Foot Washing

Read: John 13:1-17

He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet. (v. 5)

Do you make sure to wash your hands before dinner? Most of the time, you probably wash your own hands. However, in the ancient world, it was customary to wash your feet before a meal. People walked on the dusty roads and their feet were filthy. When you entered a house, the host would ask one of the servants to wash the guests’ feet.

Yet, when Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples, he did not ask a servant to wash their feet. Instead, Jesus got up from the table, took off his robe, tied a towel around his waist, poured water into a basin, and began to wash his disciples’ feet (vv. 3-5). Jesus—their teacher and master—took on the lowest position of foot washer, the role of a servant. Peter was scandalized and refused. When Jesus insisted, Peter went in the opposite direction and asked that Jesus wash all of him. Jesus patiently continued to wash their feet (vv. 6-10). When he finished, he explained what he had done. Although he was their superior, he didn’t insist on a higher position or the role of honor but humbled himself to do the work they’d think was beneath them. In doing so, he set them an example to follow (vv. 12-17).

Jesus shows us that greatness is found in humility. Though he has the name that’s above every name (Phil. 2:9), Jesus humbled himself and calls his disciples to follow him in this path of humble service.

As you pray, ask Jesus to teach you to walk in his humble way.

About the Author

Stephen Shaffer is the pastor at Bethel Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario.

This entry is part 14 of 31 in the series Looking to Jesus