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Tuesday, May 28th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
John 13

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-5

37 What better proof could be found that they were walking in darkness than their rejection of the Man of Sorrows? The prophets plainly foretold their action and yet they are too much in the dark to see.

38 Our Lord has now come to that stage of His ministry which was so graphically described by His namesake, Isaiah. His public ministry is at its close. He hides Himself. As the prophet continues ( Isa_53:2-3 ):

He has no shapeliness or honor,

And, seen by us, He is no sight to be coveted.

He is despised and shunned by men,

A Man of pains and knowing illness,

And, as One concealing His face from us, He is despised, and we take no account of Him.

39 Outside the Scriptures ,ye hear much of human responsibility, and that those who reject the light deserve the judgment they have invited. This passage makes us pause. These men had heard the most powerful of all preachers and seen the most marvelous of all miracle workers, yet we are distinctly told that they could not believe . The reason given is that the Scriptures must be fulfilled . God's purpose demands a measure of unbelief as well as of faith. He locks up all in stubbornness that He may have mercy on all ( Rom_11:32 ). To damn these men who could not believe with irretrievable and irrecoverable ruin is unthinkable of God.

40 Isaiah's message of doom to Israel is always quoted when their apostasy has passed repair. It divides our Lord's ministry and the accounts given of it into two distinct and different epochs. He begins His proclamation of the kingdom and continues until its rejection. Then, after quoting the sixth of Isaiah, He speaks to His own of His suffering and death.

See Mat_13:13-15 .

In the Pentecostal era we see the same. The kingdom is proclaimed to the whole nation once again, but when their rejection is irrevocable, Paul quotes from Isaiah and seals their doom for the eon. This rejection is the basis on which the present secret economy of transcendent grace has been established.

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 ( Joh_1:1 ). Then He is the Light ( Joh_1:9 ), reminding us of the seven-branched lampstand. At His baptism ( Joh_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 ( Joh_12:24 )-the brazen altar. He washes the disciples' feet ( Joh_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" ( Gen_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 ( Gen_25:21-26 ). The tribe of Dan is "a horned snake in the path to bite the horse's heels" ( Gen_49:17 ). Its treachery excluded it from the list of tribes in the Unveiling ( Joh_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 Exo_3:5 ; Jos_5:15 ; Act_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.

Verses 6-33

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 ( 1Jn_1:9 ). The daily washing of the priest at the laver ( Exo_30:19-21 ) was absolutely essential to continued communion, but it was not necessary that they be bathed as at their consecration ( Exo_29:4 ).

18-20 Compare Mat_26:20-25 ; Mar_14:17-21 ; Luk_22:21-23 .

18 See Psa_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.

Verses 34-38

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 Mat_26:33-35 ; Mar_14:29-31 ; Luk_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.

2 The temple in Jerusalem was the Father's house. In the walls were many abodes for the priests and Levites who officiated in its precincts. There is no hint anywhere in the Scriptures that the disciples go to heaven. A celestial destiny was not revealed until the apostle Paul was in his Roman prison. Then he first made it known in his Ephesian epistle. But it is not for the saints of the Circumcision. All their blessings are heavenly in character and, like the new Jerusalem, come down out of heaven, but they are all enjoyed on earth. Only those in the present secret economy of God's grace are blessed with all spiritual blessings among the celestials. The Circumcision enjoy the days of heaven on earth. Hence Christ comes again and is with them in the kingdom.

7 Christ's usual character in this evangel is the Word of God. Here, however, He gives us a glimpse of Himself as the Image of the Father. No man can see the invisible God. But surely the disciples had seen all the attributes of the Father manifested in Him, as He loved them and led them, taught them and fed them, giving them all the care and keeping of little children. He was not the Father, but the Father was in Him, and could be seen nowhere else. But this glimpse of the Father is (as is fitting in this account) most evident in His words and works. These were not His own, but the Father's.

12 We have here an intimation of the marvelous miracles accomplished by the apostles and others in the Pentecostal period, following His ascension, and also of the still greater marvels which will inaugurate the kingdom in the future. The spiritual blessings of the present are in reality far greater than any of these, but they were not in view at this time, for they were a secret, hidden in God, and could not be even hinted at until Israel's final failure was assured.

14 These words have proved a snare to many. They have requested much in His name which has not come to pass. This seems to reflect on His faithfulness. The difficulty vanishes when we see that this is not for the Uncircumcision ( Rom_15:8 ). Far higher truth is ours. It is set forth in Php_4:6 . We make our requests known to God with thanksgiving, and leave them with Him to act upon as His love determines, not as we dictate.

16 The Lord Himself was the Consoler of the apostles while He was with them. Now that He was about to leave they would not only need the consolation He had given them, but a special measure to make up for His absence as well. It is most touching to see, as the dark shadows of the cross are crowding His soul, that He is not concerned for His own relief, but for the sorrows of His beloved disciples. The spirit He had promised after His glorification ( Joh_7:39 ) was to be a living spring, but, in view of the sorrow so soon to engulf them, it is now called a consoler, for this would be its first function. It is called "the spirit of truth" in contrast to "the spirit of deception" ( 1Jn_4:6 ). The world seeks comfort in its false philosophy but God's saints find consolation in the truth. The spirit of deception is that false flood of spirit force which is sweeping the world on to the worship of the antichrist. The spirit of truth is its opposite. He told them that the declarations which He spoke are spirit and are life. It is the spirit that vivifies ( Joh_6:63 ). Hence we may take it that the impartation of the spirit, after His vivification, when He inflated and said "get holy Spirit! "( Joh_20:22 ), corresponds to the impartation of the breath of the living to Adam ( Gen_2:7 ), so that he became a living soul. In this way the last Adam showed Himself a life imparting Spirit ( 1Co_15:45 ). Pentecost was not the reception of holy Spirit to give life, but its baptism for cleansing, its filling for utterance, and its coming on for power. The reception of holy Spirit was dependent on repentance and baptism in the evangel of the kingdom ( Act_2:38 ). In Samaria, the gift waited on the prayer and imposition of the hands of the apostles ( Act_8:15-17 ) according to the authority which the Lord conferred on them when it was first given ( Joh_20:23 ). In the present economy of transcendent grace it is the portion of all who believe ( Eph_1:13 ). It is an earnest of all the spiritual possessions which are ours in Christ Jesus, among the celestials.

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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