The Washing of Feet by Sieger Koder

This bold painting is by a contemporary German artist Sieger Koder.  The background to the painting can be found in John’s gospel, chapter 13.  You can order copies for classroom use from Pauline Books and Media, who also stock other pictures by this artist.

The following notes might be used to help pupils think about the the painting.

By the end of his three year ministry Jesus had an enormous following and would have been considered the guest of honour at any meal with his friends.  This was the last meal he ate with his disciples.  In first century Palestine it was the custom for the lowliest house servant to wash the hot and dusty feet of the house guests before a meal.  Meals were usually taken reclining at a low ‘L’ shaped table.  The guest of honour was always given the seat facing the door.

Describe the room where the men might be.

Picture

What can you see on the table?  You can find out what the bread and wine symbolise by reading the Bible story in Luke chapter 22.

Jesus is wearing a Jewish prayer shawl, a white shawl with a blue edge.  He is bending down very low.  Can you see his face?  Why do you think the artist has painted him like this?

What do you think Peter might be saying?  What would it feel like to have the Head of your school or even the Queen bend down to wash your dirty feet?

Christians often refer to Jesus as their ‘Servant King’.  What do you think Jesus was trying to demonstrate?  What was he trying to teach his followers?

How can followers of Jesus (Christians) serve other people today?

This lesson could be followed by work on Mother Teresa, the work of Christian charities, Victorian reformers such as Lord Shaftesbury and Elizabeth Fry, or modern day Christian community projects such as the Watford New Hope Trust.  Teaching material available on request.

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