Washing the Feet of Others

Baby Child Feet

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish additional material on Sundays, but do include a suggested Scripture reading for the day. Please be sure to subscribe to this page or one of our social media accounts so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

John 13:12–20 (ESV)

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”


The God Who Washes Feet

John 135 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 13:1–11 (ESV)

1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Before the meal, Jesus did something unexpected. He washed his disciples’ feet. This turned contemporary expectations upside down! Jesus was the teacher. He was the master of this group. It was the job of the students to wash Jesus’ feet or do the work of servants. At least, this is what the culture of the day said. However, Jesus tied a towel around his waist and washed feet.

Peter realized that this was not right. This is why he asked, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus’ reply pointed forward to a greater service that Jesus would do for his followers. Jesus was getting ready to go to the cross to die for his people. Philippians 2:6-8 reflects on Jesus as servant as he willingly died for mankind:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Jesus had to become a servant for his people or we could not be saved. We had to be “washed” by Jesus through his sacrificial death or our sins could not be cleansed. The Creator came into the world to be our servant. He put aside his glory and died as a criminal on a cross. Jesus paid the price that we never could and unless we are washed by him, we remain unclean. As the great hymn says, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

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Oh, How He Loves Us

John 131 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Mark 14:12–17 (ESV)

12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” 16 And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. 17 And when it was evening, he came with the twelve.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 26:17-20; Luke 22:7-14

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus approached the cross, we are reminded that he was fully aware and fully in control of the events at hand. The disciples asked about preparations for the Passover. Jesus sent them ahead with very specific instructions regarding who would give them a place to gather and also what words to speak to the man. The disciples found everything just as Jesus had told them they would and they prepared the Passover.

When Jesus went to the cross, it was not because he had failed. It was the central part of God’s plan to redeem mankind. Jesus went to the cross willingly, knowing exactly what lay ahead, just as he knew about the man who would give them a place to prepare for the Passover meal. By doing this, he continued to show his gracious love for his people. He knew he had to suffer and die and he was willing to do it for each of us. Praise the Lord!

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Betray Jesus?

Judas Goes to Find the Jews

Judas Goes to Find the Jews (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Matthew 26:14–16 (ESV)

14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Parallel Texts: Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6

Understanding and Applying the Word

The account of Judas is shocking to us. We ask, “How could someone who spent so much time with Jesus betray him?” He saw the miracles. He heard the teaching. He saw Jesus face-to-face and still chose to turn Jesus over to the authorities for money. How could that happen? Luke’s Gospel tells us that Satan was working in the midst of this situation. Matthew and Mark only mention Judas as the traitor.

While it is true that Judas was deceived and influenced through the work of Satan, it is also true that Judas chose to betray Jesus and did what was within his own heart. He chose money over Christ. The sad thing is, every one of us is capable of making the same choice. Consider the words of Romans 3:9-18, which describes the sinful heart of mankind:

“…For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Our hearts are desperately wicked. Our desires are skewed. Like Judas, we too often go chasing after all the world can offer us as we push Christ to the side or out of our lives completely. Judas had certain expectations of what he thought the Christ would do for him. When those expectations were not met, he was ready to cash in and make the best of the situation. Many today treat Christianity the same way. They think following Christ or going to church brings financial success, marital joy, parenting success, perfect health, etc. When expectations are not met, Jesus is abandoned.

Jesus came to save us from our sins and to give us new life. He came to offer the solution to our most pressing problem: alienation from God. For those who belong to him, there is the promise of eternal life in his presence. Why do you follow Jesus? What is he worth to you?

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

(African American Spiritual)

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Love that Is Evident

selective focus photo of bottle with cork lid

Photo by Mareefe on Pexels.com


Reading the Word

Matthew 26:6–13 (ESV)

6 Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. 8 And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

Parallel Texts: Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8

Understanding and Applying the Word

We are not told who the woman was who anointed Jesus in Matthew’s account of this event, but John tells us it was Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha. Her act of worship was met with ridicule by the disciples. John tells us that the ridicule was led by Judas, who was not so concerned with the poor as he claimed, but liked to steal from the money that belonged to the group.

When Jesus heard the discussion among the disciples, he praised Mary for her actions and corrected the disciples. Mary had taken the opportunity to show her love and devotion to Jesus while she still could. Soon, this would no longer be possible because Jesus was going to be crucified and buried. There would be time to help the poor in the future. This was the time to honor Christ.

Our devotion to the Lord often takes a back seat in our lives. We make so many things more important. Mary’s love for Christ was evident to all around. This should be true of us as well. This does not mean that we neglect to help and show love for others, but it does mean that in all that we do, it should be Jesus that is front and center in our lives. Our love for Jesus should be evident. May we show our love and devotion for the Lord in all that we do and with all that we have.

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Amazing Love

1 John 410 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 26:1–5 (ESV)

1 When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” 3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. 5 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”

Parallel Texts: Mark 14:1-2; Luke 22:1-2

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Passover approached, Jesus again told his disciples that he would soon be crucified. As Jesus told this to his disciples, the chief priests and elders were gathered at the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, to discuss how they could rid themselves of Jesus. They planned how they could arrest him and kill him, but they knew they had to plan carefully because Jesus was very popular and the crowds gathered to celebrate Passover would be large.

Jesus knew what was coming yet he offered himself voluntarily. The crucifixion was no surprise to Jesus. It was all a part of the plan that God had put in place for the deliverance of sinful mankind. Jesus was only two days from his arrest and going to the cross, but he was not deterred from his mission. We must not miss this. Jesus’ commitment to our salvation is a wonderful demonstration of God’s love for each and every one of us. Christ did everything he could for our salvation. He gave his very life so that we could have eternal life. It reminds me of the old hymn, And Can It Be?:

Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

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The Words of Jesus


Reading the Word

John 12:44–50 (ESV)

44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

The word of God cuts two ways. For some, the word brings salvation and life. These are the people who hear the word and trust in it. They believe Jesus is the Savior of mankind and place their faith in his atoning sacrifice. They demonstrate this faith through obedience to God’s word.

On the other hand, the word of God also brings judgment and condemnation for some. Jesus warns in today’s passage that the Father will hold accountable those who reject Jesus and his message. Jesus came to bring light into a dark world. His message was that all have sinned and must repent and trust in Christ for salvation. To reject Jesus is to reject the message given from the Father.

We must never treat Jesus and his words as merely interesting sayings. He was not a philosophical guru. Yes, he said many wise things that were, and still are, challenging. The most challenging and the most important teaching of Jesus is that he is the eternal Son of God who speaks with the authority of God and came to bring salvation to a lost world. To reject Jesus is to reject the word of God and the only means of forgiveness and salvation. We must weigh the words of Jesus carefully.

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Blind Eyes and Hard Hearts

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are currently reading through the life of Jesus Christ. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

John 12:37–43 (ESV)

37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,

40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”

41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

It Had To Be this Way

Purple Cross

Reading the Word

John 12:27–36 (ESV)

27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus’ journey to the cross was coming to an end, he felt the weight of the circumstances. His soul was troubled. The crucifixion was no small thing for Jesus. He was concerned to his very core. However, he was not going to ask the Father to take the hour away. Jesus knew that he had to go to the cross. It was the very reason he came. It was through the cross that mankind would be saved and there was no other way.

One common question that readers of the Bible often have is if there is any other way for people to be saved other than faith in Jesus. There are two things to be said about this. First: Jesus said that he is the only way to the Father in John 14:6:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Second: if there was another way that we might be saved, then Jesus did not have to die. To say that there are ways of salvation other than through faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is to devalue what Jesus did at Calvary. Jesus went to the cross precisely because there was no other way for us to be reconciled to God and have eternal life. The cross shows us just how serious our sin problem is and the great cost of our redemption. Jesus, the Son of God, had to die. It was the only way.

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Life for All through Death


Reading the Word

John 12:20–26 (ESV)

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In John 12:19, the religious leaders state the need to get rid of Jesus because the “whole world has gone after him.” In the very next verse, we read that there were some Greeks who had come to worship and wanted to see Jesus. By telling us they were Greeks, John informs us that these visitors were Gentile converts, likely converted because of what they had heard from or about Jesus. The whole world truly was going after him!

Word reached Jesus that the visitors wanted to see him. It may seem that Jesus’ response had nothing to do with his Greek visitors, but his response is actually very fitting. He spoke of his coming death and resurrection by using the illustration of a grain of wheat. It is through the death and resurrection of Christ that all believers find salvation and eternal life in the presence of the Lord. This is true for everyone, both Jew and Greek. So, when this group came seeking Jesus, his response was to tell them how to find life. It would come through what was about to take place over the next several days.

For all people, salvation comes through the One who lived a perfect, sinless life and gave himself as a sacrifice. He was crucified and placed in a tomb, but death did not hold him. He rose from the grave in victory over sin and death and now gives life to all who will turn in repentance and faith. Jesus had to die and be resurrected so that we could have life through him.

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