Note to the Teacher
The scripture we read is from the Gospel of John. It is the story Jesus washing his disciples’ feet and calling out one of them who will betray Jesus later. The opening activity gets students putting together their "last supper” as a way of reminding students what happened that night. The discussion encourages students to think about why Jesus did what he did those final days and hours with his disciples before his death. The activity and discussion have students washing one another’s feet and making a cool piece of art at the same time. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: 'Last Supper Remix' (10 minutes)
In this opening ice breaker, your group will come up with a quick “last supper” to share as a class. Since our reading today doesn’t cover the actual last supper, start by telling your class that the Last Supper happens before Jesus washes the disciples’ feet. This is what you will be reading in just a few minutes.
Hand each student a sheet of paper and a few markers. Have them draw their favorite meal and then place it on a table that you’ve moved to the center of the room. If you are doing this digitally, you can have everyone just hold up their favorite meal once they're done.
Once everyone has finished, transition to the scripture by saying something like this: “Now that everyone has had the opportunity to share in one final meal together, let’s look back at what Jesus does before the Last Supper.”
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our scripture reading today is the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. While I read the scripture, put yourself in the story. Imagine Jesus is washing your feet. How would that make you feel?
Read John 13:1-17, 31b-35.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- Why do you think Jesus chose to wash his disciples’ feet?
- What could have caused Peter to respond the way he did?
- What does Jesus washing the disciples’ feet tell you about the example Jesus wanted to set?
- Jesus tells his disciples that they should wash one another’s feet in verse 14. Why do you think he does this? Should we wash one another’s feet today? What is significant about washing someone’s feet? What might be a modern example of the foot washing?
- Have you ever had to humble yourself to do something? If so, what?
- In verse 34, Jesus gives the disciples a new commandment. What is it?
- If we can learn to love all people, does that make us disciples of Jesus? If so, how does that make you feel? What do you think about being called a disciple?
4. Activity and Discussion: 'Foot Washing' (20 minutes)
Explain to your students that today they are going get their feet washed and make a cool piece of art you can hang in your youth space. As you do this, make sure that you tell students that if they are uncomfortable having their feet washed or touched, that is ok. Give them a sign like a shake of the head or crossing their arms to make so that you know to not wash their feet. Not violating physical boundaries is important in an activity like this. Before you begin, prepare some paper plates with paint and a large piece of butcher paper next to each other.
Have everyone remove their shoes. Ask a leader or yourself to start by washing the feet of those who are comfortable having this done. This may take some time, but it will make for a cool and powerful lesson. After students have had their feet washed, have them step in one of the plates with paint on it and walk across the paper that you’ve laid down. After the first student has finished walking down the paper, have a leader wash and dry the student’s feet again. That first student will stay there and wait for another student to walk down with paint on his/her feet. Make sure you have a chair available for those students to sit down on while they are getting their feet washed. If students are comfortable, when they are done, they will wash the next student’s feet until everyone has had the chance to paint and wash someone’s feet. After everyone is finished and cleaned up, ask the following questions:
- How did it feel having your feet washed?
- How did it feel washing someone else’s feet?
- How can we show our friends, neighbors, family members, and even our enemies, love this week? What are some tangible ways we can show love?
If your students are digital, invite them to participate by washing someone’s feet in their own house and, if possible, having someone wash their feet as well. If no one is available, have the students wash their own feet and then move on to the discussion questions.
Close your time together in a manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys and concerns, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.
Total time: 50 minutes
- 1 sheet of paper per person
- Washable paint
- Paper or plastic plates (for the paint)
- Posterboard or large piece of paper
- Bowl of water