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Lesson 8 The Washing of One Another’s Feet


Devotional Reading:   Micah 6:6–8


Memory Verse:           John 13:14


If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.




John 13:1–17. 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. 2And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; 3Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10Jesus 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. 11For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 12So 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? 13Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.




John 13:1. This occurred the same night as the institution of the Lord’s Supper as the context shows. V2. During the supper. This is the Passover Supper referred to in the last lesson. Vv 4–5. He arose from the table and girded himself like a servant. The account of his acts is given in detail. V6. Peter objected to Christ’s washing his feet. V7. Peter’s objection was because he did not know Christ’s object. Christ promised to explain later. V8. Christ tells Peter the seriousness of his refusal. Jesus makes a test of this act. V9. Peter suddenly submits and would go even farther than he was asked. Vv 10–11. It was customary to bathe before the Passover. They were clean, all but Judas, not all but their feet. V12. He now begins to explain his acts as he had promised to do. Vv 13–15. The command to follow this example is plainly given. V16. We are servants so we are no greater than our Lord. We are not to be above doing as he did and as he commands us. V17. A spiritual benefit comes from obeying this command.






1. What Christ did.


A) He arose from the table. This was during the Passover meal. B) Laid aside his garments. These were his outer garments. C) Girded himself with a towel. This is taking the attitude of a servant. The towel was used in the service. D) He poured water in a basin. E) He washed the disciples’ feet. He began not with Peter. F) He again clothed himself and sat down. G) He then explained what he had done.


2. What Christ commanded.


The force of the command—he used “ought” and “should.” These words are of sufficient force to all who wish to please God.

A) To follow his example—“as I have done.” Something else will not do. B) The act desired is definitely stated—“wash one another’s feet.” This is as clear as the command to baptize or to observe the communion.


3. The practice of the church.


Paul alludes to it in 1 Timothy 5:10.




1. Given by divine appointment.


A) At the time of giving that Christ impresses the fact of his divine lordship and thus his right to give such a command. B) It was given at the same time and in the same place as the Lord’s Supper.


2. Established by divine example.


As in the cases of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, Jesus set the example, so there can be no dispute as to what he desires done.


3. Distinctly commanded.


The command is as definite as any command to baptize and is as broad as the command to observe the communion.


4. It has a religious character.


A) Christ told Peter he should have no part with hin if he refused. This was serious. B) The benefit is not physical but spiritual—a blessing accompanies its observance.


5. It is a church practice.


A) The instruction is to wash one another’s feet. This is not for all men but for Christ’s followers only. The practice is mutual. B) Paul refers to washing the saints’ feet. This confines it to the church.




1. It was an oriental custom which Christ observed. To this we reply . . .


A) The custom was to wash one’s own feet. The host gave water to a welcome guest who then washed his own feet. B) Pete did not understand, which proves that it was not the ordinary washing of feet. C) Sometimes slaves were kept to wash the feet, hands, and head of their masters. Peter caught the ides that this was what Christ was doing but he was again wrong. D) Jesus was not scrupulous about keeping Jewish customs. He could not have insisted strongly on a mere custom on such a solemn night.


2. Jesus washed their feet for cleanliness.


They traveled the dusty road from Bethany so needed to cleansing. This should have occurred upon entering. Such an act of cleansing is quite out of place in the midst of a meal. Why did not Christ wash his own feet? Were they not dusty? There was no proof that they wore sandals that day. It was cold, so they probably wore shoes. Christ declared they were clean. Peter at first refused to be washed then offered also his hands and head. Jesus explained that his purpose was not cleansing.


3. It was to teach humility.


None of the disciples were humble enough to wash the feet of the others. It is a lesson in humility. It is more than a lesson—it is a test of humility.


4. Other good works will do.


The washing of the saints’ feet is a good act, but it is more. It is a religious act. Nothing else will do. WE have no right to substitute for any of the Lord’s commands.


5. It is undignified.


A) Cultured people should not be asked to do so humiliating a thing. B) It is not immodest if conducted decently and in order—with the sexes parted. It is not humiliating to the humble but is a revealer of proud hearts who are unwilling to obey.




1. Humility.


The Christian grace of humility is here taught and exemplified. In the observances of this ordinance we are led to feel that we cannot be proud in the presence of him who so humbles himself.


2. Brotherhood.


Baptism symbolizes our death to the world, the Lord’s Supper shows our communion with Christ, and this service shows our relation to each other. We wash one another’s feet, taking our place on one common level. He gave up all for us—our Master, Christ.