Whether Peter truly understood that Jesus knew He was about to die is debatable, given the consistent blindness the disciples showed in the matter, bu... Read more
Whether Peter truly understood that Jesus knew He was about to die is debatable, given the consistent blindness the disciples showed in the matter, but he certainly understood that the path Jesus traveled carried the risk of death. Peter's loyalty was true, but Jesus knew what Peter had yet to learn, that his strength and will were not yet tempered to bear the weight of that commitment and would break when tested. See Matthew 26:36-38, Luke 22:31-34, and associated notes. Read less
The command to love one's neighbor was not new (Leviticus 19:18; see Matthew 22:34-40 and associated notes), but Jesus gave it a new dimension by givi... Read more
The command to love one's neighbor was not new (Leviticus 19:18; see Matthew 22:34-40 and associated notes), but Jesus gave it a new dimension by giving Himself as the example. The love that they were to show one another was to be self-sacrificing, untainted by jockeying for position or power, consistent, and selfless, just as Jesus had modeled for them. When such a love has been practiced within the Church, even its enemies have taken notice. Aristides, who spied on the early Church at the orders of the emperor Hadrian, sent back a mixed report on their conduct and practices to his master, as might be expected; the Church was no more full of perfect people then than it is now, and Aristides looked on them with all the biases of a cultured pagan. But his words, "Behold! How they love one another," have echoed through the ages. Read less
Jesus knew that the events were now set in motion which would lead to His death before the ending of this day (according to the Jewish mode, which rec... Read more
Jesus knew that the events were now set in motion which would lead to His death before the ending of this day (according to the Jewish mode, which reckoned the day from evening to evening). His death, though reckoned shameful and (by the Jews) accursed, would bring glory to God through the fulfillment of His purpose; the Father, in turn, would demonstrate in the supernatural events that accompanied Jesus' death, in the Resurrection, and in the Ascension that Jesus' supreme act of submission and sacrifice had been accepted; further, that the Son was now exalted as never before, not only as the Second Person of the Trinity, but as the Second Adam and head of the redeemed human race.
With Judas gone, Jesus now turned to His final great discourse, in which He instructed His disciples in their purpose and how they should live after His departure. The word by which He addressed them, teknía (literally, "little children") is a term carrying great tenderness and affection; it is the plural of the word with which Mary addressed Jesus in Luke 2:48, when she and Joseph had been seeking Him for three days, and implies a parental regard of protective love for those so addressed. Jesus knew that His disciples could not follow Him into the death He was about to experience or into Heaven at His Ascension, and so He desired to prepare them for life after His physical presence was no longer with them. Read less
At feasts, the master of the feast would often show special honor to a guest by giving him some of the choicest bits of food that were set before him,... Read more
At feasts, the master of the feast would often show special honor to a guest by giving him some of the choicest bits of food that were set before him, sometimes even picking up the tidbit and feeding it to the guest himself. So Jesus treated Judas, who must have been close by to be in easy reach; he may even have been the man against whom Jesus leaned. The gesture was one of friendship, and probably completely unsettling to Judas. He knew from Jesus' own words that Jesus knew he would be betrayed by one of His intimates; his own plans had to be at the forefront of his mind, given the topic of discussion among the disciples. Yet Jesus gave him a morsel from what was set before Him, treating him as an honored guest and friend. At that moment, Judas would probably have preferred indifference or even anger, since perceived rejection would have helped him rationalize the treachery he was about to commit. Instead, Jesus made it plain that He was still ready to receive Judas as a friend and a true disciple if Judas so chose.
Whether Satan actually took complete possession of Judas at this moment is a matter of debate among commentators. Some hold that this was the case; some take the concept of Satan "entering in" more as a metaphor for the hardening of Judas' purpose to betray Jesus, which clearly served Satan's plan and purpose. In either event, Judas became the vehicle for accomplishing Satan's will.
Jesus' enemies had meant to avoid arresting Jesus during the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, fearing a public riot if they so treated a man generally regarded as a prophet (see Matthew 26:1-5 and associated notes). But Jesus now deliberately brought matters to a head, commanding Judas to make his choice and act on it then and there. And Judas did so, choosing to complete his betrayal. Thus, Jesus' Passion came to pass at the time God had purposed all along – the day of Passover. No one else knew the errand Judas was on; even John admits that he did not understand Judas' purpose at the time. He left, excluding himself from Jesus' final discourse and intercession for His people as their High Priest. Most commentators also believe that his departure was prior to the institution of the Communion meal, which is described in the Synoptic Gospels. Read less
The normal position for dining at a feast in this time period was reclining on a couch with the weight of the upper body supported by the left arm, le... Read more
The normal position for dining at a feast in this time period was reclining on a couch with the weight of the upper body supported by the left arm, leaving the right free to reach for food. The couches were usually arranged so that the diners lay facing the table from three sides, with the fourth left open so that dishes might be brought to or removed from the table without inconveniencing the diners. Because several guests would be close together on each side of the table, a man who leaned back slightly would find himself resting against the chest and shoulder of the man to his left, and friends could easily exchange confidences while in such close contact, even in the middle of a crowded banquet.
While John never explicitly names the disciple who so reclined at Jesus' right, the privileged information revealed by John – which could have had only one source – and the consistent tradition of the Church both point to John himself as the man. His self-description as one whom Jesus loved does not imply either favoritism or a sexual relationship; the Greek word translated "loved" derives from the root agape, indicating a love that seeks the best good of the beloved without self-interest, not from eros, which the Greeks used to designate sexual attraction and passion. The important thing to John was not that he was the one Jesus loved, but that Jesus loved him. Read less
The purpose of Jesus' foretelling of the events of His death and resurrection was not to frighten or sadden His disciples but to strengthen their conv... Read more
The purpose of Jesus' foretelling of the events of His death and resurrection was not to frighten or sadden His disciples but to strengthen their conviction that He was indeed their Messiah; in remembering what He had told them that had been fulfilled, they would have one more proof that He was who He had said He was. The fact that they would need such strengthening in itself hints that their message would be rejected by many, just as Jesus Himself had been. Nonetheless, when the time came, they would go forth on His authority as His representatives. Just as an individual's response to the emissary of a monarch would be considered the same as he would give to the king and therefore constituted a determination of whether he was the king's loyal subject or the king's enemy (compare Matthew 22:1-7), an individual's response to anyone who proclaims the Gospel in Jesus' name determines his or her relationship to Jesus and, through Him, to God the Father. Read less
Jesus did not give His example of unselfconscious service for the merely religious; it was meant solely for those in a living relationship with Him. ... Read more
Jesus did not give His example of unselfconscious service for the merely religious; it was meant solely for those in a living relationship with Him. No amount of good deeds or self-abasement will help or bless one who, like Judas, has the appearance of a relationship with Jesus but not the thing itself; what such a soul needs is repentance and conversion, not service.
Jesus' statement regarding the fulfillment of Scripture brings in the mystery of predestination and the free will of man as a moral agent, both of which are doctrines clearly taught by Scripture. To say that Judas was compelled by his prophesied role to betray Jesus ultimately makes God responsible for Judas' betrayal and is more consistent with the fatalism of Islam or Hinduism than with the character of God as revealed throughout Scripture. Further, John portrays Judas' action as the natural outgrowth of his own unregenerate character (compare John 12:4-6). Yet in Psalm 41:9, while David was probably speaking of his betrayal by his trusted counselor Ahithophel (I Kings 15:12 and 31-37, 17:1-23), the betrayal he suffered was a type of the greater betrayal that his greater Son would experience; clearly, what Judas would do had been known to God all along.
The paradox of predestination and free will can only be resolved in remembering that God is not bound by either space or time; He created both. While we who are within time experience events sequentially, He experiences all of Creation and its history in a wholeness which we are incapable of imagining. Our freely made moral choices are part of His "now" and are part of the material He uses in His grand design; they are not forced, but they are nonetheless within the bounds of the great creative act which we see as still unfolding. Read less
The example of Jesus in loving service is the example to be followed by all believers in serving and helping one other. The lowliest of tasks taken o... Read more
The example of Jesus in loving service is the example to be followed by all believers in serving and helping one other. The lowliest of tasks taken on for the good of another can become a ministry of blessing if it is done selflessly, without concern for rank, dignity, or recompense. And not only does such service bless the recipient, but it blesses the giver as well. Read less
Peter was undoubtedly chagrined at seeing Jesus take the role he or one of the others should have; not only had none of the disciples offered to wash ... Read more
Peter was undoubtedly chagrined at seeing Jesus take the role he or one of the others should have; not only had none of the disciples offered to wash the others' feet, but none of them had even volunteered to wash Jesus' feet. While he probably saw in Jesus' action a gentle rebuke of his own selfishness, he did not understand its symbolic significance. Jesus was not merely offering an object lesson in humility, although it was sorely needed (see Luke 22:24-27); He was also enacting a type of the believer's relationship with Him. Peter and the others would have caught the analogy immediately, since they had probably bathed as part of their preparations for the Passover; they were already ceremonially clean and merely needed the dust and dirt to be washed from their feet to be fit for polite company. Even so, the believer has been completely cleansed of sin in God's eyes but still requires daily confession and repentance to have unbroken fellowship with his Lord. This was the state of eleven of the twelve disciples; the twelfth, of course, was Judas, who would remain unclean in the sight of God no matter what ceremonies or rites he went through because of his unregenerate heart. Read less