John 13


John 13:1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.  2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him.


In this chapter, John is giving us more information about what happened before and after Jesus’ last supper. At this point in our study, I want us to understand more about the Passover and the feast of the unleavened bread. The Passover was a yearly remembrance of how God passed over the children of Israel and spared their firstborn, but He did not spare the Egyptians’ firstborn. This last plague is what caused the Pharaoh to let the Jews leave. We learn more about the Passover in:


Exodus 12:1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,  2 "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.  3 "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: 'On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.  4 'And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man's need you shall make your count for the lamb.  5 'Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.  6 'Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.  7 'And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.


Not only was God instituting the Passover, He was making this a new year and a new beginning for the Children of Israel. Their new year begins in our March or April. On the 10th day of their new year, a goat or a lamb was to be selected. The Passover was a family event and every household was to participate. God would allow two smaller families to share a goat or lamb. They could not use any lamb or goat because it had to be carefully chosen, it could not have any blemishes, and it was supposed to be one of your best. The second provision was it had to be a male, and it had to be within its first year. On the 14th day, the animal was to be killed at twilight or the evening (tradition says between 3 and 5 P.M.), and some of its blood was to be applied to the two door post and the lintel (the top part of the door).


Exodus 12:8'Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.


The bitter herbs were to remind the children of Israel of the bitter experience they had in Egypt.


Exodus 12: 9 'Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire -- its head with its legs and its entrails.  10 'You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire.


The lamb had to be roasted and it was not to be eaten raw or boiled. Every part was to be eaten from its head to its feet before morning came. Historical tradition teaches that each person’s portion was not very big. Whatever was left over was to be burned in the fire.


Exodus 12:11 'And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD's Passover.


The children of Israel were to be ready to leave in a moments notice. The girding of the loins is what the Jews would do when they needed to run or fight.


Exodus 12:12 'For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.  13 'Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.  14 'So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.


This passage teaches us the purpose of Passover meal. It was to be observed as a memorial for how God passed over the children of Israel and how that event caused their salvation from Egyptian bondage. The Passover was to be observed every year. Next, we learn about the feast of unleavened bread.


Exodus 12: 15 'Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.  16 'On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat -- that only may be prepared by you.  17 'So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance.  18 'In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.  19 'For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land.  20 'You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.' "


The feast of the unleavened bread (sometimes called the feast of the Passover) also represented their escape from Egyptian bondage because they did not have time to make bread with leaven before they left Egypt in a hurry. The feast was to begin after the Passover lamb was slain on the 14th day of the evening, and it lasted for seven days until the 21st which was to be observed every year. God was serious about them not having leaven because if someone was caught eating food that was leavened during the feast, they would be expelled from the congregation of Israel.


Exodus 12:25 "It will come to pass when you come to the land which the LORD will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service.  26 "And it shall be, when your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?'  27 "that you shall say, 'It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.' " So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.


Children are always watching and learning. When they saw their parents keeping the Passover and the feast of the unleavened bread, they would want to know why, which would give them the opportunity to teach them about God. Again, this shows how the Passover and the feast that followed were to be kept throughout their generations.


While we are on this topic, I want to show how the Passover is the type and Jesus is the antitype. Notice the following chart:


The Passover in Egypt was a type of Christ, our Passover





An unblemished lamb

Ex. 12:5

Jn. 1:29; Heb. 4:14-15

Lamb selected in advance

Ex. 12:3

Christ foreknown 1 Pet. 1:19-20

Lamb slain

Ex. 12:6, 21

Rev. 5:6; 13:8

Not a bone broken

Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12

Jn. 19:33, 36

Blood applied to doors caused death to pass by.

Ex. 12:7, 22

Jesus washes us with His blood to cause spiritual death to pass by. Rev. 1:5

Leaven must be removed

Ex. 12:15; 19-20

Sin must be removed 1 Cor. 5:7-8

Only those that were circumcised could partake of the Passover.

Ex. 12:43-48

Only those that have been spiritual circumcised should partake of The Lord’s Supper. Col. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 10:16-17


Now that we have a better understanding of the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread, let’s get back to our text.


In verse 1, Jesus knew His death was getting closer, and John expressed how Jesus loved His disciples until the end. Verse 2 teaches us that the devil had already put the temptation to betray Jesus in Judas’ heart while they were eating. This does not mean Judas had no choice in the matter because he did. He simply chose to indulge in this temptation because he had a free will. It is important to remember that a temptation does not become a sin until we yield to the temptation (Jam. 1:13-15). The KJV and NKJV gives us the idea that the supper had already ended in verse 2, but when we look at other versions and the original Greek, we find out the meal was still being served.  


John 13:3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,  4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.  5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.


Jesus was fully aware of His Deity and what was going to happen to Him, and He was about to teach His disciples about humility and servitude. Before people ate during the first century, a servant would clean the feet of the guest, which was necessary because the people wore open sandals and their feet were always getting dirty. Foot washing was an act of kindness, and it made the guests more comfortable as they ate.


However, this act of kindness had been neglected, so Jesus got up from the supper and removed His outer garment, which would allow Him to perform the foot washing. He then girded Himself with the towel taking the position of a hired servant. He put water in a basin and started washing His disciples’ feet and wiping them with the towel He girded Himself with.


John 13:6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, "Lord, are You washing my feet?"  7 Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this."  8 Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part 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, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you."  11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, "You are not all clean."


Peter could not understand why Jesus wanted to wash his feet because it was unheard of for the master to wash his servants’ feet. Peter or one of the other apostles should have done this service, but they had not. They may of have thought they were too important to serve each other this way because Luke’s account notes that they were disputing among themselves that night who should be the greatest (Lk. 22:24). Sometimes Jesus’ disciples were more concerned about their position in Jesus’ kingdom than seeing the truth. Without saying a single word, Jesus humbled His disciples by washing their feet. He wanted them to understand that it was more important to serve others than to be served. 


Peter was so shocked by what Jesus was doing that he told Him that He was never going to wash his feet. But Jesus told him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Jesus was teaching more than just about washing feet. He was teaching them a spiritual message because only Jesus can wash us and make us clean with His blood. When Peter realized that He must be washed by Jesus, he goes to the extreme and wanted Jesus to wash his hands and his head.


Jesus’ response in verse 10 refers to the physical and the spiritual. He is saying if a person took a bath then all he needs to be physical clean is to have his feet washed. If a person is spiritual clean and his feet are dirty, he is still spiritual clean. However, not all His disciples were spiritually clean, namely Judas. Even though Jesus knew Judas would betray Him, He washed his feet as well.


John 13:12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?  13 "You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  14 "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.  15 "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  16 "Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  17 "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.  


When Jesus finished washing their feet, He took His outer garments and sat down. While His disciples thought about what Jesus did for them, He wants to know if they understood what He had done to them. He continued to expound on what He wanted them to understand. They knew He was their Teacher and Lord, and if He was humble enough to serve His disciples by washing their feet, then they should be willing to do the same.


Some teach that verse 15 is commanding us to practice foot washing, but they have missed Jesus’ point. He was not telling them or us that we should practice foot washing, but that we should be willing to serve one another in humility because we are not better than each other; we are equal in the site of God. To prove that Jesus was not specifically talking about foot washing, one cannot find foot washing being commanded anywhere in the New Testament as being part of our worship to God. The only other place foot washing is mentioned after Jesus’ death is found in:


1 Timothy 5:9 Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man,  10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.  


This passage is talking about the qualification of a righteous widow. One of the good works that she could posses was being hospitable and washing the saints’ feet. Again, this was done in her home and it was the custom for the host to wash the guests’ feet.


As Lipscomb noted:


There is nothing in this that could indicate a special ordinance or formal observance to be perpetuated in the church. The foot washing of both the Old Testament and the New Testament was an act of helpful kindness when needed” (David Lipscomb, A Commentary on the Gospel of John (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Company, 1960), p. 210).


Jesus wanted His disciples to follow His example in serving others. If they are willing to humble themselves as Jesus did, they will be blessed. We must learn from this example and realize we are not better than our brother or sister in Christ, and we should be willing to serve one another. As Paul said to the Galatians: “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13). 


John 13:18 "I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, 'He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.'  19 "Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He.  20 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me."


The one person He was excluding was Judas because Judas was not clean, and he would not learn to serve others. Instead, his actions would fulfill the prophecy of Psalm 41:9 as we will see momentarily. Jesus foretold His disciples about this betrayal, so when it happened it would prove once again that He is the Son of God.


Verse 20 is teaching that whoever receives those whom Jesus has sent by His authority is the same as receiving Him. When someone receives Jesus, he receives the Father as well. When someone goes out to preach the gospel, he is doing so by the authority of Jesus. When someone receives that person into their home, it is just like he has received Jesus into their home because that evangelist is representing Jesus. In fact, all Christians need to remind themselves that they are supposed to be an example of Christ in everything they do. When we live our life for Christ, whatever is done to us is just like it is done to Christ.


John 13:21 When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me." 


The end of Jesus’ life was growing closer, and as He thought about it, it bothered Him deeply. Throughout this event, He taught that someone would betray Him, but now He states it with clarity.


John 13:22 Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke.  23 Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.  24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke.  25 Then, leaning back on Jesus' breast, he said to Him, "Lord, who is it?"  26 Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it." And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.  27 Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, "What you do, do quickly."  28 But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him.  29 For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, "Buy those things we need for the feast," or that he should give something to the poor.  30 Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.


When Jesus made His statement it caused the disciples to become anxious and perplexed because they could not believe that one of them would betray Him. Even though he is not named in our text, most believe it was John that was leaning on Jesus’ bosom. Peter wanted John to ask Jesus who was going to betray Him. The other accounts have all the disciples asking Jesus, “Is it I?” Once again, Jesus refers to the prophecy of Psalm 41:9 and He fulfills it by dipping the bread and giving it to Judas. After that, Satan entered Judas. Satan had already been working on Judas, but now he had won Judas to his side, so Jesus told him to go and do what he was going to do quickly.


This is how the devil works on people. He persistently tempts them by heightening what they are tempted by. For example, after the devil had tempted Jesus in the desert, Luke writes: “Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time” (Lk. 4:13-14). So, we should never think our battle with the devil is ever over. When we start thinking that way, he will come into our life and take us down like he did Judas.


As interested as everyone was in finding out who the betrayer was, one would think the disciples would have figured out it was Judas, but they did not. When Judas got up and left, they thought he left to buy more supplies for the feast or to give some money to the poor. Of course, we know he was going to betray Jesus. From the other accounts, we can know this happened around the time Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, and our text tells us it was dark outside.  


John 13:31 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him.  32 "If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately.  33 "Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, 'Where I am going, you cannot come,' so now I say to you.  34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."


Judas betrayal would bring about Jesus’ death, which would bring about Jesus’ glorification. God’s plan to save man would come to pass, and it would happen on God’s terms not mans’ terms. We can prove this because the Jews did not want to kill Jesus during the Passover feast, but Jesus said this is when it would happen (Mt. 26:1-5), which proves that Jesus was in control of when He would die.


In verse 33, Jesus is repeating what He had taught before, but this time His death was closer than ever before. His disciples would not be able to follow Him or find Him because He would be in heaven.


In verse 34, Jesus gives a new commandment that is similar to the one Moses gave, which was to love your neighbor as yourself. However, Jesus commandant is different because He is commanding us to love one another like He loves us, which is a stronger form of love we are to follow.


Notice Reynolds said about this:


So a new type of love is given, as the Greek expositors generally have urged. There is a deeper intensity in this love than can be found in Moses' "Love thy neighbor as thyself." In that commandment which embraces the whole law, self-love is assumed and made the standard for the love of neighbor. The new commandment, on the other hand, is based on a new principle, measured by a higher standard than love of self. This is based on Christ's love, which was self-abandoning and self-sacrificing love (H. R. Reynolds, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1962), II, p. 196).


When we show this higher level of love for one another, Jesus said this will cause everyone to know that we are His disciples. As Christians, we must do our best to love one another as Jesus loves us.


John 13:36 Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, where are You going?" Jesus answered him, "Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward."  37 Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake."  38 Jesus answered him, "Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.


Peter did not understand what Jesus meant, so he wants to know where Jesus was going. Jesus assures him that he cannot follow Him to where He was going, but later He could. Before this could happen, Jesus had to die to make it possible for others like Peter to be able to follow Him into heaven at the general resurrection.


We have no reason to doubt the sincerity of Peter. He felt like he was ready to follow Jesus all the way even if it meant his death. But Jesus let him know that he would stumble and deny Him three times before the rooster crowed. We also learn in Matthew 26:35 that all the disciples made this claim as well, but sadly all of them would deny Jesus before the night was over.