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Tasker: I would suggest that verse 1 should be separated from the incident which immediately follows it, and regarded as an introduction to the whole of the remaining chapters. As Passover approached, Jesus became aware that His public ministry to the Jews was over, and that the time for His supreme ‘work’, His death, had come.


A. Feeling the Urgency of Fleeting Opportunity and the Appropriateness of the Occasion

“Now before the Feast of the Passover”

Jesus predicted to die as the great Passover Lamb: I Cor. 5:7; John 1:29;

I Pet. 1:19-20; Rev. 13:8

B. Focusing Steadfastly on the Goal

“Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He should depart out of this world to the Father”

1. Fullness of time – track concept of “the hour” in Book of John

John 2:4; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 17:1

2. A Departure = A Leaving from this world

3. An Arrival = A Cleaving to the heavenly Father

C. Finishing Strong with Persevering Love

“having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”

“The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many.”

“His own” — Concept of Election important throughout the Epistle

“the world” is a dangerous and dark place; we need encouragement and ministry of others

“to the end” — Ryrie: “loved them to the fullest extent”; “loved them to the uttermost”

Stedman: Jesus knew the time was short; his hour of departure was at hand. The end of an era is always a critical time, a time of pressure. . . Jesus feels this Passover is the divinely appointed time. All through his ministry he knew he was to be the “Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world,” {cf, John 1:29}. He also knew this would occur when the nation was gathered to offer the Passover lamb, the feast that was instituted in Egypt as the angel of God’s wrath passed over the houses of the Israelites when he saw the lamb’s blood upon their doorposts. In that rich and redolent symbolism, our Lord sees himself. The time has also come when he, as the grain of wheat, must fall into the ground and die. He sees, as a result of his death, a great harvest of Jews and Gentiles to follow.


A. (:2) The Antagonism of Satan – Betrayal and Opposition – Fighting God’s Program tooth and nail with his own aggressive agenda of Opposition

“And during supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him,”

B. (:3) The Agenda of God the Father – Delegation and Unity – Sovereignly Orchestrating His Master Plan

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God, and was going back to God”

Stedman: Jesus knew exactly who he was. He knew his origin: He had a deep sense of his own identity. Those who know who they are, we say, are “secure.” They cannot be derailed, or turned aside from what they are determined to do. Knowing who they are, they have a deep sense of security. Throughout this account Jesus never panics. He is always in control, moving with a quiet majesty through the events of his arrest and his appearance before Herod, Pilate, and the chief priests. He is in full control because he knows who he is.

C. (:4-5) The Activity of Jesus: Foot Washing – Humble Service / Necessary Cleansing

“rose from supper, and laid aside his garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself about. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.”

Goes way beyond the Oriental custom of showing hospitality.

We see here some symbolic aspects of the kenosis – the laying aside of the glory

of Jesus and his humbling Himself to serve others.

Study symbolism of water as it relates to cleansing by the Word; ministry of Holy Spirit also in view here.

D. (:6-10) The Assumptions of Peter – From Inappropriate to Presumptuous to Fanatical

1. (:6-7) Inappropriate Assumption – Superiors should not wash feet of Inferiors

“Lord, do you wash my feet?”

Response: “What I do you do not realize now, but you shall understand hereafter.”

Proves that there is a greater spiritual significance to this physical activity of cleansing. Peter would have understood lessons associated with humility and\ service. Something greater is involved here.

Charles Ashman: It is rather clear that Jesus was teaching something by His act, and that it was something Peter did not understand, and that it was something that dealt with cleansing and fellowship. That something was and is the Lord’s great present and perpetual work of cleansing the believer via the Word from the pollution of sin. It covers the whole aspect of progressive sanctification by the Word of God.

(from Grace Seminary Notes)

Stedman: First, in typical fashion, he displays his utter ignorance: “Lord, do you wash my feet?” In the original this question is very emphatic. The two pronouns are placed together, as though Peter said, “Do you my feet wash?” Clearly he is offended by the Lord’s actions, because he has totally misunderstood the nature of authority.

Like us, Peter has been brought up to view authority as a hierarchical structure. Authority belongs to the man at the top, and the sign of it is that people serve him, doing for him what he wants them to do. The mark of authority is that others work for you or under you. The whole world operates on this basis. How many people do you have under you? How many people work for you? In business, home, school, sports, the military, political life, everywhere, that is the invariable view of the nature of authority. Peter was offended because the Lord ignored that. The one at the top, the one with true authority, in Peter’s view, ought to be served. But here the One who clearly deserved to be served was instead serving. Peter was offended by that, perhaps because he hoped one day to have a degree of authority himself, when he himself would be served.

2. (:8) Presumptuous Assumption

“Never shall You wash my feet!”

Response: “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Shows that the spiritual reality involved goes way beyond just acts of service and love shown towards one another. Apparently the concept is fundamental to union and fellowship with Christ. There is a positional cleansing that occurs at the point of justification. But the ongoing process of sanctification is just as essential – i.e., if you are not participating in that process you really do not have the life of Christ within. This cleansing must be performed by Christ Himself.

3. (:9-10) Fanatical Assumption

“Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.”

Response: “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”

Deals with the need for cleansing from the daily defilement of sin.

E. (:11) The Apostasy of the False Disciple

“For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’”


A. (:12) Painting the Picture

“And so when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and reclined at the table again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you?’”

The Master Teacher wanted to drive home the point of His object lesson

B. (:13-17) Enforcing the Example

1. (:13) Authority Invoked

“You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.”

2. (:14-15) Example Mandated

“If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”

3. (:16) Compliance Expected (Argument from the Greater to the Lesser)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master; neither is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.”

4. (:17) Obedience Blessed

“If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”