corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.10.19
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

William Barclay's Daily Study Bible
John 13

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-38

Chapter 13

THE ROYALTY OF SERVICE (John 13:1-17)

13:1-17 Before the Festival of the Passover, Jesus, in the knowledge that his hour had come to leave this world and to go to the Father, although he had always loved his own people in the world, decided to show them what his love was like in a way which went to the ultimate limit. The meal was in progress; and the devil had already put it into his heart that Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, should betray him. Well knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come forth from God, and that he was going back to God, Jesus rose from the meal and laid aside his outer robe, and took a towel and put it round himself. Then he poured water into a ewer and began to wash the feet of his disciples and to wipe them with the towel which he had put round himself. He came to Simon Peter. Peter said to him: "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered him: "You do not know now what I am doing, but you will understand afterwards." Peter said to him: "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered him: "If I do not wash you, you have no part with me." Simon Peter said to him: "Lord, if that is so, do not wash my feet only, but my hands and my head too." Jesus said to him: "He who has been bathed has need only to have his feet washed. After that is done, he is altogether clean. And you are clean--but not all of you." He knew the one who was engineering his betrayal. That is why he said: "You are not all clean." So when he had washed their feet, and when he had taken his outer robe again, and when he had taken his place at table, he said to them: "Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me 'Teacher,' and you call me 'Lord.' And you are quite right to do so, for so I am. If then I, the Teacher and Lord, have washed your feet, so you ought to wash each other's feet, for I have given you an example, that, as I have done to you, you too should do to each other. This is the truth I tell you--the servant is not greater than his master, nor he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things you are blessed if you do them."

We shall have to look at this passage in far more aspects than one, but first of all we must take it as a whole.

Few incidents in the gospel story so reveal the character of Jesus and so perfectly show his love. When we think of what Jesus might have been and of what he might have done the supreme wonder of what he was and did comes home to us.

(i) Jesus knew all things had been given into his hands. He knew that his hour of humiliation was near, but he knew that his hour of glory was also near. Such a consciousness might well have filled him with pride; and yet, with the knowledge of the power and the glory that were his, he washed his disciples' feet. At that moment when he might have had supreme pride, he had supreme humility. Love is always like that. When, for example, someone falls ill, the person who loves him will perform the most menial services and delight to do them, because love is like that. Sometimes men feel that they are too distinguished to do the humble things, too important to do some menial task. Jesus was not so. He knew that he was Lord of all, and yet he washed his disciples' feet.

(ii) Jesus knew that he had come from God and that he was going to God. He might well have had a certain contempt for men and for the things of this world. He might well have thought that he was finished with the world now, for he was on the way to God. It was just at that time when God was nearest to him that Jesus went to the depths and the limits of his service of men. To wash the feet of the guests at a feast was the office of a slave. The disciples of the Rabbis were supposed to render their masters personal service, but a service like this would never have been dreamed of. The wonderful thing about Jesus was that his nearness to God, so far from separating him from men, brought him nearer than ever to them.

It is always true that there is no one closer to men than the man who is close to God. T. R. Glover said of certain clever intellectuals: "They thought they were being religious when they were merely being fastidious." There is a legend of St. Francis of Assisi. In his early days he was very wealthy; nothing but the best was good enough for him; he was an aristocrat of the aristocrats. But he was ill at ease and there was no peace in his soul. One day he was riding alone outside the city when he saw a leper, a mass of sores, a horrible sight. Ordinarily the fastidious Francis would have recoiled in horror from this hideous wreck of humanity. But something moved within him; he dismounted from his horse and flung his arms around the leper; and as he embraced him the leper turned into the figure of Jesus. The nearer we are to suffering humanity, the nearer we are to God.

(iii) Jesus knew this also. He was well aware that he was about to be betrayed. Such knowledge might so easily have turned him to bitterness and hatred; but it made his heart run out in greater love than ever. The astounding thing was that the more men hurt him, the more Jesus loved them. It is so easy and so natural to resent wrong and to grow bitter under insult and injury; but Jesus met the greatest injury and the supreme disloyalty, with the greatest humility and the supreme love.

THE ROYALTY OF SERVICE (John 13:1-17 continued)

There is more in the background of this passage than even John tells us. If we turn to Luke's account of the last meal together, we find the tragic sentence: "A dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as greatest" (Luke 22:24). Even within sight of the Cross, the disciples were still arguing about matters of precedence and prestige.

It may well be that this very argument produced the situation which made Jesus act as he did. The roads of Palestine were unsurfaced and uncleaned. In dry weather they were inches deep in dust and in wet they were liquid mud. The shoes ordinary people wore were sandals, which were simply soles held on to the foot by a few straps. They gave little protection against the dust or the mud of the roads. For that reason there were always great waterpots at the door of a house; and a servant was there with a ewer and a towel to wash the soiled feet of the guests as they came in. Jesus' little company of friends had no servants. The duties which servants would carry out in wealthier circles they must have shared among each other. It may well be that on the night of this last meal together they had got themselves into such a state of competitive pride that not one of them would accept the duty of seeing that the water and the towels were there to wash the feet of the company as they came in; and Jesus mended their omission in the most vivid and dramatic way.

He himself did what none of them was prepared to do. Then he said: "You see what I have done. You call me your master and your Lord; and you are quite right; for so I am; and yet I am prepared to do this for you. Surely you don't think that a pupil deserves more honour than a teacher, or a servant than a master. Surely if I do this, you ought to be prepared to do it. I am giving you an example of how you ought to behave towards each other."

This ought to make us think. So often, even in churches, trouble arises because someone does not get his place. So often even ecclesiastical dignitaries are offended because they did not receive the precedence to which their office entitled them. Here is the lesson that there is only one kind of greatness, the greatness of service. The world is full of people who are standing on their dignity when they ought to be kneeling at the feet of their brethren. In every sphere of life desire for prominence and unwillingness to take a subordinate place wreck the scheme of things. A player is one day omitted from the team and refuses to play any more. An aspiring politician is passed over for some office to which he thought he had a right and refuses to accept any subordinate office. A member of a choir is not given a solo and will not sing any more. In any society it may happen that someone is given a quite unintentional slight and either explodes in anger or broods in sulkiness for days afterwards. When we are tempted to think of our dignity, our prestige, our rights, let us see again the picture of the Son of God, girt with a towel, kneeling at his disciples' feet.

That man is truly great who has this regal humility, which makes him both servant and king among men. In The Beloved Captain by Donald Hankey, there is a passage which describes how the beloved captain cared for his men after a route march. "We all knew instinctively that he was our superior--a man of finer fibre than ourselves, a 'toff' in his own right. I suppose that was why he could be so humble without loss of dignity. For he was humble, too, if that is the right word, and I think it is. No trouble of ours was too small for him to attend to. When we started route marches, for instance, and our feet were blistered and sore, as they often were at first, you would have thought that they were his own feet from the trouble he took. Of course after the march there was always an inspection of feet. That is the routine. But with him it was no mere routine. He came into our room, and, if any one had a sore foot, he would kneel down on the floor and look at it as carefully as if he had been a doctor. Then he would prescribe, and the remedies were ready at hand, being borne by a sergeant. If a blister had to be lanced, he would very likely lance it himself there and then, so as to make sure it was done with a clean needle and that no dirt was allowed to get in. There was no affectation about this, no striving after effect. It was simply that he felt that our feet were pretty important, and that he knew that we were pretty careless. So he thought it best at the start to see to the matter himself Nevertheless, there was in our eyes something almost religious about this care for our feet. It seemed to have a touch of Christ about it, and we loved and honoured him the more." The strange thing is that it is the man who stoops like that--like Christ--whom men in the end honour as a king, and the memory of whom they will not willingly let die.

THE ESSENTIAL WASHING (John 13:1-17 continued)

We have already seen that in John we have always to be looking for two meanings, the meaning which lies on the surface and the meaning which is beneath the surface. In this story there is undoubtedly a second meaning. On the surface it is a dramatic and unforgettable lesson in humility. But there is more to it than that.

There is one very difficult passage. At first Peter refuses to allow Jesus to wash his feet. Jesus tells him that unless he accepts this washing, he will have no part with him. Peter then begs that not only his feet, but his hands and his head should also be washed. But Jesus tells him that it is enough that his feet should be washed. The difficult sentence and the one with an inner meaning, is: "He who has been bathed has need only to have his feet washed."

Beyond doubt there is a reference to Christian baptism here. "Unless you are washed you can have no part in me" is a way of saying: "Unless you pass through the gate of baptism, you have no part in the Church."

The point is this. It was the custom that before people went to a feast they bathed themselves. When they came to the house of their host, they did not need to be bathed again; all they needed was to have their feet washed. The washing of the feet was the ceremony which preceded entry into the house where they were to be guests. It was what we might call the washing of entry into the house. So Jesus says to Peter: "It is not the bathing of your body that you require. That you can do for yourself. What you need is the washing which marks entry into the household of the faith." This explains another thing. Peter at first is going to refuse to allow Jesus to wash his feet. Jesus says that if he does, he will have no part in him. It is as if Jesus said: "Peter, are you going to be too proud to let me do this for you? If you are, you will lose everything."

In the early Church, and still today, the way in is the way of baptism; baptism is what we might call the washing of entry. This is not to say that a man cannot be saved unless he is baptized. But it does mean that if he is able to be baptized and is too proud to enter by that gate, his pride shuts him out from the family of the faith.

Things are different now. In the early days it was grown men and women who came to be baptized because they were coming direct from heathenism into the faith. Now in many of our churches we bring our children too. But in this passage Jesus was drawing a picture of the washing which is the entry to the Church and telling men that they must not be too proud to submit to it.

THE SHAME OF DISLOYALTY AND THE GLORY OF FIDELITY (John 13:18-20)

13:18-20 "It is not about you all that I am speaking. I know the kind of men whom I have chosen. It is all happening that the Scripture should be fulfilled: 'He who eats my bread has lifted up his heel against me.' I am telling you this now, before it happens, so that, when it does happen, you may believe that I am who I claim to be. This is the truth I tell you--he who receives whomsoever I will send, receives me; and he who receives me, receives him who sent me."

There are three things stressed in this passage.

(i) The sheer cruelty of Judas' disloyalty is vividly pictured in a way which would be specially poignant to an eastern mind. Jesus used a quotation from Psalms 41:9. In full the quotation runs: "Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted his heel against me." In the east to eat bread with anyone was a sign of friendship and an act of loyalty. 2 Samuel 9:7; 2 Samuel 9:13 tell how David granted it to Mephibosheth to eat bread at his table, when he might well have eliminated him as a descendant of Saul. 1 Kings 18:19 tells how the prophets of Baal ate bread at the table of Jezebel. For one who had eaten bread at someone's table to turn against the person, to whom by that very act he had pledged his friendship, was a bitter thing. This disloyalty of friends is for the Psalmist the sorest of all hurts. "It is not an enemy who taunts me--then I could bear it--it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me--then I could hide from him. But it is you, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to hold sweet converse together; within God's house we walked in fellowship" (Psalms 55:12-14).

There is all the poignant sorrow in the world when a friend is guilty of such heart-breaking disloyalty. The very phrase that is used is full of cruelty. "He lifted up his heel against me." Literally the Hebrew is, "He made great the heel," and it is a phrase which describes "brutal violence." In this passage there is no hint of anger, only of sorrow; Jesus, with a last appeal, is revealing the wound upon his heart to Judas.

(ii) This passage also stresses the fact that all this tragedy is somehow within the purpose of God, and that it is fully and unquestionably accepted by Jesus. It was as Scripture said it would be. There was never any doubt that the redeeming of the world would cost the broken heart of God. Jesus knew what was happening. He knew the cost and he was ready to pay it. He did not want the disciples to think that he was caught up in a blind web of circumstances from which he could not escape. He was not going to be killed; he was choosing to die. At the moment they did not, and could not, see that, but he wanted to be sure that a day would come when they would look back and remember and understand.

(iii) If this passage stresses the bitterness of disloyalty, it also stresses the glory of fidelity. Some day these same disciples would take the message of Jesus out to the world. When they did, they would be nothing less than the representatives of God himself. An ambassador does not go out as a private individual, armed with only his own personal qualities and qualifications. He goes out with all the honour and glory of his country upon him. To listen to him is to listen to his country; to honour him is to honour the country he represents; to welcome him is to welcome the ruler who sent him out. The great honour and the great responsibility of being a pledged Christian is that we stand in the world for Jesus Christ. We speak for him; we act for him. The honour of the Eternal is in our hands.

LOVE'S LAST APPEAL (John 13:21-30)

13:21-30 When Jesus had said these things, he was troubled in spirit. Solemnly he declared: "This is the truth I tell you, one of you will betray me." The disciples began to look at each other, because they were at a loss to know about whom he was speaking. One of his disciples, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining with his head on Jesus' breast. So Simon Peter made a sign to him and said to him: "Ask who it is that he is speaking about." The disciple who was reclining with his head on Jesus' breast said to him: "Lord who is it?" Jesus said: "It is he for whom I will dip the morsel in the dish and give it to him." So he took the morsel and dipped it in the dish and gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after that man had received the morsel, Satan entered into him. So Jesus said to him: "Hurry on what you are going to do." None of those who were reclining at table understood why he said this to him. Some of them thought that, since Judas had the money-box, Jesus was saying to him: "Buy the things we need for the feast"; or that he was telling him to give something to the poor. So that man took the morsel and went out at once--and it was night.

When we visualize this scene certain most dramatic things emerge.

The treachery of Judas is seen at its worst. He must have been the perfect actor and the perfect hypocrite. One thing is clear--if the other disciples had known what Judas was about, he would never have left that room alive. All the time Judas must have been putting on an act of love and loyalty which deceived everyone except Jesus. He was not only a bare-faced villain; he was a suave hypocrite. There is warning here. By our outward actions we may deceive men; but there is no hiding things from the eye of Christ.

There is more. When we understand aright what was happening, we can see that there was appeal after appeal to Judas. First, there were the seating arrangements at the meal. The Jews did not sit at table; they reclined. The table was a low solid block, with couches round it. It was shaped like a "U" and the place of the host was in the centre. They reclined on their left side, resting on the left elbow, thus leaving the right hand free to deal with the food. Sitting in such a way, a man's head was literally in the breast of the person reclining on his left. Jesus would be sitting in the place of the host, at the centre of the single side of the low table. The disciple whom Jesus loved must have been sitting on his right, for as he lent on his elbow at the table, his head was in Jesus' breast.

The disciple whom Jesus loved is never named. Some have thought that he was Lazarus, for Jesus loved Lazarus (John 11:36). Some have thought that he was the rich young ruler, for Jesus loved him (Mark 10:21); and it has been imagined that in the end he did decide to stake everything on Jesus. Some have thought that he was some otherwise unknown young disciple who was specially near and dear to Jesus. Some have thought that he was not a flesh and blood person at all, but only an ideal picture of what the perfect disciple ought to be. But the general opinion has always been that the beloved disciple was none other than John himself; and we may well believe that.

But it is the place of Judas that is of special interest. It is quite clear that Jesus could speak to him privately without the others overhearing. If that be so, there is only one place Judas could have been occupying. He must have been on Jesus' left, so that, just as John's head was in Jesus' breast, Jesus' head was in Judas'. The revealing thing is that the place on the left of the host was the place of highest honour, kept for the most intimate friend. When that meal began, Jesus must have said to Judas: "Judas, come and sit beside me tonight; I want specially to talk to you." The very inviting of Judas to that seat was an appeal.

But there is more. For the host to offer the guest a special tit-bit, a special morsel from the dish, was again a sign of special friendship. When Boaz wished to show how much he honoured Ruth, he invited her to come and dip her morsel in the wine (Ruth 2:14). T. E. Lawrence told how when he sat with the Arabs in their tents, sometimes the Arab chief would tear a choice piece of fat mutton from the whole sheep before them and hand it to him (often a most embarrassing favour to a western palate, for it had to be eaten!) When Jesus handed the morsel to Judas, again it was a mark of special affection. And we note that even when Jesus did this the disciples did not gather the import of his words. That surely shows that Jesus was so much in the habit of doing this that it seemed nothing unusual. Judas had always been picked out for special affection.

There is tragedy here. Again and again Jesus appealed to that dark heart, and again and again Judas remained unmoved. God save us from being completely impervious to the appeal of love.

LOVE'S LAST APPEAL (John 13:21-30 continued)

So this tragic drama played itself out to the end. Again and again Jesus showed his affection to Judas. Again and again Jesus tried to save him from what he was planning to do.

Then quite suddenly the crucial moment came, the moment when the love of Jesus admitted defeat. "Judas," he said, "hurry on what you propose to do." There was no point in further delay. Why carry on this useless appeal in the mounting tension? If it was to be done, it were better done quickly.

Still the disciples did not see. They thought Judas was being despatched to make the arrangements for the feast. It was always the custom at the Passover that those who had shared with those who had not. It was the time of all times when people gave to the poor. To this day it is the custom in many churches to take a special offering at Communion services for those in need. So the disciples thought that Jesus was sending Judas out to give the usual present to the poor, that they too might be enabled to celebrate the Passover.

When Judas received the morsel, the devil entered into him. It is a terrible thing that what was meant to be love's appeal became hate's dynamic. That is what the devil can do. He can take the loveliest things and twist them until they become the agents of hell. He can take love and turn it into lust; he can take holiness and turn it into pride; he can take discipline and turn it into sadistic cruelty; he can take affection and turn it into spineless complacence. We must be on the watch so that in our lives the devil never warps the lovely things until he can use them for his own purposes.

Judas went out--and it was night. John has a way of using words in the most pregnant way. It was night for the day was late; but there was another night there. It is always night when a man goes from Christ to follow his own purposes. It is always night when a man listens to the call of evil rather than the summons of good. It is always night when hate puts out the light of love. It is always night when a man turns his back on Jesus.

If we submit ourselves to Christ we walk in the light; if we turn our backs on him we go into the dark. The way of light and the way of dark are set before us. God give us wisdom to choose aright--for in the dark a man always goes lost.

THE FOURFOLD GLORY (John 13:31-32)

13:31-32 When Judas had gone out, Jesus said: "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him; and now God will glorify himself in him; and he will glorify him immediately."

This passage tells of the fourfold glory.

(i) The glory of Jesus has come; and that glory is the Cross. The tension is gone; any doubts that remained have been finally removed. Judas has gone out, and the Cross is a certainty. Here we are face to face with something which is of the very warp and woof of life. The greatest glory in life is the glory which comes from sacrifice. In any warfare the supreme glory belongs, not to those who survive but to those who lay down their lives. As Laurence Binyon wrote:

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them."

In medicine it is not the physicians who made a fortune who are remembered; it is those who gave their lives that healing might come to men. It is the simple lesson of history that those who have made the great sacrifices have entered into the great glory.

(ii) In Jesus God has been glorified. It was the obedience of Jesus which brought glory to God. There is only one way for a man to show that he loves and admires and trusts a leader; and that is by obeying him, if need be to the bitter end. The only way in which a child can honour a parent is by obeying him. Jesus gave the supreme honour and the supreme glory to God, because he gave to God the supreme obedience, even to a Cross.

(iii) In Jesus God glorifies himself. It is a strange thought that the supreme glory of God lies in the Incarnation and the Cross. There is no glory like that of being loved. Had God remained aloof and majestic, serene and unmoved, untouched by any sorrow and unhurt by any pain, men might have feared him and men might have admired him; but they would never have loved him. The law of sacrifice is not only a law of earth; it is a law of heaven and earth. It is in the Incarnation and the Cross that God's supreme glory is displayed.

(iv) God will glorify Jesus. Here is the other side of the matter. At that moment the Cross was the glory of Jesus; but there was more to follow--the Resurrection; the Ascension; the full and final triumph of Christ, which is what the New Testament means when it talks of his Second Coming. In the Cross Jesus found his own glory; but the day came, and the day will come, when that glory will be demonstrated to all the world and all the universe. The vindication of Christ must follow his humiliation; the enthronement of Christ must follow his crucifixion; the crown of thorns must change into the crown of glory It is the campaign of the Cross, but the King will yet enter into a triumph which all the world can see.

THE FAREWELL COMMAND (John 13:33-35)

13:33-35 "Little children, I am still going to be with you for a little while. You will search for me; and, as I said to the Jews, so now I say to you too: 'You cannot go where I am going.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another; that you too love one another, as I have loved you; it is by this that all will know that you are my disciples--if you have love amongst each other."

Jesus was laying down his farewell commandment to his disciples. The time was short; if they were ever to hear his voice they must hear it now. He was going on a journey on which none might accompany him; he was taking a road that he had to walk alone; and before he went, he gave them the commandment that they must love one another as he had loved them. What does this mean for us, and for our relationships with our fellow-men? How did Jesus love his disciples?

(i) He loved his disciples selflessly. Even in the noblest human love there remains some element of self. We so often think--maybe unconsciously--of what we are to get. We think of the happiness we will receive, or of the loneliness we will suffer if love fails or is denied. So often we are thinking: What will this love do for me? So often at the back of things it is our happiness that we are seeking. But Jesus never thought of himself. His one desire was to give himself and all he had for those he loved.

(ii) Jesus loved his disciples sacrificially. There was no limit to what his love would give or to where it would go. No demand that could be made upon it was too much. If love meant the Cross, Jesus was prepared to go there. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that love is meant to give us happiness. So in the end it does, but love may well bring pain and demand a cross.

(iii) Jesus loved his disciples understandingly. He knew his disciples through and through. We never really know people until we have lived with them. When we are meeting them only occasionally, we see them at their best. It is when we live with them that we find out their moods and their irritabilities and their weaknesses. Jesus had lived with his disciples day in and day out for many months and knew all that was to be known about them--and he still loved them. Sometimes we say that love is blind. That is not so, for the love that is blind can end in nothing but bleak and utter disillusionment. Real love is open-eyed. It loves, not what it imagines a man to be, but what he is. The heart of Jesus is big enough to love us as we are.

(iv) Jesus loved his disciples forgivingly. Their leader was to deny him. They were all to forsake him in his hour of need. They never, in the days of his flesh, really understood him. They were blind and insensitive, slow to learn, and lacking in understanding. In the end they were craven cowards. But Jesus held nothing against them; there was no failure which he could not forgive. The love which has not learned to forgive cannot do anything else but shrivel and die. We are poor creatures, and there is a kind of fate in things which makes us hurt most of all those who love us best. For that very reason all enduring love must be built on forgiveness, for without forgiveness it is bound to die.

THE FALTERING LOYALTY (John 13:36-38)

13:36-38 Simon Peter said to him: "Lord, where are you going?" "Where I am going," Jesus answered, "you cannot now follow; but afterwards you will follow." Peter said to him: "Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Jesus answered: "Will you lay down your life for me? This is the truth I tell you--the cock will not crow until you will deny me three times."

What was the difference between Peter and Judas? Judas betrayed Jesus, and Peter, in his hour of need, denied him even with oaths and curses; and yet, while the name of Judas has become one of blackest shame, there is something infinitely lovable about Peter. The difference is this. Judas' betrayal of Jesus was deliberate; it was carried out in cold blood; it must have been the result of careful thought and planning; and in the end it callously refused the most poignant appeal. But there was never anything less deliberate than Peter's denial of Jesus. He never meant to do it; he was swept away by a moment of weakness. For the moment, his will was too weak, but his heart was always right.

There is always a difference between the sin which is coldly and deliberately calculated, and the sin which involuntarily conquers a man in a moment of weakness or of passion; always a difference between the sin which knows what it is doing, and the sin that comes when a man is so weakened or so inflamed that he scarcely knows what he is doing. God save us from deliberately hurting himself or those who love us!

There is something very lovely in the relationship between Jesus and Peter.

(i) Jesus knew Peter in all his weakness. He knew his impulsiveness; he knew his instability; he knew how he had a habit of speaking with his heart before he had thought with his head. He knew well the strength of his loyalty and the weakness of his resolution. Jesus knew Peter as he was.

(ii) Jesus knew Peter in all his love. He knew that whatever Peter did he loved him. If we would only understand that often when people hurt us, fail us, wound us, or disappoint us, it is not the real person who is acting. The real person is not the one who wounds us or fails us, but the one who loves us. The basic thing is not his failure, but his love. Jesus knew that about Peter. It would save us many a heartbreak and many a tragic breach if we remembered the basic love and forgave the moment's failure.

(iii) Jesus knew, not only what Peter was, but also what he could become. He knew that at the moment Peter could not follow him; but he was sure that the day would come when he, too, would take the same red road to martyrdom. It is the greatness of Jesus that he sees the hero even in the coward; he sees not only what we are, but also what he can make us. He has the love to see what we can be and the power to make us attain it.

-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Barclay, William. "Commentary on John 13:4". "William Barclay's Daily Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/john-13.html. 1956-1959.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology