13:1 Now before the feast of the passover1, Jesus knowing that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto his Father, having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them unto the end2. THE PASCHAL MEAL. JESUS WASHES THE DISCIPLES' FEET. (Thursday evening of the beginning of Friday.) John 13:1-20
Now before the feast of the passover. Since the second century a
great dispute has been carried on as to the apparent discrepancy between
John and the Synoptists in their statements concerning the passover. The
Synoptists, as we have seen in the previous section, clearly represent Jesus
as having eaten the passover at the proper time, and as having been arrested
on the same night, while John here and elsewhere (John
19:14,31), compared with John
18:1-14 seems to represent Jesus as being arrested "before"
the passover. Our space does not permit us to enter upon a discussion of
this difficulty. The reader is referred to a thorough rehearsal of the
arguments found in Tholuck "in loco" (or, after the seventh
edition, in his introduction to John's Gospel). The simplest solution of the
difficulty is to attribute the apparent discrepancy to that loose way of
speaking of the feast which we mentioned in the last section. When the
Synoptists speak of the passover they refer to the "actual Paschal
supper; when John speaks of the feast of the passover, or the passover, he
refers to "the seven days' feast of unleavened bread" which
followed the actual paschal supper. Jesus was put to death on the first day
of this latter feast, and therefore John here uses the festival to designate
the time of the Lord's suffering and death.
Having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
The meaning, then, is that Jesus, having loved his disciples prior to this
great trial or crisis of his life, was not deterred from loving them by its
approach, but continued to give the most precious and unmistakable evidences
of his love down to the very hour of its arrival, being neither driven from
such a course by the terrors of his coming hour nor wooed from it by the
glorious prospects of returning to his Father. These words form a preface to
the remainder of John's Gospel in which John enumerates the tokens and
evidences of that love which manifested itself throughout the entire
passion, and continued until the hour of ascension; and which, by so doing,
gave sweet assurance that it continues still.
13:2 And during
supper1, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas
Iscariot, Simon's [son], to betray him2,
And during supper. This was the paschal supper proper. It accords
with the supplementary nature of John's Gospel to this mention it as a meal
thoroughly familiar to his readers.
Judas Iscariot, Simon's [son], to betray him. See Mark
knowing that the Father had given all the things into his hands, and that he
came forth from God, and goeth unto God1,
[Jesus], knowing that the Father had given all the things into his
hands, and that he came forth from God, and goeth unto God. Being about
to narrate an act of loving humility, John prefaces it by stating that it
was done in full knowledge of his threefold glory; viz.: (1) That all
authority was committed to him (Matthew
28:18); (2) That by nature he was divine (John
1:1,14); (3) That he was about to return to the divine exaltation which
for our sakes he had laid aside (Philippians
13:4 riseth from
supper, and layeth aside his garments; and he took a towel, and girded himself1.
Riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments; and he took a towel,
and girded himself. John narrates in detail each of these acts. To him
they seem as so many successive steps leading down to the depth of humility.
The whole formed a striking but wholesome contrast to the self-seeking and
ambitious spirit which the disciples had just manifested (Luke
13:6 So he cometh
to Simon Peter. He saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet1?
So he cometh to Simon Peter. He saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my
feet? The others were awed into silence by the strange conduct of their
Master; but it accorded with the bold impulsiveness of Peter to challenge
13:7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What
I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt understand hereafter1.
What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt understand hereafter.
It was no mere feet-washing; or Jesus would not have so spoken. It was at
once an example of humility and a symbol of the purification which the Lord
accomplished for us by reason of his humiliation. The full meaning of the
act was afterward revealed to them by the Holy Spirit.
13:9 Simon Peter
saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head1.
Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands
and my head. Since Jesus spoke of the act as in some part a license or
token of permission to have "part" with him (John
13:8), Peter desired that his head and hands also might be included,
that he might in his entire man have part with Christ.
13:10 Jesus saith to him, He
that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and
ye are clean, but not all1.
He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every
whit: and ye are clean, but not all. The language implies that the
disciples had bathed before leaving Bethany, and that only their feet,
soiled by the journey to Jerusalem, needed to be rewashed. The saying is
spiritually true as well, for one who has been washed thoroughly by baptism
needs not to be re-baptized. After that general cleansing the particular
sins are removed by confession (1 John
13:11 For he
knew him that should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean1.
For he knew him that should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not
all clean. But there is no efficacy in any ordinance when the heart and
will do not accord with the purposes for which it is administered. Hence it
was that Judas, though he had done all that the others had done, was still
as foul as ever.
13:15 For I have
given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done to you1.
For I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done
to you. It is well known that many, by a literal construction of this
passage, have esteemed it to be their duty to wash each other's feet in
their churches. But it should be noted that in the entire New Testament
there is no command for this, nor is there any passage which recognizes any
such church ordinance or practice. Jesus did not "institute"
feet-washing; he found it already a "familiar" custom of the land,
and merely used it as a most appropriate way of showing the proper spirit of
humble service. Hence he does not say, "Do WHAT I have done", but
"Do AS I have done", which requires us to do something
"similar" to that which Christ had done, but necessarily the very
"same" thing. The washing of feet as an act of courtesy or
hospitality was never a custom among Western people, and to adopt it because
of these words of Christ is to entirely miss his meaning. What he did was a
natural daily act of hospitality. But what we would do if we followed his
words literally would be to introduce a strange, outlandish practice, which
would put a guest to great embarrassment and inconvenience.
verily1, I say unto you, a
servant is not greater than his lord2; neither one that is
sent greater than he that sent him.
Verily, verily. See John
A servant is not greater than his lord. Since a servant is not
greater than his lord, he should not be ashamed to do what his lord does.
13:18 I speak
not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be
fulfilled1: He that eateth my bread lifted up his heel
I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the
scripture may be fulfilled, etc. The meaning of this passage may perhaps
be brought out more easily if we paraphrase it as follows: "I do not
speak of blessing to you all, for there is one who shall never be blessed.
His conduct does not deceive or surprise me, for I know those whom I have
chosen whether they be good or bad. His choosing is in accordance with the
prophecy contained in the Book of Psalms (Psalms
41:9). Hitherto I have held my peace about him, but henceforth I shall
point out his course, that my foreknowledge of his actions may strengthen
your faith in my Messiahship, and not leave you in that condition of
hopelessness and despair in which the consequences had come upon me
unawares. Do not let his treachery shake your confidence in me, for verily I
say unto you that in being my messengers ye are indeed the messengers of the
verily1, I say unto you, he that receiveth whomsoever I
send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
Verily, verily. See John
13:21 When Jesus had thus said, he was
troubled in the spirit, and testified, and said, Verily,
verily1, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
JUDAS' BETRAYAL AND PETER'S DENIAL FORETOLD. (Jerusalem. Evening before the
Verily, verily. See John
I say to you, that one of you shall betray me. See Mark
disciples looked one on another1, doubting of whom he
The disciples looked one on another. In startled amazement.
13:23 There was
at the table reclining in Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved1.
There was at the table reclining in Jesus' bosom one of his disciples,
whom Jesus loved. John thus speaks of himself. His couch was in front of
that of the Lord, so that when he laid his head back, it rested upon Jesus'
13:25 He leaning
back, as he was, on Jesus' breast1 saith unto him, Lord,
who is it?
He leaning back, as he was, on Jesus' breast. John. See
13:26 Jesus therefore answereth, He
it is, for whom I shall dip the sop, and give it him1. So
when he had dipped the sop, he taketh and giveth it to Judas2,
[the son] of Simon Iscariot.
He it is, for whom I shall dip the sop, and give it him. It was a
mark of special respect and courtesy to thus dip a sop and hand it to a
So when he had dipped the sop, he taketh and giveth it to Judas,
[the son] of Simon Iscariot. Thus Jesus advanced in his disclosure
from twelve to three or four, and from three or four to one, and that one a
friend most highly honored. But Judas was neither to be warned nor wooed
from his purpose.
13:27 And after
the sop, then entered Satan into him1. Jesus
therefore saith unto him, What thou doest, do quickly2.
And after the sop, then entered Satan into him. Exposure only
hardened Judas and made him resign himself more fully to the influence of
Jesus therefore saith unto him, What thou doest, do quickly. Jesus
does not command the deed, but since it has already been determined upon, he
dismisses Judas from his presence with words which fix the manner in which
the deed should be done. Judas was still under divine command in a limited
sense, for Satan himself is not beyond divine authority.
13:28 Now no man at the table knew for
what intent he spake this unto him.
Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spoke this unto him.
Jesus had not fully and openly revealed Judas as the traitor. To have done
so in the presence of the fiery Galileans might have resulted in violence to
the person of the betrayer.
13:29 For some thought, because Judas had
the bag, that Jesus said unto him, Buy what things we
have need of for the feast1; or,
that he should give something to the poor2.
Buy what things we have need of for the feast. The feast on the
evening of the first day of the festival of unleavened bread appears to have
been both joyful and very bountiful.
Or, that he should give something to the poor. Probably to aid them
in preparing for this feast.
13:30 He then having received the sop
went out straightway: and it was night1.
And it was night. Though this expression is merely one which marks
the time of day, nearly all commentators feel the weird force of it (Luke
22:53). Alford says,
"I feel, with Meyer, that there is something awful in this
termination--"it was night"."
13:31 When therefore he was gone out,
Jesus saith, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God
is glorified in him1;
Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. The
departure of Judas was the first step in the progress of the Lord's Passion,
and in this moment of its beginning Jesus exults in the prospect of its end.
Having just condemned the false pride and glory of men by washing his
disciples' feet, Jesus rejoices that the true glory of God is about to be
manifested in himself--the glory of humility, charity, service, and
self-sacrifice, which was realized to the utmost in the person of Jesus.
children1, yet a little while I am with you. Ye
shall seek me2: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go,
ye cannot come; so now I say unto you.
Little children. In the term of tenderness with which Jesus opens
this paragraph, we see one of the marks of love referred to by John (John
13:1). It is found nowhere else in the Gospels. In the light of his near
separation Jesus looked upon his apostles as about to be made orphan
Ye shall seek me, etc. See John
13:34 A new
commandment I give unto you1, that ye love one another;
even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
A new commandment I give unto you. As to this new commandment, love
had been commanded before (Leviticus
19:18), but the Christian love here commanded is different from that
which the Jew was bade to fell for the Jew, just as the affection of a
loving family differs from the mere broad and kindly spirit of
neighborliness. A love which had Christ's heart as the standard would of
necessity be new, and would distinguish those who possessed it from all men.
13:37 Peter saith unto him, Lord, why
cannot I follow thee even now? I will lay down my life for thee.
Lord, why cannot I follow thee even now? I will lay down my life for
thee. Peter, grieved at the prospect of separation, can see no reason
why he should not follow, since he is willing to pass even through the
portal of the grave that he may do so. Though perhaps prevented by no moral
inability, he was prevented by the plan of life which God had designed for
him. It was not in accordance with the divine will that he should die at
13:38 Jesus answereth, Wilt thou lay down
thy life for me? Verily, verily1,
I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.
Verily, verily. See John