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109: Jesus Lovingly Washes His Disciple’s Feet

May 15, 2009

Major Text: John 13:1-20


  1. The Presence of Love John 13:1-5
    • Personal [vs. 1a]
    • Separates and/or joins [vs. 2]
    • Empowers [vs. 3]
    • Serves [vs. 5]
  2. The Preeminence of Love John 13:6-11
    • Sanctifies/cleanses [vs. 8]
    • Saves /secures [vs. 10]
    • Separates and/or joins [vs.11]
  3. The Practice of Love John 13:12-20
    • Encourages [vs. 14-15]
    • Blesses [vs. 16-17]
    • Received or scorned [vs. 18]
    • Proves integrity [vs. 19]
    • Provides acceptance [vs. 20]


There is much going on in this passage so I have included a more detailed outline instead of writing so much. To understand the outline, put yourself in both the shoes of the disciples and Judas. Through Jesus’ act of love and humility He drew His true disciples closer to Him and He drove Judas further away from Him. Understand that Judas is now the enemy of Jesus but Jesus treats Him with the same love, humility and respect as the other faithful disciples. Even though Judas has betrayed Jesus, Jesus loves Him and offers him grace and the opportunity to repent up to the very end.

Keep in mind that this act of love came during the Passover meal after the first cup of wine according to the accepted Jewish practice of that day. At the beginning of the meal we have the disciples arguing among themselves as to who is the greatest so as to determine where each would sit. Only hand washing was required at this time but Jesus goes further, taking on the duties of a common slave and washes their feet. This is a very livid example of what He had previously said, that the greatest in the Kingdom of God is a servant.

Since the group was larger than ten people, there is a “governor” of the feast. This is Jesus and He is in the highest place of honor. We know John was next to Jesus on His right. And we presume that Judas was next to Jesus on His left, taking the second most place of honor. Peter was probably at the lowest seat, easily seen by John and the first to have his feet washed. Judas, at Jesus’ left, would naturally be the one served after Jesus. So it is easy to see how natural this setting was to accomplish what was to happen without raising suspicions with all the disciples. Take time to look up some more specific information on the Paschal supper and the seating traditions. It will make this scene come alive, proving the accuracy of the text in the minutest of detail.

Tradition also believes the house where they were meeting belonged to the family of John Mark who penned “Peter’s Gospel” account and who later was accompanying Paul on his first missionary journey; the cousin of Barnabus.


  1. Love’s action not accompanied with humility and submission is not true love. It’s nice but not genuine. It lacks the ability to change lives.
  2. One’s love [actions] must be personal, voluntary, of high quality, and continuous to:
    • Build/heal relationships
    • Build confidence/self image
    • Teach by example
    • Confirm integrity and truth
    • Reveal acceptance and rejection
  3. Jesus, in washing His disciple’s feet, was taking on the role of a “slave”; that of a loyal, loving, submissive, and humble servant.
  4. A daily cleansing by God’s Son is necessary to experience the fullness of His Love and Power. This requires we humble ourselves before Him, confessing our unworthiness to be even touched by Him let alone washed by Him; yet deeply desiring and/or sensing our need for a repeated deep cleansing.

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