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The Other Love Chapter of the Bible

John 13:1-38


Many chapters in the Bible could qualify as great chapters on the subject of love. For instance: Hosea 11, John 3, 1 John 4. The chapter most associated with this emphasis is 1 Corinthians 13. Rightly so. There we see the importance of love (vv. 1-3), the description of love (vv. 4-7), and the eternality of love (vv. 8-13).

But John 13 could equally qualify as a great love chapter of the Bible. Verse 1 of this chapter says, “He showed them the full extent of his love.” And, love will dominate this chapter, the entire farewell discourse, and really to the end of the Gospel, being mentioned 24 times. This emphasis on love could be carved into four sections:

I.     The Example of Love (vv. 1-20).

A. Picture this example: The God of the universe washing dirty Palestinian feet. It’s a bit much to take.

B. Think of two pairs of feet that were washed in this example.

1.  Proud Peter—have you ever tried to do something for someone too proud to receive it?

2.     Evil Judas—has anyone ever stabbed you in the back after you were kind to them? “He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me” (v. 18).


How much do we look forward to washing feet? The disciples had proud hearts and dirty feet. Contrast this with Jesus really wanting to do that job (vs. 4-5). He thrilled at the prospect of this humiliation because He loved His disciples. William Barclay said, “The world is full of people who are standing on their dignity when they should be kneeling at the feet of their brethren”.

Real love is not burdensome. Genesis 29:20 says that Jacob served Laban another seven years for Rachel, “but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.”

II.    The Vulnerability of Love (vv. 21-30).

A. This vulnerability means being open to attack, capable of being wounded. Jesus risks His neck. But that is how love is. Loving is risky business.

B. This vulnerability is seen in the seating arrangement of the table. The arrangement is most likely in the shape of a horseshoe. Peter’s feet may have been washed toward the end while Judas’ may have been washed first. If this is so then Jesus had Judas sit on his left on this important night.  That is real love.

III.  The Commandment of Love (vv. 31-35).

A. The commandment is given when the tension eases. Judas is gone, now Jesus can relax.

B. The commandment stems from the glory of God. Perhaps this is true of all of God’s commandments. Since God’s glory is His shining brilliance and His weighty presence, all his commands, which are for our good, come out of His person.

C. The commandment knocks the walls out of any definition that would limit the scope and intensity of love. We are to love as He loved, and love is to be the distinguishing mark of the Christian.

IV.  The Failure to Love (vv. 36-38).

A. The failure is sad, but it will be dealt with in the next chapter (14:1).

B. The failure is sad, but Peter will be reinstated for every denial (cf. John 21:15-23).


     It is especially difficult to love like Jesus until we receive the love of Jesus. Maybe that’s why John 3:16, (“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.), precedes John 13:34-35 (“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”).

Seth Wilson said, “Christianity is not so much saying, ‘I’m right, and you’re wrong,’ as much as it is saying, ‘I love Jesus.”’ Loving God first and most is the key to this other love chapter of the Bible.

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