This article is based on Blake Holmes’ teaching on Jesus Washing the Disciples Feet in “Retold: History Everybody Should Know.”
When you are anxious or afraid, what is the first thing you do? Chances are, you look out for yourself. While that is often what the world would tell you to do, Jesus models a completely different way to live. In John 13:1-17, Jesus reminds us that the Christian life is marked by surrender, service, and self-sacrifice.
As odd as it may seem, we need to hear this story about Jesus washing feet time and time again. Here are eight things in particular you should notice.
Eight Reasons Why Jesus Washing His Disciples’ Feet Matters
- Jesus is our hope. Even while the cross was looming, Jesus willingly walked toward it. He knew He had to die, and went to His death undeterred. He is the perfect sacrifice, and when we put our trust in Him, we experience freedom from the bondage of sin and death. This gives us incredible reason for hope, even when times seem as dark as they did for Jesus.
- Jesus was not caught off-guard by Judas’s plans. Jesus knew in advance who was going to betray Him (John 13:11). Jesus wasn’t surprised, and He doesn’t even appear to be upset. The entire time, Jesus was confident in his Father’s plans (John 13:3). We see clearly that no one took His life; Christ laid it down of His own accord (John 10:18).
- Jesus has the authority to forgive sin. When Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, it is a symbolic reminder about His authority to forgive sin (Matthew 9:6, Mark 2:10). The disciples, just like any of us, were sinful and in need of redemption. Thankfully, Jesus knelt down to show that He is more than willing to wash us clean (Psalm 51:1-12).
- Jesus wants us to know Him personally. Judas was not saved by association with the other disciples. Unless we make a personal decision to trust in Christ, we cannot have any assurance that we will be with Him in heaven. This isn’t a decision our parents, pastors, or spouses can make for us. We must come to Jesus ourselves with faith, vulnerability, surrender, and authenticity.
- Jesus points us to the real problem. Your greatest problem today is not financial, racial, medical, or relational. Your greatest problem is a spiritual problem: your sin and the eternal separation from God that our sin brings about apart from faith in Christ. All of us are in need of the free gift of grace available to us in Christ. We all need to be washed by the work of Jesus on the cross. Like Peter, we should react to Jesus washing our feet by desiring that our hearts – our whole selves – be cleaned by the sacrifice of Christ (John 13:9).
- Jesus is our Savior. Even though our justification occurs in a moment, we are constantly being sanctified. The story of Jesus washing His friend’s feet should remind us that we are fully washed clean when we trust in Christ. We need Him to save us (John 13:8).
- Jesus calls us to a life of surrender. This life starts by acknowledging who Jesus is and your need for Him. After that, Christian life is marked by a daily surrender as we continue to become more like Him (Luke 9:23). This surrender is not going to be easy, but it will transform how we live. Our service should always remind people of who our Savior is.
- Jesus is our example. In a time of scarcity, fear, and anxiety, our flesh and the world tell us to look inward, to look out for ourselves. But Jesus has another message: He tells us to look outward, to surrender, and to serve others. In God’s economy, the path to greatness comes from serving others. We, too, should look for ways to serve those around us (John 13:15).
Jesus came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45). It is while we were still sinners that Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). We don’t deserve it, and we don’t have to earn it. It simply given by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). We accept this gift by surrendering in faith, and acknowledging our need for Him. Only then can we truly follow in Jesus’s footsteps to serve others with humility and self-sacrifice.
Are you interested in learning more about Jesus and what it means to live the Christian life? Check out the following passages to help your study: John 13:1-17; John 7:30; John 8:20; John 6:70-71; John 13:18; 1 Corinthians 5:7; Isaiah 40:27-28; Psalm 139:1-2; Matthew 6:31-32; Titus 3:3-5; 1 John 1:9; Colossians 1:15-20; Ephesians 2:1-3; Philippians 2:3-8. Listen to How to Not Waste Your Life and the Real Truth. Real Quick on Why Should Christians Serve? for more on why Christians are called to a life of service. Interested in serving your city? Visit watermark.org/servethecity for ways to be outward focused.