September 14th, Day #27 - John 13:1-38

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“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35


What would you say you are most known for right now in your life? 

Do people know you belong to Jesus because of how you love them? 

Where do you need help committing to love your spiritual brothers and sisters in the church so that those outside of the church can see Jesus in you? 

Ask Jesus for His Spirit to help you love the family of God today! 

game on

Read John 13:1-38


Betrayal and denial. Have you ever been a victim of either? There are few pains deeper than when people we’ve trusted with our histories and hurts turn against us. While it may not feel like it, you are not alone in that place of pain.


Jesus experienced the pain of betrayal and the pain of denial. As you read today’s portion of Scripture, observe how Jesus serves those who will soon betray and deny Him. Imagine yourself at this dinner. How are the disciples reacting to Jesus’ words and actions? How are you feeling as you listen to their interactions?


May the Holy Spirit speak to you during this time.

your move

Let’s look to what God wants to say directly to you today through John 13:1-38


Scripture:  Write out the verse that you sense God wanting you to meditate on longer. Then, write down your mediation.


Observation: If Jesus hadn’t used any words that night, what do you think His actions were communicating?


Application: When is the last time the wounds of someone close to you caught you off guard? How did you respond? How does Jesus’ response toward His disciples teach us how to respond to those that hurt us?

Prayer: Invite Jesus into those areas of your heart that are still wounded. Ask Him to heal you. Then, ask Jesus to enlarge your heart to love like He loved that night He was betrayed and served His disciples communion.   

bonus round

Some of us may have heard of "foot washing" before, but even if we have, there are so many cultural elements to understand about why it was significant and what Jesus meant by practicing it. Today, we'll progress through this passage verse by verse, shedding light on some of the cultural backgrounds behind what had happened here in the Upper Room with Jesus and His disciples. Use these cues as a guide as you reread through John 13:1-20


13:1-2   Meals were common settings for teaching sessions.


13:3-8   The couches would be arranged around tables containing the food, with the upper part of each person's body facing the food and their feet away from the table. Jesus would go to the outside of this circle to wash each person's feet. After travelers had come a long distance, the host was to provide water for their feet as a sign of hospitality, as exemplified by Abraham (Gen 18:4). Yet loosing sandals and personally washing someone else’s feet was considered servile, most commonly the work of a servant or of very submissive wives or children (cf. also 1 Sam 25:41). (Travelers' sandals would not be covered in dung, as some scholars have suggested. Side roads were very dusty; the main streets of Jerusalem, however, would have been kept as clean as the city could make them, especially the Upper City, where Jesus ate this Passover meal.) Jesus removing his outer garments to serve them would also appear as a sign of great humility before them.

By so serving, Jesus prefigures his death as the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 on behalf of the many. Unlike Greco-Roman society, Judaism stressed humility; but like other societies, it also upheld societal roles. Jesus overturns even positions of social status. Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi (about A.D. 220) was said to be so humble that he would do anything for others-except relinquish his superior position; seating according to rank was crucial. Jesus goes beyond even this.


13:6-8   Jesus' act violates cultural status boundaries so thoroughly (see comment on vv. 3-5) that Peter finds it unthinkable.


13:9-ll   The "bath" here presumably alludes to ceremonial washing that Jesus and the disciples had undergone before the feast (11:55), but Jesus applies it in a spiritual sense. This figurative sense of cleansing was common enough that the disciples should have been able to understand his meaning.


13:12-14   Disciples normally served their teachers, after the model of Elisha serving Elijah and Joshua serving Moses.


13:15   Disciples were to learn especially by imitating their teachers.


13:16-17   Some slaves were prominent when compared with free peasants, but any authority slaves exercised was derived from their masters, and slaves were always subordinate to their masters. An agent was always subordinate to his sender, his authority limited to the extent of his authorization.


13:18   Here Jesus cites Psalm 41:9, a psalm of a righteous sufferer; one scholar has pointed out that lifting up one's heel is an act of disdain in cultures similar to ancient Judaism. Table fellowship was considered an intimate bond, and betrayal following it was particularly perverse.


13:19. (Cf. Isaiah 41:26, 44:7, 11 and 48:3-7)   God predicts the future so when it comes about his people will finally acknowledge that he, unlike the gods of the nations, is true.


13:20   In ancient cultures, one responded to agents, ambassadors or other representatives according to one's feelings toward the person who authorized them. 


*This resource is an excerpt from The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S Keener (InterVarsity Press, 1993), pages 296-297.