Welcome Valley Bible Studies

Lesson 53

John 13:1-17

[1] Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. [2] And supper being ended, the devil having now put 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 was come from God, and went to God; [4] He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. [5] After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. [6] Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? [7] Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. [8] Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. [9] Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. [10] Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. [11] For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. [12] So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? [13] Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. [14] If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. [15] For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. [16] Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. [17] If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

Background Information

Jesus’ actions in this text would seem unusual to us today; however, in Bible times, hosts washed their guests' feet. It was a common way of showing hospitality. While it is believed that this job was done by servants, Scripture suggests that the host or hostess might sometimes wash a guest's feet personally. But even if the job was done by someone who wasn’t a servant, the lord would expect his servants to do it for him rather than the other way around. Likewise, a teacher would expect his students to do this menial service for him, not the other way around.

Master” in verses 13 and 14 means “Schoolmaster” or “teacher.” It translates the Greek word didaskalos, or teacher.

Some Christians believe that Jesus established foot washing as a ritual to be carried out in the church. Others believe that Jesus used foot washing to teach humble service to others rather than to establish a ritual. Whatever one’s convictions in this regard, we should be willing to serve each other in humble ways.

Related Scriptures
Matthew 20:25-28
Mark 9:31-35
Luke 7:44-47 (includes several examples of ancient hospitality customs)
Galatians 5:13-14
1 Timothy 5:10 (an example of washing feet as an act of hospitality)
1 John 1:7-9
1 John 2:1-2
Revelation 1:5

1. What was about to happen to Jesus that would lead to His leaving this world?
2. Who objected to having his feet washed by Jesus?
3. Look at John 13:8-10. Jesus is obviously thinking in spiritual terms and not simply of clean feet. a. In what way do we all need to be washed by Jesus? (See Revelation 1:5 if you are unsure.) b. Is the person who has been washed by Jesus' blood dirty (sinful) in God’s sight? c. What might be the spiritual significance of having Jesus wash one’s feet after He had already cleansed that person from sin?
4. How were Jesus’ actions different than those of most leaders and teachers?
5. What is Jesus trying to teach us about a. feelings of superiority? b. our attitudes toward others?
6. a. Has Jesus cleansed your life from sin? b. If He has, do you confess the sins that come into your life (that soil your feet as it were) to Him for cleansing as well?

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