John 13.31-35 – The World Behind the Text

Click here to watch my video reflection on our text for today, or keep reading for my written reflections: 

Today we’re going to continue our look at John 13: 31-35. Today we’re going to be looking at the World Behind the text. What can we learn from looking at the greater context of the Gospel of John.  

The teaching That we read today comes in the middle of John’s account of Holy Week. It is helpful for us to understand this story in its context. Chapter 13 begins with Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. In this moment Peter says that Jesus you’ll never wash my feet in Jesus’ answers unless I wash you you will have no share with me. So Peter says to him Lord not only my feet but also my hands in my hand. Jesus then goes on to tell him that he had already had a bath is in no need of washing. This is a reference to a Jewish ritual bath called a mikvah bath. This was a ritual type of cleansing that was done to show that they were being religiously observant. It was not a literal bath in the sense we think of 1 but one more ritualistic. So when Jesus washes Peters’s feet he is not actually cleansing him as much as that he is showing that he is serving him. The washing of the feet was also more ceremonial or ritualistic than practical. In this act, Jesus shows his path, and his path is that of service.

Then he tells the disciples that one of them will betray him, that being Judas. Peter then says that he will never deny Jesus and the Lord says no you will. Then we have chapter 14 which is a great chapter of encouragement of Jesus’ preparation for us then additional teaching in 15 and 16. And then in chapter 17, we see Jesus’ high priestly prayer for the disciples and for all of us.

Of all the things that he says in this Tom, it is his teaching that we read today that is the most direct and the bluntest. Here he is telling them that he is leaving for them a new commandment. They are to love each other as he loves them. This commandment is the hinge on which everything else turns. He knows what is to come and much that happens after this teaching begins that journey to the cross. The teaching we see today is the pivotal teaching that Jesus leaves with his disciples before he goes to the cross. 

Everything from this moment on points to the cross. Jesus knew this. That why it is significant that this is his last command to his disciples. Love as he loves. We should hear that as our command as well.

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