John 13:1-38


Jesus knew His “time”/His “hour” had come.  He knew He soon would become the sacrifice for sin and become the “Lamb of God”.  The hours now were short and He must use what time He had left to continue preparing His disciples for a life without Him.  Part of that preparation comes in John 13:1-17 as Jesus demonstrates a great act of humility when He takes on the role of slave and washes the feet of His disciples.  It also teaches us great lessons in humility and serving others. Jesus expects His followers to exhibit humble loving service to others. When we do not act in humility toward others, can that be considered pride?

Pride is identified by the Bible as the motivation of Satan’s rebellion.

How you have fallen from heaven,morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart,“I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne
above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
to the depths of the pit. Isaiah 14:12-15

Adam’s demonstration of pride was shown by disobeying God’s command when he ate from the tree of life.  Satan offered temptation but the choice belonged to Adam. What about you? Have you ever thought pride was disobedience?  Has there ever been a time in your life now or years before that you knowingly disobeyed God’s command?  Of course, you have. It’s called sin. And it must be dealt with.

The Humility of Jesus:

Jesus was soon to show us the ultimate example of humility by dying on the cross to conquer sin and death.  He came to earth to be obedient to the Father’s salvation plan. As you watch the video on John 13:1-17 posted below, think about the humility of Christ and what lessons He was teaching his disciples and all His followers including you.


The events that would lead to the arrest of Jesus had already begun.

  • John 11:53 “So from that day on they plotted to take his life.” (speaking of the Jews)
  • John 12:23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”  (Jesus Himself declared it)
  • John 13:1 “It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. ”
  • John 13:2 “The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.” (Jesus knew it)

Why the example of foot washing?

Foot washing was a necessary action due to the dusty roads on which they walked during Jesus day. Sandals served as shoes and if you have ever worn sandals and walked through sand or dirt, you understand what happens to the feet.  Not only was it necessary to wash the feet for cleanliness and the sake of being dirt free but the custom of the day for dining was not sitting upright in a chair around the table. They would have been lounging on couches, floor coverings, or pillows on the floor.  The guest would lounge around a table close together often with the feet near or next to the person beside them.

Why would Jesus humble Himself in this manner?

Jesus always used the simple things to teach a lesson.  Although the disciples did not understand, Jesus would use this example of humility to drive home a point.  Jesus and His disciples along with the entire Jewish nation were celebrating the Passover as a time of remembrance when the Israelite nation had been in bondage/slavery in the land of Egypt.  It was a time to remember God’s mighty power in bringing them from bondage to freedom.  Lounging in this manner was the posture of a free person, and was done in celebration of being free people.  But Jesus took on the role of a Gentile slave in order to wash their feet.  He was the host not the servant/slave.  How this must have shocked them!

Jesus was the Messiah.  He was Lord God of the universe.  John 20:29Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”.  Yet he washed their feet. The one worthy of the highest honor, emptied Himself to serve others.  Phil 2:7  “rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,being made in human likeness.”  So what was the purpose of this demonstration? He set an example for us in order to show us how we too should have a servant spirit.  Jesus wanted His disciples and His followers to humbly serve each other as He served us.

Why did Jesus use this example during this time at the Passover supper?

Passover supper was a time to remember and celebrate Israel’s freedom and deliverance from the bondage of slavery from Egypt.

Passover supper for Christians is a time to remember our freedom through Jesus’ death and resurrection in our deliverance from sin and death.

Question 1: What act of service could you offer that would demonstrate the same spirit of humility Christ demonstrated?

Question 2: What is the greatest sacrifice God has called you to make? How does it compare to what Christ did?

Judas Iscariot

Jesus knew what was in the heart of Judas and He knew Judas would betray Him.  Judas was an example of someone who had the opportunity to hear and see everything that Jesus did but still rejected Him.  He failed to believe and he made the personal choice to betray Jesus.

John 13:18-30 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.  I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am.”Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” 

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”  Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.”

The underlined statement above tells us that those who do believe in Jesus would have a role in spreading the gospel message.  We are sent out by Jesus to tell others of Him.  We bear His name “CHRISTian”, and His message. We are on mission whether we go hundreds of miles from home or within our own household.  It is our responsibility to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with all our might and to support the work of missions by others.

Question 3: How would you respond to someone if you knew he was going to betray you?

Question 4: Why did Jesus feel the need to expose this information to the disciples?

Serve in Love

John 13:33-35  “My children, I will be with you only a little longer.  You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.  A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Jesus has given us an example of humble service.  But what was the motivation for the disciples and us to serve like Jesus did?  Jesus gives the answer in verse 33 of the following scripture: love one another as I have loved you. Why? “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. This act of loving separates us from unbelievers.  We are to love like Jesus!  Love that is unconditional, not based on actions or “worthiness”, be willing to forgive, and willing to serve others. We are to demonstrate this love to fellow Christians and be a church that behaves in love toward each other.  We are to love the unbelievers and share the gospel message with them for their eternity sake.

Simon Peter

John 13:36-38  Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”  Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

In pride, Peter makes the boast that he will lay down his life for Jesus. Pride gives us a false sense of strength and security.  But alas, Jesus knew Peter would betray him and He still loved Peter.  Jesus knows our hearts and minds and He knows that the “spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”.  Even though we have good intentions, we fail.  We sin.  We grieve over our sin. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteous.  Jesus desires to restore a broken relationship with Him.  Allow Him the opportunity to restore a right relationship in your heart toward Him.  He died that you might live in fullness of life-eternal life.

Question 5: Can you imagine a scenario in which you would deny Jesus?

Question 6: What promises have you made to God but failed to keep?

Question 7: What are some ways you can humbly serve others?