Jesus Washed the Disciples Feet

John 13:1-17


I.    Introduction.

A.     Foot washing is not a church ordinance, or a means of salvation, but rather a means of reflecting eternal devotion to another. 

1.       We often give lip service to subjection of one to another, but seldom do we fully understand exactly what that means. 

2.       Just as Christ:

a.       knew the time of his crucifixion was at hand, that he should leave this world and return to heaven,

b.       knew loved his own and would continue to love them until the end,

c.       knew that his father had given him all things, that he was come from God and was returning to God.

B.     The Custom of the Time:

1.       The following act of Christ is not unusual. It would be unusual for most of the world today. In that day, Jesus would use a visual aid, by taking a very usual custom, that of foot washing, to illustrate a Biblical and spiritual principle to his disciples. Jesus in His ministry often uses very practical illustrations to drive home a truth to others. 

2.       Foot washing was an oriental or near eastern custom. People wore sandals and walked most of the time in sandy places. The custom was for the host to provide a basin and towel for their guests to wash their tired, dirty feet. Jesus used this custom to illustrate a truth he wished His disciples to learn in view of his soon departure.


II.    It is also very clear from John 13:18-20 that Jesus washed the feet of Judas, even though he knew Judas would soon betray him. 

A.     John 13:2 can be interpreted that Judas had already left, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. 

B.     John 13:11 – states, For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 

C.     John 13:18-20 confirms. 


III.    Compare Luke 7:36-38 – the woman washing the feet of Christ with her tears, and drying his feet with the hair of her head, and anointing his feet with the alabaster box of ointment, very costly. 

A.     This woman washed Jesus’ feet as a symbol of her total, complete love and devotion to him.  She understood she had nothing without Christ, therefore freely and willingly gave all she had to him, as pictured in her breaking the alabaster box of ointment. 

B.     Christ willing and freely gave all he had to us: 

1.       He left heaven, and took upon himself the form of sinful man, yet without sin. 

2.       He willingly submitted himself to the sin of this world, yet never personally sinned. 

3.       Even when Satan tempted Christ, proving once and for all that Christ is God, Christ yielded himself to death, which is completely and totally against his nature.

4.       The death of Christ was not just any death, but the most fierce of all deaths by crucifixion at the hands of the people he came to save. 


IV.    Peter’s misunderstanding. 

A.     John 13:6-10 indicates there is often misunderstanding about what it means to have the power of God. 

1.       Peter appears to have a false sense of pride and humility.

2.       By the use of the word “Lord”, it appears that Peter did not think that one who is Lord should stoop to such a level as to wash his feet. 

3.       Peter understood that he was less than Christ, but he did not understand the power of Christ, nor the position of leadership Christ was in, or he would soon be in. 

4.       Peter did not understand what it meant to be a minister to others, but he did understand what that Christ was over him in power, authority and everything else.  Peter was willing to take his place, and allow Christ to minister to him as a servant when he understood he was not demeaning the position of Christ, rather he was exalting that position. 

B.     Peter would soon understand as he would state in II Peter 1:12-16. 

1.       The world no longer would center on Peter and what he thought. 

2.       Peter would no longer force his opinion on others, rather he would understand he was simply a small cog in God’s great wheel. 

C.     Peter was told by Christ in John 21:18,19 that he would die in the cause of Christ, which is a very honorable thing indeed, but Peter first had to understand this very valuable lesson in ministry – giving oneself for the cause of Christ, being a small, insignificant, expendable cog in God’s wheel. 

1.       So we must all come to this place. 

2.       Jesus is talking here about fellowship in service.

3.       One, who will not submit to others, cannot be used in service. 

4.       Peter must set aside his pride and humble himself before Christ. 

5.       As well he must be in a place of equality with the other disciples. 


V.    If this passage is rightly understood, other scriptures will also be clearly understood. 

A.     Romans 12:10 states, Be Kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another. 

B.     Galatians 6:1-2 states, Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, lest thou also be tempted.  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 

C.     James 2:8,9 states, If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 

D.     I Peter 5:5 states, Likewise ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 

E.      Matthew 20:25-28 states, But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. 

F.      John 15:20 states, Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 

G.     Matthew 10:24 states, The disciple is not above his master, not the servant above his lord. 

H.     Luke 6:40 affirms, The disciple is not above his master: but everyone that is perfect shall be as his master. 


VI.    John 13:17 states, If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. 

A.     Jesus experienced complete happiness because his actions reflected the truths he knew. 

1.       We don’t experience complete happiness because pride stifles that happiness. 

2.       Pride compels us to “protect” ourselves from vulnerability. 

3.       We do not want to expose ourselves to those that would hurt us. 

4.       We often do not want to be hurt by those that would hurt us, yet this is exactly what Christ did. 

B.     Christ had all power, yet became vulnerable (defenseless) to wicked sinners, who did not deserve him. 

1.       We put up shields around ourselves so we cannot be hurt, but in installing those protective mechanisms, we stop God from putting his protective mechanisms around us.

2.       I am thankful Christ did not do what we humans do, but made himself vulnerable for us.