Thursday, March 20, 2003

The Upper Room Discourse

This is the third post in a series that explores the Upper Room Discourse recorded in John 13 - 17. To start from the beginning, click here.

Our Destiny

Lets look at John 13:1-5 again:

Just before the Passover feast, Jesus knew that his time had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now loved them to the very end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that he should betray Jesus. Because Jesus knew that the Father had handed all things over to him, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, he got up from the meal, removed his outer clothes, took a towel and tied it around himself. He poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel he had wrapped around himself. (John 13:1-5, The Net Bible)

Jesus had a destiny. He knew that He had come from the Father and was returning. He knew that He now had authority over all things, because He had obeyed.

The incredible thing is that our destiny is to share His destiny. Here are some words from the Upper Room Discourse that reveal this:

“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. And you know the way where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)

As I wrote yesterday, the next hours were going to be hard for Jesus. The tension among the disciples that night increased with time. Jesus' words of comfort to them is that the entire purpose for His descent from heaven to earth was for us to be with Him. Can you sense the desire in Jesus' words here? Put these words in the mouth of a man proposing to a woman and you will get an idea of the emotion here. I hear much of the two Greek words for love used in the New Testament. There is AGAPE love that is described as unconditional. And there is PHILEO love, which is one more of friendship. The one is there through thick and thin. The other rejoices over qualities in the one loved. John 14:1-4 is an expression of Jesus' PHILEO love for us.

To be with Jesus is also to be with the Father:

Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you have known me, you will know my Father too. And from now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:5-7)

Our destiny is eternal:

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he looked upward to heaven and said, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, so that your Son may glorify you— just as you have given him authority over all humanity, so that he may give eternal life to everyone you have given him. Now this is eternal life—that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent. I glorified you on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me at your side with the glory I had with you before the world was created." (John 17:1-5)

Our destiny is an incredible unity among ourselves, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is also to see His glory:

I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they may be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me. 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. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they may see my glory that you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world. (John 17:20-24)

This is such a marvelous concept. Imagine the tone in which Jesus spoke it. As I re-read these passages, I find it hard to believe that these words come from someone who would such face terrors the next day -- and knew it!

Friday: Our Responsibilities.

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

Postscript: This evening the deadline for Saddam Hussein voluntary exit from power has passed. He chose to stay and so brings a huge uncertainty upon the world. There has been a "target of opportunity" to surgically strike unspecified Iraqi leadership. I have prayed that this includes Saddam and his 2 sons. Whether this has happened or not, the Upper Room Discourse contains words for times like these:

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)

It is our privilege as believers to have inner resources to handle every circumstance that comes our way. Do not think of such things as a crutch. Crutches are for the broken, and there is an aspect of Christianity that is a crutch in a healing sense. But these words are about strength and wholeness. The most powerful artistic expression of this peace was portrayed by the Christian sniper in Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. He always had a prayer on his lips. He always had a steady aim in the midst of chaos, bullets, and death. He was always able to sleep peacefully. That is the peace Jesus had that night. That is the peace He gives us. 

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