March 29, 2018 Jesus' Last supper and Teachings
John 13:1–17, NCV
It was almost time for the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that it was time for him to leave this world and go back to the Father. He had always loved those who were his own in the world, and he loved them all the way to the end.
2 Jesus and his followers were at the evening meal. The devil had already persuaded Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to turn against Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him power over everything and that he had come from God and was going back to God. 4 So during the meal Jesus stood up and took off his outer clothing. Taking a towel, he wrapped it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a bowl and began to wash the followers’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 Jesus came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but you will understand later.”
8 Peter said, “No, you will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “If I don’t wash your feet, you are not one of my people.”
9 Simon Peter answered, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but wash my hands and my head, too!”
10 Jesus said, “After a person has had a bath, his whole body is clean. He needs only to wash his feet. And you men are clean, but not all of you.” 11 Jesus knew who would turn against him, and that is why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and sat down again. He asked, “Do you understand what I have just done for you? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that is what I am. 14 If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash each other’s feet. 15 I did this as an example so that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, a servant is not greater than his master. A messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
MESSAGE Jesus' Last Supper Message
These are the events as they unfolded that night, but I want to focus on Jesus' teachings that evening. As John recorded many things Jesus told them that night, it was filled with promises they could not yet understand and Jesus' directions for how they were yet to live. I will not read everything tonight, but share with you what I consider to be some of the significant highlights as I have interacted with these scriptures over the years. Many of them you will recognize but rarely shared in one setting all together. I will comment a bit on each, but I invite you to consider them further in the days to come, perhaps even taking time to read chapters 13 - 17 of John from your favorite translation at home.
John 13:31–35, NLT
31 As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. 32 And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will give his own glory to the Son, and he will do so at once. 33 Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Comments: Within this paragraph are several themes to be expanded in the chapters to come:
Perhaps the most significant verse here is the commandment to love one another in the same way that Jesus has loved: abundantly, selflessly, unconditionally, and soon sacrificially with total forgiveness. Just as he taught the disciples by example to be servants to one another, now he adds that this is how we love one another, and in doing so, this is how we share Christ with the world. It is love that will overcome sin and violence and hatred and prejudice and abuse and even death. We are called to love.
John 14:1-4, NCV
Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. 2 There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Comments: This is the beginning of verses I have shared in almost every funeral and memorial service I have conducted. Perhaps they are also fitting for Jesus' memorial; it is a sweet reminder that Jesus has plans for us, creates space for us, and will welcome us into eternity. It is the promise of our life to come, one Jesus could already see, but the disciples could neither accept nor understand that night. Jesus goes on to tell them that they already know the way to where he is going, though as he said in Chapter 13, they can't go with him yet. Because they do not yet understand, they claim they do not know the way, and I picture Jesus shaking his head. I am grateful for Jesus' patience, even as he continues to teach them. Jesus goes on to say,
John 14:6-7, NCV
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father, too. But now you do know him, and you have seen him.”
Comments: Jesus came, God in human flesh, not just to teach us with words about God, but to show us in compassionate and merciful actions what God is like:
John 14:16-20, NLT
I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
Comments: Jesus does not abandon us but in yet another way remains "God with us." The Holy Spirit, as promised, is poured out on the disciples on Pentecost and continues to flow in and through the community of faith, guiding us in the truth of Christ. Through the resurrection and through the Spirit, Christ holds us in unity with God. We are never alone if we welcome that spiritual connection into our lives. It is truly what we celebrate in Holy Communion. We are a community in relationship with God and with one another through Christ.
John 14:27, NLT
27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
Comments: This is perhaps my favorite blessing and promise which I also share at memorial services. The peace of Christ is like nothing the world can offer us. It is not the fragile security of a pension plan or a negotiated treaty. The peace of Christ as Paul aptly described goes beyond all our human understanding, and yet it is the peace that I crave with faith and hope for a serenity beyond all the obstacles and conflicts of life in this world. I am grateful for that promise of Christ's peace.
John 15:1-4, GNT
15 “I am the real vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it will be clean and bear more fruit. 3 You have been made clean already by the teaching I have given you. 4 Remain united to me, and I will remain united to you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains in the vine. In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me.
Comments: One of Jesus' main themes that night was that they must remain connected in Christ and through Christ to God. It is the same as saying he is the Way. It is the same as promising he will not leave them orphaned. But there is also this reminder for us
John 15:11-16, GNT
11 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. 13 The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them. 14 And you are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name.
Comments: Our joy is complete
In Chapter 16
John 16:33, NLT
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
And then Jesus prays before them and indeed prays for them and for us:
John 17:1-5, NLT
After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.
Comments: Jesus' mission on earth was coming to its conclusion. He taught the people all he could, sharing God with them by word and example. He offered them life in God forever, even as he was returning to the glory he shares with God in eternity. We are invited into that glory.
John 17:10-11, NLT
10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.
Comments: We belong to Christ and through Christ we belong to God and to one another. Though Jesus asked his disciples and asks us to remain in this world for a time, he has not abandoned us, but still protects us and binds us as One. He goes on to say, that like him, the disciples do not fully belong to this world. He has given God's Word to teach them, asked God to protect them and teach them what is true, and Jesus sent them into the world to continue to teach others what they have learned from him.
Then before one more summary, come these important words for us:
John 17:20-21, NLT
20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
Comments: All that Jesus taught his disciples, by word and example, through out his ministry on earth and so earnestly shared with them that night, was intended for us, too. It is the passion of Jesus' heart
This is what Jesus offers to all who choose to accept, to believe, to love, to come as we are and receive our Lord.
(Many of today's ideas come from Total Forgiveness by R. T. Kendall.
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