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Bible Commentaries
John 13

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-38

1 The path of our Lord as brought before us in John's account may be compared with the path of a priest who comes out of the tabernacle and returns thither within the curtain. We find Him first with God (John 1:1). Then He is the Light (John 1:9), reminding us of the seven-branched lampstand. At His baptism (John 1:29) we see Him at the laver and as the Lamb He is on the brazen altar of sacrifice. Thus He came out from God. Now that He is rejected, He goes back to God. The order is reversed. He bears witness to His death (John 12:24)-the brazen altar. He washes the disciples' feet (John 13:5)-the laver. He partakes of the "last supper"-the shewbread. The Holy Spirit - the lampstand. Within the curtain in chapter seventeen-the mercy seat. Thus we see how really He came out from God and is going back to God (3). He returns whence He came.

2 This act is characteristic of the Adversary's opposition. He was to "bruise His heel" (Genesis 3:15) , a special phrase denoting the treachery of one who seems to serve while he plots destruction. The name Jacob, literally "heeler" or supplanter. conveys this same idea of unfair advantage (Genesis 25:21-26). The tribe of Dan is "a horned snake in the path to bite the horse's heels" (Genesis 49:17). Its treachery excluded it from the list of tribes in the Unveiling (John 7:4-8).

3 The majesty of humility is seldom so splendidly set forth as in this passage. First we have His high place in reference to the world. All is in His hands. Then we are told of His relation to God. Did not such dignity and power entitle Him to the highest esteem? Yet, as such, He stoops to the meanest humility.

5 Many features of oriental life are very different from our customs. We remove our hats on entering a house, as a token of respect. In the East they keep on their turbans, but remove their footgear, leaving it in the small, lower entrance to the reception room (See Exodus 3:5; Joshua 5:15; Acts 7:33). It is then the duty of the humblest slave in the establishment to wash the feet of the guest, by pouring water over them, and wiping them off with the towel with which he is girded.

The most menial service the Lord could perform for them was the washing of their feet. No wonder Peter protested! He has not fully learned the lesson that the Lord is abasing Himself even to death, before His exaltation. He is giving them an example which has had very few followers among His disciples. Those who have aspired to be teachers and masters have not stooped to lowly service, but have held to high honors and dignities. The true slave of Christ, in this day of grace, will emulate the example of our Lord as set forth by Paul in his Philippian epistle. There he traces His descent from the form of God down to the death of the cross. God will see to His exaltation. It was not only a lesson in humility but a condition of fellowship. Not being under pure grace or having been justified as we are, but having only a probationary pardon, fellowship with Christ depended on continual confession and cleansing (1 John 1:9). The daily washing of the priest at the laver ( Exodus 30:19-21) was absolutely essential to continued communion, but it was not necessary that they be bathed as at their consecration (Exodus 29:4).

18-20 Compare Matthew 26:20-25; Mark 14:17-21; Luke 22:21-23.

18 See Psalms 41:9.

18 It is very evident that the Lord chose Judas-he was one of "the elect"!-for the purpose of betraying Him. He knew him from the beginning, and now He quotes the prophecy which foretold his act and sets forth most vividly the extreme treachery of it. According to the custom of the Orient, those who partake of food together are enjoined by the most sacred obligations from doing harm to one another. The great depth of Judas' degradation is not in the betrayal alone so much as in his previous privileges and position of trust.. It is one of the marvels of our Lord's life that He never "betrayed" Judas to the other disciples. He treated him as the rest, and so successfully concealed his true character from them that, at the very last, they did not guess why he went out, neither did they understand what our Lord said concerning him. His treatment of Judas is worth copying.

26 In the East all eating was done with the fingers, no knives or forks or spoons being used at a meal. In their place a small three-cornered piece of the thin, hard biscuit, like pancake, which is always served, is used to convey the food to the mouth. This is eaten with the morsel. How surpassingly kind and delicate was this method of indicating His betrayer! Only one would understand. The others would look upon it as a special mark of His favor, for the giving of the morsel was considered the highest mark of respect and honor which a host can show his guest. It is evident that not one of the disciples except John knew what it meant. It was the last loving act of the Lord for Judas, before His betrayal. Who can doubt that His grace will save him yet?

27 Satan entered into Judas. This statement lifts the veil of the invisible powers of darkness and greatly modifies our judgment of Judas. It is evident that the Adversary did not think him capable of committing the capital crime, so forces him forward by actually obsessing him, and controlling his mind and his actions until it had been accomplished. He was not himself when he did it. But later, when he realized what he had done, his heart was filled with bitter regret and he did not hesitate to fling the money he had received into the faces of the chief priests, and acknowledged his terrible trespass.

30 The day of Christ's ministry was done. Now it was night, the time when man does no work, but when the authority of darkness is most active. Not Judas, or the chief priests, or the scribes or Pharisees were the most malignant opponents of Christ. They, like Judas, were but puppets in the hands of His unseen spiritual adversaries. He was the One Who would crush the serpent's head; but He was also the One Whose heel the serpent would bruise. And now was the time. Satan uses all his arts and exerts all his power to crush Him. The cross is not merely the crisis of man's enmity to God. It is the culmination of the enmity of the spirit world as well. It is not confined to earth. It is the moral center of the universe.

34 As our Lord is about to leave His beloved disciples, He compresses His ministry into one new precept-love. That was to be their law and their life and make them a light in the world. This should characterize His saints in this gracious economy in an even greater degree, for we have quaffed far deeper draughts of grace than His disciples ever tasted.

36-38 Compare Matthew 26:33-35; Mark 14:29-31; Luke 22:31-34.

36 Impetuous Peter's heart was in the right place, but it took many bitter trials to teach him the truth concerning Christ and His sufferings and his own cowardice. How graciously the Lord overlooks his failures by immediately following his present inability by a prophecy of his future martyrdom! It is probably true, as tradition reports, that Peter was crucified, like his Lord. Typically, he represents those in Israel who suffer and die before the kingdom comes, while John stands for those who live through until the kingdom is established.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on John 13". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/john-13.html. 1968.
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