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John42 – the final supper

Now before the Feast of the Paschal Lamb, when Jesus discerned that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. (John 13: 1)
This is a critical moment in the life of Jesus as disclosed in John’s first century eye-witness biography of Jesus of Nazareth. It’s the evening before Jesus’ arrest, criminal conviction, and crucifixion. He arranges this last supper with his disciples on the night before the Paschal Lamb festival. 

The Paschal lamb, in Judaism, is the lamb sacrificed at the first Passover, on the eve of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, the most momentous event in Jewish history. According to the Biblical record in the book of Exodus, chapter 12, the Jews, slaves in Egypt around 1340 BC, marked their doorposts with the blood of the lamb, and this sign spared them from destruction which brought about their release.

During supper, when the diabolou [“slanderous”] had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to give him over, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come out from God and was going towards God, rose up from supper. 

What should the disciples do when their host gets up and strips off?

He sets down the outer clothing and, receiving an apron, enfolded himself. Next, he put water into the wash-basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples and to wipe away with the apron with which he was enfolded. 

Did Jesus, in fact, put down his divine sonship and enfold himself in human form? Did he do that in order to be able to wash clean his disciples, and to wipe away all their uncleanesses?

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, you? You wash the feet of me?” Jesus answered him, “What I myself am doing you do not discern now, but after these things you will know.” 

Jesus himself says, at that time, that they will only later discern the meaning of what he did that night. Only after the cross on the following day and after his resurrection and ascension to his Father.

Peter said to him, “Not into eternity may you wash the feet of me.” 

It seems to me that Peter might well have emphasized the pronouns when he spoke this to Jesus. “Not into eternity will you wash the feet of me.” Little did he realise that the washing would be into eternity.

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not the feet of me only but also the hands and the head!” 

Not only does Peter now want his feet washed – because without that he cannot have any share with Jesus – but also he wants to be clean in the doings of his hands and in the thoughts of his head.

Jesus said to him, “The bathed one has no need to wash, except for the feet, but is completely clean.” 

Wonder of all wonders, Jesus seems to be saying that this feet-washing demonstration is a sign of the vastly more important “bathing” of Peter (and others) which will take place through the cross. And that, following that, Jesus will still be there washing away, moment by moment, all defilement of each day here on earth.

“And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he discerned the one who would give him over; that was why he said, “By no means are all clean.” 

Jesus confirms that they are indeed completely clean – through his work on that cross on that same day. (In Judea in those days a day began at dusk and ended at dusk.) But not all of them – because one of them would, that same day, give Jesus over to death.

Peter wanted a share with Jesus.

Judas wanted to give Jesus over.

They both got what they wanted – and more.

Sinner Syvret

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