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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

John 13

Verses 1-17

  1. INTRO:
    1. During the American Revolution a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers repairing a small defensive barrier. Their leader was shouting instructions, but making no attempt to help them. Asked why by the rider, he retorted with great dignity, “Sir, I am a corporal!” The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers. The job done, he turned to the corporal and said, “Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you again.” It was none other than George Washington. (10,000 Illustrations; Today in the Word, March 6,1991)
      1. That’s an impressive example on a servant leader...but how about the God of the universe washing your feet?
    2. Ch’s.1-12 Jesus is the Light; Ch’s.13-21 Jesus is Love.
  2. LOVE IN ACTION!
    1. LOVE TO THE END! (1-5)
    2. Jesus knew that His hour had come - The 11th hour.
      1. This hour didn’t creep up on Him & take Him unaware.
      2. Yet, He also wasn’t staring at His watch, watching His life tick away.
      3. He knew He only had 15 hours to live. Yet, He is not anxious; nor nervously looking for a back door. He knows death is His destiny.
        1. He knows that not only is His death the Father’s will but even His betrayal is too (Chuck Swindoll; John; pg.72.)
    3. Loved them to the end - to the uttermost, eternally.
      1. Or, He loved them to the end of His life & to the end of love.
    4. (2) Supper - Here we have a “5 chapter supper”! (ch.13:1-18:1)
      1. His last meal, last night, & last opportunity to teach His disciples!
      2. Jesus’ last words speak of all the resources that will be at the disciples disposal, after His departure.
      3. Location? a room in Jerusalem. Occasion? the night before Passover.
        1. Passover - The day to remember back when an innocent, blemish free lambs blood was spilt, to spare a household from deaths visit to their home.
    5. (2,3) Judas self-serving; Jesus self-giving.
    6. (3) He has all things in His hands or under His power, & does what with it? Washes feet.
      1. Wow, what humility!
        1. ​​​​​​​Did you Hear about the pastor who was voted The Most Humble Pastor in America? The congregation gave him a medal that read, “To the most humble pastor in America” - Then they had to take it away from him that next Sunday…because he wore it!!!
      2. Humility = To stoop low (Gk). Carries the idea of serving another person.
      3. Q: What did the angels in heaven think now? “Ok, that’s too far Lord!”
    7. How clear - He had come from God & was going to God.
    8. (4) And now the demonstration of the verse, “I did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Mt.20:28)
    9. Here he deals with 4 principles regarding humility:
      1. Humility is unannounced - Jesus didn’t say, “Ok, men, I’m now going to demonstrate humility!”
        1. Greatness does not consist of exhalation but self-sacrifice.
        2. As nature teaches us, the branch most full of fruit...bends the lowest! :)
          1. The question is: How low can you grow?
      2. Humility is willing to receive, w/o embarrassment - Tucking his feet under himself, Peter pulls away.
        1. Jesus stoops, Peter resists...a resistance that leads to a rebuke.
      3. Humility is not a sign of weakness - Here Jesus “boldly rebukes” in the midst of this humble task.
      4. Humility does not play favorites - Humility is neither selective nor exclusive.
        1. Jesus washes each foot...even Judas’.
        2. If Jesus were only human, He probably would have been tempted to use boiling water to wash Peter’s feet, & ice cold water to wash Judas’.
        3. But He didn’t come to scold or to shun; He came to serve gently & humbly.
    10. Jesus was able to perform this act of utter humility because of His keen understanding of who He was, where He came from, & where He was going.
      1. This is key to humility in all persons - a healthy & balanced understanding of who they are.
    11. COMPLETELY CLEAN! (6-11)
    12. (9) Peter’s pendulum swing. (I can relate)
      1. This causes Jesus to put His finger on the pulse of a critical theological matter.
    13. (10) Explain public baths –
      1. Example: Early Haiti showers. Once showered, walk to room in flip flops, feet get dirty.
      2. Q: How clean? Completely! - Wow! That’s clean.
      3. Q: When would they be clean? They are!
        1. No need for “double dippin” (Need to be saved again? No, 1 bath is a enough!)
        2. We notice this doesn’t deny, but explains, a Christian will still sin, even after being saved (bathed) his feet (Christian walk) will still get dirty.
    14. Bathed (λούω [loo·o]) = washing the whole body; washed (νίπτω [nip·to]) = sponge off feet
      1. ​​​​​​​God bathes us at conversion, cleansing our scarlet sins white as snow.
      2. But, walking through life’s dirty streets, we pick up some of the world’s grunge & grime.
        1. What we need in that case is not another bath...just cleansing.
        2. 1 Jn.1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
          1. [Context? a believer already bathed]
    15. Q: What did Jesus feel as He was washing Judas’ feet? Did He pinch him? or do ½ a job? Or, did He feel sorrow knowing his feet would never ever come clean!
    16. Q: What did Judas feel? It’s moments before Satan would possess Him(27) & the last thing for Judas to remember is The One he was about to betray...washed his feet!!!
    17. Application: So I’d like you to recline at this table this morning. Jesus is getting to your feet next. He stooping to wash your needs. And not your clean & polite needs, but your dirty needs; your dirty feet of pride, your dirty feet of insensitivity, your dirty feet of selfishness.
      1. He wants to wash our dirty feet & teach us how to live as cleansed people.
    18. BLESSED ARE YOU IF YOU DO! (12-17)
    19. (12) Jesus finishes & reclines at the table again. It’s quiet. To drive this message into their hearts He asks a penetrating question. Do you know what I have done to you?
      1. 2 lessons emerge: [1] Humility includes serving one another not just the Lord. [2] Happiness results from demonstrating humility, not just learning about it.
    20. [1] Humility includes serving one another not just the Lord! (14-16)
    21. (14) Wash one another’s feet - The synoptic gospels tell us that on their way to the feast, the disciples had yielded to contention & pride. [They needed to be put away!]
      1. The were arguing on the way over here regarding, who was the greatest!
        1. They were ready to fight for a throne but not for a towel!
      2. So at least 2 reasons why Jesus chooses this activity on His last night w/His disciples: Proud Hearts & Dirty feet.
    22. The command to do for one another what Christ had done for them was not confined to washing feet.
      1. Some churches have a “Foot Washing Service”. But we don’t do that in our Western culture.
      2. If we’re not simply humbling ourselves & serving someone, then we’ve missed the whole point.
      3. Note: Do wash someone’s feet. It’s very special both to do & to have it done to you.
    23. [2] Happiness results from demonstrating humility, not just learning about it! (17)
    24. (17) Blessed are you if you do them - Our faith is to be intensely practical!
      1. Not just a great theology, but a practical outliving of it.
      2. How you treat people; How you spend money; How you spend your time. That’s predicated on how you view God.
      3. Love is best proved by service.
    25. Blessed are you if you do them - Simple obedience. As a soldier obeys his commanding officer, even when the order conflicts with his comfort, convenience, or safety.
      1. The motto of the Prince of Wales is “I Serve”! - And there is nothing nobler or more royal than service.
      2. Christianity is more than creed, & includes deeds.
    26. Servanthood is Love at Work, Love in Action!
      1. Q: How can you model Humility to those around you?
        1. What’s the one job no one likes to do in your office? Or job site? Or in your home?
        2. Do it & reap the Blessings of servanthood!
    27. Q: Have you humbled yourself to receive His humble care? Or have you tucked your feet underneath you, as Peter did, too proud to let Jesus deal with your needs His way?
    28. For some of us, letting Jesus do that is not a struggle, we’re comfortable with our relationship staying between Him & ourselves. The hard part comes when we’re challenged to serve one another. But that’s what Jesus tells us His way is all about!!!
      1. Q: How is your attitude toward humbly serving others?
    29. Jesus has passed us His towel. Who will He bring in your life this week to serve?

Verses 18-38

  1. INTRO:
    1. Memorials: Richie’s sister Leah’s memorial is Monday 6:30pm at Packing House in Redlands. - Stephany Vit’s brother Steve died cancer; service will be Tuesday 10am.
    2. Congrats to Dominic & Keri Lee - Baby finally came!
    3. Leonardo da Vinci’s timeless masterpiece Last Supper, captures the dramatic moment when Jesus announce, “one of you will betray me” in vs.21,22 (inspired by these 2 vs.)
      1. The Last Supper specifically portrays the reaction given by each apostle when Jesus said one of them would betray him. All the participants are aghast w/ shock, expressing amazement to one another….except Judas. Left to right:
      2. Bartholomew, James(son of Alphaeus) & Andrew form a group of 3 - all are surprised.
      3. Judas Iscariot, Peter & John form another group of 3. Judas is in shadow, looking rather withdrawn & taken aback by the sudden revelation of his plan. He’s clutching his betrayal fee. He’s the only person to have his elbow on the table. Da Vinci depicted him knocking over a salt shaker (1 chosen to be the salt of the world is the very one to rub salt into the Saviors wounds). Peter is holding a knife, perhaps foreshadowing his violent reaction in Gethsemane. John, appears to swoon.
      4. Jesus - center.
      5. Thomas, James(the greater) Philip are the next group of 3. Thomas is clearly upset; James stunned w/his arms in the air. Philip appears to be requesting some explanation
      6. Matthew, Jude & Simon(zealot) are the final group of 3. Both Jude & Matthew turned toward Simon, perhaps to find out if he has any answers.
    4. Judas not only clutches the 30 pieces of silver; he holds tightly a secret only he & Jesus share at the table: he is the betrayer!
  2. Et tu, JUDAS?
    1. BETRAY! (18-30)
    2. Oreo Cookie Outline: Betray! - Love! - Deny!
    3. (18) See Ps.41:9 - Heel = בֵקָע(Aqev)
      1. Only here in the NT. The metaphor is of one administering a kick. Or tripping with the heel like a wrestler. Or a horse raising its hoof & kicking.
      2. On the ground & vulnerable, your own confidant, who should use his knee to protect you, instead chooses to lift his own foot/heal against you with a blow. (Rabbi Yosef Hilbrandt phone conversation.)
        1. David & Ahithophel (1 Sam15-17; Ahithophel David’s rt hand man till Absalom took over; Ahithophel became a traitor; David sends Hushai to give counsel against Ahitophel’s; Ahithophel commits suicide)
        2. See Gen.3:15.
        3. We’ve all been backstabbed, betrayed, double crossed.
    4. No treachery is worse than betrayal by a family member or friend. Julius Caesar knew such treachery. Among the conspirators who assassinated the Roman leader on the Ides of March 44bc was Marcus Junius Brutus. Caesar not only trusted Brutus, he had favored him as a son. According to Roman historians, Caesar first resisted the onslaught of the assassins. But when he saw Brutus among them with his dagger drawn, Caesar ceased to struggle and, pulling the top part of his robe over his face, asked the famous question, “Et tu Brute” (You too, Brutus?) [Latin phrase used as an epitome of betrayal]
    5. (19) Clearer in NASB, From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.
      1. 1. Betrayal is bad enough, but to do so after sharing a meal makes it more heinous.2. Jesus had to be betrayed, but Judas did not have to be that betrayer.
    6. (26) During the Passover meal, the father of the household would offer to the guests pieces of bread dipped in a sauce of fruit, representing the fruits of the Promise Land.
      1. It was the sign of special attention, & it was one more appeal to the conscience of Judas.2. Jesus washed the very heels that were raised against Him…& fed a morsel to the very lips that would kiss His cheek to identify Him to His captures.
    7. (26,27) If the giving of the morsel to him in vs.26 was Jesus’ last appeal of love, what state of heart does vs.27a indicate?
      1. Leonardo’s seating arrangement wasn’t exactly right(& they didn’t sit as trad. tables) 2. Judas obviously received the place on the left hand, the seat of highest honor, kept for the most intimate friend. (John on his right; leaned on Jesus; rt hand free to eat)
        1. Judas, come sit by me tonight; I want to talk to you. (again the very seat was an appeal)
    8. (27) Realizing the power of Jesus’ love to soften even the most mercenary of traitors, Satan steps in to make sure that nothing foils his assassination plot.
    9. Q: How do you respond when a heel of betrayal comes crushing down on you?
      1. “Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
      2. No one relishes being stepped on, any more than a violet does. But when it happens, let Jesus example be your response.
        1. Let His fragrance exude in you a potent forgiveness, reaching the nostrils of the one whose heel has hurt you. (Swindoll)
    10. (28,29) Jesus did not reveal Judas’s secret; in fact, he treated him just like the others & they didn’t detect anything wrong.
      1. Wow, 1st to even invite him to the meal; then to wash his feet; then to give him the seat of highest honor; then to share His bread with him; then to show he could read hearts (How did Jesus know, Judas?).
      2. Jesus w/the towel is the perfect example of humility; Judas w/the bread is a perfect example of hypocrisy & treachery. (Warren Wiersbe; With The Word; John 13)
    11. What sorrow must have constantly weighed on our Savior’s heart, in knowing that all his love & care would be resisted by Judas, as a rock in your flower garden refuses to respond to the friendly influences of spring. (F.B.Meyer; Jn.13; adapted.)
      1. The very presence of Jesus Himself for 3 years did nothing to change Judas.
    12. L. (30) Watch this...connect verse 30 with 12:35,36 :(
      1. Like Pharaoh, unbending & unchanged, Judas’ heart remains hardened. And so he ventures out into the cold, dark, alleyways of betrayal - far from the Light that loved him & offered him warmth!4
    13. LOVE! (31-35)
    14. What a relief the traitor now gone. The Lord could now freely speak of His love & of His approaching glory.
    15. (31,32) Glory - His glory & His Fathers glory, was the supreme end of all Christ came to be & do.
    16. This is truly the heart of the whole passage. “Love”! (3 x’s)
      1. The mark of the Christian is the love which he or she exercises toward others.
      2. A love not center upon one’s own interest but rather upon the welfare of others
      3. It’s the kind of love God extends to us. Thus, a reciprocal love is expected.
      4. What are the characteristics of love? [1 Cor.13 msg Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. Love never dies]
      5. What makes Christian love unique? [Power behind it; where it comes from (i.e. above; poured out into our hearts)]
    17. DENY! (36-38)
    18. Oh how little we know ourselves!
    19. Peter relied upon his strong resolve to keep him faithful to His Master.
      1. We have done this many-a-time. It was the Holiness movement that the Wesley brothers & George Whitefield joined. We will read, study, memorize scripture faithfully. We will not fall to temptations. We will…”
      2. Do not boast in self-confidence what you will or won’t do, but seek the strength from the Living Lord.
      3. Fine line between a commitment to holiness & pure self-confidence.
      4. Peter just slid down a dark ravine into the shadows of self-confidence & didn’t even know it yet.
    20. (37) I will lay down my life for Your sake - Well, yes he eventually would...but after the indwelling of the H.S. & after Pentecost.
      1. Read Jn.21:18. And Peter said in his epistle knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. 1 Pet.1:14
    21. The difference between Judas & Peter was, one of whom betrayed Jesus & the other who denied Him - is that Peter sought forgiveness, but Judas did not.
      1. What could account for so great a defection from such a dedicated disciple?
        1. Simon, Simon! Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. Lk22:31
        2. Satan wants to thresh his faith & beat it into the ground until the husk breaks open. Then he’ll show the world what’s really inside Peter’s heart. (Ken Gire; Intimate Moments with the Savior; pg.98)
          1. Then the backbone of the revolution will be as good as crushed!
    22. (38) Somewhere in the night a rooster stretches its neck, shakes its feathers, & will crow an indictment against Peter.
      1. But remember, it was Satan, not Jesus who did the sifting. Jesus was the friend praying! :) But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren. Lk.22:32
    23. Communion!
    24. Ushers will pass out cups; please hold, we’ll partake together.
      1. 1st Song - Prepare Hearts for repentance time!
      2. We all have denied & betrayed the Lord.
    25. Hold the bread & allow me to walk us through things to confess before the Lord:
    26. When I’m too busy to pray - I deny that you are the center of my life. When I neglect Your Word - I deny that you are competent to guide me. When I worry - I deny that you are the Lord of my circumstances.When I turn my head from the hungry & the homeless - I deny that you are a God of mercy who has put me here to be your hands & your feet.When I steal from another person to enrich or enhance my life - whether that be something material or some credit that is rightly do another which I have claimed for myself - I deny that you are the source of all blessings. Forgive me Jesus for all those quiet ways, known only to you, in which I have denied you Forgive me Jesus for each time this week I didn’t have love for my brother/sister/neighbor. Forgive me Jesus for every time I didn’t wash the heel that was raised up against me.
    27. 2nd Song - Prepare Hearts for Thanksgiving time!
    28. Hold the cup & allow me to walk us through things to Thank Jesus for:
    29. Thank you for all the times You have prayed for me that my faith might not fail. Thank you for every time You rescued me from Satan’s siftings, that I didn’t even know Thank you for being a faithful Friend no matter how terribly I have failed You! Thank you for all the times you have prayed for me that my faith might not fail.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on John 13". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/john-13.html. 2017.