After showing His disciples what it means to serve, Jesus explicitly called out two of His disciples and how they were going to betray Him on His road to Calvary. In the end, Jesus was abandoned by all His disciples, and though the way each one of them reacted to His arrest might have been different, they all had one thing in common. No sooner was Jesus captured by the Jewish leaders, all of His disciples had forgotten everything that He had taught them throughout their three-year-long journey. So during their last meal together, Jesus wanted to let His disciples know everything that was about to unfold so that they would truly understand He is always in control even when things around us seem chaotic.
“I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am.John 13:19
The Jewish Leaders
In rejecting Jesus as the Messianic King, the Jewish leaders proved that they did not understand the very scriptures they were reading and teaching others. Satan had blinded their eyes in the name of religion and in their efforts to hold on to their traditions, they failed to accept the greatest Gift from God. Jesus wanted to highlight His rejection to prepare the disciples for the persecution that was coming their way.
Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”John 13:20
In the Old Testament, kings used to send their messengers to the governors of their provinces to know the state of the land or to convey any important information. The way their messengers were treated was a reflection of what the subjects thought about the king (1 Chronicles 19:1-5). In the parable of the tenants, Jesus uses a similar analogy to highlight the extent of the downfall of the human race. But nowadays everyone claims to be from God while their message does not seem to reflect the same.
The messengers would have a note of authenticity that was signed and sealed by the king. Namaan carried a letter from his king as proof of his legitimacy. Nehemiah carried a similar letter from his king that he gave to Asaph. This made the regional governors trust the messenger and would usually grant his request. Similarly, we must not go by the words of man but by the content of their message and judge for ourselves whether it has the seal of approval from God. For that, we must ourselves know our King and His desires to correctly judge the messenger’s legitimacy.
However, once the legitimacy of the man of God has been established, we would be wise to listen to their advice or rebuke, rather than foolishly ignoring it. On the other hand, as messengers of God, remember that we will be tormented by everyone around us, the ones who hate us and the ones who love us will seem to be on the same page to derail our mission. The same happened to Jesus as well but He stayed on the path that God had chosen for him till the very end.
After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”John 13:21
Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him all along. Even when choosing the ‘Twelve’, He knew this fact and still chose to bring Judas into His fold. Jesus was troubled not at betrayal but at the loss of the soul of Judas to satan. Jesus is deeply distressed even when one single sheep is separated from the fold. That day, satan entered Judas and helped him accomplish his heart’s desire. The disciples were curious to know who among them was the betrayer. They themselves would have had doubts about Jesus as it was evident by the lack of faith they displayed on the day of resurrection. But on that day they wanted to find out who specifically Jesus was talking about.
Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.”John 13:26
Many people disregard Judas’ evil desires and claim that he was ‘destined to betray Jesus’ in a lame attempt to vilify God as the one who did not give Judas the free will to choose his own fate. We also take this route when we blame God for our poor life choices claiming that He has destined for us to suffer. But it is our evil desires that push us away from His Grace and leads us to make those poor choices. When Judas decided to double-cross Jesus, satan entered into him to help execute the Lord’s betrayal. He would have gone to the Pharisees out of the embarrassment that Jesus had caused him by openly rebuking him, but the anger that was festering in him allowed satan to enter his heart. Even for us, satan uses some hurt, anger or even disappointment that we have faced in our lives to convince us to turn against God. We end up doing the will of satan than what God has planned for us and then blame God for our destiny.
So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him.John 13:27-28
It is interesting to note that on his own, satan cannot do anything but needed Jesus’ permission to enter into Judas. Even Judas received the approval of Jesus before going away the night to find the Pharisees. Even to betray Jesus one needs Jesus. When we are going against His will He is right there beside us all the while still loving and caring for us.
The culmination of Jesus’ work for the past three years was leading Him to the cross, something that neither the Jewish leaders nor His own disciples were able to comprehend. Like the preparation of the upper room, Jesus would frequently give tasks to a smaller group. As keeper of the money bag, Judas would have frequently been assigned individual tasks like payment of the group temple taxes for all them, so the disciples did not question his hasty exit that day as Judas went into the night.
Not that John specifically mentions ‘the night’ just like he did when writing about the encounter of Jesus with Nicodemus, the Pharisee. No one who does good does it hidden from everyone but those who want to do evil use the cover of night to hide their shameful acts.
Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.John 3:20
After Judas’ departure, Jesus continued encouraging His followers and warning them of what was coming next. Jesus asked His disciples to love each other like He loved them and that is the best way to make Him known through their actions towards their fellow beings.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.John 13:34
The earlier commandments were about loving our neighbour as we love ourselves. But now that Christ has shown us the meaning of true love and sacrifice, He expects us to extend the same to our fellow beings and nothing less. The way we treat our fellow beings shows the love we have experienced from our Father in Heaven as no one who understands His love can hate His creations.
As usual, Simon was oblivious of what Jesus was trying to teach Him and was more worried that Jesus was going someplace without him. As the self-proclaimed leader of the group (when it came to asking such dumb inquiries), he took it upon himself to question Jesus on something that he should already have known.
Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.John 13:37
Jesus would often retreat to secluded spots to get away from the crowds and connect with His Father. Peter perhaps thought that Jesus was about to retreat because of the threat of the Temple leaders and wanted to assure Jesus that he would not leave His side. However, Peter and the disciples were not listening to what Jesus had repeated throughout the last three years He spent with them. They chose to ignore some of the statements made by Jesus. They loved the attention they were getting by associating with the “Great Healer” but did not want to believe that their ride within the “bridegroom” was coming to an end. Like the disciples, we also partially listen to Jesus’ words. The things that are favourable to us we are eager to learn and apply in our lives while the things that contradict our beliefs, rather than spending time in understanding the intent of it, we simply reject it at first glance. Peter was confident that He would stand by his leader but Jesus brought him down to earth.
“Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!John 13:38
As He did with Judas, Jesus let Peter also know what he was about to do in a few hours time. I don’t think that Jesus was trying to teach Peter a lesson of humility but was letting him know that his confidence was misplaced. Peter was not confident of his faith in Christ but rather was confident in his ability to stand by Jesus’ side regardless of the adversities coming their way. This is the same Peter whose lack of faith in Christ caused him to almost drown. The same Peter who kept forsaking Jesus and going back to his trade is now claiming that nothing can shake his faith. The transformation of his name from Simon to Peter was not followed by the transformation of his heart. Christians today are confident that they will go to heaven without having confidence in Jesus or knowing anything about Him. Having confidence in our ability is discrediting what God has been doing in our lives, so let our confidence be on Him and Him alone.
- V20: Should we accept anyone claiming to be from God?
- V21: Why was Jesus troubled by Judas’ betrayal if he knew it would happen all along?
- V34: Is this a new command? How is it different from the one given earlier by Jesus and the one given by God to Moses?
- V37: Why did Peter not understand what Jesus was talking about?
- V38: Peter was confident that he would stand by Jesus, but Jesus brought him down to earth. Is having confidence in our faith good or bad?