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Passion Week

Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet

Scripture

John 13:1-17

Commentary

There is religious and practical significance to the act of footwashing that Jesus does for His disciples.  Ordinarily servants would have washed the feet of the guests as they entered.  In this case, the lowest invited guest would have been expected to wash the feet of others.  By the order of the table set up, Peter is placed lowest and he should have washed everyone's feet.  The disciples have been arguing over who will be the greatest in Jesus' kingdom however and none will stoop to be the lowest and wash the feet of others.

Jesus takes it upon Himself to wash the feet of His disciples.  As they would have ceremonially washed prior to celebrating the Passover, they were clean.  However, in a short walk, their sandaled feet would have become dirty and thus in need of cleaning once again.

Peter is shamed when Jesus comes to wash his feet, knowing that he should have been the one to wash everyone's feet.  He resists at first but when Jesus insists he then asks that Jesus wash his head and hands as well. 

Jesus uses footwashing as a model for salvation.  A person needs to only be saved or washed once.  However in the daily travels they get their feet dirty and need to have them cleaned.  This is representative of the need to ask forgiveness of sins daily.  A person is saved but they continue to sin and need forgiveness.

The act of footwashing is one of humility and servitude.  Some churches practice it as a requirement as a part of communion.  Others interpret the act of footwashing as something that should not be considered a literal example to follow.  Instead it is the example of Jesus' humility and service that must be followed.

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