1 It was now the day before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. He had always loved those in the world who were his own, and he loved them to the very end.
2 Jesus and his disciples were at supper. The Devil had already put into the heart of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, the thought of betraying Jesus.
3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him complete power; he knew that he had come from God and was going to God.
4 So he rose from the table, took off his outer garment, and tied a towel around his waist.
5 Then he poured some water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples' feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Are you going to wash my feet, Lord?"
7 Jesus answered him, "You do not understand now what I am doing, but you will understand later."
8 Peter declared, "Never at any time will you wash my feet!" "If I do not wash your feet," Jesus answered, "you will no longer be my disciple."
9 Simon Peter answered, "Lord, do not wash only my feet, then! Wash my hands and head, too!"
10 Jesus said, "Those who have taken a bath are completely clean and do not have to wash themselves, except for their feet. All of you are clean—all except one."
11 (Jesus already knew who was going to betray him; that is why he said, "All of you, except one, are clean.")
12 After Jesus had washed their feet, he put his outer garment back on and returned to his place at the table. "Do you understand what I have just done to you?" he asked.
13 "You call me Teacher and Lord, and it is right that you do so, because that is what I am.
14 I, your Lord and Teacher, have just washed your feet. You, then, should wash one another's feet.
15 I have set an example for you, so that you will do just what I have done for you.
16 I am telling you the truth: no slaves are greater than their master, and no messengers are greater than the one who sent them.
17 Now that you know this truth, how happy you will be if you put it into practice!
18 "I am not talking about all of you; I know those I have chosen. But the scripture must come true that says, 'The man who shared my food turned against me.'
19 I tell you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen, you will believe that 'I Am Who I Am.'
20 I am telling you the truth: whoever receives anyone I send receives me also; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me."
Video of John 13:1-20 - Words from the Good News Bible Version
In this scripture Jesus has supper with his disciples. Was it a Passover meal?
Jesus got up from the supper table during the meal to wash feet. Did somebody have stinky feet?
Jesus didn't get up to wash feet before the meal. It wasn't a matter of someone not following hygiene protocol. Maybe it had something to do with the discussion at table.
Jesus taught an important lesson via his totally unexpected actions in the middle of supper. The disciple's feet may not have actually been that dirty, although at least one of them had dirty feet in the video.
On Maundy Thursday many churches, in remembrance of Jesus' last supper with his discples, gather around a communion table and observe a tradition of washing feet. Was Jesus telling us that we need to do this?
In verse 13 Jesus said, "I, your Lord and Teacher, have just washed your feet. You, then, should wash one another's feet." Many use this one verse as a doctrinal basis for gathering together on special occasions to wash each other's feet. Because he had washed his disciple's feet in the middle of supper Jesus did say that they should wash one another's feet.
It doesn't say that the disciples washed anybody's feet at this meal, in fact, no where else in scripture does it say that the disciples washed each other's feet. So what did Jesus mean? Was he expecting them to return the favor and wash his feet after he washed theirs? No, that would be contrary to his teaching against doing for others in expectation of receiving a favor in return.
It seems like Jesus is saying, "See, I am your Teacher and Lord. I have a place of importance to you, but I'm not too important to get down and wash your dirty feet. Maybe what Jesus meant when he said that they should wash one another's feet was that they should be willing to serve others without expecting anything in return.
The scriptures tell us that we should accept things as valid for belief and practice by the mouths of two or three witnesses. Except for John 13, the New Testament makes absolutely no reference to Jesus or his disciples washing feet.
Jesus replies, "But this is not the way it is with you; rather, the greatest one among you must be like the youngest, and the leader must be like the servant. Who is greater, the one who sits down to eat or the one who serves? The one who sits down, of course. But I am among you as one who serves."
Jesus follows up on his discussion on feet washing in verse 34 with a new commandment? What are we expected to learn from this?
Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples."
What can you or I individually do to be the kind of disciples Jesus wants us to be?