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Bible Commentaries
John 13

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

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Verses 1-38

XXII

THE BETHANY SUPPER; THE PASSOVER SUPPER; WASHING THE DISCIPLES’ FEET; PETER AND JUDAS AT THE LAST SUPPER

Harmony, pages 169-177 and Matthew 26:1-25; Matthew 26:31-35; Mark 14:1-8; Mark 14:27-31; Luke 22:1-16; Luke 22:21-38, John 12:2-8; John 13:1-38.


This section is taken from the events from our Lord’s great prophecy to his betrayal by Judas. The principal events in their order are: (1) Jesus predicts and the rulers plot his death; (2) the three great suppers – at Bethany, the Passover, and the Lord’s Supper; (3) the farewell discourse of comfort to his disciples; (4) Christ’s great intercessory prayer; (5) Gethsemane.


Their importance consist not only in the signification of the events themselves, but also in the sharp contrasts of character in the light of the presence of Jesus, and their bearing upon the meaning of all the rest of the New Testament. The space devoted to them by the several historians is as follows: Matthew, Mark, and Luke give less than one chapter each; Paul a single paragraph; John four full chapters. Here we note the value of John’s contribution to this matter, with similar instances, and his great silences sometimes where the others speak, and the bearing of the facts on two points: Did he have the other histories before him when he wrote, and what one of the purposes of his writing? John’s large contribution to this matter, with similar instances – for example, the early Judean ministry and the discourse on the Bread of Life in Capernaum, and his silences in the main concerning the Galilean ministry, clearly show that he did have before him the other histories when he wrote, and that one of his purposes was to supplement their story.


According to Dr. Broadus these intervening events between the prophecy and the betrayal are but successive steps through which our Lord seeks to prepare both himself and his disciples for his approaching death and their separation. They did prepare Christ himself but not his disciples, who did not understand until after his resurrection, nor indeed, fully, until after the coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost.


The Bethany supper. – Bethany, the village, and Jerusalem, the city, are brought in sharp contrast. The Holy City rejects the Lord, and the little village entertains him by a special supper in his honor.


Two persons also are contrasted, viz.: Judas and Mary. This revealing light of places and persons was in Jesus. The revelations of Mary in her anointing were:


(1) Her faith in the Lord’s words about his approaching death, greater than that of any of the apostles. They were surprised; the great event came upon them as a surprise, but later they understood.


(2) It is a revelation of the greatness of her love, selecting the costliest and best of all she had without reservation to be used as an ointment for her Lord – a preparation for his burial.


(3) It is a revelation of the far-reaching effect of what she did; as the ointment was diffused throughout the house, the fame of her glorious deed would be diffused throughout the world and to the end of time. Such love, such faith, no man has ever evinced.


This incident reveals Judas as one who had become a disciple for ambitious ends and greed. He, like Mary, is convinced now that Christ will not evade death, and that his ambitious desire of promotion in a worldly government will not be realized. The relation between Mary’s anointing and his bargain to sell his Lord arise from the fact that as he was treasurer of the funds, mainly contributed by the women who followed the Lord, and was a thief accustomed to appropriate to himself from this fund, and as Mary’s gift, in his judgment, should have been put into the treasury and thus increase the amount from which he could steal, he determined to get what he could in another direction. This treasury being about empty, and under such following as that of Mary was not likely to be increased, then he must turn somewhere else for money.


In the same way the light of the Lord’s presence revealed by marvelous contrast all other men or women who for a moment stood in that light. We would know nothing worth considering of Pilate, Caiaphas, and Herod, or the thieves on the cross, except as they stand revealed in the orbit of Christ’s light, in which they appear for a short time. On them that light confers the immortality of infamy; as in the case of others like Mary, it confers the immortality of honor.


The Passover supper. – Our Lord’s intense desire to participate in this particular Passover arises from his knowledge of its relation to his own approaching death, he being the true Passover Lamb, the antitype, and because at this Passover supper is to be the great transition to the Supper of the New Covenant. Here the question arises: In the light of this and other passages, did he in fact eat the regular Passover supper? His words, "I will not eat it," being only a part of a sentence, do not mean that he did not participate in the last Passover supper, but it means that he will not eat it again. That he did partake of this supper the text clearly shows. See the argument in Dr. Robertson’s note at the end of the Harmony. But the clause, "Until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God" (Luke 22:16; Luke 22:29-30), needs explanation. Both the Passover supper and the Lord’s Supper, instituted thereafter, are shadows of substances in the heavens. There will be in the glory world a feasting, not on earthly materials, but on the spiritual food of the kingdom of God.


Our Lord washing the feet of the apostles. – When we carefully examine Luke 22:24-30 and John’s account, we find that the disciples, having complied with the ablutions required by the Levitical law preparatory to the Passover, knew that when they got to the place of celebrating, somebody must perform the menial service of washing the feet which had become defiled by the long walk to the place. Hence a controversy arose as to greatness and precedence; each one, on account of what he conceived to be his high position in the kingdom, was unwilling to do the needed service. This washing of feet was connected with the Passover, an Old Testament ordinance, and not with our Lord’s Supper, a New Testament ordinance. A Southern theologian, Rev. John L. Dagg, preached a brief, simple, but very great sermon on this washing of feet, found in the Virginia Baptist Pulpit, an old book now out of print. That sermon gives two classes of scriptures, and analyzes this washing of feet, giving its lessons and showing how it cannot be a New Testament church ordinance, as follows: The two classes of scriptures are: (1) Those which refer to the purifications required before entering the Passover proper, or its attendant seven-day festival of unleavened bread, e.g., Numbers 9:6-10; 2 Chronicles 30:2-4; 2 Chronicles 30:17-20; Luke 22:14-30; John 13:1-26; John 18:28. (2) Those referring to the ablution of feet, before an ordinary meal and as an act of hospitality, e. g., Genesis 18:4; Genesis 19:2; Genesis 24:32; Genesis 43:24; Judges 19:21; 1 Samuel 25:41; Luke 7:38-44; John 12:2-3; 1 Timothy 5:10, counting, particularly, I Samuel 25-41 with Luke 7:38-44 and 1 Timothy 5:10.


The feast of John 18:28 is the feast of unleavened bread following the Passover supper. Here we need also to explain John 13:31-32 and the new commandment, John 13:34, in the light of 2 John 1:5, where it is said to be not new.


(1) The going out of Judas to betray his Lord through the prompting of Satan, Jesus knowing it to be the last step before his person should pass into the hands of his enemies that would result in that expiatory death which would bring about his own glory, used the words, "Now is the Son of man glorified and God is glorified in him."


(2) When Jesus says in John 13:34, "A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another," it was indeed new to their apprehension at that time, but when very many years later, John, in his second letter, declares it to be not a new commandment, but one they had from the beginning, he means by the beginning, this declaration in John 13:34. But since that time the Holy Spirit had come, and many years of intervening events in which the disciples had understood and practiced the commandment until it was no longer new, when John wrote his second letter.


Peter and Judas (it the last Passover. – These two persons are revealed, in the light of Christ’s presence at this last Passover. Peter, standing in the light of Christ, is shown indeed to be a sincere man and true Christian, but one greatly ignorant and self-confident. He is evidently priding himself upon the special honor conferred upon him at Caesarea Philippi, and has no shadow of doubt about his own future fidelity. In this connection Christ makes a triple prediction, which is a remarkable one. This we find set forth on pages 176-177 of the Harmony. He predicted that Judas would betray him; that every one of them would be offended at him, and that Peter would deny him outright three times. What a remarkable prediction! that with those chosen ones before whom he had displayed all of his miraculous powers and with whom he had been intimately associated so long, and who had received such highly responsible positions and who had been trained by him, to whom he had expounded the principles of the kingdom of God – that he would say to them, "All of you shall be offended in me this night." It was very hard for them to believe that this could take place, and when he went beyond that to predict that Peter would deny him outright, Peter just couldn’t believe it.


In Luke 22:3-32; Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-6; John 10:15; John 10:28-29; 1 John 5:18; Judges 1:9, are five distinct limitations of Satan’s power toward Christians, with the meritorious ground of the limitations. Looking at Luke’s account, Harmony, page 176 near the bottom: "Simon, Simon, behold Satan asked to have you" – "you" being plural, meaning all the apostles – "by asking." To give it literally, "Satan hath obtained you by asking that he might sift you as wheat." That is one of the greatest texts in the Bible: "Satan hath obtained you apostles by asking that he might sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for thee," using a singular pronoun and not a plural, "that thy faith fail not: and when thou art turned, strengthen [or confirm] thy brethren." Thus is expressed one of the limitations of Satan’s power.


By looking at Job I we find that Satan has to make stated reports to God of all that he does, wherever he goes. I have heard ministers preach on that text – "When the sons of God came, Satan appeared among them," and they seemed to misunderstand altogether the signification of it. Satan did not make any appearance there because he wanted to, but because he had to. Not only good angels, but evil angels, are under the continual control of God, and they have to make stated reports to God. God catechized Satan: "Where have you been?" Satan replies, "Wandering up and down through the earth." "Did you see my servant, Job?" "Yes." "Did you consider him?" "Yes, walked all around him. Wanted to get at him." "What kept you from getting at him?" "You have a hedge built around him, and I couldn’t get to him." "What is your opinion of him?" "Why, I think if you would let me get at him I would show you there is not as much in him as you think there is." Let the Christian get that thought deep into the heart, that Satan is compelled to come before God with the holy angels and make his report to God of every place he has been, of every Christian he has inspected and what his thoughts were about that Christian, what he wants to do with that Christian – that he has to lay it all before God. That is the first limitation.


Let us take the second limitation: "Simon, Satan hath obtained you by asking." The second limitation is that he can’t touch a Christian with his little finger without the permission of God. That is very comforting to me. Satan walks all around us, and it is in his mind to do us damage, for he would destroy us if he could, and if he can’t destroy us, he will worry us. So a wolf will prowl around a fold of sheep and want to eat a sheep mighty bad, but before Satan can touch that Christian at all he has to ask permission – has to go to Jesus and ask permission.


The third limitation is that when he gets the permission, it is confined to something that is really beneficial to the Christian: "Satan hath obtained you by asking that he may sift you as wheat." If he had asked that he might burn them like chaff it would not have been granted, but he asked that he might sift them as wheat. It doesn’t hurt wheat to be sifted. The more we separate the pure grain from the chaff the better. So you see that limitation. Satan made that request on this account: He thought God loved Peter and Jesus loved Peter, so that if Jesus sifted him he would not shake him hard. But Satan says, "I have been watching these twelve apostles. You let me shake them up." And at the first shake-up he sifted Judas out entirely, and Peter got an awful fall. Don’t forget in your own experience, for the comfort of your own heart, that the devil can’t touch you except in the direction of discipline that will really be for your good.


The fourth limitation: Even when he obtains permission to act for God in a lesson of discipline, he can’t take the Christian beyond the High Priest’s intercession: "But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not." "Now I will let Satan take you in hand. You need to be taken in hand by somebody. You have very wrong notions. You think that a man’s salvation depends on his hold on Christ, while it really depends on Christ’s hold on him, and you are sure that if everybody else turns loose, you will stand like a rock till you die." In other words, Peter says, "I keep myself." Jesus was willing for Satan, by sifting Peter, to discover to him that if his salvation depended on his hold on Christ, the devil would get him in a minute. It depended on Christ’s hold on Peter. So we have that limitation that Satan is not permitted, even after he obtains permission to worry or tempt a Christian, to take him beyond the intercession of the High Priest; Christ prayed for Peter. We will, in a later discussion, see how he prays for all that believe on him, and all that believe on him through the word of these apostles, and he ever liveth to make intercession for us, and that is the reason we are saved unto the uttermost. He is able to save unto the uttermost because he ever liveth to make intercession.


The last limitation of Satan:


Satan cannot cause a Christian to commit the unpardonable sin. He can’t touch the Christian’s life.


When Satan asked permission to try Job, God consented for him to take away his property and bring temporal death to his children, but not to touch Job’s life. And John (1 John 5:16), in discussing the two kinds of sin – the sin which is not unto death and the sin which is unto death – says, "When you see a brother sin a sin which is not unto death, if you will pray to God he will forgive him, but there is a sin which is unto death. I do not say that you shall pray for it." Prayer doesn’t touch that at all. "And whosoever is born of God does not commit sin [unto death], and cannot, because the seed of God remains in him and he cannot sin it, because that wicked one toucheth him not." Satan never has been able to destroy a Christian. As Paul puts it: "I am persuaded that neither angels, nor principalities, nor powers, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Or, as Jesus says, in talking about his sheep, "My father is greater than all, and none can pluck them out of his hand." To recapitulate: The first limitation of Satan – he must make report statedly to God; second limitation – he must ask permission before he touches a Christian; third limitation – he can then only do to a Christian what is best for the Christian to have done to him; fourth limitation – he cannot take a Christian beyond the intercession of the High Priest; fifth limitation – he cannot make the Christian commit the unpardonable sin.


Let us set over against that the revelation of Judas in John 12:4-6; Luke 22:3-6; Matthew 26:23; Luke 22:48; Matthew 27:3-5; Acts 1:16-20, showing the spiritual status, change of conviction, and trace the workings of his mind in selling and betraying Jesus, his subsequent remorse, despair and suicide, with no limitations of Satan’s power in his case. When we carefully read in the proper order the statements concerning Judas in John 12:4-6, we behold him outwardly a disciple, but inwardly a thief. In the subsequent references to him (Luke 22:3-6; Matthew 26:23; Luke 22:48; Matthew 27:3-5; Acts 1:16-20), the whole man stands clearly before us. Evidently he expected, when he commenced to follow Christ, that he would be the Messiah according to the Jewish conception – a king of the Jews and a conqueror of the world – and that there would come to him high position and great wealth as standing close to the Lord, but when subsequent developments made it plain to him that Christ’s kingdom was not to be of this world, and that his enemies were to put him to death, and that neither worldly honors nor wealth would come to his followers, then he determined to sell and betray his Lord. We are indeed surprised at the small price at which he sells his Lord and himself, but our only account for it is that he was under the promptings of Satan, and as Satan, having used a man and wrecked him, leaves him to his own resources, it is quite natural that remorse and despair should come to Judas. If there be something worth having in the spiritual kingdom, he has lost that. He has gained nothing by betraying and selling his Lord, and now in his despair, there being no limitation of Satan’s power over a lost soul, he is goaded to suicide. We cannot account for Judas and leave Satan out.


Arminians apply the doctrine of apostasy to both Judas and Peter. They say that Peter was truly converted and utterly fell away from the grace of God, and after the resurrection was newly converted. They say that Judas was a real Christian and fell from grace, and was finally lost. Though Adam dark, the noted Methodist commentator, contends that Solomon was a Christian and apostatized and was lost, he contends that Judas, after his apostasy, repented and was saved.


Somewhere about 1875 there appeared a poem in the Edin- burgh Review, which gave this philosophy of the betrayal of Judas: It affirms that Judas was a true Christian and did not mean to bring about the death of Christ, but thought that if he would betray Christ into the hands of his enemies that the Lord would at the right time, by the display of his miraculous power, destroy his enemies and establish his earthly kingdom. But when he found that the Lord refused to exercise his miraculous power to avert his death, then he was filled with remorse that he had precipitated this calamity. The poem is a masterly one, but attributes to Judas motives foreign to any revelation of him in the New Testament. The New Testament declares him to be a thief, and that what prompted him to sell the Lord was the waste of the ointment on Jesus that might have been put into the treasury, which he not only disbursed, but from which he abstracted what he would.


It is seen in Luke 22:32 that Peter did establish the brethren. "When once thou hast turned again, establish thy brethren." The word convert in the King James Version, "when thou art converted," does not mean "when thou art regenerated." It is used there in its etymological sense. Here is a man going through temptation. He has a wrong notion in his mind. "Now, when thou art turned, establish thy brethren." He is to establish them on the same point where he has been wrong, and got into trouble by it, and now he is to consider that the other brethren will have the same weakness, and he must, as a teacher, confirm them upon that weak point.


If we turn to 1 Peter we will see how he did establish the brethren on that very point. He thought then he could keep himself – that he could hold on to Jesus, while weak-kneed people, weak-handed people, might turn loose, but he would not. Now, Jesus says, "When you are turned from that error, establish your brethren on that very point." In 1 Peter 1, he says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in the heavens for you, who, by the power of God are guarded through faith." How long and unto what? "Unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time." "You who are kept through the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last day."


You have learned a great lesson if you will take into your heart all of the thoughts in connection with Peter that we have been discussing here, for every point that you can get clear in your mind that touches the devil, will be very helpful to you.


On page 177 of the Harmony we come to this statement: "And he said unto them, When I sent you forth without purse and wallet and shoes, lacked you anything?" They said, "Nothing." By reading Matthew 10 and Luke 10 you will find that the Lord there ordains that they that preach the gospel should live by the gospel: "The laborer is worthy of his hire."


You don’t have to furnish out of your own pocket the expenses of your living while you are preaching for Jesus Christ. Ha is to take care of you. You are to live of the gospel.


And now he puts a question, "When I sent you forth without purse and wallet and shoes, lacked you anything?" A great deal is involved in that. Christ promised to take care of them. "I send you out like no set of men were ever sent before on such a mission in the world." A soldier does not go to war on his own charges. The government takes care of him: "I send you out that way."


But this commission was temporarily suspended at this Passover: "And he said unto them, but now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a wallet: and he that hath none let him sell his clothes and buy a sword. [He that hath no sword, let him sell his clothes and buy a sword.] For I say unto you, that this which is written must be fulfilled in me. And he was reckoned with the transgressors: for that which concerneth me hath fulfillment. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords, and he said unto them, it is enough" (Luke 22:36-38).


Now, I will give you some sound doctrine. Christ had ordained that they who left everything and committed themselves with absolute consecration to his service, that he would take care of them, and he established and ordered that they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel. Now he comes to a time when he is going to reverse that: "There is just ahead of you and very near to you a separation from me, and as much as you are separated from me, i.e., as long as I lie in the grave dead, you will have to take care of yourselves. If you have a purse, take it, and you will not only have to take care of yourselves, but you will have to defend yourselves. If you haven’t a sword, buy one." But that suspension was only for the time that he was in the grave.


Peter applied it both too soon and too late. This is a peculiarity of Peter. See my sermon in my first book of sermons called, "From Simon to Cephas." "Simon" means a hearer, and "Cephas" means established – a stone. But Peter here was both too short and too long in getting hold of what Christ meant. He was too short in this, that he used that sword before Christ was separated from him. He cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. He was not to depend on the sword and not to defend himself as long as the Master was with him. As long as Jesus is alive, we don’t use our swords to take care of ourselves. When Jesus is dead, we may. Peter was too short. He commenced too soon and used the sword. Now I will show that be was too long. After Christ rose from the dead, Peter says, "I go a fishing." In other words, "I go back to my old occupation; I must make a living, and my occupation is fishing, and times are getting hard. I go back to my fishing." It did not apply then, because Jesus was risen and alive. So he took that too far. He commenced too soon, and he carried, it too far.


Whoever opposes ministerial support, and I mean by ministerial support the support of a man who consecrates himself in faith, who does like Peter said they did, "Lord, we left all to follow thee," and whoever opposes the ordinance of Jesus Christ, that they that preach the gospel should live of the gospel, virtually put themselves under a dead Christ. They virtually say that Jesus has not risen from the dead.


They go under this temporary commission: "He that hath a purse, let him take it, and a wallet, let him take that, and he that hath no sword, let him take his coat and sell it and buy one to defend himself with. Let the preacher do like other people do." They that take that position virtually deny the resurrection of Christ, and virtually affirm that Jesus Christ is not living. Just as soon as Jesus rose from the dead he said, "Now you can put that sword away, Peter. There was a time when you could defend yourself and make your own living, and that was while I was dead." But we believe that Christ is now alive. He is risen indeed: "I am he that was dead) but am alive to die no more."


The man who believes that God has called him to preach ought to burn the bridges behind him.


A deacon got up once, when we were ordaining a preacher and said, "I am leaving it to the presbytery here to ask the things on doctrine, but I have a question to ask: ’Do you, in seeking this office and submitting to this ordination, burn every bridge between you and the secular life, or do you leave that bridge standing, thinking in your mind that if you don’t make a living you will go back and take up the secular trade?’ " "Well," the candidate said, "I will have to study about that." The deacon replied, "I will have to study about voting for your ordination until you are ready to answer that question." One of the sharpest sentences I ever made in my life was a declaration that:


No man on earth that God called to preach and who burned absolutely all the bridges behind him and really trusted in Jesus Christ to take care of him, ever failed of being taken care of.


That is a hard saying and a broad one, but it is the truth. And whenever a preacher is disposed to question that, let him remember the words of Jesus Christ, "I sent you out without purse or wallet, or sword. You just took your life into your hands. You went out as sheep among the wolves. Did you lack anything?" You won’t lack anything that is good for you. Sometimes you will get mighty hungry. I don’t say you won’t get hungry. Sometimes you will get cold. I don’t deny that.


But I do affirm before God that whoever puts himself unreservedly upon the promise of the Lord Jesus Christ and keeps himself on that, either God will take care of him, or it is the best for him to die, one or the other. Never any good comes from doubting.

QUESTIONS
1. From what great division is this section taken?


2. What are the principal events in their order?


3. What is their importance?


4. What space devoted to them by the several historians?


5. What value of John’s contribution to this matter?


6. According to Dr. Broadus what successive steps do we find in this group of events?


7. Did they prepare Christ himself but not his disciples for his approaching death?


8. What two places are revealed in sharp contrast by the Bethany supper?


9. What two persons are also contrasted?


10. In whom was this revealing light of places and persons?


11. What revelations of Mary in her anointing?


12. What revelation of Judas and the relation between Mary’s anointing and his bargaining to sell our Lord?


13. Show how the light of our Lord’s presence revealed others also.


14. Explain our Lord’s intense desire to eat this particular Passover (Luke 22:15).


15. Explain "I will not eat it" (Luke 22:16).


16. Explain "until it be fulfilled, etc." (Luke 22:16; Luke 22:29-30).


17. What was the occasion of the foot-washing in John 13?


18. Was it connected with the Passover or the Lord’s Supper?


19. What sermon on it is commended?


20. What two classes of scriptures cited and what are the lessons?


21. What was the feast of John 18:28?


22. Explain John 13:31-32; John 13:34 in the light of 2 John 1:5.


23. What two persons are revealed in the light of Christ’s presence at this last Passover?


24. Analyze the revelation of Peter.


25. What triple prediction did Christ set forth in this connection, and what makes it a remarkable prediction?


26. Give five distinct limitations of Satan and the scriptures therefore.


27. Correlate and analyze the scriptures on Judas.


28. How do Arminians apply the doctrine of apostasy to both Judas and Peter and what was the reply?


29. What was the explanation of Judas’ betrayal of our Lord, in the Edinburgh Review)


30. What the meaning and application of Luke 22:32 and what the evidence from his letter that Peter did this?


31. What is the law of ministerial support?


32. What was the reason of its temporary suspension at this Passover?


33. How long was the suspension?


34. How and wherein did Peter apply it too soon and too late?


35. What does one who opposes ministerial support virtually say, and what the lesson for the preachers?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on John 13". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/john-13.html.
 
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