Tuesday, March 18, 2003

The Upper Room Discourse

This is the first post in a series that explores the Upper Room Discourse recorded in John 13 - 17. The Upper Room Discourse is an extended dialog between Jesus and His disciples on the night that Judas betrayed Him. The events, questions, answers, speeches, and prayer are unique to John's gospel and give us a very intimate view of those final hours. Woven into this discourse are the destiny, responsibilities, challenges, and resources meeting the disciples of all generations. By action and word, Jesus also shows His love for all of us who belong to Him.

The structure of this section of John's gospel follows this main outline:

  • Chapter 13: Unwashed feet, betrayal, and denial
  • Chapter 14: Jesus' leaving and sending another
  • Chapter 15: The vine and the world
  • Chapter 16: Overcoming the world
  • Chapter 17: Jesus' prayer for us

Sprinkled among these movements are some major themes:

  • The commandment to love
  • Mutual glorification of the Son and the Father
  • The purpose of Jesus' leaving
  • The coming of the Holy Spirit
  • Abiding and mutual indwelling
  • The world system

And then there are the well known verses that come from this section in John's gospel.

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you too ought to wash one another’s feet. (John 13:14, The Net Bible)

I give you a new commandment—to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples—if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)

Do not let your hearts be distressed. You believe in God; believe also in me. There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you. I am going away to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too. (John 14:1-3)

Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

I tell you the solemn truth, the person who believes in me will perform the miraculous deeds that I am doing, and will perform greater deeds than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage. (John 14:27)

I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me—and I in him—bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. (John 15:5)

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but have courage—I have conquered the world. (John 16:33)

The glory you gave to 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 completely one, so that the world may know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me. (John 17:22-23)

This posting is just a small taste of what is to be found in the Upper Room Discourse. Over the next days, I will explore five topics from this section of Scripture:

  1. How Jesus set the tone.
  2. Our Destiny
  3. Our Responsibilities
  4. Our Challenge
  5. Our Resources

I encourage you to begin reading it. There is much here to encourage and challenge you.

Wednesday: Setting the Tone

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>


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