New Testament Lesson 22 (John 13–17)
THE FOURTH DAY (WEDNESDAY)
Arranging for the Final Passover Meal
● The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Matthew 26:17–19) was closely associated with the Passover. As the ancient Israelites made hasty preparations to leave Egypt and its unwelcome hardships, they did not have sufficient time to permit their bread to rise as was the custom. Instead they baked in haste and vacated their homes as quickly as possible. The festival of Unleavened Bread was held to commemorate this fact.
● While the Passover lasted only one day originally, the Feast of Unleavened Bread lasted seven days. Eventually, both festivals were combined into one, making the entire Passover period eight days in length.
● In preparation for his last Passover meal, Jesus made arrangements to meet on Wednesday night in the upper room of a faithful woman disciple’s home in Jerusalem. Tradition says that this was the Gospel writer Mark’s home, and the woman was his mother.
● Jesus observed the last Passover of His earthly life less than 24 hours before His crucifixion.
● For hundreds of years faithful Jews had offered a Passover lamb each spring.
● This yearly ritual reminded them of the first Passover at the time Moses led Israel out of Egypt.
● It symbolized the Lord’s mercy in saving the lives of their firstborn sons at that time.
● The time was now at hand when He who was the Lamb of God would, in the fulfillment of his great Atonement, become the great and last sacrifice of all.
Judas Iscariot Had Earlier Plotted to Betray Jesus
● Jesus had earlier foretold his betrayal and death (Matthew 26:1–5).
● The Jewish rulers were afraid to take him. They said, “Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.”1
● Thus, they were pleased when Judas agreed to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14–16).
At the Last Supper Jesus Identified His Betrayer
● John was next to Jesus, on his right (John 13:21–22). Because people ate such feasts lying down upon their left elbow, this would have placed John’s back “in the bosom” [chest] of the Savior while they ate.
● When Jesus revealed that one of them would betray Him, the disciples were shocked and asked, “Lord, is it I?” (Matthew 26:22).
● Being next to him at the feast, John quietly asked the same question. The Lord answered John’s question by giving Judas “the sop” (John 13:23–30). In areas of the world where table utensils are not used at mealtime, it is common practice to place both broth and meat in a dish in the center of the table. Thin pieces of bread, often shaped to make a spoon, are used to extract both meat and broth from their repository. The bread thus dipped becomes a “sop.” It is a mark of great honor for two friends to dip from the same sop-dish and an even greater mark of respect for one to dip for a friend and present the sop to him. Thus it was that Judas attempted to feign his love and loyalty for Jesus at the Passover meal by dipping his hand in the same dish with him. (Matthew 26:23).2
Washing the Disciples’ Feet
● In response, the Lord taught them about true greatness—through selfless service. He removed His outer clothing and girded Himself with a towel (as a slave would do), then washed their feet (John 13:1–5).
— To appreciate this gesture we must understand that in that culture to touch a man’s feet was the most demeaning thing a person could be asked to do. Only slaves performed this task. Feet were the most filthy, disease-ridden parts of the body.
● Peter objected to the ordinance, saying, “Lord, dost thou wash my feet? . . . Thou shalt never wash my feet” (John 13:6, 8). He thought it was beneath the Lord’s greatness to do such a menial task.
● Jesus responded, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” (John 13:8). This is a statement that we would all do well to remember. Unless Jesus washes us clean from our sins, we cannot be with Him or our Heavenly Father in the life to come. We are absolutely dependent upon Him for the remission of our sins.
● In response, Peter then enthusiastically embraced the ordinance, saying, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head (John 13:9).
● This ordinance was restored in our day on December 27, 1832 (D&C 88:140–141). It continues to this day among the Apostles and the Prophet.
PROMISES OF COMFORT AND PEACE
Jesus Teaches Concerning Love
● Love is the great distinguishing trait of a true disciple of Christ (John 13:33–35; 15: 12, 17). Jesus repeatedly told his disciples to love one another, and He emphasized it again during the Last Supper.
— President Ezra Taft Benson said, “To the very end of his mortal life Jesus was demonstrating the grandeur of his spirit and the magnitude of his strength. He was not, even at this late hour, selfishly engrossed with his own sorrows or contemplating the impending pain. He was anxiously attending to the present and future needs of his beloved followers. He knew their own safety, individually and as a church, lay only in their unconditional love one for another. His entire energies seem to have been directed toward their needs, thus teaching by example what he was teaching by precept. He gave them words of comfort and commandment and caution.”3
● Peter expressed his love and loyalty to Christ and said that he wanted to follow Him. But Jesus told him, “The cock shall not crow, till thou has denied me thrice” (John 13:36–38).
Showing the Way to the Father
● Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1–4).
● Thomas wanted to know how to get where Jesus was going. Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:5–6).
● Jesus is the express image of His Father (John 14:7–9; Hebrews 1:1–3; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:17). Elder Marion G. Romney said, “Jesus in his mortal ministry, being, as Paul said, ‘the express image of his [Father’s] person’ (Hebrews 1:3), was a true and complete revelation of the person and nature of God. This he confirmed to Philip when he said: ‘He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. . . .’ (John 14:9).”4
● The Father and Son are also one in mind and purpose (John 14:10–11). Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Just as Jesus and the Father are so much alike in appearance, and so completely united in doctrine and in all the attributes of godliness, that he who has seen one has in effect seen the other, so there is a similar unity between Jesus and the Holy Ghost. They are one in that they both would say and do the same thing under the same circumstances.”5
● Through prayer his disciples (those who love the Lord and keep his commandments) can ask whatsoever they will in His name and He will do it (John 14:12–14).
● Jesus clarified what He meant by this promise (John 15:7). This would only be the case if they abided in Him and if His words abided in them.
Our Relationship to Christ
● Jesus used the symbol of a vine (a tree) to show the relationship between Himself and those who love and serve Him (John 15:1–8).
— He is the vine (trunk), and we are the branches (v. 1).
— The gardener “purges” (purifies) branches that do not bear fruit (v. 2; footnote 2c).
— “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing (v. 5).”
● Christ declared His disciples to be his “friends” (John 15:9–14).
● The world will hate us because it hates Him (John 15:15–21).
● We will have tribulation in the world, but will have peace in Him (John 16:33).
● The greatest demonstration of love is to give our lives for those we love (John 15:13).
THE FIRST COMFORTER (Holy Ghost)
● The Savior told them that he would send the Comforter (the Holy Ghost) to them (John 14:15–17; 15:18–20; 16:1–7).
The Role of the Holy Ghost
● John 14:25–26 The Holy Ghost teaches.
The Holy Ghost brings comfort.
The Holy Ghost helps us to remember.
● John 15:26 The Holy Ghost also testifies of Jesus Christ.
● John 16: 7–11 The Holy Ghost witnesses against unrighteousness.
The Holy Ghost judges our behavior.
● John 16:12–13 The Holy Ghost guides us to truth.
The Holy Ghost provides revelation of things to come.
● John 16:14 The Holy Ghost glorifies Jesus and the Father.
● Moses 6:60 The Holy Ghost justifies us (testifies of our worthiness).
● Philippians 4:7 The Holy Ghost also provides peace in this world.
The Gift of the Holy Ghost
● The Apostles experienced manifestations of the Holy Ghost during Jesus’ mortal ministry, but did not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after his death and resurrection (John 20:22).
● How we can recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost (Galatians 5:22–23; D&C 6:15, 23; 11:13). Elder Boyd K. Packer said, “The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear. It is described as a ‘still small voice.’ And while we speak of ‘listening’ to the whisperings of the Spirit, most often one describes a spiritual prompting by saying, ‘I had a feeling . . . ‘ Revelation comes as words we feel more than hear.”6
— The Prophet Joseph Smith said In a dream given to President Brigham Young, “[Teach the Saints that] the Spirit of the Lord . . . will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God.”7
The Second Comforter (Christ)
● “I will come to you” (John 14:18–24). In addition to the Holy Ghost, Jesus promised that He Himself would visit and bring comfort to His Saints.,
— The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Now what is this other Comforter. It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even he will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions— Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the First Born.”8
Jesus Again Foretells His Suffering and Death
● Jesus told the Apostles that he would soon die and be resurrected (John 16:16–20).
● “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace (John 16:33).
● “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
The Great Intercessory Prayer
This prayer is often called the great intercessory prayer because as Jesus prayed, He interceded, or stood between us and Heavenly Father, to plead for our salvation.
● Christ prayed to the Father and defined Eternal Life (John 17:1–3).
● Christ had finished his work and glorified the Father (John 17:4–10).
● Jesus prayed that they would be protected from worldliness (John 17:11–16).
● Jesus prayed for all who believe in Him and in the Father, that they may be “one” as the Father and Jesus Christ are “one” (John 17:20–26).
— President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “They are distinct beings, but they are one in purpose and effort. They are united as one in bringing to pass the grand, divine plan for the salvation and exaltation of the children of God. . . . It is that perfect unity between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost that binds these three into the oneness of the divine Godhead.”9
What are some doctrinal insights we receive from this week’s lesson material? Consider discussing one or more of these with your class.
● Satan “entered into” Judas Iscariot (Luke 22:1–6). Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Satan is a spirit man, a being who was born the offspring of God in premortal existence, and who was cast out of heaven for rebellion. He and his spirit followers have power in some cases to enter the bodies of men; they are, also, sometimes cast out of these illegally entered habitations by the power of the priesthood.”
● Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14–16). His willingness to do this showed his covetousness for money. Elder Bruce R. McConkie noted that this paltry sum—the price for a slave—is all they thought Jesus was worth, “And by [this we may] know that they esteemed him as the basest of men. And thus, also . . . the Messianic prophecy of Zechariah which had foretold their evil conspiracy [was fulfilled] . . . ‘so they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.’ (Zech. 11:12).”
● In my Father’s house are many mansions (kingdoms) (John 14:1–4). At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” The Prophet Joseph Smith explained, “‘In my Father’s house are many mansions.’ It should be—‘In my Father’s kingdom are many kingdoms,’ in order that ye may be heirs of God and joint-heirs with me. . . . There are mansions for those who obey a celestial law, and there are other mansions for those who come short of the law, every man in his own order.”10
● In what sense are we the “friends” of the Savior? (John 15:9–14). Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “There are (some) who have an excessive zeal which causes them to go beyond the mark. Their desire for excellence is inordinate. In an effort to be truer than true they devote themselves to gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous.”11 The member of the Godhead who is our constant companion is the Holy Ghost; it is with him that we have a close, personal relationship. Christ is our friend in the holy sense that He has redeemed us because of His love for us.
● “The disciples of Jesus did not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost while he was with them,” according to Elder Joseph Fielding Smith. “The reason for this, in part at least, was due to the fact that they had with them to guide and teach them the second member of the Godhead, even Jesus himself. While he was with them there was no occasion for them to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Before the Savior left them, he promised to send them the Comforter, or Holy Ghost.”12
Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Since the divine law in all ages called for men to pray to the Father in the name of Christ, why had Jesus awaited this hour to institute the age-old system among his disciples? Perhaps it is a situation similar to that which is involved in receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost; as long as Jesus was with the disciples they did not enjoy the full manifestations of the Holy Ghost. (John 16:7). Perhaps as long as Jesus was personally with them many of their petitions were addressed directly to him rather than to the Father. Such was the course followed by the Nephites when the resurrected and glorified Lord ministered among them. They prayed directly to him and not to the Father.”13
● Manifestations of the Holy Ghost vs. the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “Manifestations of the Holy Ghost are given to lead sincere seekers to gospel truths that will persuade them to repentance and baptism. The gift of the Holy Ghost is more comprehensive. . . . [It] includes the right to constant companionship, that we may ‘always have his Spirit to be with [us]’ (D&C 20:77).
“A newly baptized member told me what she felt when she received that gift. This was a faithful Christian woman who had spent her life in service to others. She knew and loved the Lord, and she had felt the manifestations of His Spirit. When she received the added light of the restored gospel, she was baptized and the elders placed their hands upon her head and gave her the gift of the Holy Ghost. She recalled, ‘I felt the influence of the Holy Ghost settle upon me with greater intensity than I had ever felt before. He was like an old friend who had guided me in the past but now had come to stay.’”14
● The Second Comforter is Christ Himself. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “These statements about the two Comforters climax and crown the teachings of the Son of God. We have no record of anything he ever said which can so completely withdraw the curtain of eternity and open to the faithful a vision of the glories of God. Based on love, born of obedience, Jesus promises the Saints that they can have, here and now in this life, the following:
“(1) The gift and constant companionship of the Holy Ghost; the comfort and peace which it is the function of that Holy Spirit to bestow; the revelation and the sanctifying power which alone will prepare men for the companionship of gods and angels hereafter;
“(2) Personal visitations from the Second Comforter, the Lord Jesus Christ himself, the resurrected and perfected being who dwells with his Father in the mansions on high; and
“(3) God the Father—mark it well Philip! shall visit man in person, take up his abode with him, as it were, and reveal to him all the hidden mysteries of his kingdom.”15
● Being in the world, but not of the world. Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “In the Church, we often state the couplet, ‘Be in the world but not of the world.’ As we observe television shows that make profanity, violence, and infidelity commonplace and even glamorous, we often wish we could lock out the world in some way and isolate our families from it all. . . .
“Perhaps we should state the couplet previously mentioned as two separate admonitions. First, ‘Be in the world.’ Be involved; be informed. Try to be understanding and tolerant and to appreciate diversity. Make meaningful contributions to society through service and involvement. Second, ‘Be not of the world.’ Do not follow wrong paths or bend to accommodate or accept what is not right.
“We should strive to change the corrupt and immoral tendencies in television and in society by keeping things that offend and debase out of our homes. In spite of all of the wickedness in the world, and in spite of all the opposition to good that we find on every hand, we should not try to take ourselves or our children out of the world. Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven,’ or yeast (Matthew 13:33). We are to lift the world and help all to rise above the wickedness that surrounds us. The Savior prayed to the Father:
“‘I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil’ (John 17:15).”16
1. Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 591.
2. Harper’s Bible Dictionary , s.v. “sop.”
3. In Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 23–24; or Ensign, May 1974, 18–19.
4. In Conference Report, October 1967, 135.
5. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 1:753.
6. In Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 77; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 60.
7. Manuscript History of President Brigham Young, 1846–1847, comp. Elden J. Watson , 529.
8. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith , 150–151.
9. In Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 69; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 51.
10. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 366.
11. “Our Relationship With The Lord,” BYU Devotional Address, 2 March 1982.
12. Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 2:159.
13. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:758.
14. In Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 80; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 60.
15. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:735.
16. In Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 101; or Ensign, May 1989, 80.