Week 14: John 13 Love Without Limit

Monday: His hour had come

Read John 13:1, John 2:4, 7:30, 8:20, 12:23, 13:1, 17:1

This might really discourage the control freaks: Not even Jesus could control the timing that God planned for his life. Instead of trying to control times, places and events, he learned to listen to his Father. Like Jesus, we’ll never be able to control time or what what happens when. But we can learn to rely on God so we can understand what he’s doing moment by moment in a greater way. We can lean on the Spirit to be ready to respond when our ‘hour’ comes, whenever that may be.

Examine your life and your heart. Are you trying to control the times or are you rolling with God’s timing and bringing a spiritual perspective into whatever may come? Are you at peace. That may be the greatest indicator of your heart toward God’s timing.

Tuesday: Inspired by Mary?

Read John 13:1-20, John 12:1-8, Psalm 104, Ephesians 5:10-12

In each of their recorded interactions, Jesus was inspired by Mary’s faith. Could it be that he was so inspired by the beautifully touching moment when she washed his feet with her hair, that she inspired this act, one chapter later, by Jesus? There is certainly a parallel. Mary’s foot anointing upset Judas. Jesus’ humble foot washing seemed to seal the deal for his betrayal.

It might seem strange that a person could inspire God but it happens all the time! In fact, the phrase that we sing in songs on Sunday and read in the Psalms, “bless the Lord,” means make the Lord happy. Paul urges us to find out what pleases God. It doesn’t take much of a leap to think that when we make him happy, we might also be inspiring him. Jesus was inspired by people’s faith all the time. What could you do to make God happy, inspire him, or even give him something to imitate?

Wednesday: Reclining at table at Jesus’ side

Read John 13:21-30

Every dinner Jesus ever attended in the gospels had drama, including his own last supper. If we scan the text carefully we can glean some interesting insights from the seating chart. Jewish people during festivals would recline, propped up on their left elbow, on low coaches around a low table. (Unlike DaVinci’s Last Supper) The intrigue in this account gives us an idea of the seating chart and some implications.

“The one whom Jesus loved” is the apostle John. He must have been on Jesus’ right side since he was able to lean back and ask a question. Peter, on the other hand, was so far from Jesus that he had to use hand signals to get John to ask. Jesus shares a piece of bread with Judas which implies that Judas was on Jesus’ left. The left and right were both places of honor, making it even more amazing that Jesus loved the one who was about to betray him enough to honor him with a seat on his left. We can infer that this was the Passover meal. This tells us one more thing. For Passover, the morsel of bread would have been dipped in bitter herbs. This was a statement about the bitterness that Judas’ heart had descended into, although the disciples didn’t understand the significance at the time.

Thursday: Satan entered into him

Read John 13:26-30, John 8:39-47, Revelation 12:10, Matthew 4:3, 1 John 5:19

This isn’t the first John has mentioned Satan in his gospel. Satan (known by more than a few names) was very real for first century Jews. He interacted with people in a few ways. He still works in these ways today:

Primarily, he is an accuser. That’s what “Satan” means. This is the role he took on when he confronted God himself about Job. We feel accused all the time. We feel like we’re not measuring up. We feel guilty. We sin, which is bad enough, but then we feel bad about our sin. We feel accused by other people. Have you been fighting accusations from Satan in your head?

Secondly, Satan presents himself as a tempter. He was so bold to even tempt Jesus. In many ways, temptation is just another form of accusation. He wants people to question their identity in Christ and the promises of God. He gets us thinking that God’s commands are restrictive instead of protective and for our blessing. Have you been tempted lately? Do you see behind the curtain that the temptation you face is really a questioning of God? That’s nothing new. He tempted Adam and Eve and Jesus with same tactic.

Lastly, Satan is a liar; a deceiver. This is what Jesus has already called out in John 8. Obviously, this aspect of Satan fits right in with the other two. Because he is a liar, our world is full of lies and can’t be trusted in. In a couple of places, Satan is called the ruler of this world. And if we’re honest, the world is unfortunately shaped in his image; full of accusations, temptations, and deception. Have you been listening to the world and Satan or are you leaning on God’s truth?

Friday: A (not so) New Commandment

Read John 13:31-35, Leviticus 19:17-18, Romans 13:9-10, Galatians 5:13-15, James 2:8, 1 John 3:11, 23

Throughout his gospel, John uses irony and humor to teach people about Jesus. I’m not sure if this is one of those moments, but I can imagine the disciples being excited to learn a new command, only to be let down that his command to love one another was one of the oldest in the book!

Of course, Jesus does change the command and make it new. He adds that his disciples must love as he loved. That is, as they would soon find out, a deeply sacrificial love that is willing to lay down one’s very life for her neighbor.

The command to love is undeniably the central tenet of Christianity. But is this what we see in Christians? Are Christians known for their Christlike, sacrificial love? It doesn’t seem like it, but worrying about Christendom won’t help anybody to be loved more! All we can do is take this command seriously as individual disciples. Have you held back love for any reason? Start following Jesus’ command today and show yourself a true disciple of Jesus.

Saturday: I will lay my life down for you

Read John 13:36-38

Judas isn’t the only disciple at this dinner who will let Jesus down. The truth is, they all will in their own way. John will come back and stick closest to the cross out of the twelve. But even he will initially flee. Judas will completely betray Jesus for an arbitrary sum of money (with some Old Testament connections). We don’t know exactly what the other disciples did as they fled but because of Peter’s impetuous character we know that this pledge of loyalty will fall very short, just as Jesus predicts.

By one estimate Jesus asked 307 questions in the gospels. Isn’t amazing that the one person who already knew the truth still asked hundreds of questions? Knowing this should cause us to question ourselves. Are we prone to pontificating or are we often asking heartsy questions? The question that Jesus asks Peter is cutting, “Will you lay down your life for me?” That’s a retort that John never forgot and I’m sure Peter also remembered for the rest of his life. In the coming days Peter would fail to lay down his life. But in the coming decades it is believed that Peter did indeed die, on an upside down cross, for his faith in Jesus.


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