Friday, February 21, 2014

From Foot Washing To Apostle (A Commentary)

The thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of John begins by leading us to anticipate the narration of a special act of love. (John 13:1) Then, it reveals to us a need for such an act (John 13:2), and progresses quickly into the narration of a foot washing. (John 13:4-15) It never tells us explicitly that the foot washing is the response of Jesus to the heel lifted up against him. It leaves us on our own to see and to believe that Jesus thereby cast out the prince of this world (John 12:31)

John 13:15 “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”

John 13:15 concludes the narration of the foot washing.

Although Jesus identified the foot washing as an example of what his disciples should do, he gave them no explicit explanation of what he did when he washed their feet. His allusion to an uncleanness within the group (John 13:10) was not sufficient information for them to ascertain what he did. Like Simon, the others, too, would learn what he did “hereafter.” (John 13:7)

John 13:16 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.”

John 13:16 begins the narration of Jesus assigning to one of the twelve the task of delivering him. He would send his apostle to the chief priests to serve as guide for those who would take him.

After Jesus would be delivered, he would be tried, convicted, executed and buried, all within a day. To help prepare his deliverer for what he would suffer from his sense of responsibility for the initiation of that chain of events, Jesus claimed for himself the greater responsibility, because he was the one who sent his apostle to deliver him.

His previous claim for responsibility prevails also for the case of the one who delivered him. (John 10:17,18)

John 13:17 “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”

We identify the things to which Jesus refers with great difficulty. They are found in the next verse.

John 13:18 “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me.”

First, he limited the applicability of his words to the one whom he had chosen to deliver him. Next, he gave fulfillment of scripture as reason to support his choice.

Although he paraphrased Psalms 41:9, a lamentation for the treachery of a close friend, his words meant something completely different than the words of the psalmist by virtue of his teaching.

If you know what “eats bread with me” means, and if you know what “has lifted up his heel against me” means, and if you do these things, then you will be blessed. Of course, he was speaking to the one who had already lifted up his heel against him, to the one who had already made a covenant to deliver him, after the devil put it into his heart. Of course, too, the blessing would follow not because he had lifted up his heel against him, but despite that thing.

Jesus gave new meaning to the words “eats bread with me” when he taught, “I have meat to eat that you know not of. My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (See John 4:32,34, where “meat,” like “bread” here, means “that which is eaten.” For the synonymous use of the words “meat” and “bread” by Jesus, compare John 6:48 and John 6:55) Thus, by virtue of his teaching, the words “eats bread with me” meant “works with me as I finish his work.” The blessing would follow because he had eaten bread with Jesus, because he had discerned the work which Jesus was doing and cooperated with him in finishing it.

John 13:19 “Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.”

Jesus added that he was telling them these things now so that, after they were done, they might believe that Jesus was all he said he was.

John 13:20 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receives whomsoever I send receives me; and he that receives me receives him that sent me.”

The chief priests, in receiving the one whom Jesus sent to deliver him, received Jesus, who delivered himself to them in this manner. The apostle, in accepting the task for which Jesus had chosen him, received Jesus and him that sent him. (John 10:30; John 17:21)

John 13:21 “When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall deliver (not betray) me.”

Jesus now told them plainly the task to be done. He knew not only that he would go as it was written of him, but he knew also that the one he chose to deliver him would suffer. He described that suffering by a sentiment: “it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:24) It troubled him to assign to that man the task that would lead to that suffering.

John 13:22 “Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.”

He told them all plainly the thing that should be done. Who should do it, however, he told only him.

John 13:23 “Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.”

This is the first mention in scripture of “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” That the evangelist knew his name can hardly be doubted. For this reason, we conclude that the evangelist concealed his name deliberately.

The disciple whom Jesus loved was the disciple on whose behalf he had just performed the special act of love, the foot washing. Jesus had washed the heel lifted up against him to symbolize his forgiveness for that trespass against him. Thereby Jesus cast out the devil which had put it into his heart to deliver him and left him with no desire to deliver him.

John 13:24 “Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.”

Seeing the others looking questioningly at one another, Simon Peter made a bid to discover the answer.

John 13:25 “He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?”

The disciple whom Jesus loved advanced the bid of Simon Peter.

John 13:26 “Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.”

The bid paid off for the disciple whom Jesus loved – he knew then who should deliver Jesus. The evangelist gives us this information. When this information is combined with information he gives us later, it will allow us to deduce a name for the disciple whom Jesus loved, a name which otherwise is concealed deliberately.

John 13:27 “And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That you do, do quickly.”

Jesus never said that Satan could not be divided against himself, but he asked, “how then shall his kingdom stand?” (Luke 11:18) We do not say that Satan's kingdom shall stand.

Previously, Satan entered into Judas; and, after the devil put it into his heart, Judas made a covenant to deliver Jesus. (Luke 22:3,4; John 13:2) Here, Satan entered into Judas for the second time, but nothing is written about how he influenced him here. The reader of the Gospel must determine this for himself.

Jesus said, “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31) He was anticipating the effect of washing the heel that was lifted up against him. Now, Satan had to enter into Judas for a second time because he was cast out of him just minutes before. This time, however, Jesus himself had already put it into the heart of Judas to deliver him. Satan did not now get behind Jesus, but now his influence was to remove from the heart of Judas the influence of Jesus.

Jesus did not compel Judas to deliver him, but he gave him a choice: “That you do.”

John 13:28 “Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.”

Here, the evangelist gives us additional information which we may use to deduce the name otherwise concealed. Either the disciple whom Jesus loved failed to follow the thinking of Jesus at this critical moment, or he was not at the table.

Looking ahead for the next bit of information the evangelist will give us, we learn that one of them was not at the table, but he had gone out immediately after Jesus said, “That you do, do quickly.” (John 13:30)

If the disciple whom Jesus loved followed the thinking of Jesus, then we deduce that he was not at the table and that his name was Judas Iscariot.

John 13:29 “For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.”

Judas had the bag because he was the errand boy. Therefore, some of them thought Jesus sent him out to run one errand or another.

John 13:30 “He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.”

Judas overcame Satan, who worked within him now to make him refuse the task of delivering Jesus. Although he went out into the darkness of night, he walked while the light was still with him. (John 12:35)

John 13:31 “Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”

The apostle glorified the son of man because he accepted the work he gave him. The son of man glorified God because, in sending his apostle to deliver him, he accepted the work He gave him. (John 17:4) The two together, each with his own degree of responsibility, initiated the chain of events for which Jesus came. (John 12:27)

I offer this commentary only in my own name.

P. S. Link to the poem, From Foot Washing To Apostle (A Poem)

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