The Gospel of John – Lesson 35 – John 13:1-17

Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved those who were his own in the world, he loved them to the end. By the time the supper took place, the Devil had already put the idea into the heart of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God. He got up from the supper and laid aside his outer garment. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who asked him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “You do not understand what I am doing now, but later you will understand.” Peter told him, “You will never, ever, wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me.” “Lord, not just my feet,” Simon Peter replied, “but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus told him, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet, but his body is completely clean. And you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 Indeed, he knew who was going to betray him. That is why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 12 After Jesus had washed their feet and put on his outer garment, he reclined at the table again. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me Teacher and Lord. You are right, because I am. 14 Now if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 Yes, I have given you an example so that you also would do just as I have done for you. 16 Amen, Amen, I tell you: A servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

It was one of those moments that makes us stop and stare. The Son of God, the almighty creator and ruler of all things got down on the floor and washed his disciples’ feet. Washing the feet of dinner guests was a common practice at this time in history. But normally such a task would be given to a servant. Secondly, didn’t Jesus have bigger things on his mind? John recorded that Jesus knew it was time for him to leave the world. He was about to suffer and die to take away the sins of the whole world, including yours and mine. He also knew that the devil had worked in the heart of one of Jesus’ own disciples to betray him. With all this going on, couldn’t the lowly task of washing feet be given to someone else?

Simon Peter felt that way at first. He knew Jesus is the Son of God. Surely God should not be on the floor washing the feet of human beings. But, the Son of God didn’t come to this world to be served, but rather to serve. (Matthew 20:28) As he washed his disciples feet, he pointed ahead to a much greater washing that was about to occur. Jesus was about to serve us by going to the cross to shed his own precious blood to cleanse us of all our sins. When Peter objected to Jesus washing his feet, our Lord patiently explained to him “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me.” If Jesus does not cleanse us of our sins, we are left to make atonement for our guilt by ourselves. That is a debt we could never pay. Only Jesus can wash us clean and make us acceptable before God.

But Jesus had more to teach as he washed the disciples’ feet. He made clear that not all of them were clean. He knew that Judas was about to betray him. Although Jesus knew it was necessary for this betrayal to happen, he tried to call Judas to repentance. After Judas betrayed Jesus, he had every opportunity to return to the Lord. (See Matthew 27:3-5) Judas had no one to blame but himself that he betrayed Jesus and placed himself under God’s judgment

Our Lord Jesus also sets an example for all his people. The Son of God took on the role of a servant in order to save us. As God’s redeemed children we should be ready to serve one another out of love for our Lord and for each other. As Jesus said, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: A servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”

Being a servant isn’t something most people dream of doing. Being in a position of power seems much more attractive. But our Lord tells us that his true disciples will follow his example of humble service. We see it as a joy when our Lord presents those opportunities to help others. In those times when humble seems undesirable, look again at the example of Jesus. See how he humbled himself to serve you with everything you need for eternal life. Those opportunities to serve are our chances to show our thanks and love to our Lord for his humble service that saved us.

Discussion Questions

1 – Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples on the night before he died. Why was it necessary for him to celebrate the Passover?
Before Jesus could be our Savior, he needed to perfectly fulfill all of God’s Law. God demanded that the Passover Feast was to be celebrated annually by the nation of Israel. (See Exodus 12) Also, the Passover pointed ahead to the coming of the promised Savior. The Passover Lamb symbolized the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. On Good Friday Jesus would bring to fulfillment what the Passover pointed ahead to.

2 – What did Jesus mean when he told Peter “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me?”
Jesus pointed ahead to the next day when he would shed his blood on the cross to wash us clean of our sins. If Jesus didn’t wash our sins away then we have no part with him.

3 – What did Jesus mean when he said “You are clean, though not every one of you?”
Jesus showed his divine knowledge of everything. Jesus knew Judas had already taken money to betray him into the hands of his enemies. Judas was trying to put on a good front by pretending to still be a follower of Jesus. But the Son of God looked into Judas’ heart. He was well aware of the hypocrisy of Judas. Without Jesus, Judas had no hope of salvation. But Jesus also knew the rest of his disciples believed in him. He already knew his sacrifice on the cross would be successful. Through faith in Jesus as their Savior, they were already clean of their sins.

4 – How are we blessed when we follow Jesus’ example of humble service?
Serving one another as our Lord Jesus commanded blesses us in several ways. It is always a blessing to follow the example of our Savior. We are blessed with the chance to show our love and thankfulness to Jesus for all he has done for us. We are blessed to know we have helped someone else in their time of need. Sometimes, our faithful service may also inspire others to give glory to the Lord by serving one another. (See Matthew 5:16)

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to