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The Touch That Transforms – Lessons from Feet Washing

Foot WashingWashing the feet of guests upon their arrival was a menial task, normally performed by a household servant.  Apparently at this pre-arranged location for celebrating the Passover meal, there was no servant.  And no one else volunteered.  So later, during the meal, Jesus deliberately assumed this role to demonstrate humility and selfless service—the kind he would soon exemplify on the cross.

God’s Word:  John 13: 1-5, 12-17

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

13 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.

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. 1 7 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.


Interact with God’s Word: 

  1. Twice (vv. 1 & 3) John mentioned that Jesus was aware that he was about to leave his disciples.  Why do you think he did this?
  2. Why did a stripped-down-for-work Jesus (v. 4) clash with his “Teacher” or “Master” status (v. 12)?
  3. Jesus asked (v. 12) if his disciples “got” the thrust of his acted-out illustration.  Do you think they did?  What was he trying to teach them?
  4. If the rabbi—God in the flesh—was willing to perform the most menial service for his disciples (v. 14), how should we relate to each other?
  5. Was Jesus just trying to get his disciples to be nice to each other?  How would moving into the world with a selfless, serving attitude extend his mission after his departure?
  6. Is a sympathetic feel for those who are hurting an adequate response (v. 17)?   How could you step onto this path of blessing?


Spend Time in Prayer

Ask God to make you not only willing to serve others in any way that would glorify him, but deliberately purposeful in finding a way to do so.




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