Lectionary Year A
March 28, 2002
John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Step V: Distillation

A. Summary of Salient Features

(JW)There are some primary features that stand out at this point in the process. First, Jesus was setting an example of extreme love by taking the form of a slave in service to his disciples. Second, there was a lot of darkness present during this event. Third, the love of Jesus is what was being demonstrated as opposed to a particular pattern of behavior.

1 Before the feast - Namely, on Wednesday, in the paschal week. Having loved His apostles, he will loved them to the end - Of his physical life.
2 Judas had already given into the devils temptation to betray Jesus as they were eating dinner that evening
3 Jesus, being confident "KNOWING" that the Father had given Him the victory ---
4 Took off His outer clothes and tied a toweled around his waist - He is ready to serve even the one that has maded up his mind to betray Him.
5 He begun to wash the apostles' feet
6 He tried to wash Peter's feet but Peter questioned His actions
7 Jesus explained to Peter that he lack understanding, but the time will come when he will understand - Wesley said of this verse "We do not now know perfectly any of his works, either of creation, providence, or grace. It is enough that we can love and obey now, and that we shall know hereafter."
8 Peter continues his resistance and Jesus explains "our" need for "His service" - Wesley - "In a more general sense it may mean, If I do not wash thee in my blood, and purify thee by my Spirit, thou canst have no communion with me, nor any share in the blessings of my kingdom."
9 Peter finally finds value in Jesus' services and goes overboard. Wesley - "How fain would man be wiser than God! Yet this was well meant, though ignorant earnestness."
10 Note: Difficult verse - The apostles bodies only need to be partially cleanse (their feet); also the apostles are not all clean spiritually? Does this speaks of partial cleansing in the body of Christ?
11 Jesus knew who was unclean
12 -13 Jesus questions the apostles
14- 16 We are to wash each other (Spiritually?) - Wesley "Ye ought also to wash one another's feet - And why did they not? Why do we not read of any one apostle ever washing the feet of any other? Because they understood the Lord better. They knew he never designed that this should be literally taken. He designed to teach them the great lesson of humble love, as well as to confer inward purity upon them. And hereby he teaches us, In every possible way to assist each other in attaining that purity; To wash each other's feet, by performing all sorts of good offices to each other, even those of the lowest kind, when opportunity serves, and the necessity of any calls for them. 16 The servant is not greater than his lord - Nor therefore ought to think much of either doing or suffering the same things."
17 In our care of each other is our happiness -

B. Smooth Translation John 13:1-17
(JW) 13:1) And before the feast of the Passover, Jesus, having known that his hour had come that he might migrate out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the ultimate degree. 2) And as supper came about, the devil already having cast into the heart of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, that he might betray him, 3) and he, Jesus, having known that the Father had given all things into his hands and that from God he had come and to God he was going, 4) rose up from the supper and placed aside his garments, and haven taken a towel, he girded himself. 5) Then he put water into the basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples and to wipe them off thoroughly with the towel with which he was girded. 6) Then he came to Simon Peter; he said to him, "Lord, you wash my feet?" 7) Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not know now, but you will understand after these things." 8) Peter said to him, "Not ever will you wash my feet - never." Jesus answered him, "If I may not wash you, you do not have a part with me." 9) Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not only my feet, but also the hands and the head." 10) Jesus said to him, "The one who has bathed does not need to be washed except for the feet, but is wholly clean. And you all are clean ones, but not all of you." 11) For he knew the one betraying him; on account of this he said, "not all of you are clean ones."
12) Therefore, when he washed the their feet and took his garments and reclined again, he said to them, "Do you know what thing I have done to you all? 13) You call me 'The teacher' and 'The lord,' and you all say well, for I am. 14) Therefore, if I, the lord and the teacher, washed you all's feet, you all also ought to wash one another's feet.15) For I gave you all a demonstration in order that as I did to you, you all also might do. 16) Truly, truly, I say to you all, a slave is not greater than his lord, nor is an apostle greater than the one having sent him. 17) If you all know these things, you all are blessed-by-God if you do them.

Now it was before the feast, the first day of the Unleavened Bread. The Jews celebrate this festival by sacrificing a lamb, to be eaten as the Passover meal. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to depart from this world to go to the Kingdom of his Father. He reflected on how much he had loved his Disciples who had during their time together in this world, become his close friends. He would indeed love them until the very end. Before the evening meal could be served, Jesus already knew that Diabolos, the Devil, had weakened the heart of Judas Iscariot so that he would betray Jesus and give him over to those Jews who would arrest Jesus on false charges. Jesus knew that the Father had given him all that he needed for his ministry, and he could feel his Father leading him toward the Kingdom. Before they met for this meal, Jesus and his Disciples had been traveling on a journey to Jerusalem. It was during this time that Jesus taught the Disciples to prepare them for the time when they would carry on the ministry of proclaiming the "Good News". This night Jesus used this Passover meal as an opportunity to once again teach his Disciples. Jesus got up from the supper table and removed his clothing, girding a towel around his waist. He filled a wash basin with water and began to wash the feet of his Disciples. This is clearly a job that would be performed by the lowest of servants, yet Jesus is the one doing the washing. He dries their feet using the towel that is customarily girded by God, around his waist. Yes, Jesus even washes the feet of the Disciple that he knows is going to betray him. Jesus comes to Peter to wash his feet and tells Peter that he will understand the meaning of this lesson later. Peter boldly proclaims that he will never allow Jesus to wash his feet. Jesus rebukes Peter telling him to cooperate or else have no part in Jesus. Peter replies that since you explained it to me in that way then wash my whole body as well. Jesus tells Peter that their bodies are clean and only their feet need washing. But Jesus knew who was unclean and going to betray him. He may have also known that Peter would be one who would also deny Jesus, and so he tells Peter that not all of them are clean. When Jesus had washed their feet he put on his clothes and returned to the supper table. Jesus reminds the Disciples that they call him teacher and Lord, and confirms that they are right. He says, "For I am." And if I can as teacher and Lord, wash your feet, you ought to wash each other's feet. I have provided the example of service that is expected of you. If I can do it, so can you. For no slave is greater than his Lord, nor is an apostle greater than the one who sent him. If you remain servants to all people, you will be blessed by God.

C. Hermeneutical Bridge

(JW)These are the first two paragraphs in the Chapter entitled "He Set an Example for Them," in the book, Jesus C.E.O., by Laurie Beth Jones.
There is a popular saying that children learn by what they see, not by what they hear. Policy manuals and instruction books may serve purpose, but they do not establish a corporate culture. Leaders set the example by what they do.
When Jesus took his garment off and used it as a towel to wash the staffers' feet, they were shocked and protested that they should be washing his feet. He said, "I am doing this to set an example for you." Nothing could have had as much power a watching him do this most humble deed (227).

(GG/RR) Tony L. Johnson and The Ministry of Challenge testimony.
I have it on tape if anyone would like to listen to it.

      Jesus went to considerable length to "convince" the disciples of his resurrection, even allowing Thomas to touch him in his wounds. Obviously, belief in the resurrection became a central feature of the faith (see apostolic preaching in Acts).
      With all the evidence of the NT and the stories about Jesus' appearances, why do we so casually disregard it as unscientific and, in some cases, optional for faith?
      The pericope and the entire Gospel are written "that we might believe..."
      Sermon should address "Why is it important that we believe in the resurrection?"

| Return to Gospel text listings | Return to Epistle text listings |
| Return to Old Testament listings | Return to Psalm listings |
| User response form |