Studies in the Gospel of Christ according to John, 6
THE LIGHT SHINES
Abd al-Masih and Colleagues
(John 15:1 - 18:14)
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060 Ė Version 16.2.2004
English Title: The Light Shines in the Darkness, 6 - John 15:1 - 18:14
WATERS-OF-LIFE ē P.O. BOX 15755
PITTSBURGH, PA 15244
D -† THE FAREWELL ON THE WAY TO GETHSEMANE
††††† (JOHN 15:1 Ė 16:33)
1. Abiding in Christ brings much fruit (John 15:1Ė8)
1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the
2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit."
Jesus descended with his disciples after supper from the Holy Mountain, passing through the gates of the city walls at the Kidron valley, and climbing towards the Mount of Olives through vineyards. As they journeyed, Jesus further clarified the meaning of their faith to his disciples and the purpose of their love, using the vine as illustration as they passed along.
Jesus described God as the vinedresser, who planted vines throughout the world. One of these was the people of the Old Testament, as we read in Psalm 80:8-16, and Isaiah 5:1-7. God was displeased with this vine, as it did not bring forth good fruit. So God planted a new shoot in the ground, His Son born of the Spirit, so that he might become the true Vine, and bring forth a new kind and a new generation that would be sound, to produce spiritual fruit in plenty. The subject that Jesus pointed out to his disciples was the fruit of the Holy Spirit in humanity, precious fruit of spiritual virtues. He knew that human teaching was deceptive Ė a beast lives in man, waiting for someone to arouse him to trample others and devour them. Jesus said this at the early stage of his teaching, that he alone brings fruits that are acceptable before God, and he is the peacemaker and builder of the Church.
Jesus first showed the negative aspects of this allegory, that he who does not open up to the impulses of love, or bring forth spiritual fruit and refuses to allow the flow of the sweet juices from the vine to himself Ė God will cut him off from the vine as a useless branch. If God does not find the fruit of the Gospel in you, or does not see the death of Christ and his rising in you as influence and result, He will cut you off from His Sonís vine.
However, as soon as He sees the juice of the Holy Spirit, He will establish the signs of growth in you, as the branch in the vine. It will come to leaf and fructify. The vinedresser will cut those parts that are useless, so that you may bring forth more fruit. This fruit is not yours, but Christís in you. We are unprofitable servants, he is all in all. Do you know that the vine needs to be pruned every autumn, to bring forth ample fruit next year? God, too, cuts out all human failings, so that your stubbornness may be ended, and you die to sin. And so the life of Christ in you will be crystallized towards maturity. The Lord has many ways to save you from yourself. Events, failures and maladies will attack you to break you down. Do not live for yourself, but in the Lord; you will become a loving person through his power.
3 "You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me."
Jesus bestows comfort upon you. God will not cut us off the Vine because of our natural corruption and many sins. Jesus offered each of us a radical cleansing initially, loading us with this when we believed. Do not say, "We shall in future be cleansed by our rites and forms of prayer." He cleansed us in the part; he is the one who forgave us once for all, and sanctified us on the cross. The Gospel exudes power for cleansing. So it is not our efforts, nor our suffering or our maturity that cleanse us but Godís word alone. Just as the Creator fashioned the world in the beginning by a word, so also Christ creates purity in us, if we open up to his word. It is not the sacrament of baptism or the Lordís supper alone that cleanse us, but faith in Jesusí word and our deepening meditation on it. Read at least some portion of the Bible daily, preferably at a regular time, otherwise, without spiritual nourishment, you will fall.
Jesus concentrated on one term on which our growth and fruitfulness depend. That is ABIDING. This word appears ten times in Chapter 15. Many meanings can be inferred from this term Ė we abide in him and he in us; we are made holy in abiding; his power and sap flow through us. All proceeds from him, so we must abide in him. If we part from him, then the flow of his loving power ceases in us. If a branch is broken off, even for a moment, it will wither. What an ugly picture of a withered and dead church. A most vital prayer for believers is to ask that we abide in him. That thereby the Lord may work in us constantly for growth, fruit and action, and keep us in his name night and day. Abiding is not of us it is grace from the Holy Spirit. No one can abide on his own in Christ, but we can thank him for this gift, and ask him to preserve in abiding and that others might also abide.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you are Godís holy Vine in the soil of our earth. From you we derive all good virtues. Our hearts are sources of all evils. We thank you that you have cleansed us through the Gospel. Keep us in your name, so that the energy of your Holy Spirit may bring forth the fruit of love constantly. Without you we can do nothing. Strengthen the resolve of our brethren, to live not for themselves in weakness, but to abide in you.
QUESTION 94: How does Jesus become the true Vine?
5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."
What a high honor did Jesus bestow on us, that we resemble branches proceeding from his heart. He has created the spiritual life in us. Just as in the vine a twig first appears, and this extends to be a plant growing unto a branch healthy and long. Similarly, the believer comes out with all the traits and Christian virtues thanks to Jesus. It is not only by virtue of our faith, but grace upon grace. We are responsible to abide in Jesus.
Then, we find an unusual expression occurring 175 times in the gospel "IN HIM", and the corresponding "IN US" somewhat less often in the gospel. Every believer is entitled to be united with Jesus under the New Covenant. This union is so firm that we see ourselves fused with Jesus.
Our Lord assures us that our individuality does not vanish through believing, we are not submerged in mysticism. He energizes your will, and fills your life with his Spirit. Christ desires to lead you to maturity, and mould in you the image he purposed for you from the beginning. His possibilities and qualities enter the hearts of believers. Where then is our faith and our love?
What is the aim of the union of Godís Son with mankind? Why did Jesus die on the cross, and why was the Spirit poured out in the hearts of believers? What does the Lord require of you? The spiritual fruit bestowed on you from God. These are the Spiritís gifts: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
We need to learn that we cannot achieve a thing of this quality on our own. We can hardly come up with obligatory of ourselves, such as breathing, walking and talking, let alone prayer, faith and love. We have the privilege as believers to enjoy the spiritual life proceeding from Jesus alone. We ought to thank him for our spiritual being and the divine power given us. All these energies and ministries are gifts from God. Without him we can do nothing.
6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.
You are responsible to abide in Christ. On the one hand we note that the life of the Spirit and abiding in Christ are gifts. On the other hand we find that he who parts company with Christ is like someone who commits suicide. This deserter becomes hardened, and needs to be cast in the fire of Godís wrath. The angels will in due course gather those who have forsaken Christ and cast them into outer darkness. The rebuke of their consciences will not allow them any rest. All eternity they will see God in His compassion separated from them. They will realize how, previously, they were kept in His love. If they forsake Him, they have despised their Savior, they are bound to burn in eternal perdition.
7 "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you."
He who abides in Christ lives with him in a thoughtful relationship. Just as a couple long married know each otherís thoughts and intentions. So also he who loves Christ knows his will and abides in harmony with his Lord. Delving deep into the Bible daily will fill us with all good impulses, so that we desire what he does, because our inner feelings are filled with his words.
Then, we shall not pray according to our selfish wishes, but we listen eagerly to the developments in his Kingdom. We become intercessors dutiful in the spiritual conflict. Then our hearts will be filled with praise and gratitude, and we offer the Holy One all matters of concern, needy and afflicted people, whom the Holy Spirit brings to our notice. Jesus works in our world on the basis of our believing prayers. He allows us to share in his saving work. Do you pray? and how? Do you pray in the Holy Spirit? Godís will has various intentions. One is your holiness; another that God wishes to save all and bring them to the knowledge of truth. If we walk in humble behavior, Godís name is thereby sanctified. Ask your Lord to pour the Spirit of prayer into your heart, so that you may produce much fruit, and glorify your heavenly Father and Christ, your guide.
8 "By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples."
Jesus wishes you to bring forth much fruit. He is not content with a little holiness in your life, nor the winning of a few sincere folk, or your mean gratitude. No! He desires your sanctification, to be perfect as the Father is perfect, and that all might be saved. Do not be self-satisfied.
PRAYER: We love you, Lord Jesus, because you are no ashamed to accept us as your members. We ask for the conversion of all, whom you have called to come to you. We mention their names one by one. We believe you have saved them by your cross. Their salvation is confirmed by the descent of the Holy Spirit on them. May the Fatherís name be glorified and your name in the Holy Spirit. Without you we can do nothing.
QUESTION 95: Why are we in Jesus and he in us?
2. Our abiding in the Father's fellowship appears in mutual love (John 15:9-17)
9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love."
The Father so loved the Son that he divided the heavens during his baptism at Jordan. The Holy spirit descended in the form of a dove, and a voice was heard, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased." This announcement of the Holy Trinity, when Jesus bore mankindís sin under the sign of baptism, was the starting point of the Lamb of God on his path to sacrifice. The Son carried out his Fatherís will, emptying himself for our redemption. That love is not limited to Father and Son, but they are together united in love for this wicked world, preparing for the grand redemption.
Jesus loves us in the measure of his Fatherís love. Whereas he was obedient, we are not. Not one of us was begotten from eternity before the ages. What took place is that the Son chose us sinners and cleansed us. He gave us a second birth of the Spirit and sanctified us. We are not seen as toys in his hand, to be thrown down at will. He thinks of us all day long, caring for us with divine concern. He intercedes for us and writes letters of love to us, in the gospel. He exhorts us to faith, love and hope. If we were to gather all the love poured out by fathers and mothers on earth at all times, and purified that love of all impurities and human corruption, all that would seem small compared to Jesusí love towards us that never fails.
9 "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Fatherís commandments and abide in His love."
Jesus warns you, "Do not separate yourself from my love. I love you and look forward to evidence of your love for me. Where are your prayers, are they like a telephonic link with heaven? Where are your contributions to the needy responding to my saving work? I am exhorting you to do what is good, lovely, to kindness and holiness. Abide in my love. The Holy Spirit will impel you to do good, just as God does the good constantly."
It is sin not to love as God loves. Christ wishes to lift us up to the level of Godís mercy, "Be merciful as I and the Father am merciful". You may feel this is impossible. You are right, if the matter lay within the range of human thinking. But you do not know what Christ wants, what he can work in you. He pours his Spirit in you, so that you may love as he loves. In this spirit Paul says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Jesus bore witness to the fact that he never crossed the limits from what was in harmony with his Fatherís will, rather he was abiding in Godís love always. Christ brings about the Peace of God in us, prayer in the Spirit, and loving service.
11 "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full."
Thirst knows manís heart that it is in distress so long as he is far from God. Christ who was abiding in his Fatherís love, was full of joy and bliss. In his inner being there was singing and praise without ceasing. He wishes to give us, along with his salvation, an ocean of inner love. God is the God of happiness.
Love is followed by joy as the second fruit in the list of the Spiritís fruits. Where sin is negated, rejoicing pervades. Christ wishes to strengthen in us salvationís joy, so that it may overflow to others. The joyful person cannot keep the joy to himself, but wishes to rescue others to the bliss of pardon and the happiness of assurance in God. Then our joy will be full as many are saved. As the apostle said, "God wants all to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth." Evangelism is the spring of joy amidst conflict and suffering.
12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
Jesus loves us, knows our names, characters and our past. He feels for our afflictions and problems. He has a plan and help for our future. He is ever ready to converse with us in prayer, he pardons our sins and draws us into holy living in truth and purity.
As Jesus loves us he desires that we love one another. We become more aware of our kin and friends, and feel for their conditions and their afflictions. We begin to grasp their motives and personalities. We find solutions for their problems, and offer them palpable assistance, spending time with them. If they make mistakes, we pardon them and bear with them, not mentioning their failings and mistakes.
Jesus portrayed the peak of love in his life. He did not merely speak and help, but sacrificed himself for sinners. He did not just live for us but died in our stead. The cross is the crown of love, explaining to us Godís love. He wishes us to pass on the message of salvation and to make sacrifices in time and money. If he calls us to share the Gospel with others, and to act out before them what Jesus did for us, he will expect us to give of ourselves, your possessions and energies. He prays for those who do him ill, and treats them as friends. He prayed for his enemies, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do". He did not just call them brothers or Godís children, but beloved. For those who do not deserve his love, he died to ransom such.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
God calls you "beloved". He does this personally to each. You may be isolated, with no one to turn to. Look to Jesus, who died for you and lives for you. He is your best friend, always ready to help. He knows your thoughts, and awaits a response from you in amity. The condition of abiding in his friendship is that we love all as he loved them. Two cannot remain at odds with each other, while they describe themselves as loving Christ. His friendship demands that we love one another. He called us his beloved. We belong to him because he created us, and he has the right to treat us as slaves. He has freed us from the yoke of bondage and raised us. He informs us of his divine works. He does not leave us ignorant but teaches us the Fatherís name, the power of the cross and the love of the Holy Spirit. By showing us the mystery of the Holy Trinity he revealed to us the hidden truths of the eternal. The Father committed these matters into his hands to reveal them to us. His friendship is great to the extent that he allows us participate in his work, favor, honor, power and life. He does not even hold on to the right of adoption or sonship, but draws us to himself to become Godís children.
16 "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 This I command you, to love one another."
Your relationship with Jesus does not rest primarily on your will, desire or experience, but on his love, election and call of you. You were a slave to your sin, in Satanís grasp and the domain of death. You were unable to move out of prison, but Jesus chose you from eternity, and freed you by his precious blood. He made you his friend, and appointed you heir to the rights of sonship. His election is wholly by grace. Yours is either to choose him or not. Jesus chose all men when he atoned for your sins on the cross. Not all hear his call, but prefer to remain in the swamp of sin. They do not know the freedom of Godís children. Christ has called you to freedom from sin and to divine fellowship. Train yourself in love. Your freedom has one aim, serving your Lord and mankind voluntarily. There is no compulsion as with slaves. Jesus became a voluntary servant for loveís sake. He is our pattern, not caring for himself, but his concern was for his dear ones.
He therefore longs that you show concern for your friends, as a shepherd to his sheep. Since our abilities are limited, man cannot free another from the slavery of sin. Jesus encourages us to pray in his name. For if we pray to Jesus that he would guide the liberated and build them morally and spiritually, and provide them with all they need for body, soul and spirit, the Lord will answer according to his good pleasure. The secret of answered prayer is love. If you pray for your friends in this spirit, Jesus will show you your casual sins, and lead you to a wise and useful life and to true prayer and to brokenness and more humility. The Lord will answer, if you asked for salvation and holiness to reach your friends. We call you to persist in prayer. Jesus does not promise you fading results but fruit that shall remain. He who believes through your prayers and witness, will live forever, passing from death to life.
Over and above faith, prayers and witness, Jesus commands you to love your friends, a hearty, honed and pure love. Bear with them patiently, despite their difficult characters. Be gentle with them, as God is gentle with you. Illumine with the radiance of Godís love the world that is debauched and ugly. Train yourself in service, sacrifice, listening and responding. May Christís love shine out from you.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we thank you, because you have freed us from the bondage of sin, and made us your loved ones. May we learn to love all as you loved us. We worship you, and place ourselves at your disposal. Teach us obedience, so that we may bring forth fruits of love in abundance.
QUESTION 96: How did Jesus make those who were slaves of sin become his beloved?
3.† The world hates Christ and his disciples
†††† (John 15:18 Ė 16:3)
18 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ĎA servant is not greater than his master.í If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also."
After Jesus had demonstrated his perfect union with God, and prophesied the coming of the Spirit of Consolation, he prepared them to endure the worldís hatred of them.
The world is opposed to Christian fellowship. Hatred rules the world, but love guards Christian fellowship. Jesus does not take his disciples out from a world of mishaps to transport them to a happy island. He sends them into an evil environment, for his love to overcome fierce hatred. This mission is no picnic, but a spiritual struggle. Those who advocate love face rejection, animosity and berating, while they serve, not because of their own failings, but arising from the opposition incited by evil spirits against Jesusí words. Their Lord, who was perfect in love and wisdom faced that hatred unto death. Despite this severe persecution, he did not flee from the battlefield or leave the world, but died loving those who detested him.
None of us is an angel; from our hearts proceed evil thoughts. But by Christís grace, a new Spirit has come on us. Repentance means change of mind. He that is born of the Spirit is not of the world but of the Lord. He chose us from this world. The word "Church" in Greek means the assembly of the chosen and called out from the world, to carry responsibilities. So the world looks on the Church as an oddity. This separation causes serious splits and deep distress in a family as Jesus experienced (John 7:2-9). In this state, he who abides in Christ needs added wisdom and humility to endure mocking and persecution. If you find yourself in such circumstances, do not forget that Jesus went through the same without cause. Because he loved them, and healed them they crucified him as a criminal.
Jesus has a great promise for you, that though men will torture and fight you, some of them will listen to your testimony, as they listened to his. Just as the word empowered with the Spirit caused faith and love to blossom in the hearers, even so your testimony will create life eternal in some of those who hear you. Every Christian is an ambassador of Christ in a world of hostility. So justify your heavenly calling.
21 "But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father also."
Jesus informed his disciples beforehand that after his ascension painful persecution would attack them for his nameís sake. The Jews were not expecting a Messiah meek as a lamb, but a political hero to rescue them from the colonial yoke. This delusion concerning the hope of political salvation arose from their ignorance of Godís true majesty. They were unable to distinguish between religion and the state; they had a military god. They did not know the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is the God of all comfort and peace. Yes, He does permit the aggression of wars Ė as a punishment, but such wars and sanctions do not build the Kingdom. It is his Spirit that builds it in truth and purity.
Christ came representing his Fatherís principles clearly, but the Jews rejected the Spirit of love and reconciliation. They pursued violence and war. All nations who do not accept Christ the Peacemaker, fall into the selfsame sin as the Jews. Our sin is not to be equated with moral shortcomings, but are the enmity we show God and our rejection of His Spirit of Peace.
The basic reason for menís rejection of Jesus, his Kingdom and peace is their agnosticism of the true God. People imagine their gods according to their whims. But Jesus revealed a God of love to us. He who rejects that love, pursues the path of violence and corruption, and he who rejects Christ, rejects the true God.
24 "If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 It is to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ĎThey hated me without a causeí."
Jesus asserted that his announcement of Godís Fatherhood will be a judgment on those who resist his Spirit, this along with his numerous miracles. No one in the world could heal as did Jesus, or cast out devils, or silence the storm, feed thousands as well as raise the dead. God was at work in him with signs and evidences of a new creation. The Jews saw nothing significant in these signs, since those were no political gains or economic benefits in them for the nation. But as they noticed the authority of Jesusí love, these very works became a stumbling block, because they would not believe in the Father. Just as the Jews shut their souls against the attraction of the Holy Spirit, so today millions live in the prison of the spirit that oppresses God. Those who do not confess that Christ is Godís Son hate his followers, and do not know God truly, remaining in their sins, blaspheming against the Holy Trinity. Nevertheless, Jesus did not punish them, but carried out works of love through his servants. Brother, prepare for this spiritual conflict, asking your Lord energy to endure, with patience and a readiness to suffer.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we thank you for living out your plans despite peopleís hatred. Teach us to love our enemies, so that they may be saved. Open up the hearts of the elect to hear your voice and do your will, accepting your Spirit of comfort. Guide us; grant us more power and patience.
QUESTION 97: Why does the world hate Christ and his loved ones?
26 "But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; 27 and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning."
What was the Holy Trinityís answer to the worldís hate and their crucifying of Godís Son? It was to send the Holy Spirit. The coming of the Spirit is a present-day wonder. His coming indicates Godís entry into the world, for he proceeds from the Father, and is in harmony with god in being and convictions. He desires the worldís redemption, sharing in creation. The Spirit judges evil in the world, and moves us towards Godís holiness, as he uncovers all filthiness. His presence in the disciples becomes a spur to humility and self-denial, whereas the world suffocates in pride, obstinacy and deceit. Primarily, he is the Spirit of truth, rebuking the worldlings for their iniquities.
At the same he comforts the disciples, assuring them that Jesus is the Son of God, who completes their salvation. The Spirit of Consolation gives our spirits a witness to Jesus, for us to see in the Sonís love the Father Himself. Without the Holy Spirit we cannot realize true faith. With all believers we admit that we cannot trust in Jesus Christ our Lord by our own efforts or faculties, nor can we come to him, except by his Spirit, who called us through the Gospel and illumined us with his gifts, sanctifying us by a true faith. He calls all Christians, gathering, illumining and making them holy in Christ. He keeps them in the faith, the one true creed. The Holy Spirit creates the efficacy in our testimony. Do not rely on your understanding or your experience if you wish to present Christ to others. Yield yourself wholly to the Spirit of Wisdom. Listen to his words to learn how to magnify Jesus. Such heartfelt listening to the Spiritís voice as you witness and converse, will make you an effective apostle of the Lord.
Christ called his eleven apostles witnesses to him, a privilege peculiar to them. These disciples were eye-witnesses to Jesus historic vocation on earth. They would witness to what they had seen, heard and touched. Their words would prove the justification of Godís presence on earth. Our faith rests on that witness. Jesus did not author a book, nor write an Epistle, rather he committed his saving message to the witness of the Holy Spirit and the sayings of his disciples resting on their conduct. The Spirit of truth will not lie, but prove to a sick world the power of Christís love by the mouth of his disciples. Jesus, himself, said to his apostles, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and be my witnesses."
PRAYER: We worship you, o Son of God, the Holy One, you are one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and have not left us orphans, but sent your Spirit of truth to witness. May we be sanctified by your coming. Teach us to witness to you that many may believe.
QUESTION 98: How does God confront the world that crucified Christ?
1 "I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me."
Jesus informed his disciples that they would be hated for three reasons:
Because they are born of God and not of the world.
Because men do not recognize Christ, Godís Son nor Godís image.
Those religious bigots do not know the true God, and their worship was to the unknown and obscure god.
Doubtless, hellís hatred continues. He who turns to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is killed by fanatics as an apostate wherever he is found, thinking they are serving God. In fact, they serve the devil. They do not know that the true God is the Holy Father; they did not experience the power of the blood of Christ. They are void of the Holy Spiritís power. So an alien spirit leads them to destroy those who represent the Holy Trinity by persecution, murder and various trials. So were doing the Jews, and so will it be till Christ returns.
Do not imagine that the future will be better, because mankind will add to its store of knowledge and illumination. No, the two contending spirits will remain in the world till the end: A spirit from above, and one from below. There is no bridge between heaven and hell. Either you enter fully into the fellowship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, or else you fall into the bondage of hell and the prison of your iniquity. If you follow Jesus, you become a loving person, honoring the Father with your testimony. But if you will not become His child, you will remain tied up with other spirits and thoughts and develop into an enemy of God.
Jesus reminds you of the cost of adoption to God; if you truly abide in him. Your future will be hard and painful, when hell will explode against Christ and his followers. The world hates every faithful follower of Jesus; so either you gain God as Father and you become a stranger in our world, or you remain a foe of God, and the world welcomes you as one of their own. So choose between life and eternal death.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for choosing death; you stayed faithful to your Father. Tear us away from the spirit of the world and root us in your love, so that we may abide as Godís children. Your love is our power and guidance.
QUESTION 99: Why does the world hate those who believe in Christ?
4. The Holy Spirit reveals history's most significant developments (John 16:4-15)
4 "But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to Him who sent me; yet none of you asks me ĎWhere are you going?í 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you."
Initially, Jesus did not discuss the hardships, suffering and persecution with his disciples, rather he informed them of the heavens opening, and the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man. They were joyfully aware of Godís power working in the Son to perform miracles. Gradually, the bigots hardened their attitudes against him, and the crowds deserted him for fear of the Jews. None were left with him except his disciples, whom he was about to leave on his way to the heavenly Father. Then he spoke of persecution and death, at which more sorrow gripped them. They could not perceive an aim or sense that would be a future encouragement. But they noticed that he did not say anything about his own pain, torture and death; he only spoke about his departure to his Father in positive terms. They asked, "Where are you going?" They had no wish to see him ascend to heaven, preferring him to stay with them. Jesus responded with clarity that it was vital to leave them, because without the cross, the Spirit would not be poured. Only by the reconciliation of God with man, and the expiation of sin by the death of the Lamb of God vicariously, the reservoir of Godís power would open up and come upon his followers. Jesus has fulfilled all righteousness for Godís life and love may be poured on them. The death of Jesus is the basis of the New Covenant, and gives you the right to fellowship with God. The Holy Spirit achieves this result, and comforts you, assuring you that God is with you and in you.
8 "And when he comes, he will convince the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged."
The Spirit can comfort the disciples, for he opens the eyes of believers, and judges the hearts of unbelievers on the basis of these principles.
The Spirit teaches us the meaning of sin and its extent. Prior to Christís coming, sin was a transgressing of the Lawís commandments, and a failure to carry out Godís will. This is regarded as rebellion and a lack of trust and love Ė life without God and opposed to him. All sins be they moral, social or spiritual were regarded as violating Godís majesty. After the cross, this meaning was subsumed in one as the sin that man does commit, that is the rejection of Jesus Christ as a personal Savior, or in other words rejecting Godís free grace. Whoever neglects the free pardon of Jesus, blasphemes against the Holy One, and he who will not believe in God as Father and Jesus His Son is an enemy of the Holy Trinity. God is love, and whoever rejects that love portrayed in Christ commits the mortal sin that separates him from salvation.
On the cross Christ completed the salvation of the world. He does not need to die again, for he forgave all men all their sins in every age. All are justified by grace in Christís blood. He resembles the high priest, his ministry comprises three stages. First, the slaying of the victim. Secondly, the offering of the blood to the Holy of Holies, standing for carrying out of the atonement before God. Thirdly, placing the blessing on the multitudes of believers waiting for it. All this Jesus did. By this offering he pours out the blessing of the Holy Spirit, for him to assure us that we are righteous. The resurrection and ascension of Christ complete our justification initiated at the cross.
Jesus did not see the aim of the worldís judgment as merely the casting of unbelievers in the fires of hell, but also sees the finalizing of that judgment in the destruction of Satan and his slavery. He is the one who draws away mankind from the fellowship of Godís love. He bound them in the chains of hate, making them the devilís children filled with diabolical schemes. Jesus in his earthly existence and walk in meekness condemned the pride of the deceitful one. The Sonís love disarmed the Evil One. When Jesus committed his spirit into his Fatherís hands he overcame the gloom that Satan spreads. Jesus is the Conqueror, despite his apparent weakness. His faithfulness unto death was a judgment on Satan and vanquished him. We live at a time when this victory is in effect. We pray the Father, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil", as we experience the results of Christís victory in protection and assurance.
PRAYER: Thank you, Lord Jesus, because you have fought the good fight, and remained faithful in humility, love and hope. We thank you also that you approached the Father and completed our justification. We exult and praise you with Hallelujahs, because you placed the blessings of your sacrifice in us by the Holy Spirit. Keep us in the love of your righteousness, so that the enemy may not find mastery over us. Rescue us from Satan, that your kingdom may come, and the name of the Father be sanctified all over the world.
QUESTION 100: What does the Holy Spirit work in the world?
12 "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come."
Christ is all-knowing, and wished to inform his beloved disciples about the secrets of the heavens and the future, but the abilities of soul and mind could not absorb such truths in full. So we cannot logically realize that Christ is seated at Godís right hand in heaven, yet at the same time dwells in our hearts, unless the reasoning of the Spirit would illumine us. Similarly, we cannot naturally grasp that God is one in three persons. This the human brain is unable to comprehend, but the Spirit helps our infirmities and illumines our minds. He can reveal the secrets of the future to us, and the hidden thoughts of hearts, for he knows the profundities of the Holy Trinity.
Christ foretold that the Spirit of truth would come and lead them into all truth. What is truth? Jesus did not employ the plural "truths" as if describing earthly facts, but in the singular, as when he said, "I am the Truth". The revelation concerning the Spiritís coming means that he will lead us into the fullness of Christ in action and essence. In so far, Jesus is not a mere man, but the Father is in him, and he in the Father. So the guiding into all the truth means knowledge of the Father and our abiding in His love and survival in eternity. The word "Truth" in the gospel does not mean legal truth or logical validity or even moral truthfulness only, but its meanings are wider, and cover all facts, general and specific. Thus the Spirit leads us to heavenly truths that we may know God in Trinity and experience His miraculous powers.
With all that, the Holy Spirit is an independent Person, speaking, listening, with a free will, yet at the same time he does not do anything save the Fatherís will. He does not come with special thoughts, but tells us what the Father has said. In the Holy Trinity there is nothing except mutual submission in the freedom of love. He is faithful in the witness he transmits from the Son of God. Thus he wishes to build up the whole Church as Christís body, that she might be perfect at the coming of Christ, her Bridegroom.
14 "He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine, and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore, I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you."
The motive behind the work of the Holy Spirit is the glory of Christ. Just as Jesus denied himself and transferred all honor to his Father alone, so also the Holy Spirit does not honor himself, but glorifies Jesus in all his acts. This teaches us to be silent about our experiences, victories and actions, and glorify Jesus the Savior alone. It is not our conversion that is primarily important, but the washing of our sins in Christís precious blood. The movements of the Spirit, his powers and purposes have one goal, the glorifying of Jesus, who purchased us for himself. The Holy Spirit works through the witness of Christís apostles effectively, when they present Christ to hearers as crucified and risen.
The Holy Spirit does not carry out a work all his own, but accomplishes what Jesus began in word and deed. He reminds the disciples of Jesus words, and brings out his divine life in them. He impels them to keep his commandment, rooting them in their Savior. We see from a distance a mutual relationship constant in the Holy Trinity. One Person does not take honor to himself, but honors, magnifies the other always.
During his earthly ministry, Jesus said in all humility, "The Father is greater than me", but in his farewell address he said, "All authority is given me in heaven and on earth", for Jesus created all in fellowship with the Father. The Father is his own, just as every father belongs to his children, as he belongs to them.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, you ransomed us on the cross, and removed our burden of sins. We thank you for your surpassing love. Fill us with your Holy Spirit, so that our whole life may glorify your sacrifice and resurrection. Free us from indolence, hypocrisy and pride, that we may live in the truth of your virtues.
QUESTION 101: How does the Holy Spirit work in the worldís development?
5.† Christ predicts the joy of the disciples in the resurrection feast (John 16:16-24)
16 "A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me." 17 Some of his disciples said to one another, "What is this that he says to us, ĎA little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see meí; and, Ďbecause I go to the Fatherí?" 18 They said, "What does he mean by Ďa little whileí? We do not know what he means." 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him; so he said to them, "Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ĎA little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see meí?"
During this evening Jesus spoke three times of his departure. This reiteration was a shock to his disciples; they did not grasp his intent. But he also promised his return, referring initially to his resurrection from the tomb, which took place at the Passover Feast soon after. Then, he appeared to the disciples penetrating the walls; that was to be a farewell, after a brief visit on his way to his Father.
When Jesus made these predictions as they climbed at even to the Mount of Olives, they failed to understand him. Previously, he had spoken to them about the plan of his departure. Now he tells them of the actual separation about to occur. They confessed that these plans and purposes were a puzzle to them. They were troubled and confused, and were grieved at his homegoing to heaven.
20 "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name."
Jesus read the disciples thoughts, and made out what they were saying, though he had not heard. In answer to their misgivings, he did not calm their fears or lighten their sorrows, but he stressed that much pain, tears and laments would soon shake their lives. It was like the death of a good king; the people grieved and lost hope. While the disciples sorrowed, their enemies would gloat. By enemies Jesus meant the world at large, not just Jewish rulers. All outside the Church of Christ belong to the lost world far from God, rebels against the Holy Spirit.
Further, Jesus promised his disciples that they would find great joy. The hours of tears and mourning would be brief, as the birth pangs of a mother. Mothers regard these birth pangs bearable compared to the joy of holding their infants in their arms.
At the resurrection, all questionings on the disciples were silenced. The issues of guilt were settled for them, and the problem of death overcome, Satanís dominion was shattered, and Godís wrath no longer pressed on them in doom. Their denials, fears and unbelief would not deter Christís return and their forgiveness. The Jews were unable to trap them, because the Lord would keep them. So all the questionings and dilemmas that troubled them found an answer and a cure on the Resurrection day in the Person of the Risen One.
24 "Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."
At the start of his farewell discourse, Jesus urged his disciples to ask what they wanted, and it would be given, that the Father might be glorified (John 14:13). These petitions would cover the building up of the Church and evangelistic activities, because Jesus wants many to enter the fellowship of Trinitarian love. So he exhorted us, "Seek Godís Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you". Jesus promises that God answers prayers for heavenly as well as earthly goods, yet the heavenlies have priority over earthly matters.
What are your questions and the requests of your heart? Do you need money, health and success? Do you ask for a link between you and others? Do doubts regarding Godís existence and mercy assail you? Do you feel an emptiness by the Spiritís absence from your life? Do you feel the burden of guilt and are you suffering because of trials, disasters and afflictions? Do you tremble because of evil spirits? Do you await Christís coming and the spread of his Reign of peace? What questions trouble your soul, spirit and body? Are you superficial or profound? An optimist or a pessimist? Are your feelings quickly hurt? Do you ask your Lord for the filling of the Holy Spirit?
Make each of your problems a matter for prayer. Open your heart to your heavenly Father. But do not babble in prayer, but think carefully about what you are to say. Think first of the gifts and talents Jesus has already granted you, and thank him for them. Thanksgiving befits us. Then confess your sins, because lack of faith, love grown cold and slender hope are failings before God. Ask for pardon for sins confessed, and ask him to show you what he desires from you, so that you may not ask for harmful things. Ask for his grace and trust him to hear you. Never forget that God is love, and wishes to bless others too. Intercede for your friends and enemies that God may bless them with the selfsame grace. You are not the only needy sufferer. All people share in this fate. Offer your questions boldly and in full directly to Christ, and weave a garland of thanksgiving and confession round your problems and your request on behalf of others. You will then learn the secret of true prayer in Jesusí name.
Genuine prayer is to converse with God in supplication, thanksgiving and worship. Do not be elaborate in such converse, using ringing expressions. Say what you think in all simplicity as you would address a parent. The publican in the temple was justified, when he whispered, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner". The heavenly Father raised Lazarus from death, when Christ prayed simply to revive Lazarus. It is faith that gains salvation, help and success. Be bold and pray to God by grace, boldness and thanksgiving. You are called His child, speak joyfully as a child, hide nothing from Him.
Christ desires to bestow joy on you, not primarily as response to your prayer, but for the privilege of your audience with God and His Son. What is more important to you, the gift or the Giver? The Lord gives you fullness, but remember that He is fullness. Jesus wants our joy to be full. Joy increased in us when we realized that Jesus answers our prayers, we who are deficient. He has blessed others and saved them through our prayers. Our joy will become exultation, when we see Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven. Then our joy will be unutterable. Will Christís spectacular coming be the most important theme of your prayers?
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts, because you have sent your Son to us as Savior. Forgive our worldly cares, and help us to be aware of the importance of the cross. Free us to pray responsively, that we may speak to you as children to their parent in all simplicity. Redeem our foes also, who are weary under the load of sins, who agonize with hearts full of folly and hate. Free them from their bonds, that they may share the joy of your presence with us.
QUESTION 102: How does God the Father answer our prayers in Jesusí name?
6.† Christ's peace in us defeats the world's afflictions
†††† (John 16:25-33)
25 "I have said this to you in figures; the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figures but tell you plainly of the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name; ..."
Jesus revealed the truths of the heavenlies by way of illustration and allegory, which hid the mysteries before the worldlings, but disclosed them to those hungry for righteousness. Jesus longed for his disciples to understand him clearly, and hoped for the great day on which he would rise from the dead, and ascend to heaven to be seated at Godís right hand, sending his divine Spirit to them. He regarded all these saving events as one day. When the Spirit came to the hearts of his followers, the parables and allegories would cease, for Christís Spirit would create illumination in the hearts of believers, ending the phase of parables. God is the Father and Christ His Son. Without the Holy Spirit, no man can know God, but the Spirit of the Son draws us into Godís family. Do you have an earthly father? Do you speak with him? Does he care about you? These are intuitive questions. On a higher level, the words of Jesus and the comfort of his Spirit assure us that God is omnipotent, the Holy One and our personal intimate God who loves us. We are His beloved children, even though we are all sinners, but through the blood of Christ we have become holy before him. The Holy Spirit opens our mouths for true prayer, because this Spirit is Christís. In spiritual prayer Christ speaks through us. Pray what the Spirit prays, in Fatherís confidence and the fellowship of the Son. Your prayers will be a conversation between the Spirit in you and your heavenly Father, who is one with the Son.
26 ... and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you, 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from the Father. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father."
That father who does not love his children is no father. By revealing Godís name, Jesus gave us the simplest form to realize Godís mighty love. Giving prominence to the Fatherís name is the core of Christís aim. He who knows the Father knows God, and is changed into a child of God, abiding in His love. In that Name we find the full Gospel and hope for eternity. Christ announces to you, that henceforth there is no need for mediation, because the Father Himself loves you, and He is full of love and mercy. Since Christ died on the cross, there is no barrier between us and the Father. Faith in the Son, Godís Lamb, enables the Father to pour his love upon those who love Christ. He who is aware of Christís divinity, his proceeding from the Father and indwelling with Him, has approached the Holy Trinity. He abides in Godís life, and is filled with the Fatherís grace rejoicing ever in the Spirit.
In one sentence, Christ depicts the miracle of redemption to his disciples. He descended from the heights of deity, and moved about the earth, that was riddled with animosities and depravity, but when he accomplished righteousness for mankind on the cross, he left the world and sped to his Father, the source of all life.
29 His disciples said, "Ah, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure! 30 Now we know that you know all things, and need none to question you; by this we believe that you came from God."
The disciples were becoming aware of the greatness of Godís love and Jesusí eternal being. Jesus is the true God, the omniscient, holy and eternal. But they failed to remember that he was love incarnate, and did not call God, Father; even though Jesus re-iterated these truths. They accepted these matters theoretically, but missed out on the essence of his true nature.
31 Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe? 32 The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, every man to his home, and will leave me alone; yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. "
With a wry smile said, "Do you imagine that merely by the intellect you can grasp my true self? Is such knowledge the same as true faith? The test is about to take place, and will show that your credence is devoid of love. You fail to understand God, because you do not believe in His fatherhood. You will all flee and leave me forsaken. Your faith will be shown to be unsettled."
"In death I am not alone, for the Father is with me." Does this contradict Jesusí cry on the cross, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" No, because God, the Holy One, hid His face from the Son, but Christ continued to believe in his Fatherís presence. His cry indicates that God remains unchanged, "I will not leave you even when I do not see you. Into your hands I commit my spirit". Christís faith in godís fatherhood prevailed over the judgment that fell on him for our sakes. The Sonís love for his Father put out the fire of Godís wrath arising out of our debt incurred by sin. His constant hope opened the door for us to see the Father. Because of his death in the Fatherís counsel we may say, "I am not alone, because the Father is with me."
33 "I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
Jesus summed up his farewell message with a note of comfort for all believers, "I have lived a while with you, and taught you that divine peace might fill your hearts. Unbelievers have no peace. I, the Son, have forgiven your hearts, and cleansed your inner beings. I place the Spirit of my peace in you. Abide in my words. I personally am your defender. You have no protection apart from me. Your reconciliation with God is the basis of that peace. You have no clear conscience without forgiveness of your sins in my blood. I have saved you and my Spirit is in you. My peace is not a phantom but a reality. I come to give you peace; accept it and believe in me."
"Do not imagine that peace awaits you in this world. No! There lurks many a danger: persecution, illness, deceit, fears and death. Legalists will reject you, the superficial will mock. Thousands of lies and philosophies will test your faith. Pride will be ever near. Do not love money; wealth will not make you secure."
"Know my love and imitate my humility, abide in my self-giving and self-denial. I have overcome the world. I did not ask anything for myself. I am in essence Godís Holy One. In me Godís commandment was fulfilled, ĎBe holy, because I am holyí. I am the perfection of love, in me you see the Father."
Have you grasped the import of Jesusí farewell discourse? He has set you in the Fatherís fellowship, so that your heart accords with Christís peace. That peace is the most vital truth in a believerís life. The world will remain evil and trouble you. But your faith in the Victor over death and Satan will free you from the fire of Godís wrath and external torment. He who believes in Christ receives Godís mercy. Has this message from Jesus filled you? Is the Holy Spirit in you to say, "The Father is mine, the Son is my Savior, and the Spirit indwells me. The One God is in us. I abide in his grace."
PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, you have won my heart, bought me for yourself. You have kept me in your protection from the devilís snares, and freed me from the dungeon of his lies. You have bestowed eternal life on me. I fear no death, as I wait on you. Keep me in your will, and fill me with your power, that I may glorify you with all saints, and worship the Father. Let me love the brethren, and forgive people and be a peacemaker as guided by you. I rely on you; you are the Victor.
QUESTION 103: Why and how does the Father love us?
E - JESUSí INTERCESSORY PRAYER (JOHN 17:1Ė26)
1. Introduction to the intercessory prayer
Jesus served humanity with his Gospel and works; healing the lame, feeding the hungry, opening the eyes of the blind, and raising the dead. His love was a revelation of Godís glory amidst hatred and death.
At the start of his ministry, multitudes flocked to him. When the Jewish religious Council (made up of bigots and hypocrites) saw that the foundations of their religion and legalism was quaking, they threatened Jesus and his followers with banning and death. The enthusiasm of the crowds waned and they deserted him. Whereupon Christ and some of his loyal followers were persecuted, but he continued to love everyone.
In the end the Councilís propaganda took in one of the twelve; he prepared to betray his Master, whereas Jesus was preparing his own during the Covenant supper for their vocation as apostles. In his farewell he announced to them his oneness with the Father, and how the Comforting Spirit would establish them in the fellowship of divine love, despite the coming persecution.
But the disciples failed to grasp their Lordís intent, because the Holy Spirit was not yet poured out into their souls. So Jesus went directly to his Father, and committed himself and his followers into the Fatherís hands in this High Priestly prayer. He also made mention of those who would believe in him by the witness of those apostles.
Christís intercessory prayer, recorded in Chapter 17, gives us a unique insight into the manner in which the Son of God conversed with his Father, and the kind of love between the Persons of the Holy Trinity. The Spirit of Prayer is prominent here. Whoever delves deeply into this chapter, enters into Godís Temple where worship and intercession pervade.
2. The prayer for the Father's glory (John 17:1-5)
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you".
Christ announced to his disciples that he was one with the Father. He is in the Father, and the Father in him. Whoever sees him has seen the Father. But the disciples were unable to grasp this striking revelation. Their minds boggled as they tried to grasp the presence of the divine in flesh. Jesus entrusted his weak and ignorant disciples to his Fatherís care, to illumine and keep them in the fellowship of divine and holy love.
By lifting his eyes to heaven, Jesus may have surprised the disciples. How does he pray to a Father in heaven, and say at the same time that he exists in the Father and the Father in him? These unintelligible gestures baffled their minds. We know that both ideas are valid: The perfect union between Father and Son, as well as the autonomy of each Person. God is mightier than our minds, and the Holy Spirit teaches us to treat both concepts as valid. Ask God to enlighten you, if this awareness is difficult. For no one can fully grasp Father and Son, except by means of the Holy Spirit.
In this prayer Jesus called God, Father. For God is not just a holy Lord, and a severe Judge, but his merciful love covers all His other qualities. God is Himself holy Love and merciful Truth. This new concept of God as a loving Father arose when Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit a Son of God. He lived eternally with God, but became flesh to redeem us as children for the Holy One. This revelation of the name Father for God is the essence of the message presented by Jesus to the world. By this inspired truth, Jesus freed us from the fear of judgment, since the Judge is our Father, and the guarantor is our Brother, who paid our debts. If you absorb the name of Father in many of Jesusí pronouncements into your soul and live in accord with that knowledge, you have grasped the Gospel message.
Christ acknowledged before his Father that the worldís most vital hour had struck, the hour of reconciliation between God and Man. Mankind, the angels, religions and philosophies had unknowingly awaited these hours. It had come. Christ had lifted the guilt of the world as Godís Lamb. He had been ready to die alone in the flame of Godís wrath. In these decisive moments the betrayer was approaching on the road with a company of temple police to arrest Godís Son, the meek and strong Man who was ready to die with no protection.
2 "Ö since then you have given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him."
Many think that "glory" means radiance and light. Jesus confessed that his sacrificial love was the essence of glory and the core of his divine being. He asked his Father to keep him in that love, during the hours on the cross, in the storms of pains and fears, so that the rays of love divine would shine perfectly in the crucified. The Son was willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of rebels and criminals, so that they might be justified by his death. This is the core of the Sonís glory.
Nor was he reticent to say that he was not dying for himself, but for the Fatherís glory, and that he was undertaking a measure that no one else could. He glorified the father on the cross and accomplished humanityís reconciliation with God. When sin is pardoned, Godís love is displayed, and all are invited to adoption. The Holy Spirit is poured on believers in Christ, so that the children may glorify their Father by means of a perfect walk in purity. There can be no greater sign of the Fatherís name being glorified than His becoming Father to many children. So Jesus asked forth completion of redeeming love through the birth of many children in Spirit and truth in praise to that Fatherly name.
The Son resumed his divine claim, that the Father had given him all authority over all these born of women. Christ is the true God, Creator and Redeemer. He is our Lord, King and Judge. We are his and he is our true hope. He received this authority given, not for judgment and destruction, but to save and guide. The aim of Christís coming is that believers in him may receive eternal life. Death finds no more dominion in them. On the cross, Jesus forgave the sins of mankind. Even though only few respond to this offer of salvation, believers are the elect nation, who believe in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and continue in Christís saving glory. In them the divine Spirit abides. Their new existence is the miracle of our age, glorifying the Fatherís name.
3 "And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."
The Holy Spirit substantiates what Jesus said about God. He is Christís Father and ours. Whoever is aware of this divine mystery and believes in him has eternal life. There is no other key for knowing God except in the Person of Jesus Christ. He who sees in the Son the Fatherhood of God, and trusts in him, is changed into the sphere of holy adoption. The striking knowledge in Christís saying is not mere science, but spiritual being and becoming. God restores His image in every believer. What is this significance of this divine image? It is love, truth and integrity, which the Holy Spirit brings about in Godís children. It is also the glorifying of the Father, whereby His virtues are manifested.
Christ was sent by God into the world, so that men might realize by his walk that apart from him, who was born of the Spirit, crucified and risen, they could not know God. The Son is the divine Apostle who gathered all authority in his person with love and holiness. If you wish to know the true God, study the life of Jesus who is the image of Deity anointed by the Spirit. As Messiah he is also King of Kings, and the High Priest, the perfect Prophet and Godís word incarnate.
4 "I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work which you gave me to do; 5 and now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made."
During his sojourn on earth, Jesus constantly meditated on the Father, witnessed to Him and carried through His works. He denied himself to glorify the Father. What he heard from the Father he passed on to us. His whole life glorified the Father, with trust that his prayers would be answered. He completed the task of redemption on the cross. However, this was not a proud boast, for his Father had given him that mission to accomplish. He acknowledged that the Father had completed all things. Since Jesus emptied himself, and took no credit for himself solely, he deserves that the glory of eternity should redound to him. Thus he testified that he was glorious from eternity, God from God, light from light, begotten not created. After completing his purposes he longed for a return to his Father. As he reached heaven, the angels and other beings glorified him saying, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive might, riches, wisdom, power, honor, glory and blessing".
PRAYER: Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Son has glorified you by his walk, prayers and sacrifice. We do not deserve to lift up our eyes to you. We thank you for pardoning our trespasses because Christ has died for us; you have made us your children. I thank you for transporting me to life everlasting by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into my heart. Help us to glorify you ever, and not snatch glory for ourselves, but obey your Sonís commandment and love one another, that others may see in our good works your fatherhood and glorify you by yielding to you.
QUESTION 104: What is the basic thought in the first part of Jesusí prayer?
3. Jesus intercedes for his apostles (John 17:6-19)
6 "I have manifested your name to the men whom you gave me out of the world; they were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word."
After Jesus was convinced that his Father would strengthen him to accomplish redemption, and knew that his Fatherís glory would increase through the birth of many children possessing eternal life, his thoughts moved towards his disciples, whom he had chosen out of the world and united them in divine accord.
Christ announced Godís new name, Father. By this statement they became his children, chosen out of the world. This mode of existence is the mystery of the Church. Those born of God do not belong to themselves, but are His who gave them that new birth, and he bestowed them on His Son, bought by his blood. If you believe in Christ, you will be his possession.
This divine fatherhood and the believersí becoming His children was fulfilled in the disciples by their faith in the Gospel, and their keeping of his precious words. These words are no empty clanging or vanishing smoke, as are most black letters printed in the worldís presses. They are Godís words and letters overflowing with creative energy. He who keeps the Fatherís words in his heart, lives in His might.
7 "Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you, 8 for I have given them the words which you gave me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you did send me."
Godís word on the hips of Jesus creates saving knowledge to transform corrupt lives. Jesus lived out his own message and carried out his works by the power of that WORD. All his energies and blessings come to us in the Word of the Father. The Son claimed no private knowledge, but ascribed his authority, might, wisdom and love to God bestowed on him.
Christ offered his most precious possession: his words. This was from his Father, so that the Son became Godís Word incarnate. In that word is our power. We thus experience the power of that word and are enlightened by it. We received these signs and words gladly. The passages of the gospel enable us to discern the reality of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We find here Christ revealing in prayer the insight of his disciples and their grasp of his words, because he had sown the seeds of faith in their hearts. They took in his words with joy, even though not instantly. Then he poured his Spirit on them; the word grew and brought fruit in Godís time. Christ prophesied this beforehand by faith that the events would surely take place.
Christís words generated faith with knowledge in the disciples. What was that faith? The procession of the Son from the Father, the presence of the Eternal in time, his divine glory in human form, his love despite hatred, his power in weakness, his deity despite his separation from God on the cross, and his life beyond death. The Holy Spirit established them in their Redeemer, and they became members in his body. They did not languish long in the stage of mere credence intellectually, but clang to him whole-heartedly, while he was abiding in them spiritually. They thus became conscious by the Spiritís workings of Christís deity made incarnate.
In Christís being, the disciples found the parallel to their peculiar birth, experiencing Jesusí epigram "He that is born of the Spirit is Spirit." This blessed Spirit is the divine power in the bodies of the disciples. He comes through the words of Jesus.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for giving us your Fatherís words Ė words that are full of life, power and might. You have produced faith and knowledge in us. You are our power, we love you and magnify you with the Father who gave you to us.
QUESTION 105: What is the significance of the revealing of the Fatherís name through Jesus?
9 "I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours; 10 all mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them."
Jesusí prayer was for everyone who believed in God, the Father, united with the Son in eternal ages. Jesus did not arrive here for the whole world, since mankind rejected the Lordís Spirit, and chose judgment. The love and care that Jesus showed was concerned with his Church and the elect of God. Christianity does not recognize a worldwide Church taking in all mankind, because the Church chosen from all peoples is distinct, selected, the first fruits of Christís death.
Jesus did not lay claim to a special possession for himself, but repeatedly witnessed that they were a special possession of his Father, even though the Father had granted them to him. The Son remained humble, and submitted his own to the Father in prayer.
Jesus acknowledged that he was being glorified in those who trusted him, whereas we rush to criticize and say that our Churches are weak and a scandal to Christ; he probes more deeply than this. The Father sees us in the light of the cross. He poured out His Spirit into believers through the Son. This spiritual outpouring was proof of the efficacy of the cross. Christ did not die in vain, but the Holy spirit brings up fruit aplenty. Thus every rebirth brings glory to Christ.
11 "And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given us, that they may be one, even as we are one."
Christ was returning to his Father, assured that this was to occur, even though the betrayer was approaching with a band of soldiers to entrap him. Jesus could see beyond his death his Fatherís glory, prophesying, "I am no longer in the world", though he was still in the world.
Jesus considered the world as a wide river with its waters rushing with greater speed, occasionally turning into a waterfall tumbling from a height. Christ was swimming against the stream, and reversed the human tide. He knew that his disciples would not find the power to oppose evil. So he asked his Father to keep his loved ones in his name.
In his petition Jesus used a unique phrase "O Holy Father". In the face of the worldís massive evils, the Son witnessed to the Fatherís holiness, who is blameless, guileless and faultless. God the Father is pure and holy. His holiness is the garment for His love, while glory in the radiance of love displayed.
Thus Godís holy name is a refuge where the disciples find shelter from the dominion of the tempter. He who lives in Christ, lives in the Father. He who abides in the Son, abides in the Father. Godís fatherhood assures His children that He will keep them in his providence and protection. Satan cannot snatch them from the Fatherís hand.
The condition that assures their protection is that they do not live in hatred and stripe, but forgive one another daily with mutual love that is constant. This love does not spring from man innately, but whoever abides in the love of the Holy Trinity receives power, patience and love for others. Christ asked his Father to keep us in His fellowship, to be one with him always as the Son is one with his Father: This saying is not a dogmatic analysis or a theoretical description for our relation with God, rather Jesusí farewell request was answered by the Father. Our faith is not arrogant or mystical; it is the fruit of Jesusí prayer and his suffering for us.
12 "While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves."
By patience and sagacity Jesus kept his disciples from Satanís temptations, despite their diverse characters. He said to Peter, "Satan has desired to grab you, but I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not." So our faith survives because of his intercession, and we are saved by grace alone.
This ability to keep his followers was withdrawn from Judas for his surrender to the Spirit of destruction and resisting the Spirit of truth. He became a son of perdition. Our heavenly Father does not force anyone to receive the gift of adoption. He knows what is in the breasts of people, and the course of events beforehand, so that even Judasí betrayal had been recorded in the Old Testament a thousand years before it took place. Nevertheless, Judas remains responsible for rejection of Christís concern for him. Our mighty God is no dictator but a wise Father; an aspect of his love is the gift of freedom to humans, just as earthly fathers allow their mature children freedom to be responsible.
Jesus saw his way to the Father as a lighted path amidst the gloom. Neither Satan, nor sin, nor death was able to deter his return to God. The Son was ever holy, and for that reason joy filled is being. Sin did not gnaw at his conscience. Fear did not overshadow his prayers. The Son was free and guarded by his Father, always obedient. Our God is the Lord of joy and gladness. Jesus besought his Father for this divine gladness to pervade the hearts of his disciples. He did not wish his followers to be sorrowful, rather he wanted them to be full of bliss and cheer, that the joy of heaven might be theirs, despite living in the midst of the worldís gloom and despair. Joy for pardon and thanksgiving for our place in Godís family are the fruit of Christís supplication on our behalf.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for interceding for us with the Father. We praise you for keeping us in faith through your supplications for us. We worship you for your pleasure in us. Your presence and the Fatherís Spirit bestows life and riches on us spiritually, and eternal blessedness. We thank you for your prayers for us; we live by your intercession.
QUESTION 106: What does our protection in the Fatherís name signify?
14 "I have given them your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."
Jesus testified in his prayers that he had offered the Fatherís words to his disciples, revealing to them His fatherly name with its meanings. Through this revelation he announced the Holy Trinity to us. This wondrous revelation of Godís essence touched the disciples. It transformed them filling them with power, so that they became members of Christís spiritual body.
On account of these qualities and virtues the world would hate them, as they hated Jesus. Just as Christís source was from God, and his life was hid in God from eternity and time forever, similarly all who are born again will live eternally.
15 "I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the Evil One."
Jesus did not waft is disciples into heaven, nor did he transport them into seclusion, even though afflictions and hardships beset them all round. He asked his Father to protect his followers from satanic influences and the deceits of orators as well as evil spirits. Our Lord intercedes for us. Every believer lives in his embrace guaranteed and sealed. The blood of Jesus protects us, and because of his sacrifice God is with us. No one can accuse us or destroy us. We have become righteous, immortal, upheld by the grace of the Holy One. Unless we turn disobedient and follow our inclinations to specific sins; then He will let us fall into temptation, for the sin that indwells us may emerge and become uncovered shame. Then we shall tremble and repent with tears, crying, "Father, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." He who tries to struggle with Satan and death in his own strength and human boldness deceives himself. Resort to Christís blood and intercession, he is our only Savior.
16 "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth."
In his prayer Jesus repeated his testimony to the disciples, that they had not emerged from this evil world, even though they were of the flesh and prone to evil like others. They would remain bad, but for Godís grace Christís blood has freed them forensically from the prison of the Evil One. They have become aliens in this world and citizens of heaven.
In the new nature of those believers constituted of body and soul there is a lifelong conflict merciless and non-stop. The Holy Spirit is pained if we love ourselves, our works and our families more than other people. All attempts at pleasing ourselves will wound our consciences. Every lie burns into memory as a smouldering cane. Godís Spirit will not let you keep stolen goods in your home. If you have hurt someone by an insult or a cruel action, the Spirit of truth will impel you to go and ask his pardon. Because this Holy Spirit uncovers all wickedness, deceit and twisting in your life, and will judge you accordingly.
Christ asked his Father to sanctify us, because the unholy cannot make another holy. This sanctification is effected by attracting us to His truth. To the extent that we realize Godís love and abide in the Sonís grace and live in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are made holy. Godís presence in our lives affects us. God Himself fulfils His purpose in us, "Be holy because I am Holy." The blood of Jesus sanctifies us once for all, just as the Holy Spirit in us lacks nothing. Your faith in the nature of the Holy Trinity sanctifies you wholly.
This sanctification is achieved on Godís part through our deepening in His word. The Gospel is the source of our cleansing, and the root of our obedience. Christís words lead us to faith, to self-denial and love for worship, so that we may be fit to approach God unhindered. Open your heart to the word of your Father, for God is love and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
18 "As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world."
After Jesus had prayed for his disciples asking that they be sanctified, he sent them renewed into a world of wickedness. He saved us to sanctify our lives; then he sent us into the world to save many and to sanctify. The Church is not an assembly at ease, entertaining itself with pious talk and legalistic judgments. It is a fellowship of action, invading the fortress of Satan by faith, aiming by prayers and perseverance at the conversion of the lost. The Church announces the Fatherís Kingdom, and seeks to effect His will for evangelism on earth. Have you become aware of Christís prayer for action in evangelism?
Jesus honors you and sends you to the lost, as the Father sent him. The aim is the same as is the equipment. He offers you only the revelations on the truths of God in Christ. Jesus calls you to practical service, not to rest or delusion. His Holy Spirit is your power.
19 "And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth."
Jesus knew that none of his disciples was able to evangelize or carry on spiritual welfare, and that all would fall with fatal wounds in their hearts and consciences, but Godís holiness surrounded them. For this reason the Son became a victim, sanctifying himself, even though he was already holy at all times. By his death he met all the demands of holiness, s that the accusations of Satan should be extinguished by our faith in Christís blood. On the basis of this atoning death, the disciples were able to receive the Holy Spirit, which made them vessels to bear living water, witnesses to Jesus preaching in his name.
Thus they were freed of trickery, and their lips cleansed of the poisons of deceit. They received boldness never to deny the right, to expose sins, even though this might cause troubled consciences, but eventually lead to salvation. This conflict with lying, immorality and pride succeeds only by the protection of Christís blood and the efficacy of his intercession.
PRAYER: Forgive the hatred, lies and pride in our hearts. We are by nature evil, you are holy. Keep us from the snares of Satan. Explain the Gospel to us that your words may sanctify us truly, and we may live in accord with what we preach.
QUESTION 107: How did Jesus ask his Father to keep us from evil?
4. Jesus intercedes for the church's unity (John 17:20-26)
20 "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me."
Christ grounded his disciples in Godís love and the Spiritís power, asking his Father to keep them from the Evil One, and sanctify them by the Gospel before his handing over to be crucified. After becoming sure that the prayer on behalf of his apostles and the Church was answered, he looked forward to the future and saw multitudes of believers springing from the message of his apostles. The image of the crucified Victor over Satan and sin drew them in. Through their trust in the living Christ the Spirit would descend into their hearts, so that they would share in the grace of divine life. By faith they were united with the Father and Son in eternal oneness.
Christ prayed for those believers, who would believe through the apostles. Surprisingly, when he prayed they were not yet found. His words prove the basic trustworthiness of the apostleís message. So what is the gist of his demand for us? Did he pray for our health? our prosperity, our future success? No! He asked his Father to grant us humility and love, so that we may be one with all sincere Christians. We should not think we are better than others, or find their conduct unbearable.
The unity of believers is the aim of Christ, the Church that is split contradicts his plan for it. However, this unity that Christ requested cannot be built on ecclesiastical arrangements, but is a spiritual bonding in prayer and Spirit above all else. As God in essence is one, so Christ besought his Father to bring in all believers into the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, that all may be secure in Him. Yet Christ did not pray, "That they may be one in me or You", but "in Us". Thus, he implies that this perfect unity peculiar to Father and Son in the Spirit, is the model. He wishes to raise you to his level, because outside the Trinitarian fellowship there is nothing but hell.
The aim of being established in Godís unity is not to please ourselves spiritually, but for us to witness before others, who live afar from God. Hopefully, they will realize that they are dead in sin and wicked in their pride, and slaves of their passions, and so repent and turn to the Savior. You who are clinging to Father, Son and Holy Spirit, will receive strength to be humble, loving, in spiritual freedom to love everyone who believes, and rejoice in their presence, and with them to become a costly witness to Christís love. We are all proof of the deity of the Man Jesus. If only all Christians were sincere, no non-Christians would remain in the world. Their love and peace would draw all and would transform them. Let us give heed to Jesusí demand and unite! Do you intend to be a cause for unbelief in a divided Church, as if Christís body were in pieces?
22 "The glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and loved them even as you have loved me.
What is Jesusí glory? Is it his radiance or the light of his majesty? No! His glory is hidden behind his humility, patience and gentleness. Every virtue of the Spiritís gifts is a ray of his glory. Thus John saw, testifying, "We have seen his glory." He was not referring to the transfiguration, or his resurrection alone, but also to the mean manger and his cruel cross. In these the glory of divine love appeared clearly, where the Son emptied himself of obvious glory, and represented the essence of his majesty in the form of man. This glory Jesus has bestowed on us. The Spirit of Father and Son descended on us.
The purpose of this distinction given to us is not for display and self-advertisement, but that we might submit in unity for service, and meet for mutual services, and aim to honor others. With these spiritual principles Jesus asked his Father for the same unity and fellowship that characterizes the Holy Trinity, to shower us with these traits. The love of God is the measure to test the Church. He it is who moulds us into his eternal image.
Truly, God in his fullness indwells the Church (Ephesians 1:23; Colossians 2:9). Or do you lack the courage to utter the words that come in the same passage, "In Christ the fullness of deity dwells bodily, and we are complete in him". This apostolic testimony is the proof that Jesusí prayers before his death were answered. We worship and praise the Lord, because he does not despise us wrecked and guilty as we are, but has cleansed and sanctified us and joined himself to us, for us to live his divine life.
Jesus was confident beforehand that we could be perfect in love and humility. Let us love and honor one another. Not perfection in wealth, abilities, wisdom, but in mercy and love and kindness is what he desires in us. Compassion and tolerance was his primary aim when he said, "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." This commandment sums up his attitude to loving enemies. But in his intercessory prayer he intended a higher degree of perfection, a spiritual unity in the Church and with God. The Spirit does not lead to introversion or isolation, but to the fellowship of saints. The Trinitarian unity is our pattern. And we do not represent God in the world, unless we are one. As individuals carried the image of God in the Old Testament, more so should the Church with its members show the image of Holy Trinity.
Harmony within the Church impresses the worldlings to see that we come from God. They begin to see that God is love. It is not mere words or long explanations which create faith in themselves. It is joy in the assemblies of Godís children that speak louder and better than long sermons. So did the Holy Spirit unite the early Church in Jerusalem in a spiritual genuine oneness.
PRAYER: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for leading us, the unworthy, to faith in you. You have made us your servants by the witness of your love. We worship you, because you cleansed and equipped us to become members of your spiritual body. Ground us in the love of the Holy Trinity. We magnify and praise you and beseech you to give us power to live in our churches in practical and living unity.
QUESTION 108: What did Jesus request from his Father for our benefit?
24 "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world."
Six times in the High Priestly prayer Jesus named God "Father", and once "The True God". With this unique name he expressed his own trust and longing for God. For he was one with the Father in essence, but emptied himself and was humble for our redemption. He had no desire to be famous or possess things. Thirteen time he used the expression "you have given me". The Son regarded humanity, his followers, his works and authority a gift from God, as if they were not his own already. And he was devoid of such, yet submitting to his Fatherís majesty and honor. This humility assured continuous harmony, so that the Son fulfilled the Fatherís thoughts and purposes totally.
On account of this absolute submission he could say in prayer without willfulness, "I desire." So what is the desire expressed by Godís Son? It is that all his followers in time and space would be with him where he is. Thus, Paul testifies that he was crucified with Christ and buried with him to share his rising, and will be seated by him in heaven, to discover the riches of Godís superabundant grace by the gentleness of Christ Jesus (Romans 6:1-11; Ephesians 2:4-7).
Our unity with Christ goes beyond sharing in his sufferings and love, and includes his glory. He desires us to see his glory and dwell in his companionship forever. The apostles knew this goal of our hope. We shall rejoice with eternal joy unspeakable when we see him. We shall also reflect his glory, transformed into his likeness, because the condition of this radiance is given to us in the outpouring of Godís love into our hearts (Romans 5:5 and 8:29). He gave his glory, since he was glorious even in his lowly manhood. The apostles realized in his presence that his glory proceeded from unshakeable love between him and the Father, before the earthís foundation. This existence in the Holy Trinity is the source of our being and ransom.
25 "O righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you; and these know that you have sent me."
God remains righteous and just, even if the world is unaware. In essence He is holy, and there is no darkness in Him. Whoever experiences His love in Christ, realizes that it is not His fault that men do not believe in the Son or find salvation.
But Christ knew his Father from eternity, because the Son saw his Father face to face. His attributes virtues and names are known to the Son. The deeper aspects of deity are not hidden from him.
To all who receive the Son, God gives them the right to become His children. Jesus disclosed to them the secret of Godís fatherhood. Those who are regenerate realize that Christ came from God; he was not just a prophet or an apostle, but divine, truly from God. All the fullness of deity was in him bodily. The Spirit illumines us to perceive Jesusí deity in humanity, to become one with him and the Father who sent him. Thus he is the link between God an Man.
26 "I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."
In sum, Christ taught us the revelation of the Fatherís name. The clearest demonstration of this is in the cross, where the Father sacrificed His Son a holy victim, for us to share in the rights of Sonship. When the Holy Spirit came upon us, we cried, "Abba, Father" out of the depths of our hearts. The Lordís Prayer is the crown of all prayers, as it glorifies the Father, His Kingdom and will.
We discern the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ to the extent that the love that continues between Father and Son is poured into us. He asked his Father to create the fullness of love in us. It is not just the Father who comes to us, but Jesus who personally wishes to abide in us. So he prayed in intercession that the fullness of the deity might come down on us, as John confesses in his epistle: God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
QUESTION 109: What is the summary of the High Priestly prayer that Jesus uttered?
LIGHT OVERCOMES DARKNESS
(JOHN 18:1 Ė 21:25)
A -† EVENTS FROM THE ARREST TO THE BURIAL
††††† (JOHN 18:1 Ė 19:42)
1. † Jesus arrested in the garden (John 18:1-14)
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples across the Kidron valley, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, procuring a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons.
Jesus spoke to his Father in prayer, committing his life into Godís hands, as well as his apostlesí and followers. With this farewell prayer he completed his words, ministries and prayers. Then he entered a new stage of suffering and affliction to fulfill his role as Godís Lamb bearing the worldís sin.
So he entered a walled garden on the Mount of Olives across the Kidron river, where lay a winepress. This was a place of refuge and retreat that he and his disciples resorted to, and where he often slept.
Judas knew of this secret hideout, and he informed the Jewish authorities of Jesus whereabouts. They were pleased and gathered temple guards and representatives of the Pharisees. They had no right to arrest anyone by night or carry arms, except with the agreement of the Roman rulers. The governor was informed. The Jewish leaders were not content with Judasí information, but pressed him to lead the company to arrest Christ. Thus, Judas was not merely a traitor but also delivered Jesus to his foes. God forbid that He should allow the Son to take the likeness of the betrayer or vice versa. God is above such baseness.
4 Then Jesus, knowing all that was to befall him, came forward and said to them, "Whom do you seek?" 5 They answered him, "Jesus of Nazareth". Jesus said to them, "I am He". Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When he said to them, "I am He," they drew back and fell to the ground.
We have no idea how the attackers slipped into the garden. They probably had many lanterns, to find him, in case he thought of escape. Jesus was deep in prayer, his disciples asleep. In prayer he noticed the company nearing along with the betrayer. He made no move to escape, though he knew what awaited him in harsh judgment and torture. He was aware of everything and obedient to the Father. He rose and surrendered to the advancing company; his majesty and honor intact. In truth, it was not Judas who surrendered Jesus, but the Lord who yielded himself for us.
He asked them, "Whom do you seek?" When they uttered his name, he answered in divine terms, "I am He". Anyone with a sense of spiritual insight would realize at once that in Jesus God was standing among men, saying to them what God said to Moses, "I AM". "Do you honestly wish to kill your Savior? I am He, take care what you do. I am the Creator and Redeemer, standing before you."
All the while, Judas was standing around, and these words pierced his heart. This is last occasion he is mentioned in Johnís gospel. John does not mention the kiss of Judas or how he committed suicide. Johnís primary concern was Jesus, whom he portrays in noble resolve before his enemies. This voluntary surrender in meekness stabbed Judasí heart for Jesus was ready to die. At that, Judas and the company fell back in shock in the presence of majesty. They were equipped for combat to arrest the accused. Here he was approaching them with the dignity of a high priest on the day of atonement, saying, "I am the One you want." They fell to the ground, and Jesus could have evaded them, but he continued to stand before them.
7 Again he asked them, "Whom do you seek?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth". 8 Jesus answered, "I told you that I am He; so, if you seek me, let these men go." 9 This was to fulfill the word which he had spoken, "Of those whom you gave me I lost not one".
Christ turned the attention of his attackers to himself. Some were out to arrest his disciples, but Jesus tried to shield them, facing his foes, baring his chest. He is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep, and he enjoined the soldiers to leave his own followers alone. His dignity shook them, and they obeyed his command. Again he said, "I am He", as if to say, "I am the Bread of Life, I am the Light of the world, I am the Door, the Good Shepherd, the Way, the Truth and the Life. I am the appointed Savior. In human form God stands before you." The name "Jesus" means, God appoints and saves. This divine succor was rejected by the Jews. They did not want the humble Nazarene, as their Messiah.
10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priestís slave and cut off his right ear. The slaveís name was Malchus. 11 Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?"
Peter had not understood his Lord, or heeded his words. He was asleep and woke up, still dozing. He noticed the soldiers and was angry, drawing his sword, which Jesus had allowed him to carry. This he lifted and struck the servant of the high priest without an order from his Lord. The servantís ear was cut. Only John tells us this, after Peter was long dead.
John highlights Jesusí command to his head disciple to put back the sword into its scabbard, avoid further blood letting, and spare the arrest of any disciple.
Then Jesus spoke to his disciples of the cup of divine wrath that he accepted as he prayed. Thus, we read this as an implicit reference to the spiritual struggle that went on in the Lordís soul before his arrest. We realize that he was ready to suffer that wrath, bearing all judgment in his person for us. That cup comes directly from his Fatherís hand. He thus takes what is most bitter from Him who is dearest. This he cannot bear except by love, because Father and Son are one in mankindís redemption. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.
PRAYER: We worship you, o Father, because of your love beyond our grasp. You gave your Son for us. We worship you, o Son, for your mercy and majesty and readiness to die. You did not flee the garden but defended your disciples, and surrendered to your foes. We thank you for denying yourself, for your kindness and your uprightness.
QUESTION 110: What is the meaning of Jesusí revelation of himself to his enemies at the entrance of the garden?
12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews seized Jesus and bound him. 13 First, they led him to Annas, for he was the father in law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had given counsel to the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
It was not only the Jews who arrested Jesus, but the Roman officer who arrived with soldiers for the same purpose. Christ, who is Lord over death and demons, who calmed the storm, healed the sick, and forgave sins, endured the bonds meekly. The One who was free became a captive. The Lord became shackled and fettered. We caused that because of our ugly sins. His bonds represent one further step downwards towards his humiliation to the lowest degree on the cross.
Annas was the high priest from 6 BC to 15 BC. In theory, he was in office for life, but Rome removed him from his seat. Eventually, they picked Caiaphas, the Fox, his son-in-law, a devious lawyer. He was able to meet the demands of the Law as well as the requirements of Rome. He was notoriously sly and deceitful, the prophet of Satan who produced a fraudulent prophecy about Jesusí death to ensure the nationsí survival. The trial that ensued was a tragedy dramatized to condemn the accused, with a trumped up charge, to give an appearance of justice. Those who were disturbed in their consciences were given the impression that the trial was fair and based on clear evidence.
John does not record the events surrounding the two sittings of the Trial, as recounted in the other gospels, but he gives prominence to the investigation and questioning that preceded the Trials before Annas, chief of the priestly clan. He was still the prime mover of the developments in the land. Caiaphas ordered that the preliminary questioning be transferred to Annas as a mark of respect.
QUIZ - 6
Dear reader, send us correct answers to 15 of these 17 questions. We shall then send you the sequel of this series of studies.
† 94. How does Jesus become the true Vine?
† 95. Why are we in Jesus and he in us?
† 96. How did Jesus make those who were slaves of sin become his beloved?
† 97. Why does the world hate Christ and his loved ones?
† 98. How does God confront the world that crucified Christ?
† 99. Why does the world hate those who believe in Christ?
100. What does the Holy Spirit work in the world?
101. How does the Holy Spirit work in the worldís development?
102. How does God the Father answer our prayers in Jesusí name?
103. Why and how does the Father love us?
104. What is the basic thought in the first part of Jesusí prayer?
105. What is the significance of the revealing of the Fatherís name through Jesus?
106. What does our protection in the Fatherís name signify?
107. How did Jesus ask his Father to keep us from evil?
108. What did Jesus request from his Father for our benefit?
109. What is the summary of the High Priestly prayer that Jesus uttered?
110. What is the meaning of Jesusí revelation of himself to his enemies at the entrance of the garden?
Do not forget to write your name and full address clearly on the quiz sheet, not only on the envelope. Send it to the following address:
P.O. BOX 15755
PITTSBURGH, PA 15244
CONTENTS - 6
D - THE FAREWELL ON THE WAY TO GETHSEMANE
††††† (JOHN 15:1 Ė 16:33) ....................................................... †275
1.†† Abiding in Christ brings much fruit (John 15:1Ė8)........... 275
2.†† Our abiding in the Father's fellowship appears in
††††† mutual love (John 15:9-17) .......................................... †280
3.†† The world hates Christ and his disciples
††††† (John 15:18 Ė 16:3)..................................................... 285
4. † The Holy Spirit reveals history's most significant
††††† developments (John 16:4-15) ....................................... †290
5.†† Christ predicts the joy of the disciples in the
††††† resurrection feast (John 16:16-24) ............................... †295
6.†† Christ's peace in us defeats the world's afflictions
††††† (John 16:25-33) ......................................................... †298
E - JESUSí INTERCESSORY PRAYER (JOHN 17:1Ė26) ........ †302
1.†† Introduction to the intercessory prayer ......................... †302
2.†† The prayer for the Father's glory (John 17:1-5).............. 303
3.†† Jesus intercedes for his apostles (John 17:6-19) .......... †307
4.†† Jesus intercedes for the church's unity
††††† (John 17:20-26).......................................................... 315
PART IV - LIGHT OVERCOMES DARKNESS
††††† (JOHN 18:1 Ė 21:25) ............................................ †321
A - EVENTS FROM THE ARREST TO THE BURIAL
††††† (JOHN 18:1 Ė 19:42) ....................................................... †321
1. † Jesus arrested in the garden (John 18:1-14) ................ †321