John 13

The Testament of the Lord[a]

Chapter 13

Jesus Washes the Feet of the Disciples.[b] 1 As the feast of Passover drew near, Jesus was aware that his hour had come to depart from this world and to go to the Father. He had loved his own who were in the world, and he loved them to the end.

2 The devil had already put it into the mind of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. During supper, 3 Jesus, fully aware that the Father had entrusted all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, 4 got up from the table, removed his outer garments, and took a towel that he tied around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel wrapped around his waist.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered, “You do not understand now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you will have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.”

10 Jesus then said, “Anyone who has bathed has no need to wash further, except for his feet, for he is clean all over. You also are clean, although not every one of you is clean.” 11 He knew the one who was going to betray him. That is why he added the words, “Not every one of you is clean.”

12 After he had finished washing their feet and had once again put on his outer garments, he reclined at table and said to them,

“Do you understand
what I have done for you?
13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’
and rightly so,
for that is what I am.
14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher,
have washed your feet,
you also should wash one another’s feet.
15 “I have given you an example.
What I have done for you,
you should also do.
16 Amen, amen, I say to you,
a servant is not greater than his master,
nor is a messenger greater
than the one who sent him.
17 “Now that you know these things,
you will be blessed
if you do them.

Jesus Predicts His Betrayal[c]

18 “I am not speaking about all of you.
I know those whom I have chosen.
However, what the Scripture says
must be fulfilled,
‘The one who ate bread with me
has raised his heel against me.’
19 “I tell you this now,
before it occurs,
so that when it does occur,
you may believe that I am.[d]
20 Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever receives the one I send
receives me,
and whoever receives me
receives the one who sent me.”

21 After saying this, Jesus was deeply distressed, and he declared,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,
one of you will betray me.”

22 The disciples looked at one another, puzzled as to which one of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. 24 Simon Peter signaled to him to ask Jesus which one he meant.

25 Therefore, leaning back toward Jesus, he asked, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread after I have dipped it into the dish.” And when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot.

27 As soon as Judas had received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus then said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he had said this to him. 29 Some thought that since Judas was in charge of the money bag, Jesus was telling him to purchase what was needed for the feast, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had received the piece of bread, he immediately departed. It was night.

31 After Judas had departed, Jesus said,

“Now is the Son of Man glorified,
and God is glorified in him.
32 If God is glorified in him,
God will also glorify him in himself,
and he will glorify him at once.

A New Commandment[e]

33 “My children,
I will be with you
only a short time longer.
You will look for me,
and, as I told the Jews,
so I now say to you,
‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’
34 “I give you a new commandment:
love one another.
Just as I have loved you,
so you should also love one another.
35 This is how everyone will know
that you are my disciples:
if you love one another.”

36 Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial.[f] Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered,

“Where I am going,
you cannot follow me now,
but you will follow me later on.”

37 Peter said, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.


  1. John 13:1 This is the first of three parts that can clearly be distinguished in Jn 13:1—17:26. These pages constitute the best known section of the fourth Gospel, which at this point becomes the great book of meditation for Christians. The author develops a lengthy farewell address in the setting of the final meal. On the eve of his death, Christ lets his disciples know the deepest secrets of his love for God.
    The other two parts in this lengthy piece are: the community of the witnesses to Christ (15:1—16:33) and the priestly prayer of Jesus (17:1-26). Scholars believe that the three parts probably reflect three redactional stages.
  2. John 13:1 The story of the Last Supper is not told in John, and we shall never know exactly why, but the farewell meal here is described in the same spirit. By washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus performs the action of a slave; love has indeed made him the servant of his friends.
  3. John 13:18 The announcement of the betrayal of Jesus comes in the discourse that follows the washing of the feet. Jesus brings the crisis to a head. The traitor can no longer remain in the intimacy of the Lord, sharing his table and his confidences. The darkness must one day be separated from the light (see v. 30).
    Now the drama of the Passion begins; Jesus considers it the hour of his glory. He acts with a knowledge of the events that is the knowledge of God. Jesus is the Lord, as indicated by his title “I AM.” This attestation serves to make the faith of the disciples stronger.
    For the first time we meet “the disciple whom Jesus loved”; we shall find this unusual “name” three more times: once beneath the cross (Jn 19:26f), and the other two times in connection, once again, with Peter (Jn 20:2-10; 21:20-22). The tradition has always identified this disciple with John.
  4. John 13:19 See note on Jn 4:26.
  5. John 13:33 Jesus is not the first to recommend friendship, mutual service, and brotherly affection. But to love as he loved goes so much further as to become an absolute. It is no doubt for the purpose of underlining this that the fourth Gospel puts the commandment to love in the context of farewells; it likewise makes evident that this law of life is the most original sign of the community’s faithfulness to Christ.
    To love, to serve to the point of taking the last place and giving one’s life, goes beyond human strength. Perhaps the dialogue with Peter is there to say that good feelings are not enough and that it takes the grace given by the death of Christ to have such strength.
  6. John 13:36 Peter’s denial is predicted in all four Gospels (Mt 26:33-35; Mk 14:29-31; Lk 22:31-34 and here).

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