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John 13:18-21 & meaning...

I don’t 

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.’

John 13:18


John 13 [10.] Jesus said to him, “Someone who has bathed only needs to have his feet washed, but is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you.” For he knew him who would betray him, therefore he said, “You are not all clean.” So when he had washed their feet, put his outer garment back on, and sat down again, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me, ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ You say so correctly, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Most certainly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his lord, neither one who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I don’t 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.’[a] From now on, I tell you before it happens, that when it happens, you may believe that I am he. Most certainly I tell you, he who receives whomever I send, receives me; and he who receives me, receives him who sent me.”

John 13 [21.] When Jesus had said this, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, “Most certainly I tell you that one of you will betray me.”

John 13 [22.] The disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was at the table, leaning against Jesus’ breast. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom he speaks.”


a. Psalm 41:9


This passage is part of a poignant moment during the Last Supper, where Jesus addresses His disciples with foreknowledge of His impending betrayal. This intimate setting amplifies the emotional weight of His words, revealing both the pain of betrayal and the fulfillment of divine prophecy.

Jesus begins by clarifying that He isn't speaking about all His disciples collectively, but specifically referencing the one who will betray Him. He asserts His knowledge of those He has chosen, emphasizing that the coming betrayal will fulfill Scripture: “He who eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me.” This is a direct reference to Psalm 41:9, which states, “Yes, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, who ate bread with me, has lifted up his heel against me.” By referencing this Psalm, Jesus connects His imminent betrayal to a larger biblical narrative, highlighting the prophetic nature of His mission and the inevitability of the events about to unfold.

The phrase “lifted up his heel against me” conveys a powerful image of treachery and violence, akin to a trusted friend turning against one in the most intimate of settings—during a shared meal. In ancient times, sharing a meal was a sign of fellowship and trust, making Judas's betrayal all the more shocking and painful.

Jesus's declaration, “From now on, I tell you before it happens, that when it happens, you may believe that I am he,” serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it prepares the disciples for the upcoming betrayal, helping them to understand that it is part of God's plan and not a random act of treachery. Secondly, it reinforces His identity as the Messiah, the one who fulfills prophecy. By predicting the betrayal, Jesus aims to strengthen the disciples' faith, assuring them that He remains in control even amidst the unfolding chaos.

The next statement, “Most certainly I tell you, he who receives whomever I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me,” reaffirms the deep connection between Jesus, His disciples, and God the Father. This chain of reception underscores the unity of purpose and mission among the Father, the Son, and those sent by Jesus. It’s a profound reminder that the betrayal by one does not sever the divine mission but rather fulfills it, further solidifying the disciples' roles as Jesus's representatives.

When Jesus concludes by saying, “Most certainly I tell you that one of you will betray me,” we see a moment of profound human emotion. The text notes that Jesus was “troubled in spirit,” indicating the deep personal anguish He felt knowing one of His closest companions would soon turn against Him. This moment of vulnerability highlights Jesus's humanity, His capacity for sorrow and pain, even as He embraces His divine purpose.

Key themes:

  • Prophetic Fulfillment: 

Jesus’s reference to Psalm 41:9 shows that His betrayal is part of a divine plan, fulfilling Scripture and reinforcing His messianic identity.

  • Foreknowledge and Faith: 

Jesus’s prediction of the betrayal is meant to prepare the disciples and bolster their faith, demonstrating His omniscience and control over the unfolding events.

  • Unity and Representation: 

The statement about receiving those whom Jesus sends emphasizes the continuity and unity of the divine mission, linking the Father, the Son, and the disciples in a shared purpose.

  • Human Emotion and Divine Mission: 

Jesus’s troubled spirit reveals the deep personal impact of the betrayal, highlighting the intersection of His humanity and divinity.

Cross-referencing other parts of the New Testament can deepen our understanding. For instance, in John 17:12, during His high priestly prayer, Jesus says, “While I was with them, I kept them in your name which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them perished, except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” This reinforces the idea that Judas’s betrayal was foreknown and part of the divine plan.

Additionally, Luke 22:21-22 echoes the sentiment in John 13:21, where Jesus, at the Last Supper, states, “But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. The Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” This further emphasizes the prophetic and inevitable nature of the betrayal while also highlighting the tragedy and personal impact on Jesus.

In conclusion, John 13:18-21 provides a profound glimpse into Jesus’s foreknowledge of His betrayal, the fulfillment of prophecy, and the emotional toll it took on Him. It prepares the disciples for the coming events, strengthens their faith, and underscores the unity and continuity of the divine mission. Reflecting on this passage, we are reminded of the deep connection between prophecy and fulfillment in Jesus’s life and the enduring impact of His words and actions on our faith jo

PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible


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