Time slows now for John’s Gospel, and the next seven chapters cover just 36 hours of earthly time. Today’s reading is of a dinner scene, the Passover feast, celebrated by the children of Israel “as a memorial day” since the first month of the first year of their nationhood – when the LORD had delivered them out of Egypt.
These chapters are set against an intimate background of the unseen. Jesus knows that “His hour had come.” “The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot…to betray Him.” And Jesus, “knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands… rose from supper…”
The spotlight here focuses on the disciples’ responses to this background. The plot is pushed forward with a few staccato phrases:
“You shall never wash my feet.” Peter affirms his subordinate status by recognizing that Jesus has no business doing the work of a servant. But Jesus lets him know that he’s missing the point. This short event is the backdrop for the “new commandment” Jesus levels on his followers.
Not all of you are clean. You may have noticed that every time John mentions Judas – so far in chapters 6, 12, and early in 13 – he makes sure you know that “this is the one who betrayed Jesus.” It’s as though just mentioning Judas’s name scrapes a wound that John doesn’t want to forget. He shares the encounter when he first learned about this – referring to himself only as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” – with cryptic details: a nod, a whisper, and a morsel of bread. Seat yourself at that table as the rest of the disciples try to figure out what’s going on.
Let not your hearts be troubled. As Judas departs into darkness, Jesus tells the eleven “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.” These men are sharing the same food around the same table, yet they are experiencing twelve different evenings. The rising confusion and fear are evident in each question. Yet Jesus answers by driving the wedge clean through: the things in which you had placed confidence are passing away. Here – in Me – is where your trust should lie.
Our verse for this week is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
John chapters 13 and 14. Now let’s read it!
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.