John 13:1-15 Reflection: Jesus Washes the Feet of His Apostles

A reading from the gospel according to John 13:1-15:

1 Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
2 The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper,
3 fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
4 he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.”
8 Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
9 Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.”
11 For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
13 You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
14 If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Reflection: Wash one another

During the last supper, Jesus showed by example how His disciples are to treat one another. In those days, people wore only sandals, no shoes and no socks. They walked on dusty and dirty roads which mean that their feet got easily dirty. That is why before they enter a house, it was customary that they must first wash their feet. For well-to-do families, they have servants to do it for their master and guests. Jesus took the role of a slave and humbly washed the feet of His apostles.

There are three important lessons that we can learn from Jesus in the story above.

1. Maintain cleanliness not just physically but more importantly spiritually. Baptism made us clean but our journey on this dirty world makes us unclean. Through repentance, we ask Jesus to wash away the dirt in our soul. It is important to practice hygiene but it is necessary that we always wear our baptismal garment of purity. Am I clean? That’s a short but profound question one can ask of himself. Judas was unclean not only in his feet but also his soul. That is why Jesus said that not all of His disciples were clean.

2. It is not easy to lower oneself before others. People see it as a sign of weakness. It is better to brag and show off in order to move ahead. Likewise, it is not easy to bow down to another person’s opinion. Humility is one trait that is not easy to practice. People would rather fight to prove that they are right than accept that they are wrong. Here is Jesus the master and teacher stooping down to wash His disciples’ feet. Only with sincere humility can we do the same.

3. Jesus came to serve and not to be served. Washing the feet of others is a glorious display of servitude. He says, “The greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11) He wants His disciples to help one another, forgive one another, and teach one another. They must exercise servant leadership with Jesus as their prime model.

We cannot truly serve without humility. Without humility, there is no forgiveness. Without forgiveness, we cannot be made clean.

Gospel Reading and Reflection
Gospel Reading and Reflection

One comment

  1. I love this! I was always uncertain about why Jesus was washing the disciples’ feet. Thank you for showing me that it is a symbol of repentance and forgiveness. I love it!!💕

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