John 13: Jesus Washes His Disciple’s Feet Demonstrating Servant Leadership

John 13 is a lesson on servant leadership. Here we have Jesus knowing the end is near, and the final thing he does is wash his disciple’s feet.

It was an act of servanthood and love. I believe Jesus did it so they’d remember it. Hopefully, they’d treat each other the same way after he was gone.

For example one of the main premises of this book states that Jesus is the Son of God. The other gospels point that out, but John drives that point home.

In western culture, this is a weird thing to do. Personally, I don’t want people touching my feet, it’s kinda weird. However, in the middle east, and especially during biblical times, this was something guests had done to them whenever they came over.

John 13: Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

13 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 

Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

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

Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”

“No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”

Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”

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

John 13:1-9

John 13: Peters’s Reaction Is Similar to How Most of Us Would React

I really like Peter, because he’s the guy who says everything the rest of us are thinking. And in John 13 he does this a couple of times.

He doesn’t feel worthy enough for Jesus to wash his feet, and technically he’s right. But Jesus is showing true servant leadership here. Jesus needs to wash everyone who will follow him to heaven.

The feet washing in John 13 is symbolic of what would happen over the next few days. Jesus would die on the cross, and his blood would cover all of our sins.

Servant Leadership is about bringing everyone together, it’s about synergy. But most of all it’s about caring for the people on your team. When you practice this type of leadership you’re helping the weakest links achieve greatness. As a whole, the team is stronger.

Essentially, your team will accomplish more together than they will apart. That’s the beauty of servant Leadership.

John 13

John 13:10-17 Jesus Explains Why He Washed Their Feet

10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 

16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.

John 13:10-17

What is The Main Message of John 13?

John 13 is about servant leadership and states that Jesus is the Son of God.

Jesus has been called the Son of God many times in the previous chapters. Yet for some reason he does a chore on the bottom of the totem pole. Washing someone’s feet was for the lowliest of servants in a household.

Yet for some reason Jesus willingly did this.

In addition to that, we have to realize how dirty people’s feet were. In those days people walked everywhere and they were either barefoot or wore some kind of sandal. Also, the roads they walked on were shared by animals.

Camels, Donkeys, Horses, etc. All walking on the same road. I bet there were animal feces everywhere. Especially in the cities. It was in some ways unavoidable. And when you entered a house, either a servant or member of the family would wash the people’s feet.

This is why what Jesus said is so important. If the whole body has been washed, then all you need to clean is the feet. And the disciples should’ve been washing each other’s feet.

The nature of Christianity can be summed up in two sentences:

  • Love God With All Of Your Heart
  • Be Sure To Love And Serve Those Around You.

I know what I wrote is extremely simplified. But I think we get caught up in theology and forget what Jesus told us. Love God and Love Others.

It’s really not that hard, we make it that way.

Why Did Jesus Die?

John 13: Jesus Predicts His Betrayal

18 “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me.’ 19 I tell you this beforehand so that when it happens you will believe that I am the Messiah. 20 I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me.”

21 Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!”

22 The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean. 23 The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. 24 Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s he talking about?” 25 So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”

26 Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. 27 When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” 28 None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. 29 Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. 30 So Judas left at once, going out into the night.

John 13:18-30

John 13: The Betrayal Of Jesus:

I often wonder what would’ve happened if Judas hadn’t killed himself. What if he asked for forgiveness instead? He walked and talked with Jesus for 3 1/2 years. How did he not get transformed like the others?

I think he had his own thoughts on how things should go. Maybe he wanted to force the hand of Jesus into bringing the kingdom of God to earth. However, in the force, he lost track of what was important.

The story of Judas in John 13 can tell us a lot about following Christ. First off I think not everyone who follows him will finish the race. I believe anybody who calls upon the name of Jesus will be saved. However, I think Judas got caught up in his own selfish desires and dreams. This caused him to be blind to the things of Jesus.

This alone is scary because he was right next to Jesus. He saw the 5000 get fed. He saw people raised from the dead and countless people healed. In fact, during John 13 he saw Jesus at his peak, and many were thinking he was going to restore Israel.

What hope do we have in finishing the race?

John 14:6 states that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Our hope is in him, and if we fix our eyes on him we will not falter. Much like Peter stepping out of the boat or the Psalmist who wrote I lift my eyes to the hills. Our focus needs to be on God.

There’s not a lot of evidence about Judas’ heart, but the scant amount we see in John 13 says something.

He stole money from the treasury, and Satan was able to enter into him. If Satan is able to enter in, you’ve got some holes in your defenses, usually, it means there’s disobedience. If we clean up our acts and stop sinning. Keeping our focus will be much easier.

John 13: Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

31 As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. 32 And since God receives glory because of the Son,[i] he will give his own glory to the Son, and he will do so at once. 

33 Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

36 Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?”

And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.”

37 “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.”

38 Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning. You will deny three times that you even know me.

John 13: 31-38
John 13

John 13 Peters Denies Christ Just Like He Prophecied:

During times of great emotion, we tend to state things that aren’t true. I believe this is one of those times. Peter states that he’s willing to die for Jesus. The response he gets in John 13 is very disheartening.

How would you like to tell someone that you’ll die for them, only for the person to call you out and say that you’ll fail at it?

In the next chapter of John we will see the denial actually happen, and the pain it brought. However, there’s a stark difference here between Peter and Judas.

Peter sees his flaws and disbelief. He moves forward and learns from it. He allows the Spirit of God to change him, and he is transformed because of it.

Judas clings to his beliefs, and selfish desires, and it leads to his doom.

John 13 is a very profound chapter in the Bible. We see Peter and Judas sin, but only Peter comes through. While Judas eventually feels sorrow, it leads to his demise.

Peter on the other hand, his sorrow leads to repentance, and freedom in Jesus.

There’s a lot more I could break down about this chapter. However the main points I’d like to address come from Jesus, Judas, and Peter.

  • Jesus wants us to serve each other. Just like he serves us.
  • Judas was stuck in his own beliefs and selfishness. It led to his doom.
  • Peter had his own beliefs but he listened to Jesus and changed. Avoiding a similar fate.

I hope you liked my latest post. I enjoyed writing it, and love reading about Peter. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe.

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