“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:12-17)
As today’s text indicates, Jesus washed all of His 12 Disciples feet: including Judas Iscariot. We know this to be true because Judas did not leave the upper room until John 13:30. After He was finished doing so and after resuming His place at the table, Jesus said to the disciples, ““Do you understand what I have done to you?
It is probably accurate to assume that Judas did not care one bit about understanding the significance of what Jesus had just done. Washing another person’s feet! Not on your life! Judas was thinking that his interest was strictly about himself and money (John 12:4-6). He had already agreed with the religious to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Mathew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6).
What about the other disciples? You have to wonder if they truly comprehended what Jesus had done. Therefore, Jesus took the moment to explain the significance of what He had just accomplished. Jesus said, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done to you.”
Jesus invokes His own sovereign authority by calling Himself not only Teacher but also Lord. The word Teacher (διδάσκαλος; didaskalos) means an instructor or trainer. The word Lord (κύριος; kyrios) is the New Testament equivalent for the Hebrew word Yahweh meaning self-existent one. It was the most personal name for God.
Speaking the logical principle of cause and effect, Jesus said that if the disciples correctly recognized that Jesus was their Teacher and their God, then they should correctly demonstrate such an understanding by emulating Him by washing one another’ feet.
The word example (ὑπόδειγμα; hypodeigma) means a pattern or a model. Jesus displays a pattern or model of behavior the disciples should demonstrate toward one another: servanthood.
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “The basic idea of today’s passage is that disciples of Christ must be willing to do what He was willing to do, including acts of service. As the Master, He is greater than us, His servants, and if a task such as foot washing was not beneath Him, neither should we consider any form of service beneath us. The example of foot washing commends to us a willingness to meet the needs of others, to put others before ourselves, and to not be puffed up with pride. It is a call to humility and to a readiness to serve one another.”
Jesus then said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
Once again invoking His own authority, Jesus told His disciples in the upper room, and tells His disciples today through John’s gospel, that as His disciples we are not greater than Him. Jesus calls and commands all who follow Him to do what He did in serving and ministering to those in need. We may not be able to meet every need but we can meet some. We may not be able to do what someone else does, but we can do something.
Jesus Christ is not only our Teacher but He is also Lord of heaven and earth. Let each of us today evidence our understanding of this by serving the Lord Jesus Christ as we minister and serve one another.
Soli deo Gloria!