BSF Study Questions John Lesson 17, Day 5: John 13:1-30

Summary of passage:  It’s just before Passover and Jesus’ time is limited.  Judas has already betrayed him and now Jesus is sitting down for the Last Supper with his disciples.  He dresses himself as a slave and washed his disciples’ feet. Peter protests and Jesus tells him to let him. When he is finished, he dresses and sits with them. He explains that they need to serve others and no one is greater than they.  Jesus says he knows the hearts of all he has chosen and whoever whoever accepts those in his name (such as the disciples) accepts Jesus and thus accepts God.  Jesus knows Judas will betray him and he indicates this by giving him bread. Judas takes it and Jesus tells him to betray him quickly and Judas leaves.  The disciples (clueless as ever) don’t understand.

Questions:

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus still showed Judas love.  He didn’t condemn him, leaving the final choice up to Judas.  He offered him another chance to not do what he was about to do.  Jesus keeps fighting for you to the end.

11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  This act revealed the true character of God himself.  In it we see it’s the acceptance of what Jesus did for us and does for us that matters. We have to accept his cleansing or it’s meaningless.  It was a spiritual cleaning, not a physical.  Once we are bathed in Jesus, we still need to seek him and wash in him.  Jesus explained his actions so he was sure they got it. They needed to have the same attitude and service as him. We must wash one another’s feet–do for others. Following Jesus’ example, doing the acts of service leads to blessings.  For me, it’s about helping others and putting others first and being bless by it (either in the moment or later).  It’s loving others as much as Jesus loved us.

Conclusions:  This is like Day 6 questions.  We see the crux of this passage here:  Jesus loves us so much he’ll forgive anything–even an act that leads to his own death!  It’s incomprehensible how deep the Father’s love for us is but this passage gives us at least a little bit more understanding of it.  Great stuff!

End Notes:  Alexander Maclaren wrote of this remarkable section, John 13:1-17: “Nowhere else is His speech at once so simple and so deep. Nowhere else have we the heart of God so unveiled to us…The immortal words which Christ spoke in that upper chamber are His highest self-revelation in speech, even as the Cross to which they led up is His most perfect self-revelation in act.”

John has by far the longest account of the upper room, but he says nothing of the Lord’s Supper. We get most of what Jesus said that night from John.  He devotes 1/3 of his book to the 24 hour period immediately preceding Jesus’ death.  Chapters 13-17 describe the long day and night of the Last Supper.  Nothing else like this exists in the Bible.  We have an intimate portrait of Jesus’ most anguished moments.

John focuses on the emotional currents and not the physical details.  Jesus is direct with the disciples, not speaking in parables but painstakingly answering their questions until they finally seem to get it.  Still, most won’t make sense until later after his death when the Holy Spirit arrives.  John’s purpose is to prove that Jesus is the Son of God.  He handpicks these incidents or signs to make his point.  You either believe he is or he isn’t.  There is no middle ground.

The Greek noun agape (love) and the verb agapao (love) appear only 8 times in John Chapters 1-12 but 31 times in Chapters 13-17. Chapters 13-14 take place at the Last Supper. The discourses in Chapters 15-16 are probably spoken on the way to Gethsemane.

We have a time reference but still scholars disagree if this was on Passover or celebrated the day before when the traditional Passover meal was taken. This affects whether Jesus was crucified on the day of Passover or the day after.

Jesus had less than 24 hours to live. He is preparing his disciples for their work after he is gone.

The cross is not specifically mentioned in this passage, but it hangs in the actions and the words.

Jesus’ love for his own is greater because we have a response back. I picture Jesus holding us close to him.

In this scene we have the thinking of Jesus as well (either he told John or John was more observant than the other writers). Instead of it being all about that person (at the end of your life it can be), Jesus focuses on others and shows his love even though he knows he will be abandoned by them. Jesus never abandons us. Jesus did every part of this act himself–an act in Jewish custom that no one else would ever do.

Luke tells us that the disciples were debating who was the greatest when they entered the room. Jesus showed what true greatness was.

It was customary to wash feet before the meal started. However, this didn’t happen. At that time, the meal was eaten at a low table called a triclinium. It was U-shaped. The higher status guests sat the closest to the host. They leaned on pillows with their feet behind them. The disciples were willing to wash Jesus’ feet but not the others’ because it would put him below them. Hence, no one’s feet got washed–until Jesus did it.

Jesus showed the disciples humility. Scholars see this act as a comparison the cross. Jesus rose from supper (from his throne in heaven). He took off his clothes (he took off his glory). He poured water to clean (he poured out his blood to cleanse us).

This act revealed the true character of God himself. In it we see it’s the acceptance of what Jesus did for us and does for us that matters. We have to accept his cleansing or it’s meaningless. Peter protested out of a misplaced humility and pride. Peter again didn’t get it: it’s receiving Jesus into our lives that matter. It was a spiritual cleaning, not a physical, that Peter needed.

First, Peter says don’t do it. Then he says do more! He’s telling Jesus what to do here.

Once we are bathed in Jesus, we still need to seek him and wash in him.

Jesus explained his actions so he was sure they got it. They needed to have the same attitude and service as him. We must wash one another’s feet–do for others. Following Jesus’ example, doing the acts of service leads to blessings.

Some believe this act was meant to be performed by Christians today. Most scholars agree it’s the message beneath that is important.

Christ washing the disciples’ feet was a favorite amongst painters. My favorite HERE

Jesus is predicting his betrayal for the other disciples’ sake. He doesn’t want their faith to waver in him. Hence, he’s telling him he knew all along Judas would betray him. And Jesus is pointing out rejecting him as the one God sent is rejecting God.

Jesus loves Judas and thus is moved (and probably hurt) by the impending betrayal. By telling all he knows about the betrayal, this shows Jesus is the one in control, not Satan or Judas.

The other disciples are confused because up to this point Judas has been one of them, doing everything and going through the motions of faith like so many do today. They may have even thought Jesus was speaking of an unintended betrayal.

Peter, curious as always, asks John to ask Jesus whom he is speaking to. One can imagine that in Peter’s mind, he’s gonna be the superhero here and stop the betrayal before it happens. This also indicates to scholars that Peter is not sitting next to Jesus or he would have asked him himself.

FUN FACT: This is the first of 4 times John refers to himself as “the one Jesus loved”. The 4 are:

· Here in the upper room (John 13:23)

· At the cross of Jesus (John 19:26)

· At the empty tomb (John 20:2)

· With the risen Jesus at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:20)

All of these are connected with the cross and all indicate that John did not boast of this egotistically but out of the love of Jesus.

SPOILER ALERT FOR ART FANS: The famous paintings you see of the Last Supper are all false (like this one HERE and HERE). At a special or ceremonial meal like this they would lay on their stomachs around a U-shaped table, leaning on their left elbow and eating with their right hand their head towards the table, much like the Romans did at the time. It seems that from John’s position next to Jesus, he could lean back and be close enough to speak quietly to Jesus and still be heard. Bear in mind most of the artwork we associate with the Last Supper was painted 1000 years after the fact. Times change and man for the most part had transitioned to eating sitting up at tables. Hence, the depiction.

Picture this: On each side of Jesus sat a disciple. Spurgeon says it best: “One of them was John the divine, and the other was Judas the devil. One of them was the seer of the Apocalypse, the other was the son of perdition.”

Another scholar, Morris, says this: “The place of honor was to the left of, and thus slightly behind the principal person. The second place was to his right, and the guest there would have his head on the breast of the host. Plainly this was the position occupied by the beloved disciple.

The normal posture at a table was sitting, as rabbinical sources indicate; reclining was the posture reserved for special meals, such as parties, wedding feasts, etc.

Giving of dipped bread is like a toast today. It was a special honor. Jesus is still showing love to Judas even at the last hour. Like he will to many of us at the Second Coming. Jesus is showing how to love your enemies to the last and even offering Judas one last chance to repent.

Judas is in the place of honor and Jesus could speak to him without being overheard. Also, scholars speculate that only John heard Jesus indicate Judas as the betrayer, being on Jesus’ other side. Peter is the man of action, the superhero, and the one to defend Jesus with gusto and bravado and sometimes without thinking (like we’ll see in the Garden). John did nothing to stop Judas from leaving and we are not told why. He could have been shocked or he could have trusted Jesus to have it all under control. We don’t know. All we are told is “no one understood Jesus”.

FUN FACT: This is the only time John uses the name Satan in his Gospel.

Judas rejects Jesus’ final act of love and Satan then completely takes over. It’s a choice of Free Will. And Judas will pay the ultimate price.

With the words “do quickly” Jesus is indicating he’s the one in control. He would die as he directed, not as his opponents determined.

The disciples just thought Judas, as the one in charge of the money, had left to pay the bill or give alms to the poor. Note how even though Jesus and them had little money they still gave what they could. It’s not the amount you give but the heart that matters.

No one is immune from the devil. Judas was one of the 12. He lived with Jesus. He listened to Jesus. He watched Jesus perform miracle after miracle. He was one of the best and still he was lost. Man needs more than an example and good teaching. It’s a turn of the heart. If that doesn’t happen, there is no hope.

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