William Kelly Major Works Commentary
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.JOHN - THE THIRTEENTH CHAPTER
We enter now on a new section of our Gospel: the last communications of the Lord to His disciples, closing with His heart opened out to the Father about them. The entire drift is in all points and ways to lead His own into a true spiritual understanding of their new place before God the Father, in consequent contrast with that of Israel in the world. It is not as the Church, but most fully and distinctively the Christian position in virtue of Christ, Who sets aside Israel in all respects. He was going to His Father on high, and here reveals what He in that glory would do for them while here below. His love must take a fresh shape; but it is faithful, unchanging, and perfect.
"Now, before the feast of the Passover,247 Jesus, knowing that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own that (were) in the world, loved them unto (the) end" (verse 1). He was the only man whom nothing took by surprise. All was read and known and felt in the presence of God His Father. Not only was He aware throughout that He was to die, and of its form, character, and object in God's purpose, as well as in man's and Satan's malice, but we see here that its immediate proximity was before His mind with its immense consequences. Yet in John it is not man's or God's forsaking Him in that bitter crisis; but the hour came for His departure out of this world to His Father, instead of staying here as Jews expected according to the Old Testament for their Messiah. As the other Gospels bring out the evidence of His rejection by the people, our evangelist sees Him from the first rejected, and at the end preparing the disciples for the unlooked-for change at hand, when the Christ be in heaven, and the Holy Spirit sent down to be in and with His own on earth, the Father, too, being the relation of God, not to Him only, but in due time and way to them also.
Further, He would show His love in fresh and suited forms. "Having loved His own that were in the world," He loved not merely till the end, as a question of time, however true this may be, but taking up each need, and incurring all labour for them, whatever the draught on it, unremittingly and without wavering. Such is the love of Jesus to His own in the world, where it is constantly wanted. We know what love He expressed to them at that last Passover (Luke 22:15), and how infinitely it was proved in His blood and death for them as a lamb without blemish and without spot, foreordained before the foundation of the world, but manifested at the end of the times for their sakes who believed. But now He would show them a love as active for them day by day, when He should depart to His Father, as when He fulfilled the Passover in dying for them.
"And, supper being come,* the devil having already put (it) into the heart of Judas, Simon's (son), Iscariot, that he should deliver Him up, (Jesus, or)† He, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He came out from God and goeth unto God, riseth from supper and layeth aside His garments, and, having taken a towel, girded Himself" (verses 2-4).
* γινομένου, BLX, Aeth. [and Origen, Tisch., Treg., W. and H., Weiss]; γενομένου ADgrEΓΔΛΠ, etc., the cursives, Chrys. Cyr., Ital. and Vulg. [Lachmann and Blass, as above]; reads γειν, and gives γεν, as correction.248
† BDLX, and a few cursives, etc., omit, though most insert.
The Authorised Version regards the phrase δ. γ. as implying the end of the repast; but I agree with those who take it to mean the arrival of the time for supper, which is confirmed by the wondrous action we are about to hear of. It cannot be doubted that it was usual to have the feet washed before, not after, supper.
But if Jesus had ways of infinite love before His heart, the devil had already planted in that of Judas Iscariot the awful treachery to his Divine Master, which no rolling ages can erase. So it was with Jesus: the enemy's hate came out most, as the love of God manifested itself in and by Him; but how withering to human pretension it was that the devil wrought by a man and a disciple, the close personal honoured follower of the Lord Jesus! "It was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance." (Psalm 55:13.) In that holy companionship he had trifled with sin, with his besetting covetousness; and now the devil prompted the gratification of it by betraying the Son of God. The Lord, as we shall later see, deeply felt it, but here He pursues the design of love with the consciousness of the Father's purposes and plans, with the consciousness, too, that He was going back to God with the same absolute purity in which He had come out from Him. It was no merely Messianic sphere, not even that of Son of man. The Father had given all things into the hands of His Son, and He was going back a man with not a shade over that intrinsic holiness which marked His coming out from God to become a man. He abode ever the Holy One of God, yet rises from supper, lays aside His garments, takes a towel and girds Himself.
Jesus occupies Himself with a new service, which their nearness to God as His children called for, the removal of the defilements of His own in their walk as saints through the world. This is the meaning of what follows. "Then He poureth water into the basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded" (verse 5).249 Be it carefully observed that it is a question here of water, not of blood. The reader of John's Gospel will not have overlooked that He makes much of "water" as well as "blood." So did the Lord in presenting the truth to His own, and no one shows this more than John. His first epistle also characterises the Lord as "He that came by (δἰ) water and blood; not in (ἐν) water only, but in water and blood." (1 John 5:6.) He purifies as well as atones. He employs the word to cleanse those who are washed from their sins in His blood. The Apostles Paul, Peter, and James, insist on this effect of the word, as John does. It is disastrous and dangerous in the highest degree to overlook purification by the washing of water by the word. If "the blood" is Godward, though for us "the water" is saintward to remove impurity in practice,250 as well as to give a new nature which judges evil according to God and His Word, of which it is the sign, adding to it the death of Christ, which gives its measure and force. Out of His pierced side came blood and water (chapter 19).
As to this grave and blessed truth Christendom remains, one fears, as dark as Peter, when he declined the gracious action of the Lord. Nor did Peter enter into the truth conveyed by His most significant dealing till afterwards-that is, when the Holy Spirit came to show them the things of Christ. On the occasion itself he was wrong throughout. And so are men apt to be now, even though light Divine has been fully afforded. They still perversely limit its extent to teaching humility. This only Peter saw, and hence his mistake; for he thought it stooping down excessively, that the Lord should wash his feet; and, when alarmed by the Lord's warning, he fell into an opposite error. We are only safe when subject to His Word in distrust of ourselves.
The fact is that, since Apostolic times, the truth (save as to the foundation, perhaps) has been either misapprehended, or perverted often to lifeless ordinances. Evangelicals, as the rule, ignore it, or merge it in the blood of Christ. Catholics (Greek, Oriental, Roman, or Anglican) misapply it to baptism. Hence not only do they miss the Lord's special lesson of washing in water, but they enfeeble propitiation. Consequently, non-imputation of sin is all but unknown from the earliest fathers till our own day. The Reformers wrought no deliverance in this respect; and the Puritans increased the confusion and darkness by pressing, not ordinances, but the law as the rule of life, instead of recalling by the Spirit of the Lord to Christ as the object according to which the Christian is being transformed here below. The Lord suffered once for sins, just for unjust. The efficacy is as perfect for the believer as is His Person; and the unity of His sacrifice is, therefore, the great argument of Hebrews 9, 10, as contrasted with the repetition of Jewish ones. By His one offering we are not only sanctified, but perfected in perpetuity. Is there no failure in the saint afterwards? Too often there may be. What, then, is the provision for such? It is the washing of water by the word which the Spirit applies in answer to the Son's advocacy with the Father. Of this Christ was here giving the sign.
The Lord proceeds to the work in hand. "He cometh then unto Simon Peter. He saith to Him, Lord, dost Thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said to him, What I am doing thou knowest not just now, but shalt know [understand] afterwards. Peter saith to Him, In no wise shalt Thou wash my feet for ever. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me. Simon Peter saith to Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed (bathed) hath no need to wash (other) than his feet,* but is wholly clean; and ye are clean, but not all. For He knew him that was delivering Him up: on this account He said, Ye are not all clean" (verses 6-11).
* , though the only MS. that omits ἢ (or εἰ) μὴ τοὺς πόδας, is followed by Tisch., ed. 8. The words are bracketed by W. and H. [Retained by Weiss, after Lachm. and Treg., but omitted by Blass, after Origen.]
In Divine things the wisdom of the believer is subjection to Christ and confidence in Him. What He does we are called to accept with thankfulness of heart, and as Mary said to the servants at the marriage feast, "whatsoever He saith unto you, do it." This Simon Peter did not. For when the Lord approached him "in the form of a servant," or bondman, he demurred. Was there not faith, working by love in Peter's heart? Both, undoubtedly, yet not then in action, but buried under superabundant feeling of a human sort: else he had not allowed his mind to question what the Lord saw fit to do. He had rather bowed to Christ's love and sought to learn, as He might teach, what deep need must be in him and his fellows to draw forth such a lowly yet requisite service from his Master. Ah! he knew not yet that Jesus must go lower down far than stooping to wash the disciples' feet, even to the death of the cross, if God were to be glorified and sinful man to be justified and delivered with an indisputable title. But the grace which was undertaking that infinite work of propitiation (the groundwork for meeting every exigency of the Divine nature and majesty and righteousness in view of our guilt, and unto the glory of God) would provide for every step of the way where defilement abounds. Thus might we enjoy communion, spite of Satan's power and wiles and our own weakness-yea, spite of failure be restored to communion with Him in the light and glory of God to which He was going back, and into which we shall in due time follow Him.
Peter did believe, but he did not yet believe "all that the prophets spoke" (Luke 24:25). He feebly entered into what he himself afterwards called the sufferings as to Christ, and the glories that should follow them. He continued to regard the Lord too exclusively as Messiah, little estimating till afterwards the depths involved in the Son of the living God, though his own lips had thus confessed His glory before. Nature was too little judged in Peter, so that he did not yet appreciate its meaning and application and results as subsequently under Divine teaching when the cross manifested its worth, or rather worthlessness, before God and man. Too self-confident and, indeed, ignorant not only of himself and the defiling scene around, but of the depths and constancy of Christ's love, Peter says to Him, "Lord, dost Thou wash my feet?" We grant that he could not know what was not yet revealed; but was it comely in him, was it reverent, to question what the Lord was doing? He may have thought it humility in himself, and honour to the Lord, to decline a service so menial at His hands. But Peter should never have forgotten that as Jesus never said a word, so He never did an act, save worthy of God and demonstrative of the Father; and now more than ever were His words and ways an exhibition of Divine grace, when human evil set on by Satan, not only in those outside, but within the innermost circle of His own, called for increased distinctness and intensity in view of His departure.
The truth is that we need to learn from God how to honour Him, and learn to love according to His mind. And if any man thinks that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. This, too, was Peter's mistake. He should have suspected his thoughts, and waited in all submissiveness on Him Who, as many confessed that knew far less than Peter, "hath done all things well," and was absolutely what He was speaking, truth and love in the same blessed Person. The thoughts of man are never as ours; and saints slip into those of man, unless they are taught of God by faith, in detail too as well as in the main; for we cannot, ought not, to trust ourselves in anything. God the Father will have the Son honoured; and He is honoured most when believed and followed in His humiliation. Peter, therefore, was equally astray when he once ventured to rebuke the Lord for speaking of His suffering and death, as now when he asks, "Dost Thou wash my feet?"
But the meek Lord answered in fulness of grace, and said to him, "What I am doing thou knowest (οἰδας) not just now, but shalt know (γνώσῃ)251 afterwards." Was not this a grave but compassionate intimation to Peter, had he been in the mood to learn? He ought to have gathered from the Lord's words, if he did not at once bow to His act, that there was a meaning worthy of Him Who deemed it due to the Father in truest, lowliest love to the children to wash their feet; he ought to have gathered more than this, that what he did not know of himself then, he was to learn afterwards: I presume, after the things now in progress, His rejection and death, resurrection and ascension, when the Holy Spirit should be given guiding them into all the truth.
But Peter was not yet of those who are guided with the Lord's eye; he did not feel the need of being instructed and taught the way in which he should go. There was too much of the horse or of the mule in him, too much need of being held with bit and bridle; (Psalm 32:9.) and failing to receive of the Lord that he should submit now and learn later, he plunges farther and more boldly into error with himself. "In no wise shalt Thou wash my feet for ever": the strongest repudiation of it, and this not merely in this life, but for that to come-for ever.
It was feeling, it was ignorance, no doubt; but should he have trusted himself to utter words so strong of the gracious way and act of His Master? How blessed that he had, that we have, to do with One Who does not hold His peace so as to bind the soul with a bond, Who knows when and how to disallow the foolish and even God-dishonouring word; so that it shall not stand and the soul be forgiven! (See Num. 30) The Lord made Peter's words utterly void the moment He heard them, as we shall see, in the grace which corrects every fault, and bore all our iniquity.
"Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me." Solemn assurance, not for Peter only, but for all who slight the same gracious provision on His part, who forget or have never apprehended their own need of it. It is a question not so much of life as of fellowship, of a part with Christ rather than in Him, though not really separable. Christ was going on high to God, Peter and the rest still on earth, and surrounded by defilements in the way. Christ would neither abate His love to His own, nor would He make light of their failures. Hence the need of washing the disciples' feet, apt to be soiled in walking through the world. And this is carried on by the word applied to the conscience by the Spirit. The believer bows, judges himself, and is practically cleansed. His communion is restored, and he can enjoy the things of Christ. He has part with Him.
Alarmed by the Lord's warning, His servant instantly flies to the opposite extreme: " Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." Now Peter cannot have too much. He seeks to be bathed all over, as if all the value of his previous washing could evaporate, and he needed it afresh no less than if it had never been. But it is never so. To see and enter the kingdom of God one must be born afresh, born of water and of the Spirit. But this is never repeated. The new birth admits of no such repetition. It was wrong to suppose that, born of God, one needs nothing else, that defilements either cannot befall a believer, or that, if they do, they are of no consequence.
What Simon thus thought and said in his ignorance, a certain school of divinity has formulated in its presumption. But this is not true knowledge of God. If law punishes transgression, grace condemns sin still more deeply. Impossible that any system of religious dogma could be of God which slurs over or ignores evil. But Simon Peter, convicted of danger on this side, falls into another on that side, and, roused to own the needful washing to have part with Christ, claims it all even for the believer as for the natural man. And here, too, an opposite school presents its corresponding dogma, denies the standing of the believer if unhappily he may get defiled, and insists that he must begin over again, perhaps many times in his life. Thus life eternal as a present possession in Christ is done away, and the constant responsibility which cows from the constant relationship of a child of God. One might be thus often lost, often saved spiritually!
The Lord corrects by anticipation both schools in correcting Peter. "He that is washed (λελουμένος) hath no need to wash (νίψασθαι) (other) than his feet, but is wholly clean; and ye are clean, but not all. For He knew him that was delivering Him up: on this account He said, Ye are not all clean." Thus simply, but perfectly, does He put each truth in its place and in relation to all the rest. Grace is maintained, but so is righteousness. Not a sin is passed over lightly. Not a believer has reason for discouragement; his every failure is an object of fresh concern to the Lord, a fresh proof of love that will not let him go but bless him, spite of the carelessness which let the Lord go. But He will not go; He washes the feet of him that is already washed all over, that he may be wholly clean. Thus the new birth holds and is never renewed, because it abides true and good; while the failure of him who is born again comes under Christ's active love and advocacy, and the soul is brought to judge himself in order to restored communion. Again, the case of Judas is not one of losing life, but of manifesting that he never had been born of God, as, indeed, no Scripture ever affirms it. It was not a sheep of Christ becoming unclean, but a dog returning to his vomit-yea, far worse, because of such proximity to Him Whose intimacy he abused for lucre to betray Him to His enemies.
It is of capital moment to hold fast along with atonement the washing of water by the word. Else the blood of Christ is diverted from its true aim and effect before God, and practically used as the resource in case of failure.
Let us hear Calvin as an influential witness of the error it involves, where he teaches from the word of reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5:20 ("Be reconciled to God"), that Paul is here addressing himself to believers, instead of illustrating the message of grace to the world. "He declares to them every day this embassy. Christ therefore did not suffer, merely that He might once expiate our sins, nor was the Gospel appointed merely with a view to the pardon of those sins which we committed previously to baptism, but that, as we daily sin, so we might also by a daily remission be received by God into His favour. For this is a continued embassy, which must be assiduously sounded forth in the church till the end of the world; and the Gospel cannot be preached unless remission of sins is promised. We have here an express and suitable declaration for refuting the impious trust of Papists, which calls upon us to seek the remission of sins after baptism from some other source than from the expiation that was effected through the death of Christ. Now this doctrine is commonly held in all the schools of Popery-that, after baptism, we merit the remission of sins by penitence through the aid of the keys (Matthew 16:19)-as if baptism itself could confer this upon us without penitence. By the term penitence, however, they mean satisfaction. But what does Paul say here? He calls us to go, not less after baptism than before it, to the one expiation made by Christ, that we may know that we always obtain it gratuitously. Further, all their prating as to the administration of the keys is to no purpose, inasmuch as they conceive of keys apart from the Gospel, while they are nothing else than that testimony of a gratuitous reconciliation, which is made to us in the Gospel" ("Comm. Epp. to the Corinthians," Calvin Soc., ii. 240, 241).
Clearly this teaching is erroneous, not only founded on a misapplication to saints of the Gospel ministry to sinners, but consequently unsettling their reconciliation as a great finished fact. It is not true that the Apostle declares this embassy to believers every day.252 He declares, on the contrary, that the work is done, and the worshippers once purged so as to have no longer any conscience of sins. (Hebrews 10:2.) There is no question of imputing sins or errors, nor of God's judgment of them by and by. The error undermines or excludes the constant relationship of the Christian on the ground of peace made by the blood of Christ's cross, and present and permanent fitness for sharing the inheritance of the saints in light (Colossians 1:12).
The one offering of Christ does not merely once expiate our sins, but has perfected in perpetuity the sanctified" (Ibid. 5: 14.) The Romanist meets the need created by failure after baptism by penitence aided by the keys; the Protestant by fresh approach to the sacrifice of Christ, the one being as ignorant as the other of the washing of the defiled feet by the word in answer to the advocacy of Christ with the Father. The continued embassy is by the Lord's servants in proclaiming the Gospel to the world. There is no such thing as God's receiving the believer by a daily remission into His favour. There may be the necessity of removing the uncleanness of flesh or spirit which hinders communion; but this supposes the groundwork of propitiation undisturbed and of the favour in which we stand. That the Christian requires to be reconciled afresh, that the call "Be reconciled to God" goes out to failing believers, proves that Calvin, able as he was and a saint himself, was ignorant even of the elementary and distinctive truth of the Gospel. This opened the door to the opposed error of Arminianism, which takes its stand more consistently on the same mistake, as if eternal life had no meaning, and the blood of Christ lacked everlasting efficacy. Both systems are faulty.
The truth puts everything in its place. The blood of Christ abides in its unchangeable value before God sacrificially and judicially; but the failing believer is inexcusable, and needs to wash his feet. The word must deal with him morally, producing self-judgment and confession; and the Lord looks to it in His ever-watchful grace by taking up His cause in living love with the Father. The Spirit, too, has His own suited function in producing, not the joy of fellowship with Christ in the things of Christ, but here grief and shame, pain and humiliation, in recalling the man's own ways-haste, levity, pride, vanity, and perhaps corruption or violence; for of what is the flesh unjudged not capable? By that word of truth he was begotten of God, awakened to self-judgment in His sight; by the same word is each defilement judged day by day, making it so much the more painful because the Spirit reminds the soul what Christ suffered for the sins which the flesh feels so lightly.
But far from dissolving the relationship, the sense of inconsistency with it, and with the grace which at so much cost and sovereign love withal conferred it on us, is that which most of all tries and humbles the erring one. Flesh would like exceedingly to have its way and indulge its pleasures, and the soul begin again; but God holds the believer to a relationship, which, if real, is everlasting, and makes every delinquency, therefore, to be so much the deeper sin, because it is against not conscience and righteousness only, but the richest grace God could show in Christ. We were reconciled to God through the death of His Son. There is no repetition of reconciliation any more than of the new birth. There is complete remission of sins through His blood, and hence no longer an offering for sin. The one and only offering which could avail is made and accepted. But there is, whenever needful, a fresh application of "water by the word." And this ever deals with the soul. The word detects whilst it removes the defilement, applying the death of Christ thus to man, as the blood dealt with the sins before God. Thus is the work carried on holily without weakening the sole foundation for a sinful man's peace as well as for Divine glory.
"When then He washed their feet and took His garments and reclined again, He said to them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call Me the Teacher and the Lord, and ye say well, for I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet; for I have given you an example, that even as I did to you, ye should also do. Verily, verily I say to you, A bondman is not greater than his lord, nor yet an apostle greater than He that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do (or, practise) them."
Undoubtedly the humility of the Lord was beyond question in His washing the disciples' feet, and that He would have them cultivate it He had solemnly urged on them in the plainest terms, as we see in all the Synoptic Gospels. But then there is another and deeper instruction. It is the renewal of their defilements in walking through the world which is before His mind, now that He is about to leave them; and about this He would exercise their hearts by the question, "Know ye what I have done to you?" It is His way indeed to teach us afterwards the good He has already done us; and as we grow up to Him in the truth, we appreciate better what we understood253 but slightly at first. Grace instructs us, as well as acts on our behalf; and it is humbling to find out how little we have understood while its activity has never staid. But how good and strengthening it is to learn its ways and lessons!
The Lord next enforces what He had done by appealing to the titles they habitually gave Him. "Ye call Me the Teacher and the Lord; and ye say well, for I am:"254 One to obey as well as to instruct, as could not but be where His personal glory is known. If He then stooped in love to wash their feet, what did they not owe one another? It is not only that we should serve the Lord in the Gospel. "By this shall all men know," He says later on in this very chapter, "that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another." Here, however, it is a definite call, where we are apt most to fail, to share His grace in seeking the restoration of each other where failure has come in. On the one hand, it needs faith and self-denial and Divine affections. Indifference about it detects our own failure. But, on the other hand, the righteousness that censures another is as far as possible from washing the feet, resembling rather the scourge than the service of the towel and basin. And assuredly, if grace be needed to bear the washing, a far larger measure must be in action to wash the feet. Hence says the apostle, "Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any fault, ye that are spiritual restore such an one in a spirit of meekness." (Galatians 6:1.) Where flesh was judged, love could act more powerfully, and with deeper sense that all is of grace. Self is the greatest hindrance in dealing with another's trespass.
The service of love in every form is the mind which was in Christ. Hence He calls them here to weigh what they had first seen. "For I have given you an example that ye also should do even as I did to you. Verily, verily, I say to you, A bondman is not greater than his lord, nor an apostle greater than He that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."255 The Lord knew the end from the beginning, and how soon His ministry would degenerate into a worldly institution, and become a title of pride, instead of being a work of faith and labour of love. Hence the need for His solemn formula, as a standing witness to all His own so prone in a world of vain show and selfishness to forget His word and wander from His way. But there His warning abides; to decline His service in washing the feet of His own is to set oneself above the Lord, and to claim a greater place than His Who sends even an Apostle. Oh, for the blessedness of doing as well as knowing these things! It is the fellowship of His love in one of its most intimate forms; and "love is of God, and every one that loveth hath been begotten of God and knoweth God." (1 John 4:7.)
The hint which closed verse 10 is now expanded into the growingly solemn intimations in word and deed that follow. It is no longer Christ's love caring for His own, either once for all in atoning self-sacrifice to God for them, everlasting in its efficacy; or in unintermittent cleansing by the word, as for whom He died on earth, living for them in heaven, that they might be practically in unison with the relationship of grace into which they had been brought, spite of the defilements of the way. Here it is the faithless indifference of nature, with a conscience increasingly seared by indulgence in a besetting sin, which Satan was about to lure and blind to high treason against Christ, availing itself of the closest intimacy to sell the Master and Lord, the Son of God, for the paltriest price of a slave-to sell Him into the hands of enemies thirsting for His blood. It may not be the hatred of these; it is utter lovelessness, betraying Him Who was at this time more than ever showing and proving His love, not only up to and in death, but in life beyond it evermore. Now the unbelief which, having eyes and heart, sees not nor feels such love, precipitates above all into Satan's deceit and power. This we sorrowfully behold in Judas; and no one felt the sorrow as the Lord.
Cf. Matthew 26:21ff. Mark 14:18ff.; Luke 22:21ff.
"I speak not of you all: I know whom* I chose out, but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, 'He that eateth bread with Me hath† lifted up his heel against Me.' Henceforth (or, From this present time) I tell you before it come to pass, that, when it hath come to pass, ye may believe that I am (He).256 Verily, verily, I say to you, He that receiveth whomsoever I shall send receiveth Me; and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me. Having said these things Jesus was troubled in His spirit and testified and said, Verily, verily, I say to you, One of you shall give Me up. The disciples (then)‡ looked one on another, doubting of whom He spoke (lit. speaketh)" (verses 18-22).
* τίνας, BCLM, etc. [Edd.]; οὕς, AD, and eleven more uncials, etc.
† ἐπῆρκεν, AUH,etc. [Tisch.], the mass followed by Text. Rec. ἐπῆρεν [most Edd.].
‡ οὖν pm, and most uncials, cursives, and versions, and so Text. Rec. [Weiss]; but corr.BC, etc., omit [as Blass, after Tisch.].
The Lord then did, and does, look for activity of love among His own. If they were objects of a love which could never fail, He would have them instruments or channels of it one toward another, and this in respect of evil to remove it, whereas legality could only condemn. Himself the Son yet the servant in love, He would exercise them in the service of dove, where defilement otherwise would repel. But as He came to suffer for our sins, so also He was going away to form us while on earth into His own mind and affections, through the truth, and in doing so to cleanse from every way which might grieve the Holy Spirit, whereby we are sealed till the day of redemption. For it is not a question of removing the guilt of a sinner only, but of restoring the communion of a saint, whenever interrupted by allowed evil. And in this last dealing of love, He would have His own caring one for another. But He did not speak of all the disciples then present: sad presage of what was to be far more common in after-days! He knew whom He chose out: Judas was not among such, though called to be an Apostle. He had never known the Lord, knew nothing truly of His grace or of His mind, and was not born of God. Why then had he been selected for that place of honour, the apostolate, in immediate and constant attendance on the Lord here below?
It was not that the Lord was unconscious of his character, conduct, or coming catastrophe, but that the Scripture might be fulfilled, He that eateth bread hath lifted up his heel against Me. (Psalm 41:9.) "Jeshurun grew fat and kicked" of old; "he gave up God Who made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation." (Deuteronomy 32:15.) Judas went incomparably farther in his guilty indifference to the Son of God come down in love and humiliation, and in his eagerness to serve himself at all cost, betraying his gracious Master for the merest trifle. Never was such love, never such slight and abuse of it, and this in one of those specially responsible to be faithful. Doubtless it would be through Satan's power; but to this flesh exposes, and so much the more because of nearness outwardly to the Lord Who is not believed on to salvation. Thereby comes out, most palpably and fatally, the hard baseness of the unrenewed heart, and this against the grace of the Lord above all. Thus, if the disciples were in danger of being stumbled by such a one's defection, the evident fulfilment of Scripture was meant to strengthen their faith in every written word of God. By this man lives Godward: bread, money, anything here below, may be the occasion of his ruin. How wondrous the patience which, knowing all from the beginning, bore all to the end, without a frown or sign of shrinking from the traitor! But so much the more withering must be the sentence of judgment when it comes from His lips, the Lord of glory, the hated and despised of man.
The Lord gives precision to ancient oracles, hitherto applied only to others, as here to David suffering from Ahithophel. But the Holy Spirit wrote of Him pre-eminently; and He too, before the event, cites the word about to be verified in the treachery toward Himself. Thus did the Lord prove alike His perfect and Divine knowledge of what lay yet in the future, while He taught the inestimable worth of Scripture, and, not least, of prediction not yet fulfilled, meeting in every form the incredulity of believers as well as of unbelievers. For who knows not the accepted maxims which assume the dark and doubtful character of unfulfilled prophecy, which denies prophecy even to the prophets, still more to the Psalms and to the law? At least men should fear to give the lie to Him Who declares Himself the truth, and spoke as never man did. They have reason to fear, if they turn away from Him to lying vanities which, far from being able to save their votaries in the day of need, shall assuredly be as stubble to burn themselves and all who trust them. Jesus, on the contrary, is never so transparently the Messiah as when beforehand He points to the word of Scripture about to be accomplished in His own rejection and death of the cross, and affords in it a firmer ground of blessing for the poorest of sinners than in all the glories of the kingdom to be fulfilled in their seasons.
Then, with His usual mark of profound solemnity, the Lord binds the reception of His sent ones with Himself and His Father. "Verily, verily, I say to you He that receiveth whomsoever I may send receiveth Me; and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me." This was the more important to be added here, for some might question their standing before God because of the awful doom of Judas, when and where known. The Lord comforts such, and turns from occupation with the fallen servant to the Master Who abides for ever the same, as does the Father. Did Judas betray the Lord? This sealed his own doom, but touched not the authority any more than the grace of Christ, as of God Himself. If they received one whom Christ sent, be his end even what it might, they received the Son, and so the Father, instead of sharing in the guilt or danger of the servant's punishment who dishonoured his Master to his perdition.
The Lord then, manifesting the deepest emotion, proceeds to urge the sin home, limiting its worst form to one only of the disciples. "Having said these things, Jesus was troubled in His spirit, and testified and said, Verily, verily, I say to you, One of you shall deliver Me up." It was holiness, it was love, which took thus to heart the impending iniquity of Judas. In every point of view the Lord felt it257 -in itself, in its contrariety to God, in its bearing on others as well as on Himself, and in its awfulness for the wretched guilty one. It is not self, but love, which is associated with the truest sensibility; and the Lord expresses it as a testimony also, "Verily, verily, I say to you, One of you shall give Me up." They were all faulty; but one, and only one, was thus about to become a prey to Satan, and the tool of his malice against the Lord. Their doubts were as honest as his place in their midst was now a lie against the truth. If he joined the rest in looking one on another, it was hypocrisy; for he could not really doubt of whom Jesus was speaking. Yet no blush, no paleness, betrayed Judas. The disciples must have recourse to other means of learning the sad truth.
The announcement of a traitor among the twelve troubled the disciples and led to anxious thought,258 as they looked one on another. What a testimony to His perfect grace Who had known it all along, and had given no sign of distrust or aversion! How solemn for the saints who have to do with the same unchanging Christ day by day! Nothing precipitates into the enemy's hands more than grace abused and sin indulged, while outwardly he is in the presence of the only One Whose life rebukes it absolutely. Let us look a little into the scene.
"(Now)* there was at table259 one of *His disciples in the bosom of Jesus whom Jesus loved.260 Simon Peter then beckoneth to this one and saith to him, †Tell who it is of whom He speaketh. He then‡ having thus‡ fallen back‡ on the breast of Jesus saith to Him, Lord, who is it? Jesus (then)‡ answereth, That one it is to whom I, having dipped the morsel, shall give (it). Having then dipped He (taketh and) giveth the morsel to Judas (son) of Simon, Iscariot. And after the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Jesus therefore saith to him, What thou doest do more quickly. But no one of those at table knew why He said this to him; for some supposed because Judas had the bag that Jesus saith to him, Buy the things that we have need of for the feast, or that he should give something to the poor. He therefore having received the morsel went out immediately; and it was night" (verses 23-30).
* BCpmL, etc., have no copula, but it appears in the other uncials, etc., and Text. Rec., which omits ἐκ, with some of the uncials and most cursives, contrary to the more ancient authorities.
† exhibits both readings which divide the other MSS; πύθεσθαι τίς ἂν εἴη περὶ οὗ ἔλεγεν· καὶ λέγει αὐτῶ· εἶπε τίς ἐστιν περὶ οὗ λέγει. [Blass omits "and . . . speaketh."]
‡ Tischendorf abandons ἀναπεσὼν [so W. and H., Weiss], with some good and old uncials (the usual phrase for the position), for ἐπιπ., with most MSS., and some ancient, which express the change of action [Blass, πεσὼν].261-It is a question of οὖν and δὲ in connection with it. - οὕτως, "thus," [just as he was] seems pretty sure, though omitted by Text. Rec.
Peter and John are often seen together. So here in their perplexity Simon Peter beckons to John as he reclined at table in the bosom of Jesus; for that John and no other was this favoured disciple cannot be doubted from John 19:26; John 20:2; John 21:7; Joh 21:20; Joh 21:24. And how truly of the Spirit that one enjoying such favour should describe himself, not as loving Jesus, though indeed he did, but as beloved by Him; and this, too, as the disciple whom Jesus loved, withholding his name as here and elsewhere of small account, though plainly described at the close where needed, and named where men might deny the authorship, as they have done!260 It is intimacy with Jesus that gathers secret, but imparts them for others' good. Falling back just as he was on the breast of Jesus, John asks who it is; and the Lord answers, not in word only, but with a sign strikingly according to Psalm 41:9, though an even more special mark of intimacy.
In Judas' state that token of love only hardened the conscience long seared by secret sin, which shut out from the heart all sense of love. His very familiarity with Christ's passing through the snares and dangers of a hostile world may have suggested that so it would be now with his Master, while he himself might reap the reward of his treachery; and the knowledge of His grace, without heart for it, may have led him to hope for mercy he had never known refused to the most guilty. The moment comes when holy love becomes unbearable to him who never relished it; and the sin he preferred blinded his mind and hardened his heart to that which had otherwise touched the most callous. "After the morsel, Satan then entered into him." The devil had already put it into his heart to deliver the Lord up; now, after receiving without horror or self-judgment the last token of his Master's love, the enemy entered. At being thus designated there may have been irritation, which if retained gives room for the devil even in ordinary cases; much more in his who had trifled with unfailing grace, and thus forgot wholly His glory, as he had ever been insensible to God's nature and his own sin. "Jesus therefore saith to him, What thou art doing do more quickly"-that is, sooner than was indicated by his pretension to share the doubts of the disciples or to join in what was before their hearts.
Never does God thus abandon to Satan poor man, however wretched and sinful, till He rejects his love and holiness and truth, above all shown in the Lord Jesus and in this Gospel. There He may and does judicially harden, and this to irretrievable ruin, but only after the heart has steeled itself to the appeals of His most patient goodness. Still, judicial hardening is a real thing on God's part, whatever may be argued by those who seem unwilling to allow frankly and fully the activity of God on the one hand and of Satan on the other. Not a whit better is the opposite school which seems to banish from conscience the solemn fact of responsibility, whether in a man or in a Christian, or, as here, in one who, though in the unremoved darkness of a man, drew so near the Son of God, the personal expression in man of all God's light and love.
We have heard already how deeply our Lord felt the sin of Judas as the moment approached and the design was allowed in his heart. Now the sentence goes forth, which closed the door of life for the earth on the Saviour-of everlasting wrath on Judas. Yet did the disciples look on and listen without knowing the awfulness of the issues then pending. Not even John penetrated the meaning of words soon to be clear to all. It was not to buy things needful, but to sell their Lord and Master; it was no preparation for the feast,262 but that to which it, not they, had ever looked onward, the fulfilment of God's mind and purpose in it, though it were the Jews crucifying their own Messiah, by the hand of lawless men; it was not that Judas should give to the poor, the last thing which would occupy his mind, but that He should Who "was rich yet for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9.) It was a man's, a disciple's worst sin; it was God's infinite love, both meeting in the death of the Lord on the cross; but where sin abounded, grace exceeded much more.
Judas "therefore having received the morsel immediately went out." What darkness rested thenceforward on that soul! "It was night," says our evangelist.263 And that night deepened in its horrors on the faithless man, given to see his irreparable evil only when done, till it closed on his going to his own place.
The Lord felt the gravity of the moment, and saw the way and end from the beginning. All the wondrous and everlasting consequences of His death were stretched out before Him, and now that Judas is gone, He gives free expression to the truth in divinely perfect words. "When therefore he was gone out, Jesus saith, Now is (lit. was) the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him."* (verse 31).264 His own cross is fully in view, and there was laid the basis for all true abiding glory, not for God only (though assuredly for God, for there can be none really unless He be foremost), but for man also in the person of the Lord, the Son of man, Who alone had shown what man should be for God, as He had shown what God is, even the Father, in Himself the Son.
* It is not that the aorist as here, ever means the present or the future but that in the Greek the act is spoken of as complete, summed up from the commencing feet to its completion. See John 15:6 also, and Revelation 10:7.
It is indeed a theme of incomparable depth, the Son of man glorified, and God glorified in Him; and no statement elsewhere, though from the same lips, was meant so to present and fathom it, though each was perfect for its own object, as the one before us.
In John 12, when certain Greeks came to Philip the Apostle, desiring to see Jesus, and Andrew and Philip tell Jesus, He answered them saying, "The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified;" and forthwith, with His most solemn emphasis, He speaks of His death as the condition of blessing to others. So only should He bear much fruit. Otherwise the grain of wheat abode alone. A living Messiah is the crown of glory to Israel; a rejected One, the Son of man, by death opened the door, for the Gentile even, into heavenly things, and is the pattern thenceforth. So true is it that to love life in this world is to lose it; to hate it here is to keep it to life eternal; and hence following Him Who died is the way to serve Him, secure the Father's honour, and be with the heavenly Master and Lord. It is by death that He takes the place, not of Son of David, according to promise (though this in grace He does also, according to Paul's Gospel), but of Son of man, and thus have all things and all men, Greeks no less than Jews, according to the counsels of God, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. There was no other way for guilt to be effaced, for heaven to be opened and enjoyed by those who were once lost sinners. Thus the heavenly glory follows the moral glory; and every hope, for the Gentile most manifestly, turns on Christ's obedience even unto death, wherein Satan's power was utterly broken, and the judgment of God perfectly satisfied. For if the world was therein judged, and its prince to be cast out, Christ lifted up on the cross becomes the attractive centre of grace for all, spite of degradation, darkness, and death.
In John 17 the Son looks to the Father Whom He had glorified, that the Father might glorify Him in heaven. He was Son before time began; He had therefore of course glory with the Father before the world was. But He had taken the place of servant in manhood on earth, and now asks that the Father should glorify Him along with Himself with the glory which He had along with Him eternally. A man to everlasting, He would receive all from the Father, albeit Son from everlasting; and when glorified, it is that He may glorify the Father. Such is perfect love and devotedness.
Here, in John 13, He speaks of the Son of man glorified, and of God glorified in Him. This has its own peculiar force. The first man was an object of shame and judgment through sin; the second Man, Jesus Christ the righteous, was glorified, and God was glorified in Him. He sees it all summed up in the cross, and so speaks to the disciples, now that the traitor's departure left His heart free to communicate all that filled it. It is not the Father, as such, glorified livingly by His Son in an obedience which knew no limit but His Father's will, but a man, the rejected Messiah, the Son of man, devoting Himself at all costs to the glory of God. This was indeed the Son of man's glory, that God should be, as He was, glorified in Him. Blessed Saviour! what a thought, and now a fact and a truth, the truth made known to us, that we might know not merely God come to us, but ourselves brought to God, and this in peace and joy, because man is glorified in the Person of Christ, and God is glorified in Him a Man, the man Christ Jesus.
For in deed and in truth God is glorified in the cross as nowhere else-His love, His truth, His majesty, His righteousness. "Herein was manifested the love of God in our case, that God hath sent His only-begotten Son, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son as propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4). And His truth, majesty, and righteousness have been maintained, no less than His love; for if God threatened guilty man with death and judgment, Jesus bore all, as man never could, that His word might be vindicated fully. Never did man prove his enmity to God, never did Satan prove his power over man, as in that cross where the Son of man gave Himself up in supreme devotedness and self-sacrificing love to the glory of God. Nowhere was so demonstrated the holiness of God, the impossibility of His tolerating sin; nowhere such love to God, and such love to the sinner. The Son of man was glorified, and God was glorified in Him.
When, where, was Jesus so glorified as in stooping to the uttermost when God "made sin Him Who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him?" (2 Corinthians 5:21.) where Jesus, feeling the truth of death and judgment as none else ever could, bowed His head, not merely to man's contemptuous hatred and to Satan's wily malice, but to God's indignation against sin-despised of man, abhorred of the nation, abandoned of the disciples, forsaken of God, when most of all needing comfort, doing and suffering His will perfectly in the only unstormed fortress of the enemy's power-to God's glory and in His grace? No, there is nothing like it, even where, and where alone, all was perfection, in the life of Christ. This was glorifying the Father as to good in a devotedness and dependence with which none can compare; that, a glorifying God as to evil by the endurance of all that the Holy One of God could suffer from all that God could and did inflict in unsparing judgment-both the one and the other in absolute obedience and love and self-renunciation to His glory. And all this, and more than this, blessed be God! we see in Man, the Son of man; that in Him, in that nature which had wrought foul dishonour and rebellion against God from first to last, God might be glorified. "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him."265
In that Person; and by that work, all was reversed. The foundation was laid, the seed was sown, for an entirely new order of things. Previously God forbore, not only with man, but even with the saints, looking unto Him Who should come; and sins were not remitted exactly, but prætermitted (Romans 3:25), if we would speak with dogmatic propriety. Man was simply and solely a debtor to God's mercy. Nor would we weaken for a moment that man is still a debtor to His mercy, and must ever be. But there is a revelation now in virtue of Christ's death, a new and different and infinite truth, that God is a debtor to the Son of man for glorifying Him as to evil no less than good; not only fulfilling all righteousness, but suffering for all unrighteousness. This is alone in the cross, which constitutes its specific glory, ever fading away from feeble man's eyes unless filled with light from Christ in glory, never forgotten of God the Father, Who, in answer to the cry, "Glorify Thy name," said, "I have both glorified and will glorify it again." And so He does and ever will, whatever appearances may for a little while say to the contrary.
His righteousness, once so dreaded a sound, armed (as it could not be without Christ) against us, is now by His death as distinctly for us, as is its spring, the grace which reigns through it unto eternal life. And we boast in hope of His glory, which, through Christ's death, had been instant and everlasting destruction to us; as surely as we have an access by faith into His favour, in which we stand as a present thing. Oh, what has not the death of Christ done for God and for us?
Hence the Lord adds, "If God is (lit. was) glorified in Him,* God also shall glorify Him in Himself, and shall glorify Him immediately" (verse 32). If we may reverently so speak, it is God now Who has become debtor for the vindication of His glory to the Man Who suffered on the cross. Was He not God from everlasting to everlasting, no less than the Father? yet did He become most truly man, and as man the Son of man-which Adam was not-He brought glory to God, even in the matter of sin. Therefore it is that God, having been glorified in Him, could not but also glorify Him in Himself. This He has done by setting Him (not on David's, but) on His own throne in heaven, the only adequate answer to the cross. There He alone is set down, the Son but a man, on God's throne; and this "immediately." God could not, would not, did not, wait for the kingdom, which will surely come, and Christ in it, when the due time arrives. But the work of Christ was too precious to admit of delay, and God had long hidden counsels to bring out meanwhile. Thus should He glorify Christ immediately; and so it is, as we all know now, however strange to Jewish expectation then.
* The oldest and best MSS. omit this clause, pmBCpmDLXΠ, a dozen cursives, some of the good Latin [Syrsin], etc. Hence, Lachmann and Tregelles bracket the clause, and W. and H. go so far as to omit it altogether. Before them, Scholz remarks on the omission: "Recte, nam inepta videtur iteratio eiusdem dicti." This is bolder than man should say, and simply proves his own spiritual incapacity. It was worthy, if anything was, of repetition, and most impressive. Twelve uncials, besides the correction of the Sinai MS., and the Rescript of Paris, the mass of cursives, much the weightier of the versions, not to speak of the fathers who commented on the passage, cite the passage as unquestionable Scripture. [Weiss, here uninfluenced by B. and Blass retain "if God," etc.]
Not only was His death before the Lord, but His departure from the world-a notion absolutely new to a Jewish mind in connection with the Messiah. The more such a soul believed Him to be the promised One, the less could it be conceived that He should quit the scene which He had come to bless. "We have heard out of the law," answered the people not long before, "that Christ abideth for ever; and how sayest Thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?" There too He had intimated to the Jews, not only His death, but what death He should die, and His retirement from their midst. A new creation and heavenly glory were beyond their field of vision. But here the Lord prepares His disciples more fully for what was then coming and is now come: facts simple enough for us who have to do with them every day, but wholly unlooked for in Israel, who expected the kingdom immediately to appear, not the things unseen and eternal, with which our faith is called to be conversant.
"Little children,266 yet a little I am with you. Ye will seek Me; and, even as I said to the Jews, Where I go away [back], ye cannot come, also to you I say now" (verse 33). None had passed this way heretofore. It must be a new and living way, and only His death could make it possible, consistently with God or with man. But to His own there is a title of endearment; and if He was to be but a little with them, they were to seek Him. Heaven, however, was in no way accessible to man like the earth, of whose dust his body was made. Christ came from God, and went to God, as He will come by and by and receive us to Himself, that where He is, there we may be also. But no more is the Christian able to go there than any other man; Christ alone can bring any therein, as He will surely do with His own at His coming.
But He meanwhile lays a characteristic injunction on them here below. "A new commandment I give to you, that ye love one another; even as I loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love among one another" (verses 34, 35).
The nation disappears. It is no question of loving one's neighbour, but of Christ's disciples and of their mutual love according to His love. New relationships would come out with increasing plainness when He rose from the dead, and sent down the Holy Spirit; and this new duty, loving one another, would flow out of the new relationship: a convincing proof to all men Whose they were, for He alone had shown this throughout His life and death, as also alive again-love unfailing. How far were the Jews from such love? The Gentiles had not even the thought of it. And no wonder. Love is of God, not of man, which accounts for the blank till He came Who, though God, manifested love in man and to man, and was thus, through His death and resurrection, to bear much fruit. Their love was to be, if we may so say, of His own material and mould-to abide, if it did not begin, when He went away. For, as is written in 1 John 2:8, the new commandment now "is true in Him and in you; because the darkness passeth and the true light already shineth." While He was here, it was true perfectly, but only in Him; when He gave them redemption in Him through His death and resurrection, it was true in them also. The darkness was passing ("is past" being too strong to say), and the true light already shines. It is not here activity of zeal in quest of sinners, however precious, but the unselfish seeking of the good of saints as such, in lowliness of mind and in Christ's love.*267
* [Cf. "Exposition of the Epistles of John," p. 96.]
Matthew 26:33-35; Mark 14:29-31; Luke 22:31-34.
An irrepressible disciple, with a curiosity habitual in him, turns from what the Lord was enjoining to the words before: "Simon Peter saith to Him, Lord, where goest Thou? Jesus answered (him),* Where I go, thou canst not follow Me now, but thou shalt follow Me afterwards: Peter saith to Him, Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? My life [soul] for Thee I will lay down. Jesus answereth† (him),‡ Thy life [soul] for Me wilt thou lay down? Verily, verily, I say to thee, In no wise shall a cock crow till thou shalt have denied Me thrice" (verses 36-38). Peter knew and really loved the Lord, but how little he as yet knew himself! It was right to feel the Lord's absence; but he should have heeded better the mild yet grave admonition, that where Christ was going away he was not able to follow Him now; he should have valued the comforting assurance that he should follow Him later. Alas, how much we lose at once, how much we suffer afterwards, through not laying to heart the deep truth of Christ's words! We soon see the bitter consequences in Peter's history; but we know, from the further words of our Lord in the close of this Gospel, how grace would insure in the end the favour compromised by that self-confidence at the beginning, which he is here warned against.
* Omitted by BCpmL [Edd.], but supported by ACcorr.D, etc.
† The best sustain the present tense.
‡ The oldest omit "him."
But we are apt to think most highly of ourselves, of our love, wisdom, power, moral courage, and every other good quality, when we least know and judge ourselves in God's presence; as here we see in Peter, who, impatient of the hint already given, breaks forth into the self-confident question, "Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for Thy sake." Peter therefore must learn, as we also, by painful experience what he might in faith have understood even better by subjection of heart to the Lord's words. Where He warns, it is rash and wrong for us to question; and rashness of spirit is but the precursor of a fall in fact, whereby we must be taught, if we refuse it otherwise He that slighted the warning when Christ spoke it lied through fear of a servant-maid. True Christian courage is never presumptuous, but well consorts with fear and trembling; for its confidence is not in the resources of self, or in the circumstances of others, but in God, with a due sense of the power of Satan and of our own weakness.
When ignorance slips, as it often does, into presumption, the Lord does not spare rebuke. "Wilt thou lay down thy life for My sake?" Was this Peter's resolve? Soon would that stout heart quail at the shadow of death. Yet what was death itself for any saint to compare with Christ's death, when tasting rejection as none ever did, and bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, as it was His alone to suffer for them from God! It was judgment as well as death, but endured as only He could.
But ignorance works often in another way. They will not believe their own utter weakness, spite of Christ's plain warning, and want light to prove His truth and their folly. Nor is this all. They assume that if a believer fail once, he must immediately repent in dust and ashes. How little they know themselves, or have profited by Scripture! "Verily, verily," said the all-patient Master, "In no wise shall a cock crow till thou shalt have denied Me thrice."268 We recall Peter's repeated denial of his Lord, and with oaths, too, under the most solemn circumstances, not to lower him, but for the profit of our own souls, and to exalt Him Who alone is worthy. How infinite the grace which made the measure of his sin to be the signal and means of his repentance, under the Lord's use of His own word, and in His wonder-working mercy! And what He was to Peter, He is to us, and nothing less.
NOTES ON THE THIRTEENTH CHAPTER
247John 13:1. - "Before the Feast of the Passover." The question, by many always considered so difficult, here presents itself of the agreement or otherwise of the fourth Gospel with the preceding records in regard to the character of the last meal of which our Lord partook with His disciples. The subject has already been discussed in note 142 on Mark (Mark 14:12 f.). Here may be added reference to Dalman, "Aramaic Grammar," p. 248 f., for τρη being used in post-Biblical Jewish literature for the whole feast; also to Andrews, pp. 542-581. The general question can be dealt with most conveniently in the present volume, in connection with the expositor's own note on John 19:14 below.
248John 13:2. - Field and Govett adhere to the reading of A.V.: γενομένου. Alford renders "supper being prepared" (or, going on), and compares Matthew 26:6. Mr. Kelly, as the Dean and the Revisers: γινομένου. It affords a good instance of the different ways in which copyists, writing from dictation, heard a word uttered by the reader.
249John 13:4-5. - This is manifestly the narrative of an eye-witness. There are seven steps, all engraven on the Evangelist's memory. Note the graphic ὲγείρεται . . . βάλλει. As to the "girding," cf. Luke 12:37.
Those who deny that it was a strictly paschal supper make use of the fact of the "rising": "standing" had been prescribed for that, but it would seem for the first occasion alone.
250 For "washing from iniquity," cf. Psalm 51:2, and 1 Corinthians 6:11.
251 See on verse 12 below.
252John 13:10. Calvin's idea of continued reconciliation was doubtless in the minds of King James's New Testament company concerned with the rendering "to make reconciliation" in Hebrews 2:17. It has reappeared in teaching of recent years, based on an interpretation of 2 Corinthians 5:20, which the expositor combated.
253John 13:12. - The "know" means understand (γινώσκετε). Cf. verse 7, where οἶδας and γνώσῃ occur together.
254John 13:13. - See Luke 5:8.
255John 13:17. - Schmiedel remarks: "If read in the Synoptic Gospels, would cause no difficulty." What, then, about Matthew 7:21, which is to the same effect?
256John 13:19. - Cf. Isaiah 43:11-13 and John 8:24; Joh 8:28; Joh 8:58 of this Gospel.
John 13:18. - The quotation is from the Hebrew, from which the Septuagint
257John 13:21. - It is supposed that this is the point at which the Lord's Supper would come in. For "troubled in His spirit," cf. 11: 33, 12: 27.
258a John 13:22. - "Doubting," perplexed (ἀπορούμενοι)
259John 13:23. - "At table." The posture was that of reclining. Leonardo da Vinci's picture, which represents the guests as sitting, represents quite a wrong idea.
260 Here is the first mention by the Evangelist of the disciple understood to mean himself. Westcott, Drummond, Loisy and others concur, at any rate, in this opinion. Scholten started the notion, which Bacon advocates, that an ideal disciple is meant. Imagination may employ itself ad infinitum, but fruitlessly.
261John 13:24-27. - A critical canon, as to the shorter readings being preferable, here favours the T.R.
262 As to the morsel, or "sop," given and received in token of a covenant of peace, see pamphlet of Mr. Khodadad (London Jews' Society), pp. 32 f.
263John 13:29. - "For the feast." It is used here for the whole feast, as in John 2:13; Joh 2:23, John 6:4; Joh 11:55; Joh 12:1, and the first verse of this chapter. See, further at John 18:28.
263a John 13:30. - "Having received the morsel." Cf. Luke 22:21. "It was night." Cf. Exodus 12:42.
264John 13:31-34. - See note 62 on Mark. For love as element of Christian character, see Illingworth, chapter 5.
265John 13:31 f. - "Is [was] glorified." For the aorist, cf. John 15:6; Joh 15:8, and John 17:4; also at John 3:19, in purpose, if not in reality.
266John 13:33. - "Little children": a solecism in the Gospel. Judas is by this time excluded. "The Jews": the only time in which the Lord uses the term to His disciples.
267John 13:35. - The Christian is not to be known by his wearing a cross, as the South Sea Islander a tattoo, or the Brahmin a blue thread.
268 As to discrepancies alleged by Strauss and others in respect of Peter's denials, see McClellan, pp. 494-503.
And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;
Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
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.
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.
Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
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 betray me.
Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.
Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.
Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.
He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?
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.
And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.
Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.
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.
He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.
Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.
Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.
Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.
Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.