The account of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet is such a beautiful picture. May this lesson fully encourage you, as a teacher, and the children. As a leader Christ calls us to serve the least of these, and children need to see what humility looks like from adults.
The lesson that you are about to teach is very solemn. It would be helpful to have the children calm before entering into the activity and reading. Also, the lesson itself does not need to be overly long; the activity speaks well without too much discussion.
Leader Preparation: Allow John 13:3-17 to wash over your heart; read it many times. Put yourself in the place of the disciples. Remember that Jesus is the Messiah, and he has come to love people. He came to give his life for us. He came to demonstrate his love for us through acts like washing feet, which is a servant’s job.
Children’s lesson Title: Serving as Jesus Did
Bible Passage: John 13:3-5, 12-17
Target Age Group: all children
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Memory Verse: Matthew 20:28–”…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Say to the children something like this–preferably in your words:
Jesus came to show us how we should live. One of the lessons that Jesus wanted us to learn was how to be a servant to others. A servant is a person who does the work for another. When your mom or dad cooks you something to eat, they are being a loving servant for you; they don’t expect anything in return. Jesus likewise said to his disciples who desired to be great, “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 NIV). [Jesus calls himself the Son of Man; his favorite title.]
Jesus wanted the disciples to know that being a servant is more important than gaining wealth, power, or position. A servant does not receive a lot of praise or credit; they work solely for the lives of others. Let us read how Jesus, who is a king, became a servant to show his love for his disciples and for us: [If you feel comfortable, have different children read the verses].
3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.“Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Jesus, like a servant, put on a towel to show the reason why he had come. Christ wanted his followers to know the importance of putting others above yourself. Likewise we are to do the same.
There are two ways to practice the “activity.” One, teachers only wash feet. Two, if the children are old enough and mature, then they can wash each others feet. I highly recommend the first in most cases, unless you are Confident in the ability of the children.
The act of washing other people’s feet is an act of humility. Teachers have been set apart to lead others in knowing the depths of God’s holy Word; thus, being an example is an incredible demonstration of the power of the Bible. There is nothing “mystic” about washing another’s feet, but it is a picture that can easily be stuck in the minds of those who participate. Hopefully, it will be a good picture that will forever be with them. Ultimately, there is a two fold message (purpose) to be learned from this act: One, an example of humility for the children. Two, actual humility for the one washing. It is a lesson that speaks to the whole group.
- wash cloth or sponge
Again, this ‘activity’ is not a playful time; the desire is to be reflective.
- Have the children, if possible, in chairs. It will be easier to wash if their feet are easily accessible.
- Remind the group why this is happening.
- Start washing the feet of those in the group and say to them while you dry their feet, “Jesus taught us to love one another by being a servant; ‘Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them’” (Matt. 13:17). [Of course, it does not have to be this statement verbatim].
If you desire the children to wash their fellow feet, then have multiple buckets (etc.) and put them in circled groups.
If you have a large amount of students, then you can use more than one teacher to wash feet.
Another method is to wash one person’s feet, then they wash the next person’s feet, and so on…
- What has Jesus taught us in todays Bible lesson?
- Why should we follow what Jesus did?
- Why do you think Jesus came to serve?
- Is it better to have wealth, power, and position, or be a servant? Why?
Why do you think that Jesus said that he came to “give his life as a ransom for many?” What do you think that means?
Jesus came to give his life as a sacrifice to save others–us. Jesus set an example for us to follow; he showed us to be a servant for others. He also came that we may have eternal life. We must believe his message and believe God who sent Jesus.