Week 13 John 13:1-38 Washing the Disciples’ Feet; Foretelling Judas’ Betrayal; Prophesying Peter’s Denial
John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Parallel Passages for Foot Washing: Mat 23:6-12; 10:24; 10:40; Luke 22:3; 12:37; 22:24-28; 6:40; 10:16; Joh 13:1-20
John 12:36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.
From this point forward, Jesus’ public ministry has ended. His entire focus is on what lies before him at the cross, and to this end, he prepares his disciples for Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial, and the need for them to love each other as he would if he were to remain physically with them. The section that begins in Chapter 13 continues through to his arrest in Chapter 18.
Introduction: The theme of Chapter 13 is love. The verse that ties the chapter together is verse 1:
John 13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
I. Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet John 13:2-17
A. Setting (cf parallel passages listed above)
Unlike most of the popular paintings indicate, the disciples reclined on slightly elevated mats or mattresses around a U-shaped table according to the manner of the day, lying most likely on their left sides with their right arms free to reach for food and eat. (Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 229; Weekend Nation Online, “Jesus and the Apostles did not sit on chairs at a table,” March 26, 2016, http://nation.lk/online/2016/03/26/jesus-and-the-apostles-did-not-sit-on-chairs-at-a-table.html.)
Everything was ready for the meal, including the pitcher of water, basin, and towel for washing the guests’ feet. Except…there was no servant to perform this menial task. (Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 228)
John 13:2-5 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
The synoptic gospels tell how the disciples had been arguing among themselves about which of them was the “greatest.” (Luke 22:24) None of them performed the favor of washing the others’ feet. So Jesus did it.
B. What Did Jesus’ Washing His Disciples’ Feet Reveal?
1. His genuine LOVE for his disciples–as their Creator and Savior, he was also Caregiver and Physician. He was their Rabbi, Teacher and Master. They were his children (cf 13:33). Walking about all day on dusty, garbage-strewn streets which the donkeys and other animals also used, people’s feet got dirty and tired. Having their feet washed before eating was practical as well as physically refreshing and comforting for them. Jesus wanted to perform this act of love for them. He had a tender, compassionate, and affectionate heart for them. He loved them!
verse 1…having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2. His HUMILITY–Jesus’ identity as Son of God, Son of Man, Messiah, Master, Lord, and Teacher reveals that each of them should have been washing his feet, but they were all too proud to pick up the towel, pour the water, and begin.
John 1:27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”–John the Baptist
Philippians 2:7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
3. An EXAMPLE–soon Jesus will no longer be physically present with his disciples. The love which he customarily gave them, they must now give to each other.
John 13:33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you…34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
John 17:26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
4. A highly SYMBOLIC action
a. Jesus’ mission to humanity was to cleanse us from our sin.
i. Complete justification for believers occurred on the cross and need never be repeated.
ii. Sanctification for continued sin is an ongoing process involving confession (symbolically–recognizing that the feet are dirty and willingly receiving a foot-washing) and spiritual cleansing (through application of God’s Word upon a believer’s heart by the Holy Spirit).
John 13:9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”
John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
Ephesians 5:25-26 …Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
iii. Jesus’ mission of cleansing a people for God involved his whole ministry of concrete (physical) actions, which also represented non-physical spiritual realities and truths.
a. John Chapter 3–Nicodemus–spiritual rebirth
b. John Chapter 4–woman at the well–spiritual water
c. John Chapter 6–Jesus the bread of life–spiritual nourishment
d. John Chapter 13–washing the disciples’ feet–spiritual cleansing
e. In order to partake of Christ, to be part of him, the believer must participate in every means of spiritual cleansing God provides in Christ
i. the blood of justification
ii. the daily means of sanctification
John 13:6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”
b. No one can wash Jesus’ feet; he is the only one who can cleanse (Luke 11:37-39).
i. John the Baptist understood correctly that Jesus was the one who should have been baptizing him (Matthew 3:13-15).
ii. Jesus had no need of sanctification, because he had no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).
iii. Jesus’ mission on earth was to cleanse believers from their sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).
iv. Therefore, Jesus was the one to express this symbolically by washing the disciples’ feet.
Think about when we make trips to the doctor, or when we go to a friend or pastor or counselor with a sensitive difficulty. When I am in these situations, I want someone who is kind and gentle, not proud, non-condemning, not judgmental, to help me–in short, someone who is him-or-herself humble, someone who I think will be sympathetic with me. I also want someone who is wise and will know how to fix me.
Jesus is this person. As Son of God, he is the wisest person anywhere, strong, a truth teller, and capable. As Son of Man, Jesus by name, the foot-washer, he is more humble and tender than I am, by far. He’s the one person we can always turn to who will love us, not shame us, help us, not condemn us. His truth shining in our hearts will expose, cleanse, heal, and renew everything about us that is not right. He’s the one I want washing my feet.
And I should be like him, doing the same for others. “We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
II. Jesus Announces His Betrayal
A. Jesus’ Own Emotions
John 13:18 …I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” 21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.“
Jesus was “troubled in his spirit.” The NET says “Jesus was greatly distressed in spirit.” We encountered this same phrase when Jesus met with those who stood weeping and grieving over the death of Lazarus.
John 11:33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
Jesus’ response on that occasion was to weep. Also, many of the Psalms reference the deep emotions of the psalmist and prophetically record the emotions and prayers of Messiah (Psalm 55:12-14; 55:20-21). Hebrews tells us that Jesus learned submission by the things he suffered (Hebrews 5:8).
As a man, therefore, we know that Jesus had all the emotions common to humanity. It pained and grieved him that one of his own disciples should betray him, even though he knew at the time that he chose Judas that it would be so.
John 6:70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.”
B. The Disciples’ Response–the Proverbial Bombshell Dropped at Dinner
NIV John 13:22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant.
NAU Matthew 26:22 Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?”
Then, in response to questioning by Peter and John, Jesus revealed that Judas was the betrayer.
John 13:22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table close to Jesus, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.
C. Judas’ Response
Alone of the twelve, Judas is the only one who displayed no genuine self investigation nor pain, even though he pretended not to know that it was he.
ESV Matthew 26:25 Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
John, however, chronicles a progression in Judas’ hardness of heart. First, Satan tempted Judas with the thought of betrayal.
John 13:2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him,
Second, Satan entered Judas’ heart.
John 13:26 …So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him…
This was the point of no return, both for Judas and for Jesus. Because Judas had rejected Jesus as his Teacher and Lord, Satan, who had already been tempting him, entered his heart. By lacking any desire to resist him, Judas had stepped beyond all possibility of repentance.
Satan entering Judas’ heart also signalled the point of no return for Jesus, because Judas was about to begin the chain of events that would move swiftly and inexorably towards the cross.
John 13:27 …”What you are going to do, do quickly.”
John 13:30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
The time of day was night, and John also intends us to know that for Judas the light had completely gone out–he was spiritually stumbling in the darkness, forever lost.
C. Jesus’ Care and Preparation of His Disciples
John always shows the reader how Jesus is in control of every situation and every scene. All that happens to him is by the sovereign plan of God. Nothing takes Jesus by surprise. Jesus uses these facts to comfort and encourage his disciples in this hour when all their hopes are being shattered. Just a short while ago, emotions and expectations most likely were soaring high in response to the crowd’s enthusiasm toward their Master at the triumphal procession. Now they are receiving blow after blow of shocking news.
First, Jesus goes into hiding from the Jews, rather than setting up the long-awaited messianic kingdom. Next, Jesus tells them that he will be betrayed by one of their own. After that, he will soon be leaving them.
Jesus’ goal is to prepare his beloved disciples for these events, telling them ahead of time, so that when these things happen, their faith will remain. This is an expression of his LOVE.
1. He tells them of the betrayal by one of their own. When that happens, they will know that his foreknowledge indicates God’s control.
John 13:11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “You are not all clean.”
John 13:19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.
John 13:21 When Jesus had thus spoken, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
John 13:25-26 So lying thus, close to the breast of Jesus, he said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.
2. Jesus encourages his disciples by reassuring them even though he will be betrayed, glory will come, and quickly.
John 13:31-32 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified; 32 if God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.
3. Jesus encourages and strengthens his disciples by telling them that their hour has not come.
John 13: 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going you cannot come.’
John 13:36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward.”
4. There is still life and mission for the disciples, that is, a purposeful and prosperous future.
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
III. Bad News Not Over Yet–Jesus Prophesizes Peter’s Denial
Peter thought he knew his own heart, and while he did know the good part, he did not know his heart completely. The baser part of his heart lay hidden from his sight.
Jesus had just told the disciples that he was leaving and they cannot follow him (verse 36 above).
Peter brings out the good part of his heart.
John 13:33 …`Where I am going you cannot come.’
John 13:36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward.”
37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus brings out the base part of Peter’s heart.
38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times.
IV. Looking Ahead: Jesus Continues to Comfort and Fortify His Disciples
John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.