30 Mar 2015

Holy Week 2015: The Basin and the Towel

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Monday, March 30
John 13:1-20

In Old Testament times, footwashing was a part of the responsibility of hospitality. When guests would visit, the host would send a servant with a basin and towel to wash their feet. This servant would sit at the door to wash and dry each guest’s feet. Even amongst the servants, this task was typically reserved for the lowliest of servants. Washing someone’s feet was lowly. Remember how shocked everyone was when Mary of Bethany anointed, touched and caressed Jesus’ feet?

So here, Jesus surprises the disciples by quietly grabbing a basin and towel. Before they know it, Jesus begins to wash their feet.

  • How would you have felt if Jesus began washing your feet? Why?
  • Why would we feel embarrassed to have Jesus clean our feet, when the Gospel teaches us that Jesus’ blood cleanses our hearts? Now, look carefully at two different disciples, Judas and Peter.
  • Judas is obviously there since it is a gathering of disciples and close friends. Why do you think John mentions that Judas was already preparing to betray Jesus?
  • Knowing that, what does Jesus’ washing of Judas’ feet show us?

As usual, Simon Peter responds to Jesus’ action in an extreme way. What makes it more interesting is that he responds in opposite extremes. First he tells Jesus that he cannot wash his feet, then he asks to have his whole body washed.

  • What do you think Jesus means in v. 8 and 10 as he responds to each extreme?

After Jesus is done washing feet, he gives a quick teaching on the nature of servant-leadership. In our minds, each one is diametrically opposed. Servants cannot be leaders and leaders cannot be servants.

  • When you think about Jesus, do you tend to emphasize His servanthood or his leadership?
  • Which do you tend to emphasize in your life? Why?
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