John 13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you[plural] are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” ESV
What is the general theme of the passage?
This is a radical before and after story. “Jesus knew that His hour had come.” Their preparation “before the Feast of the Passover,” would remind His disciples of their past deliverance by God’s power. “Having loved His own,” Jesus now chose to show them a new and radical eternal truth about deliverance they would only understand in the future. Jesus’s “laid aside his outer garments” and his own divinity, “to wash the disciples’ feet.” Knowing “that the Father had given all things into his hands…and knowing there was one, “who was to betray him”…He still washed their feet and “loved them to the end.”
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus knew His hour had come. He was going back to God. The Father had given all things into his hands. He chose humility from that complete power to be the way “he loved them to the end.”
What does it say about people?
Peter is a perfect example of how hard it is to keep the reality of the power of God in Jesus straight. All those disciples had seen that power in Jesus but this is pretty intimidating; this man they’ve identified as their Messiah is now kneeling before them to wash the feet of “his own.”
Is there truth here for me?
The radical “after” of this story is Jesus’s own hand-picked “sinners” became the first people to understand He had shown them the humility of God that would save them forever and allow them to share a sinner’s experience of the Sovereign power of God that could make them clean too.