THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN
Chapter 13 - Part II
The Ordination of the Apostles and the Treachery of Judas
I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between
your offspring (seed) and hers (her seed); it will bruise your head and you
will strike its heel.
Ritual water purification for the priests who serve
God: Yahweh then spoke to Moses and said, 'You will also make a bronze
basin on its bronze stand, for washing. You will put it between the Tent of
Meeting and the altar and put water in it, in which Aaron and his sons will
wash their hands and feet. Whenever they are to enter the Tent of Meeting,
they will wash, to avoid incurring death; and whenever they approach the altar
for their service, to burn an offering for Yahweh, they will wash their hands
and feet, to avoid incurring death. This is a perpetual decree for him and his
descendants for all their generations to come.'
+ + +
|(day 1 the Passover Feast # 3)||II. THE PREPARATION IN THE UPPER ROOM – Day #1 of Passover Week /the day of the sacrifice = Thursday daytime (six days after the Sabbath dinner at Bethany in John 12:1, as the ancients count)||13:1-14:31|
|15 Nisan: Upper Room (night)|
|A. Jesus and the ritual of washing the Apostles' feet – the Passover feast & first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread||13:1-20|
|B. Jesus announces His betrayal||13:21-30|
last instructions to His Apostles:
"I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life"
|(Unleavened Bread lasts for 7 days)|
Note: The Jewish day began at sundown. Therefore, the night of the Passover Feast is already Friday Nisan 15 according to the Jewish calendar and the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasts for 7 days.
Please read John 13:3-11: The ordination of the Apostles
3Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, 4and he got up from table, removed his outer garment and taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; 5he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing. 6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, are you going to wash my feet?' 7Jesus answered, 'At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.' 8'Never!' said Peter, 'You shall never wash my feet.' Jesus replied, 'If I do not wash you, you can have no share with me.' Simon Peter said, 9'Well then, Lord, not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well!' 10Jesus said, 'No one who has had a bath needs washing, such a person is clean [katharos] all over. You too are clean [katharoi], though not all of you are.' 11He knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said, 'though not all of you are [katharoi].'
John 13:3-5: 3Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, 4and he got up from table, removed his outer garment and taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; 5he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing.
The Passover lambs and kids from each family group were sacrificed at the Temple service on the day of the 14th of Nisan [Exodus 12:6; Leviticus 23:5]. Philo of Alexandria, the first century AD Jewish theologian, lists the Jewish feasts in Special Laws II and in comments on the Feast of Passover in # 145-149: And after the feast of the new moon comes the fourth festival, that of the Passover, which the Hebrews call pascha, on which the whole people offer sacrifice, beginning at noonday and continuing till evening (late afternoon). [..]. And this universal sacrifice of the whole people is celebrated on the fourteenth day of the month, which consists of two periods of seven, in order that nothing which is accounted worthy of honor may be separated from the number seven. But this number is the beginning of brilliancy and dignity to everything.
After the Temple service the body of the animal was brought home to be roasted by fire for the evening meal. The night of the Passover feast was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which began at sundown [Exodus 12:8-10, 15-20; 13:3-10; 23:15; 34:18-23; Deuteronomy 16:16; Leviticus 23:6-8]. According to the Law in Exodus 12:15-20: For seven days you must eat unleavened bread. On the first day you must clean the leaven out of your houses, for anyone who eats leavened bread from the first to the seventh day must be outlawed from Israel." [...] You must keep the feast of Unleavened Bread because it was on that same day that I brought your armies out of Egypt. You will keep that day, generation after generation: this is a decree for all time. In the first month, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day, you must eat unleavened bread.
Commenting on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Philo writes in Special Laws II, 150-155 concerning the necessity of this feast being celebrated at the time of the full moon: And there is another festival combined with the feast of the Passover, having a use of food different from the usual one, and not customary; the use, namely, of unleavened bread, from which it derives its name. [..]. And this feast is begun on the fifteenth day of the month, in the middle of the month, on the day on which the moon is full of light, in consequence of the providence of God taking care that there shall be no darkness on that day.
All Passover participants were expected to wash and dress in their best clothes for the meal. When the guests arrived at a house where the sacrificial meal was being celebrated, they would remove their sandals at the door and would wash the street dirt from their feet with a basin of water that was kept by the door for that purpose. They would have entered a room with a large, low U shaped table called a triclinium. Originally the covenant people ate this feast standing up (Exodus 12:11), but since to eat standing or sitting marked one as a slave, it had become the custom to eat a sacred feast Greek style, reclining on low couches as only freeborn men and women ate [see a chart of a typical u-shaped triclinium in the Charts: New Testaments/Gospels section].
We do not know how many people were present at this meal. The Gospel writers only mention the guests of honor, the Apostles, but according to the Law this was meant to be a family event. It was important to include children at the feast since the adults were commanded as a covenant obligated: You will observe this as a decree binding you and your children for all time, and when you have entered the country which Yahweh will give you, as he has promised, you will observe this ritual. And when your children ask you, 'What does this ritual mean?' You will tell them, 'It is the Passover sacrifice in honor of Yahweh who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, and struck Egypt but spared our houses.' As part of the ritual order of the meal, in obedience to Exodus 13:8, three questions were asked by a boy during the meal (4 questions are asked in the modern Seder of the Passover). Jews rightly point out to Christians that if women and children were not present then Jesus and His disciples did not celebrate a Passover feast. In each of the Gospel accounts the inspired writers do not describe to us the order of the sacrificial meal, they only tell us the parts that Jesus changed.
In John 13:4 Jesus removes His outer garment, wraps Himself in a linen cloth (linteum is a Latin word for linen used only here and in verse 5), and He prepares to wash the Apostle's feet. According to tradition, there were three ritual hand washings during the sacred meal of the Passover during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The ritual of washing hands and feet had been an important Jewish symbol for generations. In Genesis 18:4 Abraham washed the feet of the three "men" who visited him at his tent at Mamre. He washed their feet as act of hospitality and as a token of his esteem. There was also a daily mitzvah (commandment) to wash one's hands in the morning and before eating, symbolizing the removal of impurity and the renewal of spiritual integrity. But once again, Jesus did something which was unexpected. Instead of the ritual of washing of hands, He washed the disciples' feet.
Question: What was Jesus' outer garment? Hint: see Numbers
Answer: Jesus probably removed his prayer shawl with the required tassels on the four corners of the garment. Unlike the small modern prayer shawl, the prayer shawls of Jesus' time were very large pieces of material that covered the entire body. The four tassels on the corners of this garment are called in Hebrew the tzitziyoth (plural) and the prayer shawl is called a tallis or tallit (see Numbers 15:37-41; Deuteronomy 22:12; Matthew 9:20; 23:5).
Question: What garment was Jesus wearing under the prayer
shawl? Hint: only John provides this information; see John 19:23-24.
Answer: It was a seamless white linen garment...the required garment of a priest (Exodus 28:39; 39:27-29; Leviticus 6:3). Since it was woven all of one piece it was very valuable. Jesus had come to the sacred feast dressed in the robe of a priest.
John 13:6-9: 6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, are you going to wash my feet?' 7Jesus answered, 'At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.' 8'Never!' said Peter, 'You shall never wash my feet.' Jesus replied, 'If I do not wash you, you can have no share with me.' Simon Peter said, 9'Well then, Lord, not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well!'
Question: What was unusual about Jesus' action in washing the
feet of the Apostles? Why was Peter so shocked by His actions?
Answer: In fact Jesus is taking the humble position of an inferior to a superior. The role reversal was incomprehensible to Peter who knew Jesus not just as his teacher but as his God! See Philippians 2:6-7.
Commentators usually mention that to wash a guest's feet was the duty of a slave and such a duty was considered so lowly that Jewish slaves (not gentile slaves) were not required to perform such a service (see Mishnah: Mekhilta). This observation may be over emphasized since foot washing was not just a duty performed by a slave. It was also a duty:
Question: What comment did Jesus make to Simon the Pharisee on
the lack of his hospitality when he criticized the loving devotion of the
sinful woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears? See Luke 7:44.
Answer: Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, 'You see this woman? I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair.
But why does Jesus wash the feet of the Apostles if they already washed their feet when they first entered the building? We will discuss Jesus' explanation beginning in verse 13, but this ritual washing may have taken the place of one of the three ritual hand washings that were required during the sacrificial meal of the Passover victim. Hands were ritually washed:
To take the place of one of the ritual hand washings gives the foot washing an aspect of ritual purification.
Question: Many Catholic scholars believe the foot washing ritual
was an ordination ceremony for the Apostles. There is evidence to support this
interpretation in Old Covenant purification rites. Jesus washes the feet of
His Apostles in this significant ritual and later during the meal, their hands
will also be ritually washed. Is there an Old Covenant ritual purification
that Jesus' symbolic foot washing and the ritual hand washing of the meal may
be linked to? See Exodus 30:17-21; what is the significance of this passage?
Answer: In the ritual of purification before entering the Sanctuary, Yahweh commanded that the priests ritually cleanse their hands and feet. This ritual of purification was commanded by Yahweh for the first High Priest Aaron, the brother of Moses and for Aaron sons. Whenever the priests came near the sacrificial altar to minister the sacrifice offered to Yahweh or when they entered the Holy Place (see Exodus 30:20 and Leviticus 8:6), they were commanded to wash their hands and feet, even though they were already clean.
Question: Knowing what will take place at the end of this meal,
what connection might there be between the command for the priests to wash
their hand and feet before offering sacrifice to Yahweh and the miracle that
will take place that night when Jesus holds Himself in His hands in the first
Answer: It is possible this action is the establishment of the Sacrament of Holy Orders and in the ordination of the New Covenant priesthood. In the foot washing ritual Jesus was not only instructing His ministers to preach the Gospel of salvation in humility, but His actions can also be seen as the anointing of the new priesthood of the New Covenant Church. His symbolic purification of the Apostles takes place before the celebration of the first Eucharistic sacrifice. For other passages on hand and foot washing see Genesis 19:2; 24:32; 43:24; Exodus 30:19-21; 40:31-32; Leviticus 8:6; 15:11; Judges 19:21; 1 Samuel 25:41; 2 Samuel 11:8; Song 5:3; Matthew 15:2; 27:24; Mark 7:3; Luke 7:38, 44; 11:38; 1 Timothy 5:10.
In any event, it is the role reversal that so shocks Simon-Peter that he protests that he cannot allow his Lord to perform this menial and degrading task.
Question: After Simon-Peter protests what does Jesus tell him in
John 13:8 and what does Jesus mean by making this statement?
Answer: Jesus response to Peter is that if Peter does not let Jesus wash his feet then he can have no share with me (Jesus' words to Peter). This is a Semitic expression indicating that Peter will be cutting himself off from his Lord and from his share in the glory of Christ.
Question: What is Peter's response? How does Peter's response
Answer: In John 13:9 Peter declares: Well then, Lord, not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well! Some believe Peter's response shows his lack of understanding while others find humor in Peter's declaration.
Question: Do you think Peter's response in 13:9 indicates that
he doesn't understand Jesus response to his protests?
Answer: Most commentators believe Peter's answer indicates that he still doesn't understand and believes that he requires further ritual purification. But Peter surely understood what Jesus said in regards to the necessity of this ritual in order for Peter to have a share in Christ and His future glory, even if he doesn't fully understand every aspect of what that share will contain or even Jesus' reason for washing his feet, which Jesus will explain in the next several verses. It is significant that Jesus doesn't chastise Peter as He often does when Peter shows lack of understanding. Perhaps Peter's answer may be a humorous response but it shows his willingness to submit completely in offering all of himself, perhaps his declaration can be understood to mean: "As You said Lord, I may not fully understand but I trust You, and I yield to You my Lord so completely that I give you my entire self, from my head to my feet!" Jesus must have smiled at Peter's heartfelt response; He knew what Peter wanted to say.
John 13:10-11:10Jesus said, 'No one who has had a bath needs washing, such a person is clean [katharos] all over. You too are clean [katharoi], though not all of you are.' 11He knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said, 'though not all of you are [katharoi].'
Notice the emphasis in the triple use of the Greek word katharos (katharoi in the plural), which can mean "clean" or "pure".
Question: Jesus' response to Peter's amusing comment has a
double meaning. What does Jesus mean when He speaks of a bath and
cleanliness? Incidentally, the same Greek word is used for both 'clean' and
'pure' (see John 15:2-3).
Answer: Peter is not only outwardly clean but inwardly "clean." Peter is clean not just because he bathed before coming to the supper, but he has also been bathed spiritually when he accepted John the Baptist's baptism of repentance, and he has yielded himself completely to the Living Word of God as is illustrated by Peter's request that Jesus bathe/purify not just his feet but also his head and hands in 13:9. Jesus will speak of purity of the spirit during His discourse after the supper in John 15:3-4a. In His talk, after speaking of "pruning" that which does not bear the fruit of obedience, He will tell the Apostles: You are clean already, by means of the word that I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I in you.
Question: But in John 13:10 Jesus makes a comment which carries
a double meaning: Peter is pure but what it is that Jesus says that the
disciples may have missed. They won't make the connection until 13:21. What
does Jesus say about being "clean" and of whom does He speak? See John 13:11.
Answer: Peter is pure/ clean, but one of them is spiritually impure/ unclean. It is Judas who Jesus knows has already betrayed Him and is betraying Him now in Judas' unyielding heart (see Matthew 26:14-15; Mark 14: 10-11; Luke 22:3-6; and John 6:70-71; 13:2).
John 13:11: He knew who was going to betray him, and that is why he said, 'though not all of you are.' John 13:11 is translated here in the New Jerusalem as: He knew who was going to betray him... but the literal translation in the Greek is: He knew him that is betraying..., in the present tense as it is also used in Matthew 26:2 when Jesus says to His disciples: [literal translation] You know that after two days the Passover comes, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified (The Interlinear Bible: New Testament, Greek-English, volume IV, page 79).
Please read John 13:12-16: Jesus' Explanation of the water
purification of the Apostles' feet
12When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments again he went back to the table. 13'Do you understand', he said, 'what I have done to you? You call me Master [Didaskalos =Teacher] and Lord [Kyrios], and rightly; so I am. 14If I then, the Lord and Master have washed your feet, you must wash each other's feet. 15I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you. 16In all truth [Amen, amen] I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, no messenger [literally apostle =apostolos] is greater than the one who sent him.'
In John 13:4 Jesus removed
His "outer garments," one of which is probably His prayer shawl (talit) and the
other may have been the seamless linen garment (John 19:23-24) which is the garment.
Jesus proceeded to wash all the disciples' feet; He even washed Judas' feet.
After performing this symbolic act, Jesus put on His outer garments and again
took His place at the table; Jesus is taking the father's role as host of the
meal. Jesus then explains His actions in the ritual of the foot washing.
John 13:13: 13'Do you understand', he said, 'what I have done to you? You call me Master [Didaskalos =Teacher] and Lord [Kyrios], and rightly; so I am. Jesus' disciples call Him "Teacher" and "Lord." The words in Greek which are literally "Teacher" [Didaskalos] and "Lord" [Kyrios] correspond to the traditional Jewish titles of Rabbi and Mar; and are the typical ways that disciples or servants of a Rabbi would address their Master. Jesus also has His own special way of addressing the Twelve He has selected to carry His message of salvation to the world. In John 13:16 Jesus says: In all truth [Amen, amen] I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, no messenger is greater than the one who sent him.' The word rendered as "messenger" in the New Jerusalem translation of John 13:16 is the title Jesus has given the Twelve. He each of them is an "Apostle," meaning "he that is sent," which is apostolos in the Greek. "Apostle" is a title used for a delegate or ambassador who is "sent" to carry the authority of the master or ruler (see Strong's Exhaustive Concordance; Greek lexicon #652).
Question: What reason does Jesus give for His actions?
Answer: By example He has shown His Apostles how they are to serve Him. They must serve one another lovingly, in complete humility as He has served them in washing their feet. What a contrast to what the Old Covenant priesthood had become!
St. John Chrysostom comments on this passage: You are already clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. That is: You are clean only to that extent. You have already received the Light; [...] The Prophet asserted: 'Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil from your souls' [Isaiah 1:16] [...] Therefore, since they had rooted out all evil from their souls and were following him with complete sincerity, he declared, in accordance with the Prophet's words: 'He who has bathed is clean all over' (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on St. John, 70.3).
Question: St. John Chrysostom's
passage brings up the question: Did Jesus' foot washing cleanse the 12 Apostles
of their sins?
Answer: Although Jesus does not mention this as a condition or as a result of the foot washing, this has always been a popular interpretation. Most often the Fathers of the Church mention the ritual in connection with a reminder of their baptism of repentance (the disciples have not yet been baptized with Jesus' baptism and original sin has not yet been removed from their souls, this miracle will happen after the Ascension at the Second Great Pentecost, fifty days after the Resurrection. In the Old Covenant repentance was necessary before a sin sacrifice was offered in the Temple so that sin could be "covered" and fellowship with God restored. If sin was forgiven in this ritual, then Judas' sins were also forgiven which does make what transpires in the giving of the first morsel of food to Judas even more meaningful.
It is also possible that Jesus' teaching by example in the foot washing ritual is associated with a dispute that arose among the disciples in Luke chapter 22. Please read Luke 22:24-30.
Question: What is the similarity between Jesus'
teaching in Luke 22:24-30 and Jesus' teaching in John 13:13-16 concerning why
He washed their feet?
Answer: Teaching is the same. Jesus teaches in Luke: the greatest among you must behave as if he were the youngest, the leader as if he were the one who serves. For who is the greater: the one at table or the one who serves? The one at table, surely? Yet here am I among you as one who serves!
Question: How does Jesus visually demonstrate this teaching at
the Last Supper banquet table? See John 13:21-22 and the plan of the triclinium
in the Charts section.
Answer: It is the "beloved" disciple who is reclining next to Jesus in the place of honor. Tradition has always identified this disciple as St. John, the youngest of the Apostles who has been place above his older "brothers" in the place of honor, fulfilling Jesus' teaching in Luke 22:26. And where was Simon-Peter, the greatest of the Apostles? The table at which Jesus and the other Passover guests reclined was an inverted U-shaped table, called a triclinium, with the host seated on the far left side, with the two places of honor on either side of the host and then the order of honor increasing to the left of the host with the other most honored guests on the far side of the U. The servants would sit on stools at either end of the U. Most scholars believe that Simon-Peter, as leader of the Apostles, sat in the place of honor at the far table across from Jesus. However, that placement would have defeated the lesson in humility Jesus was teaching that night. We know from John 13:24-25 that Simon-Peter was close enough to John to ask John who was it that would betray Jesus, he would have to shout his question if he were seated across the far side of the triclinium. However, if Peter were seated in the servant's seat, he would be next to John. One of the oldest titles for the Bishop of Rome is "the servant of the servants of Christ."
Please read John 13:17-20: Jesus said: 17'Now that you know this, blessed are you if you behave accordingly. 18I am not speaking about all of you: I know the ones I have chosen; but what scripture says must be fulfilled: He who shares my table takes advantage of me [literally: he that eats my bread lifted up his heel against me]. 19I tell you this now, before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe that I am He [the word "He" is added by the translators]. 20In all truth I tell you, whoever welcomes [lambano =receives] the one I send, welcomes [lambanei = receives] me, and whoever welcomes [lambano = receives] me, welcomes [lambanei = receives] the one who sent me.'
Now Jesus expands on the comment He made in verse 11. He says "I know the ones I have chosen," and then by quoting from Psalms 41:9, He is saying in effect that treachery will come so that the prophecy in Sacred Scripture will be fulfilled. Usually when the Old Testament is cited in the New Testament it is the Greek Septuagint that is quoted, but in this case Jesus is quoting from the Hebrew text: "He that eats my bread lifted up his heel against me". To "lift one's heel" against someone is a Semitic expression for violence and betrayal.
Question: When you consider the importance placed on hospitality
in ancient times, what is the implication of these words from David's psalms
41? Read David's lament in Psalms 41:7-13.
Answer: David cried out to Yahweh that "even my trusted friend on whom I relied" who has eaten bread at his table has betrayed him. To eat bread at the table of one's lord was to in effect give a pledge of loyalty (see 2 Samuel 9:7, 14; 1 Kings 18:19, 2 Kings 25:29). To betray the one with whom bread had been eaten was the vilest breach of the traditions of hospitality. David is probably referring to the betrayal of his trusted advisor Ahithophel who supported David's son Absalom in his bid to usurp his father's throne (2 Samuel 15:12; 16:20-23; 17:23).
and then Jesus adds: 'I tell you this now, before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe that I AM.'. This is the fourth I AM statement without a predicate nominative (there are 7 "I AM" statements with a predicate nominative), and this is a repeat of the "I AM" statement in 8:24. The other 3 are all found in John chapter 8:
|8:24||"believe that I AM"|
|8:28||"know that I AM"|
|8:58||"before Abraham was I AM"|
|13:19||"believe that I AM|
This statement is of course, like the others, an expression of the divine name Yahweh "I am who I am" and a statement of Jesus' divinity.
Question: Jesus says He tells them so that when it happens they
will believe. What will they believe?
Answer: They will believe in His divinity because this revelation will demonstrate Jesus' superhuman knowledge as well as fulfilling the prophecy of Psalms 41:9: Even my trusted friend on whom I relied... he who eats my bread lifts his heel against me. To "lift one's heel" indicates betrayal and violence. Peter will refer to this verse again in Acts 1:16 when he announces to the assembled Church that this passage from Psalms 41:9 has been fulfilled. 'Brothers', he said, 'the passage of scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, foretells the fate of Judas, who acted as guide to the men who arrested Jesus--after being one of our number and sharing our ministry.'
Question: Can you think of another Old Testament passage
concerned with betrayal and violence that may be linked to the passage from
Psalms 41:9: lifts his heel against me"? Hint: see Genesis 3:15
Answer: Yahweh curses the serpent and tells him "I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring [seed] and hers [her seed]; it [she] will bruise [crush] your head and you will strike its [his] heel". God proclaims that from the moment of the Fall that the offspring of the Serpent /Satan (those who reject God's authority) are at enmity with "the Woman's" descendants/ the sons of God. Only two women in Salvation History carry the title "Woman", Eve and the new Eve, Mary the Mother of Jesus the Christ. The final battle will be between Satan and Christ and even though Satan has raised his "heel" and betrayed Jesus through Judas and others, it is the "Seed of the Woman" Mary who will ultimately crush the head of the Serpent!
Question: Our inheritance from the Cross was to receive the
Virgin Mary as our mother. When Jesus gave His mother to the "beloved
disciple," He was giving His mother to every beloved disciple. She began the
mother of the Church. What does Revelation 12:9 & 17 say about Satan and
the "children" of "the Woman?"
Answer: Satan was defeated in his attempt to destroy Jesus, the "seed" of "the Woman" Mary, and so he sought to attack the Woman's other children, the men and women who through Christian baptism in Christ Jesus become sons and daughters of God: Then the dragon was enraged with the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, who obey God's commandments and have in themselves the witness of Jesus.
John 13:20: Jesus said: 'In all truth I tell you, whoever welcomes the one I send, welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me.'
This is another of Jesus' solemn "amens" which He uses when He is explaining a teaching more fully. Notice the 4-time repetition of the Greek verb lambano: In all truth I tell you, whoever welcomes [lambano =receives] the one I send, welcomes [lambanei = receives] me, and whoever welcomes [lambano =receives] me, welcomes [lambanei=receives] the one who sent me.'
The number four in Sacred Scripture is the symbolic number of creation and the world. The Greek word lambano, which means both "receives" or "welcomes," might be better translated in this passage as "receives," as it is in many other Bible translations' - to "receive" Christ may more accurately convey the meaning of the text. This action must be more than a superficial acknowledgement, as in a hospitable "welcome." The believer's response must be to embrace all that Christ is and all that He has taught. This passage is intended for all professed believers down through the centuries. Jesus is emphasizing the condition He places on us in our reception of His emissaries, those who carry His authority and the power of His words.
Question: What is that condition which He places on us?
Answer: It is that we must willingly and obediently "receive" those He has placed in authority over us who are charged with carrying the Gospel of the Living Word to the world. These emissaries or apostaloi are the Apostles and their successors, the Bishops of the Universal Church.
Question: What assurance does Jesus give us if we obediently
accept His emissaries?
Answer: We will in effect be receiving God the Son and God the Father through the teachings His emissaries carry to us on His behalf.
Jesus has assured the Apostles that if they remain faithful to all He has taught them then they are united with Him, and although He has reminded them that their dignity is not greater than His (John 13:16), He does assure them that their dignity is very great. The man or woman who receives those emissaries whom He has sent (John 13:20) in effect receives Him. It is similar to a king sending his ambassador. The emissary or ambassador represents the king in every way: in his authority and in the very words he speaks. The Apostles, those whose very title means "those who are sent," represent the King of Kings. In a like manner, whoever receives Christ receives God the Father who sent Him. Jesus is Himself the Great Ambassador in respect of His own relationship to God the Father, and of the relationship of His Apostles to Himself.
Please read verses 21-30: 21Having said this, Jesus was deeply disturbed and declared, 'In all truth [amen, amen] I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.' 22The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he meant. 23The disciple Jesus loved was reclining next to Jesus; 24Simon Peter signed to him and said, 'Ask who it is he means,' 25so leaning back close to Jesus' chest he said, 'Who is it, Lord?' 26Jesus answered, 'It is the one to whom I give the piece of bread that I dip in the dish.' And when he had dipped the piece of bread he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. 27At that instant, after Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him. Jesus then said, 'What you are going to do, do quickly.' 28None of the others at table understood why he said this. 29Since Judas had charge of the common fund, some of them thought Jesus was telling him, 'Buy what we need for the festival,' or telling him to give something to the poor. 30As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread he went out. It was night.
John 13:21-23 21Having said this, Jesus was deeply disturbed and declared, 'In all truth [amen, amen] I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.' 22The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he meant. 23The disciple Jesus loved was reclining next to Jesus;
Jesus was deeply disturbed.. The Greek word tarassein is used here as it was in John 11:27 and 33 before the raising of Lazarus. Judas' betrayal has been foreshadowed in John 13:2 and Jesus has also alluded to the event in verses 18-20. But now He unambiguously declares the betrayal, and the depth of Jesus' emotion in revealing that there is a traitor among those He has loved is another expression of a very human Jesus.
The disciple Jesus loved was reclining next to Jesus. The Synoptic Gospels do not give this information. The literal Greek is "reclined in the bosom of Jesus". This description of the reclining position of the guests is evidence that this was a formal banquet and not an ordinary Jewish supper. The guests are all reclining on couches probably around the U shaped triclinium, and "the disciple Jesus loved" is sharing Jesus' couch. It was not uncommon in a large group for each couch to be used by two guests. It was the custom to recline by lying on the left side facing the table and leaning on the left arm with one's feet stretching backward away from the table. "The disciples Jesus loved", who was sharing the couch with Jesus, would have been on Jesus' right. This is the first of 5 times that a reference will be made to "the disciple Jesus loved" who is witnessing and recording this Gospel and who is, according to tradition, John Zebedee the Apostle. He is called the "the disciple Jesus loved" or "the one whom Jesus loved" in:
It is interesting that in the Book of Revelation, the last book of Sacred Scripture, which is also attributed to John the Apostle, "John" is named 5 times in that book (Revelation 1:1, 4, 9; 21:2; 22:8). The expression "a bosom friend" comes from this positioning of John near Jesus' chest at the Passover supper.
Question: Why would St. John, who according to
tradition was the youngest of the Apostles, be given this position of great
honor instead of Simon-Peter, Jesus' designated leader of the Apostles (Matthew
16:17-18)? Hint: recall the passage we read in Luke 22:24-30 when the
disciples argued who among them was the greatest.
Answer: John's position may have been a visual illustration of Jesus' teaching on humility to them during the Last Supper in Luke 22:24-30 when the disciples began to argue among themselves who should be recognized as the "greatest" among them. In Luke 22:25-26 Jesus said: "Among the gentiles it is the kings who lord it over them, and those who have authority over them are given the title Benefactor. With you this must not happen. No, the greatest among you must behave as if he were the youngest, the leader as if he were the one who serves. You are the men who have stood by me faithfully in my trials; and now I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father conferred one on me: you will eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel." And as mentioned earlier in the lesson, the foot washing ritual may have occurred next as Jesus continued to visually illustrate the teaching on service and humility.
John 13:24-26 24Simon Peter signed to him and said, 'Ask who it is he means,' 25so leaning back close to Jesus' chest he said, 'Who is it, Lord?' 26Jesus answered, 'It is the one to whom I give the piece of bread that I dip in the dish.' And when he had dipped the piece of bread he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot.
With the youngest Apostle, St. John on Jesus' right, leaning against Jesus' chest on the same couch, Peter must either have been across the table from John, where he would have had to yell out his question, or he must have been in the only other logical position since Judas was on Jesus' left on the next couch, which would be for Peter to be immediately to the right of John on the servant's seat (see the plan of the triclinium), where all he had to do was to lean toward John and quietly ask his question in John's receptive ear. Jesus did say: No, the greatest among you must behave as if he were the youngest, the leader as if he were the one who serves.
We know from Matthew 26:17, 23; Mark 14:1, 12, 20; and Luke 22:1, 7 that the "bit of bread" was unleavened. This passage helps us to identify at what point in the Passover meal this action is taking place. The order of the meal begins with the first cup of wine and prayer followed by the pouring of the second cup and the first ritual hand washing. This is followed by the food being placed on the table, "the first dipping" and eating of the first of the bitter herbs, the telling of the first Passover story and the drinking of the second cup of wine. After the second cup of wine there is second ritual washing (see Luke 2217-18) and then the blessing over the unleavened bread. At that point the "sop" (Hebrew-Aramaic term) is given to the most honored guest and then is communally eaten by the rest of those assembled. The "sop" consists of a sandwich of the unleavened bread filled with bitter herbs (maror) and a mixture of chopped red apple, or dates, and nuts with a little wine (charoset), and the roasted meat of the sacrificial lamb. This little sandwich is then dipped in saltwater or vinegar; it is "the second dipping."
All the food at the Passover supper had symbolic significance. This piece of the sop represented the bitterness of slavery in Egypt (the herbs), the red mortar of the clay made into bricks (apple/fruit mixture), the tears the Children of Israel shed as slaves in Egypt (salt water), the lamb sacrificed for the firstborn sons (the lamb sacrificed that morning), and the unleavened bread represented the bread made in haste as the Israelites fled from slavery. The unleavened bread would also become the symbol of Israel's call as a holy nation of God (leaven is a symbol of sin). This first morsel of the sop was offered by the host to the most honored guest. This is what Jesus did for Judas who was probably reclining at the couch next to Him in the position of the honored guest. Judas was the honored guest.
Question: Looking back at Jesus' citing of Psalms 41:9, is that
Scripture fulfilled at this moment?
Answer: Yes, it appears to be fulfilled: Even my trusted friend on whom I relied, who shared my table, takes advantage of me [literally = lifts his heel against me].
Question: If the first piece of the sop was given to the guest which
the host wished to honor, why did Jesus, knowing that Judas would betray Him,
give this first piece to Judas?
Answer: Judas was the Apostle most in need of Jesus' love that night. It was one last opportunity for Judas to turn from sin and turn to Christ. Instead he rejects Christ for the final time. Instead of softening Judas heart the gesture seemed to harden it and thereby he gives himself completely over into Satan's power.
Question: Jesus identifies the betrayer as one who as dipped
into the common plate. Why is it that the disciples do not know who is the
Answer: A difficult question to answer. In the other Gospels Jesus identifies the traitor as the one who had dipped the sop and since they all dipped from the common dish it could be any of them. Could it be that Jesus dipped the sop for each of them in turn, Judas being the first who was closest to Him? But perhaps it was only all the others who did not hear Jesus' identifying the betrayer. Perhaps Peter and John knew.
John 13:27-30: 27At that instant, after Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him. Jesus then said, 'What you are going to do, do quickly.' 28None of the others at table understood why he said this. 29Since Judas had charge of the common fund, some of them thought Jesus was telling him, 'Buy what we need for the festival,' or telling him to give something to the poor. 30As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread he went out. It was night.
These passages about Judas demonstrate not only the malice of Judas but the goodness and love of Christ. Judas had already betrayed Jesus. He betrayed Jesus after the Wednesday dinner at Bethany (Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11). Jesus reaches out beyond Judas' treachery to wash his feet and treats him with kindness and respect right up to the final moment when Judas completely closes his heart to Christ and opens it to the devil: At that instant, after Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him.
For Judas to leave before the end of the meal was extremely unusual. It was forbidden to leave the meal until the 4th cup of communal wine, the Cup of Acceptance, had been consumed. At this point only two cups of wine would have been passed around the table: the Cup of Sanctification and the Cup of Forgiveness. The third cup called the Cup of Redemption or the Cup of Blessing would only be passed after all the lamb had been eaten. After Judas left, the communal plate would have been passed for everyone present to dip and eat the sop.
Question: Why did the disciples think that Judas had left the
Answer: They believed Jesus had sent him on some mission; he was the treasurer of the group.
Question: What was written about Judas in his role as the
treasurer of the Apostles in John 12:6?
Answer: He abused his position and stole from the common fund.
The third argument scholars offer in favor of a different day for John's Last Supper other than the Thursday in the Synoptic Gospels or a different day for the Temple Passover sacrifice is found in verse 29 where John indicates that some of the Apostles believed Judas had left the supper because Jesus asked him to "Buy what we need for the festival."
This opposition to John's Gospel account being a Passover meal offers the argument that the Oral Law of the Talmud prohibits financial transactions on the Sabbath and during festivals; therefore the Apostles could not have assumed Judas had gone to make a purchase if it was indeed the first night of Unleavened Bread because no stores would be opened for business and besides, it would have been too late to purchase supplies for the meal. However, the real Passover was the next day it would be reasonable for the disciples to believe Jesus had sent him out for supplies.
The argument against this position and in support of the Passover meal: The Oral Law that the Jews practice today in the Talmud (a document written centuries after the destruction of the Temple) was not finalized in Jesus' time but grew out of the desire to expand the Law both written and oral after the destruction of the Temple in 70AD when the rituals of the Covenant and the sacrifices could no longer take place. In Jerusalem the stores could not be closed all week because without modern refrigeration there were preparations that needed to be made each day of the 8-day long festival which required daily Temple sacrifices and the continuing festival meals for the people. According to C.H. Lenski's commentary on St. John's Gospel, stores in Jerusalem were not open for business on Nisan 13 (the day before the Passover Service in the Temple) but were opened all night on Nisan 14 as preparations were necessary not only for the Passover feast but for the Chagigah, or communion "peace offering," to be offered in the Temple the following morning. The Apostles may have thought Judas was sent to prepare for the next day's Unleavened Bread offering at the Temple. Then too, it was so important that a member of the covenant participate in the sacred feast that even if a poor person could not afford a lamb to eat in the sacrificial meal, he must even sell himself into slavery for the money to drink the four ritual cups of red wine that were required for the meal. The Apostles could have assumed Judas was responsible for providing the sacrificial meal or the wine for a group of the poor but was required to attend Jesus' feast first. And finally, if this supper had taken place the day before the official Passover there would have been plenty of time to get supplies in the morning before the Temple service at noon. It seems more reasonable to assume that the disciples thought Judas was making preparations for the necessary sacrifices needed for the sacred assembly at the Temple early in the morning.
Question: What is the symbolic nature of the last line of verse
30: "It was night"? And what verse from the Prologue do you recall in
association with this symbolism?
Answer: It is not just a reference to the time of day but the approaching "darkness" as image of sin and the power of Satan as the final struggle between good and evil approaches. It reminds us of what John told us in the Prologue when he said that Christ was the true light which the darkness has not overcome (see John 1:5). Satan withdrew after his confrontation with Jesus at the Mt. of Temptation at the beginning of Jesus' ministry but now "the darkness," Satan, approaches again: Having exhausted every way of putting him to the test, the devil left him, until the opportune moment (Luke 4:13).
Please read John 13:31-38: 31When he had gone, Jesus said: 'Now has the Son of man been glorified, and in him God has been glorified. 32If God has been glorified in him, God will in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him very soon. 33Little children, I shall be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, an , as I told the Jews, where I am going, you cannot come. 34I give you a new commandment: love one another; you must love one another just as I have loved you. 35It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognize you as my disciples.' 36Simon Peter said, 'Lord, where are you going?' Jesus replied, 'Now you cannot follow me where I am going, but later you shall follow me.' 37Peter said to him, 'Why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.' 38Lay down your life for me?' answered Jesus. 'In all truth I tell you, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.'
John 13:31-32, 31When he had gone, Jesus said: 'Now has the Son of man been glorified, and in him God has been glorified. 32If God has been glorified in him, God will in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him very soon.
Jesus opens His last teaching to His disciples with a proclamation of the glorification of the Son of Man. John 13:31 through 17:26 is St. John's account of Jesus' Last Supper discourse. This last teaching to His disciples is divided into three parts and will climax with Jesus' High Priestly Prayer in chapter 17. Many scholars see this final teaching at the Last Supper as a division between the miracles of Jesus in the "Book of Signs" in the first half of St. John's Gospel and into the theme of glory in the second half.
At this point we can assume that the Eucharist has been instituted. Once again St. John assumes his readers are familiar with the other Gospels and he does not repeat what is recorded in them. For us in this study it is good to review what we know fromSt. Matthew's account of the first celebration of the Eucharist when Jesus held Himself in His hands: Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to the disciples. 'Take it and eat,' he said, 'this is my body.' Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he handed it to them saying 'Drink from this, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the New Covenant poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. From now on, I tell you, I shall never again drink wine until the day I drink the new wine with you in the kingdom of my Father' (Matthew 26:26-29).
Notice that Jesus begins this final discourse with a reference to His favorite title for Himself, the "Son of man," (John 13:31), and He repeats the theme of the mutual glorification of the Father and the Son in the context of the arrival of His "hour" as He did in John 12:23, 28-29. St. John's interpretation of Jesus' glorification is related to, and cannot be separated from, His suffering and death as foreshadowed in the quotations from Isaiah in John 12:38 and 40: Though they had been present when he gave so many signs, they did not believe in him; this was to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah: "Lord, who has given credence to what they have heard from us, and who has seen in it a revelation of the Lord's arm?" Indeed, they were unable to believe because, as Isaiah says again: "He has blinded their eyes, he has hardened their heart, to prevent them from using their eyes to see, using their heart to understand, changing their ways and beling healed by me." Isaiah said this because he saw his glory, and his words referred to Jesus (John 12:37-41, quoting Isaiah 53:1 and 6:10).
Question: How many times does this passage in John 13:31-32
refer to Christ's glory? When he had gone, Jesus said: 'Now has the Son of
man been glorified, and in him God has been glorified. If God has been
glorified in him, God will in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him
Answer: 5 times; it is the number of grace and power.
Did you notice the shift in tenses from past tense in verse 31 "has been glorified" to the future tense in verse 32 "will glorify"? This is a repeat of the same theme in John 12:28 when Jesus said "I have glorified it and will glorify it again."
Question: Why does Jesus use both the past and future tense when
speaking of His glorification?
Answer: Perhaps the past tense refers to the whole of His passion, death, resurrection and ascension that takes place in "the hour." It is a path He is has already begun to walk in the Upper Room as He held Himself in His own hands in the giving of His Eucharistic Body and Blood. While the future tense in verse 32 refers to the glory that will follow when the Son of God returns to the Father's presence and takes His throne on the right side of the Father. It is the repeated theme of glory that gives this second half of John's Gospel the title "The Book of Glory."
Question: What is the link between Jesus title for Himself "the
Son of man" and Christ's "glory"? Hint: see Daniel 7:13
Answer: The "Son of man" title always refers back to the "Son of man" in Daniel 7:13 which is a vision of the Son of Man coming in His glory before God the Father in His Ascension to the Father. Jesus will also refer to the Prophet Daniel's vision of the divine Messiah in Daniel 7:13-14 as He stands before the High Priest at His trial when He says: "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory" (Mt 24:64; Mark 13:62; Lk 22:64).
John 13:33-35, 33Little children, I shall be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, an , as I told the Jews, where I am going, you cannot come. 34I give you a new commandment: love one another; you must love one another just as I have loved you. 35It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognize you as my disciples.'
John 13:33 repeats the theme of Jesus' departure to a place where they can not immediately follow (also see John 7:33-34 and 8:21-22). The tender address of teknia = little children, occurs seven times in the New Testament and only in the writings of St. John. The affectionate reference occurs once in this passage and six times in the 1st Epistle of St. John.
Question: Why is this affectionate address particularly
appropriate at this Passover supper?
Answer: This address to the assembled group as "little children" is fitting because Jesus, as host of the Passover supper, is in the role of the father of an extended family with the disciples being the children whose function it is to ask him the questions designed to bring out the significance of the feast.
Question: What is the "new commandment" Jesus gives to His
disciples? How is it linked to the Old Covenant and yet how is it completely
"new"? Hint: see Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18.
Answer: To love each other has He has loved them. This is the heart and soul of Jesus' message which is grounded in the double love-command found in the Torah in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and in Leviticus 19:18. The first part of the love command is also the opening line of what is known as the "Shema;" it is the covenant people's oldest profession of faith and begins: ...you must love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your souls, and with all your strength." The second part of the double-love command is found in Leviticus 19:18: You will not exact vengeance on, or bear any sort of grudge against, the members of your race, but will love your neighbor as yourself." When Jesus taught this formula for double love in Matthew 22:37-40 He was offering a "New Commandment" that embodies the essential principles of the whole Law of Moses as found in the Ten Commandments: the first set of Commandments concern our relationship to God and the remainder concern our relationship to each other.
Question: But how will this "New Commandment" to love become
transformed by Christ in the New Covenant?
Answer: It is transformed in the New Covenant into a love rooted in His sacrificial death and resurrection. It is this unique love of Christ living in His disciples that will distinguish New Covenant believers.
John 13:36-38, 36Simon Peter said, 'Lord, where are you going?' Jesus replied, 'Now you cannot follow me where I am going, but later you shall follow me.' 37Peter said to him, 'Why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.' 38Lay down your life for me?' answered Jesus. 'In all truth I tell you, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.'
Question: What is ironic about Peter's request to "follow" Jesus
where He is going? Where is Jesus going and will Peter follow Him; will he be
able to keep his promise to die for Jesus?
Answer: Jesus is going to His martyrdom on the cross. Yes, Peter will follow his Master to the cross in 67AD. He does keep his promise to lay down his life for Jesus. At his request, considering himself unworthy to be crucified in exactly the same manner as his Savior and Lord, Peter will be crucified upside-down in front of the obelisk that is today the centerpiece of St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in Rome, Italy.
Question: What crushing reply does Jesus give to Peter's
profession of faithfulness unto death?
Answer: Jesus statement is that Peter will deny Jesus three times before the morning brings this chapter in salvation history comes to a dramataic climax.
The prophecy of Peter's denial is recorded in all the Gospels (see Matthew 26:33-35; Mark 14:29-31 and Luke 22:33-34). In the Gospel of St. Luke 22:31-32 Jesus warns Peter of his betrayal but gives him hope: Simon, Simon! Look, Satan has got his wish to sift you all like wheat; but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and once you have recovered, you in your turn must strengthen your brothers. This encouraging statement is what we should remember when we fail Jesus in word or deed; we can turn again to Him and be forgiven! This command by Jesus to Peter also affirms Peter's leadership position with his brother Apostles.
Catholic Christians believe that when Jesus offered His Body and Blood to His disciples in the sacrificial meal of the Feast of Unleavened Bread in 30AD that this was the first Eucharistic event where believers literally received the Christ—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, as He promised in John 6:44-58. Catholics believe that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered on the altar of the Cross is "made present" in the sacrifice of the Most Holy Eucharist when a legitimately ordained priest of Jesus Christ repeats the words of the Consecration. To say Christ's life and death is "made present" seems an inadequate description for the supernatural event that takes place on every Catholic altar across the face of the earth every hour of every day. In that sacred event, the offering of the Body and Blood of our Lord in the Last Supper of the 30AD Feast of Unleavened Bread, the sacrifice of Calvary and also the miracle of Transubstantiation, taking place on altars in every Catholic Church when what was merely bread and wine becomes the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Savior and Lord, converge into one event which is not bound by time but is instead perpetuated as an eternal "now." In the midst of that eternal now, our worship is united with the angels in the heavenly kingdom and with the saints who have gone on before us, and we stand with them in the presence of God in the heavenly sanctuary, joined mystically to our earthly Sanctuaries, and together we offer a sacrifice of praise to the risen, glorified Savior who becomes real "food" for our journey through this life to our eternal destiny in the heavenly Promised Land.
Resources used in this chapter:
Catechism of the Catholic Church references: *indicates verse quoted in reference
782*, 1823*; 1970, 2195, 2822; 2842
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