Text: John 13:1-30
Event(s): Jesus washes the disciples feet and Jesus identifies His betrayer
John 13:3 “Jesus knowing…” Jesus was fully aware of His authority from the Father, His divine origin, and His divine destiny. I like how one commentator put it, “Only faith concerning the past and hope concerning the future allows one to genuinely love in the present.”
John 13:5 “He poured water into a basin and began to was the disciples’ feet.” Washing feet in such a situation was the role of the most menial of servants. Normally a servant would have been present to perform this task, but there were none present in the upper room since it was a secret meal. The disciples did not want to wash each other’s feet, since they had just been arguing about which of them was the greatest. So Jesus reversed normal roles, and assumed the place of a servant rather than that of a rabbi.
I have wondered if the water in the basin which Jesus used to wash His disciples’ feet was the same water from the “man carrying a pitcher of water” whom the disciples looked for when making the preparations for this Passover meal. (Luke 22:10)
John 13:6 “Lord, are You washing my feet?” Many times we can have a backwards mentality about leadership. We tend to think that when we reach certain positions of authority, some tasks are “too beneath us”. I believe it was Wiersbe who said, “In our world today, people often ask, ‘How many people do you have working for you?’ Whereas the Lord asks, ‘For how many people do you work?'”
John 13:10 “you are clean, but not all of you.” Jesus is referring to Judas. Yet the fact that Jesus washed Judas’ feet, while knowing Judas had determined to betray Him, shows the greatness of His love. As the text said in verse 1, “He love them to the end.”
John 13:15 “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” This is not an ordinance, though some have made it one. Jesus called foot-washing an example, the Greek word being hypodeigma which means a pattern, implying that there are other examples of the same attitude. Jesus meant that His disciples should follow His example of serving humbly, rather than specifically, and literally, washing each other’s feet. I will say, however, that I have seen this done in a beautiful way to express the point.
Today’s Takeaway: My focus is completely drawn to how Jesus treated and interacted with Judas. At the table, John was sitting to Jesus’ right and Judas was sitting to His left, the customary place of honor. Never did Jesus speak a reviling word to him. He didn’t even make a huge scene at the dinner and blow Judas’ cover in front of all the other disciples. Instead, he washed Judas’ feet, gave him a place of honor at the table, and loved him to the end. I keep going back to what the text emphasizes Jesus “knew” in verse 3, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God..” It’s no doubt this kind of assurance that gives us the ability to love the way Jesus did. Today, I want to stir that up in my own heart.
Additional (optional) reading: Matthew 26:21-25; Mark 14:18-21; Luke 22:21-23