Bible Study – Foot Washing

September 4 – 10, 2022

Key Text

“Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant; and whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:2628

Study Help: The Desire of Ages, 642651


“Christ gave His followers the ordinance of washing feet for them to practice, which would teach them lessons of humility. He connected this ordinance with the supper.” The Signs of the Times, March 25, 1880



1.a. What is recorded about Jesus’ love for His disciples just before His sufferings and death? John 13:1; 15:12, 13

Note: “Jesus, the divine Teacher, assured His disciples of His love toward them. He assumed human nature for no other purpose than to display to men the mercy, the love, and the goodness of God in providing for the salvation and happiness of His creatures.” Testimonies on Sabbath School Work, 39, 40

1.b. Unlike Jesus, what spirit controlled the disciples as they came together for the Communion service? Luke 22:24

Note: “Even the disciples, though outwardly they had left all for Jesus’ sake, had not in heart ceased to seek great things for themselves. It was this spirit that prompted the strife as to who should be greatest.” The Desire of Ages, 409

“The disciples clung to their favorite idea that Christ would assert His power, and take His position on the throne of David. And in heart each still longed for the highest place in the kingdom. They had placed their own estimate upon themselves and upon one another, and, instead of regarding their brethren as more worthy, they had placed themselves first.” Ibid., 643, 644



2.a. What act of Jesus surprised all the disciples? John 13:3–5

Note: “At a feast it was customary for a servant to wash the feet of the guests, and on this occasion preparation had been made for the service. The pitcher, the basin, and the towel were there, in readiness for the feet washing; but no servant was present, and it was the disciples’ part to perform it. But each of the disciples, yielding to wounded pride, determined not to act the part of a servant. All manifested a stoical unconcern, seeming unconscious that there was anything for them to do. By their silence they refused to humble themselves.” The Desire of Ages, 644

“He [the Saviour], the One they [the disciples] loved, rose, and laid aside His garments, and, taking a towel, girded Himself, pouring water into the basin. It was then that the disciples were astonished and ashamed.” The Review and Herald, July 5, 1898

“This [Jesus’] action opened the eyes of the disciples. Bitter shame and humiliation filled their hearts. They understood the unspoken rebuke, and saw themselves in altogether a new light.” The Desire of Ages, 644

2.b. Relate the objection of Peter, his attitude, and Jesus’ answer to his arguments. John 13:6–9

Note: “Peter shrank from bringing his soiled feet in touch with the hands of his Lord and Master; yet how often we bring our sinful, polluted souls in contact with the heart of Christ, who hates nothing but sin. O, how we grieve the pure, holy Spirit of Christ with our defiling sins! We are not prepared for the appreciation of the holy communion with Christ and with one another unless we are cleansed by His efficacy.” The Review and Herald, July 5, 1898

2.c. What is the meaning of Jesus’ words: “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet”? John 13:10

Note: “Peter and his brethren had been washed in the great fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. Christ acknowledged them as His. But temptation had led them into evil, and they still needed His cleansing grace. When Jesus girded Himself with a towel to wash the dust from their feet, He desired by that very act to wash the alienation, jealousy, and pride from their hearts. This was of far more consequence than the washing of their dusty feet.” The Desire of Ages, 646



3.a. How did Christ’s washing the disciples’ feet illustrate a timeless principle which all believers need to be aware? Proverbs 10:12. What reveals the positive results of Christ’s action?

Note: “Dissension always creates hatred, but Christ washed it away in the act of washing His disciples’ feet. A change of feeling did come; the union of heart and love for one another did exist. They became meek, teachable, and loving, and would have conceded to anyone the highest place. They were prepared to partake of the last supper with fragrant feelings of love, deep and full, for their Master and for one another.” The Review and Herald, July 5, 1898

“The act of Christ in washing the feet of His disciples was a sacred one; His motive in so doing was to bring about, through their remembrance of what Christ had done for them, a state of feeling where no exaltation of one above another should find place. This ordinance was to bring brother to an understanding of the feelings of his brother.” Ibid., June 14, 1898

3.b. What does the Lord wish to do to us as we humbly serve one another by washing the feet? Psalm 51:2, 7; Hebrews 10:22

Note: “It is not humiliating to the Master to allow Him to work for our purification. The truest humility is to receive with thankful heart any provision made in our behalf, and with earnestness do service for Christ.” The Desire of Ages, 646

“You have confessed your sins, and in heart put them away. You have resolved to give yourself to God. Now go to Him, and ask that He will wash away your sins and give you a new heart. Then believe that He does this because He has promised. This is the lesson which Jesus taught while He was on earth, that the gift which God promises us, we must believe we do receive, and it is ours.” Steps to Christ, 49, 50 [Author’s emphasis]

“Christ gave His disciples to understand that the washing of their feet did not cleanse away their sin, but that the cleansing of their heart was tested in this humble service. If the heart was cleansed, this act was all that was essential to reveal the fact. He had washed the feet of Judas; but He said, ‘Ye are not all clean.’ Judas brought a traitor’s heart to this scene, and Christ revealed to all that He knew him to be the betrayer of his Lord, and that the washing of his feet was not an ordinance to cleanse the soul from its moral defilement.” The Faith I Live By, 299



4.a. What blessings are promised to those who walk humbly before God? 2 Chronicles 7:14; Isaiah 57:15; Matthew 23:12; James 4:6, 10

Note: “All human ambition, all boasting, is to be laid in the dust. Self, sinful self, is to be abased, not exalted.” Testimonies, Vol. 8, 234

“The more exalted opinion we have of ourselves, the less need shall we feel of Jesus. True goodness never exalts self; but the self-righteous are always reaching out for the honor and praise of men. They have set up a false standard, and have too high an opinion of themselves. All who fall upon the rock, and are broken, Christ shall build up in true purity and holiness.” The Review and Herald, August 7, 1888

“Those who meekly and humbly pursue their course of duty, not to be praised, petted, and honored of men, but to glorify God, will receive as their reward glory, honor, and eternal life.” Ibid., July 22, 1890

“Christ gave His followers the ordinance of washing feet for them to practice, which would teach them lessons of humility. He connected this ordinance with the supper. He designed that this should be a season of self-examination, that His people might have an opportunity to become acquainted with the true feelings of their own hearts toward God and one another. If pride existed in their hearts, how soon would it be discovered to the honestly-erring ones, as they should engage in this humble duty. If selfishness or hatred existed, it would be more readily discovered as they engaged in this humble work. This ordinance was designed to result in mutual confessions, and to increase feelings of forbearance, forgiveness of each other’s errors, and true love, preparatory to engaging in the solemn ordinance of commemorating the sufferings and death of Christ.” The Signs of the Times, March 25, 1880

4.b. What is the significance of the ceremony of washing one another’s feet, and what did Jesus command us to do on this occasion? John 13:12–17

Note: “There is in man a disposition to esteem himself more highly than his brother, to work for self, to seek the highest place; and often this results in evil surmisings and bitterness of spirit. The ordinance preceding the Lord’s Supper is to clear away these misunderstandings, to bring man out of his selfishness, down from his stilts of self-exaltation, to the humility of heart that will lead him to serve his brother.” The Desire of Ages, 650



5.a. After Jesus finished washing the disciples’ feet, including the feet of Judas, what did He predict? John 13:21–26

Note: “The constraining power of [the] love [of Jesus] was felt by Judas. When the Saviour’s hands were bathing those soiled feet, and wiping them with the towel, the heart of Judas thrilled through and through with the impulse then and there to confess his sin. But he would not humble himself. He hardened his heart against repentance; and the old impulses, for the moment put aside, again controlled him.” The Desire of Ages, 645

5.b. What should we learn from the sad experience of Judas, and how should we approach the sacred ceremony of foot washing? Acts 1:15–20

Note: “The practice of the truths that Christ taught was at variance with his [Judas’] desires and purposes, and he could not bring himself to yield his ideas in order to receive wisdom from heaven. Instead of walking in the light, he chose to walk in darkness. Evil desires, covetousness, revengeful passions, dark and sullen thoughts, were cherished until Satan gained full control of him.” The Acts of the Apostles, 558

“The performance of the ordinance of humility calls for self-examination. The noble principles of the soul are strengthened on every such occasion. Christ lives in us, and this draws heart to heart. We are led to love as brethren, to be kind, tender, courteous in daily service, having hearts that can feel another’s woe.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, 1139



1    How was Christ’s attitude in the upper room widely different from that of His disciples?

2    Why was Jesus’ act of washing the disciples’ feet such a shock to them?

3    How did Christ’s action change the disciples’ hearts?

4    Why is humility so essential in the Christian life?

5    What blessings do we reap as a result of washing one another’s feet?

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