Wash Feet!


Years ago I had a friend who was diagnosed with cancer. As it progressed, the tumor began to affect his speech and mobility, among other things. I volunteered on specific days of the week to give his wife some rest. I would help with doctor visits, take him to lunch, or just sit with him and communicate as best I could.  Toward the end of his fight, there were times that I would need to change his diaper. The humility in that act was profound for me, as I’m sure it was for him. It changed me.

  • Have you ever served/loved someone in such a way that it could be observed as humiliating?
  • Are you really even willing to consider such an act?


13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it 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 had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to 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, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


(Today’s questions focus on verses 12-20. Verses 1-11 were covered previously.)

  1. What is the example to which Jesus was referring in verse 15?
  2. Take a minute to summarize verse 16 in your own words. How does verse 16 relate back to verses 12-14?
  3. What is emphasized in verse 17?
  4. Can you identify the principle conveyed in verse 20?
  5. What opportunities do you have for humble service in your close relationships? Are you willing to act upon the opportunities that arise?


Jesus gives us examples all through his teaching, but rarely does he announce it. Maybe we should pay extra attention. Within the Jewish culture of the time, there really was not a more humbling act than to wash someone’s feet. Jesus is showing the disciples that much can be improved upon with humility. It just takes a casual glance at headlines to see where pride and selfishness destroy lives. I think that is why Jesus highlights humility with such emphasis. Angry? Wash feet. Hurt? Wash feet. Feeling cheated? Wash feet. Verse 17 is the reminder that knowing is not the same as doing. Humility is an action.

  • Pray that when an opportunity for humble service presents itself, pride won’t prohibit you from responding.