AUDIO VERSION: YouTube Podbean
It’s the middle of the Last Supper. Judas has left the room to go and betray Jesus, and now Jesus is talking about leaving.
“The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into His glory, and Yahweh will be glorified because of Him. And since Yahweh receives glory because of the Son, Yahweh will give His own glory to the Son, and He will do so at once. Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for Me, but you can’t come where I am going. So now I am giving you a new command: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.”
Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are You going?”
And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with Me now, but you will follow Me later.”
“But why can’t I come now, Lord?” Peter asked. “I’m ready to die for You.”
Jesus answered, “Die for Me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know Me.” (Jn. 13:31-38)
Can this evening get any more depressing? Here Peter is trying so hard to connect with Jesus only to get told he’s traitor material. Ouch.
Jesus now goes into His famous routine which we associate with Communion today. In the midst of the meal, He picks up some bread, breaks it, and says it’s His body. That’s disturbing. Then He passes around a cup of wine and says:
“This is My blood, which confirms the Covenant between Yahweh and His people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Mark My words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” (Matt. 26:28-29)
There are major theological problems with Jesus describing Himself as an atonement sacrifice for sin. Yahweh abhors human sacrifices—every good Jew knows that. He specifically denounces child sacrifice several times in the Old Testament, yet now Jesus—who claims to be Yahweh’s Son—is saying that Yahweh actually wants to sacrifice His own Son? What kind of sense does this make? None. Surely Yahweh would never come up with such a horrid thought.
Ever hear some Christian claiming that God told them to do something which you knew in your gut that God would never want? Well, this bit about Jesus saying Yahweh is smiling on the idea of human sacrifice is one of those claims that is theologically impossible to accept. We so quickly blow past this in our Communion ceremonies today, yet this really is a prime example of Yahweh acting like a raging hypocrite, changing His mind, going against His written commands—you know, doing all that stuff that we swear He’d never do today. Well He is doing it: right here during the Last Supper. If ever there was an activity that God was very clear that He hates, child sacrifice is it. And since when does Yahweh accept some butchered human as an atonement for sins? Under the Old Covenant, Yahweh would only accept animals that were in perfect health who had been properly processed by authorized Levite priests. Well, that’s not what Jesus is going to provide. Jesus is planning to offer up a bloodied body that had been manhandled by demon worshiping Gentiles. How’s that for an example of God being wild and unpredictable?
Let’s try to experience this night from the perspective of the eleven disciples. Jesus sounds like He’s both suicidal and totally delusional. He’s obviously hearing someone telling Him to go sacrifice Himself, but that someone can’t be Yahweh, because Yahweh abhors human sacrifice. So apparently Israel’s almost Messiah is turning out to be severely mentally disturbed. And no matter how much Peter tries to love on his poor, stressed out Mentor, Jesus pushes him away with accusations of betrayal. Talk about a stressful evening. And once we understand the emotional context, it puts quite a different spin on the following famous passage:
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in Yahweh, believe also in Me. In My Father’s House are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” (Jn. 14:1-4)
Well, it’s too late to talk about the disciples not feeling troubled. They’re majorly troubled. The Guy they’ve put their faith in thinks Yahweh is telling Him to go kill Himself. Now He’s talking about Yahweh having a house with a bunch of rooms. Um, the only “House” the Jews know about Yahweh having is the Temple in Jerusalem. Sure, it has a lot of rooms in it—mostly storage rooms. So Jesus is going to go to the Temple to set them up with some storage rooms? No, that can’t be right. But what on earth is Jesus talking about? Is there some other house in town that’s been dedicated to Yahweh? Is Jesus talking about where the group is going to spend the night? Why can’t Jesus be straightforward for once in His life instead of dropping these infernal hints? “And you know the way where I am going,” He says, instead of giving them a physical address.
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, so how do we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (Jn. 14:5-6)
Well. How totally unhelpful. Why can’t Jesus ever talk like a normal person and simply tell them where He is going? Now He says:
“If you had really known Me, you would know who My Father is. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him!” (Jn. 14:7)
Oh good, here’s more evidence that Jesus is losing His marbles: He thinks the disciples have seen Yahweh. No, they really haven’t. Hello, Jesus, we’re not Moses. And what’s with this crack about Thomas not really knowing Jesus? Ouch, that hurt. Why is Jesus pushing them all away like this? He calls Peter a traitor. He implies that Thomas doesn’t really know Him after three years. Jesus is really plunging in the knives tonight. Now that Thomas is feeling hurt, Philip takes a stab at trying to get some clarification for the team.
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” (Jn. 14:8)
Hey, if Jesus is really seeing visions of Yahweh, the disciples would like to get a taste of that. They’re trying to work with Him, but Jesus isn’t in a cooperative mood. Instead, He seems to think that Philip has just asked a dumb question and now He goes off on him.
Jesus said to him, “After I’ve been with you so long, how do you still not know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?” (Jn. 14:9-10)
Nothing like being dressed down in front of the rest of the group. Having thick skin is a must if you’re going to be up close to Jesus. Philip doesn’t try to defend himself because there’s no point. Jesus is always crowning one of them with the dunce cap—no doubt they learned to help each other out by taking turns in approaching Him. Now Jesus continues:
“The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My Name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My Name, I will do it.” (Jn. 14:10-14)
Greater works? As in greater than the resurrection of Lazarus? That’s pretty hard to imagine. Why does Jesus have to leave for them to do great works? And now He says they can have anything they ask for in His Name. Well, how about Him speaking plainly for once? Or how about Him not going to Jerusalem and walking into the hands of murderous creeps? How about Him stopping with the sarcasm, mystery, and metaphors long enough to explain why on earth He is so bent on going through with this suicide mission?
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (Jn. 14:16-17)
Getting the Holy Spirit sounds exciting. All the superstar prophets had a special anointing of Yahweh’s Spirit on them: Moses, Elijah, Elisha. These eleven aren’t grasping that Jesus is talking about a third God—to them the term “Holy Spirit” just means some extension of Yahweh Himself. Jesus says the eleven already know the Spirit. Well, they’d like to think so, but sometimes when Jesus starts talking strange, they feel like they don’t know anything about anything.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will reveal Myself to him.” (Jn. 14:18-21)
Here’s more of that upsetting talk about leaving. Is Jesus going to go to that house He referred to earlier—the one that has rooms for all of them in it? And what does He mean about the world not seeing Him? Is He going to turn invisible? How will the disciples be able to see Him if no one else can? Will He do something special to their eyes? What does He mean when He says He’ll live in them so they will also live? They’re already alive—how can they get more alive? And then He says He is in His Father, and they are in Him, and He is in them. Sounds cozy, but it makes no sense at all. The disciples are very confused, and then Jesus emphasizes again that only certain people will be able to connect with Him—those who love Him by obeying His commands. Hm. The disciples can definitely see Him now, but it sounds like at some point He’s going to become invisible to everyone else. How very strange.
Two of the twelve disciples are named Judas. Judas Iscariot is no longer in the room. Now the second Judas speaks up to try and get more information about this vanishing act Jesus is referring to.
Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, why are You going to reveal Yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and We will come and make Our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me.” (Jn. 14:22-24)
Hm. Judas glances around, wondering if anyone else is grasping what Jesus just said. Jesus keeps talking about coming to live with people. But how can He come and live with anyone if He winds up murdered? And since when does Yahweh make His home with people? The Temple is Yahweh’s House. Jesus makes it sound like He’s going to go off somewhere and become Yahweh’s traveling Companion. How does that work? If only the disciples could believe that Jesus was actually speaking the words of Yahweh, but all this talk about human sacrifice, a vanishing act, and some strange house somewhere is making it tough.
“I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (Jn. 14:25-27)
So Yahweh’s Spirit is going to remind everyone about what Jesus said? That’s a bit odd. And it’s more than a little heady for Jesus to claim that He is going to tell Yahweh who to give His Spirit to. And Jesus has to be talking about Yahweh’s Spirit, because every Jew knows there is only one God. But then again, Jesus keeps talking like He thinks He’s a second God—He’s even declared Himself to be I AM. Yahweh says it’s humility that pleases Him—humility and reverential submission. Well, Jesus is the antithesis of humble, and it doesn’t sound very submissive of Him to march on up to Yahweh and tell Him who to share His Spirit with. This whole speech is just adding to the disciples’ distress and giving them more reasons to wonder if Jesus has all of His marbles. So much for this gift of peace Jesus claims to have given them.
“Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved Me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am.” (Jn. 14:28)
Rats, here’s more of that “If you loved Me” talk. Why does Jesus keep hinting that they don’t? And no, they aren’t rejoicing over the idea of Him leaving—how could He possibly want them to? And one minute Jesus says Yahweh is greater than He is, but the next minute He calls Himself I AM. Why does He have to be such an endless stream of doubletalk?
“I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over Me, but I will do what the Father requires of Me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.” (Jn. 14:29-31)
And what exactly has He told them will happen? He’s said He’s going to go to a big house somewhere and that He’s going to turn invisible to everyone except them. When these things happen, they’re supposed to believe. Well, okay, they’ll try. Now Jesus sounds urgent again. He says they should all get up, but then He keeps talking so they all settle back down again.
“I am the true Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me.” (Jn. 15:1-4)
As if things aren’t already confusing, Jesus starts telling a parable, even though He knows how much trouble the disciples have understanding His parables. At least this one sounds sort of straightforward. They get the fact that branches can’t bear fruit on their own. It makes sense that Yahweh is in charge of everything. But the “Remain in Me” language keeps tripping them up. How can they remain in Jesus if He’s going to leave or turn invisible?
“But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are My true disciples. This brings great glory to My Father. I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love.” (Jn. 15:7-9)
Jesus just said that He loved them: plainly and clearly. That was something their troubled hearts really needed to hear. Once again He says they can have anything they want—a promise that is obviously limited. They don’t want Him to leave or die or turn invisible. They love Him—insults, parables, and all. Why can’t He stay with them just like this for the rest of their lives?
“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. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (Jn. 15:10-11)
Joy, huh? The disciples aren’t feeling very joyful on this night, and the things Jesus has been saying so far haven’t exactly cheered them up.
“This is My command: that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:12-13)
Uh-oh, here’s more death talk. Why does Jesus insist on dying for them? Doesn’t He understand how lost they’d be without Him?
“You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My Name He may give to you. This I command: that you love one another.” (Jn. 15:14-17)
If Jesus says they can have anything they want one more time, someone is going to blurt out what they’re all thinking: “THEN DON’T DIE!” It’s torture to sit there listening to Him calling them His friends, saying He loves them, and then saying He’s going to die. The disciples are extremely upset. Jesus now continues with disturbing predictions of how they will be persecuted by people just as He was—only He will no longer be with them.
“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’” (Jn. 16:5)
Actually, Thomas did try to ask, but Jesus wouldn’t give Him a straight answer. Typical Jesus.
“But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.” (Jn. 16:6)
Well, at least Jesus acknowledges this much. By now the disciples are visibly depressed. Their future feels dark and frightening. No one wants to say anything.
“But 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.” (Jn. 16:7)
Well, this is a lame set up. Why can’t Yahweh dispense His Spirit while Jesus is still with them? Weren’t seventy elders anointed with the Spirit in the presence of Moses? Since when can Yahweh only anoint one person at a time? Why does Jesus talk as if the Holy Spirit isn’t just Yahweh’s Spirit? Why does He talk like the Spirit is some other Entity that won’t come until Jesus sends Him?
“When the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: About sin, because they do not believe in Me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” (Jn. 16:8-11)
Earlier Jesus had said that He would turn invisible to the rest of the world, but that the disciples would still be able to see Him. Now He says that they won’t be able to see Him, either. Great. So much for Jesus giving them a gift of peace. Can this night get any more depressing?
“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” (Jn. 16:12)
Terrific. Sounds like there’s even more bad news to come.
“A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.” (Jn. 16:16)
Good grief, can Jesus just make up His mind about this vanishing business? Too frustrated to try and ask Him directly, the disciples start muttering amongst themselves.
Some of His disciples then said to one another, “What is this thing He is telling us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is talking about.” (Jn. 16:17-18)
The room isn’t that big. There’s one table with twelve men sitting around it. It’s pretty hard to mutter in private. Jesus now speaks up.
Knowing that they wished to question Him, Jesus asked, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see Me, but a little while after that you will see Me again. I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to Me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.” (Jn. 16:19-22)
Hm. They understand the analogy of childbirth, but it’s a little hard to imagine ever rejoicing again once Jesus is gone. Yet He keeps saying that their separation won’t be permanent—that somehow they’ll be reunited again and then they’ll have permanent joy.
“At that time you won’t need to ask Me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and He will grant your request because you use My Name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using My Name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.” (Jn. 16:23-24)
He keeps urging them to ask for things in His Name. Hm. If they can’t keep Him from leaving, what would be the next best thing? To have Him speak plainly for once. That would certainly be a miracle.
“I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. Then you will ask in My Name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father Himself loves you dearly because you love Me and believe that I came from Yahweh. Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.” (Jn. 16:25-28)
Wait a minute—suddenly this makes sense. Jesus was sent into the world by Yahweh, now He’s physically leaving the world to return to Yahweh in Heaven. So that big house with all the rooms that He mentioned earlier wasn’t an earthly place after all. And He isn’t going to walk around like a ghost that only some people can see—He’s going to physically leave and then one day He will physically return. At last they understand a clear sequence of events.
His disciples said “At last You are speaking plainly and not figuratively. Now we understand that You know everything, and there’s no need to question You. From this we believe that You came from Yahweh.” (Jn. 16:29-30)
The mood in the room has suddenly brightened. For once Jesus is making sense, and it’s registering in their brains that He really does have a special connection with Yahweh—one that is quite different from that of normal people.
Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving Me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with Me.” (Jn. 16:31-32)
Oh. So much for the jovial mood. Jesus seems annoyed with them again for taking so long to “get it.” And just when everyone was feeling cheered up, He says they’re all going to desert Him.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have many trials and sorrows. But take courage, because I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33)
So, now that He’s said they’re going to abandon Him, they’re supposed to feel at peace? Not hardly. Then He says they’ll have a lot of troubles. More depressing news. “Take courage”—yeah right. “I have overcome the world”—and that’s why You’re going to abandon us in it to fend for ourselves?
Jesus now lifts His eyes up to the ceiling and begins to pray out loud to Yahweh. First He says the time has come for Him to be glorified. Then He starts talking about the disciples.
“I have revealed You to the ones You gave Me from this world. They were always Yours. You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they know that everything I have is a gift from You, for I have passed on to them the message You gave Me. They accepted it and know that I came from You, and they believe You sent Me.” (Jn. 17:6-8)
Does Jesus really think the disciples understand Him? Yes, they’ve heard His words and they believe He was sent by Yahweh, but good grief, there are still so many unanswered questions. He can’t leave yet—they aren’t ready.
“I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You.” (Jn. 17:11)
If Jesus is no longer in the world, why is He still sitting at the table? Even when He’s praying, Jesus makes no sense.
“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (Jn. 17:14-16)
Now Jesus says none of them are of the world. If only that were true, then maybe the disciples could leave with Him. But as it is, they have to stick around and live to see dark days without Him. Boy, this is a long night.
“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (Jn. 17:22-23)
Being loved by Yahweh sounds good, but all the talk about being one with God sounds far too idealistic.
RETURNING TO THE MOUNT
This concludes Jesus’ very long farewell speech to His eleven disciples on the night of the Last Supper. He now leads the group back to the Mount of Olives where they’d been sleeping the last several nights. There He heads to the Garden of Gethsemane.
On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert Me. For the Scriptures say,
‘I will strike down the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ [Zech. 13:7]
But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”
Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts You, I will never desert You.”
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know Me.”
“No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with You, I will never deny You!” And all the other disciples vowed the same. (Matt. 26:30-35)
Don’t miss that part about all the disciples vowing to stay true to Jesus. Everyone’s hating this betrayal talk. As they come to an olive grove called Gethsemane, Jesus is getting into a very dark mood. He announces that He wants to pray and He tells all of the disciples except three to wait in one spot. Then He tells Peter, James, and John to come with Him while He goes to where He wants to pray.
Then He became anguished and distressed and He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.” (Matt. 26:36-37)
Why invite these three closer in? Likely so they could eavesdrop while Jesus modeled total submission out loud for them. Jesus is God. He really isn’t intimidated by crucifixion. This whole “stressed out human” charade is for the benefit of the disciples and for us today: Jesus is modeling the kind of submission that pleases our Gods.
Now once we set aside the enormous advantage of hindsight and sit ourselves around that table during the Last Supper, trying to hear what the disciples would have heard, we can see why Peter, James and John kept falling asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane. They were emotionally and physically exhausted. In Luke 22:45, we’re told that Jesus “came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow.” This was a very rough night for the whole group. The disciples didn’t understand most of what Jesus said on this night, which is why He spent so much time after His resurrection explaining things to them.
Today, we slice and dice the speech in John 13-17 into a bunch of promises to post-cross Christians. Yet Jesus wasn’t talking to future believers when He gave this speech—He was talking to eleven individuals who He knew would successfully make it through this monumental transition in Covenants. When He tells them that they will do even greater works in His Name, it is because He knows that these particular men will go on to spread the word of Yahweh’s New Covenant all over the world. Their work will be “greater” in that it will be farther reaching geographically. Through these eleven, many countries will be awakened to the knowledge of Christ.
Jesus preached under the Old Covenant, and while He drew souls closer to God and opened their eyes to many spiritual truths, He didn’t offer them a new, eternal Covenant of peace with Yahweh, because none was available until after He rose from the grave. The future work of the eleven disciples resulted in a far greater spiritual impact than Jesus personally made in His brief three year ministry that was confined to a few Roman provinces. This isn’t to say that Jesus didn’t accomplish great things. He figuratively atoned for the sins of the entire world. No group of evangelists could ever compete with that, no matter how many converts they won over for Christ. So when Jesus said His followers would do greater works, we must understand He was talking from the human perspective about the spiritual impact they would personally make through their ministry efforts. He wasn’t saying that preaching the Gospel was a greater thing than His atonement for sin.
As one of our three glorious Creators, Jesus is infinitely greater than we are in every possible way. Yet in the context of this particular night, He is trying to encourage His disciples and pump them up about their future work on earth. He wants them to start seeing themselves as being very valuable instruments through which God can accomplish many things. This isn’t about flaunting miraculous power on earth. We go astray when we read this speech and then decide that Jesus has promised that every Christian can do something more spectacular than heal and resurrect people. While many of the disciples did end up doing many miracles that were similar to the miracles Jesus did, their “greater work” was being used by God to launch His New Covenant and establish His Church.
Normally, when a man is crucified, that’s the last his friends see of him. The disciples didn’t really expect to have a different experience with Jesus, which is why He delivers this very long speech which hammers the issue of His Divinity. He is preparing the disciples to start treating Him like God. They need to start praying in His Name, counting on His Divine power, and believing that He is with them in a supernatural way. Up until now, the disciples haven’t been able to make this theological leap. It’s just too distracting to have Jesus sitting there in the flesh. Today, we think it would be simple to accept that God is walking among us in a human form because we’re so used to the stories about Jesus. But suppose your neighbor were to knock on your door tomorrow and announce that he is Yahweh’s twin brother in the flesh. Suppose he claims to have all the powers of Yahweh, and says that from now on, you need to go through him to talk to God, otherwise you’ll end up in Hell because Yahweh has once again revised His Covenant with His people. If this were to happen to you, you’d understand what the disciples were up against. It was simply too insane for them to really grasp that Jesus was God in the flesh. A very powerful prophet, yes. The promised Messiah, yes. But they would have considered Yahweh Himself to be the true Source of Jesus’ power—not Jesus directly. In this speech, Jesus corrects those views. He is the Vine, not Yahweh. Apart from His power, the disciples can do nothing. It is His Name they should start calling upon in their prayers. He will be the One hearing and granting their requests from Heaven. He is the One who has overcome the world.
Several times throughout this speech, Jesus urges the disciples to ask for something in His Name. This would have felt very awkward to do at first. A Man sitting at a table that is covered in dirty dinner dishes hardly looks like a dispenser of supernatural power. Yet over and over again, Jesus assures them that they will have anything they ask for in His Name. He isn’t handing them a blank check to get all of their carnal lusts fulfilled in life. He is challenging them to really put their faith in Him as God Almighty.
It is so important that we consider context before trying to apply any passage of Scripture. Many of the principles Jesus puts forth in this speech do apply to believers today. He is our Vine as well. He is with us on this earth. But we mustn’t get carried away with trying to squeeze literal translations out of everything He says. Jesus isn’t going to give anyone everything they ask for simply because they use His Name. The point of this speech was to help eleven hesitant men to overcome massive theological hurdles, and start treating a Man who they had become very bonded to as not just their Friend, Guide, and Spiritual Mentor—but as their Creator, Savior, and God.
UP NEXT: Know Your Bible Lesson 67: Fully God & Only God
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