Learning About the Last Supper
by Alison Thurlow
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider having a servant-hearted attitude to others by looking at the story of the Last Supper.
Preparation and materials
- Have available a bag that contains a selection of items used for washing ourselves, such as a bar of soap, a flannel, a towel, some shower gel, some bath foam, a nail brush and a sponge.
- Explain to the children that you have brought along a few special things in your bag today and that you would like two volunteers to come and help you take these things out of the bag.
- Ask the volunteers to put their hand in the bag, find an object, feel it and guess what it is. Then, ask them to take the object out of the bag and see what it actually is. Hold up each object so that all the children can see what it is.
- Ask the children what all these objects have in common. (Answer: they are all used for washing ourselves.)
Then, ask the children why it is important to wash. (Answer: because we get dirty!)
- Explain that we usually have a wash, a shower or a bath when we are dirty. In the time when Jesus lived, washing, especially washing your feet, was very important. The country where Jesus lived would have been very hot and there would not have been many proper roads or pavements like we have today. There were probably lots of dirt tracks, and most people wore open-toed sandals or walked in bare feet – they wouldn’t have had trainers or strong shoes like we do.
- Explain that in those days, if some guests arrived at your house for dinner, their feet would have been very hot and dusty - and probably a bit smelly, too! The guests would have expected you to provide water for them to wash their feet before the meal started. Very often, a servant would wash a visitor’s feet for him/her, and this would be seen as a sign of respect.
- Explain that the following story took place just before the Easter story in the Bible, on the night that Jesus was arrested.
Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet
Jesus and his friends were about to have a special meal together. After they arrived in Jerusalem, they all went into a room that had been prepared for this meal. Jesus was the special guest, but no one offered him water to wash his feet.
Instead, Jesus got up from the table, took off his coat and tied a towel round his waist. He poured some water into a large bowl and began to wash his friends’ feet and dry them with a towel. Jesus was doing the job that a servant would usually do. I wonder how his friends felt as Jesus washed their feet.
One of Jesus’ friends, Peter, called out, ‘You will never wash my feet! You are God’s Son. I won’t let you do it!’
But Jesus replied, ‘If you don’t let me wash your feet, you will no longer be one of my special friends. You say that I am your teacher and your Lord, and that is true, but now I have become like a servant by washing your feet. I am setting an example to all of you – I want you all to serve each other and to serve many other people, too.’
Then, Jesus sat down and ate the meal with his friends. This was the last meal he shared with them before he died, because shortly afterwards he was arrested, asked lots of questions at a trial and eventually put to death on a cross.
Time for reflection
Explain that Jesus wanted to teach his friends an important lesson by washing their feet. He knew that he wouldn’t be with them much longer because he was soon going to die. He wanted his friends to remember that he loved them so much that he became like a servant to them. He wanted them to show love and respect for others when he was no longer there.
It might not be appropriate for us to go around washing each other’s feet, but it is still good to show love and respect towards others.
Ask the children how they can show love and respect for others.
Listen to a range of responses.
Encourage the children to carry out some of their ideas today.
Thank you that Jesus showed his friends how much he loved them by becoming like a servant.
Help us to show how much we love and care for others
By being kind to them and putting their needs before our own.
Help us not to be proud and to think of ourselves as too important to do little things.
Help us to treat all people with respect.
‘Worship the king’ by Steve Morgan-Gurr (Kids Praise 2002)