John 13:6-10, John 13:21-38

Read: John 13:6-10, John 13:21-38

Betrayal and denial: two things no friends wants but this is exactly what Jesus predicted would happen. While they were eating together, Jesus announces that one of them would betray him. He did not name names, but gave a sign by dipping bread and giving it to Judas. When Jesus gave him the bread, John notes that the devil entered Judas, and Jesus says for him to do that which he was going to do quickly.

Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial is made in the context of some profound statements concerning love. Jesus knew that the time for him to be glorified was at hand, and through his oneness with the father, he knew that together they would be glorified. The disciples were committed to Jesus, as they knew at least in part that Jesus was the source of eternal life (John 6:68). But what they did not understand was what Jesus meant when he said he was going away. John notes that Jesus knew his time with the disciples was short in John 13:1. Peter on the other hand says that he would lay down his life for Jesus. Jesus later says that no man has greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. Peter probably understood this to mean stand up and fight (John 18:11). What Jesus was really getting at was that one should selflessly serve another — that is setting aside one’s own interest for the sake of another (Philippians 2:3-4) as this is the attitude that Jesus had. Jesus on the other hand questions Peter’s resolve, saying that he would deny him three times before the rooster crows. Peter did indeed deny Jesus later on (John 18:15-18, John 18:25-26), but it was not until later that Peter fully understands what Jesus is talking about. He finally gets it when Jesus asks him if he loves him, and then commands him to feed his sheep (John 21:15-19).

The new commandment that Jesus gave to love one another as Jesus loved them was recorded in the midst of predictions of betrayal and denial. Yet even in light of these things, Jesus still does not give up on those who claim to love him as there is grace and forgiveness for them. Jesus loved them in spite of what they did to him by washing their feet and serving them. But when Jesus goes to wash Peter’s feet, Peter would have nothing of it. But Jesus says that unless he washes Peter’s feet, Peter has nothing to do with him. Peter then wants a bath for this reason, but Jesus says a foot washing is enough, as Peter did not need to be fully reinstated.  Like Peter, Christians should have the resolve to be willing to lay down one’s life for another. But the reality of the matter is that even with such resolve, one is going to falter as Peter and Judas did. Christians should be willing to love like Jesus loves when this happens and seek forgiveness and reinstatement rather than wrath. But reinstatement does not require a bath — just a little will do! On the same token, one should also be willing to let others love them when one falters too. The new commandment is to love one another, not to just love others or just be loved by others. This sort of love is reciprocal in that it requires giving love and receiving love from others.

Lord, I will inevitably fail others and others will fail me. Please help me to love as you do when this happens!