This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on April 24, 2016.
Our preaching of this text should take into account what precedes it. On this night before his death, Jesus is at table with his disciples. Unlike the other Gospels, John says nothing of bread and wine, but tells instead of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. More than a demonstration of servanthood, it is an acted parable of the laying down of his life for them. He tells them they should do the same for each other. Then he says that one of them will betray him, whereupon Judas departs into the night.
So as Jesus goes on to speak in our text, a basin of dirty water and a damp towel are close by, his listeners’ feet are freshly washed, and there is a conspicuously empty space at the table.