Advent - Joy

Scripture: Luke 1:39-56

I was considering our Advent theme for this week and was thinking that as much joy there is in the first coming of Jesus, the Bible must say something about it. I began looking and sure enough, I found joy in Luke chapter one. There is joy and rejoicing for Jesus before He is born, while He is still in Mary’s womb. The people who were involved were surely overwhelmed at times with the complicated circumstance, but they did have a great sense of joy.

The text we read today records a trip that Mary took to see her relative, Elizabeth. Mary’s song beginning in v46 is called the “Magnificat” which means magnify and comes from the Latin translation of the first line. Mary’s song is one of four that Luke gives in the first two chapters.

Joy of the baby John (the Immerser): v41 and 44
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, John the unborn baby leaped in the womb. At that moment the Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth and she interpreted the movement as an expression of joy. Before John’s birth there was something about Jesus’ presence that instigated joy. What is indicted by John’s leap for joy in Elizabeth’s womb? “The messianic era with all its long-awaited joy had now arrived.”

Joy of Mary: v47
She says that her soul magnifies the Lord, that is, it continues to magnify the Lord over and over. Yet, she says that her spirit has rejoiced in God her Savior. That rejoicing was at some point in the past. Maybe it was when the angel Gabriel came and declared to her the news that she would conceive and give birth to a Son by the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Immaculate Conception and birth of Jesus was a cause for great joy for those immediately involved and for those of us who have believed on Him. The coming of the Messiah fulfilled the promises and hopes of old. The Messianic era, though at this time it has not come in its fullest, brings great joy for all peoples. God our Savior has come. He has dealt with the sin problem by going to the cross to bear our penalty as our substitute.

He will appear again which will be the greatest joy we have ever experienced. Can you imagine how glorious and joyful that occasion will be? I want you all to experience that joy. I want all of you to stand together on that Day when Christ returns. It is my earnest desire that the Lord looks at each of you and says, “Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

The only way to enter into that joy is to accept Christ as your Savior and Lord. You must trust Him to save you and abide in His word to receive His joy. Listen to His Word that His joy may remain in you and your joy may be full.

Advent - Hope

I believe that the Bible is the Word of God, uniquely inspired by the Holy Spirit and that is why I do the things that I do, that is why I must say no to certain things and yes to others, that is why I am serious when I come into the pulpit, that is why I teach the way I do, and yet the Bible allows me to rest in faith. That is what I would like to do during this Advent season. I would like to rest in faith, enjoy the Scriptures, and enjoy one another.

This is the Advent Season: 1st Advent- Birth of Christ / 2nd Advent- Return of Christ

Hope is a Natural Human Feeling:
We continually want something to come, happen, be found, change, or turn out well. Many of you are hoping for things right now….

Hope is a Fitting Theme to Begin Advent:
Hope of the Birth of Christ and now hope for the Return of Christ. OT looked forward in hope to the birth and the NT looks forward to the return. These are the Advents, the arrival of something long awaited and so momentous – the presence of Christ, Immanuel.

1. The popular idea of hope is that it is a subjective desire or it is to want something very much.
2. The Biblical idea of hope is that it is Desire + Expectation.

"Hope" in the Scriptures:

I. The Source of our Hope
1) God’s Calling and Salvation – Eph 4:4; 1 Pet 1:3
2) The Holy Spirit – Rom 15:13

II. The Substance of our Hope
1) First and Second Advents of Christ – Tit 2:11-13
2) Resurrection of the Dead – 1 Cor 15:20-23
3) Sharing in God’s Glory – Rom 5:1-2

III. The Value of Hope
1) Defining Element of Christianity – Col 1:3-5
2) Strengthens and Encourages – Phil 1:19-20

God was faithful to His promise that He would crush the serpent’s head, that Abraham's seed would bless all the families of the earth, that He would send one like Moses, that He would send His Servant that Isaiah describes. Christ has come in the flesh, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. John says that he beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. That was the first advent.

And He will be faithful in His promise to return. Christ said that if he went to prepare a place for us that He would come again. That is the second advent. That is our hope!

John 16:16-33 The Upper Room Discourse

Your Joy No One Will Take

We have finally come to the final verses of the Upper Room Discourse. In chapter sixteen verses sixteen through thirty-three Jesus will conclude His teaching ministry. All the things that He had done for the disciples would come to an end that night. He would not be with them physically any longer to guide them, answer their questions, or absorb the hatred directed toward them. Yet, there was one task left to accomplish; the primary reason that Jesus came. He had come into the world to save sinners and that is exactly what He would do the following day at Calvary. He would be glorified; i.e. crucified, resurrected, ascended. Thus, in these verses we will read the final words of Jesus’ teaching/prophetic ministry. His glorification was so sure that He declared at the end of the passage, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

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What is This That He Says [16-19]
The disciples are puzzled by the statement that Jesus makes in verse sixteen. Though, we must admit that it is somewhat strange for Jesus to say, “A little while, and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me.” It was difficult enough to figure out what Jesus meant in chapter fourteen verse nineteen when He said, “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me.”

In fact, the disciples have not even spoken since the last question was posed by Judas (not Iscariot) in chapter fourteen verse twenty-two. There he asked, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world.” This definitely has the disciples talking again and maybe that is exactly what Jesus was provoking. The men could not make any sense of what Jesus meant by this saying. Because they were so confused, the disciples “murmured among themselves” (Yarborough, 165). Of course, this isn’t the first time that they murmured or reasoned among themselves; they had done it on several occasions. This time they could not come up with an answer. The reason they couldn’t decipher the message was because they had “no category to allow them to make sense of a Messiah who would die, rise from the dead, and abandon his people in favour of ‘another Counsellor’” (Carson, 543).

Now Jesus knew that they really wanted to question Him. He could most likely see the puzzled looks on their faces and hear the mumbling around the room. So, Jesus sets us His response by repeating His statement again in verse nineteen: “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.”

Your Sorrow Will Be Turned into Joy [20-24]
In verse twenty Jesus now begins His response to their inquiry and does so with His well known phrase “Most assuredly, I say to you…” (or as the KJV puts it “Verily, verily, I say unto you…”). Jesus uses this phrase “to confirm and emphasize [the following statement’s] trustworthiness and importance” (Carson, 162). Thus, Jesus has no doubt that in just a little while, the disciples would weep, but the world would rejoice.
We know that it would be just a little while and Jesus would be crucified and buried. The disciples would no longer see Him. After another little while He would be raised from the dead and the disciples would be able to see Him once again. During that period of not seeing Jesus the disciples would most certainly weep and lament. The world, though, would count the death of Jesus as terrific and would rejoice over the fact of getting rid of what they considered to be a menace in society. In the last phrase of verse twenty we hear the Gospel message. Christ can turn sorrow to joy and that is exactly what happened for the disciples on resurrection Sunday. Jesus would return to them and their sorrow would be turned to joy.

Next, Jesus uses an illustration of a mother giving birth to describe what He has just said. I think that all the mothers in the room know this verse to be true. I have heard many mothers say, even those who had several complications, that as soon as their child is delivered the pain goes away. I have been told that the process is not even remembered when they are able to hold their baby for the first time. A mother’s heart rejoices to see her child and no one or no thing can take that joy from her. The same would be true of the disciples. They would be sorrowful at the death of their Friend and Master, but that grief would not even be remembered when they saw Him again. Their hearts would rejoice and no one would be able to take their joy from them when Jesus was raised from the dead; that is excitement and that is good news. No one can steal the joy that you have from meeting the risen Savior!

The day would soon come when the disciples would no longer need to ask Jesus about the things that they were having difficulty understanding. Jesus had said so many things about His crucifixion and resurrection for which the disciples simply had no reference. At the time, they could not understand why the Messiah would die. Yet, after the resurrection they would know. In fact, it was when the Apostle John looked into the empty tomb that he says he believed. There questions would be answered, so in that day they would ask Him nothing. They would simply believe. An extension of that faith would be an authentic and healthy prayer life. They would be so immersed in Christ that they could truly ask in His name, i.e. in full accord with His person. The idea of asking in Jesus’ name was detailed in chapter fifteen, but now it is put in proper order according to salvation history. It would be after the glorification of Christ that the disciples would be able to ask the Father for things in Jesus’ name and receive those things which would cause their joy to be full.

I Will Tell You Plainly [25-27]
All the things that Jesus has said throughout the discourse have been said in figurative language; that is mysterious and obscure language. There would be a time when Jesus would tell the disciples “plainly” about the Father; that is openly and clearly. The time that He foretells will be after the crucifixion/resurrection and will be marked by the coming of the Holy Spirit. I think that it is mainly the Spirit of Christ who would speak plainly to the disciples about the Father, but Jesus most certainly spoke to the disciples after the resurrection and before the ascension. I find it interesting that Jesus says that He would tell them about the Father. We may have figured Him to say that He would tell more about His incarnation, or about His death, or about His resurrection. Yet, He says, “I will tell you plainly about the Father.” Jesus always directs our attention to the Father, but in doing so we realize that Jesus is the ultimate self-revelation of the Father. If you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father. If you understand the person of Jesus then you understand the person of the Father.
We have talked at length about praying in Jesus’ name. He has spoken of it at several points during the discourse. We are now told that in the power of Christ’s name they would bring their requests directly to the Father. They may not understand it yet, but the righteousness that Jesus’ would secure for them at Calvary would be their means of personally and individually entering into the presence of God the Father. How would they receive the power associated with Jesus’ name? Verse twenty-seven tells us that the Father already loved those disciples because they had loved Jesus and had believed that He came forth from God. God loves the whole world, He has demonstrated that in the sending of His Son, still He loves believers in a different way and shows that by satisfying their requests when made in accord with the person of Jesus (His name).

I Have Overcome the World [28-33]
Verse twenty-eight is one of those plain statements that Jesus says He will soon share. In two sentences He describes “the great movement of salvation” (Morris, 630). First, Jesus came forth from the Father. He was in a heavenly abode in a state of unconstrained glory. He was then commissioned by the Father with a task. Second, Jesus came into the world. This speaks of the incarnation. This is what John said in chapter one with the expression, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus humbled Himself to become a man and even went as far as death, even death on a cross. Yet, He was raised from the dead three days later. Third, after completing the task that He was commissioned to do Jesus left the world and went back to the Father. The ministry of Christ came full circle. He was sent out as the unique, self-sacrificing ambassador of God the Father and He returned to Him after accomplishing the mission.

That is clear and understandable! The disciples even consider these two sentences to be plain enough. Yet, I can’t help to think to myself, Had they not heard anything that Jesus had said during His ministry? Over and over again Jesus had told them that He had come from the Father. Again, over and over He had told them that He had to die and be raised again. The disciples have practically fooled themselves into thinking that they now could truly “hear” Jesus. They declare, “By this we believe that You came forth from God.” This is not a statement of complete understanding, but it does show that they are confident that Jesus certainly does have all the answers. Their faith was still weak and their understanding was definitely still lacking, but at the very least they believed that Jesus was who He claimed to be: the One come forth from God.

With a hint of sarcasm Jesus responds, “Do you now believe?” The slight understanding that they seemingly had that night would not be lasting. They would be scattered in fear and sorrow. Jesus would be without His “friends” as He went to the cross. They make a bold confession of their faith and almost immediately fail when challenged by a testing situation. It reminds me of Peter who in Matthew sixteen makes the bold confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” and then almost immediately rebukes Jesus and is told “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” How typical this is of us humans! We are boldly confident, sure in our faith, and when the first test comes we are weak and vulnerable. What we realize in the Gospel message though is that when we are weak Christ is strong. We are not saved based on our righteousness, but on His. When we fail, we can turn right back to God. We can confess our sins and He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Though Jesus would be without these men, He assures them that He will not be alone because the Father is with Him.

These things have been said that the disciples may have peace. Jesus has given several reasons for saying what He has said. He has said that He wants them to believe, He wants them to have joy, and He wants them to abide in His love. Now He returns to peace. Peace that surpasses understanding is what the disciples needed in just a few short moments as the night and next day became chaotic. The entire discourse has been a means of preparing the disciples, giving them peace though they would face tribulation.

Until Christ returns, Christians hold citizenship in both the world and the kingdom of God. Notice the contrast in our final verse of being “in” Christ and “in” the world. Jesus says that in Him we may have peace and in the world we will have tribulation. With or without Christ, this world is full of tribulation. The questions is, are you in Christ? Do you have His peace? The Lord knew full well that the disciples would abandon Him and scatter and yet He still promises them peace. He looked forward to their time of restoration. How sovereign, forgiving, and provisional our God is in Jesus Christ!

The last phrase of the Upper Room Discourse serves as a great conclusion to this sermon and our study as a whole. Jesus affirms, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” The Son would not be overcome by the world when He went to the cross, but would in fact overcome the world. The word overcome “indicates victory; Jesus has conquered the world, in the same way that he has defeated the prince of this world” (Carson, 550). Those who put their faith in Christ will face tribulation in this world like anyone else and will even face opposition, but they can be at peace knowing that they share the victory that Christ has already guaranteed by dieing to sin once-for-all on that tree. He has obtained eternal redemption by His blood. Peace that surpasses all understanding is available to those who put their faith in Him.

John 16:1-15 The Upper Room Discourse

It is to Your Advantage

The previous chapter ended with Jesus speaking of the world’s hatred toward Him and His followers. This chapter begins with some of the actions that result from the world’s hatred. Jesus warns the disciples ahead of time so that when the persecution started they would remember that He had told them. We are also reminded that Jesus said all of these things while being present with those men, but He would be leaving. What may have been difficult for them to understand was that it was to their advantage (and ours) that Jesus would leave. It would mean that the Father’s plan had been fulfilled and that the Spirit had come to abide for the rest of the age.

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They Have Not Known the Father Nor Me [1-4]
Jesus continually states various reasons for saying all of these things. Here he gives another reason which is so that they may not stumble. This word “stumble” can be understood to mean “go astray,” but there are also elements of surprise and the sense of being trapped. Jesus tells His disciples these things so they are not caught off guard or find themselves in a trap and end up in apostasy, i.e. losing their faith. We can not even imagine the hardship they would face for believing on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. There would be no peace and joy from the world.

Jesus gives them a preview of what would come and says that they would be put out of synagogues and even killed “in service of God.” We know this to be true not only from secular history, but from our own biblical record. Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul, was one of the fiercest persecutors of the early church. He was very busy dragging off men and women from their houses and synagogues and committing them to prison. He was consenting to the deaths of many including Stephen, the first recorded martyr. He did it all thinking that he was being obedient to the will of God. That is terrifying. Yet, the same is happening today all around the world. There are those who go out seeking to harm and even murder Christians in the name of “God.” This has happened in our own back yard, so can you imagine what it is like to be a Christian in a foreign country? Please pray for your brothers and sisters around the world. Pray that they will not be made to stumble, but will receive the distress in Jesus’ name.

Why will they do these things? They do not know the Father nor the Son. These things would happen because of an ignorance of God. This ignorance was not because they had not heard or read about God, but because they had not truly experienced Him. They had not been born again, but had relied on themselves, their own knowledge and thoughts. Check yourself this morning to make sure that you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God is in you. Jesus explained it best in one line, “If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” What the majority of first century Jews counted as light in their lives was actually darkness and how great was that darkness!

When the persecution came the disciples would remember what Jesus told them. He didn’t have to say this before because He was with them. While Jesus was with them He could absorb the attacks of the adversaries and provide guidance for His disciples. Now He is leaving.
Sorrow has Filled Your Heart [5-6]
The language of the first phrase in verse five is that of an ambassador returning to his commissioner after completing his charge. It is “now” that Jesus will return to the One who sent Him. We know who He is talking about. He speaks of the Father in heaven. There is a particular destination to which He will return. Jesus will not complete His task and then ride off into the sunset. He will go to the cross and say “It is finished,” rise from the dead three days later, and afterward ascend back to the right hand of the Father. In John 20:17, after the resurrection, Jesus says to Mary, “Go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father….”

The disciples are so sorrowful after hearing this news that they can not even ask the right questions. Jesus is fully aware of their grief and even says so. Yet, the disciples were so worried about their own well being that they had not truly inquired about Jesus’ destination. They may have asked this question before, but for only selfish reasons. They had not honestly asked about Jesus’ departure and destination. “There was little concern about his future; they were interested mainly in their own future” (Tenney, 156).

It is to Your Advantage [7-11]
“From the thought of the persecutions his followers must face [and the grief of the Master’s departing], Jesus turns to the resources available to them” (Morris, 617). Here is the truth: it is to their advantage that Jesus leaves. First, it would mean that the mission was accomplished. Second, it would mean that the Spirit was coming.

The Spirit will specifically convict the world of three things: sin, righteousness, and judgment. The word “world” must not mean “all people on earth” as it sometimes does because of the context. Jesus has already determined the meaning of “world” in the discourse when He contrasted the world with the disciples. The “world” must be unbelievers who by nature hate the Christ and His people. Thus, the Spirit’s ministry of conviction is spoken of here as being carried out in the world of unbelievers.

It is no mystery what Jesus describes the Spirit as doing. He explains for us the details of each part of the ministry throughout verses nine through eleven. First, in verse nine Jesus says that the Spirit will convict the world of sin “because they do not believe.” Notice that the word “sin” is singular. The Spirit is not said to convict unbelievers of all their sins, but of one sin in particular; the sin of unbelief. This is a serious and significant ministry because “blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven” (Matt 12:31). The Spirit declares the world “guilty” and applies that to the individual; otherwise we would never come to the realization that we are sinners. Second, in verse ten the Spirit is said to convict the world of righteousness because Jesus goes to His Father and will not be seen anymore. It is the Spirit’s task to convince people that their own righteousness is not sufficient in the eyes of God. The Spirit assures individuals that the righteousness of Christ is all that they need to be justified before God. This is righteousness: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Third, in verse eleven Jesus says that the Spirit convicts the world of judgment “because the ruler of this world is judged.” By laying down His life on the cross, Jesus would condemn once and for all the satanic rebellion. Satan has been judged and condemned permanently. Jesus did this by demonstrating perfect and complete obedience/faithfulness to the Father, even to the point of death.
“Sin, righteousness, and judgment are all to be understood because of the way they relate to the Christ” (Morris, 620). This is one of the major works of the Holy Spirit in the unbelieving world. He convicts the world because of the revelation of Christ Jesus.

The Spirit of Truth [12-15]
Many things are left unsaid because they can’t bear them at that point in time. Only so much can be said when someone is operating only by their emotions and these men were full of sorrow. During the Upper Room Discourse Jesus has focused on preparing His disciples for the more immediate future which would involve betrayal, denial, scattering, fear, false accusations, beatings, and murder. The disciples could only hear so many things that night and though many more details would be shared with them, now was not the place or time.

What they are promised is that the Spirit will say those necessary things later by guiding them into all truth. The Spirit is in perfect harmony with the Father and the Son. He will hear, speak, and tell things to come in accord with them. It is appropriate that the Spirit of Truth is the One who would be the guide who leads into “all truth.” You want a lawyer to lead you into the courtroom, a mechanic to take your car into the shop, a fireman to put out your fire, a doctor to care for you in the hospital and, let me assure you, you want the Spirit of Truth to lead you into all truth! Here is the authority for the New Testament writers to record Holy Scripture. The Spirit called to their remembrance and taught them all the things that Jesus said. The Holy Spirit led them into all truth as they recorded it in the New Testament.

Take note that the Spirit does not draw attention to Himself. Without fail He continuously points to Christ. He will glorify Christ in all that He does. There is no competition in the Persons of the Triune God. The Son willingly came to glorify the Father and the Spirit has willingly come to glorify the Son “that God may be all in all.” Therefore, be clear on this according to the word of the Lord: the Spirit does not attract attention to Himself, but to the Lord Jesus Christ.

In making Christ the center of attention, the Spirit takes of the things of Jesus and declares it to believers. These things are also the Fathers. Thus, we can say that the things of God are applied to believers by the Holy Spirit. What are the things of God? Some of these things have been mentioned in the Upper Room such as cleansing, a permanent home, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the words of the Lord, eternal peace, the love of Christ, fulfilling joy, and everlasting life. These are available because of the sacrifice of Christ on the tree. Romans 5:5 is a great illustration of what Jesus has said. The Apostle Paul asserts, “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Day after day the Spirit declares to you the Good News that Christ has died for you. Christ has died for you!

It is to our advantage that Christ physically left His first disciples. Yes, they had sorrow in their hearts, but that sorrow was soon turned to joy when the Lord arose from the dead. The Spirit declared to them all the things of Christ and that message has been given to us that we may believe on His name and be saved. Be thankful today for the Spirit’s ministry in the lives of the Apostles and their faithfulness in the midst of a hateful world. They are the foundation of the church. The truth that the Spirit pressed upon them has been documented in this book called the Bible (including John). May the Spirit enlighten our hearts that we may understand it as well.

John 15:12-27 The Upper Room Discourse

A Servant is Not Greater Than His Master

At the beginning of the chapter we were told to “abide,” that is, abide in Christ and in His love. In that teaching we were warned by Christ’s parable of the vine and the branches. Why does it serve as a warning? It is a warning because unproductive branches are cut off and burned. There is judgment for those who are seemingly connected to the vine, but are not putting forward fruit. In this passage Jesus declares His disciples to be His friends and just as He wanted them to remain in Him, He now says that He wants their fruit to remain as well. So the long passages found in chapter fifteen are most definitely connected in thought. Jesus has chosen the men to be His friends so that they can produce fruit that will remain in the midst of the world’s hatred and even harsh persecution. It would be all for Christ’s name’s sake, so He would send a Helper testify of Him and help the disciples to bear witness of Jesus.

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You are My Friends [12-17]
Greater love has no one than to lay down his life for his friends. There is a fundamental change from the Old Covenant to the New: ‘servants’ give way to ‘friends’ (Carson, 510). We know our Master’s plan because the mysteries of God have been revealed to us. And with great knowledge comes great responsibility. Take note that Jesus wants obedient friends. Just because we are friends doesn’t mean that there is not a hierarchy in the relationship. Christ is the Head of every man, though they may be His friends.

Jesus calls His disciples “friends” for three reasons. First, He says they are friends if they do whatever He commands. Jesus wants obedient, faithful friends. Second, He says they are friends because a servant does not know what his master is doing. The disciples do know what the Lord is doing. Only friends know the private plans of another. Third, Jesus says they are friends because He chose them. It was Jesus who sought them out, called them to accompany Him, shared His plans with them, and ultimately died for them. Jesus chose those men.

Let me now answer this question, why were the disciples chosen? First of all, they were chosen to bear fruit. Secondly, they were chosen so that their fruit should remain. Just as they were to “abide” in Him, their fruit was also to “abide.” Finally, Jesus says that the disciples were chosen so that whatever they ask the Father in His name it would be given to them. This last part sums up several parts. This asking and receiving is predicated upon all that it means to abide in Christ.

Verses twelve through seventeen are bracketed at beginning and end by the same idea: Christ’s commandment is that His disciples love one another. Yet, the Lord has commanded spoken many commandments that we are to obey. How can He now say that He has a single commandment? “…Here He names only one, for it includes all others” (Harrison, 92). Jesus has maintained this position throughout His ministry. He has taught that love is the fulfillment of all the Law and the Prophets (love God is 1A and love neighbor is 1B, together they fulfill the Law). The Apostle’s also continued this teaching (see Romans 13:8 and Galatians 5:14).

Remember back to chapter thirteen, verse thirty-four where Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” This commandment that we are to obey by loving one another is governed by the phrase “as I have loved you.” How are we to love one other as Christ loved us? It relates back to the vine and branch illustration. I said that the same nutrients that run through the vine also run through the branches. You see, “…the love of Christ becomes our love which flows out to other believers”; all the branches share the same nutrients; all the disciples share the same love (Harrison, 92). Therefore, as Christ “expresses this love for [us] in death, [we] can surely express it toward one another in life” (Harrison, 93).

Therefore the World Hates You [18-20]
All of this talk about fruit leads to the next piece. As Jesus’ ministry/life proved and you know by personal experience, fruit will not come from every encounter with the world. Everything about the “world” hated Jesus. This has been a major point in John’s Gospel from the beginning. John 1:4 says, “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” and verse ten goes on to say, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” On every side, Jesus faced opposition. The disciples would be in the same boat because they bore Jesus’ name. They were His disciples, His friends. The darkness likes more darkness, but is fiercely opposed to light and Jesus told them to let their light shine.

The world hates Jesus’ disciples precisely because they are not of this world. Yet, this is not strange. We should not be surprised by this resistance. The world “detests the other-worldliness of the Lord’s people” (Harrison, 93-94). We are foreigners in this world, simply pilgrims who are passing through.

The principle that Jesus bases this teaching on is important. This is obvious because the exact phrase is used twice in the discourse. He says, “A servant is not greater than his master.” The disciples would be treated by the world the same way it had treated their Master. What was the general response? The majority rejected His words and persecuted Him, while a small minority received Him. The same would be true of the disciples. Of course, this does not hold true for those who claim the name of Christ, but constantly compromise with the world. I think it would be a good thing to check our selves from time to time and make sure we are not conforming.

For My Name’s Sake [21-25]
Maybe you were relaxing because you read the word “if” in verse eighteen, but do not be confused. Jesus says in verse twenty-one that they “will” do these things to His disciples. The world will hate and persecute the believer specifically because he/she bears Christ’s name. “The root cause of persecution is now traced to the world’s ignorance of God” (Morris, 603). Jesus says that the world does not know the one who sent Him, namely our Father God. Also, we must add, the disciples would receive hate and persecution in Christ’s name. That would serve as a witness to the truth of the Gospel. We have not suffered this type of persecution in our life-times, but we may experience it shortly. The ruler of this world walks about this country like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour and he has fooled many. Uphold the name of Christ proudly and gracefully, but be aware that persecution may soon come.

People today prefer to remain neutral, either consciously or subconsciously, in reference to religion. Most people will talk about “God” with no reference to Christianity or the Bible. Yet, I must say that Christians are called “Christians” because we believe that God has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. There is no such thing as a Christless Christianity. If you hate Jesus, then you hate the Father in heaven (and there are many who hate Jesus). You can not love God and not love His Son whom He has sent. They are intimately related and inseparable.

John has already told us in 3:19, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” What Jesus means by verse twenty-two is that people now have no way of covering up their sin. The clearest light of all has shined into the darkness of the world. The world truly has no excuse. We can see this most plainly among the Jews of Jesus’ day. They had rejected the words and works of Christ and in doing so declared their hatred for both the Son and the Father. Jesus claims for Himself Psalm 69:4 which says, “They hated Me without a cause.” And the world will hate believers with a cause, namely: Christ Jesus.

When the Helper Comes [26-27]
Make sure that you understand that Jesus mentions the Holy Spirit here because it is the Spirit who will help the disciple to handle the pressures of the world. It is the Spirit who will testify of Jesus and help the disciples to bear witness to the truth about Jesus. That is why He is called the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit gives a faithful and accurate testimony concerning Jesus. The disciples could do the same, with the help and counsel of the Spirit, because they had been with Jesus from the beginning of His public ministry. The Spirit and the disciples would both bring to light the same Christ and the same message of Good News. Yes, the Spirit will bear witness to Christ, but also “there is a responsibility resting on all Christians to bear witness to the facts of saving grace” (Morris, 607). Do you remember what Jesus said during the Sermon on the Mount? He said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” If we point to Jesus, whether in word or in deed, our Father in heaven will be glorified.

Notice from the first section to the middle section that Jesus tells His disciples that they are no longer servants, but they are now friends and then He goes on to say that He is still their Master. I think Christians must uphold both sides of this coin. Jesus Christ is our Lord and our friend. He has chosen us and set us apart that we may go and bear much fruit. Our Lord set aside His life for us that our sins may be forgiven and in response we are able to set aside our lives to bring Him glory. Would you show His worth in all you do? Would you show His value in all you say? The world may hate you for it, but maybe…just maybe…someone will be saved from this present wicked age.

You really show who God is when the pressures of this world bear down on you. Do you crumble and in response complain and argue or do you instead persevere until the end with joy in your heart knowing that if the world hates you it first hated Christ? Remember: A servant is not greater than his master.

John 15:1-11 The Upper Room Discourse

Without Me You Can Do Nothing

In chapter fifteen of the Gospel of John, Jesus employs a parable as He continues to prepare His disciples for His departure. The parable is the famous one of the vine and branches. Jesus begins with the outstanding claim of “I AM” and says, “I AM the true vine.” He is, as opposed to all else, THE true vine. Jesus picks up on a thought that was used in Ezekiel chapter fifteen. In that place, the Lord uses the same illustration of a vine and branches to declare that unfaithful people are like unproductive branches and they will ultimately be cut off and cast out. Therefore, on their last night together Jesus is warning His disciples of unfaithfulness. This passage will serve well to warn us too if our hearts are open to the word of God.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

The True Vine [1-4]
What the disciples needed to be reminded of was the fact that they would not be who they were if they had not been connected to Jesus all this time. They had come a long way in three years of ministry and it was all because they were joined to Him. This is a great lesson for us as well. You have not come all this way and become who you are today on your own. You are connected to Christ. The disciples were together in that upper room enjoying a meal because each of them had been united with Christ. The same is true of us. We are together in this room today because each of us has been united with Christ. This makes Him the True Vine. He is the one-and-only source that gives life. We all are simply branches. If we could only grasp one thing in our Christian lives, I think this may be it. In the first chapter, John said, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” O, that the Christian would keep at the forefront the truth that Jesus is the Vine. The Scripture also tells us that the Father is the Vinedresser (or Farmer/Gardener). The Father has planted the Vine of His choosing, a perfect and sturdy vine. The branches that shoot out from it are the Gardener’s responsibility. He is to maintain those branches in a way that will allow them to be most productive.

In this way, the Gardener takes away unproductive branches and prunes productive ones. It is all about more fruit. How will He yield the most? First, the dead branches must be cut off. They are no good anyway, but with them gone, there is more space for new branches to grow in. As one person notes, “Dead wood is worse than fruitlessness, for dead wood can harbor disease and decay” (Tenney, 151). Second, the productive branches must still be trimmed clean. If the growth of branches is not maintained (cut back, cleaned, etc.), the branch will not produce much fruit because all of the strength goes to growing and not producing.

This idea of pruning allows Jesus to remind His disciples of what He said earlier, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” They were clean, not because they were perfect, but because they were connected to Him as vines are to branches. Judas was not a fruit-producing branch. It is the Word that cleans a person. The believer is pruned by being obedient to the Word of God.

The picture of a vine and branches continues into verse four. Here is a simple question: Can a branch live and bear fruit without being connected to the vine? The answer is no, especially for the long-term. Jesus is telling us that the same is true of us. We can not live and bear fruit apart from Him. Thus, it is appropriate that He commands His disciples to “Abide in Me.” Disciples are to remain in Him, continually. There is a popular ideology today that expresses that people are mainly good and sometimes they do a little bad. This comes directly from the father of lies. How do I know this? On what authority do I warn you of this? When you study the Bible and heap up the verses on this subject, you realize that God declares mankind mostly bad, apart from Christ, and sometimes people can do a little good. Do not believe that you can wonder away from Christ and remain alive. He is your source of life and righteousness. Abide in Him.

Without Me You Can Do Nothing [5-8]
Verse five is clear that we are nothing without Christ and can not bear the necessary fruit of righteousness. Jesus says, “For without Me you can do nothing.” Can you picture the vine and the branches? A branch that is not connected to the vine can not live, much less grow and produce fruit. I suppose that you may think to yourself, Well, does this mean that unbelievers can not do anything good? Can they not do any good deed? This goes back to what I previously said. Apart from Christ, people are mostly bad and sometimes a little good. Unbelievers do wonderful things from time to time, but they do no eternally good thing. Christ is telling us that without Him we can do nothing that has eternal significance. Are you connected to the life-giving vine?

The imagery continues into verse six. If a branch is unfruitful it is cut off and thrown into the fire. Ezekiel chapter fifteen makes clear that the wood of a vine is not good for building anything that is why it is used as fuel for a fire. This is a picture of judgment. Jesus’ point is that the true believer will be connected to the true vine – and, if not, then the person will be cast out.

What does it mean to abide in Christ? Abiding in Christ is His words abiding in you. Picture again the vine and branches. The same nutrients run through the entire plant, in and out of the branches and vine. What is Jesus after here? He wants His disciples to be so full of His words, flowing in and out of believers, that they are constantly in sync with Him, obeying Him, and conforming to Him. Only then can you ask what you desire and it be done. So I ask you, would you hide the words of the Lord in your heart? Would you teach them diligently to your children and grandchildren, talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up? These are the words of eternal life.

God is glorified when we bear much fruit. Listen closely, this is unmistakable: a disciple of Jesus will bear fruit. It demonstrates that we are His disciples. God is shown to be a masterful Gardener in the beds of our souls when we bear fruit. To this point you may say, Well then, I will get to it. I can show everyone that I’m a Christian. I will clean up my act and walk that straight and narrow path. Do you notice anything unbiblical about that thought? A person can not clean up his or her act and walk the “straight and narrow” alone. The fruit that glorifies God can not be mustered up by you. You can’t look at the commandments of the Bible like they are some formula and if you just follow the directions you will be fruitful and ultimately saved. The New Testament is clear: that will not work. You must abide in Christ. His words must abide in you. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

Abide in My Love that Your Joy May be Full [9-11]
We have been told to abide in Jesus and for His words to abide in us. We are bridged from that by being exhorted to consider the love between the Father and Son and to abide in it! Verses nine through twelve convey truths that the parable of the vine can not. Mainly, the parable “does not depict the unfathomable love that sets the disciples in this new intimacy” (Carson, 520). Throughout the Upper Room Discourse we have read about the relationship between the Father and the Son. It is at this point that Jesus tells His disciples that they can enter into this same intimacy, this same love. What Christian doesn’t want to abide in His love? It was the Apostle John who wrote, “God is love.” I have meditated on this from time to time and have come to the realization that John could say God is love because there has eternally been mutual love shared between Father, Son, Spirit. Is that not a wonderful description? Before the foundations of the earth, love was conferred between the Triune God (Father, Son, Spirit). Now Jesus tells us that we can abide in that love. That same love is shared with us! I don’t know about you but my soul cries out YES! I want to be a part of that!

There is no way to escape the fact that keeping His commandments is crucial to this relationship. You can not operate independently of God and expect to be intimately involved in His love. To abide in His love is to hear and obey, it is to be humbled, and it is to trust His grace. You can not abide in the love of God apart from the Gospel. The Good News declares that we are to believe on the One whom God has sent. Let me give you a quick, earthly illustration: Love between Bridget and me continues on the basis of our submissiveness and faithfulness to one another. This is a trustworthy saying: God will always be faithful to you. The question is, will you remain faithful to Him? If you intend to abide in His love, then you must keep His commandments. Listen to what Jesus said in John 8:29, “The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” I pray the same is said of all of us.

Jesus foretold certain things so that the disciples might later believe. He also tells us that these things were said so that His joy may remain in the disciples and they are intended to fill up their joy. What has He been talking about? Answer: Abiding in Jesus, His words abiding in us, abiding in His love, and keeping His commandments. Let me assure you of this: there is nothing more joyful than pleasing Christ. Though the Christian life is not free from concerns, troubles, or sorrows it is a joyful one. The joy of the Lord is our strength.

Jesus provides us with a perfect conclusion to this sermon. If we take all these things to heart, if the Spirit opens the eyes of your heart, then the joy of Christ will remain in you and your joy will be full. As opposed to all else, Jesus Christ is the True Vine and you are branches. Abide in Him and fruit will come forth from your life. He has told us the means by which we can remain in Him – stay in His word. I beg you and plead with you to stay in His word. Each and every day would you consider the words of the Lord? They are like honey straight out of the honey comb. They are sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. His word will give you life.

May the Spirit of Christ consume this church. May the Spirit of Christ consume each of us, that we would be conformed to His image. To this we have been predestined.

John 14:25-31 The Upper Room Discourse

My Peace I Give to You

In today’s sermon text we continue on in Jesus’ farewell address. He is preparing them for the extreme events that would soon take place. Jesus knew that His time had come and the disciples had begun to feel the pressure. They did not want to believe that what Jesus said would take place, but it would be inevitable, even necessary for both them and us. To help them process it all Jesus foretold things that would take place and made several promises. He tells them that Holy Spirit would come to teach and remind them of all these things, Jesus would give them a peace that they could get no where else, and He would have victory through all of the offenses of the adversary. This is what Christians need to take confidence in and this is what the world needs to hear proclaimed from the church.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

Teach and Bring to Your Remembrance [25-26]
Jesus now returns to His teaching on the Holy Spirit and He tells us two activities that the Spirit will be involved in: teaching and reminding. In this role, the Spirit is once again appropriately called the Helper (or Counselor). This is the ministry that the Lord Jesus had among His disciples even until that hour as He spoke in the upper room. Verse twenty-five rings the bell again of Christ’s impending death. He was speaking these things while still with them, but in a short time He will no longer be with them. They would need another teacher and the Spirit would continue that ministry among the disciples. Remember back to verse sixteen when Jesus said that He would pray the Father to send “another Helper,” that is another of the exact same kind. Everything that the Spirit is said to do in these chapters is precisely what Jesus had done during His earthly ministry. It is also noteworthy that Jesus says the Holy Spirit would be sent by the Father in His name. To be sent in someone’s name is to be their representative or ambassador. Thus, the Spirit comes as a representative of Jesus who, likewise, came in the name of the Father as His representative. In John 5:43 Jesus says, “I have come in My Father’s name…” Now we learn that the Spirit comes in Jesus’ name.

The Spirit’s teaching ministry will build upon the foundation that Jesus laid. It will not be something all-together new or different. The disciples have been shown to misunderstand Jesus on many occasions, even here in the upper room, and it would be a chief responsibility of the Spirit to make those teachings understandable. The Spirit would teach them what it all meant and the significance of it all (Carson, 505). Now, let’s be clear that this promise was primarily to the first disciples of Jesus in the first century. This explains to us how they came to a thorough and complete knowledge of Jesus which is conveyed to us through the apostolic teaching of the New Testament. In His role as teacher, the Spirit did and does not bring about new teaching, but makes clear the teaching of and about our Lord Jesus Christ. Notice that both the teaching and reminding are followed by “that I said to you.” The Spirit would teach what Jesus had said.

One major reason I can make these statements is because Jesus links the Spirit’s ministry of teaching with His ministry of reminding. The two must go hand-in-hand. The ministry of reminding is a valuable function to the history of Christianity. Have you ever wondered how the Apostles could remember all the things that Jesus said and did? The Gospels were probably written about thirty years after Christ and that doesn’t seem so great a time lapse. Many of you can remember things vividly from thirty years ago. Yet, consider the large quotes of Jesus found in the Gospels. Paragraphs upon paragraphs are “written in red” as the words of Jesus. How could they remember such large amounts of Jesus words? Many factors may have contributed, but I will tell you the main reason: the Spirit brought to their remembrance all the things that Jesus said, just as Jesus promised He would there in the upper room! That is vastly important.

These two functions, teaching and reminding, are not to be taken separately. The Spirit would do both at the same time in the life of the Apostles. Let me show you a couple examples from John’s Gospel of the Spirit calling to his remembrance certain things and teaching him (see John 2:19-22 and 12:16). So, here is the question that you may have: Does the Spirit still teach and remind me of all the things of Jesus? I think the answer is yes, but in a different way. He is not uniquely inspiring us to write Scripture. We do not need to independently come to a complete knowledge of Jesus Christ because we have it expressly communicated to us in the New Testament. What the Spirit will do is help you to understand the Bible. There is no doubt in my mind that I can understand the Bible because God’s Spirit has illuminated it for me and I have no doubt that the Spirit calls to my mind the Scriptures on several occasions.

My Peace I Give to You [27]
“Peace” does not mean free from conflict. In fact, Jesus would face conflict that night and the very next day as He was beaten and crucified. It is the traditional Jewish word used for greetings and farewells. This peace is trust in the purposes of God. It is knowing and resting on the promise that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” This peace is a gift that is provided by Jesus Christ. The world can not give this gift because it does not possess it. In Jeremiah 6:14, the Lord criticizes the people for “saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace.” This is a particular peace that Jesus leaves for them. He calls it “My peace.” Colossians 1:19-20 declares exactly what that peace entails: “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.”

In light of the promise that Jesus has just made, He once again affirms, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Listen, Christians, do not let your heart continue to be troubled or afraid. Peace with Almighty God has been secured for you by the blood of Christ’s cross. Now rest in faith knowing that the purposes of God will come to pass and you have been called according to His purpose. You are included in His eternal plans.

When It Does Come to Pass [28-29]
The Lord repeatedly declares His departure. This is what drives the anxiety in the room. Yet, Jesus must go to the Father for the peace to be given to the disciples. Going to the Father would mean that He had gone to the cross. Going to the Father would mean that He had died, but had been raised again. This should bring joy to the disciples, if they truly loved Him, but Jesus implies that they are not rejoicing and therefore they do not love Him. This must have come as a shock to the men in that upper room. If they really loved Him, then they would have rejoiced that He was going back to the Father. For the “Father is greater than” Jesus, meaning the Father is in a greater state than the Son. In reality, the Father was in a place of undiminished glory, while the Son was here in the world as flesh and blood (see Carson, 508).

Do you understand what He is saying? If the disciples really loved Jesus then they would have put aside their emotions and rejoiced for/with Him that He was returning to the glory which He had with the Father before He became a man.

The whole point of Jesus telling them these things, the entire reason for His farewell address is so that they may believe. Major events were going to unfold and Jesus told them what would happen before it did. He did not want their faith to be dissipated because of what would happen. The Apostle John tells us in chapter one, verse twelve “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” Then he tells us even more directly in chapter twenty, verse twenty-one why he wrote the Gospel. He says, “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” It is obvious that the Apostle wanted his readers to believe and he wants you to believe. It is also apparent that Jesus stressed this as well. In chapter six the people asked Jesus, “’What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved! Believe that He is who He claimed to be: Master, Savior, Son of God, Christ, the Way to the Father.

The Ruler of this World is Coming [30-31]
Jesus literally did not have much more time to talk. His hour had come and He was fully aware of it. The time had come for the ruler of this world to come for the Son. “Ruler/Prince of this world” or any variation thereof is commonly used of Satan in the New Testament. Though that may also be discouraging news, Jesus quickly follows it with the message “and he has nothing in Me.” That phrase means that Satan has no hold on or has no claim on Jesus (Carson, 508). “Jesus is not of this world (8:23), and he has never sinned (8:46)” (Carson, 509). Therefore, the Devil has nothing to use against Jesus.

How is it that Jesus avoided supplying evidence against Himself? He maintained sinless perfection by proving His love for the Father. He constantly kept the Father’s commandment before Him and did what it said. He was obedient to the Father, even unto death. Satan had nothing on Him. The cross would appear to be a symbol of Satan’s victory over the Son of God, but it will be forever the mark of Christ’s ultimate overthrowing of Satan and his influence. This is what the world needs to know. This is what we must proclaim to the world. Christ has won!

“Arise, let us go from here” seems oddly placed in the discourse because Jesus goes on speaking for two more chapters and then prays for another entire chapter. Some have made the case that Jesus and the disciples left the upper room at this point and that the remainder of the discourse was said on the road. That would mean chapters fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen would not be part of the “Upper Room Discourse.” Others have seen a theological meaning behind this phrase as if to say, The ruler of this world is coming…Arise, let us go to meet him! Yet, I think it is simple enough to understand that Jesus intended to begin wrapping it up at this point, but continued on teaching instead. How many of you have ever heard a preacher say “In conclusion…” and then go on to preach another whole sermon? The atmosphere of that upper room must have been intense and emotional from the time that Jesus stood to wash their feet. In verse thirty-one, Jesus had come to a climax in His farewell address. Judas would betray Jesus, Peter would deny Him, the ruler of this world was prowling toward Him, Jesus would soon die and be physically with the disciples no longer. The deal is now all out on the table.

Rejoice this day because Jesus has returned to the right hand of the Father. He has been glorified: crucified, resurrected, and ascended back to heaven. The prince of this world came up against the Son of God and was no match for our Lord. He has secured peace for all those who believe in Him. That peace He gives to you. You can not earn it and the world can not give it to you.

And He has sent His Spirit to dwell in each one of us who have received Him. The Holy Spirit will teach you about this peace and all the things of Jesus. He will continually remind you of all the things that Jesus has said and done. It is the Apostle Paul who continued this teaching when in Romans 5 he tells Christians that the Holy Spirit has been given to us and one of the things the Spirit does is pour out the love of God into our hearts. Over and over again, the Spirit declares to our hearts the Good News of Christ.

The Lord has told us these things so that we will believe. He wants you to believe that He is who He claims to be. Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

John 14:15-24 The Upper Room Discourse

We Will Come

It feels as if we are going deeper into intimacy and doctrine the farther we go along in the Upper Room Discourse. It feels as if we are getting closer and closer to Jesus’ departure and, as a matter of fact, we are getting much closer! This God-Man, Jesus the Christ, has been with His disciples for around three years now and they have grown dependent upon Him. He has been there helper, their comforter, and their counselor. Now, He has told them He is leaving and they will see Him no more. What would they do? Where would they go? Those initial questions had already begun to bombard their minds. The anxiety has reached a high and Jesus told them, “Let not your heart be troubled.”

The disciples may take courage from the words that they hear in verses fifteen and following; another helper is coming who will abide with them forever. Though Jesus was with them for only a short while and was now leaving, another one who is just like Him will be sent to stay with them until the end of the age. This may not be exactly what they would want, because in truth they want Jesus Himself in the person, but they would soon learn that it was to their advantage that Jesus would leave and send the Spirit back.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

If You Love Me [15]
Our sermon text today is bracketed by two verses on obedience (see v15 and v24). Verse fifteen links us back to the teaching on prayer. Jesus has promised His disciples that they could ask anything in His name and He would do it. But verse fifteen makes it clear that He is in the position of authority, not us. He wills to lead us by servanthood, but He is always our Master. We can not use and abuse Him in prayer. We are to obey Him at all times.

It appears to me that throughout the Upper Room Discourse Jesus is teaching His disciples how to truly love Him. There is a proper way to love! Go back to the footwashing event and think to how Peter reacted: “You shall never wash my feet!” Yet, it is almost as if Jesus says, If you love Me, you will let Me wash your feet. Then, as Jesus identifies His betrayer, it is as if He teaches, Loving Me is more than being close to Me. It is more than eating with Me. If you love Me, you will be loyal to Me. He goes on to say in essence, If you love Me, you will love one another.

Now in verse fifteen of chapter fourteen Jesus says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” I think that we should take this as a response to Peter’s remark in chapter thirteen: “I will lay down my life for your sake.” This is proper love! Jesus simply wants His disciples to obey Him. Does discipleship call for rocky roads? Sometimes. Does obedience call for someone to lay down their life? Yes, it can. Yet, for the most part, especially in times of little persecution, we are to lead quiet and peaceable lives in obedience to Christ. This is the Christian life: calm, slow, and steady progress in our faith. We are not to be flashy and loud, but godly and reverent.

Obedience is a love issue, not a salvation issue. If you love Christ, you will obey His commands.
What are His commandments? The whole of His teaching, the Bible.
Another Helper [16-17]
Jesus will pray to the Father to send another Helper to the one who loves Him. This action is not dependent on our obedience or our love as if it is a boom, boom, boom sequence. Jesus is not cutting a deal with His disciples as if to say, If you do this, this, and this, follow this formula, then I will give you the Holy Spirit. Instead, Jesus is describing the true situation of a disciple and his Lord. A believer will love Christ, keep His commands, and Christ will have another Helper sent to him. The Father will send this Helper at the Son’s request.

We know that this Helper is the Holy Spirit, but let’s take note of a few things. First, the Spirit is “another” Helper, meaning that there was one before Him. Second, the word “another” means another of the exact same kind. The Spirit will be exactly like Jesus, thus Jesus can later say, “I will come to you.” Third, the word “Helper” is a translation of a word that literally means one who is called alongside. Therefore, the word has been translated in several ways and we should be familiar with them if we would like to have an accurate understanding of who the Spirit is and what He does. It can be translated as helper, comforter, counselor, advocate, strengthener, supporter, etc. Wasn’t Jesus all of these things in relation to His first disciples?

Well, the Spirit is will be exactly those things to Jesus’ later disciples, including us! As a Helper, the Spirit is also called the “Spirit of truth.” Jesus called Himself the same when in chapter fourteen verse six He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” You can begin to see how the Son and the Spirit are of the same kind. Verses that we will come to in future weeks tell us that as the Spirit of truth, He teaches all things, calls to remembrance all things, testifies of Jesus, convicts the world, guides into all truth, and tells of things to come.

The work of the Holy Spirit is primarily with regard to Christ’s disciples. The Spirit of God does not carry out His ministry according to the world, but according to His good pleasure. Do you know what the Apostle John said about Jesus in chapter one? John wrote, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” The same is true of the Holy Spirit. He will be in this world actively working the purposes of God, even dwelling in the people who put their faith in Christ, but the world does not and will not see Him nor know Him. Only those who are born of God will know the Spirit of God and He will stay with them forever!

In John chapter seven, John quotes Jesus and then gives a commentary. It reads, “’He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Jesus said in Luke chapter twelve that He came to bring division on earth. “As Christ is a divider of men, so is the Spirit who comes in His name” (Harrison, 88). One of the greatest gifts of God is the sending of His Spirit to dwell within the believer, but this occurs only the believer. Those of you who have not been born again can not understand with this means. It is an inexplicable experience. Would you believe on the Son of God today and be born again? The Son of Man has been lifted up so that all those who look upon Him in faith may not perish, but have everlasting life! The one who believes in Him is not condemned. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Repent and be baptized and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!

You Will See Me [18-21]
The doctrine of adoption is beautiful in the New Testament. The Scripture teaches us that we believers were predestined for adoption as children of God. John describes this adoption in chapter one when he says, “But as many as received [Jesus], to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…” In verse eighteen of our main text, Jesus says, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” Missionaries tell stories of visiting orphanages overseas. They say that when the paperwork is complete for an adoption that the staff will go and tell the children that they have been adopted and that their parents will be coming to get them. Missionaries say that when you visit an orphanage the children are standing at the windows waiting expectantly and eagerly for the parents to arrive. At that point in their lives, they know that they will not be left as orphans, but that their parents will come to them. What a feeling to know that Jesus would not leave His disciples as orphans! They had been adopted.

Christ would have to be crucified and raised from the dead for the Spirit to come and we know that when He was raised from the dead that He appeared to the disciples. No unbeliever saw Him at that time, but only the believers. This would explain what the last sentence of verse twenty means. The disciples would have life because Jesus had paid for their sins and had overcome death and the grave in His resurrection. Because of the context that speaks about the Spirit being sent, there is no doubt in my mind that Christ is also referring to His continued coming to the disciples by the Holy Spirit. The Son and the Spirit are so closely connected that “When the Spirit comes to dwell in believers, it is as if Jesus himself takes up residence in them” (K√∂stenberger, 436). Out of your heart will flow rivers of living water because Jesus lives and you are indwelt by the Spirit.

We Will Come [22-24]
Another one in the bunch that’s named Judas really wants to know how this is all going to happen. How is it that Jesus will be able to show Himself to the disciples and not the world? In response, Jesus goes on to describe once again the big picture of the near future: true believers will love Christ, they will be obedient to His Word, the Father will continue to love His children, and now we learn particularly that the Father and Son both will come to abide in the Christian undoubtedly by the Spirit. That is how the Christian will see Jesus, but the world will not be able. Those people who love Him and seek to obey Him are the type “of people to whom Jesus will be pleased to reveal himself” (K√∂stenberger, 440). Everyday Christ manifests Himself to His people and can be seen with the eyes of the heart, the eyes of faith. The word “home” here is the same word translated as “mansions” in verse two. All the fullness of the Godhead (Father, Son, Spirit) will come and make a dwelling place in each and every believer.

Jesus does not say this on His own accord, but according to Word of the Father. This has been Jesus’ constant declaration throughout His ministry, especially in the face of Jewish opponents. These verses describe the reality of faith. This is what it means to be born again. These are the essentials of the true Christian life: love, obedience, favor, and the indwelling of the Spirit.

Listen, Christian, you have nothing to worry about if you are trusting in Christ. He will be your mainstay if you do not move away from Him. This world will push on you, pull on you, and just simply wear you out. You all know this. You may say, I try to obey Christ, but it is difficult. Listen, do your best to follow Him each and every day and He will send the Spirit to aid you. The Spirit will be for you exactly who Jesus was for His disciples. He will be your comforter, helper, and counselor. You already know Him. He dwells in you!

Therefore, I charge you this day, as I have on several other occasions, to keep His Word. It is living and active, truly God-breathed. Do you remember that old song that we use to sing, Wonderful Words of Life? We would sing, “Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life; Words of life and beauty teach me faith and duty.” Do you still believe that?

Jesus instructed His disciples to love Him by obeying Him. This is what was expected of them after He had gone back to be with the Father. And the same is expected of us. We are to love Christ by obeying His Word and He has sent the Holy Spirit to be our help with that duty and all other things. It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that Jesus speaks are spirit, and they are life.

Pastoral Prayer

October 2, 2011

A Pastoral Prayer for Homecoming

Our Father in heaven,

We have gathered before You today to declare Your mighty works. You are the Creator of heaven and earth, all things visible and invisible. All things were created through You and for Your good pleasure. We acknowledge that we are merely creatures, yet we also realize that we are creatures made in Your image and likeness. You have breathed into us the breath of life. And there is no creature hidden from Your sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

We confess our sins to You, O Lord. We all have sinned and fallen short of Your glory. We are truly poor in spirit. Yet, You have brought us up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set our feet upon a rock. You have justified us freely by grace through the redemption that is found only in the blood of Christ. You have proven Yourself to be both Just and the Justifier of all who have faith in Jesus.

We reflect upon our own past and see Your handiwork. You have called out for yourself a people in this county. You have raised up this church to be salt in our community and a light in the darkness of this region. Will You provide for us by Your Spirit and equip us through Your Word to walk worthy of the calling that we have received?

I pray for these people, that they would remain faithful and obedient to Your Word. May we not be moved from the message of the Gospel. May the Word of Christ dwell in us richly. May we not seek to make a name for ourselves, but instead seek to make Your name famous.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God our Father. There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
You do not change. Your compassions, they do not fail. You are the same today as you were on the date of our first Homecoming. For this we are beyond grateful.

Almighty God, You have set kings upon their thrones, and You have brought them down. No one has any power at all unless it has been given from above. May our leaders in this country hear the words of Your mouth and praise You. May Your people in this land humble themselves, pray, seek Your face, turn from their wicked ways that You might hear from heaven and forgive their sin. We pray that Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Will you extend our history for many years to come and cause us to progress in the faith?
Would you fill us up with joy as your people gather together week after week, year after year?

We pray all these things in the name of our Lord and Savior, Amen

John 14:1-14 The Upper Room Discourse

Believe Also in Me

As we move into chapter fourteen we soon realize that the chapter division means nothing. This chapter is certainly connected to the last. By this time, Jesus’ farewell address has gotten off and running. The disciples would shortly be scattered by the fear of opposition. During that remaining time in the Upper Room, Jesus would strengthen His disciples with encouraging words and priceless teachings. He would prepare them, as much as possible, for chaos that would follow because “the ruler of this world” was coming and he had nothing to do with the Light. The Lord wanted those disciples to believe; trust in him, trust that there would be a place for them, trust that He had shown them the Father, trust in His works, and to trust in His name.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

Believe Also in Me [1]
There is no doubt that the tension was building in the Upper Room. The gathering had started as a celebratory meal which was interrupted by the radical event of the footwashing. Then Jesus went on to announced that He would be betrayed, Judas has left for who knows what reason, and Jesus said that Peter would betray Him before the night was out. The atmosphere was now down-right depressing. Jesus knows that the disciples would have a difficult time digesting all of this and can surely feel the tension in the room. As a result He says, “Let not your heart be troubled.” The same terms that Jesus uses for His disciples, John has already used of Jesus. Look back to 13:21 where it says, “He was troubled in spirit.” What is being described is a natural emotion. When things begin to deteriorate around us, we begin to get anxious. This word “troubled” means to be stirred up on the inside. Have you ever felt stirred up? A good illustration of this is how water can be stirred up. In fact, it is the same word that is used of the Pool of Bethesda is chapter five verse four. It is not a sin for your heart to be troubled, but you must soon collect yourself. Jesus was troubled, that trouble was passed on to the disciples, and Jesus then in effect says, “Do not continue to let your heart be troubled.”

Believers should never remain in a state of dismay because we believe in God. When your spirit is stirred up turn to God, trust in Him. These men that Jesus communed with had believed in God from the time that they could comprehend such. Jesus could say without reservation, “You believe in God.” They not only believed in a god, but were wholly committed to the God of Israel, Yahweh. He was their God. The very foundation of their being was encapsulated in the statement of Deuteronomy five, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

Jesus then applies that belief that they had in God to Himself. Don’t miss what He is saying here. He is making a massive theological claim. There is no way to escape the divinity of Jesus in the Upper Room Discourse or in the whole of John’s Gospel. The Apostle is obviously fixed on displaying Jesus’ deity. He begins the book this way, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Because of the undeniable testimony of Scripture, we are people who worship the Lord Jesus Christ as God. Jesus says, “You believe in God, believe also in Me.” You see, “Faith in Jesus is not something additional to faith in God” (Morris). Christ puts Himself in the very place of God, as the object of trust and worship. “Faith in the Father in any meaningful sense is impossible apart from faith in” Christ (Morris). As that first chapter says, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” This is truly a high Christology…

A Place for You [2-6]
First and foremost, the disciples had to trust Jesus. He was their Master and Teacher. Second, those men had to trust that they would have a permanent place with Jesus. This night had become very unstable in their estimation. There was awkwardness during the meal and Jesus went on to predict that there would be betrayal and denial from among members of their group. They were disoriented at best. The best thing to do would be to stick close to Jesus, right? Well, Jesus had already told them, “I shall be with you a little while longer” and “where I am going, you cannot come.” Without Jesus they would be deprived of a place in the world. In an extended response to Peter’s question in 13:36 “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus assures them that there is plenty of room for them in the Father’s house. The “Father’s house” must refer to heaven and the word “mansion” is better translated with another word such as “room.” Thus, Jesus is telling them that there is plenty of room in heaven for all of them. In that culture, the father’s house would be the original structure and when the sons married they would then build on more and more rooms. As a result there would be one very large house with many dwelling places for the children.

If this wasn’t the case, Jesus would not have told them that it is. Jesus never questions how things are beyond this world. He knows exactly how things are. He speaks of the Father’s house with full confidence. What preparations needed to be made? After pondering on this for over a week, I am confident that Jesus was talking about the cross. How did He prepare a place for us in heaven? Ephesians 1:7 tells us, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” The cross prepared your permanent dwelling in heaven with the Father.

This casts the picture in our minds of God leading Israel to the Promised Land. Moses testified in Deuteronomy 1:29-33 “Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified, or afraid of them. The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ Yet, for all that, you did not believe the LORD your God, who went in the way before you to search out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go, in the fire by night and in the cloud by day.” As God prepared the way for Israel and the place in the Promised Land, likewise Jesus has prepared a permanent dwelling in the presence of the Father for each of those who trust in the sacrifice that He made on the cross.

“His return is as certain as His departure” (Tenney). As Jesus says pointedly, “I WILL COME AGAIN.” There is no wavering in that statement. If Jesus is going to prepare a place for His own, then surely He will ensure that they move in! The children of God will be with Him.

You can read all sorts of materials from other so-called religions on the subject of the hereafter, but I am here to tell you that the Bible has a unique doctrine of eternal life. Here are a couple examples: Islam teaches that in paradise each will have an innumerable amount of virgins and Mormonism teaches that each will become a god in the hereafter with several wives. This is not where we are going and these so-called religions do not teach the way. Christianity is exclusive, which has taken a lot of heat in recent times. The New Testament teaches that we are going to a unique place where everyone will not be and that there is only one way to get there.

Jesus gives us that famous line in verse six in response to Thomas’ question in verse five. He says, “I am the way…” Do you want to talk about the path to heaven or the road to heaven? There is only ONE way: the Lord Jesus Christ. This phrase “the way, the truth, and the life” is what the Jewish rabbis would call the Scriptures. Jesus makes an authoritative statement that we must deal with this morning. There is no indecisiveness on His part, but is there on your part? Either you believe this statement today or you do not. He says that He is the way, are you following Him? He says that He is the truth, do you believe Him? He says that He is the life, are you connected to the source? Hear the Lord speak this day and believe! May your spirit come alive this morning! A road must have a destination and this one leads to the Father. God is our reward- our happiness, our peace, our eternal joy. He gives life to all who trust in the Son.

You Know Him and have Seen Him [7-10]
Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He has declared the Father to us, though no man has ever seen God. He is the Word who became flesh. Yet, these disciples could not come to this realization. I can not be dogmatic about it, but I feel agony in Jesus’ response to Philip’s statement. He says, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me?” No one can show you who God is other than the Man, Jesus Christ. If you know Him, then you know the Father. This is what Christianity teaches: if you are a friend of Jesus, then you are a friend of God. If you trust Him, then you trust the Father. If you worship Him, you worship the Father. Once again, “Faith in the Father in any meaningful sense is impossible apart from faith in” Christ (Morris).

The Works that I Do [11-12]
Even if the disciples could not get a full grasp of what Jesus was talking about, they could believe Him just on the basis of what they had seen Him do. He had done mighty works among them. It would be very difficult to not believe if you had seen Him still the sea, walk on water, feed a crowd of thousands, heal the crippled, and so much more. So Jesus says, “…or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.” Now, in verse twelve, Jesus makes a promise. All the works He had done will be done by those who believe in Him. And He even extends it farther: “…and greater than these he will do…” How is that possible? “…I go to My Father.” Christ’s ministry on earth was very short in length. He had done many mighty works in only three years, but His disciples would work for many years more. They would not do greater quality works, but greater works in quantity.

Ask in My Name [13-14]
It is important to note that Jesus links the great works they would do to prayer. This is exactly what He told them in Mark nine. After failing to heal a boy of demon possession the disciples ask their Master, “Why could we not cast it out?” Jesus responds, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer.” Prayer is a continuing attitude of reliance on Christ. The disciples would not be able to do anything by relying on themselves and most definitely not for selfish reasons. They did not have the power to do miracles in and of themselves. Their source was God Almighty. The same can be said of us. If we are to do anything good in this world, anything that is productive and beneficial, we must rely on Jesus Christ.

Our Lord says, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” What is it to ask in His name? Is it to say in Jesus’ name at the end of our prayers? Will that guarantee us that our prayer will be heard and approved? I think it is important to say that when praying, but I also think that Jesus means much more by this phrase. We have talked about this before. What does a name mean?
In ancient cultures, and in ours to some degree, a persons name meant everything. It was who they were. When I say the name “Jesus” you should immediately think of all the things that make Him who He is: the Word become flesh, the preacher, the teacher, the healer, the friend, the gentle one, the wrathful one, the advocate, the sinless sacrifice, the life, and on and on.

To pray in His name is to pray in accordance with His person. It is kind-of-like what Paul says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” If you ask in anything in accordance with His words, attitude, humility, selflessness, person, He will do it!

These verses cover a lot of subjects. We may even be on overload by this time, but the main point is very simple. This is what you need to know: Trust in Christ.

Trust that there is a permanent place for you in heaven, purchased by the blood of Christ.
Trust that Christ has shown you the Father; know Him and you know God.
Trust in the works that He has done. He has done a mighty work in you.
And finally, trust in His name. Pray with all that you have in accordance with His person.

Day after day, moment after moment rely on Him and you will be safe.

John 13:31-38 The Upper Room Discourse

A New Commandment

People come up with all sorts of things to show their community associations. Even Christians have come up with all kinds of symbols to show that they belong to Christ. We label ourselves with this and that so that we are sure that everyone knows who we are. Yet, Christ tells us in this passage of Scripture that there is one distinguishing trait by which all will know that we are His disciples. You can label yourself with any word known to man, you can wear certain clothes to mark yourself out, you can put a big billboard in your front yard that says, “I AM A CHRISTIAN,” but without this one characteristic you are nothing. We will explore this for a few minutes today and pray that we are all enlightened to this very important sentence, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Love is a key theme in the Apostle John’s writings. He obviously learned what Jesus taught.
Let me read you a few verses from His Gospel and Epistles:
a) John 3:16 “For God so loved the world…”
b) John 13:1 “…having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”
c) 1 John 3:11 “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…”
d) 1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
e) 1 John 3:23 “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.”
f) 1 John 4:11 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
g) 2 John 1:5 “And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.”

Do you think that this is slightly important? Do you think that John learned something from the Lord Jesus Christ that he absolutely needed to impart? I think so…

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

God is Glorified [31-32]
For us to have a good grasp of what verses thirty-one and thirty-two mean, we must look back to verse thirty which we read last week. It said, “Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.The New Commandment” This, of course, was speaking of Judas who John said had been possessed by Satan. When Judas took that piece of bread and exited the room, something was enacted. Yes, Judas’ scheme was initiated at that moment and yes, the Father’s plan had begun, but more importantly God was glorified in the Son of Man. The glory of God had commenced and it shows brightly from the pages of this Upper Room Discourse as we read.

Jesus used the title “Son of Man” to refer to Himself. It was a term that represented glory, honor, power, and His messianic role stemming from Daniel’s use of the term in the Old Testament. It is used twelve times in John’s Gospel with this being the last occurrence. Now make this note, outside of the New Testament “Son of Man” is associated with glory, yet within the Gospels it is often used of suffering. John brings both ideas together with his use of the phrase. As the Son of Man, Jesus’ suffering equals His ultimate glory (Carson). This one glorifying event includes suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection.

We must give a little thought to what it means to be glorified. We now know when it happened, but what was it that happened? “Glorified” for John was the entire episode of the Passion. The word is used five times here in these two verses. It can also be translated “exalt,” and we should probably have that in the back of our minds when we read the word. One person said that the last two times that it is used should be translated “exalt” (Tenney). It would read something like this, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also exalt Him in Himself, and exalt Him immediately.” The word glory refers to something’s weight or in this instance to someone’s value. For God to be glorified is for His value/worth to be put on display.

As another has said, “…the greatest moment of displayed glory, was in the shame of the cross” (Carson). When Judas fell to the temptation of Satan and left that room, the cross had already begun. Christ would suffer and die for the sins of the world. He would literally be exalted on that tree and He would symbolically be exalted above every other as the God who redeems His people. This is the value of our God. This is His worth. He is the greatest of all treasures!

You Cannot Come [33]
Jesus begins the next verse with “little children,” an endearment from a Rabbi to His disciples. John did not forget this phrase. He used it several times in his epistle from a pastor’s heart to his congregations. Jesus now tenderly speaks to His disciples and tells them that He will be leaving. Beginning with this verse we have what is called the “Farewell Discourse.” Judas has left and Jesus is now left with His eleven disciples to say His farewell and prepare them as much as possible for the next few hours and days. It is reported in this Gospel that Jesus told the Jews on two previous occasions that He was leaving to a place where they could not come (John 7:34; 8:21). He was quite forceful with them during those two instances and at that second time He told them that they would die in their sins. Here His tone is rather different. He is gentle and loving as He tells them that he is departing.

Love One Another [34-35]
Jesus now imparts to His closest followers His expectations for them in light of His parting. He gives them a new commandment that is really not new at all. It is the phrase “new commandment” that passed through the Latin language and gave us our term “Maundy,” hence Maundy Thursday. The newness is not in the sense of recent, but in the sense of fresh. This commandment was not recent at all, but had a long history dating back to the Mosaic Law (SEE Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18; also Mk 12:28-33; Rom 13:8-10; 1 Jn 2:7-8). The “new commandment” points to the footwashing which points to the cross. A fresh interpretation is given to the commandment by the Lord Jesus Himself. We are to love unselfishly and sacrificially. There is a new standard in light of the new covenant which is in Christ’s blood.

This is how everyone will know that we are Christ’s disciples: If we love the way He loved. He laid down His life for us and we ought to also lay down our lives for each other. We are to be living sacrifices. Our love must be different. Yes, we will love the world with compassion and evangelism, but we are distinct from the world. Our binding love is directed toward one another. That is what makes our love holy. On this verse many quote from Tertullian, a second century Christian leader, writer, and apologist. He reported how the pagans of his time marveled at the Christians and would say, “See how they love one another! are they ready even to die for one another!” Is that how the society at-large views us today? Do they see a unique love?

Most Assuredly, I Say to You [36-38]
Peter interrupts here and seemingly ignores verses thirty-four and thirty-five to go back to verse thirty-three. Of course this is no surprise to us who have gotten to know Peter fairly well. It is almost as if he says, “Wait a minute…wait a minute…what did you say? where are You going?” This is Peter’s second interruption and exchange with Jesus in the Upper Room Discourse. Peter could not follow Jesus immediately when He left, but he would at some point afterward. It would be death that would transport him to glory. Glory awaits those who die in Christ. We know that Jesus was going back to His Father (the rest of the discourse informs us of this) and that is where Peter would go at some point in the future. Likewise, we go to the Father when we die in Christ, unless He returns first!

Peter must have felt the threat of death though he did not completely comprehend it. He said in verse thirty-seven, “I will lay down my life for your sake.” Ironically, church tradition tells us that Peter did lay down his life for Christ’s sake, but it was not in the way that he could have thought that night. He must have thought that he would fight to the end to defend Jesus from the physical threats. In fact, he did draw his sword in the garden. And Jesus told Peter after the resurrection, “…when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” Tradition says that Peter was crucified, upside down, because he said that he was not worthy to be crucified right-side-up like His Lord.

A chilling statement is made at the close of this chapter. Jesus foretells Peter’s denial. His denial will be extreme- three times! The rooster-crow was at some point between 12am and 3am and was considered to be the standard “alarm clock” just before day light in Palestine. What Jesus was saying was that before the night was even over, Peter would deny his Master three times. As one expositor said, “Sadly, good intentions in a secure room after good food are far less attractive in a darkened garden with a hostile mob.” Jesus knew that Peter would not be willing to stand and fight to the bitter end that night.

Notice how the love teaching follows the footwashing- Jesus demonstration shows them that this type of love is real, active, hands-on, and even dirty at times. The type of love that He expects of His followers is out of the norm; awkward and even uncomfortable. That is what makes it sacrifice. It is not an abstract thought for us to sit around and discuss, but is something that we must do. When Jesus says it to His first disciples it is not a suggestion of something that would be nice for them to do, but is something that will characterize them for all time. Those who follow this saying are really Christ’s disciples, truly Christians in every sense of the word.

Make sure that you know this: “The command to love has its first application within the Body of Christ” (Burge). We love the world, we love this community, we love the lost, but not in the same way. Our love is distinct and holy. There is not much that should trump it.