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Servant to All (Foot Washing)

August 10, 2010

This lesson is sort of a bonus lesson as there will still be two lessons on the Last Supper. It just didn’t feel right to skip the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, especially as so many churches include this story in their liturgical practices. You may want to replace one of the Last Supper lessons with this one or you may find a time to use it during holy week – consider the possibility of offering Sunday School during your Maundy Thursday service or even for part of your Good Friday service. Or build a special family service that includes everyone in the lesson and adds a short, meditative prayer time on to the beginning or end. ‘Cause Holy Week isn’t really busy enough…

Things to know about this lesson:

  • It’s messy – you have to have an excuse to wash feet, after all.

Servant to All


  • Mural paper with the title “Following Jesus”
  • Finger paints and shallow pans (for stepping into)
  • Bowls (for washing feet) and towels

Open with prayer. (see tip sheet)

Introduce the Story

Who remembers what church season we are in right now? (Lent)

And what is Lent for? (getting ready for Easter by focusing on God and thinking about how God wants us to live)

One of the last things Jesus taught his disciples about how to live was that we are supposed to be servants and not masters.

What’s a servant?

What’s a master?

Which do you think you’d rather be?

Let’s listen to the story and see why Jesus tells us to be servants.

Read the Story

Jesus and his disciples were having supper – the last supper they would have together. Jesus knew that God had given everything in the world to him. He knew that he had come from God and that we was going to go to God. But, even knowing how special he was, Jesus got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.

When he got to Simon Peter, Simon Peter said, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “I know you don’t understand what I am doing, but you will later.” Peter said to him, “No, Lord, you will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you are not with me.” So Peter said, “Then wash my hands and my head as well as my feet!” Jesus answered, “If you have bathed, you only need to wash your feet for the rest of you is clean.”

After he had washed their feet, he put on his robe and returned to the table. Then he said, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord – and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example, and you should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master and messengers are not greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”

(John 13:3-17)


What did Jesus do to his disciples? (wash their feet)

How did that make them feel? (uncomfortable, embarrassed, upset) Why?

In Jesus’ time, servants washed their masters’ feet at the end of the day.  People wore sandals all the time and walked most places so their feet were hot and dirty and tired.  Getting them washed probably felt really nice.  When Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, he was doing a job that servants did – not teachers or friends or important people.

Why did Jesus do a servants’  job?

God wants us all to take care of other people’s needs as well as our own – we are supposed to love others as we love ourselves.  That means thinking about other people and finding ways to help them live happy, healthy lives.

If everyone behaved as a servant to others, everyone would take care of each other.  Do you think that would be a good world to live in?

Introduce the Activity

Some of you might remember way back in the fall when we made footprints.  We’re going to do that again but, this time, everyone will wash someone else’s feet as a way of showing that we are servants to one another, following Jesus’ example.


Lay out the piece of mural paper, pans of finger paint, bowls of water, and towels.  Direct the students to line up.  The first student chooses a footprint colour, steps in the paint, and onto the mural paper.  You wash her/his feet.  That student will then wash the feet of the next student and so on.  You go last so that the last student has someone’s feet to wash (and so you can more easily facilitate everyone else’s work).  If you have a larger group you could use two (or more!) lines.


How did it feel to have your feet washed by someone else?

How did it feel to wash someone else’s feet?

Can you think of something you can do this week to be a servant to someone else?  (help a sibling/parent with something; give food to the food bank; visit someone who can’t leave their house; donate a toy to a homeless shelter)

Closing Prayer

Dear God, thank you for Jesus and his example of how to be a servant.  Help us pay attention to the needs of others so that we can be servants to them.  Help us truly love other people as much as we love ourselves.  Amen.


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