I have given you an example

Introduction: John 13:1-20 is a preamble of the following chapters 14-17, it starts with Jesus sharing the last supper meal with his disciples followed by his farewell discourse and continues with it throughout 15-17 chapters. In this Lectio Divina we concentrate our attention in the Last Supper meal where Jesus and his disciples spend the last moments together before his death. What was it like for Jesus that aware of his fate he went ahead sharing a meal with his disciples. We are invited to pay attention to the reaction of Jesus and his disciples and perhaps try to see yourself in them.

Initial Prayer


Make me humble of heart

To imitate your Son in humble

Service to my brothers and sisters.


‘Lectio Divina’

  1. 1. Read the text John 13:1-20 read the text slowly and listen attentively with the ‘ear of your heart’. What word, sentence or phrase stands out for you? 
  1. 1. Reflect: read the text again and pay attention of what touches you; why is it meaningful for you. What thought or reflection comes to you.  
  2. 2. Respond: read the text again but this time respond spontaneously to the word of God. In other words, make a dialogue with God what comes from within you. What gift does this text lead you to ask for from the Lord? Stay with the Word: read the text a final time and rest in the word. Allow God to speak to you in deep silence. Don’t say anything just listen to God’s words. What is He saying? 
  3. 3. Take now the word, sentence or phase, into your daily life/activity; allow it to become part of you. Always listen to it, reflect on it, pray over it and rest on it as time allows during the day. Then allow the Word lead you action. 

Conclude your ‘Lectio Divina’ with the ‘Our Father’…  

Reflection: we are in the second part of John’s Gospel which begins with a farewell discourse of Jesus given during the last meal shared with his disciples. The essence of his discourse is basically to show his disciples how much he loved them and by accepting his love they would accept to have part with Him, otherwise they would have excluded themselves from his friendship and eternal life. Jesus, washing the disciples feet, lowered himself as a symbol of his unconditional love and a love that excludes inequality and dominion. He became servant of all so that they may do the same and be servant of each other. 

Central Message: “The hour had come”(13:1)… “He began to wash the disciples feet”(13:5)… I have given you an example”(13:15).

Main points: 

  1. a) “The hour had come”. The hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. Jesus’ time in this world was over, his journey with the people of God was coming to an end, just like Moses who led the people of Israel towards God’s promise. Jesus was concluding his exodus too and going back to where he came from, to the right hand of his Father. The passage to go to the father goes by the way of the cross where he gives up his life for the salvation and liberation of the world from sin and death. So Jesus knew that this was the time when he will carry out all that was announced about him, He has been preparing the crowds about this hour by preaching and performing signs. He also prepared his disciples during his short life and in particular at this very intimate moment at the table with them, in a meal, which was the last meal shared with them. At this point Jesus was aware that his hour had come, that his life and mission was coming to an end. But he was not overcome by anything that could threaten his life because He was prepared to give it up as the supreme manifestation of his abiding love for his disciples, as expressed by John in this text “after having loved those who were His in the world, He loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1). He did it in a manner that his disciples will never forget: his Master washing their feet. 


  1. b) “He began to wash the disciples feet”. At the time washing feed was a custom in households used as sign of hospitality, which still exist today in the Middle East. It was a task proper performed by the salves to welcome their master’s guest. It was also a part of the ablutions practiced by Rabbis before meals which task was given to young students of the Torah. Whit this in mind we see Jesus first “laying aside his outer garment” and then he “starts washing the disciples’ feet”, Jesus’ gesture shows his disciples a symbol of service and self-gift, anticipating his utmost act of service and self-gift on the cross. That is the meaning of the words “laying aside the outer garment”. Laying down his life for those who were his own who love them with a perfect love. Jesus gesture of humility came as shock for his disciples, that their Master should wash their feet when it was their proper task to have washed his. While they remained stunned and in silence, Peter, may have felt totally uncomfortable with his Master washing his feet, as he express his objection saying “You should never wash my feet!” Perhaps Peter’s overreaction was like the one watching his friend doing things that seemed humiliating and undeserving. It was an unacceptable action according to his upbringing standards that his Master abandons his position of superiority to render himself equal to his disciples. But, that was the point Jesus wanted to make by washing their feet, meaning, to rendering service to His friends, unlike dominion or inequality. True friendship abolish both and are totally foreign to it. So Peter couldn’t see the act of Love and self-giving in Jesus’ gesture. The answer Jesus gave shocked him even further “If I do not wash you, you can have no part with me.” Jesus then explain to him the whole meaning of washing of feet. Symbolically, having part with him, would mean to come into communion of life with him in eternal life, but they must share in his death and resurrection. 
  1. c) “I have given you an example”. Jesus left to his disciples a permanent command translated into action: “if I the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also must wash one another’s feet.” This humble service should be the mark which characterises a follower of Jesus. Jesus Lord and Master had authority but the exercise of it was marked by a continues service up to the end of his life on the Cross. So we too his followers are to imitate him serving one another with a humble heart, with the intention of building each other’s dignity and equality before the Lord. Jesus challenges us to do the same for each other so that the kingdom of God can be credible, because there nobody is above or below in any way, we equal before God.

Some questions for our reflexion:

1. How do you live out in daily life the example of Jesus command? 

2. Have you notice any resistant in you when the Lord prompt you to do something for him? What are your resistances?

3. What are you doing to make a more equal and just society?

"Lectio Divina", a Latin term, means "divine reading" and describes a way of reading the Scriptures. Open ourselves to what God wants to say to us.

Any Questions? Keep in touch!

Contact me at: ruben@comboniyouth.org

Father Rubén Padilla Rocha