This chapter begins the final 2 days of Jesus’ earthly life. Chapters 13-17 take place in the Upper Room and on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane. The time element is a few hours, then an overnight trial, then the crucifixion.
The Feast of Passover was an 8 day annual celebration, commanded by God in Leviticus 23:4-8, commemorating the deliverance of the Jewish nation from Egypt in Exodus 12:13. Later, additional days were added by the leaders referred to as the Days of Preparation, for a total of up to 10 days.
Here in chapter 13, Jesus eats the passover meal with His disciples, but it is not the Passover meal of the Feast, because this is still during the days of Preparation. Compare John 19:14,31.
Read Exodus 12,13, and take note of the conditions/requirements. Compare this with 1 Peter 18-25.
1. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, John 1:29. The Passover Lamb in Exodus, and during the annual commemorations, were a picture of the Perfect Lamb of God, who would be sacrificed for the sin of the world. No one understood this at the time.
2. At the time of the Exodus, blood from the sacrificial Lamb was put onto the doorposts of each house, likely at the points of the shape of a cross. The blood was the sign of protection from God’s wrath. Of course, this was also a picture of Jesus’ blood being shed for sin – read Revelation 1:5.
3. Jesus will rise again, which the lamb did not. This was to show:
a. It is God Himself Who is paying the sacrificial price;
b. God cannot be killed;
c. Deliverance was from sin, not simply oppression;
d. New Life is God’s plan for those who trust in and receive the Lord Jesus Christ – Romans 6:4,11.
II. Key words, phrases, concepts
There are significant theological/doctrinal teachings in these chapters. Chapters 13-17 must be kept as a single context. Chapter 13 is about forgiveness.
III. John 13:1-20
A. Commentary by John, verse 1
1. Jesus knows that the time has come, 12:27
a. His love has been constant
b. He has spoken God’s Word
2. He will not cease to complete His Father’s will, plan. This is what it means to love God – see 1 John 3:16; 5:1-5
B. Washing the disciples feet
1. A common practice in households, refreshing those who visit. Because the roads and streets were dusty, and people wore sandals, it was necessary to wash the feet from the dirt of the day.
Verse 6-11 provide the clear meaning of this action. He makes it clear that it is not a ritual to be repeated, but is symbolic of forgiveness, or regular cleansing from sin. As believers, people are not perfected or sinless. There is a need for confession (agreeing that there is dirt on the feet) and forgiveness (cleansing of the feet). Read 1 John 1:5-10.
2. Peter does not understand
3. Jesus is the Master, Peter is the servant/disciple
4. 2 words used for “wash”
a. “nipto” – washing a part of the body – verses 6, 8, 10, 12, 14
b. “louo” – washing the entire body – verse 10
5. Clean is the word “karpos” – being totally unsoiled, or innocent. The word “whole” is included for emphasis – verses 10, 11
6. Salvation is the initial cleansing, and makes a person innocent before God. This is God’s gift at salvation. This cannot be earned in any way, but is freely given by God.
This is what makes the Christian Faith unique to all others – forgiveness is a decision by God, not a decision by man. Forgiveness, or cleansing, is not earned but it is freely given by God’s Grace and Mercy. No other religious belief can claim this.
Any (this includes Roman Catholicism) religious belief that claims a person must do something to receive full forgiveness is a false teaching, and that belief is from Satan. It does not matter how sincere the teaching seems or how sincere the people are who espouse it. 2 Peter is the letter that deal with false teachings and teachers. God does not view these as a simple mistake, but as satanic.
a. The one who is “bathed” does not need to wash again. In other words, salvation is a completed act and is not repeated. See Ephesians 2:1-10; Colossians 2:9-15.
b. Completely clean – the whole person has been forgiven, cleansed from sin, declared innocent and righteous before God. This is what the Apostle Paul refers to in Romans 5:1-ff. It is God Himself, Who has done this and makes the declaration. No person can claim this for themselves, it is a gift. Compare Proverbs 20:9.
c. “Having no part with Jesus” – here He means that there is need for regular, daily (usually more than once each day) cleansing from sin. Believers live and walk in the world and still commit sin. Believers sin against God and against others. Forgiveness is to be offered and given freely, even as God forgave freely.
d. Washing the feet” is the picture of cleansing, allowed by the one whose feet are dirty, accomplished by the one who has been offended.
What does this teach us about the constant love of the Lord Jesus?
C. Following Jesus’ example
1. “Wash one-another feet”. Since verses 6-11 provide the clear meaning, it follows that forgiving one-another is a command of Jesus. This is one of the great aspects of God’s love: forgiving.
2. Jesus has provided a “token” of what His followers are to do.
a. Forgiveness involves two things – agreement and cleansing.
b. True happiness is doing this because Jesus has commanded it. The happiness is not the result of what others think, but that forgiveness is given because it is commanded.
Read Galatians 6:1-5; Ephesians 4:30-32; Colossians 3:5-17
What does it mean when people who are unwilling to forgive? What does this say about those who will not admit to having “dirty feet”?
D. Receiving Jesus (compare John 1:12)
1. Judas Iscariot is fulfilling Scripture
2. The disciples do not yet comprehend the coming events – see verses 21-30.
3. “Receive” means “to take up” – it is a commitment, not merely an intellectual grasp .
What does it mean “to take up” Jesus Christ?
Note: Judas Iscariot had his feet washed also, however he had not been “bathed” because he was not a believer. This provides a picture that being a church member, etc, is not the same as being a believer. People can act religious but not truly have a part with the Lord Jesus. If the “body is still dirty” cleansing of the “feet” has no meaning, no significance, no benefit.
Read John 15:3. Why are the 11 disciples clean? Why not Judas Iscariot?
Realizing that this chapter is about humbly forgiving, it aids in our understanding of the many other New testament passages that deal with forgiveness.
IV. John 13:21-38
A. A New Commandment
1. Judas Iscariot has completed his act of betraying the Lord Jesus Christ
2. “Now” the Son of Man is glorified – the steps have been set in motion that will lead to His arrest, trial, torture, crucifixion, and resurrection. Nothing will stop it now.
Isn’t it interesting that, even though the Lord Jesus Christ is God, He is not glorified until He suffers? See Hebrews 5:8.
3. God is glorified in Christ
a. By honoring God’s Word, will – Spiritual fruit – explained in detail in chapter 15. The fruit Jesus is thinking of here is the fruit of obedience, conquering sin, the resurrection, a new life, and the future Church.
b. Immediate glorification – the plan of God is about to be consummated, cannot be stopped.
What might this teach about glorifying God? Is He interested in our plans or His own?
4. “Little children” – similar to infants, or being very darling. Jesus refers to His disciples like this because:
a. They do not yet understand;
b. They will have great sorrow, but that will change to great joy;
c. They will grow strong;
d. They will imitate Him.
5. “Cannot come” – that is, cannot come “at the same time”, but will eventually.
6. “New” commandment – Love One-another
a. New as compared to the Old Testament Law and its demands
b. New as being of greater excellence – see Romans 13:8-10.
c. Compare this with the picture of forgiving one-another at the foot washing.
7. “By this…” – the absolute proof.
B. Going where?
1. Will follow Him eventually to Heaven
2. Will lay down their lives as He did
V. Truths Presented
A. Forgiveness is cleansing from sin
1. Permanent at the moment of salvation
4. Acknowledgement of the need to be forgiven is part of the concept
B. Love One-another
1. Having a “part with Jesus”
2. Love as Jesus loved
3. Proof of discipleship
How do these truths apply to me today? How can I put these truths into actual practice? How am I to treat others?