Summary: As the Lord instituted the ordinance of Communion, He and the disciples celebrated the last legitimate Passover
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. 2 During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. 5 Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
We come now to a very significant division in this Gospel account by John. Up until now – chapters 1 through 12 – We have been witnessing the interaction between Jesus and those who rejected Him; the rejecting nation.
John began telling us that His own did not receive Him, chapter 1 verse 11, and by the telling of the events of Christ’s ministry in Judea and Samaria and Galilee, John established that claim in the recounting of the numerous confrontations Jesus had with the Jews and their consistent rejection of Him
But another thing John said in chapter 1 verse 12, was that to those who did receive Him He gave the power to become children of God.
Those are the people we will now observe, because at the end of chapter 12 we leave behind those who have rejected Jesus, and chapters 13 through 17 are sharply focused on those who received Him – those to whom He has given the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.
The first sentence of chapter 13 seems a little strangely worded. John says ‘before’ the Feast of the Passover, but verse 2 begins with ‘During supper’. So we need to slow down and find out what John is telling us in verse 1.
It would be ridiculous to take his first sentence to mean that Jesus loved His own before the Passover and until the end of Passover. So what has he told us there?
If we read slowly and look closely at the words, it seems clear that John is telling his readers that as the Passover approached Jesus, knowing that His hour had come to depart this world, determined to demonstrate His love for them to the deepest degree.
When John says ‘to the end’, he doesn’t mean to the end of the Passover, and he doesn’t even mean to the cross. He is talking about degrees not duration, and Jesus demontrated His great love for us to the nth degree.
“God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 To be certain, the death of God’s sinless Son on the cross of Calvary and the reason for which He went there is the greatest demonstration of God’s love for His own.
However there is something recorded for us in John 13 that I believe would rank as the second greatest show of love from Jesus for His disciples, and the thing that should shame and challenge and inspire all of us in what He did, is that when He was finished Jesus commanded that we demonstrate that same kind of love for one another.
We’ll talk about that today. First, let’s look at several amazing contrasts presented for us in these early verses.
WHAT JESUS KNEW
There are several things that Jesus knew, as John points out in verses 1-3. First, Jesus knew that His hour had come.
In chapters 2, 7 and 8 of this Gospel Jesus had occasion to declare that His hour had not yet come. But in chapter 12 verse 23 Jesus said that the hour had come for the Son of Man to be glorified, and now John confirms that Jesus knew His hour had come.
Interestingly, and here is the first contrast I wanted to show you, from our point of view that meant His hour to suffer. At least, that is the first thing I think comes to our minds when we know that Jesus is hosting His final Passover with His friends and we’re told that ‘knowing that His hour had come’ He did certain things; we think, arrest, torture, cross.
But from the divine side of the equation this is seen as an accomplishment; a departure; a return.
We tend first to think of what men will do, but He thinks of it in terms of what God is doing.
“..knowing that His hour had come that He should depart out of this world to the Father..”