Read John 13
Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet
1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Jesus Predicts His Betrayal
18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’
19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”
21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”
22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”
25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
John 13-17 are often collectively known as Jesus’ Farewell Discourse. Jesus’ final hours had come and it was almost time for Him to leave the earth to be united with the Father. In John 13 we see His final meal with the disciples. In this Last Supper He eats and spends time with them as He prepares them for what’s coming. He leaves His mark upon them in both His actions (washing their feet) and in a final command and charge to love one another.
The streets where Jesus and His disciples walked were filled with dirt, trash, and animal droppings. Many people would wear sandals without socks or stockings and their feet would typically be filthy. In His final night with the disciples, Jesus washed their feet. The perfect Son of God humbled Himself by cleaning their disgusting feet. His final act in the presence of all His disciples was marked by a servant’s heart. In the same way, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-11), Jesus humbled Himself by washing their feet and left us an example of how to serve others.
A few verses later, Jesus gives His followers a new command: To love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34-35). We’re to love each other in a unique way that the world takes notice. This love is a sign to other believers of a relationship with Christ and ought to be a witness to the world of a sincere faith.
How would you spend your last night on earth? Would it be marked by serving and loving others? Christians are often not known or marked by a servant’s heart or love towards others, but Jesus leaves us with a powerful picture of how we ought to be marked. In this hostile world, as followers of Christ, we get to demonstrate a Christ-like humility and love.
- Why did Judas betray Jesus?
- How different would your life and the church be if we really did love one another?
- What’s a tangible way you can demonstrate the love of Christ to others today? Think of a specific way to love others and make a plan to demonstrate this love.
Did You Know?
As He often does, Jesus raises the bar on what it looks like to follow Him. The standard is no longer how we love ourselves (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:37-40) but how Jesus loves us. We’re to love others as He loves us—selflessly and sacrificially.
5 thoughts on “John 13”
In 2020, it has been easy to think of ourselves and how COVID has disrupted our lives. Jesus reminds us to serve others and to love others as he loved us. Today, while I am busy with final Christmas plans, I will strive to “see” others, people who may have physical needs or simply need to be loved a little extra today.
Carol, you do this so well! This chapter reveals the very heart of who Jesus is. He came not to elevate himself but to serve and give his life as a ransom for mankind. It’s hitting me hard today that Jesus humbly washed the feet of each disciple, including Judas Iscariot, and ate a meal with them as a sign of friendship. I’m sure his presence illuminated the entire room, penetrating each heart but one. Like Judas, each of us have a free will to decide what we do with Jesus. I’m recognizing in verse 27 that Jesus controlled the timing of His death even in Judas’s betrayal. His life was not taken from him by others; He gave it willingly as a sacrifice on our behalf. For me it’s easy to serve those I love, but serving an enemy is extremely challenging. Today, I’m asking God to prepare my heart for serving, that one secular moment could become sacred space for God to show up.
Great insight Ella!
I had the privilege of knowing a wonderful disciple of Jesus, Dr. Ray Taylor, director of the Church Army in Canada for 37 years. He showed me what following Jesus’ example of servant leadership looked like in practice: taking out the trash at Church Army headquarters, serving food to the homeless, or sharing his testimony – and his repertoire of jokes with skinheads.
As a husband and a father, Jesus also challenges me to love my wife and children in the many daily and often unglamorous ways I can serve them. What a blessing it would be if it could be said of me too “he loved them to the end,” (v. 1).
Normally when you ask someone if they had one day to live, what they would do. Most would say (myself included), I would go skydiving, or bungee jumping, or whatever other thing they have on their bucket list. I’ve even said before that I would just want to spend time with my family and relatives one last time.
Jesus had one day left to live, and he spent it SERVING his disciples. Washing their feet and teaching them what to do when he is gone. It doesn’t get anymore selfless than that. Imagine if someone asked you if you had one day left to live what would you do and you said “I would like to wash all of your feet.” Just an amazing testimony and image of how we need to be on a daily basis.