The Book of John is unique among the Gospel accounts. You may read it when you are yet in shallow waters near the shore, and you will find Jesus there. You may read it and find yourself totally immersed in deep truths about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I will go deep, and if it is too much, don’t worry! Stay in the shallow waters for a bit. He will take you deeper, as you get to know Him!
In John 13, you will see Jesus as the Ultimate Servant and His call for us to do likewise. Jesus again warns His disciples ahead of time of His betrayal by one of the Twelve, and gives us a new commandment. Walk through it with me!
Verse 1 — Jesus Christ is the true Passover Lamb. By His blood, and by faith in Him, death will pass you over. Your body will wear out and fall away, but if He is in you, then you have His eternal life in you here and now, and you will eternally live with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit when your body dies.
It was important for me to say all of that because His appointed time had be at the Feast of the Passover — this particular Passover. The Passover in the Book of Exodus was a shadow of Christ’s work. The divinely appointed time had come for the true Lamb to be sacrificed.
He knew ahead of time that He would depart this world.
He loved His own who were in the world; He loved them with His divine love.
He loved them to the end (to the uttermost).
How did He express that love?
IMPORTANT POINT: Jesus knows everything in advance because He is God the Son, though while He was on the earth, He was born, lived and was crucified in a human body. Do you see that there is nothing He does not know about you? Do you see that the Old Testament prophecies and laws were fulfilled by Him? Then you know He is indeed God the Son.
Verse 2 — This was the time of the Lord’s Supper described in Matthew, Mark and Luke. When Judas ate with the rest, the devil already put into the heart of Judas to betray Jesus. But Jesus knew (see John 6:70 and 17:12). Judas’ betrayal was prophesied long, long ago (see verse 18 and Psalm 41:9).
Verses 3-5 — All things had been given into Jesus’ hands by the Father. Jesus had come forth from God, and was about to go back to Him.
And even though He knew that He came from a position of honor and glory that He had held for eternity, and even though He knew He was going back to God the Father, He was a servant to those who followed Him.
Foot washers were the lowest of servants in any household. They had to clean the dirt and grime and animal dung from the dinner guests’ feet, before they reclined at table, leaning on one arm.
Yet Jesus took off His garments. [I see a parallel here — He divested Himself of His heavenly glory (see Philippians 2:7) and was clothed in a human body.]
Then He took up a foot washer’s uniform — a towel — and wrapped it around Himself. He would wear nothing at all when He hung on a cross in the ultimate act of His service to mankind.
And then He washed the feet of His disciples and wiped them with the towel He had wrapped around Himself.
IMPORTANT POINT #1: If all things are given into Jesus Christ’s hands, that means He is in control of and has authority over all things.
Will you trust Him, then, to do what He promises to do? Even more, will you trust Him enough to fully surrender your heart to Him?
IMPORTANT POINT #2: Meditate on the degree to which Jesus humbled Himself by washing the feet of His disciples.
IMPORTANT POINT #3: I have had my feet washed, and indeed, it not only required me to be humble in order to allow it, but it was very humbling to watch as my fellow believers did it. And I have washed the feet of fellow believers, thanks be to God’s work in my heart! My feet have been washed by those I love, and I have washed the feet of those I love.
Verses 6-7 — Simon Peter questioned Jesus. Why would you wash my feet, Lord? Jesus said Peter did not realize what He was doing at the time, but would understand later.
IMPORTANT POINT: Be assured that if you do not understand what Jesus is doing now, Do not question, but obey.
Verses 8-11 — Peter’s reaction was to refuse to let Jesus wash his feet. “Never!” Peter didn’t understand why Jesus humbled Himself. He was their Teacher, their Lord, after all. He was higher than them. That wasn’t a job for Him to do.
Then Jesus shocked him. If Peter didn’t allow Jesus to wash him, Peter had no part (was not joined) with Him. You must be humble before Him and let Him do what He must do. When you do not refuse Him, you reveal that you are joined with Him.
I’m adding the Greek translations next, because there are several words for “clean” and “wash” in this passage, and if you don’t know the meanings, it will be difficult to understand.
Peter said, “Lord, then all of me, not just my feet.” Wash all of me! But Jesus said anyone who has bathed (washed the whole person), needs only to wash (cleanse) his feet but is otherwise completely clean (pure). He told His disciples that they were clean (pure), but not all of them. Peter was clean, but he still needed his feet cleansed. And note that Jesus knew the one who was not clean — the one who would betray Him.
The disciples’ feet were what they walked on. And that part of them, their walk, needed to be cleansed.
What did Jesus mean by saying they were pure because of His words (see John 15:3). If you receive His words into yourself, they make you hunger and thirst to be filled with righteousness, and when He fills you with His Spirit, your whole heart is purified (Acts 15:9).
What do I mean by having your “walk cleansed?” Peter and the rest would find that when Pentecost came, they would suddenly be empowered to walk (live and behave) like Jesus in this world, because they would have His divine nature and character, be filled with His love, and have completely purified hearts.
But Jesus had to die, be raised, ascend, and be glorified before that happened. Today, when you ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit, you will find that He has given you the power to walk as He did in this world.
IMPORTANT POINT #1: You must see Jesus as a Servant. And you must allow Him to do what only He can do. If you are joined to Him, if you are His and He is yours, you will obey Him.
IMPORTANT POINT #2: You may not fully understand what Jesus is doing, but obey Him. His actions always have a purpose, though you might not know His purpose when He asks you. But obey Him. He will show you “why” later.
Verses 12-15 — Remember that I began by saying Jesus humbled Himself as the lowliest of servants. Now it was time for a lesson.
He put His clothes back on (I see Him returning to His position of glory at the right hand of the Father after He rose and ascended and was glorified). Then He reclined once again at the table, and began to teach them. “Do you understand what I have done?”
Jesus said, You call Me Lord, and you are right, for so I am. I am above you, I am greater than you. So if I did this for you, then you ought to do (you are under obligation to do) the same for each other. I have given you an example, so you might do the same. Humble yourselves as the lowliest of servants. Be a servant to one another. Wash one another’s feet.
But didn’t I say that when you are filled with the Spirit, your walk is cleansed? Why, then, would you need to wash each others’ feet?
From my own experience, I will tell you that even after you are purified and you have Jesus’ divine nature and character in you, there will still be times when you err.
When I say, “err,” I don’t mean willfully disobeying God (sin), but those times when you misjudge fellow believers, or offend them without realizing you have done it.
It is then that you must wash the feet of the one you misjudged or offended. It is not difficult when you are filled with the Spirit. You will not object, but because the Lord has transformed your heart, you be humble and will want do it.
IMPORTANT POINT: The words of Jesus purify you, as you receive them and take them into yourself. But there is more.
The Lord humbled Himself even to death on a cross so you would be empowered to live like He did in this world. You must humble yourself by asking Him to fill you with His Spirit. It is the cross He says you must take up (Matthew 10:380. It is the crucifixion of self (Galatians 2:20).
Then you will be humble, and will freely agree when you have erred toward other believers. You will wash their feet, and they will wash yours. So, like Him, you will be humble servants to one another.
Verses 16-17 — A slave is not greater than his master. You are not greater than Me, Jesus told them. And I am not greater than the Father who sent Me. I serve Him.
So if you know (completely understand) these things. You will do them. And you are blessed. Why? Because He has revealed their meaning to you. And if He has revealed their meaning to you, then you know you are joined with Him. That is the blessing Jesus referred to.
Verses 18-19 — Jesus knew the ones He had chosen, including Judas, who He knew would betray Him. He quoted Psalm 41:9, written prophetically by David, and said this prophecy was about to be fulfilled. One of them would lift up his heel against Jesus (indicating a treacherous act).
Why do I say David was a prophet? Jesus said David spoke in the Holy Spirit, with the Spirit upon him (Mark 12:35 and elsewhere).
He told the disciples beforehand, so when they saw it happen, they would know He is the I AM, the always existent God the Son.
Verse 20 — To receive means to accept, to take hold of. The opposite is to reject. If you receive, accept, and take hold of Susan Wynn, who was sent out by Jesus Christ, you receive, accept and take hold of Jesus Christ. If you receive, accept, and take hold of Jesus Christ, you receive, accept and take hold of God the Father who sent Him.
Today, many people reject believers in Jesus Christ. When they do, they reject not only you, but Jesus Christ Himself, and His Father.
Verse 21-22 — Then He became stirred up, and said directly that one of the Twelve would betray Him. The disciples’ reaction was to wonder, “Who is it? Is it me? Is it him?”
Verses 23-27 — The disciple whom Jesus loved was John. In each gospel, the writer never identifies himself in the course of giving his account of Jesus Christ.
John was next to Jesus. Remember, to recline at the table was to lean on one arm and rest on your side with your legs stretched slightly away from the table. And that was where John was. So he was able to lean back and rest his head on the Lord’s chest.
Peter was seated further away from Jesus, so he asked John to ask Jesus who would betray Him.
Jesus answered, telling John to look for the disciple for whom Jesus would dip a morsel (a piece of bread or meat dipped into a broth) and then give it to him. He gave the morsel to Judas.
Then Satan, who had already put it in Judas’ heart to betray Jesus, literally entered Judas. Jesus then said, “What you do, do quickly.” Jesus knew when Satan entered Judas.
Verses 28-30 — The others didn’t understand Jesus when He sent Judas away. They thought He was sending Judas, who held the money bag, to buy more food, or give something to the poor. And Judas quickly went out. And it was night.
It was night in many ways for Judas. The prince of darkness had entered him. He now belonged to Satan, and would do Satan’s will.
Verses 31-32 — Would you think that, knowing He was about to be betrayed, Jesus would say, “Now I will be glorified, and My Father will be glorified by what I am about to do?” Where is the glory in that?
But Jesus knew the result of what He was about to do would glorify Himself, because He would be fulfilling the scriptures regarding the Messiah (Christ), proving that He was the Messiah.
And it would glorify the Father, because His coming, His death on the cross, forgiveness of sins, and the infilling of the Holy Spirit are promises of God. The Father would be given honor because He would do what He said He would do.
Jesus said only God is able to glorify Him. And if God is glorified in Him (through what He is about to do) God would also glorify His Son in Himself (bringing Him to the glory He had before the world began, per John 17:5). And it would be done immediately. It was the divinely appointed time.
Verses 33-35 — Little children. Ones that are young in faith, little faiths. Ones that could not yet receive all that He had. He was with them just a little while longer. They would seek Him. But just as He said to the Jewish elite, where He was going, they could not go. Imagine their fear! Jesus, our Teacher and Lord, is leaving us! We can’t go where He is going!
Then He gave them a new commandment. It was new — never spoken by God until that moment. What was it? That they love one another in the very same way He had loved them. He would make the way for them to love one another with His love.
But they could not love that way until they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and by the Holy Spirit, filled with God’s actual love (Romans 5:5). Then they would love Him and their fellow believers with His love.
And after Pentecost, when their hearts were filled with God’s actual love and they loved each other with God’s actual love, all men knew that they were disciples of Jesus Christ.
IMPORTANT POINT: This truth about God’s actual love filling our hearts is rarely taught. As a result, many in the church are still little children who do not love with God’s actual love. And so, they behave like children.
They are not selfless, but very interested in their own rights being upheld. They fight over things that are of little significance, they argue over who is the greatest, they are jealous of one another, and all of that ugliness.
So all men see that the church is like all men. O Lord, would that the church receive the truth and be transformed by being filled with the Holy Spirit and Your actual love!
Verse 36 — Peter asked where Jesus was going. Jesus said you can’t follow Me now, but you will follow Me later. What did He mean? Because their hearts were His, they would live with God the Father and God the Son forever, after their lives on earth were done.
Verse 37-38 — Peter said, why can’t I follow You? I’ll die for You. The Lord prophesied that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed to signal the next day.
IMPORTANT POINT — You will soon learn that Peter did not keep his promise, just as Jesus prophesied. When you are filled with His Spirit and crucified with Him (Galatians 2:20), because you will have died to your selfishness. Until then, you are not able to die for Him, even if your emotions say you are able. He is the only one who can make you able.