Chapter 13 Outline thus far:
Vs 1, The Love of Jesus Christ.
Vs 2, 18, 21-30, Demon Influence and Possession.
Vs 3, Personal Sense of Destiny – Plan of God – Dominion, Advent, Seated at the Right Hand of the Father.
Vs. 4, Priestly, Humble Servanthood of Jesus Christ – Preparation for Service.
John 13:4 – Preparation for Service
John 13:3, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God,”
To introduce this verse, we look back to the beginning of verse 3 and the word “knowing.” It is a Participle of Cause in the Nominative Case, which presents the subject of the sentence. The participle of cause indicates a cause or reason or grounds for action. It answers the question why? The subject here is what Jesus knows at this time. We could say then “that because Jesus knew something He did something.”
John 13:4, “got up* from supper, and laid* aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.”
The causal participle precedes the verb it modifies. The verb this participle modifies is found in verse 4, “rose” – egeiretai – ἐγείρεται.
In regards to the causal participle Wallace states, “Thus form follows function. That is, the cause of an action precedes the action.” (Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, pg. 631)
So, we see that the cause of the action to take place in verses 4-11 is our Lord’s Personal Sense of Destiny, (Problem Solving Device #7), noted in verse 3.
What does it mean to have this type of knowledge, the broad-brush strokes of God’s Plan for your life? It means you have a Personal Sense of Destiny as Jesus did.
It is no coincidence that verse 3 is inserted between verse 2, (the plot of betrayal by Judas Iscariot), and verse 4, (the preparation for washing the disciple’s feet).
You see between sin and the cross is knowledge.
Between sin and the cross is our Lord’s Personal Sense of Destiny.
Therefore, our Lord’s PSD became His cause leading to His action.
Principle: You can’t have an honorable action without an honorable cause.
In fact, you should not have any action at all without understanding God’s Plan for your life. Otherwise your action will be fruitless.
Remember how this chapter began. It began with Jesus knowing His hour had come and that Judas would betray Him. It began with knowledge, and with knowledge there is power.
Prov 24:5, “A wise man is strong, and a man of knowledge increases power.”
So, what is the power that this Problem-Solving Device has?
Well, here Jesus knows of His impending earthly doom, and He knows a close friend is about to betray Him.
Yet, with the weight of all that knowledge, what was He able to do? He was able to calmly and confidently serve and teach. He was able to go on with the job at hand as prescribed by the Father.
Why? Because He also possessed and maintained the knowledge base that comes with having a Personal Sense of Destiny. That is, in addition to knowing of what the world had to offer Him, (friendship betrayal, heart ache, and difficulties), He also knew that the Father had already glorified Him, His reason for being here, and the promises of His final glorified state.
That same knowledge base that our Lord possessed and maintained should also be in your heart too. You have been given that same knowledge. The question is, “Do you possess and maintain it?”
As we have noted, verse 1 introduces this scene, and verses 2 & 3 are a parenthesis, showing the backdrop to this scene, Judas’ scheming and Jesus’ recalling.
Then we have in verse 4, “He rose* up from supper, and laid* aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.”
In the New American Standard Bible, the words “rose” and “laid” have asterisks (*) before them. The NASB states, “Asterisks are used to mark verbs that are ‘Historical/Dramatic’ Present Tense in the Greek which have been translated with an English Past Tense in order to conform to modern usage.”
With these verbs, the translators recognized that in some contexts, the present tense seems more unexpected and unjustified to the English reader than a past tense would have been. But Greek authors frequently used the present tense for the sake of heightened vividness; thereby, transporting their readers in imagination to the actual scene at the time of occurrence. However, the translators felt that it would be wise to change these historical presents to English past tenses.
The first word to note is the Verb EGEIRO – ἐγείρω (eg-i’-ro) in the Present, Passive/Middle, Indicative.
EGEIRO means, “to waken, to raise up, rouse (literally from sleep, from sitting or lying, from disease, from death; or figuratively from obscurity, inactivity, ruins, or nonexistence).” This word is also used for, “resurrection, rising from the dead,” as first used in Mat 11:5 regarding resurrection.
Here it is used for getting up from the table.
This is an Historical or Dramatic Present Tense Retained in Indirect Discourse that is used for vividness to place the reader in the midst of the action. It is translated in the past tense for our understanding. It is used in indirect discourse as John tells the story.
The Passive/Middle Voice tells us that Jesus Christ performs the action, as well as benefits from the action. He is the One who is rising from the Table. In addition, as noted previously, the cause of His rising is His Personal Sense of Destiny.
As an asterisked verb in the English translation of the Present, Passive/Middle, we would literally say, “rising.”.
Then we have “from Supper” – DEIPNON – δεῖπνον (dipe’-non). This is the Passover Supper as noted in verse 1.
Then we have “and laid aside”, which is KAI – καί (kahee), plus the Greek verb TITHEMI – τίθημι (tith’-ay-mee) in the Present, Active, Indicative. It means, “to place, lay, set, or put.”
This is another asterisked verb in the English translation as a Retained in Indirect Discourse Present Tense, also in the Dramatic Present Tense, to show the prominence of the events to follow. It means, “to place them in a neat pile.” It doesn’t say, “He took off His clothing.” It means, “having taken them off, He placed them or hung them up.”
The Active Voice tells us Jesus placed His clothing, His outer garments.
The Indicative Mood is for the reality of the action.
Because of the Present Tense in the Active Voice, we would literally say, “laying aside.” But that too does not fit the English, in this case, so the Past Tense is applied, “laid aside.”
The analogy of our Lord “laying aside His garment” is that Jesus Christ becomes the servant of all at the Cross. The Apostles were all dressed up, yet they had dirty feet. Jesus Christ is all undressed and clean, looking like a servant ready to serve.
So, the dramatic scene unfolds, no pun intended, as our Lord interrupts the dinner by quietly rising from the table, taking off His outer garment, and slowly and purposefully laying it aside. He then does one more thing to set the tone for what is about to occur.
Because the next phrase is “taking a towel He girded Himself about,” which begins with the nominative participle LAMBANO – λαμβάνω (lam-ban’-o) in the Aorist Tense and Active Voice, which means, “to take or having taken.”
Then we have the noun LENTION that means “a line cloth” or “towel”. LENTION – λέντιον (len’-tee-on) is a special word and is like a beach towel that is an article belonging to a servant in which he uses one end of the towel to wash the feet and the other end to dry as he strings it around his neck. That is why He didn’t wear His garments, because He would get dirty in the process of washing their feet.
Next, we have the verb DIAZONNUMI in the Aorist, Active, Indicative meaning, “to gird.”
DIAZONNUMI – διαζώννυμι (dee-az-own’-noo-mee) is a compound word made up of the primary preposition DIA – διά (dee-ah’) and ZONNUMI – ζώννυμι (dzone’-noo-mi).
DIA means, “through, on account of, because of.” It denotes the channel of an act. Its emphasis is for a purposeful act.
ZONNUMI means, “to gird or bind about.” The root word ZONE – ζώνη (dzo’-nay) means, “a belt.”
So, with the idea of “through” in DIAZONNUMI it means, “service through the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Dramatic Aorist Tense views the action in the present with Semitic coloring.
The Active Voice — Jesus Christ prepares Himself for service.
The Indicative Mood is for the reality of the situation. It indicates past time with reference to the time of speaking. “He girded himself.”
The first mention of “girded” in the Bible, by no coincidence, has to do with the preparation of the Passover in Ex0 12:11.
Ex0 12:11, “Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the LORD’S Passover.”
In this act, our Lord instructed the Israelites to eat the Passover Supper in such a way that they were prepared to move at a moment’s notice. In analogy to our Lord’s actions, He was demonstrating His preparedness to serve all of mankind at the Cross.
Also, we see the first mention of “gird” is by no coincidence the preparation and dressing of the High Priest, in order to conduct his priestly service in Exo 29:5. This is also seen in Lev 8. Notice the analogies of Aaron’s consecration to the work of our Lord.
Ex 29:5, “You shall take the garments, and put on Aaron the tunic and the robe of the ephod and the ephod and the breastpiece, and gird him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod.”
The ephod was a breastplate adorned with 12 gems. Each gem represented a Tribe of Israel. The ephod represented all the people as the High Priest served in his priestly service.
This too is analogous to our Lord who is the High King Priest who came to serve all of mankind through His efficacious work on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
Likewise, in the New Testament, the first mention of “gird” has to do with preparation for service in regards to our Lord.
Luke 12:37, “Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.”
Here, the Greek word is PERIZONNUMI – περιζώννυμι (per-id-zone’-noo-mee) with the prefix preposition PERI – περί (per-ee’), which means, “around or about.”
“Gird” is also seen in Acts 12:28.
Acts 12:8, “And the angel said to him (Peter), “Gird yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” This is the account of Peter being freed from jail so that he could continue his ministry.
Here the Greek word is the root word Zonnumi – ζώννυμι (dzone’-noo-mi). And finally, the first mention of “girded” is our text of John 13:4. Other honorable mentions for gird are found in:
Jer 1:17, “Now, gird up your loins and arise, and speak to them all which I command you. Do not be dismayed before them, or I will dismay you before them.”
Job 38:3, “Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me!” w/ 40:7.
“In Job 38:2-3, God told Job to get ready for His questions. (Brace yourself like a man; cf. 40:7, is literally, “gird up your loins like a man.” gabar – גָּבַר – (gaw-bar’) = “strong man,” that is, tuck your outer robe-like garment into your sash-belt as a man does before taking on a strenuous task such as running or fighting in a battle, Ex. 12:11; 1 Kings 18:46.) Job was to be alert so he could answer God intelligently. This is a striking reversal of Job’s words to God, “Let the Almighty answer me,” (31:35). Job the plaintiff had now become the defendant! Then in Job 40:6-8, again speaking out of the storm (cf. comments on 38:1) God repeated verbatim His previous challenge (38:3) that Job brace himself like a man and that he answer God’s questions. “ (Bible Knowledge Commentary)
Eph 6:14-15, “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”
“Gird” is also accompanied with sackcloth and lamenting (pictures of mourning) in Jeremiah and other Old Testament texts.
So, we could say of verse 4, “Our Lord purposefully rose from the table, took off His outer garment, and neatly hung it up, and then wrapped a towel around Himself, in preparation for service.”