October 10, 2015.
Daily Reading: John 16-18.
Background: John 13-15.
Concepts and Connections.
A final discourse with the disciples: As we near the passion narrative as presented by John, he gives us one of the final discussions that Jesus has with His disciples before He is taken to trial and the cross, followed by the a prayer for unity in the time to come in the next chapter. In this final discussion, Jesus speaks a lot about His coming departure, how the the world would only see Him for a little while and the disciples would lament and morn, but then have their joy complete when He is raised from the dead. He first begins with the reason the He is telling the disciples these things, and that is so they would not fall away when the hard times came. Jesus did not sugar coat the troubles and trials that His disciples were in for when He was taken up, but rather plainly tells them that they would be ridiculed and even murdered, and those who did these things to them would do so with a good conscience towards God. This is precisely what the Apostle Paul would do to Christians before He met Jesus on the road to Damascus and became a follower of Christ (see Acts 8:1, 9:1, 26:9-11). Jesus then makes it apparent that He must go to the Father, so that the Helper would come afterwards, Who would lead the disciples into all truth. It is interesting that Jesus says here, just before He is taken from them, that He still had many things to tell them, but they were not able to bear it yet. He was possibly attributing this to the faith that the disciples would have after the resurrection, when they saw the salvation that He was bringing to the earth. At that time they would be able to bear the things that He had to say to them, and the Holy Spirit would guide them into these things. The Spirit would also convict the world of sin, rightness and judgment because of their unbelief, Jesus’ departure and the judgment of the ruler of the world, respectively.
Though He was to be delivered up to death and His disciples would both flee and morn, Jesus says these things that they might believe when He is resurrected, when their mourning would be tuned into joy because they would see Him again, exalted. He compares the mourning period to a woman giving birth, as she is in great pain for a little while, but when she sees her newborn child, she forgets all the pain she was in because of the joy that is laying in her arms. Jesus then says that in that day, whatever the disciples ask the Father in His name, He will give it to them, that their joy may be full. The disciples are grateful that Jesus has given them what they finally consider to be a clear answer and they say they believe in Him, but Jesus indicates that the hour is coming when they all will be scattered. But the Father would give them peace, not in the world, but in Him, for Jesus had overcome the world. we can take great comfort in this teaching.
The High Priestly prayer: As Jesus is wrapping up one of His final discourses with the disciples, He ends with what is often referred to as the High Priestly prayer, where He lifts up His eyes to heaven and prays to the Father in the presence of His disciples. He prays first for the glorification of the Father through the Son through the granting of the authority to give eternal life to those who are truly disciples of Christ. Jesus is nearing His end, and He has accomplished all that was given Him to do thus far. He reminds the disciples through this prayer that He was in the beginning with the Father, before the world existed, and He was glorified them just as He will be glorified now. Jesus had come to bring the good news of salvation to the world, and it was this message that He had manifested to those He had been given. Note the sense of community and unity that Jesus stresses that He and the Father have throughout this prayer.
In this prayer, Jesus specifically prays for His disciples, making a distinction between them and the world, the the Father keep them in His name and that they may be one. Note here the utmost urgency and importance that Jesus places on us being one in Him and the Father. Unity is stressed throughout this prayer, along with the rest of scripture. He makes it clear that He has kept all the disciples that the Father had given Him (in reference to the apostles) and that they were one, save the son of destruction, who was Judas- the betrayer. This was to fulfill the scripture that one would betray Him (see Psalm 109). Other than Judas, Jesus had kept His disciples as one, and they would be sanctified in truth, for the word of God is truth. Thus we should be consecrated as holy, just as Jesus consecrated Himself as a holy vessel, in the world but not of the world. He makes it clear that He is not only praying for those disciples that He has taken care of personally, but all those who would come after them, who would believe through their word. He prays that we all would be one, that the world might believe that the Father had send Jesus. Note that it is this unity that will sway the world, and our division greatly hinders the gospel. This is why Jesus stresses this unity throughout this prayer, and often we don’t take this unity as seriously as we should. It should be one of our main goals as Christians, to be united in Christ. This will be our testimony to the world, that we many the bond of unity and love with one another. Let us ever strive for this unity.
Jesus arrested and tried: After He had finished His open discussion with the disciples, he broaden them out the the brook Kidron where He often met with His disciples. Then Judas, knowing the typical interactions that Jesus had with His disciples, went out to Him by night with a band of soldiers and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees to betray Him. When Jesus asked who they sought and told them that it was He, they drew back and fell on the ground, and Jesus asked a second time who they sought. He makes it clear to the band the thad come to arrest Him that it was Him who they sought and that they should let His disciples go.
There seems to be a great amount of power displayed here, implied from their falling backwards and the fact that they did let His disciples go even after Peter cut off their ear of the high priest’s servant. But this was not the plan of God, to fight when Jesus’ time came, and Jesus was willing to drink the cup that the Father had set before Him. Peter would later go on to deny Jesus three times after He is taken away, and on the third time, the rooster would crow, just as Jesus had told him would happen (see John 13:38).
After Jesus was arrested and lead away from His disciples, the band that had arrested Him took Him before Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest, Caiaphas. John reminds us that Caiaphas had prophesied about the death of Jesus that year (see John 11:50), showing that this prophecy was being forced by his own hand. Annas then questioned Jesus about His disciples and teaching, but Jesus said that He had done nothing in secret and that if they wanted to know what His teaching was, then they should just ask His disciples. With this statement, Jesus let it be known that they knew already what His teaching was, thereby revealing their scheming, and also subtlety indicates that even when the kill Him, they will not be able to stop His message and teaching, because His disciples already knew His teaching. Jesus is then struck by an officer, but asks if what He said was true, why did he strike Him, pointing out their unwillingness to reason. After He was sent to Annas and Caiaphas, the Jews took Him to Pilate, the Roman governor that had been placed over their region. When Pilate asks what accusation they brought against Jesus, they sidestep the question and simply say “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” Pilate tells them to judge Him by their own law, but they insist that they could not put a man to death without Roman orders. Pilate then questions Jesus, and asks Him if He is a king. Jesus points out that He knows that Pilate is only asking this because others have told Him this, showing the he really had no evidence or reason to accuse Jesus. But Jesus does go on to teach about His kingdom, a kingdom that is not of the world, nor has physical wars with the world. Jesus is indeed a King, but His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. He had come into the world to bear witness to this truth. Pilate then asks, “What is truth?” but seems to walk out without waiting for an answer. Pilate does, however, realize that he has nothing upon which to condemn Jesus, and tries to release Jesus from custody, as was his custom to release one prisoner at the passover. But the crowd cried out that he should release Barabbas, a robber, instead of Jesus. The hour for the Son of man to be lifted up had finally come.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Hebrews 1-4.
All praise be to His name.