WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM? – A STUDY OF THE LIFE OF JESUS (38)

WORDS OF COMFORT AND ASSURANCE FROM JESUS AS HE PREPARES TO LEAVE HIS DISCIPLES
JOHN 13:33-14:1-4

 

The disciples were confused and discouraged as Jesus had told them many times
He was going to leave them (John 7:34; 8:21; 12:8, 35; 13:33 and 14:2), that
He would die (John 12:32-33), that one of them was a traitor (John 13:21), that
even the bravest among them, Peter, would deny Him (John 13:38- yet all of them
"left Him and fled" – Mark 14:50) and that Satan was at work against
all of them (Luke 22:31-32 – the "you" in these verses is plural).
They had left all to be with Him and had come to love Him and now their Lord
and Friend was going away. They too thought He was the One, the conquering Messiah,
Who had come to set Israel free, and their hopes were dashed (Luke 24:21). They
greatly needed some encouragement and Jesus, Who sympathizes with us in our
weaknesses, greatly encouraged them (and us) through six promises and assurances
He gave them in this chapter. Today we will look at the first one.

Earlier He called them His little children (13:33). Jesus speaks with such
affection to these His closest friends – "little children" was often
used affectionately by rabbis with their students. "Do not let your hearts
be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me." He tells them and us
today to trust in Him or believe in Him even as we trust in God, for He is God
incarnate and the One who brings us to the Father. But trust Him for what? To
trust Him now in this life to sustain us and empower us to do all things through
Him Who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13) and to trust Him for heaven where we will
be with Him face to face in a perfect world of loving relationships forever
and ever "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not
worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us." (Romans 8:18)

Heaven is a real "place". Jesus the carpenter/builder is preparing
our abode/room even as the bridegroom prepared a home on his father’s property
during the betrothal (engagement) period. This place is a kingdom (2 Peter 1:11),
a guaranteed inheritance for all Christians (1 Peter 1:3-5), a city and a country
(Hebrews 11:16), an abode/room/home (John 14:2), and most importantly, heaven
is perfect relationships with the Triune God and His people forever and ever.
"I will come again and will welcome you into my presence, so that you
may be where I am
." (John 14:3) This is what Jesus wants passionately
*(See a description of this highly relational understanding of heaven on the
next page.)

The greatest joy in life and in God is loving, intimate relationships. And
the greatest pain in life is broken, strained or distant and superficial relationships.
We are created in the image of God, the Three in One Who have been in perfect,
loving and intimate relationship for all eternity. Yet, in our falleness we
are fiercely independent, autonomous, un-relational beings. "We all, like
sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way."
(Isaiah 53:6) "I did it my way" as the song so proudly proclaims.
Or, "my way or the highway."

This first promise and assurance from Jesus, the promise of heaven and joyful
loving relationships, is what can give us hope and perseverance to continue
to fight the good fight of faith all the way home. We are not home yet. The
Scriptures say we are aliens, sojourners, pilgrims, strangers, and exiles in
this present evil age. We are to be spiritual pioneers co-laboring with Jesus
and to "hasten" His return as we "build His church" (enlarge
God’s family) by pushing back the gates of hell. (Matthew 16:18) We are called
to be spiritual pioneers not settlers on earth.
How then shall we live?
8For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children
of light. 9For the fruit of the light consists of every form of goodness, righteousness,
and truth. 10Determine what pleases the Lord, 11and have nothing to do with
the unfruitful works of darkness. Instead, expose them for what they are. 12For
it is shameful even to mention what is done by people in secret. 13But everything
that is exposed to the light becomes visible, 14for everything that is visible
is light. That is why it says,
"Wake up, O sleeper!
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you."
15So, then, be careful how you live. Do not be unwise but wise, 16making
the best use of time because the days are evil. 17 Therefore, do
not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18Stop getting
drunk with wine, which leads to wild living, but keep on being filled with the
Spirit. 19Then you will recite to one another psalms, hymns, and
spiritual songs. You will sing and make music to the Lord with your hearts.
20You will always give thanks to God the Father for everything in
the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
21And you will submit yourselves
to one another out of reverence for Christ.

The end of this exhortation of living the Spirit-filled life is joyful, humble
relationships with one another and a loving, grateful, praise-filled heart for
the Lord. A little slice of heaven on earth.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

The greatest joy in life and in God is loving, intimate relationships. And
the greatest pain in life is broken, strained or distant and superficial relationships.
We are created in the image of God, the Three in One Who have been in perfect,
loving and intimate relationship for all eternity. Yet, in our falleness we
are fiercely independent, autonomous, un-relational beings. "We all, like
sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way."
(Isaiah 53:6) "I did it my way" as the song so proudly proclaims.
Or, "my way or the highway."
How are you doing relationally? Do you have loving, intimate relationships with
the Lord, your spouse, children, friends? Does this keep your heart from being
troubled or from being afraid? (See John 14:1, 27) If not, what keeps you from
pursuing quality relationships? time, business, fear of rejection, a pursuit
of money, status, pleasure?

God wants to enlarge His family of loving relationships and calls us to join
Him through evangelism and discipleship.
In the movie I am David, Johann confesses the crime his little friend
David committed knowing he would be shot for it. The Russian Communists had
imprisoned them and many "dissidents" in Bulgaria. David had grown
up in this miserable existence and one day told Johann he wanted to die. Johann
rebuked him and said "you must never say that again. If you are dead you
cannot change anything." Later David escaped and made it from Bulgaria
to Denmark to be reunited with his mother whom he barely remembered. Yet along
the way home he encountered the hope we have in Christ Jesus as he heard beautiful,
worshipful music in a church with the scene of Christ on the cross in the background.
His bitterness and self-protection changed as he opened himself up to love and
trust and began to smile at people for the first time in his young life. If
David had remained bitter, self-protective and self-centered, Johann’s sacrificial
death would have been wasted. How much more true is that for us when the One
who sacrificed His life was God Himself in Christ Jesus? And how much more can
we be a change agent for good with the power of God’s gospel and His Spirit
working in and through us as Christians? "For I am not ashamed of the gospel,
because it is God’s power for the salvation (a changed life) of everyone who
believes, of the Jew first and of the Greek as well." (Romans 1:16)
We all like David have been deeply wounded by living in a fallen world of self-centered
people and even evil people. Yet, Jesus died for us so that we could have an
abundant life – a life filled with gratitude and love for the Lord and, as His
body on earth, a people who reach out to others with the good news of the gospel
– eternal life. A life of meaning and purpose now filled with hope and peace
knowing that one day all will be well and all manner of things will be well
-Some day heaven.
How much of your time, thoughts, prayers, money, talents, do you invest in enlarging
the eternal family of God?
Do you consider yourself a spiritual pioneer or an earthly settler?

* "Happiness can be found neither in ourselves nor in external things,
but in God and in ourselves as united to Him." (Pascal) The union that
we crave, that we were created for, is not sex but union, intimacy with our
Lord. "We worship sex because we don’t know how to worship God." (Peter
Kreeft) "Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing
on earth." (Psalm 73:25) Heaven will bring intimacy with our Lord and a
community of joyful, loving relationships with true unity among every nation,
tribe, people and language group. "And the people came together and the
people came to dance and they danced like a wave upon the sea." (Yeats)
As delightful as a renewed earth, heaven and resurrected body will be, heaven
would not be heaven without the Presence of our Lord. If He is not at the great
Wedding Feast the celebration would quickly turn to sadness. In fact, if He
is not at our greatest party on earth it cannot be full of joy. He is the Life
of the party and the joy of heaven and earth. But He will be there and we’ll
see Him face to face. "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and
He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will
be among them. They (we) will see His face." (Revelation 21:3; 22:4)

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