The Gospel of John
(James J. Barker)

Lesson 34


(John 13:l-20)


1.    We have noted these past few weeks that we are getting very close to the cross.  Now it is the last night before our Lord’s crucifixion and He is alone with His twelve disciples in the upper room.

2.    This upper room discourse (John 13—17) is not found in the other three Gospels.

3.    Having spoken His last words to the nation Israel (12:36ff), these last chapters before the cross are our Lord’s parting words with His disciples (John 13—16) and our Lord’s prayer for them (John 17).

4.    We have noted that it was the Passover season and great throngs were gathering in Jerusalem to observe this ancient feast (12:1, 12, 20; 13:1).  Passover commemorated the deliverance of Israel from death in Egypt, when the blood of a slain lamb sprinkled on the door had spared the occupants from the angel of death.

5.    The Passover lamb pictured redemption of sinners by the death of a substitute. The apostle Paul said, “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (I Cor. 5:7).

6.    One of my favorite Spurgeon stories is about the time he rented out a huge music hall and decided to drop by one afternoon to check out the acoustics.  A painter was way up in the balcony working but Spurgeon could not see him.  Spurgeon walked over to the podium and shouted, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  The painter dropped his brush, got on his knees and got saved.

7.    The order of events is given in the Scofield Study Bible, p. 1037 bottom.

8.    As we look into our text today, I would like to focus your attention on three important lessons: humility, holiness, and happiness.


I.     A LESSON IN HUMILITY (13:1-5).

1.    God hates pride (cf. Pro. 6:16-19).

2.    God says, “Humble yourselves” (I Peter 5:6).

3.    The Lord Jesus Christ is our great example of humility (cf. John 13:4, 5).

4.    I read one time that D.L. Moody was leading the singing at a meeting and he saw a man walk in whom he had offended.  Moody stopped the singing, ran down off the platform and down the aisle to get things right with the man.  As the man saw Moody approaching, he went out to meet him in the aisle.  R.A. Torrey, and other preachers that knew Moody well, said that was the key to Moody’s success.

5.    Let me give four reasons why our Lord washed His disciples’ feet:

(1) Because our Lord knew that He would soon “depart out of this world unto the Father” (13:1). This world is full of sin and rebelliousness and wickedness. It is under the judgment of God.  It is hard not to be defiled as we walk through this wicked world. So before our Lord “departed out of this world” (17:1), He washed the feet of His disciples.

(2) Because our Lord “loved His own” (13:1).  The word “love” is found about 30 times in this upper room discourse (cf. 13:34, 35). According to the Bible, if you do not love the brethren you do not love God (13:1; cf. I John 3:10-15).

(3) The third reason our Lord washed His disciples’ feet is because an uninvited guest had entered the room – the devil  (13:2).  Mark it down, whenever God’s people get together to try and do something the devil will show up unexpectedly. People think the devil is hanging out in the bars and nightclubs.  No, he prefers to go from church to church. And this is why we need to be cleansed by the Lord.

(4) Our Lord was giving His disciples an example (13:14, 15).  First Peter 2:21 says, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.”

6.    Notice that Satan put it “into the heart of Judas Iscariot” to betray our Lord (13:2).  Later the devil actually entered into Judas (13:27).

7.    Our Lord taught His disciples a lesson on humility by washing their feet (13:3-5).

A.  It was an ancient Eastern custom to wash feet because the roads were dusty and full of garbage (cf. Gen. 18:4; 19:2).  However, usually the host would provide the water and towels and the guests would wash their own feet.

B.  Sometimes a slave or a servant would wash the feet of a guest, but never would the host.

C.  But our Lord stooped down to wash the dirty feet of His disciples.  He “girded Himself” (13:4) as a servant and humbly washed their feet.  He even washed Judas’ feet.



1.    At first Peter did not understand what our Lord was doing (13:6), and our Lord told him that he would understand later (13:7).

2.    There are some things that God is doing now that we cannot understand, but beloved we will understand it better by and by.

3.    Jesus said to Peter: “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” (13:8).  This speaks of holiness. 

4.    We were first washed when we were converted, but now we must wash our feet daily (13:10).  There is a simple interpretation and many applications: People would bathe and be clean but after walking through the dirty streets (wearing sandals), they would need to wash their feet.

5.    Application: Our sins were washed away the moment we trusted Christ, but now we need to have our feet washed daily if we want to walk with the Lord in holiness.

6.    Some Christians are saved but they have very dirty feet!  As we walk through this dirty, filthy world, our feet get defiled with sin and need constant cleansing.

7.    “The blood of Christ answers forever to all the law could say as to the believer's guilt, but he needs constant cleansing from the defilement of sin” (Scofield Study Bible, p. 1134).

8.    In this passage of Scripture, the feet represent our walk with the Lord.  In humility we submit to the Lord; in holiness we walk with the Lord.

9.    We are to follow our Lord’s example, and serve one another in love and humility (13:14-16).

10. There can be no holiness without humility.  Holiness means separated from sin and separated unto God.  A proud man cannot be a holy man, no matter how separated he may be.  We must always remember that the Pharisees were very separated.  In fact, their name means literally, “The Separated Ones.”

11. Referring to ungodly, lustful mockers, Jude 19 says, “these be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.”

12. Separation without humility can be harsh and hypocritical. 



1.    I heard a story about a travelling man who stopped to ask a policeman if he could recommend a church in town.  The policeman gave him directions to a church, the man thanked him and started on his way.  All of a sudden he stopped and asked, “By the way, officer, there are probably a lot of churches around here.  Why do you suggest I go to this one?”  The policeman said: “I am not a religious man.  I’m sending you to this one because I have noticed that the people coming out of there are the happiest-looking people in town.”  Are you happy tonight?

2.    I think we’d see more sinners converted if we had happier Christians.  Some Christians have a poor testimony.   The world sees no difference so they are unimpressed and uninterested.

3.    The world offers happiness through money and the things it can buy, bigger television, nicer clothes, fancy cars, beautiful homes, and so on.  More and more (look at all the advertising.)

4.    The world offers happiness through sinful practices, drugs and alcohol, cigarettes, dirty entertainment, immoral sex, etc.

5.    But none of these can lead to true happiness.  You want to be happy?  SERVE OTHERS (cf. John 13:16, 17).

6.    And by serving others you will be serving Christ.  Do you recall what our Lord said to Simon Peter later on?  “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?  FEED MY SHEEP” (John 21:16, 17).

7.    True happiness can only follow humility and holiness.  If you are not humble you cannot be happy.  After awhile your selfishness and pride will make you miserable.

8.    If you are not holy you cannot be happy. After awhile your cold heart will freeze up and none of the pleasures of this life will help.



1.    Our Lord said, “Now I tell you before it come, that, when it come to pass, ye may believe that I am he” (13:19).

2.    Notice that the “he” is in italics. Jesus is literally the great “I am,” the Jehovah God of the OT (cf. Ex. 3:13, 14; cf. John 8:58).

3.    This is why there are seven “I AM” statements in the Gospel of John (6:48; 8:12; 10:9, 11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1).

4.    Do you believe (13:19)?  Are you saved?

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