November 25, 2002

LifeWay Explore the Bible Series for Dec. 8

Jesus prepares his disciples for his departure
___ John 14:1-14, 18-24, 27-31
___By Robert Creech
___University Baptist Church-Clearlake, Houston
___As Jesus prepares to face the hour of suffering/glory the Father destined for him, he also prepares his disciples for succeeding in his absence.
___His final discourse is intentional and focused. He shares the indispensable truths that will allow disciples down through the ages to live confidently in the world. Jesus interweaves key topics like a tapestry. Chapter 14 continues the discourse and introduces several of the central themes.
___Since he has spoken to them cryptically of death, both his (13:33) and Peter's (13:36), he now offers the comfort that comes through hope in eternal life. Their hearts are to be calm, despite the current crisis. Judas is betraying him. Peter will de
ny him. He is going to a place where they cannot now follow.
___This is all terribly confusing and disturbing to Jesus' friends. Yet he offers words of hope and comfort: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me" (14:1). When the anxiety produced by troubling circumstances causes their world to shake, Jesus urges his disciples to take hold by faith of something (Someone) immovable. This trust will provide the gift of peace they need (14:27; 16:33).
___The hope Jesus offers is the promise that his departure does not mean permanent separation for himself and his followers. He is going to prepare a place for them so that they can later join him in the Father's presence (14:2-3; 17:24). He affirms that they know the way (road) to his Father's house (14:4).
___During this discourse, Jesus' disciples interrupt him seven times, often with questions or statements that indicate their struggle to grasp his meaning (13:36, 37; 14:5, 8, 22; 16:17-18, 29-30). Thomas is the first to do so. He declares none of them is clear about Jesus' destination, and so they cannot be clear on the road that will take them there (14:5).
___Jesus' response is similar to earlier claims he has made. When he spoke of "the true bread from heaven," the crowds pleaded, "Sir, from now on give us this bread" (6:32-34). Jesus' reply was, "I am the bread of life" (6:35). When Martha affirmed her hope in Lazarus' participation in the resurrection at the last day, Jesus declared: "I am the Resurrection and the Life" (11:24-25).
___Now, when Thomas is in doubt as to the road leading to the Father's house, Jesus affirms: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (14:6).
___He adds that those who have known him and seen him have already come to know and experience the Father as well. This statement of Jesus is one more of his definitive claims to a unique relationship to the Father and his redemptive purposes.
___Although Jesus has said those who have known and seen him have come to know the Father, Philip chimes in with a request for some more tangible demonstration of the Father's presence (14:8). Jesus reaffirms to his followers what he has previously said to his opponents--his words are the Father's words and his works are the Father's works (14:9-11, 20).
___Among the survival skills Jesus' disciples will require in his absence will be the capacity to rely on God's power through prayer. Jesus touches on that topic for the first time here. Just as his words and works have been those of the Father, so will be those of his disciples as they serve (14:12). The prayer they offer in Jesus' name will be the connection between them and the Father that makes this possible (14:14). Jesus reaffirms this important lesson later in the discourse (15:7, 16; 16:23-24).
___Jesus' disciples will also need to learn well the lesson of obedience. Obedience will be the clear demonstration of the disciple's love for Jesus and for the Father (14:21). Obedience will be the context in which the disciple will continue to encounter Jesus and to know the Father's love and presence experientially (14:21, 23). Failure to obey is simply a failure to love (14:24). Obedience to the Father has been Jesus' way (14:31), and it is to be the way of his followers. Faithful obedience to Jesus is such an important issue for those who claim to be his disciples that he will address it again before this discourse is complete (15:7, 9-12, 17).
___Jesus then returns to the issue of his departure (14:28-30). When he spoke of this to his opponents earlier, they were puzzled and he declared them incapable of understanding (7:33-36; 8:21-24). His disciples seem equally confused by his words, but Jesus is confident that eventually they will understand (14:29). He adds to the crisis the warning that "the prince of this world" is coming. Nevertheless, this prince has no hold on the Son, who is determined to do the Father's will to the end (14:30-31).
___Questions for discussion
___ What do you think Jesus meant by his claim in 14:6 that "no one comes to the Father except through me"? What are the implications of this statement for ministry to adherents of other world religions?
___ How vital do you believe obedience is to the life of a disciple? What areas of your life do you need to align with that belief?

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