had been willing to do the most menial and unpleasant of jobs for them.    He had set them an example of and they should not consider themselves too good or important to perform menial tasks for others.  They were not better than the Lord who washed their feet.   Those who focus on a ritual washing of feet have ignored the lesson Jesus was teaching.   

“I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.  Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.” (John 13:18-20)

Jesus knew each person there and knew that the things he was saying affected Judas differently than the others.  Judas had not believed on him and was prepared to betray him, while the others believed in him as their Savior and Messiah.   He quoted Psalm 41:9 and described it as being fulfilled in what was about to happen.   He wanted them to know in advance so they would be less upset when it did, understanding it was just another fulfillment of prophecy proving he was the Messiah.   Those who heard and obeyed the people who he sent were in effect listening to Jesus, and in listening to him they were also listening to God the Father.    


  1. Praise God for His self-sacrificing love, not only giving Himself for the sins of the world, to save all who trust Him, but taking on Himself the form of a servant. May we follow His example and serve Him and one another. Thanks for the great post & God bless,