December 9, 2018 – John 13:1-38

Lesson Date: December 9, 2018

Focal Scripture Passage: John 13:1-38

AIM: To lead students to identify ways Jesus demonstrated humility toward those who would betray, deny, and abandon Him, and to decide on specific actions they can take to demonstrate humility toward others this week.


Before class: Read the notes on John 13:1-38 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Prepare the index cards or pieces of paper described in the “Conclusion” step.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Ask: “Have you ever needed to learn how to do a task that you never did before?” (probably everyone has). Explain that this could be some simple household repair such as fixing a leaky toilet, or a home improvement project such as painting a room, or a task at work such as using a specialized computer program.

Ask: “Would you rather learn how to do that task by reading an instruction manual or by having someone demonstrate how to do it?” (probably everyone would prefer a demonstration). Tell the class that a visual demonstration and hands-on instruction is usually much faster and easier to grasp than merely reading an instruction manual. This is how ancient people learned a trade: by serving as an apprentice. Generations ago boys learned farming skills and vocations at the hands of their fathers and girls learned household skills by watching and helping their mothers. In the 20th century many students learned valuable skills in shop class and home economics class. Even today, you can learn many skills – both home repair and improvement and work-related skills – through watching instructional videos on YouTube or some other training web site.

Ask: “Why do you think it is easier to learn by example rather than by just reading instructions?” (most of us are visual and hands-on learners; we only grasp a limited amount of what we read, but we grasp much more of what we see and do).

Tell the class in John 13 we will discover that Jesus demonstrated a particular attitude in order to teach His disciples (and us) to do as He did.



  1. Review.
    • Remind the class that we are studying the Gospel of John.
    • Ask: “Why did John write his Gospel?” (so his readers would believe that Jesus is the Son of God and have everlasting life by trusting in Him – John 20:31).
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (reasons Jesus came to earth and reasons God created us).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verses (John 14:1-3).
    • Explain the following to the students:
      • Chapters 1 – 12 of John’s Gospel tell about Jesus’ ministry, including seven important sign miracles that prove He is the Son of God.
      • The events described in chapters 13 – 17 all occurred on the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested.
      • Jesus and His disciples were in Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover.
  2. Jesus Washed His Disciples’ Feet.
    • Read John 13:1-5.
    • Ask: “According to verses 1 and 3, what did Jesus know?” (the time had come for His sacrificial death and return to the Father – verse 1; His Father had given Him all things and all authority– verse 3).
    • Ask: “According to verse 2, who inspired Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus?” (the devil).
    • Tell the class it is popular today to assert that Judas was moved by political ambition, hatred for the Romans, or a desire to see Jesus assert His power. The Bible makes it clear, however, that his real motivation for betraying Jesus was that the devil put it in his heart.
    • Ask: “What do verses 4-5 say Jesus did?” (washed the disciples’ feet).
    • Using the following outline, explain the need for foot washing in ancient times:
      • Most people wore sandals.
      • Most personal transportation was by foot.
      • Most roads were dirty and dusty.
      • People got their feet dirty walking on the dusty roads.
      • It was customary in ancient times for the lowest-ranking household servant to wash the feet of guests when they entered a home.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 13:6-11.
    • Briefly describe the exchange that took place between Jesus and Peter.
    • Tell the students that the words washed and wash in verse 10 have two different meanings. The first means to bathe completely, while the second means to wash a small part of the body, such as the hands or feet.
    • For the Christian, the symbolism is clear. We are washed completely (bathed) when we are saved, but our spiritual “feet” get dirty when we sin as we walk through this wicked world. Thus we need to regularly confess our sins and have our “feet” cleaned.
    • Ask: “According to verse 11, what did Jesus know?” (who would betray Him).
    • Read John 13:12-17.
    • Ask: “Why did Jesus wash the disciples’ feet?” (to give them an example of how they should humbly serve one another).
    • Tell the students some people believe this passage teaches that Christian churches should practice foot washing as a regular ordinance of the church.
      • In actuality, the church has only two ordinances (those ceremonies the Lord commanded us to do), which are believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
      • The Lord commanded us to baptize believers (Matt. 28:19), and to have the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24-25).
      • He told His disciples He had washed their feet as an example (verse 15) of the type of humility they should exhibit toward one another.
    • Summarize: Through washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus demonstrated humility toward people He knew would betray Him, deny Him, and abandon Him.
  3. Jesus Foretold His Betrayal.
    • Read John 13:18-25.
    • Tell the class in verse 18 Jesus quoted from Psalm 41:9.
    • Ask: “What did He say one of His disciples would do?” (betray Him).
    • Ask: “According to verse 19, why did Jesus tell them this?” (so when it came to pass they would believe more firmly in Him).
    • Ask: “What did Jesus tell the disciples in verse 21?” (one of them would betray Him).
    • Tell the class the disciples naturally wanted to know who the betrayer was.
    • Ask: “What did Peter get John to do?” (ask Jesus to identify the betrayer).
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 13:26-30.
    • Ask: “How did Jesus answer John?” (the one to whom He gave the sop would be the one to betray Him).
    • Tell the class the sop was a piece of bread dipped in a gravy or sauce.
    • Explain that it was customary at banquets in ancient times for the host to give the sop to the guest of honor. Jesus gave the sop to Judas Iscariot.
    • Ask: “What happened after Judas ate the sop?” (Satan entered him).
    • Jesus told Judas, “That thou doest, do quickly,” and Judas immediately left.
    • Ask: “Why did the other disciples think Judas left?” (to buy things they would need for Passover or to give money to the poor).
    • Summarize: Jesus clearly told that one of His disciples would betray Him. He even identified Judas as the betrayer. Judas went out into the night to do his wicked deed.
  4. Jesus Gave His Disciples a New Commandment.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 13:31-35.
    • Explain verses 31-33 to the class, using the following outline:
      • The time of Jesus’ death on the cross – through which He would be glorified and glorify His Father – had come.
      • He told His disciples that He would soon leave them (through death), going to a place they could not follow.
    • Ask: “What new commandment did Jesus give His followers?” (to love one another).
    • Ask: “What did Jesus say their love for one another would show the world?” (that they were His disciples).
    • Tell the students that loving one another often requires humility – putting the needs of others ahead of our own.
    • Summarize: Jesus commanded His followers to love one another. Doing so shows the world that we are truly His disciples.
  5. Jesus Foretold Peter’s Denial.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 13:36-38.
    • Jesus told the disciples that He would soon leave them.
    • Ask: “In verse 37, what did Peter boldly promise?” (to follow Jesus anywhere, even if it meant laying down his life for Jesus).
    • Ask: “What did Jesus tell Peter in verse 38?” (that he would deny Jesus three times before morning).
    • Summarize: Peter boldly vowed to lay down his life for Jesus, but Jesus revealed that Peter would deny Him three times that very night.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Ask: “How did Jesus demonstrate humility before His disciples?” (by washing their feet). Remind the class that among those whose feet Jesus washed was Judas, who that very night would betray Him so He would be put to death in the most terrible and excruciating manner possible. Jesus humbled Himself before His betrayer.

Not only that, Jesus also washed the feet of Peter, who that very night would deny that he even knew Jesus. Peter was one of Jesus’ closest friends and supporters, but he would soon pretend he didn’t even know Him. Jesus humbled Himself before His unfaithful friend.

Not only that, Jesus washed the feet of the other ten disciples, nine of whom would that very night abandon Him and run away into hiding. They would not stand up for Jesus or even stay with Him during His time of great suffering. Jesus humbled Himself before those who abandoned Him.

Ask: “Has anyone ever hurt you? Did you try to get even with that person? Did you try to avoid and ignore that person?”

Ask: “Do you think you could do what Jesus did – be a humble servant to someone who has betrayed or hurt you?” Tell the students that is exactly what Jesus did. He told His disciples (including us) to follow His example of humility (verse 15) and to love one another (verse 34).

Tell the students that learning is incomplete until we apply what we have learned. In other words, watching someone demonstrate a skill is good, but we don’t really master that skill until we do it ourselves. Ask: “How can we apply what Jesus has demonstrated in our lives? In other words, what are some specific and practical ways we can show humility to others?” Allow time for responses and discussion.

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes. Ask: “Will you follow Jesus’ example by humbling yourself and loving one another? If so, ask God to enable you to show humility and love toward those who have hurt or disappointed you.” Voice a closing prayer.


CONCLUSION: Give each student an index card or piece of paper on which you have written or printed the following question:

“Have I followed Jesus’ example of humility today?”

Ask them to put the card somewhere they will see it every day this week.

Ask everyone to memorize John 14:6. Tell them to try to do something nice this week for someone who has chosen to be their enemy or who has disappointed or hurt them.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Recommended Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *