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John 13:1-20: What I left out…

As a follow up to Sunday’s sermon, here are some further thoughts from the text:

Timing issues:  We are given the time marker “berfore the feast of Passover” in verse 1; “during supper” in verse 2; “got up from supper” in verse 4.  It seems that the feet washing occurs in the middle of the supper which would be odd.  This activity would normally have been done at the start of the evening, that is, at the arrival of guests.  This points to the nature of the deed:  Jesus is not instituting a ritual or tradition of foot washing, but using it as representative of the larger category of service in general. The example to us is of Jesus as a servant, not Jesus as a “foot washer”.  The service that we perform toward one another is broad and not to be confined to a narrow activity.

The phrase “he loved them to the end” (13:2) is fulfilled in the cross where Jesus proclaims “it is finished” (19:30).  That phrase is actually better translated “they are finished” and refer to the knowledge that Jesus had that in his death “all things had been accomplished” (19:28).

Judas is identified with the devil (v.2) and Satan (v. 27).  Judas is contrasted with Peter here in this chapter, even though the contrast is not seen so much with behavior (betrayal and denial are both sinful), but with heritage or parentage.  Judas aligns himself with the devil, the father of lies, is of the world (compare chapter 8:21-30; 39-47) and is therefore “not of God.”  Peter on the other hand is portrayed as a believing one, even though he will deny Jesus, and is identified as connected with the Father. This connection to the Father is highlighted by his identification as Simon Peter (the name Jesus gives him) versus Simon bar Jonah, his “wordly” name.

The word “betray” literally means “give up” or “give over”.  Compare with Peter who later offers to “lay down” his life for Jesus (13:37).

Jesus “laid aside his garments” (13:4).  this is his voluntary service.  Later on, the soldiers take his outer garments and cast lots for it (19:23-25).

Jesus “throws” (literal transaltion of “ballo”, which is also the word used in verse 2: the devil “threw” into the heart of Judas) the water into the basin.  It may be a stretch, but often water is symbolic of the Spirit in John (3:5: which I translate “water, even the Spirit”; 7:37-39) and here Jesus uses his example as the vehicle for future Christian service that is accomplished by the ministry of the Spirit.  Later in John 21 Peter girds himself and “throws” himself into the sea to get to Jesus.  Connection? I think it is, the language is unusual which would cause us to make a connection.

In verse 10 Jesus makes the statement:  “you are clean” which he clarifies in 15:3:  “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”  It is the ministry of the Word/word, that is the truth that makes you free, clean.

Watch the Sermon here…


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