A word for the heart

with Alan Bailey

John 12:44-13:20 - The Gospel of John

Bible study


Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.

John 12:44-13:20

We are beginning to look at several chapters in the Gospel of John which contain mainly the words of Jesus Himself. This is why the book is known as a teaching Gospel. How carefully we must listen to what Jesus said as every word is important to us, showing more of what God is like and giving us instruction on how to find life and then live it. All the while, Jesus knows that just ahead of Him is the dark period of His sorrow as He takes on Himself the sin of the world.

Verses 44 & 45 Then Jesus cried out and said, ‘He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.’

Jesus tells us that death leads to life. He is not saying that we must despise our lives or harm ourselves but that we must deny our self-centred preservation of our comfortable existence. To follow Him calls for personal sacrifice along the lines of His own sacrifice. If we are willing to pay this cost, the rewards are great. In fact, the rewards are eternal.

Verse 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow me; and where I am, there my servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honour.

All through His ministry, Jesus is careful to show that His mission is to obey the Father and to bring glory to Him. In these words He is turning the attention of His hearers to His Father so that they will not fail to see the oneness there is between Father and Son.

Verse 46 ‘I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.

This is the mission of the Lord. To bring the truth to mankind. To see eyes opened and some understanding of God penetrate the minds of human beings. There is now no longer need for anyone to grope about in ignorance because the light of God has been shining for all to see.

Verse 47 ‘And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

In coming to bring light, Jesus did not include any condemnation of those who refuse to see that light. Such judgment is kept for later on. Now, His task is the salvation of sinners – a great work of mercy.

Verse 48 ‘He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.’

There is a coming day of reckoning. Those who have heard the words of Jesus will have no excuse for their refusal to take note of His message and accept it. Refusal to accept His words means the rejection of Him as Son of God and the rejection of God Himself. How serious is that!

Verses 49 & 50 ‘For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.’

Jesus is emphasizing that His words have all the authority of God behind them. We do well to realize that there has been no other person in the history of mankind who has given to us the actual words of God. We can have every confidence in these words as Jesus clearly showed in many ways that He truly was the Son of God.

foot washing

Chapter 13
Verse 1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

Perhaps it is a little difficult to see exactly in what order the events of this chapter through to chapter 18 took place. It is plain that the disciples and Jesus were in the Upper Room described in the other Gospels. The Passover meal was eaten, (a Jewish memorial) followed by the institution of the bread and wine ritual (the Last Supper), speaking of the body and blood of Jesus. Also, Jesus at some point sent Judas on his way to carry out the betrayal. In this period, Jesus gave all the teaching that is recorded in chapters 14 to 16. This chapter opens with the warm touch of the constant and unfailing love of Jesus.

Verses 2-4 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.

The group of twelve was reclining at the table with Jesus. Judas, who was a disciple, had a love of money which the devil exploited. He gave Judas the thought of betrayal and Judas accepted it. It was an act of blatant treachery for which we need have no sympathy. Not only did Jesus know what Judas would do but He knew all the other disciples accurately as well. He was about to teach them something through His actions.

Verse 5 After that, 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.

It was a common thing in those days for feet to be washed in this manner. It gave relief in a warm climate where a lot of walking took place. But it was usually done by a servant and seen as menial work. Yet here was the Son of God doing it!

Verses 6 & 7 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, are You washing my feet?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.’

Peter felt that it was not right for Jesus to do this lowly task for him so he queried it. But Jesus let him know that the significance of it would dawn upon him later.

Verses 8 & 9 Peter said to Him, ‘You shall never wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’ Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!’

Peter was the outspoken one of the group and probably said what the others were thinking. But they were all to learn an important lesson. Peter was to be a part of this act and not somehow be an exception. So, realizing this, Peter eagerly took part. His love for Jesus was strong.

Verses 10 & 11 Jesus said to him, ‘He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean; but not all of you.’ For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, ‘You are not all clean.’

The main teaching, Jesus was yet to give. But here He mentions how washing is a symbol of forgiveness and cleansing from sin. He assures Peter and the others that they are clean and the foot-washing is something extra. However, there was the exception. Judas could not be regarded as clean as he was not a true disciple.

Verses 12-15 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.’

Now the lesson is given – one which these men would never forget. Jesus was not doing something contrary to His nature to make a point, He was doing what was consistent with who He was. The grace and the love involved in His action was that which He wanted these men to develop among themselves. They had earlier shown their very human traits of jealousy and rivalry. Jesus wanted something new. Yes, a Christian is to be different in many ways from what he was in his former life. Humility characterized Jesus’ life and it is meant to characterize ours too.

Verses 16 & 17 ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Here is some reinforcement of the lesson. If it is good enough for Jesus to wash feet, it must be good enough for His followers. Even Jesus does not carry out some personal desires but at all times is subject to the will of the Father who sent Him. It is a great thing for us to know who we are and what our place is.

Verses 18 & 19 ‘I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me. Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He.

We can see from the way things unfold, that Judas is present hearing these words. Yet it does not deter him from carrying out what he had planned to do, that is, sell His Lord for 30 pieces of silver. It had been prophesied in Psalm 41 that Christ would be betrayed by a friend. Now, Jesus is saying that when he is betrayed and crucified, these disciples will have further proof that He is indeed the Messiah.

Verse 20 ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.’

Those whom Jesus sends represent Him. Therefore, to truly receive the messenger will mean receiving the message. Those who genuinely receive Christ, receive the Father also, because Jesus represents the Father.


As is typical of John, the Good News keeps coming to the fore in what he writes. He clearly remembers the actual words of Jesus and how they convey His heart of love. He makes certain that we know the overwhelming importance of the atoning death of the Lord on our behalf.

Also, he draws a line constantly, making distinction between those who believe and trust in Jesus and those who don’t. It pays for us to be very aware of where we ourselves are standing. Let us never spurn His love. Let us never betray Him.

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