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JOHN - The Light Shines in the Darkness
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to John
PART 3 - Light Shines in the Circle of the Apostles (John 11:55 - 17:26)
B - Events That Follow the Lord's Supper (John 13:1-38)

1. Jesus washes his disciples' feet (John 13:1–17)

JOHN 13:1-5
1 Now before the feast of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that his time had come that he would depart from this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, the devil having already put 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 came forth from God, and was going to God, 4 arose from supper, and laid aside his outer garments. He took a towel, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Starting from this chapter John moves to a new stage and subject of his gospel. Prior to this, Jesus was calling the people in general; sadly, the text, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness comprehends it not" was confirmed in them. So was Jesus failing? No! Since people as a whole do not accept him, but the Lord chose some who were ready and repented and gathered them in the circle of disciples. In these chapters we shall read how Jesus addressed the elect, as the bridegroom talking to his bride. He is theirs as they are his. God’s love becomes the motto of these discourses. This love is not mere selfish feelings, it implies a call to service. In the Bible love involves humble self-giving to those who are undeserving. In these discourses Jesus reveals the finest of his attributes to his disciples, explaining his love in the imagery of a servant, symbolising his life, death and rising again.

Jesus taught that he would die before the next Passover. He was going to his Father. Is this direction yours also? He was in the world, but his eyes ever gazed at his Father. From him came power, guidance and joy, to endure such vile men. In union with God he also saw that Satan whispered in the heart of one disciple evil thoughts. This man gradually exposed himself to greed, pride and hate. However, Jesus did not hate the traitor, but loved him with divine love to the end.

Jesus was not simply yielding to the traitor as if the event was fatalistic. Not Judas, Caiaphas, Herod, Pilate or the Jewish leaders and their masses would decide what was to come, but because of his humiliation and submission the Father committed all spirits and humans to him. He resolved to die as God’s Lamb, and appointed the timetable of events. Throughout the storms of events he did not lose sight of his source and aim. Jesus is Lord who turns the course of history.

Christ did not wish to return to his Father alone, but wanted to draw his disciples into the fellowship of God’s good pleasure. He taught them with a sign standing for humility, representing before them divine love in practical terms. He thus became a servant; he fetched water and knelt before his disciples to wash their feet and dry them. He made himself the least of all so that the simplest among them might learn that God serves humanity. The Lord does not dominate coldly and indifferently, but kneels to cleanse them and transform them into the image of his gentleness.

Jesus is our sublime example. When will we bow before him and worship him? When shall we change our minds and bend our backs that are upright and unbending?

Brother so long as you are not broken, not serving your brothers or loving your foes or binding the wounds of the injured, you are not a true Christian. Are you a servant or a master? Remember Jesus is the servant of all humanity, he bends down to serve you. Will you accept that service or count yourself proud, that you are good and not in need of God’s service?

JOHN 13:6-11
6 Then he came to Simon Peter. He said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “You don’t know what I am doing now, but you will understand later.” 8 Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part 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, “Someone who has bathed only needs to have his feet washed, but is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For he knew him who would betray him, therefore he said, “You are not all clean.”

The disciples were embarrassed at their Master’s washing of their feet. Had they known what he would do after the "Lord’s Supper", they would have washed their own feet spontaneously. Their Lord had not made a New Covenant between them and God only, but also showed them the content and meaning of this Covenant: It is nothing less than loving and practical service.

Peter was the most boastful and zealous of the disciples. He did not wish to be served by Jesus; so he tried to stop the washing, not heeding his Lord’s words to him. Then Jesus explained the mystery of feet-washing to all the disciples, as if he were addressing us, "Without cleansing you have no part in the Kingdom, and without forgiveness of sins you cannot abide in me." Washing in his blood is constant, and the abiding in that cleansing is in progress continually. He it is who guards you by grace, keeping you in fellowship with God’s Son.

At that, Peter saw the light, looking at his hands which had worked evil, and thinking of his slow brain in understanding the plan of God. He was ashamed and asked for added cleansing to cover his entire being. Jesus reassured him, "Whoever comes to me becomes pure, complete on the basis of his faith." Thus we learn that we do not need a special cleansing or added holiness, because the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. There is no holiness greater or more perfect than the forgiveness of sins by his blood. As we daily gather dust walking to and fro, we constantly pray, "Forgive our trespasses". While god’s children need daily to wash their feet only, the children of this world need a total cleansing.

Jesus looked at his disciples and said, "You are clean." He invited them to enter into covenant with God. The Lamb died for his disciples to allow them to abide in divine fellowship. No man is clean in himself, but Christ’s blood cleanses us from all sin.

Sadly, not all his followers were holy, as also the case is today. Some of them give lip service to this basic cleansing and behave as if they believe in Christ’s blood, but the Holy Spirit does not fill them. Satan’s spirit incites hatred, envy, pride and adultery in them. So among the pious you often find those possessed by base spirits and love of money. Jesus desires to wash your feet daily and free you from all kinds of sin, and cleanse you thoroughly for fellowship with God. Examine yourself, are you a servant or a master?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we thank you for emptying yourself of glory and coming down to us the unclean. You stooped down to wash your disciples feet, and you have cleansed our hearts from sins. We worship you beseeching you to free us from all proud thoughts so that we may bow down and become your servants. Help me to become the least of all and be ready to serve you in my church and family.


  1. What is meant by Jesus washing his disciples’ feet?

JOHN 13:12-17
12 So when he had washed their feet, put his outer garment back on, and sat down again, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me, ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ You say so correctly, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Most certainly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his lord, neither one who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Jesus did not begin his farewell discourse with mere words. Often such words are of little use unless carried out in action. He asked his followers if they had grasped the tone of his symbolic work, "Open your eyes and see for I am with you as one of yours. I am not seated above you on a throne for you to grovel before me as slaves. No! I stripped myself of glory and became one of you. More than that, I left my place as teacher and master to become a servant. Have you now understood the direction that divine love has to take? The proud man vaunts himself, the one who loves humbles himself and endures all things, denies himself and serves bodily and practically."

"You wish to be my disciples as I am your example, I do not merely speak, but act out my teaching. Look at me: I am a servant. If you wish to follow me, bow down and practice serving others. He that is among you who wishes to be first, is the feeblest, but he who serves others calmly and remains lowly is truly great."

"Do not imagine that the Church is a collection of perfect saints. They are all in the process of becoming. I have purified them all and they are saints in principle. But every member needs patience and time for spiritual growth. Everyone errs and stumbles. Here is my charge and command: Forgive one another your mistakes and sins. Judge not one another, but help others. Do not wash the heads of others, but their feet. No one should lord it over others; you are brothers. If you acted thus, you will realize what I have made clear already: I have not come to be served but to serve. My life is service, sacrifice and yielding for all."

"I send you into the world as apostles of love. The sent one is as great as he who sends. Your first duty is to become servants like me. If you realize this, you will have grasped the motto and watchword of Christianity."

"My second principle: If you know this, blessed are you, if you do it. I have not spoken of love as mere words; I have practiced it." Service is labor and sacrifice, not words, prayers and feelings only. The impulse to service is in a believer’s nature. From this nucleus proceed various works of love. One who does not serve is hardly a believer. Ringing prayers devoid of action in assistance, are hypocrisy. You were not saved by good works; it is my blood that saves. But if you stoop down to the miserable, the wanderers, and serve them constantly, you will be filled with God’s joy. God’s good pleasure overshadows Christ’s servants.

Brother, do you wish to become a master and teacher? Look to Jesus. He is the teacher par excellence. He stands before you a servant. Do you want to practice his teachings? Start from today and serve. Request in prayer, where, how and whom he wishes you to serve. If you know this, blessed are you if you do it.


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