Why Does John Reveal What Jesus Knew as a Backdrop for Washing the Disciples Feet?

Have you ever wondered why John reveals what Jesus knew as a backdrop for washing the disciples’ feet? The act of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples is a well-known event, but the context in which it occurred is often overlooked. In this article, we will explore why John chose to include this backstory and what it reveals about Jesus and his mission.

The Backstory

Before we delve into the significance of the backstory, let’s first examine what it entails. In John 13:1-17, Jesus is gathered with his disciples to celebrate Passover.

During the meal, he gets up from the table, takes off his outer garments, and proceeds to wash his disciples’ feet. This act was typically performed by a servant or slave, yet here was Jesus – their leader and teacher – taking on such a menial task.

The Significance of Foot Washing

Foot washing was not just an act of hygiene in ancient times but also had symbolic significance. It was a sign of hospitality and respect for guests in one’s home.

Additionally, in religious contexts, it symbolized spiritual cleansing and humility. By washing his disciples’ feet, Jesus was demonstrating not only his love for them but also his willingness to serve them humbly.

The Importance of Knowing What Jesus Knew

Now let’s turn our attention to why John reveals what Jesus knew as a backdrop for this event. In verses 2-3, we learn that “the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot..to betray him.” This information sets the stage for what is about to happen – namely, Judas’ betrayal – and highlights an important aspect of Jesus’ character.

Jesus Knew. Despite knowing that one of his closest followers would betray him, Jesus still chose to love and serve all of them, including Judas. This demonstrates the depth of Jesus’ love and his commitment to fulfilling his mission, even in the face of betrayal.

The Importance of Service

Another key aspect of this event is the emphasis on service. Jesus tells his disciples in verse 14, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” He goes on to say in verse 17, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

This call to service extends beyond just washing feet. It is a reminder that as followers of Jesus, we are called to serve others humbly and with love. It is through our actions that we demonstrate our love for God and others.


In conclusion, John’s inclusion of what Jesus knew as a backdrop for washing the disciples’ feet serves multiple purposes. It highlights the significance of foot washing as a symbol of humility and service, emphasizes the depth of Jesus’ love for his disciples despite knowing one would betray him, and calls us all to follow in Jesus’ footsteps by serving others with love and humility.

Let us remember this event as not just a historical account but also an example for how we should live our lives as followers of Christ.