John Day 24: Jesus Washes Feet (John 13:1-20)

Jesus washing Peter’s Feet by Sieger Koder

Gospel of John Reading Plan
Day 24 Reading
: John 13:1-20

Bringing the Word to Life
Spend time with water today. What needs to be cleansed in your life in order for you to better reflect Christ’s servant heart?

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”
John 13:8 (NRSV)

1 Peter 5:5b-6 (NRSV)
In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.

He Himself is the great Man of Sorrows who knows our ills, Who was called the son of a carpenter, though He was the Son of God and the great Healer of sick souls. Who laboured for 30 years in a humble carpenter’s shop to fulfil God’s will. And God wills that in imitation of Christ, man should live and walk humbly on earth, not reaching for the sky, but bowing to humble things, learning from the Gospel to be meek and humble of heart.
~ Vincent van Gogh

Truly humble people are grounded in reality;
they neither preen under illusions of greatness
nor suffer agonies of self-hatred.
– Paula Huston, Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Re-new Your Spirit

John 13-17 is commonly referred to as The Farewell Discourse. Jesus gathers the disciples in an upper room for a final meal and some final teaching to prepare them for his death. He begins by letting his actions speak louder than his words. He rises from the table and washes his disciples’ feet as an example of how they are to love and serve one another. Washing feet is the ultimate act of humility, intimacy, and hospitality in his culture.

Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues
hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist,
there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.
—St. Augustine

If you go back to the original Greek in this passage, it’s easy to see Peter is struggling to even get words out of his mouth. He’s so astonished and so angered by Jesus’ actions that he’s talking and spitting at the same time. It’s inconceivable to him that the Messiah would be washing feet. Foot washing was reserved for gentile slaves, wives, and children- not Jewish men, not for people who weren’t family, not even for Jewish slaves. Peter will not allow Christ to assume the role of a servant. Jesus explains his actions, and in the high emotion of the moment Peter swings to the other extreme, inviting Jesus to wash his head and hands as well. Jesus replies that footwashing is enough and instructs the disciples to love and serve others as he has loved and served them.

Jesus invites us to share life with him, and through him to share life with each other.

Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others. Humble people are so focused on serving others, they don’t think of themselves.” – Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here for?

My prayer came out as a poem today
Jesus, you kneel before me
You remove my shoes and I am exposed
My feet are grimy
full of calluses and cracks
pungent with sweat and toe jam
I’m embarrassed by them
I pull back but you reassure
You’re not offended
I feel welcome in your hands
vulnerable, yet safe

The cleansing begins
I see your reflection in the ripples
I see me, too
Your water brings truth and life
Who I am and who I can be

I am whole and home in the touch the towel
You look at my neighbor and hand it to me

poem © 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the Gospel of John Reading Plan, click here 

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

1 thought on “John Day 24: Jesus Washes Feet (John 13:1-20)

  1. Pingback: The Touch of the Towel, a poem based on John 13:1-17 | Turning the Word

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