Some of the strongest evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is the transformation in the disciples themselves. As John records, not all the disciples believed Jesus had resurrected even after they saw and heard the tomb was empty. But this doubt was crucified when Jesus unexpectedly joined them as they fearfully huddled locked in a room. Jesus showed the disciples his hands and side and they believed. Then Jesus commissioned them and sent them to declare the reality and truth of his resurrection, making disciples in His Name and He equipped them to do this by giving them the Holy Spirit.
The Old Testament plays a vital role in our understanding of the crucifixion of Jesus, the Lamb of God. John uses the OT as a interpretative tool, a lens through which to understand what is taking place at Calvary. John demonstrates Jesus is our Passover Lamb. There is no other way to be reconciled to God except through the death of Jesus Christ as our substitute. Only by Christ bearing the penalty of sin in the place of believing sinners, is there any hope for any of us. Jesus has satisfied the demands of justice in our place.
The Apostle John wants us to see is that Jesus is subjected to the world's rejection. This is what John has been telling us from the very beginning, from the opening prologue of the gospel, that Jesus came to His own and His own did not receive him. Nevertheless, John wants us to understand that even now, even in the midst of Jesus’ betrayal and trial, all things are going according to God’s plan. John wants us to understand that everything that happens to Jesus and everything Jesus does before Pilate, He does in fulfillment of Scripture.
This Sunday we will participate in Orphan Sunday. Orphan Sunday is an opportunity to join in with churches all over the world in learning about God's heart for the fatherless. This week we will thank God for the ways He is using our church and study Psalm 68:1-10. God has a plan to care for orphaned and vulnerable children and his plan involves us!
This morning is Missions Sunday, a Sunday in which we emphasize the mission of the church. The church is comprised of all those saved by the grace of the Lord, called out of darkness and unbelief and brought to faith in Christ. Having received God's mercy, we have been commissioned to take the hope of the gospel to the nations. God chooses to make his offer of mercy and grace through us.
If you have ever wondered what Jesus' prayer life was like, our text this morning informs us. In John 17, we get to eavesdrop of Jesus' prayer just before his betrayal, arrest and crucifixion. Jesus prays for God to be glorified in him, for the needs of his disciples and for the church.
The disciple's great fear is that if Jesus goes away, they will know and experience Him less. Jesus explains to them that in fact, the opposite is true. The disciples will know more of Christ because He will send His Spirit and the Spirit of Christ will dwell with them and in them. And Christ assures them that despite the trials and tribulations they will experience, Christ will give them his joy and his peace to be in them.
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.