When compared to the other three Gospels in the New Testament, the book of John is a really unique narrative. It elaborates on a different point of view about Jesus than the other Gospels do. I will specifically be looking at the time where Jesus washes his disciples feet in John chapter 13 verses 1-27 and what this said about his character. Considering the time that this was written, the portrayal of Jesus in the Gospel of John was that of an all-knowing, but humble, God in the flesh. With many themes throughout the narrative, i will look specifically at who Jesus said he was and how he expected his disciples to act in John’s point of view. Getting into the character of Jesus is very difficult considering how complex and diverse the character of Jesus is throughout the Gospels. Taking a closer look at the beginning of chapter 13 in John gives us a little taste of what Jesus’ character was like, especially in relation to his disciples. As he washes his disciples feet, there is reason to believe that this represents one of the few stories left open for interpretation in John. This was possibly meant as a symbol that Jesus cleanses those who follow him.
Why was Jesus so humble? Why would God, manifested in the form of a man, allow himself to be humiliated and humbled by the very thing he created?( John 1:1-2) It would have been easy for Jesus to come down and demand everyone to worship his flesh. In this time and culture, people admired and worshiped humans all the time so it wouldn’t be exactly abnormal to suggest that the community would fall in line and obey Jesus. This showed a huge personality trait of the Christian God. In asking these questions mentioned above, the reader can realize that Jesus chose to show his disciples and followers how to live, instead of just demanding what was expected of them. As he washes his disciples feet on the eve of his betrayal by Judas, Peter questions why Jesus washes his feet, stating that he is unworthy. Jesus knows that it is extremely important that he leads by example and even says ” If I then, your Lord and Master, have wasged your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”(John 13:14-15) John portrays Jesus as humble and all-knowing.
Another characteristic of Jesus portrayed in this section of John was that he was an all-knowing figure. In Ehrman’s section of the analysis of John, he describes the difference in the beginning of this Gospel compared to the other three. He describes it as providing a mystical reflection on the “Word” of God, instead of just coming out and saying Jesus. Surely a God would be all knowing and this fits in line with John’s use of the phrase “Jesus knew…” this or “he knew..” that. This was for the most part talking about how Jesus knew all along exactly who would betray him and turn him in. From realizing that he knew who would betray him really put into perspective the type of character Jesus had. He knew that Judas betraying him was only part of the plan to help redeem man-kind so he didn’t take it as personal as one might expect. The tone of which John wrote about this situation was that Jesus knew exactly what Judas would do and that it was ‘strictly business’. Never did John write anything like “Jesus was infuriated with Judas” or that ” Jesus wept over the betrayal of one of his closest companions”. This would have been an easy reaction to imagine. Instead, it kinda had the tone of “yeah that’s all Judas was here for, nothing to see here.”
Jesus’ teachings forced his disciples to look closer at their actions as well as how they conducted themselves. Humility is hard to teach to anyone, so the fact that he chose to teach them by washing their feet was simply genius. Even in the midst of being portrayed, Jesus still showed his disciples the mindset they should have when obstacles arise. In this short section of John chapter 13, he displayed a mindset of looking at the bigger picture as well as staying focused in the middle of a hardship. The disciples didn’t realize it right then, but looking back i’m sure they valued the one of the last lessons Jesus would ever teach them. This would push them to go above and beyond the expectations they previously had set. But above all else to remain humble and don’t become prideful.