The Service of Footwashing

By Ronny Milliner


A. Text: Jn. 13:1-7.

B. Many Pentecostal churches practice footwashing as a part of their worship services.

1. Footwashing was never done as an act of worship to God in the New Testament.

2. It was done as an act of service to man (cf. 1 Tim. 5:10).

C. In spite of some twisting of this passage of Scripture, there are many important lessons regarding service which we can learn from this passage.

I. Service From Emotion (13:1).

A. Before Jesus engages in this act of service, John reminds us of the Lord’s love for his disciples (Jn. 13:1).

B. The service we offer to God must be with the proper spirit.

1. We are to do “the will of God from the heart” (Eph. 6:6-7).

2. When it comes to “serving the Lord” we should be “fervent in spirit” (Rom. 12:11).

C. Our service to one another is to be with love (Gal. 5:13).

II. Service Toward Evildoers (13:2).

A. In this group was the one who would betray Jesus, yet he was willing to wash the feet of this traitor (Jn. 13:2).

B. We, too, must be willing to serve even our enemies (Matt. 5:43-48; Rom. 12:17-21).

III. Service in Spite of Exaltation (13:3).

A. The one washing feet:

1. Had been “given all things into his hands.”

2. “Had come from God.”

3. “Was going to God.”

B. Even though Jesus was equal with God, he humbled himself on our behalf (Phil. 2:5-8).

C. It doesn’t matter whether you are a bank president or CEO, as a Christian you are a servant.

D. Remember “God resists the proud” (Jas. 4:6).

IV. Service by Emptying (13:4-5).

A. To serve, Jesus “laid aside his garment” (Jn. 13:4-5).

B. To serve, Paul was willing to lay aside his “rights” (1 Cor. 9:19).

C. To serve, we must be willing to lay aside self (Phil. 2:3-4; Eph. 5:21; 1 Pet. 5:5-6).

V. Service to Encircle (13:6-11).

A, Peter objected to Jesus’ washing his feet.

1. But Jesus said, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me” (13:8).

2. This act of service showed the togetherness of this group.

B. Our ministering or serving is to be “to one another” (1 Pet. 4:10).

C. When the disciples were divided because of some seeking preeminence over others, Jesus showed them the way to togetherness was by service (Matt. 20:20-27).

VI. Service for Example (13:12-16).

A. By this act of service, Jesus said, “I have given you an example” (Jn. 13:15).

B. His life was a life of service (Matt. 20:28).

C. By serving others we let our light shine so others may come to glorify God (Matt. 5:13-16).

VII. Service of Enrichment (13:17).

A. Jesus promised reward to those who serve others by saying, “Happy are you if you do them” (Jn. 13:17).

B. Earlier Jesus had promised reward to those who serve him when he said, “Him My Father will honor.”

C . Reward also comes when we serve other people (Acts 20:35).

D. The final and ultimate reward comes when Jesus returns (Matt. 25:34-40).


A. Is your life a life of service?

B. If you are not serving God, then you to need crucify self and submit in obedience to his will (Gal. 2:20).

Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 8, pp. 230-231
April 19, 1990