Jesus washes his disciples feet

John 13.1-20

Jesus got up at the passover meal to wash his disciples feet. By doing the job of a servant, he was demonstrating that he came to be a servant and wash the world of their sins. Only Jesus can offer us that forgiveness!

“For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matt. 20.28 (NIV)

Lesson

Supplies: A plastic tub, warm water, towels

Lesson Intro (dirty feet)

Tell the kids to imagine the dirtiest, crustiest feet they can think of. What kinds of things might make feet that dirty? Sometimes walking with open shoes/sandals can make your feet dirty. How bad do you think it would be if you were walking with sandals but not on a paved sidewalk but on a dirty and dusty road for a long time? That would be bad, but it would be even worse if you were sharing that road with donkeys and other animals and you accidentally stepped on a piece of animal dung!

Now, imagine it was somebody’s job to wash feet like that. Would that be great job to do or a job that people would want to do?

Bible story

Tell the story from John 13.1-20. You can use the tub, the water and towels to demonstrate or act out the lesson with the younger kids. You could have one of the adult volunteers act as Jesus and wash one of the children’s feet.

Here are some insights on parts that might be difficult to communicate:

  • Vs. 4-5 “Presumably, there was no servant at the venue where Jesus ate the Passover with his disciples. There must have been a period of embarrassment as the disciples realized there was no-one available to do the footwashing, and none of them was prepared to carry out this menial service for the others.” *
  • Vs. 6-8 – Peter was embarrassed that his master wanted to wash his feet. He should have been washing his master’s feet! He didn’t understand that what Jesus was doing symbolized something greater – that he was going to die for our sins.
  • Vs. 9-10 – It seems likely that Peter was hoping that Jesus would back down if he insisted that Jesus should wash his whole body. Jesus response again shows that he wasn’t just talking about being physically clean but he was referring to forgiveness of sins.
  • Vs. 14-15 – Jesus wants us to serve one another in humility. That’s not to say that we have to wash one another’s feet but we find other ways to humbly serve each other.
  • Vs. 20 – Just as Peter had to accept that Jesus should wash his feet, we also get to accept the forgiveness that Jesus offers us!
Application

Jesus said that he came as a servant. How did he serve us? He came and he taught us how to love God and to love others but the biggest way that he served us was to take away our sins and bring us close to God! At another time when his disciples were arguing about who was most important he said to them: the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus was the only one who could make a way for us to go to heaven but he didn’t say: “I’m too important for that, I’m not going to do that!” No! Even though he is the Son of God, he humbly served us by taking away our sin.

Jesus wants us to humbly serve others as well. It isn’t part of our culture to wash each other’s feet but there are other ways that we can serve.

Prayer: Thank Jesus that he came as a servant to lay down his life. Pray that the children would learn to be like Jesus and serve one another.

Review Questions
  • Why did Jesus get up from the table?
  • Why didn’t Peter want Jesus to wash his feet?
  • What does the word ‘humility’ mean?
  • How did Jesus come to serve us?
  • What are some ways that we can be humble and serve those around us?

Memory Verse ‘Wash-off’ Game

Supplies: White board, dry erase markers, ‘wash-cloth’

What to do: Draw a giant foot on the board. Write the verse from Matt. 20.28 inside the foot. Use another color dry-erase marker to draw ‘dirt’ between the words. Have the kids read the verse together and then wipe off one of the words from the verse, together with some of the dirt around it. Have the kids read the verse again with the word missing and then wipe another word off the board. Repeat this and see how many of the kids can remember the verse once all the words are missing off the board!

You can make the game go quicker and make it more challenging by erasing multiple words at a time!


* Kruse, C. G. (2003). John: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 4, p. 276). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Image: “Jesus Washes His Disciples Feet” by Unknown Ethiopian Artist