What Did Jesus Washing the Disciples Feet Mean?

When Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, it was a powerful and symbolic act that conveyed a profound message. This act of humility and service was meant to teach his followers about the importance of serving others and putting their needs before our own. In this article, we will explore the meaning behind Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.

What Happened During the Foot Washing?

During the Last Supper, which was a Passover meal that Jesus shared with his disciples, he got up from the table and took off his outer robe. He then tied a towel around his waist, poured water into a basin, and began to wash his disciples’ feet. This was an act traditionally performed by servants or slaves, not by someone of Jesus’ status.

At first, Peter objected to this gesture of humility, but Jesus explained to him that unless he allowed him to wash his feet, he would have no part with him. Peter then asked Jesus to wash not only his feet but also his hands and head. However, Jesus told him that only his feet needed washing since he had already taken a bath.

After washing their feet, Jesus put on his robe again and sat down at the table. He then explained to them that he had just given them an example of how they should treat one another: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15).

The Symbolism Behind Foot Washing

The act of foot washing in ancient times was not just a matter of hygiene but also a sign of hospitality and respect towards guests. It was customary for hosts to provide water for their guests to wash their feet upon arrival. However, in this case, it was Jesus who took on the role of servant instead of host.

By performing this lowly task himself instead of delegating it to one of his disciples or servants, Jesus was demonstrating the importance of humility and service. He was also showing them that no task is too menial or beneath us when it comes to serving others.

Moreover, the act of washing someone’s feet was a way of demonstrating love and care for them. In this context, Jesus was showing his disciples that he loved them and cared for their well-being. He was also emphasizing the importance of loving one another as he had loved them: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:35).

The Significance of Jesus’ Actions

The act of foot washing by Jesus had a deeper significance than just an act of humility and service. It was also a foreshadowing of his upcoming death on the cross, where he would ultimately serve humanity by giving his life for their sins.

In addition, it was a reminder to his disciples that they needed to be cleansed not only physically but spiritually as well. By washing their feet, Jesus was symbolically cleansing them from their sins and preparing them for the mission ahead.


In conclusion, the act of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet was a powerful message about the importance of humility, service, love, and cleansing. It served as an example for all Christians on how we should treat one another with kindness and respect regardless of our status or position in life.

May we always remember this lesson and strive to follow in Christ’s footsteps by serving others with love and humility just as he did.