1997-08-14 - Prelude to the Finale
The Cross Series, Part 5
John records the end of the Last Supper in powerful detail. Jesus is alone with his closest friends for the last time before he begins His final march to the cross. In that final few hours, He made every effort to steel them for the coming life-shaking events. His conversation with them becomes very direct. The Lord is also cramming a great deal of review and reinforcement, as well as instruction into this final brief rest from the storm.
John 13:31-14:15 - When therefore he [Judas] had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; 32 if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately. 33 "Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You shall seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, I now say to you also, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' 34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
The break is only for the apostles, and even they must be reeling at this moment. Jesus is preparing Himself for the conflict even at this point. The scene is not unlike the music that might be used to create tension as the finale of a play opens. Jesus declares that He will be glorified, and that God will be glorified in the process. The circle will be completed by God amplifying the glory of Himself within the Son. Just as the Holy Spirit always directs us to Jesus, the Son, the Son also always directs us to the Father. Even when Jesus is glorified, that glory is focused on the Father so that we can know the way to the Father, through Jesus.
"Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You shall seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, I now say to you also, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' " The Master is making it crystal clear. I am leaving. I must leave. He has told them over and over again that He is going to die. It was an alien concept to the Jewish mind set. They did not know what to make of the suffering Servant of Isaiah 55. They were expecting an earthly King to shake off the Roman yoke and liberate Israel again. They were looking for a political leader, just as many do today. And just as it is with all of us, God's view is so much broader and so much deeper than we can fathom. The yoke that will be shaken off will be that of the enemy, and of fear and of death. The disciples had just recently seen the resurrection of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha. Before Jesus had come and raised Jarius' daughter and Lazarus, the only records of people coming back from the dead were from the days of the Prophets. Death was the supreme enemy. Jesus had already shown them that He had the power to defeat death. Could they see it, or was their vision clouded by the looming battle they could each sense? Jesus would reassert His supreme authority.
John 13:36-38 Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, where are You going?" Jesus answered, "Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you shall follow later." 37 Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You." 38 Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a cock shall not crow, until you deny Me three times.
Peter asks the question on everyone's heart and lips. And Jesus tries to soften the blow with the fact that we will all follow Him in death and be reunited. I have said it before, and I will say it again. I love Peter. "I will lay down my life for You.", Peter declares. I have little doubt in his heart he meant every syllable. And Jesus takes the next step in the breaking and remaking of Peter. He tells Peter, after he makes his public declaration of his willingness to die for his Master, that he will not only not die with Jesus, but deny his Lord three times before sunrise. It must have been like being hit with a brick. Luke recalls it this way:
Luke 22:31-32 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."
Simon, your greatest foe has demanded that he gets to take a his best shot at you. I can hear the lament in Jesus voice and He looks at His friends bewildered face. Peter must have been wide eyed. And, Peter you are going to take a beating! But when you have recovered, your brothers are going to need you. God allows trials in our lives to break and remake us showing us our dependence on Jesus, just as He is doing here with Peter.
John 14:1-4 "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 "And you know the way where I am going."
Everyone must have been afraid to open their mouths if Jesus would correct Peter with such staggering news. Jesus senses their fear building. And our Savior presents His closest friends with on of the greatest comforts we have to hold on to to this day. "I go to prepare a place for you." I can see a sparkle and a smile struggle through Jesus' anguished eyes. Jesus is going to prepare our eternal homes. There is no maybe, "if it were not so, I would have told you". The Holy Spirit confirms in our hearts that we have a place, that we are sealed and kept until the day we pass from this life, or this age ends. Either way Jesus has promised, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." Jesus will meet us, not Peter, saint or otherwise. And He makes it abundantly clear that He wants to be with us. And, "you know the way where I am going.", the question Peter asked will be answered at that time. Until then, we are to wait.
John 14:5-10 Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?" 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. 7 "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." 8 Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." 9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.
Thomas is struggling. "How?", he pleads. Jesus issues another great comfort, even to us today. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." It is the definite, singular article 'the' in all three cases. The only, singular, unique way, truth and life that really exists. Jesus lets Thomas know in spades, "I'm it." Philip struggles to grab on to something he can cling to as his heart and mind struggles under the load. Jesus must also gently correct him. The Lord reminds Philip of a simple truth that Jesus had given to them all, "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?". Philip, I know you believe this. Let your mind hear your heart. These men who walked with Jesus Christ for three years, and were steeped in His teaching, struggled under pressure with the basics of their faith. Jesus did not cast them out and start over. What a picture of how patient the Master is with each one of us, and His gentle, correcting love.
John 14:11-14 "Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves. 12 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. 13 "And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
What a thought, that anyone would do works greater than those that had been seen by the disciples performed by Jesus. And yet, Jesus tells them here that they will. Right now they did not feel like world beaters. Jesus was about to die, and they could do nothing to change it. "… whatever you ask in My name, that will I do …", asking whatever in the name of Jesus means that they [we] are representing Him. If we ask something that is outside the scope of His plan and purpose, we are no longer representing Jesus properly and the request would not be granted. But the very thought of access to the power that Jesus displayed may have meant little to these men. They would gladly trade it in exchange for their Lord's presence.
Dear Lord, You show us such patience and compassion in our times of confusion, stress and grief. You remind us of the promises You have graciously taught us, without stern rebuke. You remind us of our place in You. And in all this taking none of the glory for Yourself, but point us to the Father. We look forward to the marvelous places You have waiting for us, and look forward to the day we will see each other face to face. Keep us mindful that these eleven men, in very many ways are not so different from us. And that the grace and promises extend to them, are for all your children. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.