What does John 13:12 mean?
ESV: When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you understand what I have done to you?
NIV: 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.
NASB: Then, when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, 'Do you know what I have done for you?
CSB: When Jesus had washed their feet and put on his outer clothing, he reclined again and said to them, "Do you know what I have done for you?
NLT: After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, 'Do you understand what I was doing?
KJV: So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
NKJV: So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?
Verse Commentary:
This question comes shortly after Jesus performed the task of a lowly servant: washing the feet of His own disciples. That included a brief disagreement with Peter that turned into an explanation of the difference between salvation and routine confession of sin (John 13:1–11). That teaching was important, but it was not the primary purpose of Jesus washing the disciples' feet. Now, as promised (John 13:7), Jesus begins the process of explaining what this event is meant to teach. That lesson completely overturns natural human assumptions about leadership.

As with many of Jesus' teachings, full understanding will take the disciples some time to reach. In this case, however, the lesson is not mysterious or complex. Jesus will continue by pointing out that servants are not above their masters. If the Master acts in love and service to others, those who follow are obligated to do the same. The point is not about literal washing of feet, but an attitude of humility and self-sacrifice. Christians are never "too big" to love and serve others.
Verse Context:
John 13:12–20 is Jesus' explanation of His humble act: washing the feet of the disciples. Christ freely accepts His role as Lord and master, using those concepts to drive home His main point. Those who claim the name of Jesus ought to follow His example. That means humility and service for others—if the Lord serves others, so too should those who follow Him. Jesus also points out that not everyone at this event truly follows Him. This prediction is given to strengthen the faith of true believers once everything has been revealed. The following passage expands on the impending betrayal.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus meets with a smaller group, possibly only the twelve disciples, in a private setting. Before eating a meal, Jesus performs the work of a lowly servant, washing the feet of the disciples. He explains that this is an object lesson. Their Lord is willing to serve in humility, so they are obligated to do the same. Jesus also predicts His impending betrayal, subtly telling Judas to leave and complete His conspiracy. The disciples don't realize what's happened, however. Peter foolishly brags about his loyalty. Jesus responds with a cutting prediction: Peter will deny his relationship to Christ three times in the next few hours.
Chapter Context:
The first twelve chapters of the gospel of John describe the public ministry of Jesus. Starting in chapter 13, most of what John describes are the last private moments Jesus enjoys prior to His crucifixion. This begins with Jesus washing the disciples' feet, establishing both an example and a command for humble service. Jesus also predicts His impending betrayal and Peter's cowardly denials. Following chapters contain Jesus' last instructions to the disciples, including a rich collection of truths which are central to the Christian faith.
Book Summary:
The disciple John wrote the gospel of John decades after the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls "signs"— to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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