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(1).”
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 everyone was clean.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand (2) 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.
Personal Reflection and Discussion
- For people who have been raised in the church this is a very familiar story.
- What, if anything, do you find surprising in the story? What would Jesus’ disciples have found surprising? Should it have been surprising? Explain.
- In verse 7 Jesus acknowledges Peter’s (and probably the other disciples) lack of understanding. What was it that Peter didn’t understand? What is Peter’s understanding of authority? …of leadership? …of the “pecking order”?
- What was Peter not seeing or understanding about leadership and authority (see Mk 10:42-45)?
- What do vs. 12-17 suggest that Peter perhaps was beginning to understand all too well (see Jn 13:34-35)? What would Jesus have us understand?
- What opportunities do you have this week to “wash feet” in this Biblical sense (see Galatians 6:2, 9-10)?
Jesus, Peter at first objects to You washing his feet. You tell him that, at the time he does not realize what You are doing. I believe that while in one sense Peter didn’t understand, in another sense I think that Peter understood all too well what You were doing. What Peter didn’t understand was why someone of Your stature, why You his Lord and Rabbi, would be washing feet. It seemed to Peter to be beneath You. If anything, You should be barking orders for others, for someone, to wash Your feet. Your washing feet Peter didn’t understand. However, at least in my mind, what Peter understood all too well was the implication of Your humble act of servanthood for him. Peter seems to have viewed himself as Your right hand man. You in essence were like the general and he was Your first lieutenant. Being Your first lieutenant he felt should entitle him to certain privileges. However, if You, the general, were washing feet…. Peter caught the picture. If You the general, his Lord and Rabbi, were washing feet; the implication was he, the first lieutenant, should be washing feet also. I can see Peter thinking “this is not what I signed on for.” Jesus, as the song goes, “Make me like You, Lord. Make me like You. You are a servant. Make me one too.”
Greek Word of the Day
English Word: understand (1) | Transliterated Word: eido
To see or understand, be aware, to know, behold, look upon. Specifically, to be acquainted with, spoke of things.
English Word: understand (2) | Transliterated Word: ginosko
To “know” absolutely, in a great variety of applications. Specifically, to know and approve or love, to care for, spoken of persons
Family Engagement Activity
Today, please consider washing each other’s feet as a family. There’s a good chance this will be awkward at first, but to put yourself in the mindset of both Jesus and a disciple is transformational. As someone is washing your feet, think about Jesus washing his disciples’ feet knowing what they were about to do (run away) and what he was about to go through. And then, think about if you were a disciple trying to understand why your master was doing something that no rabbi would ever do at that time.
Going Activities To Consider
Today, please consider washing the feet of a loved one. There’s a good chance this will be awkward at first, but to put yourself in the mindset of both Jesus and a disciple is transformational. As you are washing their feet, think about Jesus washing his disciples’ feet knowing what they were about to do (run away) and what he was about to go through. And then, think about if you were a disciple trying to understand why your master was doing something that a rabbi would never do at that time.