John Chapter 13: Last Supper, Feet Washing

Dec 22nd, 2009 | By | Category: John, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

John Chapter 13: Last Supper, Feet Washing

John 13:1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

In the type, the lamb was slain on the 14th of Nisan, and the Feast of Passover began on the 15th, that is, at 6 p.m. From the time setting here in verse 1, Jesus’ death would occur the next day at 3 p.m.—less than 24 hours away. The Memorial emblems were instituted on the 14th of Nisan, and Jesus’ death also occurred on the 14th—because the 14th began at 6 p.m. according to Hebrew reckoning.

Jesus had certain problems on his mind:

1. He knew he would die the next day at 3 p.m. The normal reaction would be to want to withdraw into seclusion and pray about one’s own situation—to be concerned with one’s own fate. Jesus knew that his betrayal was imminent and that crucifixion is a dreadful death to face.

2. A betrayer was sitting at the table with him and about to partake of the Passover meal and then the Memorial emblems. Being sensitive, Jesus was concerned about Judas. In spite of these two problems, Jesus was more concerned about his apostles, whom he loved “unto the end” of his earthly course. He even showed the same love for Judas in this setting (with the sop, for example). Hence this verse is inserted to show the burdens on Jesus’ mind.

John 13:2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;

The Diaglott and Revised Standard Version read, “And supper being served.” In the Berean Manual is the comment “supper being served, ready for the meal to begin.” The thought is that the lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs, etc., had already been served.

Satan had put the thought to betray Jesus into the heart of Judas, but at this point, Judas could still have changed his mind. If the actual betrayal had already taken place, then it would have been a contradiction for Jesus to show love toward Judas in giving him the favored sop to prick his conscience (John 13:26). True, Judas had already made the arrangements, but he had not carried them out yet. Thus there is a difference between a sin and sinning a sin. A sin in the mind is one thing, but a sin that results in an act is sinning a sin. To not properly understand this distinction with Judas could lead many to draw wrong conclusions. For example, we should not fraternize with, reason with, or show favors to one who is or should be Scripturally disfellowshipped for committing grievous, unrepented-of sins.

Comment: A Reprint article brings out a thought about the foot washing. None of the others present offered to wash the feet of the group assembled. This was a menial task usually performed by servants. Since Judas already resented the pouring of expensive spikenard on Jesus a little earlier, he probably now looked at Jesus with scorn when the Master stooped to do such a lowly task.

Reply: Yes, Judas probably was scornful because he was not in the right heart attitude to start with.

John 13:3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;

John 13:4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

The Diaglott has, “That he came out from God, and was going to God.”

Jesus knew that the fate of the world was in his hands, for the Father had committed “all things” to him. He felt the responsibility for what he would do from now until the end of his course. Knowing that the Father had confidence in him and that as a reward he would be raised from death and return to the Father, Jesus rose from supper at this point to give the disciples a lesson. How remarkable! In spite of all the things on his mind—the nearness of his execution, the betrayal of Judas, the responsibility resting upon him—Jesus possessed the calmness of mind to realize the importance of instructing his disciples in a certain lesson here because they had failed to wash one another’s feet. Hence Jesus arose from supper to wash the disciples’ feet himself.

The setting seems to suggest that the meal was on the table but that they had not yet started to eat. Psychologically, Jesus waited until the very last moment to wash their feet, whereas, according to custom, the foot washing should have been done earlier, before the supper was served.

Picture the setting. Supper was served. Then the Master, the chief one, stood up, changed his apparel, took a towel, and put it around his waist. The disciples watched in amazement.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus did many things under a startling backdrop. For example, consider the circumstances under which he said to his disciples, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” (Matt. 8:23-27; Mark 4:36-41). A “great tempest,” a “great storm of wind,” was raging, and the waves were coming into the boat. Thus it was only natural for the disciples to wake up the Master and say, “Carest thou not that we perish?” Who would not have reacted similarly under those circumstances? But Jesus chose that very moment to make an incisive remark, to give a penetrating lesson.

Here Jesus did the same thing psychologically. As the disciples were ready to partake of the supper, he got up and prepared himself to wash their feet. It took time to get the water and pour some for each disciple. Jesus was behaving like a servant. The disciples were in the reclining position that was customary for eating. They did not get up, for they were too amazed. Remember that just a short time previous, James and John had asked to sit on Jesus’ right and left hand. They were desirous of chief positions, and now Jesus was serving them in a menial task.

Q: Was the order of events as follows: supper was served, foot washing occurred, supper was eaten, emblems were instituted? Proof that supper had not yet been eaten is that subsequently Jesus gave Judas the sop (John 13:26).

A: Yes, Judas was present for the foot washing and also to partake of the bread and wine emblems, but the foot washing occurred first. It is logical, according to Jewish tradition, that the foot washing precedes the meal. Incidentally, the towel Jesus used was probably long, and it was wrapped around him like a girdle or an apron.

The thought might even have occurred to the apostles that their feet had not been washed, but none of them had the humility to perform the task. It was contrary to tradition for a superior person, especially the chief guest of honor, to stoop to washing feet. The apostles would certainly have been amazed.

The other Gospels omit Jesus’ discourses on the way to Gethsemane, as well as the foot washing earlier. John was very impressed with these events. In fact, the Memorial night had a deep scarring effect upon John—so much so that he even began to use that type of language in his epistles (“my little children”). And he repeated Jesus’ commandment at the Memorial season to “love one another.”

Chapters 13-19 of John all pertain to that one 24-hour day of the Memorial. In the other Gospels, the percentage devoted to that day is much, much smaller. John inserted several chapters of Jesus’ instructions to his disciples at that time. With the foot washing, Jesus demonstrated a lesson on their need for humility.

John 13:5 After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

“He … began to wash the disciples’ feet.” The Berean Manual comments, “The open sandals worn in Biblical times made the washing of the feet after a journey a necessity for personal comfort. The apostles at this time were insufficiently filled with humility, love, and thoughtfulness to volunteer this service for each other or even for the Master, and thus missed a great blessing.”

John 13:6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?

John 13:7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.

John 13:8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.

“Thou shalt never wash my feet.” The Berean Manual says, “It is hard for some to realize that the Lord is the teacher and they are merely pupils.”

Jesus said, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” His words were very startling, incisive, and strong. Peter had just spoken emphatically: “NEVER shalt thou wash my feet!”

Jesus had to counteract that dogmatic utterance.

John 13:9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

Then Peter said, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” In the Berean Manual is the Pastor’s comment: “Some are continually trying to be wise, good, and obedient in ways that the Lord has not dictated.” Peter was trying to be “good,” desiring additional washing beyond what the Lord required and instructed. Lesson: Sometimes we manufacture good deeds along lines that the Bible does not instruct. We should be the pupil rather than the teacher.

These are hard lessons, but Peter was no doubt voicing what the others felt. Being outspoken just happened to be Peter’s temperament, but no doubt the lesson was helpful to the others too.

John 13:10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.

John 13:11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

For “He that is washed,” the Berean Manual has the following: “Bathed, as all the disciples had previously been, in accordance with the Jewish requirements, at the beginning of the Passover season.”

“But not all.” The Berean Manual continues: “As it was God’s goodness and mercy that hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so it was the love and humility of Jesus that hardened Judas’s heart.” Jesus’ statement “Ye are clean, but not all” refers to Judas. It is helpful to know Jesus was not taken by surprise. He knew Judas’s heart condition all along and what was occurring.

Comment: Jesus said, “He that is [already] washed [that is, justified] needeth not save to wash his feet [to seek forgiveness daily for his daily walk].”

Other Gospels tell that the disciples had been debating who should be greatest in the Kingdom.

This thinking had begun in Jericho when John and James asked to sit on Jesus’ right and left hand in the Kingdom. The other apostles were angry at the nerve of the request, and the dispute that ensued continued up to this time. Meanwhile, Jesus had cleansed the Temple, cursed the fig tree, had his head and feet anointed, etc. The contention of desiring to be the greatest stayed with the disciples right up to the Memorial. With the foot washing, Jesus was trying to squelch that attitude.

Jesus poured fresh water to wash the feet of each. Lesson: We get a fresh supply from the Master with each washing, with each application of forgiveness.

John 13:12 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?

Jesus finished the foot washing, removed the towel, and again took his place at the table to proceed with the supper. He then asked, “Know ye what I have done to you?” The lesson is in verses 13-17. Jesus had earlier said to Peter (verse 7), “You do not know what I am doing, but you shall know.” Now comes part of the explanation.

John 13:13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.

Jesus had a stark frankness in his expressions. In other words, “It is proper for you to call me Master and Lord.” He did not have false humility. To have assumed a humble posture here would have diminished respect for the message to be given. Occasionally Paul said, “I am an apostle of the Lord. I speak to you thus.” When important instruction was forthcoming, this manner of speaking was proper.

John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.

John 13:15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

What a wonderful lesson in humility! The “example” Jesus gave was physical and literal, yet his point was not, “Because I have washed your feet literally, therefore you should wash one another’s feet literally.” The point of his demonstration was to bring an attitude to the surface. “As I have done to you” is the key thought. It is like his saying, “Forgive one another’s trespasses and sins in the way that I forgive you.” Jesus was referring not merely to what he did to the disciples that night but to what he did to them throughout his whole ministry. For example, he took them aside and said, “It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given” (Matt. 13:11). Consider also how he spoke to his disciples. When necessary, he rebuked them for wrong conduct. Of course, as the Lord, he could do this more officiously than we can. Nevertheless, if we have a “thus saith the LORD” as to what should be done, we can give a stronger rebuke, for we would then not be acting on our own but would be giving the Lord’s instruction.

If we are to “love one another, as I [Jesus] have loved you,” we must review and be familiar with  his whole life and ministry (John 15:12). We should not let someone in our movement get away with a statement such as, “Some in the nominal Church have been studying the Gospels and the Bible for years, and what do they know, for they do not have the Volumes?” We cannot study our Lord’s life too much, just as we cannot be too consecrated. Jesus’ love for his disciples was done in accordance with principles. It was not just an outpouring of sympathy, for under certain circumstances, sympathy is wrong and can encourage wrongdoing. On the other hand, sympathy can be a wonderful balm poured on a wound when the person is in the right heart attitude to respond favorably to the Lord’s instruction.

John 13:16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

“Neither [is] he that is sent greater than he that sent him.” Notice, Jesus again brings in the Father. John repeatedly mentions Jesus’ statements about the Father being greater. Either before Jesus refers to himself or after, he shows that the Father is above all.

John 13:17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

We need more than just head knowledge—we must speak and act in harmony with that knowledge.

After having made these remarks, Jesus ate the Passover meal. The paragraph symbol (¶) before verse 18 indicates the translators felt there was a time interval here where Jesus ate the meal. After eating or toward the end of the meal, he was ready to resume speaking.

John 13:18 I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.

“I speak not of you all [not of all twelve, only of one]: I know whom I have chosen.” God chose the members of the family in the original drawing, but they were subsequently known as apostles of Jesus Christ because Jesus did have something to do with their selection. “Apostle” means “one sent out.” However, even Jesus himself is called an apostle: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Heb. 3:1). From that standpoint, God Himself appointed Jesus. God does the calling of the Church, but Jesus did have some input in regard to selecting the twelve apostles.

When the Twelve were originally called, Judas was not of the betraying disposition, for it would not make sense to accept the consecration of someone who was not sincere at that time.

In other words, one can be thoroughly in the right heart condition at the time of consecration and then later deflect. Even Lucifer was perfect in the beginning of his ways, that is, when he was created (Ezek. 28:15).

By now, 3 1/2 years had elapsed since Judas’s consecration. In that time, Jesus saw Judas developing unfavorably. Almighty God knew from the beginning that Judas would be the betrayer because His omniscience sees things before they happen. Jesus, on the other hand, did not have the divine nature at his First Advent and hence lacked that capability. What about Jesus’ foreknowledge? His foreknowledge consisted of what he had already learned. However, being perfect and being enlightened, Jesus could see the change taking place in Judas, and by this time, he knew Judas would be the betrayer. Therefore, Jesus’ statement “I know whom I have chosen” meant “I am aware of certain things.”

Jesus was referring to Psalm 41:9, “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” Judas was the “familiar friend.” In other words, Judas was familiar with Jesus, and as an apostle, he accompanied Jesus. “Which did eat of my bread” was prophetically saying that Judas would eat the last meal, the Last Supper, with Jesus. The clause “in whom I trusted” proves that Jesus fully trusted Judas initially. Although God foreknew that Judas would deflect, Jesus fully accepted and trusted him. It is interesting that the betrayer is called a “friend” in Psalm 41 and that Jesus used “Friend” as a term of address for Judas at the time of the betrayal kiss. “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” (Matt. 26:50).

Some of the Psalms even express in advance Jesus’ words and thoughts on the Cross and his innermost feelings at the very end of his ministry. For example, God predicted Jesus’ thoughts on the Cross in Psalm 22. His ministry to the lost sheep of the house of Israel occupied his time and attention until the end of his ministry. Then he began to meditate more acutely on the time prophecies and the nearness of his death. Noticing the change in Judas, Jesus realized that apostle would fulfill Psalm 41:9, “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” At this last meal, Judas’s lifting up his “heel” against Jesus became even more pertinent. While having previously eaten with Jesus, Judas would now set in motion certain actions resulting in the heel being “lifted up” so that Jesus would die.

Only the Father is omniscient in seeing all things in advance, but now that Jesus has the divine nature, he has some capabilities in this direction.

Q: Wasn’t it an Arab custom for the breaking of bread, the sharing of a meal, to make a bond between those present?

A: Yes. Guests were to be very respectful to the host and vice versa. While at the table together, enemies did not harm one another. Afterwards was another matter.

John 13:19 Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.

Paraphrase: “Now I am telling you in advance so that when it happens, you may believe that I am the Messiah, that I am what I profess to be.” In other words, if Jesus was the Messiah, he certainly should know about his betrayal in advance and who the betrayer was. Had Jesus not known he would die, the apostles and disciples would have been hopelessly discouraged. They would have concluded that he was merely a prophet and that his plans had gone haywire. By hearing about the betrayal in advance, they would later realize it was just part of God’s plan.

However, at the time, the disciples were surprised about Jesus’ death, even though he had told them in advance a number of times. When he arose from the dead, they then remembered his earlier words—and of course the Holy Spirit assisted their recollection after Pentecost.

Trinitarians say this verse proves Jesus is Jehovah, for  Jesus said, “Believe that I am.” But he simply meant, “I am what I claim to be.” The words “I am” are not repeated as in Exodus 3:14, “I AM THAT I AM.”

John 13:20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

Why did Jesus make this statement? He had said, referring to the apostles, “I know whom I have chosen.” Of those, one would betray him. With this same frame of reference, and going one step further, Jesus was preparing them for his absence. “Whoever receives those whom I send receives me.” Then he reversed the order: “Whoever receives me receives the Father who sent me.” Of course the last clause implied the seriousness to Judas, for lifting up the heel against Jesus was like a defamation of God Himself.

This Scripture shows the absurdity of the Trinity. If Jesus and God are the same being and yet God can send Jesus, then the apostles and Jesus must be the same being because Jesus can send them. And if sameness of being is the thought, then John 17:21 shows that the Father, Jesus, and the 144,000 are all the same being. Trinitarians tend to quote only part of a verse, or if they quote a whole verse, it is used out of context. Verses before and after are ignored.

That the Holy Spirit is a third God—coequal and coeternal with the Father and the Son—is an even weaker argument. To give the Holy Spirit a personalized application, Trinitarians are able to use very few Scriptures, and these are wrested. Hence they focus more on Father and Son. In regard to the term “Holy Ghost,” the word “Ghost” is from the Elizabethan era, being manufactured at the time of Queen Victoria or earlier.

John 13:21 When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

Jesus “was troubled in spirit.” Several times at the end he tried to prick Judas’s conscience—for example, giving him the sop and the most favored position at the table (to Jesus’ immediate left). Therefore, even though Jesus knew the Scripture had to be fulfilled, it was sad for him to see one who would lose all life because of such a deed. And just as with Jesus, our highest concern should be that, ultimately, as many as possible get life. That is the Father’s plan too. “Choose life that ye may live” is the principle (Deut. 30:19).

Jesus knew that when Judas was first appointed as an apostle, he was a very desirable person.

In fact, of all the apostles at that time, Judas was the most talented. He had marvelous potential if he remained obedient and faithful. Therefore, Jesus was greatly disappointed to see Judas’s gradual change into a betrayer who would lose life. Jesus was emotionally involved with Judas and felt very sad to see him make shipwreck of his faith. This feeling was probably a large portion of the reason Jesus felt grieved in spirit.

John 13:22 Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.

The fact the apostles doubted would indicate that Judas’s deflection was not obvious to them. At this end of the age, the situation will be the same with regard to the Judas class.

Stating the matter another way, Judas’s good qualities so overrode the qualities that would cause his rejection that the disciples were unaware of the true situation. When John informs us that Judas was a thief, he is telling of certain unfavorable incidents that were only a fraction of his life. However, John does give us some insight into what the problem was with Judas. Greed and avarice led to his being a thief.

The character of Judas was camouflaged to the disciples right up to the end when he betrayed Jesus with a kiss. The apostles did not have time as a whole to discuss the giving of the sop. In the Garden of Gethsemane, eight of them were left behind, and three went a little farther with Jesus before he separated from them. John would have then told Peter that Judas was the betrayer, but between the giving of the sop and that time, the apostles were listening with such rapt attention to Jesus’ words that they had no time to talk among themselves.

However, the fact that John did know Judas was the betrayer, and could tell Peter later, suggests that in the future, some of the Little Flock will know the identity of the betrayal class ahead of time. All will know when the Judas “kiss” takes place and the “bands” apprehend the feet members—just as all eleven apostles knew Judas was the betrayer when these things occurred to Jesus. The kiss triggered the arrest, and they saw that Judas was part of the kiss.

In regard to the betrayer, the apostles doubted of whom Jesus spoke. It is rather touching when they sorrowfully asked Jesus one by one, “Is it I?” “Is it I?” (Mark 14:19). Judas had already made contractual arrangements, but the others were unaware. Thinking the betrayal could be something subtle, the others now asked, “Is it I?”

Jesus did give the apostles information about the betrayer but not immediately. Otherwise, they would all have known Judas was the betrayer, and verse 28 proves they did not know.

John 13:23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.

John 13:24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.

John, to Jesus’ right, “was leaning on Jesus’ bosom”; that is, John had his back to Jesus in the reclining position. Peter, who was next to Judas on Jesus’ left and was therefore facing Jesus, beckoned to John to ask Jesus who the betrayer was. Because Peter was not next to Jesus, he could not overhear the answer.

John 13:25 He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?

John asked Jesus, “Lord, who is the betrayer?”

John 13:26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

Jesus answered John, “The betrayer is the one to whom I will give the sop.” We might think that when the sop was given, the rest of the apostles would know Judas was the betrayer. Yes and no. The others still did not comprehend because when Judas left, they thought it was for another purpose (verse 29).

With us too, there are times when we do not absorb what is going on, even though we are trying to pay attention. For example, we may be listening attentively to a talk and the next thing our mind wanders and we miss a point. As fallen beings, we have moments when our concentration does not hold.

Perhaps Jesus did not immediately give the sop. He could have instituted the Memorial emblems in the interim and then subsequently have given the sop. By that time, the apostles would have forgotten Jesus’ statement about the sop and thus would not have understood the significance. Other things were on their minds.

John 13:27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.

We do not know how audibly Jesus spoke when he answered John’s question with a comment about the sop. He could have answered privately in a whisper more or less, or in a regular conversational tone that just was not comprehended.

Verse 2 was preparing us, in advance, for the condition of Judas’s heart at the time of the Passover: “The devil … now put into the heart of Judas … to betray him.” Already Judas was following the leadings of the Adversary, although he did not seal his fate until the actual betrayal and kiss took place. Up until then, Judas could still have changed his mind. Another reason verse 2 was inserted is to show that despite Jesus’ awareness of the imminent betrayal, his thoughts were on his disciples, and “he loved them unto the end” (verse 1).

Jesus knew that he had to die and that Judas would betray him, but he could not dwell on these thoughts because he had other things to do. Nevertheless, whenever he did think on them, they went into him deeply. The thoughts did trouble him, but he had to put them aside and get on with the advice for his disciples.

Jesus said, “That thou doest, do quickly.” Notice that Jesus did not say, “Betray me quickly” or “Do not betray me.” The lesson is not to procrastinate but to make a decision and act. For instance, if we know something is radically wrong, we should act on it right away. If we parley the matter, we might succumb to it. An example would be for one to stay in the nominal Church even though he sees things are terribly wrong. Remaining there would erode the line between right and wrong. The longer one fraternizes with bad conduct, the harder it is to get extricated.

Jesus had given Judas every opportunity to repent. He had tried to prick Judas’s conscience with kindness and favors, and he had also shown that a betrayal would be against Almighty God. Then he told Judas to act quickly. Why? If Judas delayed, he would surely carry out the betrayal because he had already made a contractual arrangement. (In other words, procrastination can be dangerous.) However, if Judas had decided to do the wrong, he might as well get it over with.

John 13:28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.

No one knew what Jesus meant by his statement “That thou doest, do quickly.”

John 13:29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.

Q: Was it surmised that Jesus had told Judas to give something to the poor because that is what Judas ostensibly wanted to do, or was it customary for them as a group to give money to the poor? The question is asked because of Jesus’ statement “Ye have the poor with you always” (Mark 14:7).

A: The disciples probably did not give much thought to Judas’s leaving because he left so quickly. However, there might have been occasions when things were given to the needy.

Perhaps the apostles had some problems in being separated from their families. The point is that the other apostles gave credit to Judas as having a legitimate reason for leaving.

Comment: Perhaps the apostles thought Judas was going to help some who were too poor to properly celebrate the feast.

John 13:30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

Judas did leave quickly but made the wrong decision.

The “sop” was a piece of unleavened pita bread that was used to soak up the succulent lamb juices. The giving of the sop marked the end of the supper.

In Mark 14:20, Jesus gave a clue as to who the betrayer was: “It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish.” Hence the betrayer had to be one who was sitting at Jesus’ end of the table.

Q: Had the Memorial emblems been instituted? Weren’t they served before Jesus gave the sop, and then Judas left immediately after the sop?

A: Yes.

Q: In that case, is it possible Jesus answered, “He it is, to whom I shall give a sop,” and then instituted the Memorial emblems? If so, a time lapse occurred before the sop was given and the apostles would, consequently, not have made the connection that Judas was the betrayer.

A: Yes. The other Gospels show that Judas partook of the emblems. Then he left immediately after receiving the sop.

It is interesting that John added the detail “and it was night,” which shows the time lapse from the foot washing through the eating of the lamb, etc. Also, being “night” added to the atmosphere, for Judas’s betrayal took place under cloak of darkness.

The sop—a material, temporal thing occurring after the Memorial—fits the antitype beautifully. The Judas class, after partaking of spiritual things, will revert to fleshly deeds and betray the feet members. At the time of the betrayal, the Judas class will be sensual.

The Luke account mentions the Memorial and then records the strife among the apostles over who should be greatest (Luke 22:24). The thought is that previously there had been this strife among them. To arrange all of the events chronologically in the four Gospels is not a simple matter. The strife had started down in Jericho. The other apostles were mad at James and John for their request to sit on Jesus’ left and right hand in the Kingdom, and this spirit of strife carried right into the Memorial supper. Moreover, the strife was aggravated by Peter’s not being at the head of the table—instead Judas was. Although Peter was not present when James and John made their request, the Scriptures do not single out Peter, for all of the apostles were concerned and strifeful.

Q: Do you wish to comment on the fact that the sop had to be given before Satan fully entered into Judas? Otherwise, there would have been an impropriety.

A: Some sermons teach that when we see others walking in forbidden paths such as adultery, we should give them love, mercy, and consideration. They say we should not excommunicate the offenders or do anything that would show a lack of love on our part. Then they use Judas as an illustration, saying that Jesus knew Judas would betray him, yet he had Judas partake of the Passover and the Memorial, he washed Judas’s feet, and he gave him the sop. This reasoning is WHOLLY WRONG because the sin was still only in Judas’s mind at that time.

Judas could have gotten out of the trap if he had so desired. He could have extricated himself before sinning the sin. Thus there is a distinction between sin in thought and sin as a deed or action. The action took place later. Jesus would not have shown kindness and favor to Judas if Judas had already committed the betrayal. One who is fraternizing with evil (but not sinning the sin yet) can be forewarned, but when the grievous sin has once been committed, the sin must be dealt with Scripturally.

When Judas left that Upper Room, he got the 30 pieces of silver and a little while later gave the betrayal kiss. The kiss was the actual betrayal—because Judas could have led the soldiers to another place. Earlier, tacks were being put in the coffin, but when Judas kissed Jesus, the coffin was sealed.

John 13:31 Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.3

The word “Therefore” (“Therefore, when he [Judas] was gone out”) suggests that Jesus wanted to give private counsel to the faithful eleven. Jesus purposely held back until Judas was absent, for psychologically—let alone from the standpoint of principle—one in our midst who is causing a troublesome spirit can adversely affect the whole atmosphere of a meeting. The following, then, is the special counsel of Jesus to the eleven apostles, all of whom were faithful unto death.

Jesus used a rather strange type of expression: “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” These words were spoken after Judas departed. Jesus knew the wheels were being set in motion that would result in his crucifixion—dying being the very purpose for which he had come. But what did Jesus mean by the word “glorified”—“Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him”? Notice that Jesus once again brought in the Father.

Jesus was taking a futuristic outlook. As we study his life from here on, we will see him go back and forth in his moods. It is unusual for God to disclose this secret information to us of the intricacies of Jesus’ thinking, of his mood or feelings as they fluctuated. A novelist would concentrate on one theme and lead up to a beautiful climax, but the account here is not that way—it is choppy. The conversation goes first in this direction, then in that direction, etc., which is really the way life is (not only with Jesus but with some of our experiences too).

John 13:32 If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.

“If” means “since.” “Since God is to be glorified through what Jesus is about to do….” (paraphrase). John sums up, in a pithy statement, the net effect of Jesus’ ministry and of God’s special intent: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). That “giving” was not just Jesus’ being made a human—his being absent from the heavenly courts—but knowing that he would come down here and die on a Cross. That is how much God loved the world. He could have just cast the world away, for all are born in sin and shapen in iniquity, but God, in His love and mercy, has made a way of escape for all. That is God being “glorified.” Now that the picture is finished—Jesus has died on the Cross and risen from the dead—Christians (and the world in the Kingdom) get an insight into God’s character that they could never have gotten otherwise. Could God’s love be any deeper than giving His only begotten Son to come down here and die for sinful man? That is the epitome of love.

Thus God is glorified in seeing His Son suffer along this line. We know there is a wonderful purpose in connection with that suffering and death. In the long term, it could not be done better, but in the short term, it confounds us that God would do such a thing. Not only is He glorified by manifesting His love in this manner, but Jesus is glorified or honored too by his subserviency to the divine will and his willingness to do God’s bidding unflinchingly, always having the attitude “Thy will be done.” When God honors Jesus in the future and makes him prime minister of the whole universe, nobody in the billions of years from now can say that Jesus’ exaltation was favoritism. True, God favored Jesus in calling him, but Jesus proved his worthiness by dying on the Cross. “Worthy is the Lamb!” Therefore, from the finished standpoint, God is honored in having a Son who died faithfully on the Cross. We can see the sterling merit of Christ, and his merit is a reflection on the Father. Both are thereby honored and glorified.

Verse 32 shows that Jesus was very confident in his attitude at this time. He knew the wheels were being set in motion. He knew he would die and he even knew when. Therefore, the “if” was not a question mark. Of course the Father’s being glorified was conditional upon Jesus’ faithfulness, but Jesus was not questioning here whether he would be faithful (as he did a little later in the Garden of Gethsemane). Jesus was unburdened because Judas had left, and now he could pour out his heart to the eleven.

“God shall also glorify him in himself”; that is, God would give Jesus the divine nature. “As the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:26). God would share His immortality with Jesus after Jesus had finished his sacrifice, after he had proved his worthiness. What a treasure, what a gift, for God to give Jesus immortality! From the human standpoint, that is the last thing one would do. Human reasoning would say, “The Emperor is taking a chance in giving immortality to another being, for such a being cannot be destroyed and is now able to give life to others.” Not merely does a divine being have life in himself, but that life can come out of himself and be life and refreshment to others through the ability to create life. God must have complete confidence in Jesus and in the 144,000 who make the high calling. He must be absolutely sure of those beings to whom He grants immortality, so that under no circumstance at any time in the illimitable future would they ever deflect. Hence we can see the necessity for the consecrated Christian to be tested for worthiness.

Jesus was reflecting on what he was going to do and his reward for being faithful unto death. Both God and Jesus will be glorified ultimately in the eyes of others as Jesus’ suffering the ignominious death of the Cross is understood. The deeds of Father and Son will attract an appreciation and recognition of their true merit.

“And shall straightway glorify him.” “Straightway” means “soon, a very short time.” Let us put ourselves in Jesus’ place. First, he had to die the next day (our reckoning—the same day Hebrew reckoning). Then he would be in the tomb for parts of three days. After that would come his resurrection, but not his ascension for another 40 days. In all, in a little more than 40 days, he would be glorified and again be with the Father—a very short time.

The Apostle Paul used this same principle when he said, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short,” yet 2,000 years of the Gospel Age lay ahead (1 Cor. 7:29). By measuring the temporal shortness and brevity of life with eternity, Paul makes the former seem short and the latter interminably long. However, Jesus’ use of the word “straightway” truly was short; i.e., in just 40-plus days, he would be with the Father.

Verses 31 and 32 contain a tremendous amount of information. Jesus was determined and assured: “I have come to lay down my life, and nothing will deter me from this wonderful privilege. It will honor my Father, and I will be honored too.” We should likewise deem laying down our life to be a wonderful privilege. Nevertheless, we have downs as well as ups in our Christian walk, just as Jesus did.

John 13:33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.

How long was the “little while”? It lasted until Jesus’ apprehension in Gethsemane. Hence the fellowship was really just here at the Memorial plus the walk to Gethsemane—a total of only four or five hours. Other than that, he spoke a few words to John from the Cross and gave Peter a look. Of course when he was raised from death, his on-and-off appearances during the 40 days prior to his ascension were also included in the “little while.” And Jesus’ appearances were fairly brief except to the two walking to Emmaus.

“Ye shall seek me.” When? When he died, they certainly felt his absence. However, his death by crucifixion so startled them, dashing their hopes, that the apostles were not looking for his resurrection. When Jesus died, their hopes died (1 Pet. 1:3). Not until his resurrection were they rejuvenated. During the 40 days following his resurrection, he appeared to them several times, so it was not during that time period that they sought him. Therefore, the seeking occurred after his ascension. The apostles were waiting for the “soon” establishment of the Kingdom. In other words, Jesus was thinking ahead—he was thinking of the long range—to the finished

work and what it will signify to the Church and then to the world in the Kingdom. Incidentally, Jesus was referring to the world when he said, “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more” (John 14:19). His appearances after his resurrection were to consecrated disciples only. The Father did not grant immortality—that immeasurable gift—when Jesus was first resurrected. He was raised from death “spirit” (a spirit being), and 50 days later the Father personally bestowed upon him the treasure of His very own nature. And He seated Jesus on His right hand as a confidant in the highest sense of the word—far higher than a messenger as the Logos. Now Jesus is of the family of God in the highest sense, not as an archangel but as a divine being. Thus in verses 31-33, Jesus was looking ahead. Even the angels would then see Jesus’ worthiness. They might have thought they could do all that Jesus did in his earthly course—until the Crucifixion and attending events occurred. Had Jesus not endured the agony and shame of the Cross, the angels would (or could) not give him the degree of respect and honor that is now possible. (Neither could we or the world.) The salvation of the human race is predicated upon Jesus’ faithfulness, and we can now see God’s interest in the world and in us as individuals. With confidence, therefore, Jesus is looking forward to the honor.

“Little children” is not a term Jesus normally used for his apostles. Apparently, his heart was especially tender to them at this time. He realized that very shortly he would not be with them anymore and that they still needed much development and maturity. He was going to give them last-minute instructions and counsel. The endearing use of “little children” is peculiar to this season, as he looked back over his 3 1/2-year association with them and was about to leave them.

If John’s Gospel were missing and we had only the first three Gospels, we would have the  historical Jesus (what he said and did), but we would be lacking a lot. For example, without John’s Gospel, we would miss chapters of counsel between the Memorial and Jesus’ apprehension. All four Gospels are needed.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

What is new about the commandment to “love one another”? We should desire to lay down our lives for the brethren, as symbolized by the foot washing done a little earlier. Just as the expression “little children” is peculiar to this season, so is the “new commandment.” Jesus’ previous admonitions were a generalized account of what might be expected. Consider Matthew 24, which outlines the history of the whole Gospel Age and was absolutely essential so that the Church would not be discouraged and the Christian religion die out through longevity of time. On a number of occasions, Jesus told his disciples what not to do and of their need for faith, how to pray, etc.—general advice. For 3 1/2 years, Jesus gave such advice, and now he was saying that to “love one another” is an essential ingredient for the Christian. It is a crowning phase. We should have a pure and undefiled conscience, etc., plus acquire love. Our love for Christ is manifested in our desire to serve the brethren and the truth. That is the only way we can show love for God and Christ because they are not down here.

Notice the clause “as I have loved you.” If we look back over the 3 1/2 years of Jesus’ ministry, we see that the bulk of instruction is what Jesus said about the scribes and Pharisees and others. Subtract that out and think what Jesus said to the brethren. Sometimes his words were not too complimentary. For example, when the storm was raging on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus said, “O ye of little faith. How could you doubt?” The boat was filling up with water and sinking, yet the Master reprimanded them for insufficient faith. His comment laid bare their need for development. Had Jesus soft-pedaled the matter, the lesson would have been lost. The very technique he used could not have been better, even though some might think a softer approach could have been used. It is not pleasant when someone laces into us for a fault we really know we have, but sometimes the experience is good for us. Receiving a reprimand can keep us in line and humble.

Jesus was looking out for the long-term interests of his disciples, not for short-term fellowship. Their future destiny was his utmost concern, and not the extolling of the individual—telling others how much we like them, etc. That is cheap! There are times when we must lose our fellowship with an individual for a long-term benefit. The “love” we should have is a concern for the salvation of others. And we must be careful of our own salvation. We should not wade into a grievous sin.

Q: Wouldn’t verses 34 and 35 also point forward to Jesus’ dying on the Cross and thus to his literally laying down his life in harmony with 1 John 3:16, “Hereby perceive we the love, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren”?

(The phrase “of God” was supplied by the translators and should be deleted.)

A: Yes, and sometimes that is not easy for us to do. It is pleasant to be always loving and forgiving—to just let everything go. Universal Salvationists are the sweetest people, but they do not have a principled love. They believe everybody will be saved, even Satan. In their midst, there are no arguments, no reproofs—how nice!

Comment: Previously Jesus said that the greatest commandments in the Law were to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, … soul, … mind, and … strength” and to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mark 12:30,31). But here Jesus goes one step further in the “neighbor” aspect: “Love your brethren as I have loved you.”

Reply: Yes, the Christian is to lay down his life for the brethren. That was not a requirement under the Law, yet if one truly loves God with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength, he will automatically obey this new commandment.

Comment: At the end of the age, the feet members will have a counterpart experience. If we love our brethren as Jesus loved us, we will not hesitate to do certain things even in the face of persecution. These verses are a caution to us not to deny or betray because we may all be tested very severely along the line of really loving our brethren.

Reply: When Jesus was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, he said, “Do not apprehend my followers. It is me you want. Take me and leave them alone.” His concern was that they should not suffer for what he was doing. He was willing to shoulder his own personal responsibility.

John 13:36 Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.

It would be a long time afterwards that Peter would be able to follow Jesus—not just when he finished his earthly course but in 1878, when the sleeping saints were raised.

John 13:37 Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.

Here is another case where Peter’s heart was right, but he spoke too impulsively. Jesus had to, in a sense, rebuke him (verse 38). With the prediction about Peter’s denial recorded in advance, we can better appreciate Jesus’ insight into character and also how penetrating the experience was for Peter when, after the triple denial, Jesus looked directly at him.

This lesson applies to us as well. We should not be too boastful and overly sure of our relationship and loyalty to the Lord under circumstances of extreme duress. However, we should keep in mind that although Peter did vehemently deny the Lord three times, that was not his normal character. His action was not premeditated. He had intended to be loyal.

John 13:38 Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.

Mark 14:30 states Jesus’ words to Peter a little differently: “Verily I say unto thee, … before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.” The word “twice” is missing in the Sinaitic Manuscript and should be deleted. Also, in Mark 14:68, the clause “and the cock crew” is spurious, as are the words “twice” and “the second time” in Mark 14:72. The Vatican Manuscript contains these words, but they are absent in the Sinaitic, and the Sinaitic is more reliable—although no currently available manuscript is perfect.

Evidently, Jesus repeated his prediction that Peter would deny him thrice before the cock crowed. In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, the statement was made after the apostles had left the Upper Room to go to Gethsemane. But in John’s Gospel, the incident occurred before they left the room.

Mark 14:31 adds another detail: “But he [Peter] spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.” Taking Peter’s lead, the other apostles also said they would not deny Jesus.

(1986–1987 Study)

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