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The Upper Room Ministry (9)

C Jones, Cardiff

John chapter 16

Ask and ye shall receive (cont.)

The Holy Spirit had not yet come. He was not yet dwelling within them to strengthen, comfort, encourage, and embolden them. The Lord warned them that they would desert Him and be scattered. On leaving the upper room, the Lord had quoted the prophecy of Zechariah 13.7: "smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered", and the time came when "all the disciples forsook him, and fled" (Mt 26.56). After the disciples forsook Him, the Lord was not alone because, as He said, "the Father is with me" (Jn 16.32). On the cross, the Lord gave such a cry of desolation, abandonment, poignancy, and unequalled suffering as had not been heard since the world was created and never will be heard again. He cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mt 27.46). On the cross the Lord bore the penalty for the sin of the whole world. He drained the cup His Father had given Him to drink (Jn 18.11), and the climax of the suffering He experienced was when He was forsaken by God. The Lord was always conscious and aware of the love of His Father. Twice whilst on the cross He addressed God as "Father" (Lk 23.34,46) and once He addressed Him as "God" (Mt 27.46; Mk 15.34). On the cross, the Lord, who is eternally sinless (1 Pet 2.22; 1 Jn 3.5), was punished by God for the sin of the whole world (Jn 1.29; 1 Jn 2.2). He was made "to be sin for us, who knew no sin" (2 Cor 5.21).

The Lord’s cry to His God was a direct quotation from Psalm 22.1. In this verse, a question is asked, the only time we read of the Lord addressing a question to God, His Father. The answer to the question is given in the third verse of the Psalm, "But thou art holy". God is "of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity" (Hab 1.13). But although the Lord did not, on this occasion, address God as "Father", His faith in God was absolute and undeviating, and He addressed Him as "My God". The relationship between Father and Son was never broken.

The Lord had been forsaken by His disciples (Mt 26.56), by the Jewish nation (Jn 19.15), and now by His God (Mt 27.46). The Lord was forsaken that our sins could be forgiven and that we should never be forsaken (Heb 13.5), but be with Him eternally (Lk 23.43; Phil 1.23; 1 Thess 4.17). On the cross, the Lord experienced the dreadful separation from God that lost, impenitent sinners will suffer eternally (2 Thess 1.9), in the "lake of fire. This is the second death" (Rev 20.14).

The intention of the Lord was to bring peace to His disciples when, after His departure, they would live on in a sinful, God-hating world which would hate them and in which they would, empowered by the Holy Spirit, live and witness for their Lord and Saviour. He had said to them, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (Jn 14.27). Now, at the close of His discourse, He warned them again that "in the world", which hated both the Father and the Son, they would have trouble and tribulation, but He said, "In me you will have peace", and, "be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (16.33).

Satan’s desire is for us to be overcome by the world and by the evil and hatred of the world, but "greater is he that is you, than he that is in the world" (1 Jn 4.4), and "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1 Jn 5.4). Satan’s objective is to conform us to the ways of the world, but God’s purpose is that we be "transformed" by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12.2). The Lord glorified His Father in His life and in His death, and He looked forward to the final and complete victory He would accomplish on the Cross, over Satan, sin, the world, and death.

In the whole of His final discourse with His disciples, the Lord, for the comfort and blessing of "his own", stressed love, joy, and peace. These are the blessings bestowed upon faithful believers who love and serve.

Chapter 17

In chapters 13 to 16, the Lord spoke to His disciples of experiences they would pass through after His return to His Father in heaven. He taught them about His Father, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the need for them to love one another, and the fact that the world would hate them. After the Lord had finished speaking to His disciples, they had the amazing experience of listening as He spoke to His Father of the glory of the Father and of the Son and as He interceded for "his own" (Jn 13.1). We, in our day and generation, are privileged to be able to read in John 17 what the Lord said to His Father in that intercessory prayer, for the Holy Spirit has caused it to be recorded for us. This is holy ground indeed, and the prayer has become known as the High Priestly prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In ch.13, the Lord’s eyes were down as He washed the disciples’ feet, but in ch.17 we read that He "lifted up His eyes to heaven" (v.1), and spoke to His Father. In this prayer, God the Son prayed to God the Father as co-equal and co-eternal and all the words He spoke were in accordance with His Father’s will, for His will and His Father’s will were always the same (Ps 40.8). Unlike the prayer of a mere man, there was no sin to be identified and confessed. The Lord spoke to His Father of conditions that existed in eternity before the world was created, of His time on earth during which He had glorified His Father and completed the work His Father had given Him to do. He prayed and interceded for His disciples, "his own", who had been given to Him by His Father. Not only did He pray and intercede for His disciples but also for all who, before He would return again, would be saved by grace through faith in Him (Eph 2.8). He prayed for all believers during their time on earth and in eternity, that they might know the blessings of love, joy, unity, and holiness. He prayed to His Father saying, "that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them" (v.26).

Glorify Thy Son

When men have achieved power it has, ultimately, and to a greater or lesser extent, led to corruption. Men seek to glorify and satisfy themselves. The Lord Jesus Christ, in all He did and said, sought to glorify His Father and bless men. He is worthy to receive all power and to be glorified (Rev 4.11; 5.12). The hour had now come which had been determined in eternity past (Acts 4.27,28) when He was to be crucified, and His expressed desire to His Father was "glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee" (v.1). He was to be crucified and voluntarily "taste death for every man" (Heb 2.9), but God would glorify Him by raising Him from among the dead, and He would return to heaven where He would be further glorified by His Father.

The Lord had used power on earth to glorify God and bring blessing and joy to men (Jn 1.14; 11.40-44). God is sovereign. His power is infinite and there is no power which can prevent the Lord’s glorifying His Father by giving eternal life to those given to Him by His Father (Jn 3.15,16,36; 6.47; 10.28,29). The Lord gave to His disciples eternal life (17.2), the Father’s words (v.8), and His glory (v.22), and He prayed for those given to Him as a love gift by His Father (vv.2,6,9,11,12,24). Those who have been saved have eternal life in heaven to look forward to, and when they live on earth in accordance with His will they glorify God. They know the true God and His beloved Son whom He sent (v.3; Jn 3.16; 7.29). Paul counted "all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus" his Lord (Phil 3.8).

To be continued.


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