BSF Study Questions John Lesson 17, Day 2: John 13:1-17

Summary of passage:  It’s just before Passover and Jesus’ time is limited.  Judas has already betrayed him and now Jesus is sitting down for the Last Supper with his disciples.  He dresses himself as a slave and washed his disciples’ feet.  Peter protests and Jesus tells him to let him.  When he is finished, he dresses and sits with them.  He explains that they need to serve others and no one is greater than they.


3)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus humbles himself and does the work of a slave, the lowest of the low in society.  His love is absolute and he cares not what others think of him.  He leads by example.  His actions speak louder than words.  He doesn’t just talk about it; he does it!  He loves his own and as we love him back we experience his love to the fullest.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Once we are bathed in Jesus, we still need to seek him and wash in him.  We are wholly clean by God’s love, mercy, and righteousness.  But we still need him and to experience him in smaller ways.  All were “clean” or believers except Judas because Judas did not accept Jesus as His Savior and he had hardness in his heart against him.  I am clean because I have accepted Jesus’ blood on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins.

Conclusions:  Such a great passage.  Again, not impressed with the questions.  See End Notes for more.

End Notes:  Alexander Maclaren wrote of this remarkable section, John 13:1-17: “Nowhere else is His speech at once so simple and so deep. Nowhere else have we the heart of God so unveiled to us…The immortal words which Christ spoke in that upper chamber are His highest self-revelation in speech, even as the Cross to which they led up is His most perfect self-revelation in act.”

John has by far the longest account of the upper room, but he says nothing of the Lord’s Supper.  We get most of what Jesus said that night from John.

The Greek noun agape (love) and the verb agapao (love) appear only 8 times in John Chapters 1-12 but 31 times in Chapters 13-17.  Chapters 13-14 take place at the Last Supper.  The discourses in Chapters 15-16 are probably spoken on the way to Gethsemane.

We have a time reference but still scholars disagree if this was on Passover or celebrated the day before when the traditional Passover meal was taken.  This affects whether Jesus was crucified on the day of Passover or the day after.

Jesus had less than 24 hours to live.  He is preparing his disciples for their work after he is gone.

The cross is not specifically mentioned in this passage, but it hangs in the actions and the words.

Jesus’ love for his own is greater because we have a response back.  I picture Jesus holding us close to him.

In this scene we have the thinking of Jesus as well (either he told John or John was more observant than the other writers).  Instead of it being all about that person (at the end of your life it can be), Jesus focuses on others and shows his love even though he knows he will be abandoned by them.  Jesus never abandons us.  Jesus did every part of this act himself–an act in Jewish custom that no one else would ever do.

Luke tells us that the disciples were debating who was the greatest when they entered the room.  Jesus showed what true greatness was.

It was customary to wash feet before the meal started.  However, this didn’t happen.  At that time, the meal was eaten at a low table called a triclinium. It was U-shaped.  The higher status guests sat the closest to the host. They leaned on pillows with their feet behind them. The disciples were willing to wash Jesus’ feet but not the others’ because it would put him below them.  Hence, no one’s feet got washed–until Jesus did it.

Jesus showed the disciples humility.  Scholars see this act as a comparison the cross.  Jesus rose from supper (from his throne in heaven).  He took off his clothes (he took off his glory).  He poured water to clean (he poured out his blood to cleanse us).

This act revealed the true character of God himself.  In it we see it’s the acceptance of what Jesus did for us and does for us that matters.  We have to accept his cleansing or it’s meaningless.  Peter protested out of a misplaced humility and pride.  Peter again didn’t get it:  it’s receiving Jesus into our lives that matter.  It was a spiritual cleaning, not a physical, that Peter needed.

First, Peter says don’t do it.  Then he says do more!  He’s telling Jesus what to do here.

Once we are bathed in Jesus, we still need to seek him and wash in him.

Jesus explained his actions so he was sure they got it.  They needed to have the same attitude and service as him.  We must wash one another’s feet–do for others.  Following Jesus’ example, doing the acts of service leads to blessings.

Some believe this act was meant to be performed by Christians today.  Most scholars agree it’s the message beneath that is important.

Christ washing the disciples’ feet was a favorite amongst painters.  My favorite HERE

One thought on “BSF Study Questions John Lesson 17, Day 2: John 13:1-17

  1. Q1. What impressed me, was that Jesus knew His time had come. He had full knowledge of the horror that would be inflicted upon him and He already stated that He struggled with it. When I am under immense distress, I know that I am only capable of thinking about myself and I’m needing to be ministered to and comforted. Yet here was Jesus in the shadow of the cross, only moments away from crucifixion ministering to His disciples by washing their feet.

    Jesus’ love for His own was demonstrated not only in washing the disciples feet, but also in having thought to pray to His father for them right up to the end of His life on earth. Again, when I’m immensely distressed my prayers are usually for myself.

    Q2. Firstly if you look at Jesus’ first response to Peter, when Peter tried to stop Jesus from washing his feet, you will see it was a warning. ‘If I do not wash you, you will have no part of me’. The action of feet washing was symbolic of Jesus cleansing that was to come, the cleansing of our sins. If we are not washed by Jesus we will have no part of Him in the Fathers house. No salvation. Then when Peter wanted his whole body to be washed, Jesus said to him ‘Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean’. Jesus was telling Peter, that when I wash your feet, I’ve already washed you all over. One touch of His cleansing power cleans us from all sin. What Jesus did in the cross has removed the sin from those who repent, and receive Him and we can enter the presence of God.


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