Summary: Judas teaches us how unbelief works. Peter teaches us how faith is challenged and recovers.
Lord, is it I?
A kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they drew. She would occasionally walk around to see each child’s art work. As she came to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was.
The girl replied, “I’m drawing God.”
The teacher paused and said, “But no one knows what God looks like.”
Without missing a beat or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, “They will in a minute.”
John tells us that anyone who has seen Jesus has seen God and he draws us a verbal picture of who God is in Jesus the Christ. But more than seeing God in Jesus, John also shows us many reactions to God by those who interacted with Jesus. From these we see ourselves.
Jesus says, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father, and if any man rejects me and my words, he is rejecting God and God’s words. Anyone who accepts me, accepts the one who sent me.” As John unfolds the life of Jesus before us we have observed how the crowds reacted to him, and now in the privacy of this Passover feast, we see how his closest disciples reacted to him.
I just discovered something this week that I’m sure many others have seen for years, but it was new to me. John 13 has a certain construct that weaves together the characters of Judas and Peter. Both are disciples chosen by Jesus. Their names are the only names mentioned in this chapter besides Jesus. Both are going to renounce their confessions, Judas by betrayal and Peter by denial. Notice the order John presents them and how he tells about each.
First Judas in verse 2. Satan has influenced him to betray Jesus.
Then Peter in verses 6-9. Peter at first refuses to let Jesus wash his feet, then over compensates by asking for Jesus to wash his hands and head as well.
Next Judas again in 26-30. Judas takes the bread from Jesus and goes out to betray him.
Finally, Peter again in 36-38. Peter declares his loyalty and Jesus predicts his denial.
It looks like an intentional AB, AB construct. The purpose of this kind of construct is to draw special attention to Judas and Peter. While Satan was working on Judas, he was also given permission to sift Peter as wheat. Luke records a dialogue where Jesus tells Peter, “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and when you return, strengthen your brothers.” Peter defensively declares, “I am ready to go to with you to prison or death.” Jesus tells him to his face, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” We will study more about that next week, Lord willing. But notice this today. After Jesus has washed the disciples feet and made that scalding statement to Peter, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Jesus goes back to the table and explains his actions. He has given them an example to live by. Again, Jesus has called attention to their need to love each other and serve one another. Love will be a recurring theme in the chapters ahead. Now he has to clear the air about someone among them who is not weak, but is an enemy among them.