Our reading today begins in the upper room the night before Jesus’s death. Jesus knew what was about to happen (13:1 – see 12:23, 27). John tells us that Satan had already deceived Judas Iscariot into betraying Jesus (v. 2 – see 12:4). It is interesting to note that the washing of the disciples’ feet included Judas. In the same way, our service is not limited to those we believe are Christians. In verse 3, John sums up a lot of Jesus’s teachings throughout the Gospel account. The Father had given all things to Him (see 5:19-47, 6:37). Jesus has come from the Father (see 7:28-29) and was going back to the Father (see 7:34, 8:21). And Jesus wants to give His disciples an example of humility and service before He leaves (v. 15). God in the flesh takes the posture of a servant (vv. 4-5). This is what He did when He came in the flesh.
The exchange between Peter and Jesus (vv. 6-10) is meant to show that we are made spiritually clean through faith (“is completely clean”), but that we are to serve in the world. Not only will our feet get “dirty” as we work, but we are to humbly serve others. If Christ can do this, what is beneath us to do (v. 14, 16). Especially for each other within the church? And we will find blessing through our service (v. 17). Note that Jesus is excluding Judas Iscariot (v. 18). In other words, those who are truly His will be blessed through service. If you want assurance of salvation, serve and find blessing! In verse 20, Jesus is saying that He is sending His disciples to do what He has done.
Jesus then tells the group that one of them will betray Him (v. 21). The exchange between Jesus and this disciple in verses 25-26 is likely just between the two of them, as evidenced by verses 28-29. This is how John knew that it was Judas who Satan had gotten a hold of (v. 26 – see v. 2). Now, instead of worrying that He could be arrested before completing His work (all those “my hour/time has not yet come” – 2:4, 7:6, 8), Jesus is ready to hasten the end of His work (13:1) and tells Judas to work quickly (v. 27). Which he does (v. 30). Satan is playing right into God’s plan!
Now Jesus addresses His believing disciples. Jesus is about to be glorified, and the Father through Him (vv. 31-32). This is talking about the resurrection and ascension. Jesus explains to them that He is going away (v. 33). And He leaves them with a single commandment (v. 34) that will continue His work in the world (v. 35). In verse 36, Jesus tells Peter that he will follow later. This is referring to the fact that he will die a martyr’s death. Peter ironically and unknowingly prophesies of this (v. 37). Peter thinks he is ready to die for Jesus. Jesus tells him that he isn’t ready yet (v. 38).
Jesus now wants to comfort His disciples (14:1). The Greek form of “believe” (twice in this verse) can ether be an indicative or an imperative. Jesus can be commanding them to believe in God and in Him, that is, to have faith. Or, Jesus can be saying since they believe in God, they should also believe in Him. Either way, Jesus is telling them to have the faith they have always been called to. The Jews believed in a God they cannot see for over a millennia. Their faith in Jesus should not be shaken when He returns to heaven either. Especially since Jesus is going to prepare a place for them (v. 2). His death, resurrection, and ascension will be for their sake! Furthermore, He is not leaving permanently. He is coming again (v. 3). In other words, if He is proven right about His leaving (which He will be), then His return is just as sure!
Jesus then tells them that they know the way to where He is going (v. 4). And they should. He is the door (10:1). He is the resurrection of the life (v. 25). Thomas’s objection (v. 5) is quickly answered by Jesus (v. 6). He is the way to the Father, because He and the Father are One (v. 7, 9-11 – see Deut 6:4, Jas 2:19). But the disciples still don’t understand (v. 8). Jesus then points again to the works He has worked as proof of Who He is (v. 11). This is not a reference to just the miracles, here. Jesus is pointing to everything He has done. He has lived perfectly. His example of service is also in view here, as He directs the disciples to once again carry on His work after He is gone (v. 12). And yet it will be Christ doing the work in and through them (vv. 13-14).
And how will Christ work in and through them if He is going back to the Father? He will send the Spirit. For those who love Him and obey His command (v. 15 – see 13:34-35), the Holy Spirit will be sent (v. 16). The world (the unsaved) cannot receive Him or know Him, but believers will because He will be with us and will be in us (v. 17). And through the Spirit, Christ will be with us spiritually even though He is bodily in heaven (v. 18). He will be with His disciples (v. 19) who will be united to Him and to the Father (v. 20). And who are His disciples? Those who love Jesus enough to love one another (v. 21).
Judas (this is believed to be another name for Thaddeus who is absent from Luke’s list of Apostles – see Luke 6:16, Acts 1:13) asks how this manifestation of Jesus will be just for believers (v. 22). Jesus’s answer is that He will manifest Himself (and the Father) only to those who love Him and obey His word (vv. 23-24). Obedience is not a requirement for salvation, but it is proof of salvation. Jesus then tells them that He has taught them while He was with them (v. 25), but that the Holy Spirit will teach them everything and even help them remember what Jesus has taught (v. 26). This is exactly what we have in the New Testament epistles.
The peace that Jesus speaks about in verse 27 is His presence and our union with Him through the Holy Spirit. Jesus wants them to believe this when the Spirit comes as He is promising here (v. 29). Jesus says that their time together is coming to an end because Satan is coming, and because Jesus is going to do what the Father has commanded Him to do so that the whole world may know Him (vv. 30-31). Satan is going to unknowingly deceive people (Judas, the Jews, the Romans) into putting Jesus on the cross, which was the plan all along (see 1 Cor 2:8).
Christ now uses the metaphor of a vine. He is the vine Who gives life to the branches (15:1). The Father is the vinedresser that removes branches for the health of the whole plant (v. 2). These disciples are healthy branches because they are “clean” (v. 3 – see 13:10). Jesus is assuring them that they are chosen by God. Now they have to do the work they were chosen to do (v. 4) in full reliance on Christ Who does the work (v. 5). Those who do not abide in Him will be judged (v. 6). Again, the Bible is clear, faith will result in obedience. And it will be worked by Christ (v. 7) all for God’s glory (v. 8). And it is how we love like Christ loved (vv. 9-10). And it is how we find our joy (v. 11).
And Christ clarifies the commandment: we love as He has loved us (v. 12). Working out the second greatest commandment is how we live out the first and great commandment. How do we love God? By loving each other! And it is a sacrificial love (v. 13). This is what Christ did for His friends, and it is what we are to do for each other (vv. 14-15). Christ did not wash their feet as a servant (as in, out of compulsion), but as a friend (out of love)! Christ has chosen us that we may do the same (v. 16).
But, if we are obedient and love like Christ loved, the world will hate us like it hates Christ (v. 18). The world hates us because we have been chosen by Christ to be like Him (v. 19). The Bible pulls no punches here. We will be persecuted by unbelievers (v. 20) because they do not know God (v. 21). Jesus is speaking first and foremost of the Jews who will persecute Christians (see v. 25), but by extension the whole world (because there is no longer a difference on this side of the cross!). Now that Christ has come – now that the promises have been fulfilled – now that God has made Himself known – the world is without excuse (v. 24). As much as the world wants to justify their hatred of Christ, they have no excuse (v. 25 – see Rom 1:20-22). And the role of the church is now to continue to make Christ known to the world through the power of the Holy Spirit (vv. 26-27). This will begin with those in that room.