Jesus washes His disciple’s feet

Lenten Devotions

A Walk Through the Book of Luke

John 13:1-17

April 6, 2023

“Jesus washes His disciples’ feet.”

The four Gospels are rich with parables, real stories, hurting people, and words of enlightenment. You would be hard-pressed to find a chapter that wouldn’t make a great group discussion.

Here we are once again; it’s Maundy Thursday. So much happens on this one day of Holy Week.

Jesus Predicts His Betrayal

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

Jesus promises the Holy Spirit

Jesus initiates the rite of Holy Communion

Jesus washes His disciples’ feet

Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane

Jesus is arrested

The Disciples abandon Jesus

Jesus is questioned

Even more, happens on this one day than I have mentioned. Each of the aforementioned occurrences has been presented as a devotion, bible study, or sermon. Yet, I have always found myself slightly more drawn to one of these moments in history than the others.

In the story I’m speaking of, we are shown by Jesus himself how we should serve others.

****************************The Point************************

In the Gospel of John, chapter 13, beginning with verse one, Jesus and His disciples have come together for what we refer to as the Last Supper. Jesus and His followers are reclining at the Passover meal table when He stands up and does a most peculiar thing, at least in the eyes of His disciples.


“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.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 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.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

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.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not everyone was clean.

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. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly, I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

John 13:1-17


“Jesus washed their feet. Twelve disciples, twenty-four feet, and He cleaned them. On his knees, Jesus got down on what was probably a filthy floor in the upper room. Jesus wrapped a towel around His waist, which comes in handy when washing twenty-four feet. Then, He started working.

This was servant work, not something He should do! He was their leader, He was their teacher, and He was the guest of honor that night at the Passover meal.

 This scene happened over 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. There weren’t many paved roads back then, so the streets were dusty and muddy when it rained. So, it was customary for the homeowner or host to provide a slave at the house’s door to wash the dinner guests’ feet as they arrived. If the home couldn’t afford a slave, the responsibility generally fell to one of the early arriving guests. Interestingly enough, none of the disciples volunteered for this common task. So, we find the upper room filled with proud hearts and dirty feet!

So, He, God, who once took a lump of clay and formed a man, washed their feet. The same God who was born in a dirty stable and laid in an animal’s feed trough. The same God who, in just a few minutes, would be offering His body and blood to His disciples during the Passover meal. He was the same God who would be tried, beaten, humiliated, whipped, crucified, and buried in just a few short hours.

Jesus washed those feet, not just for those twelve disciples or twenty-four feet, but for all of us. He washed their feet as a servant. He loved them because He loves us.

On that first Maundy Thursday, Jesus taught His disciples a valuable lesson through experiential learning. By getting down on His knees and taking a basin and a towel, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples as a servant. Jesus lived amongst us as one who served. He modeled the lifestyle He wants us to live every day of our lives. When we selflessly and lovingly help others, we live as Christ wants us to.

Jesus used the basin of water and the towel to teach us the essence of service. His Holy Spirit lives within us and calls us to live our faith out loud through serving others.” (From my September 2019 Blog)

Now, it’s our turn. You and I have been commissioned by Jesus to wash the feet of others. No, we are not asked to literally wash the feet of others unless it is necessary.

We have been charged by Jesus to serve others. You and I are to put the needs of others before our own. Jesus washing the feet of His disciples was an example of service. But what does service to others look like today?

There’s the homeless person on the corner looking for a handout. Don’t judge; give.

Do you have a food kitchen in your area? They could probably use your help.

Churches and other organizations do mission work all over the world. Have you ever volunteered? And, if you can’t physically help, have you donated to the cause of helping others?

You’re offering at church doesn’t just pay the bills and the staff. The money goes to help organizations and people in your community. Are you giving your fair share?

Finally, what’s your talent? Perhaps you can give of your time. Are you a carpenter? Then build and help others with your skill. Use your God-given gifts to help others. This is what the foot washing is all about.

It’s not all about you. It’s all about Jesus and what He taught and did for us on the cross. So follow in Jesus’s footsteps and serve others.

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