Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Lord's Last Words To His Disciples

Pic. Credit. SXC.hu


THE POWER OF
PARTING WORDS

—by Ian Taylor

Many famous people have
spoken interesting parting words
before they died. Some were funny,
some tragic and some full of meaning.
Some didn’t say anything important
as they didn’t expect to die.
General Sedgwick, a Union Commander
in the Civil War, said just
before he was shot, “They couldn’t
hit an elephant at this distance!”


On the other hand, Thomas
Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury in
1170 AD, uttered real words of faith
before he died. He had clashed with
King Henry 2, and the king was overheard
wishing to be rid of Becket.
His knights took him literally, rode to
Canterbury and killed Becket in the
cathedral. His last words were, “I am
ready to die for my Lord, that in my
blood the Church may obtain liberty
and peace.”

When someone knows he is about
to die, he doesn’t waste words. And
the hearers pay close attention
because of the solemnity of the occasion.
They hang on every word to
capture their full import.

His Parting Words
Jesus knew that within a few
hours He would be crucified. He had
trained His disciples for three years
for the work ahead, to establish His
Church by turning the world upside
down with the gospel. His parting
message in the upper room was
like a commencement speech. The
training was over; it was now time to
begin working.

The disciples had walked with
Jesus – seeing His miracles, growing
in understanding of His teachings,
and increasing in love for Him.
They recognized that He was truly
the promised Messiah who would
one day reign in righteousness
and peace. However, they did not
understand that soon He would
be crucified as the Lamb of God’s
provision, so that all people could
be saved and become a part of the
Church that would replace the failed
religious system of Judaism.

As the disciples prepared for the
Passover feast Jesus would prepare
them for what was ahead. He would
summarize what He had taught
them and pray for them as the great
Intercessor.

The Lesson In Feet Washing
– John 13:1-17
No doubt the disciples were tired,
hungry and glad to rest as they
prepared for the Passover. As the
Law demanded, they were ceremonially
washed before they could eat
the meal. But on entering the upper
room, Jesus did something strange.
He washed their feet! Usually this
was done by a servant, or person
low on the social ladder. Jesus did
something the disciples didn’t understand
or appreciate.

When He got to Peter, the disciple
brashly said, “No, you shall never
wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless
I wash you, you have no part
with Me,” and He began teaching
by example. Peter didn’t want to be
excluded so he said, “Then, Lord, not
just my feet but my hands and my
head as well!” Though well-intentioned,
again Peter missed the point.

Jesus answered, “A person who
has had a bath needs only to wash
his feet; his whole body is clean. And
you are clean.” The Lord was referring
to two aspects of the new life–
 salvation and holy living. When we
are born again by the Spirit, we are
washed in the blood, forgiven and
made righteous. However, in this
world we come in contact with sin,
and our walk becomes contaminated.
The disciples had walked to the
upper room, so their feet needed
washing.

This illustration helps us see that
a believer doesn’t lose his salvation
when he sins, because he has
already been cleansed by Christ’s
work. But his fellowship with God
suffers because of unjudged sin. He
needs to confess that sin to have
his “walk” cleansed and fellowship
restored: “If we confess our sins, he
is faithful and just and will forgive
us our sins and purify us from all
unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9 NIV). This
is how the Lord cleanses us from sin
and the world’s contamination.

After the Lord washed their feet,
He asked, “Do you understand what
I have done for you? You call me
‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so ...
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher,
have washed your feet, you also
should wash one another’s feet. I
have set you an example that you
should do as I have done for you.
I tell you the truth, no servant is
greater than his master, nor is a messenger
greater than the one who
sent him” (Jn. 13:12-16).

His message is this: We continually
need to allow Him to “wash our
feet” with the water of His Word. We
also should help others by “washing”
their feet, and let them wash
ours. “All Scripture is God-breathed
and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness,
so that the man of God may be
thoroughly equipped for every good
work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We need to
serve His people as He did.

“A New Command I Give You”
– John 13:31-38
Jesus warned that He would be
betrayed, but the disciples could not
comprehend that one of them could
do such a thing. Even when Jesus
indicated who it was they didn’t get
it. When Judas went out to betray
Jesus it was night, a sign that all who
reject the Lord go into darkness.

Jesus had another important
pronouncement to make. The fullness
of His love was about to be
shown on the cross. He wanted His
disciples to be characterized by that
same love, first among themselves
and then to the world. “A new command
I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must
love one another. By this all men will
know that you are My disciples, if
you love one another” (Jn. 13:34).

The Lord told them he was going
away and that they could not follow.
Peter’s response was typical: “Lord,
why can’t I follow You now? I will
lay down my life for You” (Jn. 13:37).
What a surprise when Jesus pointed
out that he could do nothing in his
own strength even when motivated
by love and devotion. He learned
this that night when in fear he denied
the Lord three times. However,
the Lord told him a wonderful truth
that would help all His disciples
when suffering severe trials for His
name: “I have prayed for you” (Lk.
22:32). Jesus was his intercessor,
and His prayer assured that Peter’s
faith would not fail and he would be
again useful for the Lord. This same
promise is good for us as we come
to appreciate that the Lord is our
great High Priest and Intercessor
(Heb. 4:14-16; 7:24).

“I Will Come Back” – John 14:3
The Lord explained more fully why
He would leave His disciples. He was
going “to prepare a place” – their
heavenly dwelling place. At the right
time, He would come again to take
all His followers to be with Him. He
then laid down the basis for forgiveness
of sin and reconciliation with
God. Mankind has been separated
from God because of sin, but the
Sin-bearer was to die in the sinner’s
place, and “whoever comes to Me
I will never drive away” (Jn. 6:37).
Those who come to the Lord would
have new life and be accepted by
God. Jesus told them, “I am the Way
and the Truth and the Life. No one
comes to the Father except through
Me” (Jn. 14:6).
The Promised Holy Spirit
– John 14:15-31
The disciples couldn’t grasp what
Jesus said about His leaving. They
imagined that He’d soon be King,
and they’d share in establishing His
earthly kingdom. However, His plans
were far greater: He was about to
establish something entirely new
in contrast to the national blessing
promised to Israel. Israel would
come into those blessings later,
but meanwhile the gospel of God’s
grace would spread to every nation,
and He’d use these men to begin
that work. Apart from Him they
could do nothing; Peter had been
told this. How could they continue
what Jesus had been doing, and
“even greater things” (Jn. 14:12) if
Jesus was no longer with them?
The Holy Spirit would come to
live in them after the Lord’s return
to heaven. Speaking of the coming
Comforter He said, “The world cannot
accept Him, because it neither
sees Him nor knows Him. But you
know Him, for He lives with you and
will be in you” (Jn. 14:17). He would
be their comforter, the director of
their work, and would empower believers
to live and fulfill the ministry
given them. “But the Counselor, the
Holy Spirit, whom the Father will
send in My name, will teach you all
things and will remind you of everything
I have said to you” (Jn. 14:26).
The Spirit within would be everything
needed for a life of service.

The Holy Spirit would be at work
convicting people of their need of
a Savior – of their sinfulness, of the
high standard of God’s righteousness
which they could never attain,
and of the coming judgment for all
who do not come to God through
the Savior. “It is for your good that
I am going away. Unless I go away,
the Counselor will not come to you;
but if I go, I will send Him to you.
When He comes, He will convict the
world of guilt in regard to sin and
righteousness and judgment: in
regard to sin, because men do not
believe in Me; in regard to righteousness,
because I am going to
the Father, where you can see Me
no longer; and in regard to judgment,
because the prince of this
world now stands condemned” (Jn.
16:7-11).

The Lord then reminded them
that the Spirit would be their teacher,
ever revealing more of the Lord
and His purposes. “But when ... the
Spirit of truth comes ... He will guide
you into all truth ... He will tell you
what is yet to come. He will bring
glory to Me by taking from what is
Mine and making it known to you”
(Jn. 16:13-14). It was in the Spirit’s
power at Pentecost that these men
would preach and many would turn
to Christ.

A Life Of Fruitfulness – John 15
To engage in their ministry, they
needed to have faith, love the Lord
and obey His commands (Jn. 14:12-
15). To be fruitful in their ministry,
they needed to stay connected to
Jesus. He used the illustration of a
vine and branches. If the branches
are not attached to the vine there
could be no life flowing into them
and there would be no fruit. However,
when there is communion with
Christ, the Spirit is able to produce
fruit. First, it is the fruit of the Spirit
who is seeking to complete His work
of producing the character of Jesus
in every believer (Gal. 5:22). Then
there is the fruit of the ministry each
believer has according to the spiritual
gifts given by the Spirit. “To one
there is given through the Spirit the
message of wisdom, to another the
message of knowledge by means of
the same Spirit, to another faith by
the same Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:8-9).
As we abide in Christ, we will be
fruitful: “If you remain in Me and My
words remain in you, ask whatever
you wish, and it will be given you.
This is to My Father’s glory, that you
bear much fruit” (Jn. 15:7-8).

The Lord’s Prayer – John 17
The Lord warned the disciples
that there would be trials, but they
would have peace if they trusted
Him. He had overcome the world.
This was one of the purposes of the
Lord’s talk with them. He gave them
foreknowledge of His plans, and
encouraged them to cling to Him. In
Him they would have peace no matter
how difficult the trial (Jn. 16:33).
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I
give you. I do not give to you as the
world gives. Do not let your hearts
be troubled and do not be afraid”
(Jn. 14:27).

The Lord concluded His time with
them with a most beautiful prayer
for them, and also for those who
would follow – including us today!
“My prayer is not for them alone. I
pray also for those who will believe
in Me through their message” (Jn.
17:20). His intercessory prayer for
the disciples is significant. They had
been brought into a relationship
with God through His work. He had
revealed the Father, and they came
to believe that Jesus had come from
the Father. Jesus had protected His
disciples while He was with them,
and now He prayed for their protection
in His absence, and that they
be protected from the evil one (Jn.
17:12,15).

A major thought in this prayer
is that the Lord desired that His
followers maintain unity among
themselves: “Holy Father, protect
them by the power of Your name ...
so that they may be one as We are
one” (Jn. 17:11). He even included
us in His desire for unity: “My prayer
is not for them alone. I pray also
for those who will believe in Me
through their message, that all of
them may be one, Father, just as You
are in Me and I am in You. May they
also be in Us so that the world may
believe that You have sent Me ... and
have loved them even as You have
loved Me” (Jn. 17:20-23). This is the
Lord’s prayer for us. Knowing this,
we should do all we can to keep this
“unity of the Spirit through the bond
of peace” (Eph. 4:3).


Life-Changing Words

If the last words of Jesus are
as meaningful to us today as
they were to His first disciples,
our lives will be transformed,
just as their lives
were, and we will experience
the same joy in living for Him
and serving Him. CL

Source: Confident Living 
Secunderabad