Summary: A sermon about Jesus washing his disciples' feet (Material adapted from James E. Smith's book, The Longest Night in the Bible, and outline at:


Dave Thomas said: “I got my MBA long before my GED. I even have a photograph of me in my MBA graduation outfit; a snazzy knee length work apron. I guarantee you that I’m the only founder among America’s big companies whose picture in the corporate annual report shows him wielding a mop and a plastic bucket. That wasn’t a gag; it was a case of leading by example. At Wendy’s, MBA does not mean Master of Business Administration. It means Mop Bucket Attitude. It’s how we define satisfying the customer through cleanliness, quality food, friendly service, and atmosphere.”


This morning we started with Judas in the Upper Room. That not where it begins.

Let’s back up and start at the beginning for the longest night of the Bible.

Thesis: From John 13:1-7 let’s talk about what Jesus knew, what Jesus did and then what Jesus taught

For instances:

What Jesus Knew (John 13:1,3, 11)

Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.

The hour was upon Jesus. ““Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” John 12:27, NIV.

Jesus knew that he was rapidly approaching the most important moments of his life. He knew the pain and agony of the cross was near.

Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. In the upper room and the events that followed he offered the supreme demonstration of his love for them. His was a love that was action deep.

Vs. 3- Jesus knew 3 things:

1. that the Father had put all things under his power

2. that he had come from God

3. and was returning to God

Talking about this the past several weeks. Jesus knew all about the Passover Plan. Jesus knew who he was and why he was on earth. Jesus was not ignorant of the glory and authority that the Father had given him.

Because Jesus was secure in his own identity that he could do the lowest service. It is not great men who will not serve others, it is insecure men. These people will not serve in lowly tasks because they see them as a challenge to their identity. It is the self confident person who can risk being humble!

Vs. 11- Jesus knows about Judas. What does Jesus do with that information? Jesus does not distance himself from Judas. Jesus loves even Judas to the end. He does everything possible to bring Judas to repentance. He does the same to Judas as to the other disciples.

What Jesus Did (John 13:4-10)

John leaves out some cultural details that help us to understand. As one came into a house for a meal, the host would provide water and a servant to wash feet. Feet were dirty in Jesus’ day. Also when they ate they reclined at a small table and so feet were close to each other, not under a table. Feet were visible and smellable.

The basin and towel were there to wash feet. No servant to do this. One of the disciples should have assumed the role of a servant and washed the feet. They were too proud for that. Why? We find this was a matter of discussion on that night. “A dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.” Luke 22:24, NIV.

Jesus was the host and it was his last night with his disciples. However, no one offered to wash His feet. We would have responded with disgust. Jesus responded differently.

Vs. 4- Jesus took on the role of a servant. Jesus stripped to his loincloth, like a slave. The “towel” would have been a long piece of linen cloth, long enough for Jesus to have wrapped it about his waist and still used the free end to wipe the disciples’ feet.

Vs. 5- John narrates this in detail. To him they seem like steps leading down to the depth of humility. This whole scene was quite a contrast to the disciples self seeking and ambitious spirit that night.

Jesus washed all of the disciples feet, including Judas, and the last was Simon Peter. Peter’s being last heightens the dramatic effect of the dialogue between him and Jesus, since he has been watching all that has gone on up to this point (probably with increasing agitation).

Vs. 6-7: This was an example of humility and a symbol of the purification that the Lord accomplished for us by reason of his humiliation. The full meaning of the act was afterward revealed to the apostles by the HS. AFter the crucifixion Peter was able to understand fully the necessity of the humiliation of Jesus. Jesus’ work of humiliation began in the upper room.

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