John 13


John 13:1

Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

The Feast of the Passover preceded the weeklong festival of Unleavened Bread. Traditionally, Passover was celebrated in the home on the evening of the 14th of the first month (the Thursday before Good Friday). But since the time of Hezekiah and Josiah (2 Chr. 30:1, 35:1), Passover was also observed in temple sacrifices made later on the 14th (the daylight hours of Good Friday)


John 13:2

During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him,

(a) The devil. The desire and plan to deliver Jesus to those who would kill him came from Satan (see entry for Luke 22:3).

(b) Judas. Two of the twelve disciples were named Judas, hence the need to distinguish the one who betrayed Jesus (Luke 6:16). The name Iscariot suggests this Judas was from the town of Kerioth, in Judea. If so, he was the only one of the twelve who was not a Galilean. Judas took care of, and occasionally stole from, the disciples’ money box (John 12:6). Although Jesus treated Judas no differently from his other disciples (see entry for John 13:28), he knew that Judas was not one of his own (John 13:11) and that he would eventually betray him (John 6:70-71).

(c) Betray him. Judas had heard that the chief priests were looking to seize Jesus (John 11:57). Seeing an opportunity to make some money, he went to them to offer his services (Matt. 26:15). The chief priests agreed to pay him thirty pieces of silver (Matt 26:15), the price of a common slave (Ex. 21:32). It does not seem to have occurred to Judas that his betrayal would result in Jesus’ death (Matt. 27:3).


John 13:11

For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.”

Not all of you are clean. Jesus knew that Judas did not belong to him (John 6:70). He knew this because of the way Judas called him rabbi, when the other disciples called him Lord (Matt. 26:25). He knew it because Judas remained captive to sin and greed (Matt. 26:15, John 12:6). And he knew it because the Holy Spirit had revealed the dark intentions of Judas’s heart (John 13:27).


John 13:21-22

When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.” The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking.

(a) He became troubled in spirit. Jesus had spent time with Judas. He had ministered with him and washed his feet. Jesus loved Judas which is why he was troubled by what Judas had planned to do.

(b) One of you will betray Me. Jesus did not say this to agitate his friends, but to prod Judas into action (John 13:27). “Judas, I know what you intend to do. Now either do it or repent.”


John 13:23

There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.

The disciple whom Jesus loved is mentioned only in John’s Gospel (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 20). Who was the beloved disciple? It was most likely John himself. Although this is never stated in scripture, there are good reasons to support this. First, the beloved disciple was at the Last Supper (John 13:23). Jesus attended the Last Supper with the Twelve (Mark 14:17), and John was one of the Twelve. Second, Jesus reclined at the table with the Twelve (Matt 26:20), and John was one of those reclining. Third, the beloved disciple was one of six disciples who went fishing with Peter (John 21:7), and John was one of the six (John 21:2-3). Fourth, John was one of the three disciples who were close to Jesus and present with him in important events such as the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1). Fifth, John had a unique revelation of the love of God. Not only did he see himself as beloved of God, but in his epistles he frequently refers to other believers as beloved or dearly-loved (see entry for 1 John 2:7).

John knew the great love of God. This is why he called himself the disciple that Jesus loved. John wrote so that you too would see yourself as the one Jesus loves.


John 13:26

Jesus then answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.

The opportunity to betray Jesus had come, but Judas wasn’t paying attention. He knew the Lord’s plans for the evening, yet he did not slip out to alert the chief priests as he had promised (Matt. 26:16). If Jesus was going to get himself arrested, he had to give Judas a nudge. So he quoted an old prophecy. “He who eats my bread has lifted up his heel against me” (John 13:18). Judas did nothing. So Jesus said, “One of you will betray me” (John 13:21). Still Judas did nothing. So Jesus hands him a piece of bread and basically says, “Judas, pay attention. The hour has come.”


John 13:27

After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”

(a) Satan then entered into him. The desire and plan to deliver Jesus to those who would kill him came from Satan.

The love of money is the root of all evil, and Judas was captive to avarice (John 12:6). It was through his greed that the chief priests tempted him to sin (Matt. 26:15).

(b) What you do, do quickly. Judas had done a deal with the chief priests to betray Jesus. The chief priests wanted to be informed of an opportune time when Jesus could be taken quietly and without attracting attention (Luke 22:6). When such opportunity presented itself, Judas seems to have been unready, for Jesus had to nudge him into action. “That secret plan you have hatched with the chief priests, go do that quickly.”


John 13:28

Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him.

The eleven other disciples had no idea what Jesus was talking about or what Judas had planned. It would have been unthinkable to them that one of their number would betray their Lord and friend. Nor did Jesus treat Judas any differently from the rest of them. They had seen Jesus wash his feet (John 13:5). They knew Jesus trusted Judas with their funds (John 13:29). And they took note when Jesus invited Judas to sit near him in a place of relative honor. (We know this because Jesus was easily able to pass him the bread, see John 13:26.)


John 13:30

So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night.

He went out immediately. There was much to be done. Judas had to inform the chief priests that an opportunity to arrest Jesus had presented itself; the chief priests had to call out the Roman cohort and the temple officers (John 18:3), and the Sanhedrin had to be summoned for an illegal trial that would take place in the middle of the night at the house of the high priest (Luke 22:54).


John 13:37

Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.”

Peter was committed to the Lord and ready to die for him as he proved when he single-handedly attacked a mob of 500 armed men (Luke 12:50). But Peter was seriously misguided and Jesus had to rebuke him for his hot-headedness (Luke 12:51).


John 13:38

Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.

Within hours, this prophecy came true. Peter denied Jesus three times. It was a spectacular failure for Peter, but a wonderful encouragement for all of us who stumble. Jesus does not love and accept us because of the promises we make. He loves us just because.

Manmade religion says we have to earn God’s approval, but the gospel of grace declares, “God loves you without any regard for your performance.” And where is the proof? It is in the cross and a hundred other things. It is in Jesus’ acceptance of Peter who denied him three times.


The Grace Commentary is a reader-funded website. Got something to say about the commentary? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links or give feedback on this specific page, please use the comment form below.

Leave a Reply