Interpretation 13


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  Copyright © 2001 Jeanie C. Crain
Last modified: March, 2002

Chapter Thirteen

    Folklore about the negative thirteen allows readers easily  to remember that John 13 contains Jesus’ farewell supper, farewell discourse and prayer;  note, however, that these create the prelude for coming events bringing the Kingdom of God to humankind universally, an act that turns tragedy into glorious victory.  Verse one states the end quite clearly: “Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father.”  To “depart” euphemistically speaks of physical death; in this context, however, Jesus departs for the purpose of going to the Father. Having already commented on Jesus’ having “loved his own who were in the world…to the end,” a note from the Net Bible creates even more significance:

All of John 13:1 is a single sentence in Greek, although in English this would be unacceptably awkward. At the end of the verse the idiom eij" tevlo" (eis telos) was translated literally as "to the end" and the modern equivalents given in the note above, because there is an important lexical link between this passage and John 19:30, tetevlestai (tetelestai, "It is ended").

John 19.30 concludes the purpose for which Jesus has come into the world, dedicated his life to achieving, and has in the end effected: God’s kingdom immediately present on earth in the heart of believers.     

    The Oxford Annotated categorizes chapter thirteen as prefatory to later events and interprets Jesus' "he loved them to the end" (1). As stated, "Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go the the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end," John uses tenses to link present events with those of the future:

13.1–38: The Last Supper. Preparation for the teaching (John 14–17) and events (John 18–21) to follow. 1: To the end, the utmost. 5: Luke 22.27. 6–9: Though it seems incongruous, Peter must let Jesus wash him, the reason made plain later in the cross.

McGarvey and Pendelton in The Fourfold Gospel point to a threefold glory:

3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all the things into his hands, and that he came forth from God, and goeth unto God [Being about to narrate an act of loving humility, John prefaces it by stating that it was done in full knowledge of his threefold glory; viz.: 1. That all [648] authority was committed to him (Matt. xxviii. 18); 2. That by nature he was divine (John i. 1, 14), and, 3. That he was about to return to the divine exaltation which for our sakes he had laid aside--Phil. ii. 5-11.]

The Net Bible, quoted above, translates to "loves them completely" or to the "uttermost" and explains that the Greek version contains a single sentence.

    Jesus’ washing the feet of his disciples teaches humility, demonstrating the difference between ritual washing and genuine faith-motivated action:

3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. 5 Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded. 6 He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?"

7 Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand."

8 Peter said to him, "You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part in me." 9 Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" 10 Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not every one of you." 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, "You are not all clean." 12 When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. s17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Alfred Edersheim observes in this act much rich symbolism, with Jesus modeling for his disciples what the service of love in the Kingdom of God should mean:

 As it was, the surprise with which he and the others had witnessed the preparation of the Lord burst into characteristic language when Jesus approached him to wash his feet. 'Lord, Thou, of me washest the feet!' It was the utterance of deepest reverence for the Master, and yet of utter misunderstanding of the meaning of His action, perhaps even of His Work. Jesus was now doing what before He had spoken. The act of externalism and self-righteousness represented by the washing of hands, and by which the Head of the Company was to be distinguished from all others and consecrated, He changed into a footwashing, in which the Lord and Master was to be distinguished, indeed, from the others, but by the humblest service of love, and in which He showed by His example what characterized greatness in the Kingdom, and that service was evidence of rule. And, as mostly in every symbol, there was the real also in this act of the Lord. For, by sympathetically sharing in this act of love and service on the part of the Lord, they who had been bathed, who had previously become clean in heart and spirit, now received also that cleansing of the 'feet,' of active and daily walk, which cometh from true heart-humility, in opposition to pride, and consisteth in the service which love is willing to render even to the uttermost. (Life and Times of Jesus)

Jesus rightly tells Peter, “You do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand… unless I wash you, you have no share with me” (8).  Farther, Alfred Edersheim explains that the girting with a towel farther supports the humble position of the slave:

This reference to what were familiar expressions among the Jews, especially noteworthy in John’s Gospel, leads us to supplement a few illustrative notes from the same source. The Greek word for ‘the towel,’ with which our Lord girded Himself, occurs also in Rabbinic writings, to denote the towel used in washing and at baths (luntiṯ and Aluntiṯ). Such girding was the common mark of a slave, by whom the service of footwashing was ordinarily performed. And, in a very interesting passage, the Midrash contrasts what, in this respect, is the way of man with what God had done for Israel. For, He had been described by the prophet as performing for them the service of washing, and others usually rendered by slaves. Again, the combination of these two designations, ‘Rabbi and Lord,’ or ‘Rabbi, Father, and Lord,’ was among those most common on the part of disciples. The idea, that if a man knows (for example, the Law) and does not do it, it were better for him not to have been created, is not unfrequently expressed. But the most interesting reference is in regard to the relation between the sender and the sent, and a servant and his master. In regard to the former, it is proverbially said, that while he that is sent stands on the same footing as he who sent him, yet he must expect less honour. And as regards Christ’s statement that ‘the servant is not greater than his Master,’ there is a passage in which we read this, in connection with the sufferings of the Messiah: ‘It is enough for the servant that he be like his Master. (Life and Times, Chapter 5, Book 10)

Alfred Edersheim also places emphasis upon the “daily consecration of our life to the service of love after the example of Christ”:

 the action was symbolic, and meant that the disciple, who was already bathed and made clean in heart and spirit, required only this, to wash his feet in spiritual consecration to the service of love which Christ had here shown forth in symbolic act. And so His Words referred not, as is so often supposed, to the forgiveness of our daily sins, the introduction of which would have been wholly abrupt and unconnected with the context, but, in contrast to all self-seeking, to the daily consecration of our life to the service of love after the example of Christ.

The Net Bible also sees the act as symbolic:

The full extent of Jesus’ love for his disciples is not merely seen in his humble service to them in washing their feet (the most common interpretation of the passage). The full extent of his love for them is demonstrated in his sacrificial death for them on the cross. The footwashing episode which follows then becomes a prophetic act, or acting out beforehand, of his upcoming death on their behalf. The message for the disciples was that they were to love one another not just in humble, self-effacing service, but were to be willing to die for one another. At least one of them got this message eventually, though none understood it at the time (see 1 John 3:16).

McGarvey contrasts the humble act of Jesus to the self-seeking, ambitious spirit of his disciples:

5 Then he poureth water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. [John narrates in detail each of these acts: to him they seem as so many successive steps leading down to the depth of humility. The whole formed a striking but wholesome contrast to the self-seeking and ambitious spirit which the disciples had just manifested.]  6 So he cometh to Simon Peter. He saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? [The others were awed into silence by the strange conduct of their Master; but it accorded with the bold impulsiveness of Peter to challenge the act.] 7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt understand hereafter. [It was no mere feet-washing; or Jesus would not have so spoken. It was at once an example of humility and a symbol of the purification which the Lord accomplished for us by reason of his humiliation. The full meaning of the act was afterward revealed to them by the Holy Spirit.]  8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.   9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. [Since Jesus spoke of the act as in some sense a license or token of permission to have "part" with him, Peter desired that his head and hands also might be included, that he might in his entire man have part with Christ.] 

    The next section of chapter thirteen of John picks up the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, a passage poignantly linking the betrayal to Genesis 3.15:  "I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel:

8 I am not speaking of you all; I know whom I have chosen; it is that the scripture may be fulfilled, `He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.'19 I tell you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives any one whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me." 21 When Jesus had thus spoken, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, "Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus;24 so Simon Peter beckoned to him and said, "Tell us who it is of whom he speaks." 25 So lying thus, close to the breast of Jesus, he said to him, "Lord, who is it?" 26 Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it." So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly." 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the money box, Jesus was telling him, "Buy what we need for the feast"; or, that he should give something to the poor.

30 So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out; and it was night.

The Net Bible, while remarking on the literal reading as "has made his heel great against me" settles for idiomatic meaning:

Or “has become my enemy”; Grk “has lifted up his heel against me.” The phrase “to lift up one’s heel against someone” reads literally in the Hebrew of Ps 41 “has made his heel great against me.” There have been numerous interpretations of this phrase, but most likely it is an idiom meaning “has given me a great fall,” “has taken cruel advantage of me,” or “has walked out on me.” Whatever the exact meaning of the idiom, it clearly speaks of betrayal by a close associate. See E. F. F. Bishop, “‘He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me’—Jn xiii.18 (Ps xli.9),” ExpTim 70 (1958-59): 331-33.
sn A quotation from Ps 41:9.
45tn Or (perhaps) “I am certainly telling you this.” According to BDF §12.3 ajp* a[rti (ap arti) should be read as ajpartiv (aparti), meaning “exactly, certainly.”
46tn Grk “so that you may believe.”

John returns to the characteristic emphasis upon belief: "I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he" (19).

            Possibly, no more intriguing character than Judas Iscariot exists in the entire set of sixty-six books of the Christian canon.  Why would one say that?  In order to understand, it may be necessary to look first at what each of the Gospels have to say about Judas. For this discussion, I am relying, in part, on Derek Nelson and the fairly comprehensive study of Judas found at the  following web site: Judas

I will include some fairly long passages from Nelson’s analysis. Nelson is right (and follows Klassen’s lead) that one needs to set the Gospel accounts side by side to understand their different treatment of Judas.  The following recounting Jesus’ identification by Judas is illustrative:

Mark 14:43-46
Now the informer had previously agreed with them on a sign, saying: "Whomever I kiss, that’s the one. Bind him and remove him safely." At once when he arrived he said to him: Master" and he kissed him.

Matthew 26:48-49
And the informer gave them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss, that’s the one. Bind him." And when he had come to Jesus he said, "Greetings, Master," and he kissed him.

Luke 22:47-48
The one called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them, and he approached Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said to him: "Judas, with a kiss you hand over the Son of Man?"

Nelson sees a progressive evolution in the way Judas is portrayed in the Gospels that he explains as the result of growing anti-Semitism and emergence of Christianity:

The trend in the Synoptic Gospels is clear. Judas, the loving servant of Jesus and tragic effect or of the necessary ends transforms into a greedy, evil manipulator, who selfishly betrays Christ for a trifling of money due in part to an occupation by the devil.

What, then, could the cause have been for this evolution? As hinted at earlier, the Church at the time of the writing of these Gospels was going through a division. There was a great controversy over how much of the old Jewish tradition needed to be kept and applied to this new religion of Christianity. The members of the Jerusalem church were obviously pushing that the amount remain very high. Gospels in the Pauline church were in favor of a new beginning; the new teachings of Jesus served to abolish the Torah and all its law. Though the eventual end was a compromise, it only makes sense that the deeper into this rift the Pauline Church (which produced the Gospels) fell, the more polemic the rhetoric supporting its marginally anti-Jewish position became. Unfortunately, this led to the obvious consequence of anti-Semitism. While there is certainly not enough room in this paper for a full treatment of the implications of the Judas narrative on anti-Semitism, a brief description may be enough.

The essential cause of anti-Semitism is the deposition of increasingly negative traits onto Judas and his subsequent identification with Jewry as a whole. One example of these negative traits is greed. As shown through the progression of motives of Judas in Mark to Matthew, Judas becomes more and more greedy for the silver offered as a reward. Additionally, the Gospel of John makes special mention of Judas’ greed by pointing out in chapter 12 his stingy opposition to the purchase of some oils used to anoint Christ’s feet. The chapter goes on to directly call Judas a thief, the treasurer guilty of pilfering from the common purse. It goes without saying that the conception of Jews as miserly and greedy thieves has been taken out of this biblical context and applied to contemporary situations.

Nelson argues that Mark treats Jesus more neutrally; Matthew serves as intermediary between approaches, and Luke and John are anti-Jewish in their portrayals of Judas:

Of course, reasons for Matthew’s treatment of the story in this way are purely speculative. Klassen asserts that it has to do with the author of Matthew’s sense of community. "Matthew’s need to sharpen the lines of difference between Christians and Jews in the early life of the church was a factor in the way Judas is portrayed. Nevertheless throughout his account there shine many examples of the portrait of Judas as disciple and as apostle, but most notably as friend of Jesus." Thus in Matthew we have an intermediary between the benign approach to Judas and Judaism taken in Mark and the antipathetic anti-Jewish nature of Luke and John, the latest written Gospels.

What allows Nelson to draw this conclusion are the differences in the motivation supplied by the Gospels for Judas’ betrayal:

By way of recapitulation, Mark essentially implies that Judas had no external motivation for handing Jesus over to the priests; he was simply a tragic instrument of fate. Matthew expands this theory and clearly outlines a motivation by greed at work in Judas’ acts. The theme of fate still applies, but Judas is not completely excused from complicity in Jesus’ death because his avarice somehow desecrated the nobility of the story of Christ’s passion. Luke adds yet another element of motivation to Judas’s betrayal: Satan. The theme of fated, necessary death for Jesus accomplished through Judas’ betrayal is diminished to nearly nothing. Greed remains a major reason for Judas' going to the high priests, but at east equally as important is the fact that Judas was impelled by Satan to do it (Nicole, 66).

The difficulty  writers have in accepting one of the twelve disciples as betraying Jesus may account for Luke’s suggesting there were, in fact, two Judases:

But there is an even more interesting "first" in the Gospel of Luke; it is in this book that the first indication is made that there are, in truth, two men named Judas. Luke implies that there is a man named "Judas the son of James" (Matthew 6:15, NRSV) who was originally a member of the twelve disciples. This obviously reflects a need felt by Luke to reconcile the good deeds and favored relationship of a man named Judas with Jesus Christ and the terrible act of traitorousness committed by the man named Judas Iscariot. Luke had undeniably read Mark, and was aware of the close relationship that Mark avowed between Christ and Judas, but could not admit that it was plausible that this was the same person who had handed Christ over to the authorities.

Whatever one makes of Nelson’s analysis, it opens up at least a challenge of reading the Gospels carefully to note intricate differences that result in the possibility for different interpretations of the role of Judas. Opposed to Judas apology, Alfred Edersheim argues against foreknowledge applied mechanically to understanding Judas' actions:

But to return. The footwashing on the part of Christ, in which Judas had shared, together with the explanatory words that followed, almost required, in truthfulness, this limitation: ‘I speak not of you all.’ For it would be a night of terrible moral sifting to them all. A solemn warning was needed by all the disciples. But, besides, the treachery of one of their own number might have led them to doubt whether Christ had really Divine knowledge. On the other hand, this clear prediction of it would not only confirm their faith in Him, but show that there was some deeper meaning in the presence of a Judas among them. We come here upon these words of deepest mysteriousness: ‘I know those I chose; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth My Bread lifteth up his heel against Me! It were almost impossible to believe, even if not forbidden by the context, that this knowledge of which Christ spoke, referred to an eternal foreknowledge; still more, that it meant Judas had been chosen with such foreknowledge in order that this terrible Scripture might be fulfilled in him. Such foreknowledge and foreordination would be to sin, and it would involve thoughts - such as only the harshness of our human logic in its fatal system-making could induce anyone to entertain. Rather must we understand it as meaning that Jesus had, from the first, known the inmost thoughts of those He had chosen to be His Apostles; but that by this treachery of one of their number, the terrible prediction of the worst enmity, that of ingratitude, true in all ages of the Church, would receive its complete fulfilment. The word ‘that’ - ‘that the Scripture may be fulfilled,’ does not mean ‘in order that,’ or ‘for the purpose of;’ it never means this in that connection; and it would be altogether irrational to suppose that an event happened in order that a special prediction might be fulfilled. Rather does it indicate the higher internal connection in the succession of events, when an event had taken place in the free determination of its agents, by which, all unknown to them and unthought of by others, that unexpectedly came to pass which had been Divinely foretold. And herein appears the Divine character of prophecy, which is always at the same time announcement and forewarning, that is, has besides its predictive a moral element: that, while man is left to act freely, each development tends to the goal Divinely foreseen and foreordained. Thus the word ‘that’ marks not the connection between causation and effect, but between the Divine antecedent and the human subsequent. (Life and Times, Book 5, Chapter 10).

There is, indeed, behind this a much deeper question, to which brief reference has already formerly been made. Did Christ know from the beginning that Judas would betray Him, and yet, so knowing, did He choose him to be one of the Twelve? Here we can only answer by indicating this as a canon in studying the Life on earth of the God-Man, that it was part of His Self-exinanition - of that emptying Himself, and taking upon Him the form of a Servant - voluntarily to forego His Divine knowledge in the choice of His Human actions. So only could He, as perfect Man, have perfectly obeyed the Divine Law. For, if the Divine had determined Him in the choice of His Actions, there could have been no merit attaching to His Obedience, nor could He be said to have, as perfect Man, taken our place, and to have obeyed the Law in our stead and as our Representative, nor yet be our Ensample. But if His Divine knowledge did not guide Him in the choice of His actions, we can see, and have already indicated, reasons why the discipleship and service of Judas should have been accepted, if it had been only as that of a Judaean, a man in many respects well fitted for such an office, and the representative of one of the various directions which tended towards the reception of the Messiah.

    Another remarkable way to read John’s account is to compare two denials and to contrast the loving devotion of Mary to the betrayal by Judas.  First, Peter: certainly, Peter cannot foresee his own coming betrayal of Jesus, although during the farewell meal, he at least suggests betrayal among disciples is possible:

23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus;

24 so Simon Peter beckoned to him and said, "Tell us who it is of whom he speaks."

Given this question from Peter, how much more poignant becomes his own thrice denial in chapter eighteen to have known Jesus:

18:25 Meanwhile Simon Peter was standing in the courtyard warming himself. They said to him, "You aren't one of his disciples too, are you?" Peter denied it: "I am not!" 18:26 One of the high priest's slaves, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, "Did I not see you in the orchard with him?" 18:27 Then Peter denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.73

For the comparison between Mary’s act and that of Judas, Alfred Edersheim provides thought for meditation:

 It is ever the light which throws the shadows of objects, and this deed of faith and love now cast the features of Judas in gigantic dark outlines against the scene. He knew the nearness of Christ's Betrayal, and hated the more; she knew of the nearness of His precious Death, and loved the more. It was not that he cared for the poor, when, taking the mask of charity, he simulated anger that such costly ointment had not been sold, and the price given to the poor. For he was essentially dishonest, 'a thief,' and covetousness was the underlying master-passion of his soul. The money, claimed for the poor, would only have been used by himself. Yet such was his pretence of righteousness, such his influence as 'a man of prudence' among the disciples, and such their sad weakness, that they, or at least 'some,' [a St. Mark xiv. 41.] expressed indignation among themselves and against her who had done the deed of love, which, when viewed in the sublimeness of a faith, that accepted and prepared for the death of a Saviour Whom she so loved, and to Whom this last, the best service she could, was to be devoted, would for ever cause her to be though of as an example of loving. There is something inexpressibly sad, yet so patient, gentle, and tender in Christ's 'Let her alone.' Surely, never could there be waste in ministry of love to Him! Nay, there is unspeakable pathos in what He says of His near Burying, as if He would still their souls in view of it. That He, Who was ever of the poor and with them, Who for our sakes became poor, that through His poverty we might be made rich, should have to plead for a last service of love to Himself, and for Mary, and as against a Judas, seems indeed, the depth of self-abasement. Yet, even so, has this falsely-spoken plea for the poor become a real plea, since He has left us this, as it were, as His last charge, and that by His own Death, that we have the poor always with us. And so do even the words of covetous dishonesty become, when passing across Him, transformed into the command of charity, and the breath of hell is changed into the summer-warmth of the Church's constant service to Christ in the ministry to His poor. (Life and Times f Jesus, Book IV)

    Continuing the theme of departing, Jesus echoes his prayer in John 12 where God has answered, 28 Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again."

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

The Oxford Annotated note links this statement of identity to the new commandment for love, missing though the important implication that as Christ dies for his own, the disciples must also be willing to love each other even to death:

13.31–35: The death that Judas has gone to arrange will glorify (reveal the essence of) both Father and Son as holy love. The disciples are now the organ of this love.

The Net Bible states Jesus has modeled sacrificial service as the example his disciples are to follow:

The idea that love is a commandment is interesting. In the OT the ten commandments have a setting in the covenant between God and Israel at Sinai; they were the stipulations that Israel had to observe if the nation were to be God’s chosen people. In speaking of love as the new commandment for those whom Jesus had chosen as his own (John 13:1, 15:16) and as a mark by which they could be distinguished from others , John shows that he is thinking of this scene in covenant terminology. But note that the disciples are to love “Just as I have loved you” . The love Jesus has for his followers cannot be duplicated by them in one sense, because it effects their salvation, since he lays down his life for them: it is an act of love that gives life to men. But in another sense, they can follow his example (recall to the end, 13:1; also 1 John 3:16, 4:16 and the interpretation of Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet). In this way Jesus’ disciples are to love one another: they are to follow his example of sacrificial service to one another, to death if necessary.

Jesus reminds the disciples, too, their own time has not yet come, that where he is going, they cannot yet come. Simon Peter responds by asking, "Where are you going?"  and "Why can I not follow you now?"(36) He next vows, "I will lay down my life for you" (38) only to be told what he himself does not yet know: "Very truly I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times" 938). McGarvey and Pendelton in their The Fourfold Gospel, interpreting using all four Gospels, use divine will as the reason why Peter will be prevented from following at this time, that Peter is subjected to testing similarly to Job, and that Peter will sin: (a=Matthew, b=Mark, c=Luke, d=John)

.]  d36 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered, Whither I go, thou canst not follow now; but thou shalt follow afterwards. 37 Peter saith unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee even now? I will lay down my life for thee. [Peter, grieved at the prospect of separation, can see no reason why he should not follow, since he is willing to pass even through the portal of the grave that he may do so. Though perhaps prevented by no moral inability, he was prevented by the plan of life which God had designed for him. It was not in accordance with the divine will that he should die at this time.]  38 Jesus answereth, Wilt thou lay down thy life for me?   c31 Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat: 32 but I made supplication for thee, that thy faith fail not [The language here suggests a repetition, in some degree, of Satan's conduct in the case of Job. See Job i., ii. Jesus, having insight into what was going on in the spirit world, made supplication that Peter [655] might be enabled to endure the trial];and do thou, when once thou hast turned again, establish thy brethren. [The language sadly intimates that Satan's test would leave him in need of repentance. As the one who perhaps exercised the strongest influence over the other ten apostles, Peter is exhorted to use his own bitter experience for their benefit and strengthening.]   33 And he said unto him, Lord, with thee I am ready to go both to prison and to death.  a33 But Peter answered and said unto him, bAlthough, {aIf} all shall be offended in thee, byet will not I. aI will never be offended. [Thus Peter repudiates the idea that he could not stand the test.]   b30 And Jesus saith {asaid} unto him, Verily I say unto thee, cI tell thee, Peter, bthat thou to-day, even this night, before the cock crow twice, cthou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. dVerily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, cthis day, dtill {cuntil} dthou hast denied me thrice. [Mark speaks of two cock-crowings and shows that the denial of Peter occurred between them (Mark xiv. 68-72). But Matthew, Luke, and John speak of but one cock-crowing and place the denial before it. The discrepancy is not an important one. Luke and John look upon the night in its entirety and speak of the cock-crowing at three in the morning, the signal of the dawning day. Mark looks at the night in its details, and shows that the denials of Peter began at midnight, the time of the first cock-crowing, and were finished before the last, or about three in the morning. Peter appears to have been thunderstruck at this prediction, which showed the nature, the details, and the nearness of his sin. He lapsed into silence, and we hear no more from him during the discourses which followed. But he did not yield without one final protest, as the sequel shows.]  b31 But aPeter bspake exceedingly vehemently, asaith unto him, Even bIf I must die with thee, I will not deny thee. And in like manner {aLikewise} also said all the disciples. [According to Matthew's account these accusations of our Lord and protestations of Peter were taken up again after [656] Jesus left the upper room and was on his way to Gethsemane. The reader may therefore conceive of them as occurring again in the opening lines of Section CXXIII.]  c35 And he said unto them, When I sent you forth without purse, and wallet, and shoes, lacked ye anything? [See pp. 363, 364.] And they said, Nothing.  36 And he said unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a wallet; and he that hath none, let him sell his cloak, and buy a sword.  37 For I say unto you, that this which is written [Isa. liii. 12] must be fulfilled in me, And he was reckoned with transgressors: for that which concerneth me hath fulfilment. 38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough. [In this passage our Lord draws a contrast between the favor with which his messengers had been received on their former mission and the trials and persecutions which awaited them in their future course. If they had prepared then to be received with joy, they were to prepare now to be opposed with bitterness; for the utter rejection of the Master would be followed by the violent persecution of the servants. The apostles took the words of Jesus literally, and showed two swords, and the Lord, for their future enlightenment, said, "It is enough," thus intimating that he did not mean a literal arming with carnal weapons, for had he done so, two swords would not have sufficed for twelve men.]

Finally, the reader must understand Jesus' new commandment of love, echoing Leviticus, contains a new dimension:

Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say unto you. 34 A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. [In the term of tenderness "my little children," with which [654] esus opens this paragraph, we see one of the marks of love referred to by John (John xiii. 1). It is found nowhere else in the Gospels. In the light of his near separation Jesus looked upon his apostles as about to be made orphan children. As to this new commandment, love had been commanded before (Lev. xix. 18), but the Christian love here commanded is different from that which the Jew was bade to feel for the Jew, just as the affection of a loving family differs from the mere broad and kindly spirit of neighborliness. A love which had Christ's heart as the standard would of necessity be new, and would distinguish those who possessed it from all men.] The Fourfold Gospel