Did Jesus Wash Judas’ Feet? A Closer Look At John 13

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A social media member wrote a post regarding Holy Thursday, the day before Good Friday when the Gospels attest that Jesus was crucified between two thieves. The post mentioned the customary nature of washing feet and how a guest would come to stay with someone and their feet would be washed before supper. Keep in mind the words “washed before supper,” because we will revisit this as we make our way through the post.

But the immediate statement that caught my eye was that the post mentioned the words, “Jesus washed their feet…including Judas who would betray him and Peter who would deny him.” To be sure, Peter certainly denied Jesus; the Gospels attest to this fact (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-27). Jesus also washed Peter’s feet, according to John 13:8-12. But the question of this post is, “Did Jesus Wash Judas’s feet?”

The poster mentioned above thinks He did, as do a number of others circulating social media posts along the same lines. However, the biblical text of John 13 says otherwise.

It is to John 13 that we now turn.

john 13: the last supper and foot-washing

Did Jesus wash Judas’s feet? He washed the disciples’ feet, but Judas wasn’t there. There’s good reason to make this statement, and it concerns the details of the biblical text itself in John 13.

First, Jesus didn’t wash Judas’s feet because the text tells us that Judas left “immediately” after supper. Starting in John 13:18, Jesus goes into His speech where He says that one of those at the table with Him would betray Him. The disciples ask if they are the ones to whom Jesus is referring. In John 13:26 (NKJV), Jesus says, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” Who does Jesus give it to? Judas Iscariot. In verse 30, it says that “having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately.”

The word “immediately” in the NKJV is the Greek word euthus which means right away, without hesitation, without pause, without delay. It tells us that right after Jesus dips the bread and hands it to Judas, he goes out and immediately partners with the Pharisees to hand Jesus over to them. He doesn’t waste any time. In fact, we don’t even read that Judas ate the bread that was dipped because, after receiving it, he “immediately” goes out to execute his plan.

So, if Judas goes out to “immediately” carry out his plan to hand over Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, does he even stick around for the foot-washing? Well, some have said that Jesus washed the disciples’ feet before dinner. Is that true?

We’re about to find out.

did jesus wash judas’s feet?

Is Judas present when Jesus washes the disciples’ feet? Well, some believe that Judas was there. The poster above said that it was “customary” to wash the guest’s feet before dinner. As customary as that may be, that’s not what we see here in John 13.

And there are three words that give us this conclusion. The foot-washing or feet-washing in this case was done not before supper, but after supper. The reason? three words in John 13:2.

What are those words? “Supper being ended.” The same verse then goes on to say that, not only was supper over, but also, “the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him.”

What does all this mean? It means that first, the supper took place. Next, the devil had already entered into Judas and Judas had already given himself over to Satan to betray Jesus. Betraying Jesus isn’t completely like betraying your best friend: to be sure, your human friend may forgive you and go on as though nothing happened, but betraying Jesus isn’t like that.

Betraying Jesus is apostasy, and that’s what Judas did. He apostatized, meaning he “turned away from” Jesus. He left Jesus. He who had once been an apostle was an apostle no more. He forsook Jesus and went back into the world.

Supper was over. It was at the supper when Jesus handed the dipped bread to Judas (John 18:26). So after Judas receives the bread, he goes out into the night to plot Jesus’ Crucifixion. He doesn’t stay for the feet-washing or foot-washing because he didn’t stay after supper. He left before Jesus even gets up and put the towel on to wash the disciples’ feet. There were only 11 disciples present for the foot-washing, and Judas wasn’t one of them.

jesus and biblical fidelity in biblical interpretation

With SonRise commemoration ahead of us, that is, the remembering of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, it behooves us to take time to think about biblical fidelity in interpretation.

The poster above had good intentions. The person wanted to say that Jesus showed love to His enemies, even those that betrayed Him. I understand this desire. And yet, we cannot let our desire to show Jesus as loving distort our interpretation of the biblical text and make it go against who Jesus is and what He did. We don’t sin so that grace may abound (Romans 6:1-2), and we don’t distort the biblical text so that God’s grace abounds, either. It isn’t right, regardless of how pure the intent and motive may be for doing so.

Upon further examination of John 13, we see that Jesus didn’t wash Judas’ feet because Judas didn’t stick around for it. Jesus identified His betrayer when He dipped the bread and handed it to Judas. Satan had already entered Judas’s heart, and Judas’s decision was already set in stone. Why would Judas have stuck around to have Jesus wash his feet? After all, Jesus said it best in John 13:10 when He says, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”

John 13:11 says, “For He knew who would betray Him, therefore He said, “You are not all clean.” Jesus’ words there refer to those who are saved, who have been washed, who stand with Him. Why wash the feet of Judas Iscariot when Judas wasn’t with Him, but plotting against Him?

I know that we want to show Jesus’ deep love for the world. Jesus’ own words in John 3:16 tell us so. Jesus told the disciples to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-36). Jesus talked with the Pharisees and encouraged them to repent, telling them in John 5 that they would die in their sins if they didn’t repent (John 5:39-40). There is plenty of other biblical evidence in the Gospels and the New Testament to show that Jesus loved His enemies and that He died for them. We don’t have to distort and misinterpret the text of John 13 to make the same point when there are plenty of passages and verses that clearly show Jesus’ love for His enemies.

Let’s be sure that the next time we wanna say something beautiful about Jesus, we double-check our understanding by looking in Scripture first.