Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure. The world has largely rejected his revelation of the Father and his Word. As a result, the hatred of the world for Christ will lead them to crucify him. Before He is arrested, Jesus shares with his disciples that as they bear witness to him and bear his Name, the world will also hate them. Persecution is coming. The disciples will be hated for Christ's sake. Jesus shares this prophetic word with his disciples so that they will not fall away when the persecution comes. But rather remember Jesus has told them what is to come and have their faith in him strengthened, not weakened through persecution. And as we reflect over the course of church history, we realize this prophetic word from Jesus was true not just for the Apostles, but for the church at large.
As Jesus continues to instruct his disciples in the upper room, He uses the metaphor of a vine and its branches to illustrate the kind of close-knit, intimate relationship He is pursuing with his disciples and us. There is the clear implication by way of the metaphor that we would be drawing spiritual life from this True vine that is Jesus. Jesus instructs his disciples to abide in him. Abiding is the continuing of a daily, personal relationship with Jesus, characterized by trust, prayer, obedience and joy. And as we abide, our lives will be spiritually fruitful.
Just hours before Jesus is betrayed and crucified, He encourages his disciples with the promise of his continuing presence with them by and through his Spirit. Jesus makes the important point that after He goes away, the Holy Spirit will come and be with his followers. They will not be left without His presence. The Helper, the Holy Spirit will come and minister to them and lead them in truth. Over the course of the this conversation in the upper room, John records for us the most concentrated teaching in the New Testament regarding the Holy Spirit. This week we examine both the person and the ministry (works) of the Holy Spirit.
As summer winds down, we resume specific rhythms in our church's life, one of which is gathering together in Community Groups. This week, we remind ourselves of how God is calling us to live with and relate to one another. God's plan and design for every believer is be a part of the family of God, the church. His purposes and plans for his people are beautiful and for our good. God is calling us to warmth and affection for one another and for our relationships to be growing in devotion and love.
After Judas' departure from the upper room, Jesus’ concern turns to preparing his disciples for his departure. Jesus begins to lay out for them what He expects of them while He is away. He gives them a new command that is to be their distinguishing mark, 'love one another, just as I have loved you, you are to love one another'. Jesus desires for them to have a sincere, mutual affection for one another on account of Christ’s great love for them. It is not that disciples are to love the world less, but they are to love one another more. Jesus is creating a new thing in the world, a community held together by love, not affinities for the same thing or geographic similarities nor ethnicity, but by love.
As the disciples continued in ministry with Jesus, they were filled with so much pride and self-absorption, that an argument broke out among them about who of them was the greatest. Meanwhile, in an act of shocking condescension, Jesus washes his disciples' feet. Their Lord and Savior, takes on the role of a servant and does for them what the would not do for one another. Jesus' act of humble service powerfully points forward to the work He will do on the cross, which is mere hours away. And it becomes a pattern, an example for all his disciples to follow.
In John 12, the public ministry of Jesus comes to a close. He will spend the remaining time before his crucifixion preparing his disciples. But before that, in Jesus' concluding words to the crowds, He tells them that He is going to be lifted up (crucified) and his crucifixion is part of his exaltation. His crucifixion shall bring judgment to the world, defeat satan and be the means by which He draws all men to himself. John also aids our understanding of Jesus' words by explaining that Jesus is the Suffering Servant Isaiah saw and prophesied about.
John presents us with a powerful contrast between two people. John intentionally juxtaposes two people for us, both of which are close and dear to Jesus. One treasures Jesus and worships him and the other is lured away and enticed by the pleasures of this world and falls away, leading to his damnation. This text should stand as a sobering warning for us all to keep our hearts from becoming deceived and thus treasuring anything more than Christ.
When Jesus’ dear friends find their brother deathly ill, they send for him to come and heal him. Jesus delays in order to do a more magnificent and glorious work through Lazarus’ death than through his healing. Before many witnesses, Jesus reveals himself to be the one who can bring the dead to life and invites each of us to believe he is the resurrection and the life. The resurrection of Lazarus is a clear symbol of the work Jesus carried out by dying a substitutionary death on the cross. To save Lazarus he, willingly walks into enemy territory to surrender his own life, also securing eternal life for all of God’s children.