Introduction and Timeline for John 11–13
John devoted almost half of his Gospel to the last week of Jesus Christ’s mortal life. Just prior to this final week, the Savior raised Lazarus from the dead—a miracle that emphasized the power and love of the Son of God (see John 11:1–46). Because of the miraculous raising of Lazarus, plans to murder Jesus intensified. Jesus retreated for a time to a place called Ephraim, but then went back to Bethany, where Mary honored Him with an act of sincere devotion by anointing His feet with ointment (see John 12:1–3), and others—including Judas Iscariot—plotted to destroy Him. Jesus Christ manifested His perfect love for His disciples at the Last Supper by washing their feet. He then taught them that love should characterize their lives as His disciples (see John 13:1–17, 34–35). Despite the turbulence of the final week of His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ focused His teachings on obedience, service, and love—attributes that defined His life and should define the lives of His disciples in all ages.
Commentary for John 11–13
John 11. Seven Miracles in the Book of John
Chapter 11 of John records the miracle of the Savior raising Lazarus from the dead. This important miracle is one of seven miracles emphasized in John’s Gospel. John recorded these miracles along with teachings of the Master, and the miracles can be seen as illustrations of the teachings. The following chart lists these seven miracles, the physical and spiritual powers demonstrated by the Savior, and some of the key doctrines and principles associated with the miracles. These miracles and associated teachings reflect key themes in John, such as the Savior’s divinity and His identity as Jehovah, the Creator of all things.
Turning water to wine (John 2:1–11)
Power to create or to change something from one condition to another
This “beginning of miracles” may be considered an introduction to the Savior’s teachings to Nicodemus and to the woman at the well in Samaria (see John 3–4). Both individuals experienced a change in their spiritual condition.
Healing a nobleman’s son (John 4:46–54)
Power to restore us to health
This “second miracle”—restoring the nobleman’s son from sickness to health—may be considered a conclusion to the Savior’s teachings recorded in John 3–4, which resulted in both Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman being spiritually healed.
Healing of an invalid at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1–15)
Power to heal us both physically and spiritually
Feeding the five thousand (John 6:1–14)
Power to create in order to satisfy physical hunger
In the Bread of Life discourse, Jesus Christ taught that He is divine and we must believe in Him to have everlasting life (see John 6:25–59). Just as Jesus satisfied physical hunger, He can satisfy spiritual hunger as well.
Walking on water (John 6:16–21)
Power over nature
The Savior can overcome natural elements, and we can have faith that He will help us overcome the natural man; we can walk with Him even when His sayings are hard (see John 6:60–69).
Healing a man born blind (John 9:1–7)
Power over physical sight
Just as the Savior can restore physical sight, He can give spiritual sight to those who believe in Him (see John 9:8–41).
Raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1–45)
Power over physical death
Jesus Christ is “the resurrection, and the life” (see John 11:20–32). Through Him, all mankind will live again and can receive eternal life.
John 11:1–46. The Raising of Lazarus
The raising of Lazarus from the dead was one of the most remarkable miracles in history. Before this miracle occurred, the Savior had brought two individuals back to life: the daughter of Jairus (see Luke 8:41–42, 49–56) and the son of the widow of Nain (see Luke 7:11–17). However, the raising of Lazarus was different from these miracles and had important purposes, as explained by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“With ‘our friend Lazarus’ it was different. … Two reasons in particular stand out. (1) As our Lord neared the climax of his mortal ministry, he was again bearing testimony, in a way that could not be refuted, of his Messiahship, of his divine Sonship, of the fact that he was in very deed the literal Son of God; and (2) He was setting the stage, so as to dramatize for all time, one of his greatest teachings: That he was the resurrection and the life, that immortality and eternal life came by him, and that those who believed and obeyed his words should never die spiritually” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:531).
John 11:1–16, 21. The Sickness of Lazarus Was for “the Glory of God” and “to the Intent Ye May Believe”
When Lazarus became ill, his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus. Lazarus and his sisters lived in Bethany, which was very close to Jerusalem, and the Savior and His disciples were in Perea, which was at least 25 miles from Bethany. Although His disciples did not immediately comprehend His purposes, the Savior decided to stay where He was for two days before departing to visit the ailing Lazarus. He told the disciples that Lazarus’s sickness was “for the glory of God” (John 11:4). Some of the disciples advised Him not to go into Judea again, “for they feared lest the Jews should take Jesus and put him to death, for as yet they did not understand the power of God” (Joseph Smith Translation, John 11:16 [in John 11:16, footnote a]; see also John 11:8). Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained Jesus’s response, found in John 11:9–10: “Certainly Jesus would go to Judea in spite of the threats of death that faced him there. ‘Though it be the eleventh hour of my life, yet there are twelve hours in the day, and during that designated period, I shall do the work appointed me without stumbling or faltering. This is the time given me to do my work. I cannot wait for the night when perchance the opposition will die down. He that shirks his responsibilities and puts off his labors until the night shall stumble in the darkness and fail in his work’” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:531).
Like the Savior’s disciples, we must be willing to accept the Lord’s timing in our lives, trusting that His purposes will always be for our good. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared the following insights to help us accept the Lord’s timing:
“The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith means trust—trust in God’s will, trust in His way of doing things, and trust in His timetable. We should not try to impose our timetable on His. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell has said:
“‘The issue for us is trusting God enough to trust also His timing. If we can truly believe He has our welfare at heart, may we not let His plans unfold as He thinks best? …’ [Even As I Am, 93] …
“Indeed, we cannot have true faith in the Lord without also having complete trust in the Lord’s will and in the Lord’s timing” (“Timing” [Brigham Young University devotional, Jan. 29, 2002], 2; speeches.byu.edu).
John 11:7–16. Thomas’s Willingness to Die
When the Savior decided to return to Judea despite the dangers there, Thomas said that he would go with Jesus even if it meant dying with Him (see John 11:16). This response shows that Thomas was not an inherent doubter or coward. For more information about the Apostle Thomas’s faithfulness to the Savior, see the commentary for John 20:24–29.
John 11:17, 39. Lazarus Was in the Grave Four Days
Lazarus was dead for four days before the Savior brought him back to life (see John 11:17, 39). Elder Bruce R. McConkie pointed out the significance of these four days: “Decomposition was well under way; death had long since been established as an absolute certainty. … To the Jews the term of four days had special significance; it was the popular belief among them that by the fourth day the spirit had finally and irrevocably departed from the vicinity of the corpse” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:533).
John 11:21–43. The Raising of Lazarus—A Mark of Jesus Christ’s Divinity
President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) taught that the raising of Lazarus witnessed of Jesus Christ’s divinity:
“[The miracle of raising Lazarus] was such irrefutable proof of the Messiahship of Jesus that the Sanhedrin determined Jesus must die because, they said, He ‘doeth many miracles’ which will cause the people to believe (see John 11:47). Sadly, however, John also recorded, ‘But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet [the people] believed not on him’ (John 12:37).
“Today there are unbelievers among us who would spread seeds of heresy that Jesus could not cast out evil spirits, did not walk on the water or heal the sick or miraculously feed 5,000 or calm storms or raise the dead. They would have you believe that such claims are fantastic or that there is a natural explanation for each alleged miracle. Some have gone so far as to publish psychological explanations for His reported miracles. … But I say, Jesus’ entire ministry was a mark of His divinity. He spoke as God, He acted as God, and performed works which only God Himself can do. His works bear testimony of His divinity” (“Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, Dec. 2001, 11).
Although Jesus Christ knew that He would raise Lazarus from death, His tears on this occasion show His compassion for all those who suffer and mourn.
John 11:21–27, 32. Mary and Martha’s Faith
Martha testified that she knew her brother, Lazarus, would rise again in the Resurrection. Her knowledge was expressed in her testimony to the Savior on this occasion: “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God” (John 11:27). Mary also expressed her faith in Him saying, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (John 11:32). These two sisters had great faith in the Savior. For additional insight on Martha’s faith, see the commentary for Luke 10:40–42.
John 11:25–26. “I Am the Resurrection, and the Life”
The Savior’s confirming words, “I am the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25), strengthened Martha’s faith. President Thomas S. Monson used these words to teach about the comfort that comes when we have a testimony of the Resurrection:
“Frequently death comes as an intruder. It is an enemy that suddenly appears in the midst of life’s feast, putting out its lights and gaiety. Death lays its heavy hand upon those dear to us and at times leaves us baffled and wondering. In certain situations, as in great suffering and illness, death comes as an angel of mercy. But for the most part, we think of it as the enemy of human happiness.
“The darkness of death can ever be dispelled by the light of revealed truth. ‘I am the resurrection, and the life,’ spoke the Master. ‘He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die’ [John 11:25–26].
“This reassurance—yes, even holy confirmation—of life beyond the grave could well provide the peace promised by the Savior when He assured His disciples: ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’ [John 14:27]” (“Now Is the Time,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 59).
John 11:33–46. God Hears Our Righteous Petitions
Lazarus was a close friend of Jesus. This loving friendship is evident in the Savior’s emotions at the time of Lazarus’s death (see John 11:35). In our day, the Lord has taught, “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die” (D&C 42:45). The miraculous raising of Lazarus from the dead makes clear that in times of need and sorrow, Heavenly Father hears our petitions to Him.
John 11:49–53. Caiaphas’s “Prophecy”
The great miracle of restoring Lazarus to life caused many Jews who witnessed it to believe in Jesus Christ. When word of this reached the Pharisees, they met in council to deal with the threat to their power and influence with the people. Rather than exercising righteous leadership, they employed priestcraft, fulfilling the prophecy of Jacob uttered centuries earlier: “Because of priestcrafts and iniquities, they at Jerusalem will stiffen their necks against him [Jesus Christ], that he be crucified” (2 Nephi 10:5; see also 2 Nephi 26:29).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained how, at this meeting, Heavenly Father was able to use Caiaphas, an unrighteous leader serving as the high priest, to declare His Son’s redeeming mission:
“Caiaphas began to speak, apparently intending to advocate the death of Jesus as a means of avoiding the supposed ruin that would come upon their nation through his teachings. The high priest’s reasoning seemingly was, ‘It is better that one man should perish’ (1 Ne. 4:13) than that the Jewish nation with all its philosophies and beliefs should be restricted further by Rome through further tumultuous conditions.
“But Deity decreed that Caiaphas affirm his Son’s divinity. Departing from his almost invarying practice of using only righteous persons to give his word to men, God sent the spirit of prophecy to Caiaphas, who was thereby led to say: ‘Ye are ignorant of the divine will where this man is concerned. He has come to work out the infinite and eternal atonement, to be sacrificed for the sins of the world. He shall die for us and for all the people of our nation, and not only for us and our nation, but for all men everywhere. Because of his death and by the preaching of his gospel, he shall gather together into one fold all the obedient among the children of God in all nations, for salvation is by and in and of and through him’” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:535). For additional information concerning Caiaphas, see the commentary for Matthew 26:57.
John 11:53–57. Jesus Departed to Ephraim
After the raising of Lazarus, Jesus Christ departed to the city of Ephraim, out of the reach of the Pharisees, where He awaited the time of His final Passover feast. Meanwhile, the conspiracy to execute Jesus continued to intensify. The Pharisees issued an order saying that if anyone knew where Jesus was, they should notify the authorities, who would arrest Him.
John 12:1–8. Mary Honored the Redeemer (see also Matthew 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9)
On the evening before Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He ate supper in Bethany, and Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were there. Mary’s actions on this occasion demonstrated her deep love for the Savior, as explained by Elder Bruce R. McConkie: “Here sat the Lord of Heaven, in the house of his friends, as the hour of his greatest trials approached, with those who loved him knowing he was soon to face betrayal and crucifixion. What act of love, of devotion, of adoration, of worship, could a mere mortal perform for him who is eternal? Could a loved one do more than David had said the Good Shepherd himself would do in conferring honor and blessing upon another, that is: ‘Thou anointest my head with oil’? (Ps. 23:5.)” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:700).
Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with costly ointment (300 pence was most of an average year’s wages) and then wiped His feet with her hair, underscoring the gratitude she felt for Him. Judas Iscariot, who would soon sell his soul to Lucifer, protested but only to try to cover up his own thievery. Jesus responded to Judas, “Let her alone; for she hath preserved this ointment until now, that she might anoint me in token of my burial” (Joseph Smith Translation, John 12:7 [in John 12:7, footnote a]). The spiritually attuned Mary had prepared for this hour.
John 12:12–19. The Triumphal Entry
John 12:20–26. “Sir, We Would See Jesus”
“Certain Greeks”—perhaps Gentile converts to Judaism—had come to Jerusalem for the Passover, and they approached Philip with the earnest plea, “Sir, we would see Jesus” (John 12:21). The Savior was told of this request, and knowing that the suffering in Gethsemane and on the cross was drawing near, He spoke to the inquirers metaphorically about His upcoming death. He was the “corn [seed] of wheat” that must die so that it could bring forth “much fruit” (John 12:24). Anyone who would “lose” his life by serving and following Him would receive eternal life from the Father (see John 12:25–26). The Savior’s statement that the blessings of the gospel were available to “any man” who would follow Him (John 12:26) foreshadowed the fact that the message of salvation would eventually be taken to all the nations of the earth (see Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8; 10:9–43).
John 12:25. “He That Hateth His Life in This World”
John 12:27–34. “For This Cause Came I unto This Hour”
Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about how these words reflect the submissiveness of the Savior as He approached the Atonement: “When the unimaginable burden began to weigh upon Christ, it confirmed His long-held and intellectually clear understanding as to what He must now do. His working through began, and Jesus declared: ‘Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour.’ Then, whether in spiritual soliloquy or by way of instruction to those about Him, He observed, ‘But for this cause came I unto this hour.’ (John 12:27.)” (“Willing to Submit,” Ensign, May 1985, 72).
John 12:35–36, 46. Those Who Follow Jesus Christ Become “Children of Light”
As His death drew near, the Savior once again declared that He is “the light” and exhorted the people to believe in Him so that they could be “the children of light” (see John 12:35–36, 46). Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles referred to this declaration and emphasized the protective nature of the Light of Jesus Christ enjoyed by those who follow Him:
“We are engaged in a battle between the forces of light and darkness. If it were not for the Light of Jesus Christ and His gospel, we would be doomed to the destruction of darkness. But the Savior said, ‘I am come a light into the world’ [John 12:46]. ‘He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life’ [John 8:12].
“The Lord is our light and, literally, our salvation [see Psalm 27:1]. Like the sacred fire that encircled the children in 3 Nephi [see 3 Nephi 17:24], His light will form a protective shield between you and the darkness of the adversary as you live worthy of it. You need that light. We need that light” (“Out of Darkness into His Marvelous Light,” Ensign, May 2002, 70).
John 12:37–41. Isaiah Saw the Lord Jesus Christ
John confirmed that the Jews fulfilled prophecies of the prophet Isaiah when they rejected Jesus. Isaiah had prophesied that the Jews would despise and reject the Messiah (see Isaiah 53:1–3) because of the blindness of their eyes and the hardness of their hearts (see Isaiah 6:10). John also confirmed that Isaiah had seen the glory of the Savior in vision (see John 12:41; Isaiah 6:1–5; 2 Nephi 11:2–3). By connecting Isaiah’s vision and prophecies with the ministry of Jesus Christ, John reinforced one important theme of his Gospel—that Jesus Christ was indeed Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Lord of Hosts (see John 8:58).
John 12:42–43. “They Loved the Praise of Men More Than the Praise of God”
Some of the chief rulers of the Jews believed in the Savior but refused to openly acknowledge their belief, “for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:43). John’s description of these leaders echoes a warning from the Old Testament: “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25). Elder Robert D. Hales taught that there is danger in making decisions based on what others think about us (“the praise of men”) rather than on what will help us attain eternal life (“the praise of God”):
“Every time we make choices in our lives, we should weigh the ultimate effect our decisions will have on our goal of attaining eternal life. …
“We make poor and irrational decisions if we are motivated by fear: fear of man, fear of not being popular, fear of failure, fear of public opinion” (“Making Righteous Choices at the Crossroads of Life,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, 10–11).
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the principle of “never taking counsel from your fears”: “To not take counsel from our fears simply means that we do not permit fear and uncertainty to determine our course in life. … To not take counsel from our fears means that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ overrules our fears and that we press forward with a steadfastness in Him” (“Fear Not, I Am with Thee,” BYU–Hawaii commencement address, Dec. 15, 2012; byuh.edu).
John 12:47–50. Men Shall Be Judged by the Words of Jesus Christ
Judaism held staunchly to the belief that the law of Moses, given by Jehovah, was the standard by which His people would be judged at the last day. When the Savior declared, “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48), He stated that He was Jehovah, the God of Israel, by equating His words with the words of Jehovah. Jesus then testified that He had said only what God had commanded Him to say (see John 12:49–50), affirming that He is God’s messenger—“the Word” of God (John 1:1).
John 13:1–17. The Savior’s Washing of His Disciples’ Feet
John’s Gospel does not record all the events of the Last Supper. John chose to focus on the Savior’s washing of the disciples’ feet at the conclusion of the meal and also on the Savior’s discourse to His disciples. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that the Savior’s washing of the disciples’ feet showed His “unfailing devotion” to His disciples:
“In the midst of [the Last Supper], Christ quietly arose, girded himself as a slave or servant would, and knelt to wash the Apostles’ feet. (See John 13:3–17.) This small circle of believers in this scarcely founded kingdom were about to pass through their severest trial, so he would set aside his own increasing anguish in order that he might yet once more serve and strengthen them. It does not matter that no one washed his feet. In transcendent humility he would continue to teach and to cleanse them. He would to the final hour—and beyond—be their sustaining servant. As John wrote, who was there and watched the wonder of it all, ‘Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.’ (John 13:1.)
“So it had been, and so it was to be—through the night, and through the pain, and forever. He would always be their strength, and no anguish in his own soul would ever keep him from that sustaining role” (
John 13:4–12. Washing of Feet Is a Gospel Ordinance
The Joseph Smith Translation provides an additional insight into the washing of the disciples’ feet: “Now this was the custom of the Jews under their law; wherefore, Jesus did this that the law might be fulfilled” (Joseph Smith Translation, John 13:10 [in the Bible appendix]). Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that when the Savior washed the disciples’ feet, He fulfilled the law of Moses and performed a gospel ordinance:
“Washing of feet is a gospel ordinance; it is a holy and sacred rite, one performed by the saints in the seclusion of their temple sanctuaries. It is not done before the world or for worldly people. For his day and dispensation Jesus instituted it in the upper room at the time of the Last Supper.
“Our Lord did two things in the performance of this ordinance: 1. He fulfilled the old law given to Moses; and 2. He instituted a sacred ordinance which should be performed by legal administrators among his true disciples from that day forward.
“As part of the restoration of all things, the ordinance of washing of feet has been restored in the dispensation of the fulness of times” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:708).
On December 27, 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation that declared: “Sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean” (D&C 88:74). In that same revelation the Lord commanded the Prophet to organize the School of the Prophets, saying that those who were part of the school “shall be received by the ordinance of the washing of feet” (D&C 88:139). Elder McConkie further explained:
“In the case of [the School of the Prophets] the ordinance [of washing of feet] is to be performed by the President of the Church. In compliance with this revelation the Prophet on January 23, 1833, washed the feet of the members of the school of the prophets [see History of the Church, 1:323]. …
“On March 29 and 30, 1836, [in the newly dedicated Kirtland Temple] the leading brethren, including the First Presidency, Council of the Twelve, bishoprics, and presidents of quorums, participated in the ordinance of washing of feet [see History of the Church, 2:430–31]. …
“Thus the knowledge relative to the washing of feet has been revealed step by step in this day until a full knowledge is now incorporated in the revealed ordinances of the Lord’s house” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:709–10).
John 13:6–10. Peter Objected and Then Consented to Having the Savior Wash His Feet
In New Testament times, people wore open sandals, walked on mostly dirt roads that accumulated the filth of beasts, and had only irregular access to bathing water. Their feet became very dirty, and washing another person’s feet could be a distasteful task. Peter’s initial rejection of the Master’s offer to wash his feet can be understood in light of the fact that this custom of hospitality was usually performed by the lowest level of servants. However, when the Savior explained to Peter that having his feet washed was essential to fellowship with Him, Peter then asked for a more complete washing, which the Savior explained was not necessary. Peter’s request illustrates the respect he had for the Lord and his earnest desire to follow Him completely.
John 13:13–15. Disciples of Jesus Christ Follow His Example
President David O. McKay (1873–1970) saw a great example of service in the ordinance of the Savior washing the disciples’ feet. Speaking to the Church in the April 1951 general conference, when he was sustained by the members as President of the Church, he said:
“When the Savior was about to leave his Apostles, he gave them a great example of service. You remember he girded himself with a towel and washed his disciples’ feet [see John 13:3–17]. …
“What an example of service to those great servants, followers of the Christ! He that is greatest among you, let him be least. So we sense the obligation to be of greater service to the membership of the Church, to devote our lives to the advancement of the kingdom of God on earth” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1951, 158–59).
John 13:17. “If Ye Know These Things, Happy Are Ye If Ye Do Them”
After providing an example of service for His disciples by washing their feet, the Savior taught them that their happiness was contingent upon their service to others. President Thomas S. Monson similarly affirmed this truth: “To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man. Service to others is akin to duty—the fulfillment of which brings true joy” (“Guideposts for Life’s Journey” [Brigham Young University devotional, Nov. 13, 2007], 4; speeches.byu.edu).
John 13:18–30. The Betrayal of Jesus Christ by Judas Iscariot
Judas’s betrayal of the Savior was a direct fulfillment of Psalm 41:9. The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44) explained that those who were once in fellowship with the Lord and the Saints can become enemies of the truth:
“Judas was rebuked and immediately betrayed his Lord into the hands of His enemies, because Satan entered into him.
“There is a superior intelligence bestowed upon such as obey the Gospel with full purpose of heart, which, if sinned against, the apostate is left naked and destitute of the Spirit of God, and he is, in truth, nigh unto cursing, and his end is to be burned. When once that light which was in them is taken from them they become as much darkened as they were previously enlightened, and then, no marvel, if all their power should be enlisted against the truth, and they, Judas-like, seek the destruction of those who were their greatest benefactors” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 321; see also Alma 24:30).
John 13:23. “There Was Leaning on Jesus’ Bosom One of His Disciples”
In New Testament times, those dining at formal meals often reclined on low couches placed around tables, leaning on their left arms with their heads toward the table and their feet pointed away from the table. Therefore, the guest seated to the right of the host would have leaned toward the host. This appears to have been where the Apostle John sat, “leaning on Jesus’ bosom,” or reclining toward Jesus, during the meal (compare Luke 16:22). This position would have allowed John, the disciple “whom Jesus loved,” to have private conversations with the Savior that would not have been heard by everyone at the meal, such as the one concerning Judas’s betrayal (see John 13:23–28).
John 13:26–27. What Is a “Sop”?
The “sop” described in John 13:26 was a small piece of bread that those dining would use to scoop broth and meat from a bowl. Since it was a gesture of kindness and respect for a host to dip a sop and give it to a dinner guest, the Savior by this act presented Judas with an offer of friendship, perhaps one final opportunity for him to abandon his planned betrayal. The Savior gave a sop to Judas, after which “Satan entered into him” (John 13:27). By saying to Judas, “That thou doest, do quickly” (John 13:27), the Lord showed that He already knew what Judas had determined to do and that the time had come for him to act upon his final decision.
John 13:34–35. Disciples of Jesus Christ Are Distinguished by Love
After the Savior dismissed Judas, the setting was prepared for the Savior to give important teachings to the rest of the Apostles, as recorded in John 13:31–16:33. One of the first such teachings was the commandment to love others (see John 13:34–35). This commandment is also found in Leviticus 19:18. However, whereas in the Old Testament we are exhorted to love our neighbors as ourselves, here the Savior commands us to love one another as He loves us.
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asked members of the Church this question: “What quality defines us best as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”
“Love is the beginning, the middle, and the end of the pathway of discipleship. It comforts, counsels, cures, and consoles. It leads us through valleys of darkness and through the veil of death. In the end love leads us to the glory and grandeur of eternal life. …
“Brethren and sisters, as you prayerfully consider what you can do to increase harmony, spirituality, and build up the kingdom of God, consider your sacred duty to teach others to love the Lord and their fellowman. This is the central object of our existence. Without charity—or the pure love of Christ—whatever else we accomplish matters little. With it, all else becomes vibrant and alive.
“When we inspire and teach others to fill their hearts with love, obedience flows from the inside out in voluntary acts of self-sacrifice and service. …
“When Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment to ‘love one another; as I have loved you’ [John 13:34], He gave to them the grand key to happiness in this life and glory in the next.
“Love is the greatest of all the commandments—all others hang upon it. It is our focus as followers of the living Christ” (“The Great Commandment,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 28–31).
As you studied the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, found in John 11:17–45, what principles did you learn that can help you have confidence in the power of the Savior? What did you learn that can help you receive comfort through the Savior’s power?
What are some ways we might be tempted to seek “the praise of men more than the praise of God”? (John 12:43). What do you think are the consequences of doing so?
How have opportunities to give service to others brought greater happiness into your life?
Points to Ponder
As you study the raising of Lazarus, found in John 11:17–45, look for similarities between this miracle and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. How do you think this miracle may have prepared the Savior’s disciples to believe in His Resurrection?
Identify one or two people you can show greater love to this week. Plan ways you can demonstrate that love for them, and then carry out those plans.