Empty Cross Ministries
John Chapter 13
The Betrayer Identified
A New Commandment Given
John 13:21 “When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.”
This had to come as quite a shock to Jesus’ disciples. They knew that Jesus told the truth. Jesus was not troubled for Himself, but for Judas Iscariot.
The term used here “troubled” here is strong and signifies horror, anxiety, and agitation. Jesus’ contemplation of taking on the wrath of God for the sins of the world caused revulsion in the sinless Savior (2 Cor. 5:21).
John 13:22 “Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.”
These disciples all knew each other well. They had worked with Jesus together for over three years. Each was questioning within himself which one it might be. Each was all hoping it was not him.
John 13:23 “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.”
This is the first reference to John the apostle, the author of the gospel. He specifically mentioned himself at the cross, at the empty tomb, by the Sea of Tiberias, and in the next to last verse where he is referenced as the author of the gospel (21:24).
One of his disciples: The disciple whom Jesus loved was John. Peter beckoned to him to ask Jesus to identify the betrayer. Peter was carrying a sword. Perhaps he intended to use it on the culprit on this occasion.
This is John speaking of himself. John loved Jesus so very much that he wanted to be as near to Jesus as he could.
John 13:24-25 “Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.” “He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?”
Peter leans over to the disciple next to Jesus (John 21:20), and asks him who it is that Jesus is talking about.
John 13:26 “Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.”
A host would often distinguish an honored guest by giving him a choice morsel dipped in the sauce and placing it on his tongue. Because Jesus passed it so easily to Judas, it has been suggested that he was seated near the Lord in a place of honor. Jesus was demonstrating a final gesture of His love for Judas even though he would betray Him.
Contrast this with Judas’s kiss in the garden. Evidently only John heard the explanation of this act (see verse 28).
Jesus handed the sop to Judas. He said by handing him the sop that it was Judas who would betray Him.
John 13:27 “And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.”
Some people look at this and think that Judas had no choice, but that is not so. Judas was a thief, and earlier Jesus said Judas was a devil. Judas did not have to allow Satan to enter him. He had a free will that he could have activated.
Judas was personally possessed by Satan himself in his betrayal of Jesus.
John 13:28 “Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.”
John and Peter might have not been included in the men at the table. These two were hanging onto Jesus and probably heard what Jesus said. They possibly didn’t know why He said it, until later. The others around the table for sure did not know.
John 13:29 “For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.”
They were probably very noisy around the table talking to each other. There were thirteen people at the table. Those around the table did not hear just exactly what Jesus said, they just knew that He said something to Judas.
John 13:30 “He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.”
“It was night”. Although this was a historical reminiscence of John, the phrase may also be imbued with profound theological implications. It was the hour for Judas to be handed over completely to the power of darkness, Satan (Luke 22:53).
Given the light versus darkness imagery in John’s writing, this observation should not go unnoticed. The Lord Jesus is about to engage the forces of darkness. This is the “hour” He has long awaited.
Remember this whole betrayal, trial, and scourging took place in the middle of the night.
John 13:31 “Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”
Jesus is speaking prophetically here, that He will be glorified when Judas betrays Him, and the Father will be glorified as well.
Glorified refers to Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.
Verses 31-33: Glorified: With Judas gone, the final events were set in motion. Rather than looking at the agony of the cross, Jesus looked past the cross; anticipating the glory that He would have with the Father when it was over (see 17:4-5; Hebrews 12:2).
John 13:32 “If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.”
The Father and the Son are glorified together. We would not see the glory of the cross, but had there been no cross, we would not be saved. Jesus lived in glorification in heaven, He left His home in glory, He won the victory on the cross, and returned to glory.
In so doing, He made a way for us to be with Him in His glory. You see, not only will He be God the Word which is glory enough, but He will be King of kings and Lord of lords.
To be glorified is to be elevated to the highest. Not only is this glory for Jesus, but for the Father, as well. Their plan for the people of the world has been completed.
John 13:33 “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.”
This statement was recorded (in 8:21).
These little children here, are Jesus’ followers. He reminds His followers that He is soon to depart this earth and go back to heaven where He came from.
Jesus has such great love for His followers and His heart is heavy, because He knows they cannot immediately follow Him to heaven. He also knows the terrible loss they will feel when He is no longer with them.
Verses 34-35: Having announced His departure and having insisted that His disciples could not come with Him, Jesus began to lay out what He expected of them after His leaving. Love is to serve as the distinguishing characteristic of discipleship (verse 35).
John 13:34 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
The commandment to love was not new. (Deuteronomy 6:5), commanded love for God and (Lev. 19:18), commanded loving one’s neighbor as oneself. However Jesus’ command regarding love presented a distinctly new standard for two reasons:
1. It was sacrificial love modeled after His love (“As I loved you”; 15:13)
2. It is produced through the New Covenant by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
This is spoken to Jesus’ eleven. He knew that some of them had been a little jealous of each other, and that they were not all from similar backgrounds, so they might have problems working together.
To stop all of this Jesus says, I give you a new commandment. This is not a suggestion. It is a commandment. He did not stop with just “love one another”, either. He added “as I have loved you”. This means to have unselfish love.
Jesus’ love for us was not because of something we did, but in spite of what we did. He is really saying love them even when they are unlovely. This is speaking of the agape love.
John 13:35 “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Jesus is saying here, that this great unselfish love for each other would set them aside from the rest of the world, because the people who are worldly do not know how to love like this.
Jesus (their leader), loved like this, and left a pattern of this kind of love for them (and us), to follow. The greatest love anyone could have would be to give his life for his fellowman, and that is just what Jesus did.
John 13:36 “Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.”
His work was nearly finished, theirs was just beginning. Particularly, Peter had a work to do. Only Jesus, as the sinless sacrifice for the trespassed of the world, could go to the cross and die (1 Peter 2:22-24).
Also, only He could be glorified in the presence of the Father with the glory that He possessed before His incarnation (see 12:41; 17:1-5).
Peter does not understand what Jesus is saying here. He wants to have the security of the Lord Jesus with him, even if he must go to the death with Him. Peter is ready to fight for the Lord. He carries a sword, you remember, with which he cuts off the ear of the soldier.
I think Peter’s problem came when Jesus didn’t fight back, but submitted willingly to the death on the cross. I believe Peter would have fought unto the death for Jesus had that been what Jesus wanted. Peter just did not understand why Jesus wouldn’t fight back.
John 13:37-38 “Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.” “Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou has denied me thrice.”
Peter’s profession reveals his pride. Jesus predicts just the opposite response from Peter that Peter claims would occur. This is the second of three times when John contrasts Peter with Judas (see also chapters 6 and 18).
You see by this, Peter’s willingness to fight. My view of Peter is of a very strong man physically. He was a fisherman.
Peter was possibly one of the strongest apostles. He had said earlier that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus told him flesh and blood had not revealed that to him, but God. Spiritually and physically, Peter was one of the strongest.
This prediction Jesus made about Peter would haunt him. It would leave an indelible print in Peter’s heart. The others will be strengthened in their faith as well, because Jesus told Peter this before it happened.
John Chapter 13 Continued Questions
1. In verse 21, what terrible news did Jesus have for the disciples?
2. How was Jesus’ Spirit described as He had to bring this news?
3. What effect did this news have on the disciples?
4. In verse 23, who was leaning on Jesus’ bosom?
5. Who leaned over on Jesus breast and asked who it was that would betray Him?
6. In verse 26, what sign would Jesus give to show who the traitor was?
7. When did Satan enter him?
8. What did Jesus tell Judas to do?
9. Why, probably, did the other disciples at the table not know what Jesus said to Judas?
10. Why did some of them think that Jesus had sent Judas to buy provisions?
11. What time of day did all this happen?
12. Who is glorified in all of this?
13. What endearing name did Jesus call His followers?
14. What message did Jesus bring when He called them by this endearing name?
15. What was the new commandment Jesus gave them?
16. What kind of love is Jesus speaking of?
17. How will all men know that they are Jesus’ disciples?
18. Who said, Lord, whither goest thou?
19. What was Jesus’ answer to him?
20. What does the author believe was Peter’s problem?
21. In verse 38, what question did Jesus ask Peter?
22. How many times would Peter deny Jesus?