MPGC7 - THE LAST SUPPER - A Final Lesson in Love - Part 2

By Colleen Donahue

We learned in our last study that a dispute had broken out between the disciples at the Passover feast that Jesus was celebrating with them. The dispute was about which of them was the greatest. Luke records what Jesus SAID regarding this dispute (Luke 22:24-27) but John records what Jesus DID. It was to be an object lesson that his disciples would not forget. As we look at the Lord's example may it be a lesson that we do not forget either.

THE LAST SUPPER - A Final Lesson in Love -
Part 2 (John 13:1-17)


The Lord's example to his disciples was to wash their feet before the meal officially got underway. This will only make sense to us today if we can understand the custom and the reason for this.

Orientals wore sandals and walked along dusty roads. Therefore the first act upon entering a home or a tent after a journey was to have their feet washed. It was for cleanliness and refreshment. In the case of ordinary people the host furnished the water and the guests washed themselves. But in a wealthy home a slave washed the guests. It was looked upon as the lowliest of services.

In the case of the passover feast it was the custom for a person to bathe two times before going and therefore to wash the feet from the journey was all that was needed. A Passover feast went on for many hours and so the guests reclined at the table rather than sit upright on a chair as we would. This means that someone's head would be at another person's feet! Therefore washing of feet not only brought refreshment to the person but to everyone else as well!

So let's study how Jesus used this physical, practical example to teach a deeper truth.

Day 1- What effect did Jesus want this final act of love to have on the disciples?
John 13:1b

Day 2- There were several things going on simultaneously at the start of this Passover. John records them...
John 13:2-3

Day 3- The reason a great man can be a servant is because they are confident in who they are. The reason that Jesus could now take the place of the lowest servant is because he was confident in who He was in relationship to God and where He would soon be going. Reread...
John 13:3

Day 4- It is likely that there was no servant available at the rented accommodations. If the disciples had not been bickering about who was the greatest, one of them might have offered to perform this service for the others. But it seems they were content to have dirty feet. This offered Jesus the opportunity for a lesson in love.
John 13: 4-5

Day 5- Our Lord acts as a host for his church leaving no detail undone. A new church - the Christian Church - would soon be forming and Jesus was taking his place as head over that church.
Ephesians 1:22

After Jesus left the earth, the mantle would fall to his disciples and it was important that they understand their role as servant leaders.

Day 6- While we would expect Jesus to attend to our weary heads and hearts we are surprised to find him attending to the dust on our feet and ankles. It is a clear indication that He cares about the little things that are part of life as well as the big things.
Luke 12:7 / 1 Peter 5:7

Day 7- The Lord always taught from sensible and temporal things to the spiritual and eternal. This was no different. His act of lowly service not only cleansed their feet but it cleansed their hearts of selfish ambition, killed their pride and taught them a lesson in love. The act was symbolic of inward cleansing -- the washing of regeneration. It makes us clean in God's sight and this symbolized Christian baptism.
1 John 1:9

Day 8- Why did Jesus take the place of a servant? There were two reasons and here is the first.
Hebrews 12:2

Notice the phrase in this verse "who for the joy set before him." What was this joy? It was the joy of serving his people because he loved them. Love is at the bottom of all true servants. A servant is happiest when working to serve those he/she loves. Jesus loves us the way His Father loved him.
John 15:9

Day 9- If love was the first reason that Jesus took the place of a servant at the last supper, the 2nd reason was that He was truly a great man. A little man wants to always be observed, applauded and have a position. But a truly great man is willing to do what is needed and necessary for those he loves. As you read this event contrast the disciples with Jesus.
Mark 10:35-45


Day 10- True servanthood is an attitude of heart with love at its core and not thinking more highly of self than we ought.
Romans 12:3

But aren't many people servants that don't like what they do or who they do it for? I suggest that these people are employees and not servants at all. They are working only to get and not to give.

Day 11- We have a common evil today that is even a part of the church. What is it?
Galatians 6:3

Every man and woman wants to be a somebody. "Self" is always seeking to exalt itself above others. But Jesus wants us to have nothing of self. He wants instead for us to be full of his Holy Spirit so he can use our life to be a servant for others. What will this require?
Matthew 16:24 / Romans 8:13 / Galatians 5:24 / Philippians 3:8

Day 12- A true servant is one who:
A. Cares for other people
Matthew 5:42 / Hebrews 13:16 / Acts 20:35

B. Watches to see what can be done for others
John 4:35

C. Forgets himself in thinking of others
Matthew 25:35-40

D. Ignores his own will while obeying the will of his employer
John 6:38

E. Bears patiently all manner of hardness
Psalm 126: 5-6

F. Doesn't engage in self defense and sanctimony (a hypocritical holiness). How can we be deceived?
1 John 1:8

If we want the place that Jesus had, then we must go for the lowest position in the church of God. We will probably get it because not many are seeking to claim it.


Day 13- We do not know whether the Lord went to Peter first when he began the foot washing ritual but we do know from Peter's words that he was uncomfortable with Jesus coming to wash his feet.
John 13:6

In this verse there are two emphatic words used by Peter: you (thou) and my. Read the verse again with the emphasis on these words to feel Peter's discomfort. "Lord are YOU going to wash MY feet?"

Day 14- Patiently the Lord gives Peter two reasons why he should submit in obedience.
John 13:7

The first reason was that Peter was in the dark about what Christ was doing and therefore should not oppose what he did not understand.

The second reason was that it was a very important act of love that Peter would soon know the meaning of.

Day 15- But Peter reacts with a flat refusal!
John 13:8a

Once again he emphasizes two words - NO, NEVER! It is the language of fixed resolution but is it the language of humility? It perhaps borders on infidelity as Peter sets himself to be wiser than Jesus.

Day 16 - Jesus answers with a statement to address Peter in their current situation but also a statement that will extend down the centuries to you and I.
John 13:8b

Reread the Lord's words with emphasis. "Unless I wash YOU, you have NO part in me!"

Day 17- Jesus often uses a physical example to illustrate a spiritual truth. Every man is polluted by sin from birth. Then he/she walks a daily path with others who sin. So Jesus speaks of a cleansing that is absolutely necessary if we want to start over (be born again) and then walk in fellowship with God.

First, in order for us to start over with a clean slate we need to be washed in the blood of Jesus. This washing was to be made available with the Lord's death -- now only 1 day away. This was part of what Peter did not realize and understand. How could he? The event had not happened.

What does this washing by the blood of Jesus do for anyone willing to apply it to their life?
Matthew 26:28 / Romans 5:9 / Hebrews 9:14 / 1 John 1:7

Day 18- The blood of Jesus purifies our hearts so that the Holy Spirit can come to live (abide, remain) in our hearts. Without a clean heart, "you have no part with me (Jesus)." (John 13:8b)
Why is it so important that the Holy Spirit live within our heart?

A. When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our heart it is a declaration to all the world -- spiritual and physical --that Jesus has cleansed our hearts and we belong to Him. No longer are we controlled by sin.
Romans 8:9 / 1 Corinthians 3:16 / / 1 John 4:13

B. With the Holy Spirit abiding in our individual heart we find ourselves actually wanting to obey God and do his will.
Ezekiel 11:19-20 / Ezekiel 36:26-27

C. But we don't walk through life in a vacuum. We can still choose to sin, we can commit unconscious sin and we are polluted by others that sin. Therefore an important role of the Holy Spirit is to keep us clean. He does this by convicting us of sin so that we will repent.
John 16:8

And then He leads us into the truth about the situation we are in.
John 16:13

Day 19- When Peter saw that the Lord was using the washing of feet to really get at spiritual cleansing he went from one extreme to the other. Now what does Peter say?
John 13:9

How did Jesus respond?
John 13:10

Day 20- I believe Jesus is saying something like this to us. "If you have been washed in my blood then your heart is clean and you are reconciled to God. Therefore what is needed is a day to day cleansing and renewal by the Holy Spirit so that our clean hearts are kept clean.
Titus 3:5

If we have received Christ's sacrifice for our lives we don't need to keep asking for it again and again. He died once and for all to bring us to God. But we do need to daily cooperate with the Holy Spirit who works through our conscience so that we can be kept clean and without blame before God.


Day 21- Notice the solemnity that Jesus had as he finished the entire transaction and went back to the table. What does he ask us?
John 13:12

Day 22- You might say that this example with foot washing exemplified his whole life and purpose. When his sufferings were finished he resumed the garments of his exalted state and sat down at the right hand of the Father. He opened the understanding of his disciples and poured out his Spirit.
Luke 24: 45-49

Day 23- This remarkable display of love and service was for one purpose. What was it?
John 13: 13-17


Day 24- We wash another's feet when we do what we can to advance another's reputation and do them good.
1 Corinthians 10:24

Day 25- We wash another's feet when we go out of our way to help them.
Hebrews 6:10

Day 26-We wash another's feet when we are willing to reprove and admonish a brother or sister so that they can turn from their failure and sin and be restored.
Galatians 6:1

Day 27- We wash another's feet when we are willing to bear and suffer wrong rather than inflict wrong.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Day 28- The Holy Spirit will interpret this act of footwashing for us. As we obey in doing those things that refresh others what are we promised?
John 13:17

Next Study: MPGC#8

Back to Man's Problem God's Cure Table of Contents

Back to Courses and Seminars Table of Contents