John 13: "Love One Another"

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 86–87


The events in John 13 occurred the evening before Jesus was crucified. John’s testimony of what Jesus did and said that evening is recorded in this chapter and continues through John 17. Because Jesus knew what was about to happen, He gave His disciples teachings He thought they should have before He died. What He said to and about His disciples in those days also applies to His disciples today.

Understanding the Scriptures

John 13

Girded himself (v. 4)Tied it around himself 
Needeth not save to (v. 10)Only needs to 
Clean every whit (v. 10)Is completely clean 
Lifted up his heel against me (v. 18)A symbolic way of saying betrayed or turned against 
Beckoned (v. 24)Nodded his head 

John 13:25—“Lying on Jesus’ Breast”

At the time of Jesus, the people ate meals on the ground, leaning on their elbow or on a pillow of some kind with their feet away from the table (see accompanying illustration). It was customary to lean on the left side so one could eat with the right hand. So whoever was on the right side of Jesus would only have had to lean back to have his head on Jesus’ breast.

Last Supper

John 13:34–35—A New Commandment

In the Old Testament Jesus taught His people to love others (see Leviticus 19:18), but this new commandment was to love “as I have loved you” (John 13:34). As He demonstrated by His Atonement, the way Jesus has and does love us is a deep, self-sacrificing love that has the eternal welfare of another as a highest priority. President Howard W. Hunter taught: “We need to be kinder with one another, more gentle and more forgiving. We need to be slower to anger and more prompt to help. We need to extend the hand of friendship and resist the hand of retribution [revenge]. In short, we need to love one another with the pure love of Christ, with genuine charity and compassion and, if necessary, shared suffering, for that is the way God loves us” (“Come to the God of All Truth,” Ensign, Sept. 1994, 72).

Studying the Scriptures

Do activities A and B as you study John 13.

Activity A iconHow Is It Different? How Can It Make a Difference?

  1. 1.

    Consider what Jesus did in John 13:1–17 and write about the ways Jesus taught the disciples about leadership that are different from what the world usually describes as leadership.

  2. 2.

    Write about a time when one of your Church leaders or someone in the scriptures acted in the way Jesus taught His disciples to act.

Activity B iconThe True Test

  1. 1.

    According to John 13:34–35, how can others know if we are disciples of Jesus Christ?

  2. 2.

    Suggest some specific ways a person who is trying to be a true disciple of Christ (according to what Jesus said in John 13:34–35) might respond in the following situations:

    1. a.

      There is a person at your school no one really likes because this student says and does things that keep him or her from fitting in and being accepted by other students and dresses in ways that are the object of jokes and teasing.

    2. b.

      You see a new person at Church.