Lessons from Jesus washing disciples’ feet


“Before the Passover, Jesus said to Peter, ‘Let me wash your feet,’” says Mary Jane, 8. “Peter replied, ‘I’m not worthy.’”

In respectable homes of ancient Judea, slaves or servants washed the feet of guests. People wore sandals as they walked on dirt roads mixed with horse dung and sewage thrown into the street. Indoor plumbing didn’t exist.

The idea that the Son of God would humble himself to the job of a lowly servant was too much for the Apostle Peter. This type of menial work didn’t fit Peter’s idea of God’s chosen Messiah. It doesn’t fit our idea either.

We want to see our Messiah as a conquering general riding on a white horse or flying in on his private jet surrounded by TV cameras as he walks off the plane. Jesus is the counterintuitive Messiah!

“Jesus is giving Judas a chance,” says Jubilee, 8.

When Jesus washed the feet of Judas, he didn’t object. More remarkably, Jesus didn’t say anything negative to Judas, whom he knew would betray him that very night.

Other than the cross on which Jesus died for our sins, there’s no better illustration of God’s one-way love than Jesus washing Judas’ feet. Most love that we experience is two-way. I scratch your back and you scratch mine.

We take our experience of two-way, reciprocal love and impose it on God. We delude ourselves when we presume we can earn God’s favor. God’s love doesn’t depend on our behavior at all. It depends on God’s character. “God is love,” (I John 4:8b).

God has the capacity to love his enemies. Guess who his enemies are?

We come into this world kicking and screaming as rebels. Feed me now or I’ll cry and scream! We use our feet to run from God, but he keeps pursuing us. Thank God for Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

“Jesus wasn’t washing his disciples’ feet to make their feet clean, but to forgive their sinful ways,” says Samuel, 7.

Samuel has done some thinking. When Peter refused Jesus’ foot washing, Jesus said if he didn’t receive it, he would have no part with him (John 13:8). Peter reversed course immediately. He asked Jesus to bathe his head as well as his feet.

“Jesus said to him, ‘He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you’” (John 13:10).

Here’s the analogy! When you believe in Jesus as your savior, you are completely forgiven of all your sins (past, present and future). This is like your bath.

As Christians living in this world, we live in a forgiven but unperfected state. When we sin, it’s like getting our feet dirty. We need to remind ourselves of God’s one-way love. When we forget God’s love, we seek something less than God, which never fulfills.

Think about this: When Christians sin, they should go back to the cross of Christ by confessing their sins to God and start living in the reality of God’s forgiveness and one-way love. When we’re filled with God’s unconditional love, we’re free to give to our neighbor without expecting anything in return.

Memorize this truth: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (I John 1:9).

Ask this question: Are you enjoying the love and acceptance that you have in Christ?

Kids Talk About God is designed for families to study the Bible together. Research shows that parents who study the Bible with their children give their character, faith and spiritual life a powerful boost. To receive Kids Talk About God three times a week in a free, email subscription, visit www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org/email.

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