13:12After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
18I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. 20Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”
Jesus washed his disciples feet, and then he dressed and returned to the table, and asked them a question, “Do you know what I have done to you?” He has served them – even though he is the one they call Teacher and Lord, he has knelt before them and served them. So – just as he served them, they should serve one another.
If Jesus sets the example, so they should do as he has done – and so should we. We, too, should serve one another. A servant is not greater than the Master – so the disciples were not greater than Jesus, but should follow his example, humbling themselves (ourselves) to serve one another. Messengers sent by Jesus are not greater than he – if we know these things, we are blessed if we do them.
But once again, there is a double meaning to what Jesus says; he has been speaking of his relationship to the disciples, and theirs to him: Teacher – Disciple; Master – follower; Sender – messenger. And he has placed an obligation on others to accept those whom he sends as his messengers, as those sent by him. But then there is a second meaning – if others are to accept those he sends, then they should also accept him, as the One the Father has sent. If we receive his disciples, we receive him; and likewise, if we receive him, we receive God.
He also makes a segue into the next section, saying that one who has broken this relationship has shared his bread. He will talk about his betrayal as we move forward.