This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series John 13-21
  • Gospel of John, Ch.13, Pt.1

Gospel according to John, Chapter 13Read &/or listen from the Bible.

1/ Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet  – Jn 13:1-17
2/ Jesus Identifies His Betrayer            – Jn 13:18-30
3/ The New Commandment                   – Jn 13:31-35
4/ Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial          – Jn 13:36-38

John chapters 1-12 recount Jesus’ public ministry and tell us that He is the light. Chapters 13-17, deals with Love. He loves His own. And the last part of this gospel, from chapter 18-21, has to do with Life. Christ came to bring us life and that life is found in Himself. We receive our lives through His death.

13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 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, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”

12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, 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 should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do themJohn 13:1-17

This event occurs during the Last Supper, which the other gospels have already given three accounts of it with more details.

Foot washing was a tradition of good manners at that time, from a host welcoming guests into his/her home (Lk 7:36-50; 1 Tim. 5:10), the streets were dusty and dirty & people wore sandals. Servants were provided to wash the feet of guests. In no way those with a ‘higher’ status would  wash the feet of those beneath them, hence the initial refusal of Peter. Jesus took the place of a servant, & because Jesus loved them (13:1), He taught them this lesson on humility & love. (Vs 15 brings me to mind what Jesus tells them a few minutes later, in the same supper, about the new commandment of love vs.34).

The true Christian leader should follow Jesus’ example, always looking to help others instead of looking to be served (Lk.22:27). If a person is not willing to wash the feet of others (not washing the feet in a ritual once a year, and then living like a king the rest), then is not qualified to be a leader in Christ’s Church.

But it seems there is something deeper & there is also a spiritual meaning in Jesus’ action (Vs.7-8) “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” which caused Peter to change his mind. We cannot enjoy communion with Him without this washing! In Vs.10 we read “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean“, & in v. 11 John makes it clear that He is excluding Judas; this shows He is making reference to spiritual cleanness.

Many interpret this as the washing of sins on the cross or the baptism. But Jesus told His disciples (believers by faith & baptized) that they were already clean (vs.10), before washing their feet, their feet still needed to be washed.

The Bible tells us that we are cleansed of sin by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7-9, Heb.13:12, etc.) when we accept Him as our Lord & Savior, but because WE are not perfect & still sin, our feet (in constant contact with the soil/world) get dirty on our daily walk. The feet speak of walking, of living, & when we are not lead by the Holy Spirit but are disobedient, we are not walking in the ways of our Lord. And that is sin and has to be confessed. “ If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn.1:9).

Even we are clean Jesus needs to wash our feet, & He wash them today with His Word, with the help of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).

You are already clean through the word which I have spoken to you.” Jn.15:3, “that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,Ephe. 5:26.

Many translations used the word wash both times, but the 2 Greek words used by Jesus in verse 10, are very specific. “He who is bathed (G3068= bath the whole person) needs only to wash (G3538=wash) his feet”, & when Jesus answers to Peter He use the word wash “If I do not wash (G3538= wash) you, you have no part with Me.

26 As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

27 Therefore whoever eats this bread and drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and unhealthy among you, and many die. 31 If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord, so that we would not be condemned with the world.

33 So, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If anyone hungers, let him eat at home, so that you may not come together into condemnation. 1 Cor. 11:17-34

We should not take sin lightly beloved, before studying the Word, serve Him, but specially before worshiping or having fellowship/communion with Him, let us first confess our sins so there can be cleansing, let us walk in humility & love, committing to be led by His Holy Spirit daily.

17 For the flesh lusts (war) against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Gal.5:17