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Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
The record of our Lord's public ministry has now been concluded-in the First Three Gospels by a solemn leave-taking of the Temple, until then "His Father's House" and the center of all the Church's solemnities; in this Fourth Gospel by an equally solemn leave-taking of the People, in whom until then God's visible kingdom had stood represented. We are now in the Supper-room; the circumstances preparatory to which our Evangelist presumes his readers to be already familiar with through the other Gospels. What passed in this supper room, as recorded in this and the four following chapters, has been felt by the Church in every age to be stamped with a heavenly and divine impress, beyond all else even in this most divine Gospel, if one may so speak, and the glory of which no language can express.
Now before the feast of the Passover. This raises the question whether our Lord ate the Passover with His disciples at all the night before He suffered; and if so, whether He did so on the same day with other Jews or a day earlier. To this question we adverted in the Remarks prefixed to the exposition of Luke 22:7-13, where we expressed it as our unhesitating conviction that He did eat it, and on the same day with others. That the First Three Evangelists expressly state this, admits of no reasonable doubt; and it is only because of certain expressions in the Fourth Gospel that some able critics think themselves bound to depart from that opinion. So Greswell and Ellicott, for example; while, among others, Robinson, Wieseler, and Fairbairn defend the opinion which we have expressed. Now, as this is the first of the passages in the Fourth Gospel which are thought to intimate that the "supper" which our Lord observed, if a Passover at all, was "before the feast of the Passover," as regularly observed, let us see how that is to be met.
One way of meeting it is by understanding "the feast" here to mean, not the Paschal supper, but the seven days' "Feast of Unleavened Bread" - which began on the 15th Nisan, and was ushered in by the eating of the Passover on the 14th. (See Numbers 28:16-17.) So Robinson. In this case the difficulty indeed vanishes. But there is no need to resort to that explanation, which seems somewhat unnatural. Understanding the Evangelist to refer to the Paschal supper itself, the meaning seems to be, not 'a day before the Passover,' but simply that 'ere the feast began,' Jesus made solemn preparation for doing at it what is about to be recorded. We know from the other Gospels what precise directions Jesus gave to two of His disciples about getting ready the Passover in the large upper room before He and the other ten left Bethany. (See the notes at Luke 22:7-13.) And what deep thoughts on the subject were passing in the mind of our Lord Himself in connection with these arrangements, we are here very sublimely told by our Evangelist (John 12:1-2). See also the notes at Luke 22:14-16. The meaning, then, we take it, is simply this, that Jesus, when He proceeded to wash His disciples' feet during the Paschal supper, did so not only with great deliberation, but in conformity with purposes and arrangements "before the feast." So substantially Stier and Fairbairn.
When Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father. On such beautiful euphemistic allusions to the Redeemer's death, see the notes at Luke 9:31; Luke 9:51.
Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. That is, on the edge of His last sufferings-when it might have been supposed that His own awful prospects would absorb all His attention-He was so far from forgetting "His own," who were to be left struggling "in the world," after He had "departed out of it to the Father" (John 17:11), that in His care for them He seemed scarce to think of Himself except in connection with them. Herein is "love," not only enduring "to the end," but most affectingly manifested when, judging by a human standard, least to be expected.
And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;
And supper being ended, [ genomenou (G1096)]. In this rendering our translators have followed Luther and Beza, but unfortunately, since from John 13:26 it seems plain that the supper was not even then ended. The meaning either is, 'And supper being prepared,' or 'And supper going on.' So the same word is used, as Alford notices, in Matthew 26:6 "While Jesus was in Bethany" [ genomenou (G1096)], and in John 21:4, "when it was morning" [ prooias (G4405) genomenees (G1096)]. [Of course, this must be the meaning if the reading ginomenou (G1096) - in the present tense-be adopted, with Tischendorf and Tregelles. But the authority for it is scarcely so strong, we judge, as for the received reading, to which Lachmann adheres, and in which Alford concurs.]
(The devi having now [ eedee (G2235), or rather 'already'] put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him)] - referring to the compact he had already made with the chief priests (see the notes at Mark 14:10-11).
Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God, [ exeelthen (G1831) ... hupagei] - or 'came forth from God, and was going to God.' This verse is very sublime, and as a preface to what follows, were we not familiar with it, would fill us with a delightful wonder. An unclouded perception of His essential relation to the Father, the commission He held from Him, and His approaching Return to Him, possessed His soul.
He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
He riseth from supper, and laid [rather, 'layeth' titheesin (G5087 )] aside his garments (which would have impeded the operation of washing), and took a towel, and girded himself - assuming a servant's dress.
After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
After that he poureth water into a ('the' bason), and began (or 'proceeded') to wash the disciples' feet.
Three different words are used in Greek to express 'washing,' in three different senses; and all three are used in the New Testament. The first [ niptoo (G3538) - a late form of nizoo] signifies to wash a part of the body,' as the hands (Mark 7:3) and the feet. This accordingly is the word used here, and five other times in the verses following, of the washing of the feet. The second [ louoo (G3068), louesthai (G3068)] signifies to 'wash the whole body,' as in a bath; to 'bathe.' This accordingly is the word warily used in John 13:10, of the washing of the entire person. The third [ plunoo (G4150)] signifies to 'wash clothes.' This accordingly is used in Revelation 7:14 - "These are they that washed [ eplunan (G4150)] their robes;" and in John 22:14 , according to what appears the true reading - "Blessed are they that wash their robes" [ hoi (G3588) plunontes (G4150) tas (G3588) stolas (G4749) autoon (G846)], etc. The importance of distinguishing the first two will appear when we come to John 13:10.
And to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Beyond all doubt the feet of Judas were washed, as of all the rest.
Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Our language cannot bring out the intensely vivid contrast between the "Thou" [ su (G4771)] and the "my" [ mou (G3450)], which by bringing them together the original expresses. But every word of this question is emphatic. Thus far, and in the question itself, there was nothing but the most profound and beautiful astonishment at a condescension to him quite incomprehensible. Accordingly, though there can be no doubt that already Peter's heart rebelled against it as a thing not to be borne, Jesus ministers no rebuke as yet, but only bids him wait a little, and he should understand it all.
Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now: - q.d., 'Such condescension does need explanation; it is fitted to astonish;'
But thou shalt know hereafter, [ meta (G3326) tauta (G5023)] - literally, 'after these things,' meaning 'presently;' although viewed as a general maxim, applicable to all dark sayings in God's word, and dark doings in God's providence, these words are full of consolation.
Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash (more emphatically, 'Never shalt thou wash') my feet: -
q.d., 'That is an incongruity to which I can never submit. How like the man!
Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. What Peter could not submit to was, that the Master should serve His servant. But the whole saving work of Christ was one continued series of such services, only ending with and consummated by the most self-sacrificing and transcendent of all services: "THE SON OF MAN CAME not to be ministered unto, but TO MINISTER, AND TO GIVE HIS LIFE A RANSOM FOR MANY." (See the note at Mark 10:45.) If Peter, then, could not submit to let his Master go down so low as to wash his feet, how should he suffer. himself to be served-and so saved-by Him at all? This is couched under the one pregnant word "wash," which though applicable to the lower operation which Peter resisted, is the familiar scriptural symbol of that higher cleansing, which Peter little thought he was at the same time virtually putting from him. It is not humility to refuse what the Lord deigns to do for us, or to deny what He has done, but it is self-willed presumption-not rare, however, in those inner circles of lofty religious profession and traditional spirituality, which are found wherever Christian truth has enjoyed long and undisturbed possession. The truest humility is to receive reverentially, and thankfully to own, the gifts of grace.
Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head: - q.d., 'To be severed from Thee, Lord, is death to me: If that be the meaning of my speech, I tread upon it; and if to be washed of Thee have such significance, then not my feet only, but hands, head, and all, be washed!' This artless expression of clinging, life-and-death attachment to Jesus, and felt dependence upon Him for his whole spiritual well-being, compared with the similar saying in John 6:68-69 (on which see exposition), furnishes such evidence of historic verity as no thoroughly honest mind can resist.
Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
Jesus saith to him, He that is washed, [ leloumenos (G3068)] - not in the partial sense denoted by the word used for the washing of the feet, but in the complete sense denoted by the word here used, signifying to wash the entire person; as if we should render it, 'he that is bathed:'
Needeth not - to be so washed anymore; needeth no such washing a second time.
Save to wash, [ nipsasthai (G3538 )] his feet - that is, 'needeth to do no more than wash his feet;' the former word being now resumed.
But is clean every whit, [ katharos (G2513) holos (G3650)] - 'clean as a whole,' or entirely clean. This sentence is singularly instructive. Of the two cleansings, the one points to that which takes place at the commencement of the Christian life, embracing complete absolution from sin as a guilty state, and entire deliverance from it as a polluted life (Revelation 1:5; 1 Corinthians 6:11) - or, in the language of theology, Justification and Regeneration. This cleansing is effected once for all, and is never repeated. The other cleansing, described as that of "the feet," is such, for example, as one walking from a bath quite cleansed still needs, in consequence of his contact with the earth. (Compare Exodus 30:18-19.) It is the daily cleansing which we are taught, to seek, when in the spirit of adoption we say, "Our Father which art in heaven-forgive us our debts;" and, when burdened with the sense of manifold shortcomings-as what tender heart of a Christian is not?-is it not a relief to be permitted thus to wash our feet after a day's contact with the earth? This is not to call in question the completeness of our past justification. Our Lord, while graciously insisting on washing Peter's feet, refuses to extend the cleansing further, that the symbolical instruction intended to be conveyed might not be marred.
For ... A very important statement; as showing that Judas-instead of being at first as true-hearted a disciple as the rest, and merely falling away afterward, as many represent it-never experienced that cleansing at all which made the others what they were.
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? - that is, 'Know ye the intent of it?' The question, however, was not intended to draw forth an answer, but, like many other of our Lord's questions, to summon their attention to His own answer.
Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
And ye say well; for so I am. The conscious divinity with which this claim is made is remarkable, following immediately on His laying aside the towel of service. Yet what is this whole history but a succession of such astonishing contrasts from first to last?
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet (O ye servants), ye also (who are but fellow-servants), ought to wash one another's feet - not in the narrow sense of a literal washing, profanely caricatured by Popes and Emperors, but by the very humblest real services one to another.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. An oft-repeated saying (see the note at Matthew 10:24).
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. A hint that even among real Christians the doing of such things would come lamentably short of the knowing.
I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.
I speak not of you all - the "happy are ye," of John 13:17, being on no supposition applicable to Judas.
I know whom I have chosen - in the higher sense.
But, that the scripture may be fulfilled: - q.d., 'Wonder not that one has been introduced into your number who is none of Mine: it is by no accident: there is no mistake; it, is just that he might fulfill his predicted destiny.'
He that eateth bread with me - "that did eat of my bread" (Psalms 41:9), as one of My family; admitted to the nearest familiarity of discipleship and of social life,
Hath lifted up his heel against me - turned upon Me, adding insult to injury. (Compare Hebrews 10:29.) In the Psalm the immediate reference is to Ahithophel's treachery against David (2 Samuel 17:1-29); one of those scenes in which the parallel of his story with that of his great Antitype is exceedingly striking. The eating bread,' says Stier (with whom, as with others who hold that Judas partook of the Lord's Supper, we agree), derives a fearful meaning from the participation in the sacramental Supper, a meaning which must be applied forever to all unworthy communicants, as well as to all betrayers of Christ who eat the bread of His Church.'
Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.
That, when it is come to pass - instead of being staggered,
Ye may believe that I am he - rather, confirmed in your faith: and indeed this did come to pass when they deeply needed such confirmation.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. See the note at Matthew 10:40. The connection here seems to be that despite the dishonour done to him by Judas, and similar treatment awaiting themselves, they were to be cheered by the assurance that their office, even as His own, was divine.
When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, That one of you shall betray me. The announcement of John 13:18 seems not to have been plain enough to be quite apprehended, except by the traitor himself. He will therefore speak it out in terms not to be misunderstood. But how much it cost Him to do this, appears from the "trouble" that came over His "spirit" - visible emotion, no doubt-before He got it uttered. What wounded susceptibility does this disclose, and what exquisite delicacy in His social conversation with the Twelve, to whom He cannot, without an effort, break the subject!
Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.
Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting (or 'being in doubt') of whom he spake. Further intensely interesting particulars are given in the other Gospels. First, "They were exceeding sorrowful" (Matthew 26:22). Second, "They began to inquire among themselves which of them it was that should do this thing" (Luke 22:23). Third, "They began to say unto Him one by one, Is it I? and another, Is it I?" (Mark 14:19). Generous, simple hearts! They abhorred the thought, but, instead of putting it on others, each was only anxious to purge himself, and know if he could be the wretch. Their putting it at once to Jesus Himself, as knowing doubtless who was to do it, was the best, as it certainly was the most spontaneous and artless, evidence of their own innocence. Fourth, Jesus-apparently while this questioning was going on-added, "The Son of Man goeth as it is written of Him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born" (Matthew 26:24). Fifth, "Judas," last of all, "answered and said, Lord, Is it I?" evidently feeling that when all were saying this, if he were to hold his peace, that of itself would draw suspicion upon him. To prevent this the question is wrung out of him, but perhaps, amidst the stir and excitement at the table, in a half-suppressed tone-as we are inclined to think the answer also was - "Thou hast said" (Matthew 26:25), or possibly by little more than a sign; for from John 13:28, below, it is evident that until the moment when he went out he was not openly discovered.
Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.
One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Since Jesus certainly loved all the Eleven, this must mean a special, dear love which Jesus had for John. (Compare John 11:3-4, of Lazarus.) Once and again does our Evangelist thus denote himself. Doubtless it was on account of this love that Jesus placed him next to Himself-in His own bosom-at the table. But it is alluded to here to explain the facility which he had, from his position, of asking his Lord quietly whom He meant.
Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.
Simon Peter therefore beckoned [`beckoneth' neuei (G3506 )] to him, that he should ask who it should (or 'might') be of whom he spake. Perhaps Peter reclined at the corresponding place on the other side of Jesus.
He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?
He then lying, [ epipesoon (G1968 ), 'leaning over' or 'leaning back'] on Jesus' breast, saith unto him (evidently in a whisper), Lord, who is it?
Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Jesus answered - `answereth,' clearly also inaudibly; the answer being conveyed probably from behind to Peter by John.
When I have dipped it - meaning a piece of the bread soaked in the wine or the sauce of the dish; one of the ancient ways of testifying special regard. Compare John 13:18, "He that eateth bread with me."
And when he had dipped the sop, he gave [or 'giveth' didoosin (G1325 )] it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Thus, the sign of Judas' treachery was an affecting expression, and the last, of the Saviour's wounded love!
And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.
And after the sop Satan, [ tote (G5119 ), 'then' or 'straightway Satan'] entered into him. Very solemn are these brief hints of the successive steps by which Judas reached the climax of his guilt. "The devil had already put it into his heart to betray his Lord." Yet who can tell what struggles he went through before he brought himself to carry that suggestion into effect? Even after this, however, his compunctions were not at an end. With the thirty pieces of silver already in his possession, he seems still to have quailed-and can we wonder? When Jesus stooped to wash his feet, it may be the last struggle was reaching its crisis. But that word of the Psalm, about "one that did eat of His bread who would lift up his heel against Him," probably all but turned the dread scale, and the still more explicit announcement, that one of those sitting with Him at the table should betray Him, would beget the thought, 'I am detected; it is now too late to draw back.' At that moment the sop is given, by which offer of friendship was once more made-and how affectingly! But already "Satan has entered into him," and though the Saviour's act might seem enough to recall him even yet, hell is now in his bosom, and he says within himself, 'The die is cast; now let me go through with it; fear, begone!' See the notes at Mark 14:1-11, Remark 8 at the close of that section; also at Luke 11:24-26.
Then said [`saith' legei (G3004 )] Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly: - q.d., 'Why linger here? This is not the place for thee; thy presence here is a restraint to us and to thee alike; thy work stands still; thou hast, already the wages of iniquity-go work for them.'
Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.
For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast: or, that he should give something to the poor. A very important statement, showing how carefully Jesus had kept the secret, and Judas his hypocrisy, to the last.
He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.
He then having received the sop went immediately out - thus, by his own act and deed, severing himself forever from that holy society with which he never had any spiritual sympathy.
And it was night - but far blacker night in the soul of Judas than in the sky over his head.
Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said [`saith' legei (G3004 )], Now is the son of man glorified.
These remarkable words plainly imply that up to this moment our Lord had spoken under a painful restraint; the presence of a traitor within the little circle of His holiest fellowship on earth preventing the free and full outpouring of His heart. This is evident, indeed, from those oft-recurring clauses, "Ye are not all clean," "I speak not of you all," etc. "Now" the restraint is removed, and the embankment which kept in the mighty volume of living waters having broken down, they burst forth in a torrent which only ceases on His leaving the Supper-room and entering on the next stage of His great work-the scene in the Garden. But with what words is the silence first broken on the departure of Judas? By no reflections on the traitor, and, what is still more wonderful, by no reference to the dread character of His own approaching sufferings. He does not even name them, except by announcing, as with a burst of triumph, that the hour of His glory has arrived! And what is very remarkable, in five brief clauses He repeats this word "glorify" five times, as if to His view a coruscation of glories played at that moment about the Cross. (See the note at John 12:23.) And God is glorified in him - the glory of each reaching its zenith in the death of the Cross!
If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.
If God be glorified in him, God shall also - in return and reward of this highest of all services ever rendered to Him, or capable of being rendered,
Glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him - referring now to the Son's Resurrection and Exaltation after this service was over, including all the honour and glory then put upon Him, and that will for ever encircle Him as Head of the new creation.
Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.
Little children, [ teknia (G5040)]. From the height of His own glory He now descends, with sweet pity, to His "little children," all now His own. This term of endearment, nowhere else used in the Gospels, and once only employed by Paul (Galatians 4:19), is appropriated by the beloved disciple himself, who no fewer than seven times employs it in his first Epistle.
Yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me - shall feel the want of Me.
And as I said unto the Jews (John 7:34; John 8:21). A remarkable word this here - "the Jews." The Eleven were all themselves Jews. But now that He and they were on a higher footing, He leaves the name to those who were Jews, and nothing but Jews.
Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. But, O, in what a different sense!
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as [`even as' kathoos (G2531 )] I have loved you, that ye also love one another. This was the new feature of it. Christ's love to His people in giving His life a ransom for them was altogether new, and consequently as a Model and Standard for theirs to one another. It is not however, something transcending the great moral law, which is "the old commandment" (1 John 2:7; and see the notes at Mark 12:23-33), but that law in a new and special form. Hence, it is said to be both new and old (1 John 2:7-8).
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples - the disciples of Him who laid down His life for those He loved.
If ye have love one to another - for My sake, and as one in Me; for to such love men outside the circle of believers know right well that they are entire strangers. Alas, how little of it there is even within this circle!
Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.
Simon Peter said [`saith' legei (G3004 )] unto him - seeing plainly, in these directions how to behave themselves, that He was indeed going from them,
Lord, where goest thou? - having hardly a glimmering of the real truth.
Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterward.
How different this from what He said to the Jews, "Whither I go, ye cannot come" (John 8:21).
Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. Peter said ('saith') unto him, Why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake, [ huper (G5228) sou (G4675)] - 'for Thee.' He seems now to see that it was death Christ referred to as what would sever Him from them, but is not staggered at following Him there. Dear soul! It was thy heart's true and conscious affection for thy Master that prompted this speech, rash and presumptuous though it was.
Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.
Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? [ huper (G5228) Emou (G1700)] - 'for Me?' In this repetition of Peter's words there is deep though affectionate irony; and this Peter himself would feel for many a day after his recovery, as he retraced the painful particulars.
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, until thou hast denied me thrice. See the notes at Luke 22:31-34.
(1) Among the unique features of this wonderful History, none is more remarkable than the union in the Lord Jesus of a perfect foresight of the future, entire preparedness for it, and a calm expectation of it, but yet a certain freshness of feeling which unforeseen events awaken in others. He comes into every scene, and holds conversations with all classes, fully cognizant of every movement for and against Him, and with all hearts open to His gaze. And yet His own movements are so perfectly natural and manifestly human, that men have difficulty in believing the lofty things which He says of Himself, and all that is said and done in His presence awakens His sensibilities just as if it took Him as much by surprise as it would any other man. Look at this very chapter. With exalted Self-possession He rises from supper, girds Himself with the towel of service, pours water into a basin, and proceeds to wash His disciples' feet-all in the exercise of an eternal and unchanging love, and in furtherance of plans of action laid from the beginning.
But see, on the other hand, how naturally each incident and saying at the Supper-table gives rise to another, and the whole susceptibilities of that tender Heart are awakened by the painful disclosures which had to be made, and become keener when the moment arrives for being quite plain. Peter's hesitation first, and then positive refusal, to be washed by his blessed Master had led to a hint how fatal that resolution would be to him in relation to the higher washing. Peter, who had never thought of that, is now all eagerness to be washed in every sense of the word; but he is told that he needs it not, having gotten that already, and so become "clean every whit" - as his fellows at the table with him also were. But the presence of the traitor stifled the word "all," and shaped it into "Ye are clean-but not all." Still, as if loath to break it to them too abruptly, and as they evidently failed to catch the precise import of His hint, He proceeds to open up to them His design in washing their feet, holding this up as a high example of that self-denying humility and mutual service by which He expected them to be distinguished before the world.
But this again brought up before His mind the dark shadow of the deed about to be done against Him, and the man that was to do it, sitting with Him at the table, and by his presence interrupting, beyond longer endurance, the free flow of His gracious speech during the brief space they were to be together. Now, therefore, He will come nearer to the point and hasten his exit. "I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but, that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am He." And yet, even after He has come this length, He seems to pause; and, as if trying to throw off the unwelcome subject for a moment, He resumes what He had broken off-the lofty mission on which He was sending them forth - "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth Me; and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me." So manifestly is this a resumption of the former subject, that if John 13:18-19 were enclosed in a parenthesis, it would seem not to have been interrupted at all, except by a side hint.
But the time for hints is past, and the moment for explicit disclosure has come. No doubt, the last hint-about one eating of His bread who was to lift up his heel against Him-was too plain not to pain the whole Eleven, and almost prevent them listening to anything else. Jesus, therefore, come to a point, will speak to them no more enigmatically. But mark the emotion which precedes the explicit announcement that there is a traitor at the table. "When Jesus had thus said, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said" - as if the utterance was almost choked, and the thing would hardly come out - "Verily, verily, I say unto you, One of you shall betray Me." What we wish to notice here is, that while all is manifestly naked and open beforehand to Him who calmly directed and lovingly presided at this Supper, His quick susceptibilities are kindled, and His heart's deepest emotions are stirred, when He has in naked terms to announce the deed of horror. In short, we have here divine intelligence and warm Human feeling, so entirely in harmony in one and the same Person, and in every part of one and the same scene, as proclaim their own historic reality beyond all the powers of human invention to imitate. Nor is it the mere facts here presented to us, but the very form and pressure of them, that bear the stamp of manifest truth; so much so, that it is to us inconceivable how, even with the facts before him, they could have been so conveyed by the Evangelist as they are here, except on one explanation - "When the Comforter is come, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I said unto you" (John 14:26).
To continue this line of remark here were needless. But we cannot refrain from alluding to the freedom which Jesus seemed to breathe the moment that the traitor made his exit, and at the same time the sublime transport with which His all-embracing Eye saw in that movement His virtual elevation to glory through the Cross - "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him"! On every view of it but one this is inexplicable. That perfect combination of the divine and the human in the subject of this History, which to have been written must have been real-that, and that alone, explains all.
(2) How affecting is the contrast between the example here exhibited and the prevailing spirit of Christendom in almost every age of its history! At the most touching period of His conversation with them-when He was with them for the last time-the Master descends to the position and the offices of a servant to His servants; doing for them the humblest of services: and this in order to exemplify in His own Person what He expected them to be and to do to one another in all succeeding time. To give this the more weight, He holds up the difference between Himself and them. Being themselves but servants, it was no great thing for them to serve one another. But if the Master voluntarily went down to that position, much more should they, in whose case to serve was no descent at all below their rightful dignity, but only making full proof of their proper calling. Alas, for the fruit! The pride of the clergy, how early did it blossom, and how proverbial has it become, and, as if to make this all the more noticeable, the language and the forms of humility and service have kept bitter pace with the palpable absence of the reality. How could such ministers teach and beget humility and loving-kindness in the Christian people? Some noble examples, both of ministers and people, are on record; and many, many, doubtless, there have been and are which will never be recorded. But the full and all-impressive manifestation of that humility which minds not high things, but condescends to men of low estate, and that love which lives for others, and thinks no service too mean which ministers to the comfort and well-being of the least of Christ's "brethren," is yet to come-when, "by this shall all men know that we are Christ's disciples, because we have love one to another." The Lord hasten it in its time! (3) It is of immense consequence to the liberty and strength of Christians to be assured of their standing among the "washed" disciples of the Lord Jesus-the "clean every whit;" instead of having to be ever trying to get this length, ever settling that point, and thus all their lifetime subject to bondage. But the opposite error is equally to be eschewed, of supposing that when this point is settled, and that standing is attained, we have no more sin needing to be pardoned, no defilement to be washed away. This, we take it, is just what our Evangelist alludes to in his first Epistle, when he says, "If we say that we have no sin" - that is, as we understand it, If we say that being now clean every whit we have quite done with sinning - "we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." On the difference between this statement and the similar one that follows - "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us" - see the notes at 1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:10. On the warning here given to Peter, and the way in which he received it, see the notes at Luke 22:31-34, Remark 3 at the end of that section.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29