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John 13:1-17(CEB)

1 Before the Festival of Passover, Jesus knew that his time had come to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them fully.

2 Jesus and his disciples were sharing the evening meal. The devil had already provoked Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew the Father had given everything into his hands and that he had come from God and was returning to God. So he got up from the table and took off his robes. Picking up a linen towel, he tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he was wearing. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

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

“No!” Peter said. “You will never wash my feet!”

Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t have a place with me.”

Simon Peter said, “Lord, not only my feet but also my hands and my head!”

10 Jesus responded, “Those who have bathed need only to have their feet washed, because they are completely clean. You disciples are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 He knew who would betray him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you is clean.”

12 After he washed the disciples’ feet, he put on his robes and returned to his place at the table. He said to them, “Do you know what I’ve done for you? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you speak correctly, because I am. 14 If I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you too must wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example: Just as I have done, you also must do. 16 I assure you, servants aren’t greater than their master, nor are those who are sent greater than the one who sent them. 17 Since you know these things, you will be happy if you do them. 


If you have been a Christian for a length of time, you know this scripture well. It is one of the traditional Holy Thursday passages, but the only one that speaks of foot washing. Typically we think of Peter’s response to Jesus’s act of humility. Peter apparently was feeling that Jesus was above doing servant’s work, but then when Peter decided he wanted to accept it,  he very much wanted everything he could get – the whole package.  Jesus told Peter that what he wanted was not necessary.

I would like to focus a bit on Judas for a minute.   From my reading of the scripture, it feels like Judas was there for the foot washing. Other commentators have differing opinions, but most that I read seem to believe Judas was there for that activity.  Jesus literally serves Judas before Judas betrays Jesus.  Obviously Jesus knows what Judas is going to do, and Jesus accepts that, and he doesn’t refuse to wash Judas’ feet.  There is no mention about how uncomfortable this makes Judas but you can imagine that he was.  Jesus blessed Judas in that moment with an undeniable act of kindness. 

This feels like people who have had a loved one or multiple family members injured or killed by someone, and the person is forgiven by the victim’s family.  We think in that moment that a person who did something so awful may not even deserve to live, yet others see the humanity of that person and humble themselves to forgive them.  God forgives us every every single day because of Jesus’s action for us, so Jesus is always our best example.

But how can we possibly live up to that standard?  We know we can’t on our own. We know we need God to help us. Jesus was fully human when he served Judas, but we also know he had God in him.  We do too. It is amazing what we can do for others if we let God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit take over for us. We as humans are very inconsistent- one day we are more than willing to pitch in, other times we are resistant. It could be something as simple as we are hungry or tired or we are angry about something else in our lives that has nothing to do with the current situation in which we may find ourselves, so we just can’t see past ourselves to help another in need.

For Pondering & Prayer


When have we been uncomfortable offering our service to others? What motivates us to help or to withhold our service from someone? Can we strive to humble ourselves to help those in need whenever we possibly can and follow Jesus’s example?

Prayer: Thank you Jesus for your examples- over and over you teach us to humble ourselves for the sake of others. Help us to recognize when we should,  and when we don’t, help us to learn from that experience too. Guide us through this holy weekend and after to do your will. Amen.