Study Notes

John 13:1-38

13:1 Sounds Like Paul

Boy, is that a run-on sentence! While being true to the Greek, it can be difficult to digest. Let's read it in the NIV:

John 13:1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

Let's set the stage: it is down to the night of the Passover: Jesus is within 24 hours now of being betrayed, arrested, tortured, and crucified.

Love And Death

Let's look at the two things we learn about Christ from this one verse: 1) Jesus knew He was about to die. 2) He loved His disciples. Love and death are intricately linked throughout the Bible. The Song of Solomon declares,

Song 8:6 ...Love is as strong as death...

In the beginning, there was Adam and Eve. God had warned them,

Gen. 2:16-17 ..."From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die."

But Eve was deceived by the serpent, and ate. At that point, Adam had a choice. Allow his wife to suffer the consequences alone, or partake as well and suffer together with her. 1Timothy 2 says,

1Tim. 2:14 And {it was} not Adam {who} was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.

Adam gave his life for the wife that he loved. He partook of the fruit, and suffered the consequences of death with her. Love and death.

Then we read of God's command to Abraham in Genesis 22:

Gen. 22:2 ..."Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you."

Take the son that you love and put him to death. Love and death. This traces all through the Bible, until finally we get to the gospel:

Rom. 5:8 ...God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Love and death. God loved us so much that He died for us. Now, we have been given the same commandment. Ephesians 5 says,

Eph. 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her

What does that entail? Your love needs to be sacrificial. Sacrificial to the point of dying. Not only should you be willing to step in front of a bus to save her life, but you should be willing to die daily to self for her as well. Is there a limit to that? John tells us that Jesus loved them TO THE END.

13:2 The Devil In Judas

The devil had put into the heart of Judas the thought of betraying Him. Have you ever had a terribly wicked thought? A temptation that seems to come out of nowhere? Has a horribly sinful thing ever just popped into your head? Have you ever wondered about those things?

For years, I've heard the question, "Can satan tempt you? Can he put thoughts in your head?" It would seem, according to John 13:2, that yes, he can. As a matter of fact, James tells us that those tempting thoughts can be from three sources:

James 3:14-15 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and {so} lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.

Earthly, natural, or demonic. These things in our heart come from three sources: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Somehow, in a spiritual realm, you're not just tempted by your own flesh, or even just by the outside world, but a demonic opposition fighting against your calling to holiness. Paul warned us of this in Ephesians 6, saying,

Eph. 6:11-12 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual {forces} of wickedness in the heavenly {places.}

Some people hear this and suddenly want to blame everything on satan. "The devil made me do it," they say. But in spite of the fact that the devil can put thoughts in our head or impressions in our heart, what we do with those thoughts are up to us. Paul told us,

2Cor. 10:5 ...we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ

The battle is won or lost on that plane. When satan put into the heart of Judas, "Hey, Judas, did you see all that expensive perfume that was wasted back in Bethany? 25 grand that was worth. How are you going to make up that loss? You've heard that the Pharisees are looking for an opportunity to grab Jesus when there's no crowd around. Why don't you make a deal with them, and see how much cash you can get from them if you agree to sell Him out?" Judas had a choice. He could have taken that thought captive and said, "I rebuke that thought! Jesus is an innocent man, and I will not betray him." But instead, he pondered the thought, relished the idea of making some money. This was Judas' worst submission to temptation.

13:3-5 Washing The Disciples' Feet

Washing feet was the act of the lowest slave in a household. Jesus took this place of the lowest servant - while fully knowing that He was the possessor of all things, that He was from God, and that He was going back to God. Jesus didn't sit there in His deity saying, "I'm too good to serve." But unfortunately, many Christians do. There is so much service to be done in the body of Christ, yet there are so many Christians sitting back saying, "I'm too good to change diapers. I'm too important to empty trash cans. I'm too intelligent too clean the toilets. I'm too educated to be moving heavy boxes." Paul wrote,

Phil. 2:5-7 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant...

Jesus took the lowest place on the totem pole and washed the disciples' feet.

13:6-11 Peter's Reaction

Peter had a hard time allowing Jesus to wash his feet. I can relate to that. I'm not good at receiving. It makes me feel uncomfortable when someone serves me or blesses me. This week, we had some banners made announcing our move - you probably saw them outside the building when you came in this morning. The owners of the company we had make them are Christians, and I was told that because it was a church, we'd be getting a discount. Having ordered $500 worth of banners, I was happy to hear that! But when I asked, "Have you worked up our bill," this brother in Christ said, "Yes I did. It came out to zero." I was floored! What a blessing! But I was uncomfortable with being served freely. I wanted to do something, wanted to pay some amount. But then the Lord ministered this to me,

Acts 20:35 ...remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

What does that mean? It means that giving is a blessing, but so is receiving! Receiving well adds to the blessing of the giver. Peter said insistently, "Lord, don't wash my feet!" But when Jesus said, "If I don't wash your feet, you won't have any part with me," Peter responded, "Well, Lord, then give me a whole bath!"

Jesus then explains doctrinally what He is doing. Peter has already been bathed - it is only His feet that need washing. The same is true for all believers. The blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed us from all sin - we're clean. It's just that as we walk in this world, we pick up dirt. We're exposed to the filthiness of this world. We get dirty by unrighteousness. Oh, we're mostly clean, but our feet need washing. That's when we go to God and confess and wash.

1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Jesus has already made us clean, but we must be continually having the dirt of this world removed from our walk.

13:12-16 An Example Of Serving

Jesus gave us an example. An example of what? Of foot-washing? Many believe so. Lots of churches have foot-washing services because Jesus said, "you ought to wash one another's feet." But church practice and doctrine comes from three places: Did Jesus preach it? Did the early church practice it? And do the epistles exhort us to it? This is why baptism is practiced. This is why the communion table is celebrated. But we never see the apostles washing one another's feet. We never read of Paul saying, "Don't neglect the washing of feet."

We do see, however, the example and the exhortation to serve one another with lowliness and humility.

Gal. 5:13 ...through love serve one another.

1Pet. 4:10 As each one has received a {special} gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Putting aside our pride, laying aside our reputation and social standing, and serving one another.

13:17-19 Jesus Knew

Jesus knew that Judas was about to betray Him. This wasn't a surprise, and Jesus told them in advance, so they wouldn't think that Jesus was ignorant of Judas' plan.

13:20-30 Judas' Betrayal

The disciple whom Jesus loved was John. Peter motioned to John and said, "who's Jesus talking about, that's supposed to betray Him?" John asked Jesus, and Jesus privately indicated that it was Judas.

If ever a human being had responsibility before God, it was Judas Iscariot. He'd heard Jesus preach and teach for three years. He'd seen miracles and wonders. He'd been given power by Jesus to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and cast out demons. But money clouded Judas' vision. Dollar signs hardened Judas against Jesus.

The devil had previously put into Judas' heart to betray him. Now that Judas was completely open, the devil entered into Judas. Luke tells us,

Luke 22:3 And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve.

The danger of hardening your heart against Jesus Christ is that you open it up to the devil.

13:31-38 A New Commandment

Jesus tells the eleven apostles,

John 13:34-35 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Oh, how we need to be reminded of this over and over again! Remember, the apostles weren't lovable people. Simon Peter was a guy who was always putting his foot in his mouth, speaking before thinking. Simon the Zealot was a political trouble-maker. Levi worked for the IRS. James and John were always trying to be at the head of the line. These are the kind of guys Jesus said, "Love one another. That's how I'll be evidenced to the outside world through you."

We've got a mix of people here, too. Many of us are opinionated - usually on opposite sides of issues. Many of us speak without thinking, others of us hardly say a word. Some are smelly, some are perfumed. Some are rich, some are poor. Some are likeable, some are not. But across-the-board love is God's command for the church. We are each and every one of us brothers and sisters in Christ - all members of the same body, all people in the same family. Love every person in the church equally, and love them radically. If we do this, the world will know we are His disciples.

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