John, Chapter 18, Part 2

John 18:12 – So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him.

In our last post, we left Jesus and the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane with Judas and the band of soldiers he brought to arrest Christ.

At this point, Jesus calmly surrenders himself to the soldiers.  Tradition says Jesus was bound with such cruelty that it drew blood and having bound his hands behind him, the soldiers put an iron chain around his neck and dragged him along by the chain. 

Jesus was bound like a runaway slave, in order to humiliate and disgrace him.  His captors did everything in their power to inflect pain upon him.  They did not treat him as ‘innocent until proven guilty’; they instantly treated him as a condemned man who deserved punishment and death. 

This was the day that the kingdom of Satan was waiting for.  Satan thought he was going to defeat Almighty God.  Drunk with anticipation of victory, he and his demon hordes reveled in delight as they influenced the soldiers and the religious leaders to abuse Jesus with the utmost cruelty. 

Satan was right about one thing; this was a day of victory – for Jesus Christ our King!  

Although the soldiers did not acknowledge it, it wasn’t the cords that held Jesus in their power, it was his own will/determination.  He could have slain them all with just a word and escaped if he chose to.

But he didn’t.  He had already made up his mind to embrace the will of his Father and drink the cup of suffering which would result in our salvation (John 10:18). 

As one commentator so eloquently put it, ‘He was bound that you and I might be set free from the bondage of sin’.

John 18:13 – First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.

According to the book of Nehemiah, the city of Jerusalem had ten gates.  The easiest and quickest way to get from the Mount of Olives into the City of Jerusalem was through the Sheep Gate (Nehemiah 3:1). 

This gate was so named because it was the closest gate to the temple.  Sheep (and other animal sacrifices) were brought into the city by this route.  The sheep market was located near this gate, as was the pool where temple animal sacrifices were washed.

We can’t help but notice that as they led Jesus from the garden to the high priest, they took him along the exact same route that hundreds of Passover lambs had taken over the years.  The soldiers were truly leading him as a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7, Acts 8:32).   

By this time, it was well after midnight, and the common practice would have been to place Jesus in jail overnight, until court (the Sanhedrin) convened the next day. 

But the religious leaders did not wait.  What was the big hurry?  Perhaps they feared some kind of public rescue or maybe they were just anxious to condemn Jesus, their sworn enemy.  We don’t know for sure, but in either case, the religious leaders had Jesus brought immediately to Annas.   

Who was Annas? 

Scripture tells us that he was a former high priest.  Now if that seems odd to you, then award yourself a bonus point or a piece of candy, if you have one!

As you recall from your Old Testament studies, there should never be a ‘former’ high priest.  When God set up the function of the temple, he declared that once a man was appointed as the high priest, he remained in that office until his death.  Then the office passed down to his first-born son, who passed it down to his first-born son, and so on.

So how is this situation possible?

Well remember, Jerusalem wasn’t really a peaceful place.  The Jews hated Roman authority and sedition was always bubbling just under the surface, especially in Jerusalem. The Romans, who had no intentions of losing power, were always looking for various ways to keep the Jews under control.  Since the high priest was the most powerful position in the Jewish nation, they sought to control that office.

So instead of the priesthood passing down the generations as God had decreed, the Romans rulers began to dethrone the high priest at will.  Under their control, the high priestly office was bought for money, given as a favor, revoked as punishment, or awarded to those who supported Rome.

Obviously, at some point, Rome had replaced Annas as the high priest.  But don’t feel too sorry for him.  He was still very active in the Jewish nation and he still wielded a great amount of authority.

  • He was allowed to keep the title of high priest, which still gave him automatic influence and authority with the common Jews.
  • He was a member (and likely the head/president) of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling body. 
  • He had five sons who were successively named as the high priest, and his son-in-law currently filled the office. 

The question is, why bring Jesus before Annas, instead of straight to Caiaphas, the current high priest? 

It is likely that Jesus was taken before Annas as a token of respect to the influential former high priest. It is assumed that he worked hard to have Jesus arrested so he ‘deserved’ to interview the prisoner.

It seems as if he was responsible for conducting a preliminary investigation of Jesus’ doctrine (John 18:19).  Jesus would then be turned over to Caiaphas, the legal high priest for ‘official’ trial in the presence of the Sanhedrin (John 18:24), before being handed over to the Romans to be put to death (John 18:28). 

Here is something you might find interesting:  Scholars believe that Annas was not planning to attend the late night emergency meeting of the Sanhedrin because he had to rise in just a few hours and go to the temple where he would examine the Passover lambs that were to be sacrificed that day.  Each lamb was examined in order to make sure it was without blemish, and thus fit to be sacrificed. 

If that is so, then we see the hand of God at work once again – Jesus, the true Passover Lamb,  was presented, inspected and approved for slaughter by the rightful high priest of the Jewish nation.

One other point in this narrative needs to be addressed.  It is unclear whether Annas and Caiaphas lived in the same house or not.  There was a good chance that they did, as they were related and it was a common custom back in that day.  If they did have separate homes, that of Annas must have been very close to that of Caiaphas. 

John 18:14 – It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

Annas did not detain Jesus and his guards very long.  Almost immediately he sent them to Caiaphas, the current high priest.

We are not told how or why Rome chose Caiaphas as the high priest that year, but his role in the death of Christ suggests a wicked heart (Matthew 7:17-20).   

Back in chapter 11 of his gospel John informed us that the Sanhedrin had been debating what to do about Jesus.  During that time, Caiaphas received a word/revelation from God which he didn’t really understand.  This is what he said:

John 11:49-50 – Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all!  You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

Despite his position as the high priest, Caiaphas was not very spiritually minded.  In fact, he was all about retaining his own position and earthly power as the high priest.  His allegiance was to Rome, not to God.

He assumed that the revelation of God applied to the current political situation of the Jews.  He interpreted it to mean that Jesus should publicly die to serve as an example/deterrent to any future mutinies or rebellions among the Jewish people.  (Rome was more than ready to slay the Jews if they got out of control; this actually occurred in AD 70.)

We can easily read between the lines and see that because of this belief, Caiaphas could not be an impartial judge in the case of the Jews versus Jesus.  His mind was already made up; he was convinced that Jesus should die before he even heard the facts of the case.  Therefore, any trial that Jesus received was just a sham. 

I want to point out that God did not force Caiaphas to make a wicked decision because it was his will for Jesus to die.  Rather, (as in the case of Judas), Caiaphas was already a wicked man, so God allowed him to have the position of high priest that year, knowing the decision he would render.

John 18:15-16 –Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple.  Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door.  So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in.

John could have spared us all a lot of time and confusion if he had just named ‘the other disciple’!  (Maybe we should talk to him about that in heaven one day!)  In the meantime, we will discuss the possibilities of this mysterious disciple:

Some people believe that the other disciple is actually the apostle John, the writer of this gospel.   This theory is based on the fact that John often speaks of himself in the third person, without mentioning his own name (John 13:23, John 19:26, John 21:20).

However, there are difficulties with this explanation

First of all, although John frequently speaks of himself in the third person, he normally identifies himself as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’, which is not the case here. 

Second, John was a common fisherman (strike one) from Galilee (strike two) and a close associate of Jesus (strike three).  The Jews of social prominence in Jerusalem would never have had him as a close personal friend (to say the least). 

Third, the scripture indicates that the mystery disciple was comfortable being in the house of the high priest.  He was confident in speaking to the servants and having Peter admitted to the grounds.  Based on the apostle John’s close association with Jesus, it would be very strange for him to be such a visitor in the house of Caiaphas.

Nevertheless, people who support this theory point out that God works in mysterious ways and if he wanted the apostle John to be an eyewitness to these events, he could have made this happen.   

However, assuming it isn’t John, who else could the mystery disciple be?

Well, it would need to be someone who has these qualifications:

  • He is a believer in Christ, but not one of the twelve.
  • He is most likely from Jerusalem.
  • He is wealthy and socially connected.
  • He knows Caiaphas well enough to be comfortable asking him for a personal favor – to allow Peter to come into the courtyard.

Based on these criteria, the mystery disciple is often believed to be the unnamed owner of the house in which Jesus and the disciples just ate the Passover meal.  Supposedly, John does not mention his name because he was still alive at the time this gospel was written. 

Despite all the conjecture, here is what we know for sure:  Scripture simply does not give us enough information to identify this man.  Therefore, we can correctly conclude that his identity doesn’t really matter; it is not a focal point of this bible narrative. 

Regardless of the identity of the ‘other disciple’, the end result was that Peter was admitted to the outside court of the house of Caiaphas.

John 18:17 – The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?”  He said, “I am not.”

But sadly, as we will discuss in our next post, Peter is in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Temptation immediately assails him on his way in the door/gate to the high priest’s estate.

Peter is confronted by the lowest, lest important and least threatening person present – an older female household servant.  She has no power, no authority and poses no physical threat to Peter.  She doesn’t even accuse him of anything.  She only identifies him as a possible disciple, based on his friendship with the unnamed man.  Yet her words cause Peter to tremble and deny Christ in fear (Matthew 26:70, Mark 14:67, Luke 22;56).

Thus, all his foolish boasting exposed:

Matthew 26:35 – Peter said unto him, Though I should die with you, yet will I not deny you.

(See also Matthew 26:33).  Peter declared that he would prove to be a courageous and valiant champion for Christ, able to meet death with confidence and be faithful to Christ no matter what the cost.  He thought he was a spiritual Superman, but this insignificant maid was his kryptonite!

John 18:18 – Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves.  Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

At this point, the Roman guards had probably been released.  The servants mentioned here were those assigned to the household of Caiaphas and the officers were temple servants.  The group is gathered around a fire. 

According to the architecture of that day, this estate would have had a street door or gate.  This was where the maid was stationed; she admitted or denied people onto the grounds of the estate. 

Once inside the gate, visitors found themselves on what we would call a patio – a large roofless rectangular shaped space paved with flagstones.  It was sometimes referred to as a ‘court’ or ‘hall’.  The firepit was located in this area.

At the upper end of this space was the open chamber in which the trial was held.

Additionally, Mark indicates that the chamber may have been raised slightly above the court possibly accessed by a short flight of stairs (Mark 14:66).  The court would have been visible from the chamber.

Since the ‘other disciple’ has been admitted into the trial chamber, Peter is essentially alone; he is the only believer in the court.  Fear keeps him from pushing forward for a front row view of the proceedings, and since it was obviously cold that night, Peter immediately goes to the fire to warm himself and hopefully blend into the crowd as he waits to see what will happen.

Although we don’t know for sure, the conversation around the fire most likely centered around the night’s events.  The enemies of Christ were probably praising the religious officials and condemning Jesus as a heretic.  Yet, Peter stands among them silent.

At the same time Peter is denying Christ, the high priest is engaged in falsely accusing and judging him:

John 18:19 – The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

EVERYTHING about the trial of Jesus was a gross miscarriage of justice. 

According to the Talmud, Criminal processes can neither commence nor terminate but during the course of the day.  If the person be acquitted, the sentence may be pronounced during that day, but if he be condemned, the sentence cannot be pronounced till the next day.  But no kind of judgment is to be executed, either on the eve of the Sabbath, or the eve of any festival’.

But the Jewish religious leaders are not going to allow a little thing like the law to get in the way of their plans. 

Now that they have finally achieved their goal of arresting Jesus, they need to charge him with something.  Since he hasn’t done anything wrong, it is going to be difficult to find a charge that will stick.  Their task is made even more difficult because they law required at least two witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6) for an accusation to be confirmed and they had none!

John 18:20 – Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world.  I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together.  I have said nothing in secret.”

Nevertheless, they push forward.  In their first attempt, they question Jesus about his disciples.  They were trying to see how many followers he had and how powerful they were.  If they could prove he had a strong and zealous faction of followers who wanted to make him their king, they might be able to charge Jesus with rebellion/treason against Caesar – a charge that carried the death penalty. 

Their next attempt was to charge him with teaching doctrines which subverted Mosaic Law.  If they could prove this charge, it would make Jesus a false prophet – a charge that also carried the death penalty (Deuteronomy 13:5, 9-10).

Either conviction would have fit their purposes. (Their purpose being for him to die, in accordance with the views of Caiaphas).

These haughty men still believed that they were far superior and wiser than Christ.  They expected to trap him in his words or forcibly extract a confession from him which could then be used to condemn him.  This would have made their jobs much easier, as a confession would not require witnesses.

John 18:21 – “Why do you ask me?  Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.”

But these foolish men could never trap Jesus.  You would think that they would have already learned that, based on prior interactions with him (Matthew 22:15-22).

Jesus had done nothing that was sinful or wrong in any way.  He taught openly in the temple, in the synagogues and in other public places in front of enormous crowds (Proverbs 1:19-21, Isaiah 45:19).  Anyone, including the high priest, could have come and listened to him at any time.  If there had been a problem with his doctrine, they could have confronted him publicly while witnesses were present.  Furthermore, every synagogue had a leader or officer.  If Jesus had been preaching a false doctrine, he would certainly have been confronted about it multiple times; it would have been a well-known fact.

There is also the matter of the miracles of Christ.  If the religious leaders had actually taken time to ask people about Jesus and his doctrine, they would once again have been confronted with the testimony of his numerous miracles.  It would have been irrefutable proof that he was the Messiah, approved of God.  For this reason, the religious leaders don’t even bring up the subject. 

Because he had perfectly discharged his duties as a teacher of God, Jesus does not attempt to defend himself here in the court.  Instead, he reproves the high priest who tries to cast doubt and suspicion upon a matter that is perfectly well known to all the Jews. 

John 18:22 – When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?”

Just who is this haughty officer of the court, who dares to correct the Lord Jesus?  His words imply that he considered Jesus a rude and ignorant prisoner who was not good enough or wise enough to speak to his master. 

It’s rather disgusting to see how this man abuses Christ just to gain the favor of his boss by acting jealous for his honor and dignity. 

This man’s actions were wrong on every level:

  • It was insolent for a mere servant to strike a public figure; especially one revered by much of the nation.
  • It was cowardly to strike a bound man who could not defend himself.  
  • It was unjust to strike a defendant who was giving testimony to the court.

Had this been a fair and legitimate trial, the court would have taken action against this man, however, they completely ignore his action and continue on with their treacherous business.

But Jesus was not caught off guard by this undeserved blow.  It had been predicted by God long, long ago:

Job 16:10 – They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me.

(See also Isaiah 50:6, Micah 5:1).

John 18:23-24 – Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

This is a wonderful display of the meekness and forbearance of Christ.  We all know that Jesus could have responded to this blow by striking this man bind, forcing him to the ground or even killing him.  It would only have taken a word from him to do this and though his hands were bound, his mouth was free.

But again, Jesus had already determined to drink the cup of suffering given to him by the Father.  He gives us an example of turning the other cheek and refusing to render railing for railing (I Peter 3:9).  

This provides practical instruction for us.  We are not to avenge ourselves.  We should appeal to the established courts for the judgment of our adversaries.  If this is not possible or justice is not served, scripture makes it plain that the right for vengeance belongs to God alone; he will repay our enemies for us (Romans 12:19).

Let me offer you some encouragement and some relief:

The Roman soldiers bound Jesus with ropes and chains.  They thought they were controlling him, but they were not.  The significance of this does not escape us – Jesus is all powerful.  He allowed himself to be bound and fettered so that he could rescue us from our inescapable bonds/chains of sin. 

But sometimes we limit the deliverance of Christ to just the forgiveness of our sin, though it includes so much more! 

For instance, scripture says that by the stripes he endured during the crucifixion, we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).  This includes physical healing, mental healing, emotional healing, healing for relationships and every other kind of healing you might need. 

So let me give you this encouragement today:  Whatever healing you need in your life today, Jesus has already paid for it!  Receive it by faith, just as you did forgiveness of sin.

Let me offer you some strength:

It is tempting to hold a grudge or take revenge on someone who opposes us (at least it is for me).  Our fallen nature would love to inflict hurt those who hurt us.  But if you do, you will regret it. 

God very emphatically states that revenge is not an option for his children.  Any ‘payback’ that occurs will come directly from God; he does not need our help.

Scripture also tells us that, if left unchecked, a grudge can blossom into a spirit of bitterness, which in turn establishes a bondage in our lives.  It will rob us of peace, freedom and other blessings that God wants to pour into our lives. 

The bottom line is that it isn’t worth it!

When someone wrongs you, look at the example of Jesus as he stood in front of the court and was undeservedly hit in the face by a servant.  He reacted with meekness and patience.  Through the power of Holy Spirit, we too can find the strength to react in the same way.  This will be a blessing to us while also giving God an opportunity to minister to our enemies as well.

John, Chapter 18, Part 1

John 18:1 – When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.

At this point, Jesus had said everything he came to earth to say as a prophet.  He now moves forward to discharge his duties as our high priest – to make a sacrifice for sin.  Only this time, it would be the final, perfect sacrifice… himself.  Once that was accomplished, he would become our Mediator as well as our King.

The cross is also the time for Jesus to engage and fully defeat his/our enemy, Satan.  Although it didn’t seem like it to the disciples at the time, we know that the cross is a place of victory for God and for all those who are part of his kingdom.

On his way to the cross, Jesus had to pass over the Kidron brook.  This was a small stream which divided the city of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.  In summer it is almost dry, but it becomes very swollen by rain and/or melting snow during the spring.  (There would definitely have been water flowing in the brook as the group walked to the garden.)  Eventually, the brook runs in a south-easterly direction and flows into the Dead Sea. 

This stream is also known as ‘Cedron’ or ‘Kedron’.  It occupies a prominent place in Jewish history, and it is mentioned in many Old Testament passages (I Kings 15:13, II Kings 23:6, etc.).

One of the more interesting things about the book Kidron is that it was the same water that David passed over when he fled from Absalom (II Samuel 15:23).  Many scholars believe this particular account of the life of David foreshadowed what happened to Jesus. 

As you recall, David had been betrayed by his close advisor, Ahithophel.  He was driven out of his rightful kingdom by rebellious Jews who did not want him to reign over them.  In humiliation, David crossed the brook with a company of true mourners. 

The parallel is obvious.  Jesus had likewise been betrayed by one close to him – Judas.  He too was driven out of Israel by rebellious Jews who did not want him to be their king, and he crossed the brook Kidron with a very sorrowful group of disciples.  And just like David, Jesus will defeat his enemies and take his rightful place as King!

Having passed over the stream, Jesus and the disciples entered the Garden of Gethsemane.  This was a place that Jesus frequented during his time on earth (Luke 22:39).  Sometimes, when the Jews were particularly enraged at him, he would leave Jerusalem and spend the night there.  He also frequently met with his disciples in this location for prayer and teaching. 

It was good for the disciples to have a regular meeting place with Jesus.  It’s a good idea for us too.  If we have a specific place and time set aside for meeting God in prayer each day, we are much more likely to pray!

John 18:2 – Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples.

Significantly, the garden was a place well known by the traitor, Judas Iscariot.  In fact, it was so well known to Judas that Jesus would have avoided it entirely, if his intention was to hide. 

This is yet another proof that the sacrifice of Christ was voluntary; it was not a circumstance that was out of his control.  He willingly and intentionally went to Gethsemane to present himself to his enemies.

John 10:18 – No man takes it [Jesus’ life] from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Commentators note that sin entered the world in a garden (Eden) through the first Adam.  Sin was also defeated in a garden (Gethsemane) through the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!

John 18:3 – So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons.

All four gospel writers record the betrayal of Jesus (Matthew 26:47-57, Mark 14:43-52, Luke 22:47-53).  However, as we noted in our introduction to this gospel, John often gives us details that the other gospel writers omit, while leaving out things they have already recorded at length.

We find one of those instances here.  John omits the intense agony/suffering of Jesus as he prayed in the garden, because the other gospels clearly describe it:

Matthew 26:39 –And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.

John also passes over the narrative of Judas bargaining with the chief priests for 30 pieces of silver in exchange for the life of Jesus (Matthew 26:15) and jumps straight to the actual betrayal of Christ.  

Judas came to the garden with a group of Roman soldiers.  They were most likely from the company of soldiers who were permanently stationed at the temple.  Rome gave this group of soldiers to the Jews for the defense of the temple and they were under the authority of the Jewish high priest.

John tells us that there were also ‘officers’ within the group Judas brought.  The Greek word used for ‘officer’ literally means ‘servant’.  These men were probably Jewish members of the Sanhedrin who were also sent by the high priest.  Their job was to witness the events of the arrest and report back to the Sanhedrin.

Thus, we see two groups that were bitter enemies (Jews and Romans) united together in their hatred for Christ.  Jesus responds to that hate with love; his death will allow both Jews and Gentiles to be reconciled to God.

It makes sense that they would be carrying lamps and torches.  Although there would have been a full moon at the time of Passover, the night may have been cloudy and therefore dark.  In addition, the soldiers did not know exactly where Jesus was.  For all they knew, he might be hiding somewhere, so they were prepared to search caverns, buildings and/or any other dark, shadowy places in order to find him.

John also tells us that this band of soldiers and Jews came armed.  The professional soldiers all had swords while the Jews probably had weapons like clubs or staves.  All in all, it was a large heavily armed group for the purposes of arresting a single man.

John 18:4 – Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?”

Would you like to know what is in your immediate future?  If it was a trial or a struggle, would that disturb you or steal your joy and peace?  I think it would, which is probably one of the reasons why God does not let us see into the future.  Knowing what was about to happen would prevent us from praising God and serving him in the present time.  It would rob us of the chance to exercise our faith in God. 

But that was clearly not the case for Jesus.  Although Judas may have been hoping to catch Jesus off guard with this late-night arrest, scripture tells us that Jesus was well aware of all the things that were about to take place (Matthew 20:18-19).  So, when Judas and the soldiers showed up, it did not surprise Jesus at all.  He was fully prepared to drink the cup that his Father had given him in order to redeem mankind.

John 18:5-6 – They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  Jesus said to them, “I am he.”  Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.  When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

Judas and the group of soldiers/servants came to the garden with a legal warrant for the arrest of Jesus, fully authorized by the high priest.  The warrant no doubt identified Christ as “Jesus of Nazareth” (hence the response from the soldiers).  The religious leaders used this particular title because it denied or obscured his true role as Messiah; it was yet another ‘slap in the face’ of Jesus.

Too bad they were not present to witness the reply of Jesus which was a remarkable display of the power of God!

“I am he” – these three small words, spoken in a normal tone of voice, lays the entire company prostrate on the ground, as if they had been hit by a bold of lightening!

Although Christ could easily have killed them all, he did not.  His forbearance had two purposes:  One, he had no intention of avoiding the cross and two, allowing these men to live would give them a chance to repent after his death.

Here is something to consider:  At the time of his betrayal, Jesus stood alone as a lamb ready to be sacrificed, with his glory hidden from the world.  Yet, when he identifies himself, it is enough to put armed and courageous men on the ground, with their faces in the dust. 

What then, will it be like on the future day of judgment, when Jesus returns to earth in his full glory, accompanied by countless angels, as the Judge of the living and the dead?  Who could possibly stand before him then?    

Isaiah 11:4 – But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

(See also Revelation 19:11-16).  What an awesome God we serve!

Now, to be fair, it should be noted that some scholars take an alternate view of this verse.  They do not believe that divine power caused these men to fall on the ground. 

In their interpretation, the voice of Jesus produced extreme conviction of sin within the hearts of the soldiers.  As they felt the weight of their sin and perceived the righteousness of Christ, it caused them to willingly fall down before him. 

It is up to you to determine which interpretation you feel is correct.  But in either case, we can agree on the following points:

  • Jesus’ life was not taken from him – he voluntarily gave it up.
  • Righteous people (the disciples) were able to stand in the presence of the Lord, while wicked people (the unbelieving Jews and the Romans) were not.
  • You can’t be on both sides.  Every person must make a choice to be either for Christ or against him.

It is sad to note that Judas, who had been with Jesus at supper that very night, was now standing with ‘them’ – the enemies of Christ. 

John 18:7-8 – So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?”  And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he.  So, if you seek me, let these men go.”

I don’t know about you, but I find verse seven astonishing.  If I had been one of those guards and I was thrown to the ground by just the declaration of Jesus as ‘I AM’, I like to think that I would abandon the mission to arrest him.  I would like to think that I would be smart enough to run for my life and never look back! 

Nevertheless, after they get up from the ground, the company is just as willing to arrest Jesus as they were before.  Apparently, their hardened hearts can attribute their fall to something (anything) other than the power of God, because they still refuse to acknowledge Jesus as anything other than a man from Nazareth. 

For his part, Jesus is just as willing to be seized by them, yet he works to deliver his disciples from their fury. 

Read the words of Jesus again.  Notice that he was not asking them for a favor, he was issuing a command.  Whether they realized it or not, Jesus had the authority in this situation and he was in a position to command them to leave the disciples alone.  If they tried to arrest the disciples, things would have ended very differently. 

This is evidence of the concern and protection that Jesus places upon all his children.  The disciples were going to suffer for the gospel, but they were not yet ready to take on that burden.  Jesus would not let Satan subject them to suffering that they could not handle.  

The same is true for us today. Though we do not know what tomorrow holds, we know that Holy Spirit is right here with us, to strengthen and lead us through all our trials.  We know that God will never place a burden upon us without giving us the strength to endure it. He will never lead us into a battle until we have been fully trained and prepared to fight.

John 18:9 – This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of these whom you gave me I have lost not one.”

This is not a word-for-word quote from Jesus, but it is the substance of statements he had already made (See John 17:12 and John 6:39). This type of summary quotation was common in that era and is present several places in the New Testament.

The question is whether Jesus was referring to the spiritual or physical state of the apostles. 

In this particular context, it mainly refers to the physical lives of the disciples.  God had set them apart for very specific purposes.  They needed to remain physically alive in order to bear witness to the life, death, resurrection and gospel of Christ.  Their eye-witness testimony was crucial during the formation of the church and the first years of the dispensation of grace.  Furthermore, they were to be the first recipients of the outpouring of Holy Spirit.  For these reasons, God would not allow any of them to physically die prematurely (be lost).

However, scripture is often fulfilled in more than one sense; this assurance of Christ also applies in a spiritual context as well. 

As we mentioned earlier, at this particular time the faith of the apostles was weak. If they had suffered intense persecution right at that particular moment, their faith may have failed. Knowing this, Jesus would not expose them to that trial.

We can rest assured that he protects us in the same way.  God grants us divine grace and strength in proportion to our trials, so that we can be victorious in every situation. 

John 18:10 – Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear.  (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

All four of the gospels record this event.  However, Matthew (26:51), Mark (14:47) and Luke (22:49-50) do not name the servant or the disciple who was involved.  This is most likely because Peter and Malchus were both alive at the time the other gospels were written.  Since both men had passed away by the time John wrote, so there was no longer a need to keep their names a secret.

In either case, it is commonly felt among scholars that since Peter had recently promised to give his life for Jesus, he was now emboldened to keep his promise.  It is also felt that he was probably aiming to split Malchus’ head in two, but he missed and was only able to slice off his ear. 

But Jesus put a stop to Peter’s rebellion immediately and miraculously reattached Malchus’ ear.

Luke 22:51 -And Jesus answered and said, No more of this. And he touched his ear, and healed him.

Interestingly, even this second irrefutable miracle does not influence the enemies of Christ; they are still intent on arresting him.  But before they do, Jesus has something to say to Peter.

John 18:11 – So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Jesus rebukes Peter by telling him to put his sword away.  There are several lessons to be learned here.

First, scripture tells us that it is God who gives or allows certain people to have civil authority (Romans 1:1-3), and that he gives this authority for our own good/benefit.  The authority of these rulers is designed to protect the innocent and punish evil; we are to obey them unless they are in direct opposition to God (Titus 3:1).  Furthermore, Jesus had commanded his followers not to resist evil (Matthew 5:39).

The men who came to arrest Jesus did so with a valid warrant, duly authorized by the high priest.  Therefore, while we sympathize with Peter’s emotions, he was acting in rebellion against those God had set in authority (and against the will of God himself).

Second, Peter was acting out of emotion.  Though his heart was sincere, he was sincerely wrong.  He wanted to ‘save’ Jesus because of his own selfish desires.  Specifically, he did not want Jesus to suffer and die, because he wanted to continue walking with him.  He probably also wanted that earthly kingdom that the Jews so passionately believed in.

But as we know, this was not the will of God.  Jesus had clearly stated that the time of his suffering was at hand.  So while Peter seemed to be fighting for Christ, he was really fighting against him.

Finally, Peter foolishly exposed himself and his fellow disciples to danger.  Jesus had just commanded the soldiers to take him and leave his followers alone.  The implication was that Jesus would willingly go and his disciples wouldn’t cause any problems.  So, when Peter suddenly attacks one of the servants, it effectively ruins the promise Jesus just made. 

If Peter had actually lopped off Malchus’ head, things would certainly have spiraled out of control at that point and all of the disciples could have been killed.  Fortunately, Jesus had things well under control and he was able to diffuse the situation by healing Malchus.

Peter’s main mistake was depending on a sword of iron rather than the sword of the Spirit.  Scripture tells us that victory for the kingdom is first won in the spiritual realm.  Only then does it manifest in the natural realm.

2 Corinthians 10:3-4 – For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;)

For us, this means that when we encounter a situation that needs to be changed or an instance where we want to manifest Christ’s authority, our first steps must be spiritual. 

After we assess the problem, we need to find scriptures that speak to the situation.  We need to pray, fast, anoint and make spiritual declarations.  Then, when Holy Spirit gives us specific instruction, we can victoriously take action in that situation.

Now, what is the ‘cup’ that Jesus mentions here?

A cup is a vessel that holds some type of liquid. (My personal favorite is a cup of coffee.  What is yours?)

In scripture, ‘the cup’ is a figurative expression that denotes ‘drinking’ or partaking of the contents within it.  In both the Old and New Testaments the cup and its contents represent one’s lot/portion in life or the events/circumstances which one must walk through. 

Sometimes, the contents of the ‘cup’ cause sorrow.  This would include things like God’s wrath, judgment or affliction (Isaiah 51:17, Jeremiah 25:15-16, Psalms 11:6, etc). 

However, the contents of the ‘cup’ can also cause joy; they can represent the blessings of God (Psalms 23:5, Psalms 116:13, I Corinthians 10:16).

In this particular case, Jesus is referring to his sufferings on earth, which were required in order to bring about the salvation of man.  This cup included things like taking on the sin of the world, being separated from the Father, physical pain (like stripes on his back and the crucifixion) and humiliation. 

Even though it was a bitter cup, Jesus willingly accepted it because he loved the Father and he knew the Father loved him, and this suffering was the only way to save mankind.

Although it is not recorded in the book of John, the other gospels tell us that Jesus had already asked the Father to spare him from drinking this cup of suffering, yet if that were not possible, he would drink it:

Matthew 26:42 – He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, your will be done.

Jesus had already determined to drink this cup of suffering, so when Peter tried to come between him and the Father’s will, he was rebuked by Jesus.

Let me offer you some encouragement:

Although we all know it is true, it never hurts to remind ourselves that Jesus won the victory over Satan long ago on the cross.  Satan is a defeated foe. 

As we look around the world today, it may not seem like that is true, but don’t be discouraged by what you see.  Instead, be fired up!  If we are not seeing revival, healing, miracles and deliverances like we want to, let’s press into the presence of God and find out what is lacking on our part.  Let’s find out how we can bring the victory of heaven to bear on our current circumstances.

Let me offer you some relief:

In this post, we find that Peter once again ‘blew it’.  In fact, he will do so again in our next post.  I don’t know about you, but I feel I have something in common with him, because I have also done the wrong thing at the worst possible moment!

If that is you, take heart.  God forgave Peter, he forgave me and he will forgive you too! 

Let me offer you some strength:

When an entire company of soldiers met Jesus and the disciples in the garden, it looked like an overwhelming force.  In the natural realm, it was.  But in the spiritual realm, there is no contest – the forces of heaven are far, far superior to the forces of hell (II Kings 6:15-17).  The light of Christ always causes darkness to flee. 

In your daily Christian walk, don’t fear the seemingly overwhelming forces of darkness around you.  Instead, let your light shine for Christ.  Keep it shining brightly and allow it to be a witness to those around you who are desperate for a touch from God.

John, Chapter 17, Part 3

John 17:20 – “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word…”

We are now going to examine the third and final portion of Jesus’ prayer for his followers. 

Jesus makes it clear that he is not praying just for the apostles, but for all people who will be converted by the subsequent preaching of the gospel.  Since we can expect to face many of the same trials, temptations and difficulties as the apostles, we are in need of the same grace, the same comfort and the same divine assistance as they were.  And thankfully, Jesus provides it for us, just as he did for them!  

Now here is an astonishing fact (take a few minutes to consider this):  Jesus prayed for YOU when he was here on earth, even though you were not yet born!  

Think about how much encouragement and strength you get when your pastor, spouse or a close friend prays for you.  How much more valuable is the prayer of Jesus himself!   

There can be no doubt that God heard and answered this prayer.  After this study is over, I recommend that you re-read the 17th chapter of John and insert your own name into the prayer.  It will give you some profound insight into what Jesus did for you!

In short, we will see that Jesus prays for his followers to have unity, peace, love and eternal glory.

John 17:21 – “…that they may all be one, just 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.”

The first issue Jesus touches on is that of unity among believers (‘that they may all be one’).  There are many reasons why Christians should be united. 

  • We are all redeemed by the blood of Christ; we all have the same Father.
  • We are all going to the same heaven.
  • We have a common enemy and we experience common temptations and trials.
  •  We have a common goal – to spread the gospel throughout the earth and make disciples of all people.

Thus, it makes perfect sense that New Testament Christians are represented as being wholly united – different parts of the same body and members of the same family (I Corinthians 12:4-31).

Romans 12:5 – So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.    

On the basis of this union, we are exhorted:

  • To love one another (I Thessalonians 4:9)
  • To bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  • To edify each other (Ephesians 4:3, 11-16).  

Our example for unity in the faith is the relationship between Jesus and the Father.

This does not mean that Christians are united in every single respect like Jesus and the Father (John 10:30).  However, there should be a union among all Christians which is founded/based on our strong union with Christ.  We should be united in our plans, councils, purposes and goals.  With Christ as our head (Ephesians 5:23), we should be working to obtain the same ends – glorifying God here on earth, spreading the gospel throughout the world, and making disciples of all men. 

Furthermore, when we are united with each other under Christ, it is a powerful testimony to the world.  The kingdom of darkness is full of animosity, envy, bickering and unforgiveness. 

However, when the world sees how the gospel unites us, overcoming contention and resulting in love, it will conclude that nothing but divine influence could make people love and respect each other this way. 

This kind of unity was strongly evident in the early days of the church:

Acts 4:32-33 – And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that any of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.  And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

This divine testimony of love is extremely powerful.  It will convince unbelievers that Jesus (and the gospel) came directly from God; they will desire to know Christ and his salvation.

Of course, the opposite is also true – the more Christians break off into factions or denominations and fight with each other, the less the world respects or believes in the God we serve and the gospel message.  We not only hurt his glory when we are divided, we accomplish less for the kingdom than we otherwise would.  

John 17:22-23 – “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

Throughout the scriptures, God’s glory is synonymous with his power (Psalms 19:1, John 2:11, John 11:40, etc).

Jesus had divine glory (power) before the world began.  He temporarily laid that glory aside during his incarnation, and he picked it back up when he returned to heaven.  So, just to be clear, divine glory always belonged to Jesus because he is a part of the Trinity.  Therefore it would be incorrect for him to say that Father God has ‘given’ him divine glory.

If God has not given Jesus divine glory, what kind of glory (power) did he grant to Jesus at that time?

The glory Jesus received from the Father and which he now passes to the disciples is his mediatorial glory (power).  In other words, God granted Jesus (as a man) the power to perform miracles and to preach the gospel with authority so that men might be saved.  Jesus now prays for that same power to be given to all believers beginning with the apostles and continuing on down through all generations, so we can continue his work.

This same glory/power will enable believers to ‘be one’ or to function in unity as his body on earth.  And again, this unity and our resulting love for one another will prove to the world that Jesus is Savior and Lord.

Now, let’s consider the topic of unity from another angle.  Unless the Lord returns to earth immediately, we are all going to go to heaven at some point, leaving the next generation here on earth.  So let me ask you a question.  If you were about to die in a few hours, and you had only a few minutes left to speak to your children and loved ones, what would you say to them?

I believe that, in general, there would be three topics of conversation.  Of course, we would express our love for our kids and family.  We would probably also ‘make things right’ or address any issues of forgiveness and reconciliation that needed to take place.  The third topic of conversation would probably be words of wisdom that we want to impart to those we love. 

This wisdom would center on things that we think are vital to a successful and meaningful life.  We might advise our children to pay closer attention to their spiritual lives, or to marry well, or to spend time with those they love. 

Regardless of the specifics, we can be sure that whatever we told them in the last minutes of our lives would be the things we believe are important. 

With that in mind, we can’t help but notice that in his final prayer, just hours before his crucifixion, Jesus placed a strong emphasis on unity among believers, using the relationship between himself and the Father as our example.

Do you know why he did that?  It’s because he understood our fallen natures.  He saw the dangers of strife and contention within the church.  He knows that we have a propensity to become ensnared in pride, controversy, envy and competition.  He was well aware that the strife caused by our own imperfections and selfish ambitions would bring dishonor upon true religion and his own precious name. 

1 Peter 4:8 – And above all things have fervent love among yourselves: for love shall cover a multitude of sins.

As children of God, we have a responsibility to overlook offenses and unimportant differences of opinion in order to maintain unity in the body of Christ.  We should be bound to each other by cords of love.  When we are one in heart and purpose, it will show in our actions – we will be effective in spreading the gospel throughout the world and bringing souls to Christ.

John 17:24 – “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

Jesus now expresses one of his most earnest desires to the Father – that his followers will one day be with him in heaven, where we will witness his power, dignity and honor as our true high priest and mediator. 

This honor is given to Jesus by the Father, who loved him before the world was ever created.  God loves Jesus as both his only begotten Son and as the Redeemer/Mediator of mankind because through the work of Christ we are reconciled to God as sons and daughters.  

As followers of Christ, we have a glimpse of his glory now, but we are nowhere near beholding it in full.  But if we will believe, love, obey and persevere to the end we will be eternally united to Jesus, Father and the Spirit.  What an exciting time it will be when we are present in the throne room, experiencing this for ourselves!

John 17:25 – “O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.”

In this portion of his prayer, Jesus addresses his Father as ‘righteous’.  Why does he use that description here?  It is because he is calling attention to a specific aspect of God’s character.  As a righteous Father, God will reward each person according to his own work (Job 34:11, Psalms 62:12, Proverbs 24:12). 

The world chose to reject God by rejecting his Son.  They will be ‘rewarded’ for their decision by spending eternity with Satan their father.

On the other hand, countless numbers of people believe in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world.  We too will be rewarded for our decision by being admitted into heaven when our life on earth is over.

John 17:26 – “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

When Jesus says he has made known the ‘name’ of the Father, he is referring to the nature, attributes, commands and councils of God.  This is information that we would never be able to know or discover by ourselves.  We can only obtain it by a special revelation of Christ. 

Jesus partially revealed the Father to his disciples here on earth.  But they were not able to understand everything he wanted to reveal at that point.

The good news is that Jesus promises to continue revealing the Father to mankind after his resurrection. He did this in person for his followers until he was finally taken up into heaven after 40 days (Luke 24:44-45, Acts 1:1-3). 

Afterwards, he continued to reveal the Father to the apostles through Holy Spirit.  This practice has not changed; Jesus is still revealing the Father to believers today through the power of Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit speaks to us through visions, dreams, words of wisdom and knowledge, messages in tongues and through the scriptures.  If we will listen, he will still reveal the nature, attributes, commands and councils of God directly to us.

The eternal love of God, which first rested on Christ is now imparted to us through Holy Spirit, as he permanently lives within our hearts.  Thus, God abides in us and we in him (John 15:5).

Let me offer you some encouragement:

Jesus prayed for YOU while he was here on earth.  How utterly amazing is that? 

Immediately afterward, he went to Gethsemane where he took your sin upon himself and then to the cross, where he made atonement for it.  Furthermore, Jesus made it very clear that he desires YOU to join him in heaven where you can see his power, dignity and honor.  Wow!  What more could he possibly do to prove that he loves you? 

So no matter what discouragement the enemy tries sends your way this week, just remember – Jesus loves you!  The difficulties of this life are only temporary; soon we will be with him in glory!  

Let me offer you some relief:

People are selfish and fickle.  Sometimes they only love you if you please them, or do as they ask, or perform up to their standards.  People will often withhold love from another person as a punishment or as ‘black mail’ to get what they want.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking that God is like that, because he isn’t!    

The love of the Father, Son and Spirit is totally pure and genuine.  They don’t play games, they don’t base their love on your performance and they never withhold their love from you.  As we already mentioned, they loved you so much, they paid the ultimate price for you.

So don’t panic if you fail or mess up in your Christian walk.  Remember, God loves you because you are his child, not because you perfect.       

Let me offer you some strength:

Jesus makes it plain that unity among Christians is very important; it proves to the world that God is real. 

Christian unity also benefits us as well.  Being a member of a local church is like having a huge, loving family who will walk with you through all the ups and downs of life.

They will rejoice with you during the happy times, and mourn with you during times of sadness or heartache.  They will pray for you, encourage you, and advise you; they will give practical help to you when you need it.

The fact is, God has put them into your life (and you into theirs) to provide strength and support for your life’s journey.  So thank God for your church family today!   

John, Chapter 17, Part 2

John 17:13 – “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”

As we noted previously, John 17 is a prayer which Jesus prayed not only for his disciples, but for Christians in every era. 

Here in verse 13 Jesus tells us why he has prayed this prayer in the hearing of the disciples – to fill them with joy and comfort.  Obviously, when Jesus is crucified, that is going to diminish the joy of his followers.  But God has already prepared for that; once Holy Spirit comes to indwell each believer their joy will be greater than before – it will be fulfilled.   

What exactly is joy?

Webster’s Dictionary defines joy as ‘pleasurable feelings or emotions caused by the acquisition or expectation of good; the obtainment or rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; that which causes happiness’.

Notice that Jesus says the joy of each Christian comes directly from him (‘my joy’); he is our joy.  This tells us a couple of things. 

First, true fulfillment in this life can only be experienced through a relationship with God, our creator.  As Christians, God is dwelling within us in the person of Holy Spirit. Consequently, joy comes from within us, not from factors or circumstances outside of us.  This explains how Christians can have joy and peace even in the midst of grief or difficulties.  Joy/peace in the midst of trials is often a strong witness to unbelievers who depend on the world for comfort and happiness.

Second, although we are all looking forward to our eternal reward, God desires for us to live joyful, blessed, fulfilling lives here on earth.  Jesus did not die so that his followers would spend their lives being poor, hungry and beat down.  He died that we might have abundant life (John 10:10).  God has blessed his children with wisdom, knowledge, creativity and resources.  So find something you are passionate about, and glorify God through it!

John 17:14 – “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

Jesus presented God’s word to the world and they rejected both the message and the Messiah.  Consequently, the world hates Jesus because he condemns their sin instead of embracing it.  Because Christians have accepted the word of God and strive to be like Christ, the world hates us as well. 

The difference between the Christian and the world becomes more and more evident as we grow spiritually and become more like Christ.  What are some of ways in which spiritual maturity/growth manifests in our lives?     

Spiritual growth is evident when you begin to speak like Jesus does – Christians are constantly feeding on the word of God.  Scripture tells us that doing so will renew our minds (Romans 12:2).  As a result, things that the world finds socially, morally and culturally acceptable are abhorrent to us, because these things are in opposition to the principles of the kingdom of God. 

For example, our culture accepts and celebrates homosexuality and other sexual perversions as legitimate lifestyles.  But as Christians, we know this is NOT normal.  It is in direct opposition to God’s law of marriage between a man and a woman.  As we speak up for what God has mandated, the world will hate us just as they hated Jesus when he spoke out against their sin. 

Another example is abortion.  The world around us is in general agreement that there is nothing morally wrong with abortion.  They maintain that the contents of a woman’s womb are merely ‘cells’ or ‘biologic materials’ which can be disposed of at will.

However, as Christians we believe that at the moment of conception, a child has been formed (Psalms 139:13).  Killing it at any age or stage of development is murder/shedding innocent blood.  And again, as we speak the truth of God into our society, the world will hate us just as they hated Jesus.

Spiritual growth is evident when you begin to act like Jesus does – As you mature spiritually, you no longer give free reign to your fleshly passions and desires.  Instead, you crucify/deny your sinful desires and act more like Christ.

For example, when you were an unbeliever and someone wronged you, your flesh might react by holding a grudge, cursing, vowing revenge, refusing to forgive or even seeking immediate retribution.  If your passions were out of control, you might even murder the one who wronged you.    

But as a Christian, you no longer take orders from your flesh, but from your spirit.  The more you mature, the more you follow where your spirit leads.  Now when someone wrongs you, it may sting or even cut deeply, but because Jesus has forgiven you, you have the ability to forgive your adversary.  This is just one example of the way we act/react differently than the world. 

Spiritual growth is evident when you begin to think like Jesus does – Your thoughts are the place where your actions originate.  For instance, if you continually think about committing adultery, that thought will take root in your heart and grow like a weed.  Eventually, it will produce the fruit of sin (sexual immorality), which brings spiritual death. 

James 1:14-15 – But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.

Obviously, we know that Jesus never had a sinful thought, because his thoughts never resulted in the fruit of sin.  His thoughts were centered on the doctrine and will of his Father and they only produced fruits of righteousness.  And even though we will never be completely sin-free in this life, we must strive to think like Jesus did. 

As we fix our thoughts on the word of God, we plant good seeds within our hearts, such as sexual purity.  Because we do so, we will reap purity in our lives.  This places us in direct opposition to the ways of the world. 

The world hates Christ, so as we become more like him in the way we speak, act and think the world will hate us too.

John 17:15 – “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”

Jesus has the ability to call us home to heaven the minute we are born again, which would prevent us from facing any persecution or temptation.  So why doesn’t he do that?  Why does he want to keep us here in the world?

One reason is because God has given us a job to do on earth.  We are to be fruitful, multiply and subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28).  We are also to spread the gospel to every nation and make disciples of all men (Matthew 28:19-20).

If every Christian was suddenly called home to heaven, who would be left to tell sinners to repent?  Who would be left to enforce the kingdom of heaven here on earth?   

Clearly, we need to be here; God wants to rule on this planet through us.  So instead of immediately taking us home, Jesus prays that the Father would leave us in the world while preserving us from evils such as sin, apostasy, temptation and other snares of the enemy.

Remaining on earth for a time will benefit us.  It allows us to:

* Produce fruit for the kingdom of heaven (John 15:5). 

* Become experienced soldiers in the kingdom who will enter eternity in victory (Ephesians 6:12-16). 

* Earn rewards in heaven (I Corinthians 3:12-14).

* Develop a true and trusted relationship with God, Jesus and Holy Spirit (John 15:4).

This brings up another excellent point – We cannot complete these jobs if we seclude ourselves from the world.  It is right and proper for us to have friends within the church.  It is very encouraging to have fellowship with other believers.  But on the other hand, we need non-Christian friends as well, so that we can show/present the love of God to those around us.  While we can witness to someone we don’t know, having a relationship with non-believers allows us a different and exciting opportunity to share Christ.

John 17:16-17 –“They are not of the world, just as I am no of the world.  Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”

The word ‘sanctify’ has two separate meanings, both of which apply here. 

One definition of sanctify is ‘to consecrate, to set apart for a holy or religious use’.  This kind of sanctification takes place instantly, when we accept Christ as our Savior.  Once we have surrendered our lives to God, he gives us a holy calling or job to fulfill in his kingdom.

This can certainly be said of the disciples.  They had been set apart from other Jews and even other believers in order to fulfill a specific duty in the kingdom of heaven.  In their case, they were to establish the church, open the gospel to the Gentiles and provide us with the word of God. 

God is still sanctifying/setting apart Christians for specific tasks in his kingdom today.  This type of sanctification does not apply to just a ‘special’ group of people, it is for everyone in the kingdom! 

God has called some of his children to be apostles or prophets or pastors or teachers.  Some are to encourage, some are to care for the poor, some are to administrate, some are to function as intercessors, etc.  Each one of us must examine our own lives and find the specific area which God has assigned us in his kingdom.  What has God set you apart for?  How are you pursuing that sanctification?

‘Sanctify’ is also defined as ‘to make free from sin, to cleanse from moral corruption and pollution; to purify, to make sacred or holy.’  This kind of sanctification is progressive; it happens over time.  It describes the process in which we become more and more like God while becoming less and less attached to the world (John 3:30).

John 3:30 – He must increase, but I must decrease.   

This type of sanctification describes the process that each individual Christian undergoes as they gain control over the flesh, crucifying evil thoughts and passions (Colossians 3:1-17), while simultaneously allowing Holy Spirit to grow his fruit within our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).

This sanctification is produced in our lives by the word of God, which is the only source of truth.

It is interesting to note that just before Jesus was sentenced by Pilate, they had a conversation in which Jesus says he came into the world to bear witness to the truth:

John 18:37 – Pilate therefore said unto him, Are you a king then? Jesus answered, You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice. 

 Pilate, who was not a believer, admitted that he did not know what the real truth was (John 18:38).  But you and I do!  We know that the truth which Jesus revealed to us is the message of the gospel, also called the word of God (John 15:3, Ephesians 1:13). 

It is the word of God, quickened by Holy Spirit, which works in our hearts and minds to regenerate our spiritual man and make us over in the image of Christ.  There can be no doubt that the Bible is the word of God, and that it is a complete work –  it contains all the truth of the gospel which God wanted to reveal to us. 

No other books or teachings are needed to walk in salvation.  So if you belong to a group which teaches that their particular prophet or leader brought forth a new revelation from God which is necessary for salvation, or which explains/supplements the bible, you can be assured they are teaching a false gospel. 

In summary, we can say that during this prayer Jesus asks the Father to confirm and continue the work of sanctification in our lives through his word and the work of Holy Spirit.  He also prays for Father God to carry on this important work until we leave this earth and enter heaven.    

John 17:18 – “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”

God sent Jesus into the world to bring the message of the gospel.  Although Jesus shared that message with multitudes of Jews, he only revealed it in depth to his apostles.  Jesus has now appointed them to continue the work of establishing and spreading the gospel message throughout the earth, by the power of Holy Spirit.

Because it is the Spirit who convicts men of sin and causes the gospel message to take root in the lives of unbelievers, the disciples could have confidence that their preaching and teaching would be just as successful as the ministry of Christ.  In fact, they could expect it to surpass what Jesus did (John 14:12).  As long as they were willing and obedient, Holy Spirit would work through their words to bring conviction and salvation to the lost.

This principle is still in effect today.  If we follow the leading of Holy Spirit, he will continue to anoint our words with power so that sinners will be convicted of sin and drawn to Jesus.       

Just as God protected Jesus, he will continue to protect and defend those whom his Son sends out into the world as ambassadors for his kingdom.

John 17:19 – “And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.”

When Jesus speaks of sanctifying or consecrating himself, he cannot be referring to personal, ongoing sanctification, since he had no sin.  Rather, Jesus is speaking of the act of devoting himself to the exclusive service of God.  In other words, his only focus was to devote himself to the work of redemption; to become both our high priest (Mediator) and the sacrifice for our sin.

Hebrews 2:17 – Therefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.  

Clearly, Jesus sanctified himself for our benefit; as the result of the sanctification of himself, we can be made pure by his shed blood.  This is evident by the words of Paul in his letter to the Ephesians:

Ephesians 5:25-26 – Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word…   

In the Old Testament, priests were sanctified by the blood of animals.  Under the New Covenant, all Christians are royal priests in the service of God (I Peter 2:9); we have been sanctified by the blood of Christ.  And Hallelujah, the blood of Christ has not lost its power!  It can still cleanse any sinner who repents and asks for mercy.

Let me offer you some encouragement:

Jesus makes it very clear that he is our ultimate joy.  Therefore, we can always joyfully praise and adore him, despite our circumstances.  

If you are encountering a rough patch in life right now, I encourage you to take your eyes off of your situation and place them back on Christ.  Recall all the things that he has done for you and all that is waiting for you in eternity.  Let go of the things of this world and let the joy of Christ be your strength.    

Let me offer you some relief:

In today’s post we noted that sanctification is an ongoing process in which we learn to crucify our flesh and its evil desires.  That sounds simple, but as we all know, it can be very difficult indeed!

All of us have areas which we can sanctify pretty quickly and we all have areas we are still working on.  It’s good to remind ourselves that when we fail, Jesus is right here to forgive us and Holy Spirit is right here to continue the work in our lives. 

So don’t condemn yourself if you fail – just get up and get back in the game (Proverbs 24:16).  

Let me offer you some strength:

Jesus prayed that the Father would keep us from evil rather than taking us out of the world.  He knew that with the help of Holy Spirit we could stay here and successfully work for his kingdom. 

But sometimes the road can be difficult.  If you are facing persecution from the world, remember that your strength comes from the Lord:

Psalm 28:7 – The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoices; and with my song will I praise him.



John, Chapter 17, Part 1

John 17:1 – 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…”

We have arrived at John chapter 17, one of the most sublime portions of scripture in the entire bible. 

Jesus has just expressed his parting thoughts to his disciples, reiterated his love for them, and given them numerous reasons to rejoice.  He now commits them into the protection and blessing of Father God through prayer. 

The prayer that Christ prays here was not just for the disciples; it is for every Christian in every generation, including you and me.  Let’s see what he had to say.

‘These words’ refers to the extensive teaching that Jesus had given to the disciples beginning at the Passover meal and concluding at the end of John chapter 16.  There is some difference of opinion about where ‘these words’ were spoken.  Some believe the entire conversation took place in the Passover room.  Others believe it took place as the group walked to the Garden of Gethsemane. 

In either case, scripture tells us that as Jesus began to pray, he lifted up his eyes to heaven.  Some scholars believe he did this to signify his reverence for God (whose throne is in heaven) and to denote his confidence that God hears and answers prayer.  According to them, it shows the Christian that help comes from God, not from the world.  Apparently, it was a common position of prayer back in that day (Luke 18:13).   

However, this position of prayer would be uncommon for us.  We tend to express reverence of God by closing our eyes and bowing our heads. 

Which way is correct?

The answer is both!  Jesus gave us a model prayer to follow (Matthew 6:9-13), but he never prescribed a particular position or place to pray.  You can pray standing up, sitting down, on your knees or lying on the floor.  You can pray with your eyes open or shut.  You can pray loudly, quietly or even silently (but keep in mind that spoken words carry power).  The key is getting alone to communicate with God.

Notice that Jesus prays directly to the Father.  The first thing he says is that his ‘hour has come’.  This refers to the appointed time of his suffering and death, which would result in his victory over Satan.  This is one more confirmation that Jesus laid down his life at a predetermined time; his life was not taken away from him at the whim of man.

Now that the time of his death had arrived, he prays that the Father will ‘glorify the Son’.  In other words, Jesus was asking Father God to manifest or display his power in Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension; this would prove to the world that he was truly the Messiah, the Son of God. 

In turn, Jesus (as the Son) would also glorify the Father.  His death honored both the Law and the mercy of God.  As men were reconciled to God through his blood, it glorified the Father.

The mutual glorification of the Father and Son did not end at the cross.  As the gospel spreads throughout the world by the will of Christ and the assistance of Holy Spirit, God continues to be glorified by the regeneration of each lost sinner.  

John 17:2 – “…since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.”

This is a verse that we need to make sure we are interpreting correctly. 

Jesus acknowledges that the Father has given him authority over all flesh. 

There are some false teachers who claim that if God gave Jesus authority over all flesh while he was on the earth, it means that he did not have authority before, and thus he was not divine.  This is absolutely false. This verse does not speak of Jesus’ divine power as God, but of his power as the Mediator between God and man.

The entire human race was ‘given’ to Christ by his Father, so that he could procure salvation for all through his death:

Hebrews 2:9 – But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

(See also I Timothy 2:4-6, Romans 5:21, II Corinthians 5:14-15, Psalms 2:8, etc).  Thus, the entire human race is under the power and authority of Christ as Mediator; he has universal dominion over all things.  He has legislative power (power to make laws) as well as judiciary power (power to judge).

While his sacrifice purchased grace and forgiveness for every person, not everyone will voluntarily bow to his authority.  Those who place their faith in him receive salvation, while those who reject him will be judged at the end of this age.  

 John 17:3 – “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

God is the only source of eternal life; we must know him in order to receive this blessing. 

What does it mean to know God?

First, let’s talk about what it doesn’t mean.  It does not mean familiarity or simple factual knowledge.  For instance, I am familiar with actor Johnny Depp.  I know about his occupation, his love life, his income, his legal issues and much more.  But despite having factual knowledge about his life, I don’t know him – we have never met each other and we have absolutely no relationship at all.

In the same way, there are people who are familiar with or have factual knowledge about Jesus, Father God and Holy Spirit.  They may attend church and hear all about their activities, personalities and work.  These people may even read the bible on occasion or say some words of blessing over their food from time to time.  But despite being familiar with God, they don’t know him – they have absolutely no personal relationship with him. 

The fact is, the only way to truly know God is through the Mediator, Christ Jesus.

We were dead in our trespasses and sin; we had no means of having a relationship with God.  But then Jesus came to earth to make the Father known to us.  His final act on earth was to assume the office of Mediator by dying for our sin, so that our relationship to God could be restored. 

We know God by placing our faith the sacrifice of Christ for our sin.  Once we do so, we are in relationship with Father God and he gives us eternal life – but that’s not all!  Our relationship with God grows and flourishes while we are here on earth.  We can discover and experience the many attributes of God such as righteousness, justice, love and holiness.  We can know him as a parent, a friend, a king, a defender, a healer and a provider.  We know we are in a true relationship with him when we strive to obey his laws and yield our lives to his will. 

Furthermore, is important to know that he (the God introduced to us via Christ Jesus) is the only true God:

Isaiah 45:21 – Tell and bring forth your case; yea, let them take counsel together: who has declared this from ancient time?   Who has told it from that time?  Have not I the LORD?  And there is no other God besides me; a just God and a Savior; there is none besides me.  

All other gods are false; they are mere idols that cannot see or hear or save a man’s soul (Daniel 5:23, Revelation 9:20, Isaiah 2:17-21).

John 14:6 – Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me. 

Just as there is only one God, there is only one way to have a relationship with him – through his Son Jesus, our Mediator.

John 17:4 – “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”

Jesus did indeed glorify God on earth.  He spoke only what the Father told him to speak, and he did only what the Father told him to do.  Everything he did was for the purpose of bringing glory and honor to his Father.

Jesus came to earth, preached to the Jews, gave irrefutable proof that he was the Messiah, called the apostles, taught them the doctrines of the new covenant of grace, and gave them his parting council along with the promise of Holy Spirit. 

The only thing left to do – the final accomplishment of his work – was his atoning sacrifice on the cross, which would occur in a matter of a few short hours.  After that, he would return to the Father in heaven, who was well pleased with all he had done.

So think about this for a minute… on the threshold of his death, Jesus could rightfully say that he had lived his life well – he had done all that God gave him to do. 

What about you and me?  Our culture doesn’t like to think about death.  We do everything we can to look and feel young.  We get teeth implants, we re-grow our hair (or dye what we have), we get plastic surgery, we exercise and we take all kinds of health supplements.  But despite all of our effort to stay young and vigorous, each of us will eventually die (Hebrews 9:27). 

What will you be able to say about your life on the threshold of your death?  Will you be satisfied with the things you pursued and the choices you made?  Will you be content with the way you spent your time and the status of your relationships?  Will you be able to look forward to eternity knowing that you accomplished everything that God gave you to do?

John 17:5 – “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”

Jesus is divine; he and the Father (and Holy Spirit) are one and they have always existed for eternity.  Up until he came to earth, Jesus enjoyed the splendor and glory that was fitting for him as a member of the Trinity.  But for a short time (about 33 years), he humbled or emptied himself of his glory and took on a body of flesh (Philippians 2:7-8).   He now prays that God will restore him to the honor and dignity which he had before the incarnation. 

We can be assured that he has not only been restored to his former glory, he now has the additional honor of making atonement for sin and becoming our High Priest forever (Hebrews 6:20). 

His glory will not be hidden or kept secret.  The magnificence of his greatness and power which now exist in heaven will be displayed on earth at the appointed time; everyone will see it and everyone will be affected by it (Philippians 2:10, Zechariah 12:10).

John 17:6 – “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world.  Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.”

When Jesus says he has manifested God’s name, he means that he has revealed the attributes and character of God to mankind.  Man was able to discern a little bit of God and his divine nature by the works of creation.  He gained a little more knowledge of God through the Mosaic Law, but the full manifestation of God (his nature and attributes) came only through the revelation of Jesus.

Although Jesus ministered to many people, the full revelation of God was only given to the apostles.  These men were chosen by God from among the unbelieving Jewish nation (out of the world) to be the disciples of Christ and to spread the message of salvation throughout the world by their teaching, preaching and writings.       

John 17:7 – “Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.”

Unlike the majority of the Jewish nation, the disciples are fully persuaded that Jesus has been commissioned by God to be the Messiah.  They believe that the doctrine Jesus taught, the miracles he performed and the authority he carried were all given to him directly from Father God.  

John 17:8 – “For I have given them the words that you gave to me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.”

This explains how the disciples became fully persuaded that Jesus was teaching them the doctrines of God. 

Specifically, Jesus taught them only the doctrines he received from Father God (John 12:49).  These doctrines were pure; they did not contain the wisdom of man or any traditions of the elders. 

For their part, the disciples received this teaching into the fertile soil of their hearts where it took root and grew (Matthew 13:23).  Thousands of Jews heard the teaching of Jesus, but many of them had not prepared their hearts to receive the message, so the enemy was able to steal it from them.

The disciples also kept or continued in the words of Christ by obeying the doctrines they heard.  Jesus has already stressed the importance of obedience to his commands.   Obedience is one of the ways we demonstrate faith and love to Jesus.  As we obey his words, he abides in us and we abide in him, and Jesus further manifests himself to us (John 14:21-24).

The end result of all this is that deep down in their hearts the disciples are absolutely certain that Jesus came from God and that he is the true Messiah.  This does not mean that they fully understood the gospel, in fact, the opposite is probably true.  At that point in time their knowledge of spiritual truth was very limited and weak.  But even though they did not fully know/understand the message they still believed it was true.  They received the doctrines of Christ as divine truths, they obeyed his commands as divine laws, and they trusted in his promises as divine securities. 

Don’t forget, Jesus does not speak this only about the first disciples.  Believers in every generation (including you and me) have heard the word of God and allowed it to take root and grow within our hearts.  We too obey the commands of Jesus and abide in him; we too are fully convinced that he is the Messiah, the only Son of God.  In fact, we have assurance of this truth from Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16).

John 17:9-10 –“I am praying for them.  I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.  All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.”

‘Them’ refers particularly to the apostles that were called by Christ to be his special envoys on earth.  They were about to face some very intense trials and dangers; Jesus sought the protection and blessing of God on them so that they would be able to carry out their mission of preaching the gospel of salvation to the world (to the Jews first and later the Gentiles) and establishing the church. 

Jesus’ role as the intercessor did not end with the death of the apostles.  He continues to intercede on behalf of every believer in every generation that we too might experience the protection and blessing of the Father as we carry out the specific work he has give to us.

Notice that there is absolutely no disunity or competition among the members of the Trinity.  The Father, Son and Spirit are one in essence; they are equal in power and glory.  For this reason, all that belongs to God also belongs to his Son and Holy Spirit.

The scriptures declare that Christ redeemed us not only to himself, but to Father God as well:

Revelation 5:9-10 – And they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open the seals thereof: for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation; and have made us unto our God a kingdom and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.  

In fact, everyone who receives salvation from Jesus is put into a covenant relationship with the Father – God considers them his children and they consider him to be their Father (Romans 8:15).  Covenant relationship is one of the chief foundations on which our prayers can rest (Exodus 32:11-13).

All of the benefits of salvation that Jesus purchased with his blood bring glory to the Father when they are bestowed upon man.  In return, God glorifies his Son by placing all things (including believers/the church) under the authority of Jesus.  

John 17:11 – “And I am no longer 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 me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”

Jesus is just hours away from being crucified.  Although his work on earth is almost done, he was not going to retire – he was returning to the Father and to heaven where he would assume the role of Mediator.  (Thankfully, He is also busy preparing a place in heaven for you and me [John 14:3])!

But for now, his followers will remain behind, to spread the gospel throughout the world.  In the midst of this, they will experience trials and temptations.  In addition, the wicked will hate and persecute them, just as they did Jesus.  Therefore, Jesus prays that God will preserve his followers by his divine power.  This is a prayer that God always answers; the whole Trinity is involved in supporting us here on earth:

– Our Father gives us everlasting love and all sufficient power.

– The Son gives us redemption and constant intercession. 

– The Spirit perpetually inhabits/dwells with us, giving us his constant influence, wisdom and leading.    

All of this leads us to an inescapable conclusion: as believers, we have not been set up to fail; we have the strongest assurance of victory in this life.  What a comfort to know that while we labor here on earth, God keeps his eye fixed on us; he watches over us and provides help and relief when we need it.

Psalm 121:2-4 – My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.  He will not allow your foot to be moved: he that keeps you will not slumber.  Behold, he that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

(See also Proverbs 18:10, I Corinthians 10:13, II Timothy 4:18, Psalms 124, etc).  We are also set up to be inseparably united to God, just as Jesus is united to the Father and Spirit (Ephesians 4:2-6).

John 17:12 – “While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me.  I have guarded them, and no one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

Jesus was a faithful steward of all that God entrusted to him – including the people who served him.  While Jesus was in the world he perfectly shepherded his twelve disciples.  He preserved them from apostasy by his example, his instruction, his miracles and his presence. 

Although Jesus did not fail in any way, one of the disciples was ‘lost’ – Judas Iscariot.

Judas is described as the ‘son of destruction’.  The term ‘son of’ was used to describe someone who displayed the characteristics of the name or word which followed.  For example, Jesus refers to the religious leaders as sons of hell:

Matthew 23:15 – Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

In this example, the term ‘child (son) of hell’ means that the religious leaders had hellish characteristics – they were liars and hypocrites who pretended to serve God while their hearts were full of evil.

The term ‘son of destruction’ (your translation may say ‘perdition’) means one who desires and promotes complete loss, utter ruin/devastation/subversion; one who destroys or devastates; one who desires a state of damnation, future misery or eternal death.

Judas personified the spirit of destruction.  His crime (betraying Jesus) appears to be an attempt to devastate/destroy the entire human race by means of ‘destroying’ Jesus or causing him to fail which would result in the damnation/eternal death of us all. 

The point is that even though Judas was with Jesus outwardly, he never inwardly placed his faith in Christ.  He never accepted Jesus as the Messiah, despite being an eyewitness to all of the miracles he performed.  He did not believe in the gospel, despite hearing it repeatedly and in greater detail than others.  And once he sinned, he did not seek repentance or forgiveness, even though he could have obtained it at any time.  

Psalm 41:9 – Yea, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, who did eat of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.

It should be noted that even though scripture predicted the falling away of Judas, it was Judas’ own decision to reject Jesus.  He was not ‘forced’ to reject Christ simply to make the scriptures true; he had a free will choice, just as we all do.  Scripture simply foretold the decision Judas would make.

This is a tragic outcome, but not an uncommon one.  Even today we find people who go to church and profess to be Christians, but have never actually placed their faith in Christ as Redeemer.  To us, they seem to be followers of Christ, because we look on their outward appearance.  However, God can see their hearts (I Samuel 16:7). When they die, they will not inherit eternal life; they will be assigned a place in hell with their real father, Satan.

Let me offer you some encouragement and relief:

As we look at the state of our country – our culture, our schools, our government and our economy – we may be tempted to despair.  We may be tempted to think that Satan is going to gain victory over the entire world, despite the work of the church of Jesus Christ.  But let me give you some encouragement and relief – that will NEVER be the case!

God has NOT set us up to fail.  Jesus is the head of the church and he has never lost a battle.  He is going to make his church victorious over the kingdom of darkness: 

Matthew 16:18 – And I say also unto you… upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

When you are tempted to be discouraged by the evil around you, take your eyes off the enemy and place them back where they belong – on the promises and assurances of God Almighty. 

Instead of considering the power of the enemy, think about this:  God has given us all the weapons we need in order to prevail over Satan and his kingdom.  We have spiritual armor, we have God’s word, we have the keys to the kingdom of heaven, we have power and authority over demons/sickness, we have the power to bind and loose, we have the power of testimony and we have Holy Spirit living within us. 

In light of what God has given us, how should we be living our lives?  Should we be hiding in fear, or courageously take a stand for Christ in this generation? 

Don’t let the devil fool you – he is a defeated foe. 

Let me offer you some strength:

You can’t save the entire world and you will be overwhelmed if you try.  But what you can do is take action in the place where you are right now: 

Campaign for a position on the local school board or town council.   Run for mayor.  Get involved in antiabortion work. Support your local police.  Pray on the campuses of local schools and colleges.  Use your creative talents to bring Christianity into music and entertainment.  Use your social media influence as a platform for Christ. 

Do something/anything to get involved in taking our society back from the enemy and placing it under the authority of Christ!  It has always been God’s will for us to exercise authority over this world on his behalf, so get started today, in your own corner of the globe.  

Genesis 1:28 – And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.


John, Chapter 16, Part 3

John 16:23 – “In that day you will ask nothing of me.  Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”

At the end of our last post, Jesus was speaking on the topic of joy.  He now reveals to the disciples yet another reason to rejoice at his departure.

At first, this verse seems a bit hard to understand – the first part says that the disciples will ask nothing of Jesus and the second part assures them that whatever they ask, they will receive.  How can we explain this?

The first thing to know is that this occurs ‘in that day’, or after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus and after the coming of Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2).

The next thing to examine is the word ‘ask’.  In this verse, it has different meanings.   In one sense, it means to inquire; to seek to gain knowledge or understanding.  It also means to petition; to request something we need/want to receive.  

We are well aware that during their time with Jesus the disciples did both kinds of ‘asking’. 

For instance, Jesus would speak to the crowds in parables, but later on, in private, he gave personal instruction to the twelve regarding the mysteries of the gospel. 

Luke 8:9-10 –  And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?  And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

It makes sense that the disciples would continually ask him to explain different parts of his doctrines as they traveled, ate and ministered together.  They asked for and received knowledge, wisdom and understanding directly from Jesus.

The twelve received material things from him as well.  As they traveled from place to place with Christ, they depended upon the support of others to meet their daily needs.  However, Jesus no doubt supplied anything they lacked.  One example of this was when Peter wanted to pay the temple tax, but he had no money.  Jesus told him to go fishing and look in the mouth of the first fish he caught.  Sure enough, the fish contained enough money to pay the tax for both Peter and Jesus (Matthew 17:27).   

So, to summarize, the disciples were accustomed to directly asking Jesus for everything. 

This brings us to the third most significant word in this verse, which is ‘me’.  The disciples were to cease depending on Jesus for what they needed.  Let me explain.

Jesus was about to assume his new role as the Mediator between Father God and mankind.  Once that change occurred, (‘in that day’), the disciples were no longer to ask Jesus for what they needed.  They were now to make their requests directly to Father God, in Jesus’ name.  As the Mediator, Jesus would receive their requests, pass them on to the Father, then send the answer back to his disciples through the influences of Holy Spirit.  This is the meaning of the first part of the verse (in that day you will ask nothing of me). 

Once we understand that, the second part of the verse (whatever you ask of the Father in my name he will give it to you), makes more sense. 

Our heavenly Father has everything we could ever need or want.  In fact, he has resources far beyond anything we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).  He is the fountainhead of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).  As any loving Father, he is happy to give us what we need and want, if it is for our good.  He is particularly eager to give us anything/everything we need to further the Christ’s kingdom on earth. 

As a side note, it is worth mentioning that as we abide in Christ and his word abides in us, Holy Spirit changes our goals, desires and wills so they are compatible with the goals, desires and will of Christ.  The more spiritually mature we are, the more likely it is that we will ask for things in accordance with God’s will.  

One of the keys to receiving is that we must ask in Jesus’ name. 

What does it mean to ask in his name?

It is more than just ending your prayers with “in Jesus’ name, amen”.   We use this phrase so automatically it is almost devoid of meaning for most Christians.  Let’s reacquaint ourselves with what it means to ask in Jesus’ name.

To pray in the name of Jesus is to gratefully recognize Jesus as our Mediator.  It means we acknowledge that the privilege of asking something from God is only possible because of the sacrifice of Christ.  Without him, we could never even enter God’s presence to make our requests.  But now, the throne of grace is wide open for us; we can boldly ask God for what we need:

Hebrews 4:16 – Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

To pray in the name of Jesus is to pray in faith.  We must believe that because of (and through) Jesus, God hears our prayers and answers them.  We must believe/have faith that God keeps all of his promises.  Remember, God watches over his word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12).  If it has been promised to you in the bible, you can rest assured God will grant your request if you meet the requirements.  

Which brings up another issue that I frequently harp on… you need to be in the word, so you know what God has promised you!  You need to know what the requirements are so you can position yourself to receive/claim the promise!

John 16:24 – “Until now you have asked nothing in my name.  Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

Jesus once again reiterates the change in procedure that was now taking place.  Prayers are to be directed to Father God, through the Mediator Christ Jesus.  Answers flow from Father God, to Jesus and are received by Christians through Holy Spirit who is Christ’s agent here on earth.  We do not need the assistance of any other human (living or dead) to make our prayers known to Jesus.  When we pray in Jesus’ name, we can be confident that our prayers will ascend into God’s presence. 

The direct consequence of asking properly is receiving what we need.  The consequence of receiving what we need is experiencing fullness of joy.  

John 16:25 – “I have said these things to you in figures of speech.  The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father.”

‘Figures of speech’ (your translation may say ‘proverbs’) refers to something that is obscure, or difficult to understand.  And Jesus’ statements were obscure – at least to the disciples, at the time.  The death and resurrection of Christ are plain to us, but to the twelve who were filled with Jewish prejudices, they seemed very enigmatic and shrouded in mystery.  But they needn’t worry – a time was coming when everything would be plain and easy to understand.  This was probably a great encouragement to them at the time.

‘The hour’ refers to the Day of Pentecost when Holy Spirit came down into the world.  He is the Spirit of Truth; it is his role to communicate/explain/reveal the truths of God to mankind, making the mysteries of the gospel plain and simple for all Christians to understand.

Sometimes we tend to wonder how the disciples failed to understand certain spiritual things that seem so simple to us (like the death of Christ).  But we should be careful about criticizing them because there are clearly things in the bible that we still do not understand today.

The good news is that if we apply ourselves to study the word and we ask the Father (in Jesus’ name) to reveal spiritual mysteries to us, he will do so.  Jesus is the head of the church and he actively assists the church in every generation to understand the plans and purposes of the Father.

John 16:26-27 – “In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf: for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”

This is another passage that on first glance seems to contradict what Jesus said before.  However, that is not really the case.  Jesus is NOT refusing to intercede for believers or giving up his office as Mediator.

The overall meaning of the verse is this: 

God has always loved mankind (I John 4:19); however, we were under his wrath because of sin.  To remedy that situation, he sent Jesus to die for us.  (While we were still sinners, Christ died for us – Romans 5:8).  Those who accept Christ in faith can be reunited with the Father and experience his love through Jesus our Mediator. 

So not only can Christians count on the intercession of Jesus, we can also have confidence that because of our relationship with him, the Father is favorably inclined to freely give us all that we ask for, without any difficulty.   This is the point Jesus is stressing in this verse.

Because of our love or Jesus and the Father’s love for us, there is no need for us to convince him to help us.  We don’t need to somehow talk him into assisting us.  There is no need for us to beg God for what we need.  Remember, begging does not move the hand of God – faith does!

This brings up something else for our consideration.  When you picture Jesus making intercession for you with the Father, what do you see in your mind’s eye?  Do you picture Jesus on his knees in front of God, begging and pleading and hoping to get what we need?  Do you picture a miserly God who grudgingly gives away his blessings?  If so, you need to think differently because nothing could be further from the truth!

Romans 8:32 – He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

God is very pleased with the obedience and sacrifice of Jesus.  At this very moment Jesus is seated at the right hand of God in a position of honor, authority and power (Romans 8:34).  Because his sacrificial work is a part of who he is, it is continually present in the throne room of God; God is always aware of it.  Because God is perfectly pleased with his Son and the sacrifice he made, we have the heart of Father God as soon as we approach him in the name of his Son.  On this basis he is ready, willing and able to give us what we ask for.

Mark 11:24 – Therefore I say unto you, whatever things you desire, when you pray, believe that you will receive them, and you shall have them.

So, when you approach Father God in prayer, make your requests in faith, believing that you will receive what you have asked for!

John 16:28 – “I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

In essence this verse is a plain and simple declaration of the mission of Jesus – He came from the Father into the world to redeem it.  Now that his mission was about to be completed, he would once again return to the Father in heaven. 

The disciples were fully convinced that Jesus had come from God – they accepted him as God manifested in the flesh.  Jesus now helps them to understand that upon his ‘exit’ from the flesh, he would be received back into heaven by the Father – he would return to the glory that was his before the world began (John 17:5). 

John 16:29-30 – His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech!  Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.”

As we mentioned in our last post, the disciples were perplexed by the statement of Jesus in verse 16 (a little while, and you shall not see me: and again, a little while, and you shall see me because I go to the Father).

In verses 17-18, they debated among themselves what these words meant, but it is clear from the text that Jesus did not hear this part of the conversation. Yet, in verse 19 Jesus knew that the twelve wanted to question him about that statement. 

Therefore, when Jesus knew and answered all the questions of the disciples (without them asking), it proved that he had divine power; he could search and know the minds and hearts of men.  This was yet another confirmation for the disciples that Jesus came from God and was divine.  

At this point, their understanding of Christ’s person, mission and office had grown.  Although they still did not know the full meaning of these things (that would only come through Holy Spirit), they were very comforted to have some insight into the plans of God.

John 16:31 – Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?”

In the prior verse the apostles made a full profession of their faith in Jesus’ divinity and in his omnipotence. 

In response to that confession, Jesus asked them this question, which was clearly designed to get the disciples to embark on a full and truthful examination of their own hearts.  The disciples felt they had unshakable faith, but that wasn’t the case.  They didn’t realize just how weak their faith actually was.

Of course, trials and/or persecution are the real tests of faith.  In a very short time Jesus’ suffering and shame was about to commence and this would result in a severe test of their faith, as Jesus describes in the next verses.

John 16:32 – “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone.  Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.”

Again, Jesus accurately predicts future events.  Once he is arrested and crucified, the disciples are absolutely terrified of suffering the same fate so they scatter, forsaking Jesus (Matthew 26:56) and each other. At that point, it was every man for himself.  Soon afterward, many of the disciples traveled to Galilee and returned to fishing (John 21:1-14).

But even though the disciples fled, Jesus was not alone.  God was with him and that was all he really needed.  The Father had promised to be with Jesus during his whole incarnation (Psalms 89:21) to preserve (Isaiah 49:8) and strengthen him (Isaiah 50:7). 

As he hung on the cross Jesus was so assured of his Father’s presence with him, that he committed his Spirit into the Father’s hand upon his death.

Every Christian has the assurance that God never leaves us.  He walks with us on the mountaintop as well as in the valley of the shadow of death.  Even if man forsakes us, God never will.

John 16:33 – “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

This is the conclusion of Jesus’ farewell sermon to his disciples.  Jesus reiterates that the world will hate them, because it hated him first.  Any follower of Christ can expect trouble and tribulation from those in the world. 

Yet, despite opposition and persecution, the disciples could have peace that passes all understanding, because the Spirit of Christ was always with them. 

They could also be assured that God is the final victor in all things. 

Jesus knew that his sacrifice on the cross was the means to victory over Satan, the god of this world.  The disciples, however, didn’t realize this.  To them, the cross seemed like the final end of the ministry of the Messiah.  This is why Jesus assures them that, despite what things would look like in the next 72 hours or so, he had indeed overcome the world. 

Let me offer you some encouragement:

As we noted in today’s post, we are to pray to Father God in Jesus’ name and expect to receive an answer from Holy Spirit.  This is the normal process for every single Christian. 

While it is certainly appropriate for others to pray for/with us at certain times, this should not be our normal routine.  You shouldn’t be calling your parents or your pastor every time you need to be in touch with God!   You should be ‘asking’ for what you need yourself.  After all, who knows your situation/needs better than you?

If you are a new Christian or if you haven’t been regularly engaged in prayer, I strongly encourage you to develop your prayer life.  Discover the joy of meeting God in prayer on a daily basis.  You’ll be glad you did!

Let me offer you some relief:

Faith in God and his promises plays a key role in today’s study.  Jesus asked questions that were designed to get the disciples to examine their own lives and to evaluate their level of faith. 

What is your level of faith?  If it isn’t as strong as it should be, don’t fret.  Faith is a living substance that continues to grow the more you use/exercise it.  Examine your life and find those situations that need to be changed.  Find a promise in God’s word that speaks to your issue and stand on it in faith!  Pray to the Father in Jesus’ name, and watch for the answer.

Let me offer you some strength:

There was a point in time when it seemed to the disciples that Jesus had suffered defeat at the hands of his enemies.  But as we are well aware, that was not the case. 

Sometimes we also experience situations where victory seems far away or even impossible.  Perhaps you have prayed for something or someone for a long period of time, and nothing seems to change.  If that is you, I urge you to stand strong in your faith! You can be sure that Father God has heard your heart’s cry. 

You can be sure that he is working ‘behind the scenes’ to bring that situation to a place where it will be for your good.  So don’t give up –stand strong and wait for your victory to manifest itself!

John, Chapter 16, Part 2

John 16:12 – “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”

In his ‘farewell address’ to the apostles, Jesus has been revealing to them a great many truths and doctrines which would apply to the gospel dispensation. 

These truths were more like an outline or framework for what was to come – the message of salvation, the age of grace, the establishment of the church, the coming of Holy Spirit etc.   Jesus had not given them the exact details of how everything would work.

There are a couple of reasons why Jesus did not fully disclose his future plans to them at this time:

  • They literally couldn’t absorb all of the information at one time.  Studies show that the average person can concentrate/maintain focus for about 40-45 minutes before their mind starts to wander, and information retention starts to decrease.  So there was no way the disciples could have learned and retained all of the information they needed to know in such a short period of time.
  • Some of God’s plans wouldn’t make any sense at this time, because the disciples were still full of Jewish prejudices and false ideas regarding the Messiah and his kingdom.  Remember, they were just now beginning to understand that Jesus wasn’t going to immediately establish his earthly kingdom.  They were just beginning to fathom that their path was one of suffering and hardship, not one of celebrity and ease in Jesus’ new government.
  • Some of the coming changes were so shocking that no Jewish person could possibly be prepared to accept/embrace them.  Think about it for a minute.  Under the law, only certain men could be priests but under grace, every Christian was admitted to the royal priesthood.  Under the law, animal sacrifices were necessary but under grace all blood sacrifices ceased.  Under the law, only Jews could be in right standing with God but under grace even Gentiles were accepted into the family of God.  The new covenant was shocking indeed!

Truthfully, the only way the disciples were going to understand the full gospel message was by the aid of Holy Spirit. 

John 16:13 – “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.”

In this verse Jesus refers to Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth because it was/is his job to instruct believers in the truths of God.

In this particular case, Holy Spirit is going to guide the apostles into truth which pertained to the establishment of the church.  Once Jesus had died and risen again, Holy Spirit could open their eyes to the true plans and purposes of God regarding the plan of salvation.  Things that made no sense to them at the moment would become clear after Jesus’ death and resurrection. 

Holy Spirit is described as revealing or declaring ‘things that are to come’.  Keep in mind that Jesus spoke these words before his final suffering began.  Therefore, everything that was about to happen (including his crucifixion and resurrection), were still future events.  

Jesus is saying that the Spirit was going to reveal the meaning of events that were to take place after the time he was speaking to them.  This would include the necessity of his death and the changes that were going to take place in the new dispensation of grace.  Holy Spirit would also open their understanding so they could see how Old Testament prophesy pointed directly to Jesus as the Messiah (for example, Isaiah 53).   

The good news is that Holy Spirit’s job didn’t end with the apostles. 

There are still many portions of scripture (the book of Revelation, portions of Daniel, Ezekiel and many of the minor prophets) which have not yet been fulfilled.  In fact, God has truths which he will only reveal when the time is right for us to understand them:

Daniel 12:4 – But you, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

Habakkuk 2:3 – For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay.

This is one more instance which proves that we need Holy Spirit now more than ever!  We need him to reveal/interpret the truth of scriptures that apply to this generation, so we can successfully partner with God and bring his will to pass on earth.  

John 16:14 – “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

‘He will glorify me’ – As we noted before, each member of the Trinity has accepted a different role in the salvation of mankind.  The role of Holy Spirit is to establish the kingdom of Christ and to confirm all that Jesus received from the Father.  Holy Spirit will always honor Jesus; everything he does will exalt Christ (I Corinthians 12:3).  

For instance, the gifts that Holy Spirit gives (word of wisdom, word of knowledge, discerning of spirits, gifts of healing, public tongues and interpretation, etc) are all used to exalt Christ. 

When a Christian prays for and unbeliever and they receive a gift of healing from the Spirit, that healing is possible because of the work of Jesus who took stripes on his back for our healing (I Peter 2:24).  The healing creates faith in the person who was healed, causing them to place their trust in Christ and receive salvation.  Thus, Jesus is glorified by the work of the Spirit.

Another example would be when a Christian receives a supernatural word of wisdom for a brother or sister in Christ.  This timely wisdom will somehow edify/encourage or otherwise give victory to the one who receives it.  This in turn will strengthen or increase the faith and ministry of the hearer (and all those around him/her).  So again, the Spirit is establishing and strengthening the kingdom of Christ, which glorifies Jesus.  

Holy Spirit also helps us to cultivate spiritual fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).  When Christians develop this fruit it makes us more Christ-like and brings further glory to Jesus.

Holy Spirit also works to convict unbelieving men and women of sin, and prompts them to turn to Christ for forgiveness.  Thus, the Spirit works to increase the kingdom of Christ.

We could give other examples as well, but the bottom line is that Holy Spirit’s role in the salvation of man is to establish and confirm the kingdom of Christ.  Everything he does glorifies Jesus.     

‘He will take what is mine’ – Holy Spirit did not come to earth to start a new kingdom. Instead, he functions as an ambassador of sorts – he receives his commission and instructions from Jesus.  He does the will of Jesus and assists in completing his work upon the earth.    

‘Declare it to you’ – The Spirit communicates/explains/reveals the truths of God to mankind.  He does this because of our own weaknesses. 

It is important to understand that the revelation that Jesus brought us was not an imperfect revelation that Holy Spirit had to supplement.  Jesus brought us a full and perfect revelation from God, but we received his doctrine imperfectly.  Therefore it was necessary to have the Spirit illuminate our hearts and guide us into all truth.

John 16:15 – “All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

There can be no doubt that the Father, Son and Spirit are all of the same divine essence, wisdom and power.  They work together to accomplish their purposes. 

Jesus was an ambassador for the Father; he said and did only what the Father told him to.  He revealed the Father to mankind.  In the same way Holy Spirit is an ambassador for Christ; he comes in Christ’s authority as the interpreter and executor of his will.   

John 16:16-17 – “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.  So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?”

Scholars offer different interpretations of this verse:

One:  In less than 24 hours, Jesus was going to be crucified and placed in a tomb.  Thus, in a little while they would ‘see him no longer’.  Then after three days in the tomb, he would arise from the grave and be seen by many witnesses.

Acts 13:31 – And he [Jesus] was seen many days of them who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.  

Two:  Some interpret this statement in a more long-term sense.  The disciples would no longer see Jesus after his ascension to the Father in heaven:

Acts 1:9 – And when he [Jesus] had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 

But they would surely see him again once they died and entered eternity.

Three:  The disciples would no longer see Jesus in his physical form after he ascended to heaven.  However, once Holy Spirit came to earth and gave them clear insight into the plan of salvation, they would see the evidence of Jesus in the work of Holy Spirit.

Finally, there are some who believe that in ‘a little while you will see me’ refers to the second coming to earth.  Scripture says that at that time ‘every eye shall see him’ (Revelation 1:7).   

Regardless of which explanation you think is best, the end is the same – one day you and I will find ourselves at the foot of God’s throne, looking at our Savior.  What a glorious time that will be!

John 16:18-19 – So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’?  We do not know what he is talking about.  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, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’?”

Many scholars feel that the enigmatic saying of Jesus had a specific purpose – to grab the attention of the disciples and to spur them on towards seeking knowledge.  It was time for them to stop feeling sorry for themselves and begin to understand that it was truly better for them that Jesus departed, so that Holy Spirit could come and God’s plan for mankind could move forward (John 16:7).  

It is interesting to note that God still does this in our day.  He may give you a dream or vision which requires you to seek out the correct interpretation.  He might also capture your attention with a portion of scripture which in turn sets you on a path of discovery about a particular topic. 

When this happens to you, be sure to follow through until you have a satisfactory explanation; God is blessing you with a revelation of him or his kingdom (Proverbs 25:2).    

Because they are now eagerly seeking out the meaning of Jesus’ saying, he begins to reveal the answer to them.

John 16:20 – “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.”

Jesus tells the disciples that his followers would weep and lament when faced with his suffering, crucifixion and death (Luke 23:27).  These same events would cause ‘the world’ or wicked people to rejoice and be glad.  In this case, ‘world’ refers to unbelievers in general, but specifically to the Jewish leaders (Pharisees, scribes, priests, etc) who adamantly opposed Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah.

But things are not always as they seem.  Jesus would rise again; the sorrow of the disciples would be mitigated.  Jesus would return bringing salvation, healing, comfort and peace as well as eternal joy in the world to come.  Although the disciples did not fully understand this at the time, they could console themselves with the assurances of Jesus that his death would be for their good. 

In all generations (including ours), it sometimes seems like evil triumphs over good.  The apparent triumphs of the wicked certainly produce grief in the minds of Christians, but we can rest assured they will not endure

The temporary triumph of the wicked is the topic of Psalms 73.  This powerful Psalm was written by Asaph, a Levite who was one of King David’s worship leaders.  The first half of this Psalm centers on the grief he feels when he sees the victory/prosperity of the wicked. 

But in the second half of the Psalm he talks about entering into the presence of God, where he received a revelation that, unlike the final outcome of the righteous, the ‘success’ of the wicked was only temporary.  When the Lord takes action against them, they will be destroyed in a moment.

If you haven’t read this Psalm in a while, you might want to consider doing so this week!

John 16:21 – “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.”

Jesus uses the example of a woman in labor to further illustrate his point that the sorrow of his followers will be turned into joy. 

As we all know, women in labor will naturally experience a great amount of pain until the child is born (Genesis 3:16).  But once that happens, her sorrow is swallowed up in joy as she holds her infant. 

In the same way, the sorrow which the disciples will endure for the sake of the gospel will not last forever.  Any/all suffering they experience will be worth it; they will be eternally blessed in God.  And even in the midst of trials and tribulations Christians will experience the joy of Christ.

John 16:22 – “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”

When Jesus says he will see his disciples again, he is referring to being with them through the person of Holy Spirit.  Since Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts of believers, they can continually enjoy the presence of God at all times.  This joy cannot be taken by the world, because its source is divine.    

In addition, once Jesus rose and Holy Spirit came, the disciples would be so firmly convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, that no amount of persecution or threats could shake their faith.  In the midst of all their afflictions, they had an unshakable source of joy, which no enemy could take away.

All Christians can truly agree with Mary the mother of Jesus who said, “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47). 

Let me offer you some encouragement:

The Christian walk definitely contains elements of sorrow and pain.  Jesus never hid this fact from any of his followers.  But at the same time, Jesus makes it clear that our sorrow is only temporary.  The longest it can possibly last is until the end of our lives; once we go to be with him there will be no more sorrow or tears. 

As King David says, ‘weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning’ (Psalms 30:5). 

So when you endure those times of suffering/pain, don’t let them steal your joy.  Your end has already been determined by God and it is going to be greater than anything you can imagine!

Let me offer you some relief:

The disciples didn’t fully understand every single doctrine that Jesus spoke to them.  But that was okay because Holy Spirit came to guide them into all truth. 

Are there portions of scripture or other spiritual things that you don’t fully understand?  If so, go to the Lord in prayer and ask Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to you.  It may just be that he is standing by right now, waiting for you to dig in and investigate the issue with him.

Let me offer you some strength:

We could describe Jesus as an ambassador of God.  He came to reveal the Father to the world and he only said/did the will of Father God. 

Likewise, we could describe Holy Spirit as an ambassador for Jesus.  He does the will of Jesus and assists in completing his work upon the earth. 

The question is, are we acting as ambassadors for the Father, Son and Spirit?  Do we listen to God’s voice and work to fulfill his commands of spreading the gospel to every nation on earth and making disciples of others?    

If not, what is holding us back?  Whatever it might be, lets get rid of it, so we can successfully run the race that God has set before us.



John, Chapter 16, Part 1

John 16:1 – “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.”

‘All these things’ is a reference to all of the teaching Jesus has given his disciples since the Passover meal (aka John chapters 14 & 15).

  • Some of his teachings were very comforting – Jesus was preparing a place for them in heaven, Holy Spirit was coming to abide with them, etc.
  • Some of the teachings were instructional – the disciples were to keep the commands of Christ in order to abide/live in him as a branch lives by connection to a vine.
  • Some of the teachings were informative – there was going to be opposition, hardship and danger involved for those who chose to follow Christ.

It’s great to see that Jesus doesn’t hold anything back.  He doesn’t ‘gloss over’ the hardships of Christianity.  He fully discloses to his disciples that the road to heaven is not an easy garden path; it often involves suffering of one kind or another.  It can be a road full of pitfalls and dangers.

One of the most imminent dangers to the twelve apostles was offense or scandal. 

The Law was the very foundation of the Jewish life, and people were extremely passionate about it.  They had their preconceived (and inaccurate) ideas of who/what the Messiah would be, and their ideas did NOT include a suffering Messiah who would die on a cross at the hands of Rome.

So the crucifixion of Christ was about to become a major offense/scandal in the Jewish religious world.  It was going to cause great division within the nation.  In fact, it will be the most divisive event ever to occur not only in Jewish life, but in the history of the world.  And in the aftermath of this great division, the apostles are supposed to begin preaching grace/salvation through Christ.  That was a tough and dangerous path to tread! 

We can see how the scandal of the cross would tempt the apostles to turn aside from the whole truth, or find some way to soften (sugar-coat) the gospel message in order to avoid further offense. 

We can also see how the violent opposition of the Jews might cause the twelve to give up and not share the gospel at all.  After all, who wants to sign up for certain persecution?      

But Jesus prepares his followers for victory.  He has forewarned them of the coming conflict/opposition and promised them supernatural assistance.  Jesus has done this so that the disciples will not stumble or fall in their Christian walk; Jesus does not want their faith to fail.     

John 16:2 – “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.”

As they preach the gospel, the apostles are going to be targeted by the current leadership.  The Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, elders, etc were not going to just give up and hand over religious leadership of the nation to the twelve followers of Jesus.  They were going to fight to the death to keep Israel under the law and to retain their positions of power in the religious life of the nation. 

This put the apostles right in the ‘cross hairs’ of persecution and death.

The first attack against the apostles (and all Christians in that era) would come in the form of excommunication from the synagogue. 

What exactly was a synagogue?

First of all, let’s remind ourselves that the temple was different from a synagogue.  As you know, there was only one temple, located in Jerusalem.  The original temple was a very ornate and lavish structure built by King Solomon during the fourth year of his reign (I Kings chapters 6-7).  It was destroyed by the Babylonians when Judah was taken captive.  (It was later rebuilt under the leadership of Ezra/Nehemiah, and remodeled by Herod.)

During the time of their captivity, the Jews instituted the concept of the synagogue.  The synagogue was a meeting site used for religious services.  Typical synagogue services included prayer, the systematic reading of scripture, and the exposition of what was read (Acts 13:14-15, Luke 4:15-22).  Additionally, the synagogue was used as a public school for Jewish males.  Occasionally, it also served as a courthouse and place of judgment/punishment (Matthew 10:17, Luke 12:11, Acts 22:19).

It took a minimum of 10 Jewish males to open a synagogue.  The luxury of the building was dependent upon the wealth of the men who formed it.  The internal arrangement of the structures often varied; however, there were certain traditional or common formations.    

These included a separate women’s gallery (often behind a partition of lattice work), a desk in the center where the reader and speaker sat, a carefully closed ‘ark’ on the side of the building nearest to Jerusalem (in which the rolls or manuscripts of the law were kept), and seats all around where the men sat.  There would also have been reserved seating or ‘chief seats’ for the rulers of the synagogue.

The synagogue became one of the cultural, religious and social centers of the Jewish society.  To be banned from the synagogue was synonymous with being cut off from the community; it would have been a devastating punishment to the Jews.  Just the threat of being banned caused many Jews to conform to the orders of the Pharisees, even if they didn’t agree with their decisions (John 9:22-23).        

If that were the extent of the persecution by the religious leaders, it wouldn’t be so bad.  But excommunication was just the beginning. 

The apostles (and other believers) were also threatened (Acts 4:21 and 29), beaten (Acts 5:40, II Corinthians 11:25) and eventually martyred for the cause of Christ (Acts 12:1-3, Acts 7:56-60).  And just as Jesus predicted, there were those who believed they were doing the work of God by killing Christians (Acts 9:1).

John 16:3 – “And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.”

Jesus repeats once again that ignorance of God is the cause of the world’s hatred and persecution of Christians. 

Those who think they do God a favor by killing men and women made in his image clearly know nothing of the true nature of God.  They fail to realize that God is long suffering and compassionate; he loves each sinner so much that he was willing to sacrifice his only Son for their redemption.

Jesus does not say this to make Christians feel guilty for not reaching/converting every sinner.  Rather, he makes this known to them so they may boldly continue to proclaim the gospel in the face of the blind fury of their adversaries.

It also reminds Christians that they should rise to a level of compassion and love toward their enemies which Jesus himself exemplified by forgiving those who hung him on the cross (Luke 23:34).   

All in all, this is tough news for the disciples.  They are probably beginning to finally understand that the journey they have been on with Christ is not going to end with the overthrow of the Romans and Jesus being crowned as an earthly king. 

But there is good news too – Jesus is not going to let his disciples fail; he is preparing them to stand firm when the storms of life hit them (Matthew 7:24-25).   

John 16:4 – “But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.  I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.”

‘These things’ may be understood as the Jews’ ignorance of God’s plans/purposes as well as their willful rejection of Jesus as the Messiah.  Because of their ignorance, they will wind up persecuting the apostles and other Christian converts as well.

Jesus has predicted these things so that when the persecution occurs, his followers will remember his words.  It would strengthen their faith to remember that the Lord’s divine wisdom had foreseen all of this trouble/opposition.  The actions of the religious leaders were not a surprise to God!    

Furthermore, because they had prior warning of these trials/calamities, they will not be caught off guard; they will remain strong in their faith and be victorious.  Had they not been expecting this kind of opposition, they may well have given up on their commission, thinking that Jesus had either abandoned them or that he was not the Messiah.

The apostles might well have wondered why Jesus never mentioned this before.  The reason is simple – all the time Jesus had been with them, he had personally taken the brunt of the hatred of the Jews.  His followers were safe as long as he was bodily present with them.  But now that he was leaving, the religious leaders would focus their hatred on the apostles (and any other Jew who became a Christian). 

John 16:5-6 – “But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’  But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.”

Jesus again reminds the disciples that he will be returning to Father God almost immediately.  How are the disciples to react to this statement?

Theologically speaking, there was cause for rejoicing.  When Jesus died and rose again it meant that death was defeated, sin could be atoned for, the power of Satan was broken, the kingdom of heaven had invaded earth and Holy Spirit was soon to come.  Lots of incredibly wonderful things happened when Jesus returned to heaven!   

But as humans, we sometimes react out of emotion rather than reason. The disciples had a very close/intimate relationship with their master for the last few years.  They have traveled together, eaten together, learned together, ministered together, experienced both joy and sadness together, worshiped together, etc.  The thought of losing the companionship of Jesus was devastating to the apostles. 

Emotionally speaking, it hurts whenever death breaks the bonds of love between people.  If you have ever lost a friend or loved one, you have experienced this yourself; you know how painful it can be.  

Nevertheless, Jesus wants the twelve to encourage themselves by focusing on the comfort and victory he has provided for them in this life.  He wants them to react based on his promises to them, not on their emotions.  This was evident when he lightly rebukes them for not asking where he was going.

If they took the time to think it through, they would realize that when Jesus went back to heaven, it was for his good – having fulfilled his commission, he returned to the glory he had before.  They would also have realized it was for their good too – Holy Spirit was scheduled to come after Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father where he made (and still continues to make) intercession for us.

John 15:11 – These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

Yes, there were going to be some challenges in the future, but there was no reason for the disciples to walk through life being full of sorrow.  Jesus had given them many gracious gifts and promises to make them victorious.

It was up to them to stop concentrating on their sorrow and to begin counting their reasons to rejoice.  

John 16:7 – “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you.”

The biggest advantage of Jesus returning to heaven was the gift of Holy Spirit.  This raises an interesting question.  Why was it more advantageous to have Holy Spirit on earth, rather than Jesus?

The great plan of redemption called for each member of the Trinity to perform a specific role.  It was the work of Jesus to provide atonement; it was/is the work of the Spirit to apply it to mankind.  Therefore, it was advantageous for Jesus to ascend to heaven so Holy Spirit could now come and perform his unique role in the salvation of mankind.

Holy Spirit helps believers in producing godly fruit in their lives (Galatians 5:22-23).  He also brings gifts to the body of Christ in order to make the church victorious and to assist us in our mission to spread the gospel message around the world:  

1 Corinthians 12:8-11 – For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another various kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:  But in all these works that one and same Spirit, dividing to every man individually as he will.  

Furthermore, while in bodily form, Jesus could only be in one place at one time.  This limited his ministry and influence in the world.  Obviously, Holy Spirit does not have a flesh-and-blood body, so he is not controlled by space and time. 

He can move throughout the world at will, assisting Christians to share the gospel while simultaneously convicting sinners and bringing them to repentance.  He is often compared to the wind, which blows all over the earth.  

The disciples were sorrowful that Jesus was leaving, but Jesus was right – it was to their advantage for him to depart and send Holy Spirit to earth. 

John 16:8 – “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:”

To convict (your translation may say ‘reprove’) commonly means to demonstrate by argument; to persuade through reason, to demonstrate by proof or evidence.

  • Sin – As we have already mentioned, it is the role of Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin.  In other words, he will apply the truth of the gospel to men’s hearts and minds in such a way that they will be convinced they are sinners in need of the blood of Christ (Acts 2:36-37).  This was/is particularly true regarding the sin of unbelief.
  • Righteousness – Holy Spirit will convince or persuade people that their own righteousness is insufficient to save them.  In order to be justified before God, they will need the righteousness that only Christ can provide (Philippians 3:9, Romans 3:20-22).
  • Judgment – Holy Spirit will demonstrate that Jesus is Lord and that by his death/resurrection he judged, condemned and overcame Satan and his kingdom of darkness.      

The concepts of sin, righteousness and judgment are all interwoven – when men are convicted of sin, they will either turn to Christ and receive his righteousness, or reject Christ and be judged with the prince of darkness.

John 16:9 – “… concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;”

Sin is defined as any violation of the law of God, but the particular sin being discussed here is that of unbelief or rejection of Christ.  This was the main sin of the Jews who crucified Jesus. 

When the apostles preached the gospel message, it was this sin of unbelief/rejection which filled the Jews with remorse and caused them to repent (Acts 2:22-38, Acts 3:13-19, Zechariah 12:10, etc).

Taken in a broader sense, Holy Spirit will convict men/women of all sin in order to show them the necessity of a redeemer who can atone for their sin.

John 16:10 – “…concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;”

This seems to refer to the righteousness or innocence of Jesus himself.  He was rejected and persecuted by the Jews.  He was shortly to be arrested and accused of heinous crimes against God, condemned/declared guilty by the highest authority in the land, and sentenced to death.  By all accounts he was guilty, not innocent.

However, once Holy Spirit came to earth, he would convince men/women that Jesus was not guilty; he was completely righteous in the sight of his Father.  Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to God provided a clear demonstration of his innocence that would satisfy Jews and Gentiles alike.   

John 16:11 – “…concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

Make no mistake – God is both holy and just; he will execute judgment upon his enemies. 

The death of Christ was a judgment against Satan.  And just as Jesus vanquished Satan, he will subdue all other adversaries in due time.  Sinners can expect to be condemned on the Day of Judgment, at the end of this age, unless they repent.

Let me offer you some encouragement:

Although the disciples were called upon to tread a difficult path during the course of their Christian lives, they did not walk alone. 

As we noted in today’s post, Jesus had prepared his followers for victory.  He gave them his word/doctrine.  He warned them about what was to come.  And he promised to send them Holy Spirit to provide supernatural assistance in every situation.

We still enjoy the same benefits.  The word of God is available to us in numerous ways, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  God still speaks through modern day prophets to encourage and lead the church.  And Holy Spirit is still just as active today as he was back in the days of the disciples. 

So no matter what path you find yourself on, you too can be victorious, just as the disciples were.  

 Let me offer you some relief:

The disciples were facing a task that seemed impossible to them – they were to continue preaching the gospel after Jesus was crucified.  I am sure they felt inadequate or not fully prepared to take on that challenge.

But they needn’t have worried.  Through Holy Spirit, they received all of the wisdom, strength and boldness they needed.  What task has God given to you?  If it seems impossible, don’t worry – Holy Spirit is right here to help you too.

Let me offer you some strength:

In our lesson today, we noted that Jesus had promised many good things to his disciples, but they were so busy concentrating on future difficulties that they missed the reasons they had to rejoice. 

If we are not careful, we could end up doing the same thing. 

There is no doubt that life can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be full of joy!  Remember, joy doesn’t come from our outward circumstances; it springs from our relationship with God. 

The joy of the Lord gives you the strength you need to get through each day.  And that is the best way to live life – one day at a time (Nehemiah 8:10)!   


John, Chapter 15, Part 3

John 15:18 – “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

As the disciples go forth to establish the church and spread the gospel around the world, they should not expect a warm welcome from everyone.  In fact, they would be hated and opposed by many (I John 3:13, Matthew 10:25). 

However, this was not something new to them.  They had been with Jesus for years and he had encountered the same treatment.  Jesus did not allow opposition from the proud, the wealthy, the learned or those in power to deter him from his mission.  He did not allow persecution, threats or difficulties to slow him down. 

Consequently, the disciples need not be troubled when they encounter such opposition, because it proves they are on the right path – the same path that Jesus walked.  He is to be the example the disciples will follow when they too face opposition.

John 15:19 – “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore, the world hates you.”

Here Jesus reveals the cause or root of the hated his followers will experience:

Unbelievers have malice towards God deep within their hearts and they hate anything that reflects or resembles Him.

Jesus has ‘chosen us out’ or separated us from the world.  We are now new creations in Christ; old things have passed away and all things are new (II Corinthians 5:17). 

We now possess the nature, disposition, inclinations and desires of our Holy Father.  We display his attributes including righteousness, justice, love and mercy.  We are led by his Holy Spirit.

By contrast, unbelievers have the nature, disposition, inclinations and desires of their father, Satan.  They display his attributes including evil, tyranny, hate and judgment.  They are under the influence of the spirit of antichrist.

Since the two groups have interests, desires and goals that are diametrically opposed, it is logical that the world will despise, resist and actively combat those who follow Christ.

However, as Jesus mentioned earlier, his followers are not to act in that manner.  We must obey his commands so that we can abide in him and he can abide in us.  According to Jesus the greatest command is to love others:

Matthew 22:37-39 – Jesus said unto him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

In addition, the parable of the Good Samaritan shows us that our ‘neighbor’ is actually anyone we come into contact with (Luke 10:25-37). 

Therefore, we must have compassion for the lost.  Don’t think of the ‘lost’ as a vague, nameless, faceless group.  We must recognize them as the individual people we come across every day – people who think they are superior to us, people who take every opportunity to mock our God, people who disrespect the gospel, people who are confused and people who dislike or even hate us for no reason.      

We must show them love, when they show us hate.  We must show them mercy, when they show us judgment.  We must show them good, when they show us evil. 

Does that sound like a difficult task?  Here is something to keep in mind – at one time, each one of us was under the same satanic deception as they are:

Titus 3:3 – For we ourselves also were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.  

So when you look at them, you should be able to see/recognize the place where you came from (or the place you were headed).  Perhaps you see the sins or sinful attitudes that once controlled you too. 

If that is the case, our compassion for them should bubble up to the surface of our lives.  We need to demonstrate that compassion by standing strong in the face of opposition and lovingly sharing the gospel message, which Holy Spirit can use to open their spiritual eyes and bring them to Christ. 

John 15:20 – “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.  If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.”

When Jesus says ‘remember the word I said to you’ he is referring back to a lesson he gave them much earlier (Ezekiel 3:7, Matthew 10:24-25, Luke 6:40, John 13:16).

Basically the lesson teaches that since we are one with Christ, we can expect the world to treat us the same way it treated him.  

Certainly, as we just mentioned, there were many who rejected Christ.  But at the same time, there were also those who believed and trusted in him.  The disciples themselves are examples of this.  So as we sow the seeds of the gospel message into the world, we can rejoice knowing that many souls will be won to Christ.  These dear souls will then become our brothers and sisters, who will stand side-by-side with us, laboring in the kingdom.

John 15:21 – “But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”

Our study brings up a puzzling question:  WHY do unbelievers have such hatred in their hearts towards God?  Why do they hate him so much that they fight against him at every turn?

According to Jesus, the answer is simple:  Because they do not know him. They are blind to spiritual truth.  They do not believe that God sent Jesus into the world.  They do not believe that Jesus was the true embodiment of the love, character and law of God. 

Consequently, based on their own blindness, they will certainly reject the gospel message. 

But God cannot be thwarted by the tricks of Satan.

God has ordained believers to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost.  His Holy Spirit is here on the earth, to tear the veil of blindness from the heart of those who hear. 

When that happens, their understanding is enlightened and they have a chance to accept the gospel and put their faith in Christ.  Because of the convicting power of Holy Spirit, they can have their sins forgiven, their bodies healed and their souls delivered from the power of darkness.  They can become children of God. 

John 16:8 – And when he [Holy Spirit] is come, he will convict the world of sin…    

The disciples now have multiple good reasons to labor for the gospel, even if that work includes persecution: 

  • Sharing the gospel/loving your neighbor is a direct command of God. 
  • We were once sinners, just like those who persecute us. 
  • Our persecutors are blind to the love and true nature of God.  As we share the gospel message, Holy Spirit will give them a chance to see the light of Christ and repent.

John 15:22 – “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.”

This statement of Jesus should not be understood in the absolute sense.  In other words, whether Christ came to earth or not, the Jews were still guilty of sin because they broke the law. 

What Christ reveals here is that the Jews are now guilty of a specific/particular sin – unbelief and rejection of the gospel message.  In addition, their guilt is now greater (and utterly inexcusable) because they have been given ample information which proved that Jesus was the Messiah who was predicted by their own prophets.   

We might paraphrase the words of Jesus this way – ‘If I (Jesus) had not come down to earth in human form and personally preached the doctrine of salvation to the Jews and then confirmed that doctrine by miracles/signs/wonders, then the Jews might have a reason to hold onto their unbelief, at least to some degree. 

However, because I DID come to earth and I DID preach the gospel to them and I DID confirm the message with signs and wonders, they have no excuse for their obstinate sin of unbelief.  They knew the truth, they willfully rejected it.   

This confirms a truth found all throughout the scriptures – our guilt will be in proportion to the light we possess and the mercies we reject (see Matthew 11:20-24, Luke 12:47-48).

John 15:23 – “Whoever hates me hates my Father also.”

Jesus now confirms that the sin of the Jews was no insignificant crime.  They persisted in hating and persecuting Christ, despite the fact that he had performed (before their very eyes) numerous miracles which could only be performed by divine power. 

The Jews claimed to love God while rejecting Christ, but this is not possible.  Because Jesus and the Father are one, no one can hate one without hating the other (John 14:7-9, John 10:30).  Rejection of Jesus is the same as rejection of Father God.

John 15:24 – “If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.”

The works that Jesus speaks about here are miracles.  He compares his miracles to the miracles done by others.  To the Jews this meant Moses and the prophets (Elijah, Elisha, etc). 

Jesus did a greater number of miracles in a shorter span of time than any of the prophets.  Scriptures record seven miracles done by Elijah and 14 by Elisha.  Jesus brought about more miracles in a single night then these two men did their entire lives (Matthew 4:24).

Plus, Moses and the prophets had no power within themselves to perform miracles of any kind; they called upon the name of the Lord and asked for him to perform the miracles (Exodus 8:8-13, Exodus 8:29-31, etc).  It would be far more accurate to say that God performed miracles through the prophets.  Jesus, however, performed miracles in his own power, by his own authority, using his own name. 

The miracles of Jesus were also greater in intensity.  Elisha prayed and the Shunammite’s son was brought back to life within a matter of hours (II Kings 4: 33-36).  Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead after he was dead four entire days!  Jesus was able to heal a man born blind, a miracle which had never been done by anyone before:

John 9:32 – Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.  

So it is easy for us to see that Jesus did miracles among the Jews that no other person (Jew or Gentile) had previously done.  This is significant, because the Jews correctly believed that only God could perform miracles.  Since Jesus performed so many miracles, it was clear proof that he was the Messiah; God had openly manifested his divinity in the Son. 

Consequently, the Jews could not claim that Jesus was a mere mortal man.  He HAD to be the Messiah and as such, they HAD to believe in him.  To hate and reject Jesus was to hate and reject Father God too.    

John 15:25 – “But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’”

In this case (as in other places in scripture) the term ‘Law’ is used to mean the Law, the Psalms and the prophets; it basically refers to the entire Old Testament. 

The scripture that Jesus references here is probably Psalms 69:4, which is a Messianic Psalm but the words are also found in Psalms 35:19.  These verses were penned by King David to express the truth that he was an innocent man; his enemies hated him for absolutely no reason. 

Although that was true on some level for King David, Jesus tells us that the ultimate fulfillment of that scripture was occurring in his own life, right at that time.  His enemies, the Jews, hate him for absolutely no reason.   

Jesus had not broken any laws.  He had not injured or killed any of his fellow man.  He never disrespected God or his country.  Even in the midst of all their hatred towards him, Jesus still sought the welfare of the Jews.  He still offered them mercy and invited them to turn to him for salvation, which they continued to refuse. 

Thus, Jesus has explained to the 11 remaining disciples that the Jewish rejection of himself as the Messiah was not a surprise to him or to the Father.  It had been predicted many times in the Old Testament scriptures (see especially Isaiah 53:3-9).   

John 15:26-27 – “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.  And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”

Jesus once again reintroduces the promise of the gift of Holy Spirit (John 14:17).  Keep in mind that the context of this promise is the adversarial role of the unbelieving Jews. 

In every generation, there will be those who mock and rage against the truth of the gospel.  They not only reject the truth themselves, they will attempt to shake the faith of those who do believe, just as the Jews did during the incarnation of Christ. 

But we do not need to fear them.  Jesus has given us the gift of Holy Spirit, who bears witness within our hearts that Jesus is the Son of God.  He will crush the attempts of Satan to nullify the truth of God in our lives.  The end result is that we know that we know, we are saved by the blood of Christ.  

Romans 8:16 – The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.

Nothing can shake us from this truth; by the power of Holy Spirit we will boldly witness about Christ in the midst of all opposition.

Meanwhile, the unbelief of the Jews is completely inexcusable.  They have rejected the doctrine of Christ, even though his mission was confirmed with signs and wonders.  By rejecting the Son, they also reject God the Father.  They are in an extremely dangerous spiritual position.  In a further attempt to save them, Jesus sends his Spirit to convict them of sin (John 16:8) – particularly the sin of unbelief. 

Holy Spirit will accomplish this conviction by working through the preaching and miracles of the apostles to influence the hearts of the lost.  If they further reject/resist the wooing of the Spirit, there is no option left to them; they will eventually experience the wrath of God. 

Obviously, the same is true today.  Sinners routinely reject the gospel, but Holy Spirit will continue to convict them in an effort to reunite them with God.  We know this is true, because we have experienced it ourselves. 

This highlights the extreme importance of sharing the gospel message.  God has given us the privilege of partnering with Holy Spirit to bring the lost into God’s kingdom.  We do the talking, he does the convicting and souls are saved.

This explains how ‘faith comes by hearing’ (Romans 10:17) – Christians share the truth of the gospel message and Holy Spirit infuses life into the words and gives the hearer faith to believe in Christ.    

It is God’s will that the whole earth hear his message.  If we say nothing, God will use someone else to witness for him and we will miss the chance of a lifetime – a chance to help Holy Spirit bring another soul to repentance.   

Let me offer you some encouragement:

Holy Spirit is not a ‘force’ or a ‘power’ or an ‘it’. 

Our text (verses 26-27) clearly speaks of him as a person (see also John 16:7-8, 13-15); he has a gender (male), he exhibits emotions and possesses intelligence.  He is a member of the Godhead/Trinity; he is divine as are the Father and Son.

Holy Spirit is living in the heart of every believer.  As we will discover later in our study of the gospel of John, Jesus has sent him to comfort, lead/guide, teach and empower you in your Christian walk.

How well do you know the Spirit?  Can you hear when he speaks to you?  Are you walking with him daily?  If not, I encourage you to cultivate a closer relationship with Him.  

Let me offer you some relief:

You may have noticed that people do not necessarily ‘get saved’ when you share the gospel message.  In fact, you may have shared the gospel with the same person multiple times and they still have not surrendered their life to Christ. 

If this is the case with your friend or loved one, let me give you some relief – it isn’t your responsibility to save them.  Your job is to love people and share the message.  It is Holy Spirit’s job to ignite faith within the hearer so that he/she becomes convicted of sin and accepts Christ as savior.  

So if you are struggling in your witness for Christ, make sure you stick to doing your part and allow Holy Spirit to do his!

Let me offer you some strength:

We noted in our study that there will be opposition to the gospel and its messengers; Christians are hated and opposed by many. 

Frankly, the possibility of persecution can be frightening.  In our own strength and ability, we would not have the power to stand against it.  But here is the good news – you don’t need to trust in your own strength. 

Acts 4:31 – And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.   

One of the functions of Holy Spirit is to empower the saints, giving us the boldness to share our faith and stand firm in the face of trouble.  If you are lacking boldness in your witness for Christ, ask Holy Spirit to fill you with his power. 


John, Chapter 15, Part 2

John 15:9 – “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my love.”

As Jesus continues this heartfelt discourse with his disciples just before his death, he touches on the subject of love between the Father, Son and mankind.

This is a topic that even the best of writers, teachers and pastors could not ever hope to fully communicate.  The love of God towards us is so profound, so deep and so past understanding that it seems almost futile to try and write about it.  If you dwell on it too long, it almost blows your mind!

How can we understand (much less explain) a love so intense that the God of the universe was willing to give his own Son to die that our debt could be paid?  How can we explain a love so profound that the Son of God was willing to lay aside his glory, come to earth in a human body and subject himself to pain and humiliation to atone for sin that WE committed?  What kind of love allows Jesus to die at the hands of his own creation?

1 John 4:10 -In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

How can we account for a love that transcends all our faults and reinstates us as God’s children and heirs, instead of his slaves (or worse)? How fervent must God’s love for us be, if he guarantees each believer a place in his eternal kingdom?   How can we hope to grasp a love so ardent that it allows for mercy to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9)?

We can’t explain the love of God, but that is okay… I am just glad it exists!  It is always a reason to rejoice in the Lord and praise his name.   

Jesus begins by telling us that the Father loves him; he was/is God’s beloved Son (Mark 11:1).  Yet God also loved us – so much so, that he gave up his Son to deliver us from sin (John 3:16).  Even in his humiliation as he bore the curse of our sin, Father God continually loved Jesus, and Jesus continually loved the Father. 

John 15:10 – “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

This steadfast and unchanging love was due (at least in part) to the fact that Jesus kept every single one of his Father’s commands.  Jesus’ love of his Father was displayed in his obedience to all that the Father asked of him. The Father’s love and presence were always with Jesus because Jesus always did what was pleasing to Him.

Jesus goes on to reveal that he loves us the same way Father God loves him.  Therefore, the love and presence of Jesus the Son (in the form of Holy Spirit) is always with us whenever we endeavor to be obedient to all he has commanded us. 

Obviously, we will fall short in this regard, but as long as we are diligent and sincere in our service to Christ we don’t need to fear, because the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us through his sacrifice on the cross (Romans 4:21-24).  Because of this, we are just as righteous as Jesus in the sight of God. 

So, by keeping his commands we please Jesus and continue to abide in his love.

As we just mentioned, Jesus loves us with an eternal and constant love.  We continue to abide/live in his love by keeping his commands.  This is true because obedience is the way we demonstrate our true love for him (see the commentary on John 14:21).

However, we want to make an important distinction:  We do not earn Christ’s love through works; works can never save us.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

The keeping of Christ’s commands is an outward proof of the love we already have in our hearts because we have placed our faith in him as our Redeemer.  It was his shed blood that redeemed us, not any works of obedience we might complete.

How do you feel about the concept of obedience?

  • Does it conjure up memories of doing things you hated, like being forced to clean up your room as a child? 
  • Or do you think of obedience as an obstruction that prevented you from doing certain things you wanted to do? 
  • Does it remind you of a time when you had to comply with worthless or inane tasks assigned to you by an employer?    

To be honest, obedience isn’t always fun.  The act of obedience implies that you have submitted to the authority of someone else, and most people don’t like to do that.  Most of us prefer to be our own ‘boss’ and do as we please.

In the spiritual realm, we are always under the authority and command of God (Father, Son and Spirit).  But God has something that our earthly parents/bosses don’t have… perfection!

Because God loves us with a perfect and unfailing love, we can be confident that placing ourselves under his authority/command will result in our good. 

Furthermore, scripture reveals that God places a very high value on obedience:

1 Samuel 15:22 – And Samuel said, has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

Jesus is our ultimate example of obedience to God.  He exhibited a perfect, sinless and willing submission to all of the requirements of his Father, including:

  • Setting aside his glory and coming to earth. 
  • Taking on a human body of flesh. 
  • Subjecting himself to the authority of his parents, Mary and Joseph. 
  • Fulfilling the law. 
  • Allowing himself to be rejected by the Jews. 
  • Gathering and training his disciples. 
  • Being tempted by Satan. 
  • Bearing the burden of our sin, which caused him to be cut off from the Father. 
  • Allowing mortal men to crucify him, etc.

The obedience of Jesus is based upon his love for his Father.  That love allows him to keep the Father’s commands, which in turn causes him to abide in his Father’s love.

In the same way, our obedience to Jesus is based upon our love for him.  Because we love Jesus, we keep his commands and as a result we continuously abide in his love.

John 15:11 – “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

‘These things I have spoken to you’ – Because of the way our study is designed, we have broken chapters 14&15 up into several sections.  But we must keep in mind chapters 14-17 were a single session between Jesus and the disciples.  So when Jesus says ‘these things’ he is referring to all that he had spoken to them in chapters 14 and 15.

These would include the promises of fruitfulness in the kingdom, the blessings of obedience, the victory of abiding in Christ as a branch, the gift of Holy Spirit and the boundless love of God.

‘That my joy may be in you’ – This statement is interpreted in different ways. 

It may refer to a joy that Jesus experiences.  In other words, the disciples’ obedience to their Christian duty is a continuous source of joy to Christ.  He rejoices/delights in the faith, holiness and obedience of his people.  His joy in us causes us to experience joy as well. 

Alternatively, it may refer to a joy that Christians experience as a result of being obedient to the commands of Jesus.  In this case, ‘my joy’ or the joy of Christ refers to a divine joy that Christ gives to the believer once he is redeemed from sin.  Once we are saved, Holy Spirit drives dread and anxiety away from our hearts and replaces it with divine joy.

‘Your joy may be full’ – In either case, we can rest assured that when the joy of the Lord abides in us, it will be a full, overflowing joy.  This kind of joy is not fleeting or temporary.  It is not based on our outward circumstances.  Since it is derived from a divine source, it never fails or passes away.  It can be yours no matter what your circumstances look like, or what trial you may be experiencing.

John 15:12 – “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Love to God and our fellow man is fundamental to true religion; it is an integral part of both Old Testament Law and New Testament grace.  In fact, Jesus declared that all the Law and prophets hang upon love (Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:28-34). 

Paul gives us an amazing discourse on love in I Corinthians 13.  He teaches us that love is the greatest of all the Christian graces.  It is greater than speaking with tongues, the gift of prophesy and even supernatural faith.  It is even greater than all wisdom and knowledge.  Paul goes on to say that even though all of these gifts/graces are desirable and useful, they are as nothing without love:

1 Corinthians 13:2 – And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. 

As love is the highest expression of God to mankind, it must also be the highest expression of man to his Creator and to his fellow man.

Can we be honest for a minute?  Loving our fellow man may be the most difficult command Jesus gave us!  Our fellow human beings are often selfish, disgusting, idiotic, lazy, irritating, cruel, evil or just plain mean.  Sometimes they make bad decisions, do the wrong thing, or ‘throw us under the bus’.         

But once again, our example must be Christ.  We must show others the love which he exhibited towards us.

Jesus loved us before we loved him.  While we were still separated from God, wallowing in the filth of our sin, Jesus loved us.  His great love was evident when he agreed to die for us, so that we could be reunited to the Father.  His love was evident when he took a severe beating/lashing so that we could be healed in every regard – physical, mental and emotional (Isaiah 53:5, I Peter 2:24).

Likewise, we should love others, even when they don’t love us.

Jesus loves us unconditionally.  Regardless of what we have done in our past or what we will do in the future, he still loves us.  As long as we sincerely repent of our sin, he will forgive us. 

In light of what Christ has done for us, can we do any less for our fellow man?  If Jesus has forgiven us, can’t we forgive others, and in so doing reflect the love that God has for them?

John 15:13-14 – “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

Life is the most valuable thing we possess.  We will do anything to preserve it (Job 2:4).  Therefore, the highest expression of love is to lay down your life for another person.

We have people in our society that take this risk every day, such as policemen and women, firefighters and soldiers to name a few.  Thankfully, they are always prepared to protect and serve us. 

But what we don’t ordinarily see are people of great rank and power prepared to die for others.  For instance, the president does not routinely put himself in harm’s way for a fellow citizen.  In fact, the opposite is true – he has secret service people ready to die in order to protect him.

When viewed from this perspective, the love and sacrifice of Christ is all the more astonishing. 

  • He is a part of the living Godhead, incarnated in human form (Matthew 1:18-23). 
  • He was the co-creator of the world along with the Father and the Spirit (John 1:1-3). 
  • He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16). 
  • He is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22). 
  • He has a name above every other name, and a time will come when every knee shall bow before him (Romans 14:11). 

Even though Christ is infinitely greater than we are in every way, he was still willing to sacrifice himself for us.  There is no greater love than this (John 3:16)!

With the love of Christ as an example, the disciples must be willing to put their lives in jeopardy in order to spread the gospel message to the uttermost parts of the world.  History tells us that all but one of the disciples (John) was martyred for his faith in Christ.

But the mandate to show the love of God by laying down our lives did not end with the disciples.  It continues even today.  According to the group Open Doors USA, roughly 5600 Christians were murdered, more than 6000 were detained and another 4000 were kidnapped for their faith in 2021.  That is an average of about 15 martyrs each day, worldwide. 

When we love others as God commanded us (and Jesus demonstrated for us), God considers us his friend.    

John 15:15 – “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.”

Up to this point, Jesus had referred to his followers as servants (John 12:26, Matthew 10:24-25).    

Servants are people who labor under the command of another.  Because they are not of equal rank with their master they are not normally acquainted with the plans, wishes, councils or desires of their commander.  They are not taken into his confidence.   

Friends, however, are different.  Friends are intimately acquainted with each other.  Friends will often take other friends into their confidence and reveal their plans, goals and desires.

Jesus has treated his disciples as friends.  He has shown them the plans of the Father concerning his Messianic office (his death, resurrection, ascension, etc).  He explained to them that Holy Spirit would shortly come to comfort and guide them.  He has assured them that he will go to prepare a place for them and subsequently bring them to heaven.  He has revealed to them the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13:11).

Furthermore, the life of Jesus was a full disclosure of the Father; Jesus told his disciples that anyone who knew him also knew the Father (John 14:9). 

Having treated the disciples as friends, it only makes sense to give them the title as well.  We might say that all Christ’s disciples are his servants and all his servants are his friends.   

Interestingly, after his resurrection, Jesus further elevates his friends to the position of brothers/sisters:

John 20:17 – Jesus said unto her [Mary], Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

See also Hebrews 2:9-13.

John 15:16 – “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.”

‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you’ – Jesus reminds the apostles that they had not chosen him to be their teacher; he had chosen them to be his disciples.  He set them apart to preach the gospel and help usher in a new dispensation of grace to the world.  This honor was not due to their own merit, but to his grace and mercy.   

This knowledge should spur the disciples on to execute their Christian duties faithfully and diligently.

Jesus has also chosen you and me to accomplish specific tasks and perform good works for his kingdom.  We too were chosen by the grace of God, not because of any merit or skill on our part.  In fact, God sometimes chooses us for certain tasks specifically because we are NOT as qualified as someone else.  This allows his glory to shine through us in an even greater measure. 

This knowledge should encourage us to do our best in performing our Christian duties, no matter what they may be.  

‘That you should bear fruit and that your fruit should abide’ – Jesus has already set up his followers to be successful in his kingdom.  They will not fail.  They will preach the gospel, God will confirm the message with signs and wonders, and Holy Spirit will bring conviction which results in salvation.  Thousands will accept Christ as savior and become ‘branches’ grafted into the ‘vine’ of Christ.  Eventually they will also bear fruit. 

The work of the disciples will not wither and die – it will be everlasting fruit.  

‘So that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you’ – In order for us to be successful/fruitful in the kingdom of God, we are going to need assistance and resources.  We have direct access to everything we need through Jesus.  All we need to do is ask the Father in Jesus name (see the commentary on John 14:13-14), and the Father will provide it.  

John 15:17 – “These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

Jesus has been very clear on this point – mutual love among Christians is demanded above all other things.  Love is the essential characteristic of the new kingdom. 

John 13:35 – By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.

The hidden love of the Father was manifested towards us in the love of Christ.  Now we must pour that love out upon our Christian brothers and sisters.  This witness of the love of God will draw others into the kingdom.

Love for one another will also ensure the unity of believers.  Division is a lethal weapon in the hand of Satan – if we are at odds with each other, then the house of Christ is divided and it will not stand (Mark 3:25).

Sometimes love does not come easily – it must be a choice.  Through the strength of Holy Spirit, we can choose to love the family of God, and please our Lord.        

Let me offer you some encouragement:

Today’s post centers on the theme of God’s love.  His love for us is absolutely unexplainable and incomprehensible.  It is far deeper and more intense than we can imagine on this side of eternity.  I suspect we will only know the fullness of it when we stand in his presence. 

The idea of his boundless love should encourage our faith while bringing us peace and joy.  Why not let his love be the basis of your praise and worship this week? 

Let me offer you some relief:

Satan would love for you to believe that God does not love you, or that he loves others more than you.  He would also like you to believe that God’s love for you is conditional – that it is somehow tied to your performance in life.  These concepts are absolute lies!

God loves you completely, totally and perfectly.  We should never, ever, ever doubt the love of God for us.  And since God never changes, neither does his love for us, even when we fail.  When those times of failure do come, let’s run to his love and forgiveness knowing that he wants to restore us. 

Let me offer you some strength:

Jesus says that the greatest demonstration of love is to lay down your life for someone else.  We generally take this to mean dying as a martyr for your faith, and all of us should be willing to pay that price, if asked.  Through the strength of Holy Spirit, I believe we could.

However, there are other interpretations of ‘laying down your life’. 

Think of it this way:  What is the most precious commodity in this world? 

Answer:  Time. 

Each of us has a certain preordained amount of time to live upon this earth.  No matter how rich we become, we can’t buy more.  Neither can we beg, borrow or steal it.  Furthermore, we can only spend our time once.  There are no refunds, exchanges or ‘do-overs’. 

Therefore, to spend time in prayer interceding for the salvation of another person (or nation) is essentially laying down your life for them.  You are sacrificing your time for them, which you can never receive back. 

You and I may never be asked to die as martyrs, but we still have the opportunity to lay down our lives for our friends – through prayer, fasting and other intercessory activities.