We have for sometime been considering a question asked of Philip by certain Greeks, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” (John 12:21) In September’s Devotion, we ended the month with Jesus’ prophetic teachings found in Matthew 24. We are taking up where we left off, so if you do not have last month’s devotion, you will be disadvantaged. I might suggest checking out the Church’s Blog on the website where you can find all of the most recent devotional studies. May the Lord help us more clearly to “see” and to understand more fully our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:23-28; Compare with 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:52-58
In our text in Matthew, Jesus is clearly speaking of His visible Second Coming to the earth, an event that will be seen by all. See also Luke 17:23-24; 21:8; noting carefully Revelation 1:7. This obviously is not the same event as is dealt with in 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians, or in John 14:1-3. Many question the teaching of the “Catching Up” or the “Rapture” of the Church out of this world, but it is clearly taught in God’s Word. Therefore, there are two separate events dealt with in the prophesies given concerning the Church and the Second Coming of Christ.
The Rapture, a word not found in the New Testament, refers to the “Catching Up” of the Bride of Christ, His Church. Paul said, that “we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) Compare this with the record given in Revelation 12:5 of the ascension of the Lord Jesus after His resurrection; “And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.” The phrase “caught up” comes from a Greek word that means, “to snatch out or away.” Jesus was “caught up unto God, and to his throne,” and the Church will be “caught up” when the Lord Jesus returns in the clouds to receive her unto Himself. (Compare with the following: Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:17 noting carefully “caught up…in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air….”)
The Second Coming of Christ in power and great glory is not the same as the “Catching Up,” the Rapture of the Church. The Second Coming will be most visible, in fact, viewed by all upon the earth. That Coming, as we will see, is far different in nature and outcome than the Rapture of the Church. We will clearly see this in our next studies.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:23-31
A question naturally arises as to the timing of the Rapture of the Church and the Second Coming of Christ. I personally believe that as far as Matthew 24 is concerned, the Rapture will take place about Verse 4. We know that Verse 15 will take place at the mid-point of a significant 7 year period of time. See Daniel 9:27. Examine carefully the devotional study notes for September 29-30, 2021.
The Rapture of the Church, the taking out of this world of the Church by the Lord Jesus, will take place prior to that seven year period of time Daniel prophesied of in Daniel 9:27. That seven year period is known in the Bible as the “Tribulation,” with the emphasis placed upon the latter half of that period as the “Great Tribulation.” (See Matthew 24:21) Jesus promised His Church to “keep” her from that terrible time or “hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Revelation 3:10) The Rapture of the Church is pictured in Revelation 4:1-3, which passage immediately follows the description of the Church Age in Chapters 2 and 3. Revelation 6 covers the beginning of the Tribulation Period, the seven year period that will continue through Revelation 18. The Second Coming of Christ will take place at the end of the Tribulation, as Jesus noted in Matthew 24:29-30; “Immediately after the tribulation of those days…shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven…coming in the clouds with power and great glory….” That event is covered in Revelation 19:11-16, and is described as the time when Jesus, “…cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7). Here, a brief outline of Revelation might be helpful.
An Outline of Revelation
Introduction: Chapter 1
The Church Age (The Dispensation of Grace): Chapters 2-3
The Rapture of the Church and Scene in Heaven: Chapters 4-5
The Seven Year Tribulation Period: Chapters 6-18
Chapters 6-12: The First 3.5 Years of Tribulation
Chapters 13-18: The Final 3.5 Years of “Great Tribulation.”
V. The Second Coming of Christ: Chapter 19
VI. The Millennial Reign of Christ: Chapter 20:1-15
A. Satan bound, Christ reigning on earth: Verses 1-6
B. Satan loosed, banished to the lake of fire: Verses 7-10
C. The Great White Throne Judgment: 20:11-15
VII. The Eternal Day: Chapters 21-22
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:31
Read this verse carefully, and consider the wording. Compare this verse with those we have noted earlier which concern the “Catching Up” of the Bride of Christ. With the “Catching Up,” or the Rapture of the Church, “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first….” (1 Thessalonians 4:16) Jesus told His disciples, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:3) In Matthew 24:31, “he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” This “gathering” will be of the “elect” from the Tribulation Period, those who have been saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a different event from the “Catching Up” of His Church which will take place just before the Tribulation Period in which the “Lord Himself” will do the “Catching Up” of His own.
The “elect” of Matthew 24:31, the “elect” out of the Tribulation, will be the saved from every nation. Compare this with what is said in Revelation 6:9-11; 7:9-17; 15:2. These “elect” out of the Tribulation will include the saved of the descendants of Abraham, the Jews. In fact, much of what happens during that future seven year period of time is designed especially for the purpose of bringing God’s chosen people back to Himself. Zechariah prophesied of this time saying, “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” (Zechariah 13:1) Please read carefully Zechariah 12, noting especially Verses 1-4 and 12-14. Many of the Jews, God’s chosen people, will turn to Jesus Christ, “whom they have pierced.” See Romans 11:25-36.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:32-35; Luke 21:29; Compare Matthew 21:18-22 (See Devotional Notes on September 15, 2021)
As we saw in an earlier study, Israel is referred to in the Old Testament as the “fig,” the “olive,” and the “vine.” All of the teachings of Matthew 24 and 25 came as the result of questions posed by the disciples to the Lord, “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Matthew 24:32-35 answers the question as to “when shall these things be.”
If the “fig” tree speaks of God’s chosen people, Israel, the “budding of the fig tree” is of great importance and significance. The “budding” speaks of life, of springing forth in vibrance. When Jesus cursed the fig tree in Matthew 21:18-22, it signified the Divine judgment meted out against Israel for the rejection of the Messiah. Paul wrote of the spiritual “blindness” of Israel for that rejection until the “fulness of the Gentiles.” (Romans 11:25) That “spiritual blindness” will continue until the Church is completed, and then removed from the world at the time of the Rapture. After the Rapture of the Church, during the Tribulation Period, and after Israel realizes the deception of the antichrist, there will be a turning to the Lord Jesus as was discussed in our study on October 3. At that time, the judicial “blindness” will be lifted and “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10)
What time is this “budding of the fig tree” referring to? Some are of the opinion that the “budding” actually took place when Israel became a nation on May 14, 1948 after 2500 years of being scattered and nationless. The rebirth of Israel as a nation, the raising of the Star of David over that land was a tremendously significant event. One would have to acknowledge that from any standpoint, but especially in light of Bible prophecy concerning God’s chosen people. But consider this question; what marked the fall of Israel, that time in which she ceased being an independent nation in the world? It was the fall of Jerusalem, and more particularly, the destruction of the Temple. Although Israel became a nation once again in 1948, Jewish control of Jerusalem did not happen until the Six Day War in 1967. And, it must be acknowledged, that now, in 2021, Israel still does not have control of the Temple Mount.
The “budding of the fig tree” is definitely concerned with the nation of Israel. It could refer to the events of May 1948, or it could refer to the events of 1967. It may also refer to the Temple Mount, or even the reconstruction of the Temple which will have taken place at least before the mid-point of the Tribulation Period. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:4) In answering the question of “when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the age,” Jesus replied, “this generation” that witnesses the budding of the fig tree will not pass until all is fulfilled. Beloved, a Bible generation is forty years. It must be acknowledged that the generation that is living today has witnessed some amazing events, especially concerning Israel. This should compel the redeemed to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,” and to “lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:36-51
“When shall these things be?” The answer is simple, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” However, the “signs” of the times make it clear that we are nearing the coming of our Lord. Jesus said, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Those days were noted by the following, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Sound familiar? Jesus said that His coming would be sudden and unexpected by most, but certain. The charge to all is, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Our challenge, our charge is, “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.”
Beloved, that we are living in a most important time is obvious. That the coming of the Lord is drawing nigh is also obvious. We are living in a very sinful and confused day. The darkness of the world, and the sinfulness of the human family, only seems to be increasing. This is no time for spiritual slumber. Let us awake! Let us be spiritually revived! Let us lift up our heads and know that our redemption is drawing nigh! Jesus is coming soon! See the following passages: Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 16:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:1-13
Chapter 25 continues as an answer to the question posed by the disciples, “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Jesus emphasized the reality of His Second Coming, and the necessity for all to prepared for that most certain event.
The most important key in understanding the parable is the “oil” required for the lamps to give forth their light. The “wise” took oil in their lamps, while the “foolish” took no oil. When the cry was sent forth, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him,” the five foolish virgins had no oil in their lamps. Consequently, they were ill prepared and, thus, not allowed to pass through the shut door. Oil in the Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit. Compare the following passages: Exodus 25:6; 29:7; 30:25; Psalms 133:1-3; Hebrews 1:9-12; Psalms 45:7 with Acts 10:38; 1 Corinthians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:20 and Romans 8:9.
The “five foolish virgins” seemed in all aspects to be the same as the “five wise virgins,” but the difference was the absence of oil in their lamps. Unfortunately, the message to the disciples concerning the Second Coming was that some would simply be unprepared for that event. They will appear to be part of that number that are watching for the Lord, but they will not have the Holy Spirit. In other words, they will be mere professors of faith in Christ, but not saved. It is estimated that there are supposedly more than 2.5 billion Christians in the world today. How many of that great number do you suppose are truly “born again?” (John 3:3) This has always been the case in the Christian Church, (1 John 2:19) but it will obviously be a notable reality in the day when Jesus Christ returns to earth. His message? “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:14-30
This passage continues in the context of the question asked by the disciples in 24:3, dealing with the Second Coming of Christ. In this parable, Jesus depicts Himself as “a man traveling into a far country.” Soon after the giving of this parable, the Lord Jesus will be crucified, rise from the dead and later ascend back into heaven. Thus, in this parable, he is “the man traveling into a far country.”
In John 15, also spoken in the final days of Christ’s earthly ministry, our Lord taught His disciples, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” (John 15:8) Throughout Scripture, from both the Children of Israel, and with the Church, the Lord expected His own to live lives that were indicative of their relationship with Him. His will has always been that His own produce “fruit,” the outward result of their relationship with Him.
The “talents” spoken of were measurements or sums of money. The “man traveling” invested financially in all of the “servants,” and rightfully expected a return on His investment. Upon returning, which corresponded with the thought of Jesus’ Second Coming, the man called his servants together to find how they had done with his investments. All of the servants had invested and gained a return on those investments except for the last servant.
Several things are said of the last servant that are noteworthy. His master called him, “wicked and slothful.” Rather than investing the talent, he buried it. The sentence given was, “cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness….” This wicked and slothful servant represents the unsaved, those in whom our Lord has invested much, including His own sacrifice on the Cross. They have buried that investment rather than receiving it with joy and returning to the Lord thanksgiving and “fruit.” Compare this with the following passages: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43; 21:18-22; Luke 13:6-9. Although named among the “servants,” this “wicked and slothful servant,” was not a saved man. He was a professor, but not a possessor of saving faith. This parable serves as a harsh warning to those who would be mere professors of faith in Christ. The Lord is coming again, and there will be a reckoning as we will see in Verses 31-46.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:31-46
The Judgment dealt with in these verses is the Judgment of the Nations which will take place at the time of the Second Coming of Christ. Notice the phrase, “And before him shall be gathered all nations….” This is not a judgment of individuals. There are two judgments given in Scripture where individuals will stand before the Lord. The first is the Judgment Seat of Christ. This judgment is for the saved, and will take place during the time when the earth is enduring the Tribulation Period. Paul wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10) Read also 1 Corinthians 3:9-15. This judgment will not be for the purpose of determining whether or not individuals are saved. It will be a judgment of the saved’s works, the result of which will determine rewards. The second judgment is the Great White Throne Judgment. This judgment is dealt with in Revelation 20:11-15. Please read this account carefully, noting especially who it is that will stand at this judgment; “the dead, small and great.” The “dead” refers to those who have not been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, who left this life still “dead” in their “trespasses and sins.” (See Ephesians 2:1-10)
The Judgment of the Nations, which we noted earlier will take place when Jesus returns to this earth to establish His kingdom, will be for the purpose of determining which nations will be allowed to enter into that kingdom. Just as with the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Great White Throne Judgment, this judgment will not be for the purpose of determining individual salvation. Rather, nations will be separated by the judgment of the King, the Lord Jesus. Those nations that are considered “sheep” will be allowed to enter into the kingdom. Those who are considered “goat” nations will not be allowed to enter into the kingdom, but will be told by the judge, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels….” The determining factor will be how those nations treated “the least of these my (the Lord’s) brethren.” Considering the time frame as coming at the close of the Tribulation Period, His “brethren” could refer to Tribulation saints (Revelation 7:9-17), or to the nation of Israel (Revelation 12:13-17). For those nations deemed worthy by our Lord, the blessed verdict will be given, “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Scripture Reading: John 12:1-8; Matthew 26:6-13
The incident before us provides one of the most touching scenes in all of Scripture. According to John, this took place “six days before the passover” in the village of Bethany, located just a couple of miles from Jerusalem. According to Matthew’s account, this took place “in the house of Simon the leper,” who obviously had been healed by the Lord. John tells us, “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.”
One of the disciples, Judas Iscariot, complained that the ointment had been used for this purpose, stating, “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” Matthew added that Judas also said, “To what purpose was this waste?” John shed further light on the incident saying, “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.”
The Lord defended Mary’s actions, John noting that He said, “Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.” Matthew added another interesting statement by our Lord, “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.”
As we are still seeking to “see Jesus,” (John 12:21) His defense of Mary is most telling. Judas has asked, “To what purpose was this waste?” He saw the breaking of this box of ointment and its use on the Lord Jesus to be nothing more than waste. Thankfully, the Lord Jesus straightened out this erroneous way of looking at what Christ’s followers might do or what they might expend in their worship of their Lord or in their service for Him. Last year, Good News Baptist Church spent in excess of $150,000.00 for the spreading of Gospel around the world through Missions. Just recently, the Church invested almost $5,000.00 in our sound room to purchase equipment that would greatly improve our services, our radio work, our podcast and the cd’s we provide for those in our Church family that desire them. Some might consider such expenditures as “waste,” but nothing invested in our Lord or His work could or should be considered a “waste.” Mary’s act of worship was certainly not a “waste.” Amen!
Scripture Reading: John 12:9-50
The raising of Lazarus in Chapter 11 caused no small stir among the people in and around Jerusalem. At this point, the Lord Jesus was nearing that “hour” for which He had come. That “hour” would be His crucifixion. The nearer our Lord came to fulfilling the Divine plan required for our redemption, the opposition from the adversary grew more intense. So vicious was the animosity toward the Lord, “the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus to death. Because by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.”
Read carefully Verses 27 through 50. Jesus said, “Now is my soul troubled.” We can hardly imagine the flood of emotions that He was enduring as He neared the fulfillment of that plan that had originated in the mind of the Triune Godhead in eternity past. In His Deity, He longed for that day when the price for sin could be paid in full. He had said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am straightened till it be accomplished.” (Luke 12:50) The baptism was the Cross. In His humanity there had to be much hurt, disappointment and even dread. What He was facing is difficult for us to imagine, the most excruciating of which was His becoming sin for us Who know no sin. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Read Verses 44 through 50 and feel the appeal of the Son of God. The sole purpose of His condescension is about to become a reality. His desire was to see souls saved, “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) In this chapter we read today, we are reminded again of that which inspired our devotional thoughts over the past months. When the Greeks asked of Philip, “Sir, we would see Jesus,” they were seeking an understanding of His purpose, His teachings and His Person. In the closing words of this Chapter, Jesus said, “I am come a light into the world, that whosever believeth in me should not abide in darkness.” Jesus came as the Light of the world to shed His light on all that would come to Him. The commandment of the Father is “life everlasting,” (Verse 50) and that life is through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you been blessed with His light and life? Turn to Him today in faith. Call upon Him, and He will gladly and quickly give unto you that eternal life and glorious light. Read Romans 10:9-13 and John 3. Praise God for the salvation our Blessed Lord has provided.
Scripture Reading: Luke 22
One of the things that is most obvious in this chapter is how that our Lord Jesus was in complete control of all situations, including those leading up to His arrest, trial and crucifixion. Notice Verses 7-12. An interesting point is made in Verse 13; “And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.” Beloved, He is in charge of all of the affairs of this life, of your life! What a comfort that is!
In Verses 14-23, the Lord’s Supper was instituted, with the details being provided that we might understand the significance of this ordinance for the Church. This is a most important passage, and one with which the child of God should be most familiar. See also Matthew 26:17-29; Mark 14:12-25.
Please note Jesus’ statement recorded in Luke 22:15, “And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer….” This verse reveals the heart of the Son of God as He is nearing the “hour” for which He came into this world. As He nears crucifixion, His love for His own is most obvious. John 13:1 sums this up perfectly; “Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” As we are endeavoring to more clearly “see” the Lord Jesus, (John 12:21) it is impossible to “see” Him without understanding His great love for His own. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) All that He had endured to this point, and all that He would endure over the next hours, was motivated by His love for us. “For God so loved the world….” (John 3:16)
Jesus states something profoundly important in this chapter that should be noted. It is found in Verse 37: “For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.” Think about what we have read thus far in this study on “seeing” Jesus. We examined Old Testament types, Messianic prophecies and just a few of the many references in the Old Testament concerning the Person and work of the Lord Jesus. According to our Lord, all of these prophesies and references will “have an end.” In other words, each and every one of the prophesies in the Old Testament of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, will see exact and perfect fulfillment. Praise God! Praise Him that we have such a wonderful revelation given us in God’s precious Word, and that we have such a blessed Savior! Amen!
Scripture Reading: John 14
The Greeks asked of Philip, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” What a worthy inquiry! It is certainly one that we should ever be bringing to the throne of grace. As we seek to more clearly see our Lord, the chapter before us will undoubtedly require several pages to adequately examine. The time setting of Chapters 14-16 are the evening of the Passover Feast, and of the betrayal and arrest of the Lord Jesus. While all of the sayings of our Lord are of the utmost importance, those spoken to His own in these last hours are surely worthy of our prayerful consideration.
“Let not your heart be troubled.” Blessed Savior! Think of all that He is facing in the next hours. He will be arrested and taken to the High Priest for questioning. There He will be ridiculed, mocked and smitten. The next morning He will be taken to Pilate where the process of a trial will take place. All of the suffering He experienced before Pilate is well documented.
And, of course, there is the actual crucifixion. Facing all of this, not to mention the mental and spiritual anguish, Jesus is most concerned for His own. His concern was that their hearts be not overly torn and troubled. These were His sheep, and as the Shepherd He longed to keep them secure and rested in Him. Beloved, just this simple sentence uttered by our Lord to His own should bring great comfort to our souls.
And what would it take to ease the fear and dread that would come to these sheep that were soon to be scattered? “…ye believe in God, believe also in me.” This is such an important message to us, especially in the day we find ourselves. There seems to be trouble on every side. Our world is reeling. Our country is at the point of collapse financially, morally and especially spiritually. Satan seems to be working overtime, knowing that his time is very limited. It is here that believers must take heed to the counsel of the Lord Jesus, “ye believe in God, believe also in me.” What are we to do when all around us seems to be chaotic and filled with wickedness? Just keep believing in the Lord! Just keep trusting Him and His blessed Word!
One of the important observations provided in Scripture in those trying days of Christ’s disciples is found in the following phrases: “And they remembered his words,” (Luke 24:8); “…his disciples remembered that he has said this unto them,” (John 2:22); “…then remembered they that these things were written of him….” (John 12:16) God’s Word was given to His children to guide their lives and to provide them the understanding they needed to get them through this life. It was given to comfort their souls as they were surely to be called upon to endure times of difficulty and fear. Throughout the Word of God the message is repeated, “Fear not.” Jesus words to His disciples just echoed that message that He still whispers to our souls today, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”
Scripture Reading: John 14
In those closing hours, the Lord Jesus informed His disciples of His provisions for their future, assuring them of His return; “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Thomas’ question was a natural one, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” Jesus’ answered that as “the way, the truth, and the life,” He was all that His followers would ever need, and that trusting in Him would give them that freedom from fear that they would be in need of.
The conversation between the Lord and Philip confirmed His Deity and assured His followers of the power and results of faith in Him. He then proceeded to give the first of several vitally important lessons to His followers on the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. Because the world cannot see the Holy Spirit, His reality and ministry are rejected. “…the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not.” (Verse 17) By looking through the eyes of faith, Christ’s followers can not only “see” the Holy Spirit, through His
indwelling and comforting power, they can experience “comfort” and assurance. Along with this, the “Comforter” teaches believers “all things,” and brings back to their memories precious truths that will provide them wisdom, understanding, direction and “peace.” In the context of the instructions given concerning the Holy Spirit, the Lord said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”. What a blessed provision!
Keep in mind as you read this words what His disciples would be facing in the coming hours and days. They may not have fully understood all of these teachings, but as the Holy Spirit brought them back to them later, Christ’s followers would find them to be of inestimable value. As do we! Blessed Holy Spirit! Blessed Comforter!
Scripture Reading: John 15:1-2
“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” John 15:8
“Fruit” for the Christian is the outward results of the work of Christ in the heart. God’s desire for His own is that there ever be an outward manifestation of His working in their lives. He demanded this from Israel, and rightly so. Here read Isaiah 5:1-7. Isaiah 37:30 provides some insight on this process of fruit bearing for God’s people; “And the remnant that escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward….” Note Isaiah 27:6; “He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.” This was God’s desire for Israel, and it is His desire for the Church and for the individual Christian.
In order for fruit trees to be good fruit bearers there must be pruning done where needed. My dad bought a parcel of ground once that had several apple trees on it. He had one of our neighbors trim those trees. When I saw what Mr. Taylor had done to the apple trees, I ran home and told dad that he had ruined them. Dad laughed and said, “No son, those trees had a lot of needless growth that had to be removed. This will allow them to produce more apples, because the tree is not having to feed all of those needless shoots.” And, that is exactly what happened. Those trees were filled with fruit. Sometimes we allow things to accumulate in our lives that are counterproductive to our fruit bearing for our Lord. When this happens, there has to be some “pruning.” Here read Hebrews 12:5-13. God’s desire for us is that we bear “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” (Verse 11)
Our Lord is gracious in that He does not allow us to defile ourselves with unnecessary “shoots” or unwanted “branches” that sap our spiritual life and inhibit our fruitfulness for Him. These things may seem harmless, but if they hinder our service for Christ they should be laid aside. Notice Paul’s admonition in Hebrews 12:1-2. Note especially the following words, “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us….” To aid in this much needed process in our lives, the Lord must “prune” the branches of our lives that they might “bring forth more fruit.” Let’s be fruit bearing Christians for our Lord! Amen!
Scripture Reading: John 15:3-8
“Abide in me….”
This is really a simple proposition. Branches that are not properly attached to the “vine” will not survive, and they certainly will not bear fruit at all. The life of the branch comes from the vine, so a sound connection to the vine is essential. Jesus is the “true vine.” Believers were attached to the “true vine” through the power of God when they placed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. From that time forward, the duty of the Child of God is to maintain that connection to the “true vine” by “abiding” in Him.
How is this “abiding” accomplished? Before we consider this, one thing must be pointed out. Jesus is not here admonishing His followers to make sure that they stay “saved.” The context is not salvation, but of bearing fruit for the glory of God. Salvation is the work of God, it is “of the Lord,” and not man. Consequently, we are never told to make sure that we do what is needed to protect our salvation. Again, the context is to believers, and has to do with the bearing fruit. For this to happen, there must be an “abiding” in the “true vine.” The question was, how is this “abiding” accomplished?
The word “abide” means to “remain,” and it has a threefold reference to place, condition and time. It can mean, “remain or stay in the same place.” I might say, “Stay here until I get back and….” The word can also mean, “remain or stay in this same condition.” Here, I might say, “Keep this same mind-set or attitude. Don’t change. Abide in this same state.” And finally, the word can speak of “remaining in reference to time.” Here, I might say, “Everything seems to be changing. Stay just like your are. Don’t change with the times. Remain consistent.” It is really an important word when it comes to bearing fruit for the glory of God for the believer.
Jesus said, “Abide in me….” “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” Now, read that same verse applying the three various applications of the word, “abide.” “Remain here in this place, this state or condition, and do so until I return.” The believer must “abide” in Christ. We cannot allow the world and its philosophy to move us from our consistent walk with Christ and dependence upon His Blessed Word. To “abide in Christ” is to maintain that regular walk with Him, that continual fellowship with Him through the reading of His Word and communion with Him through prayer. To “abide in Christ” is to remain faithful to His commands and wishes, and to seek to continually honor Him in all aspects of life. O, may He help us to continue to “abide” in Him until he comes for us. Through this we can bring forth fruit that will result in His glory and praise. May He help us so to do!
Scripture Reading: John 15:9-17
In John 12:21, certain Greeks requested of Philip, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” Their desire was that they might talk with Him, listen to Him, observe Him. learn from and of Him. We have been using this request as a springboard from which to launch our devotional thoughts for several months. In examining His teachings to help us to better “see” our Lord, we are looking at some of His final words to His own in John 14 through 16.
In the verses we are looking at today, Jesus instructed His followers concerning that which He desired to be the driving force behind their actions and interactions with one another. That driving force is love. He used Himself as their example; “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye ion my love.” It was John the Beloved that dealt with this subject more than any other Gospel writer. Forty-four times he used the word in his narrative of the life of the Lord Jesus. Jesus’ will for His own was that they “continue in” His love, that they love Him and one another.
To see Jesus Christ and to really understand Him, one must see the love that permeated everything thing He said and everything He did. Some leaders of men are driven by a need for power. Some are driven by fame, while others seek fortune. Our Lord was driven by love. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Once this love of Christ is understood, then His followers can grasp that driving force which should govern all of their actions one with another. The Lord’s Church must be filled with love if it is to be what He intended it to be. The Church was sought out and purchased in love. It has been protected down through the centuries by the love of Her Lord. If the Church is to be pleasing to the Lord Jesus, and if she is to fulfill His will and plan for her existence, the love of Christ must be the most outstanding characteristic of her being. Paul wrote, “For the love of Christ constraineth us….” (2 Corinthians 5:14) The word “constraineth” literally means “to hold together.” Christ’s love is that bond which holds His Church together. May that love be fully experienced at all times by those who name Him as Lord and Savior. Amen!
Scripture Reading: John 15:18-27
Jesus said much about the “world.” Just in the Gospel of John, the word is found 80 times. In John 1:9-10 we read, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” The “world” that knew Him not is not a reference to the planet earth but to the “world” system of men that know not God. Jesus said, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
One of the things that Jesus taught was that, not only did the world not receive Him (John 1:9-10), but that the world actually hates Him. In His great prayer recorded in John 17, we find these words in Verse 14; “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world even as I am not of the world.” Our passage today began like this; “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” An important lesson for the follower of Christ is given in these verses. The Lord Jesus taught us here that if we are followers of Christ, and are endeavoring to live for Him, we will be hated by the world. “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” This should really not surprise us for, “the servant is not greater than his Lord.”
There is a blessed resource for the “hated” follower of Christ, and that is the precious Holy Spirit. He is the “Comforter” for all who are in need of comfort. He is the source of the believer’s power. Beloved, marvel not if the world hate you, but marvel in the fact that God so loved You that He gave His only begotten Son for you, and has provided for you an ever present Comforter. Glory in these truths. The love of your Lord is far greater than the hatred of the world, and His love will carry you through every struggle you will face in this life. Just keep trusting and serving!
Scripture Reading: John 16:1-4
As we continue seeking to “see” the Lord Jesus, His great love for and care for His own is impossible to miss. Please read carefully Chapter 16, Verse 1; “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.” The word “offended” literally means, “to entrap, to trip up or to entice to sin.” Satan’s great plan in stirring up the world’s hatred toward the followers of Christ is simple; his desire is to discourage them from faithfully serving their Lord. In Jesus’ great prophecy on the end times recorded in Matthew 24, He spoke the following words in Verse 12; “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” While this prophecy is primarily a Tribulation Period prophecy, the principle given is applicable to every era of time for the Christian. Satan works relentlessly to try to entice Christ’s followers to stop following and serving their Lord.
The world’s opposition that Christ’s Church has faced from the beginning comes because, “they have not known the Father, nor me.” It is so important that God’s people understand this. The True Church of the Lord Jesus will never be popular in the world, and will ever be persecuted and opposed. Not realizing this can cause great confusion and discouragement among God’s children.
Notice what Jesus said in Verse 4, “But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them.” There are portions of Scripture, especially in prophetic passages, that are time oriented, applicable primarily to a future date, time and people. For instance, there are prophetic passages that deal with future Israel during the days of the Tribulation Period. These prophesies will be of great importance to God’s chosen people during those times of “Jacob’s trouble.” (Jeremiah 30:7) Of course, the very ones that were present the day that Jesus spoke these words drew great comfort from these truths when they faced the very things of which their Lord spoke.
Here is another important observation we can make as we are endeavoring to “see” our Savior. He wants His own to be prepared for those things that they are facing in their future so that they might be a prepared people. What great provisions our Lord makes for His own!
Scripture Reading: John 16:4-15
In those closing hours prior to His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had much to tell His disciples. These words would be in their hearts for the rest of their days. They would be facing much over the next days, and the years ahead would bring many of the things in their lives that the Lord had warned would come.
The chapters in John beginning with Chapter 13, and going through Chapter 17, are filled with words of wisdom, instruction and comfort for these followers of Christ. All through these words spoken by the Lord were promises of the coming Holy Spirit, the Comforter. And, admittedly, these disciples would be in desperate need of comfort.
The thought that their Lord would be leaving them had not yet been fully realized by the disciples, but it would soon be a reality. When this happened, they would truly need the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew this, and these final messages were filled with glimpses and promises of the Third Person of the Godhead. Jesus said, “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” As difficult as it was for the disciples to believe, they would actually be “advantaged” for Jesus to depart back to the Father, that the Holy Spirit might come unto them.
As far as the world Is concerned, the Holy Spirit’s ministry is summed up as follows; “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” It is the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin and draws souls to Christ for salvation. The word “reprove” speaks of convicting and bringing to light. This is precisely the work of the Holy Spirit among the unsaved. He brings conviction upon the heart, convincing the soul of its sinfulness and need for the Savior. He enlightens the sin darkened soul by pointing out sin and at the same time revealing the remedy for that sin. And, of course, that remedy is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Think about what the Lord Jesus revealed in just these few short verses. He had come to purchase redemption through His death on the Cross. After that death, burial and resurrection, He was going to return to heaven to be with the Father. After His ascension back to heaven, the Holy Spirit would come to do His work of bringing souls to Christ, while comforting those who were Christ’s through His blessed indwelling ministry. In our next devotion, we will continue examining this passage of Scripture.
Scripture Reading: John 16:4-15
There was no way that the followers of Christ could understand all that they were enduring, or all that Jesus was saying in these final hours. In fact, much of it went over the heads completely. He knew this well. Jesus said, “I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” In reading the account of the disciples over the next days, this truth becomes obvious.
One of the blessed ministries of the Holy Spirit is given in Verse 13; “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.” He is the “Spirit of truth,” and He will “guide you into all truth.” Remember, Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: they word is truth.” The Holy Spirit will take the Word of God and make it real to our hearts, bringing an understanding that is impossible for those who do not know the Lord. What a blessed reality this is for us! One of the things that I have always maintained is that all believers have the same Blessed Holy Spirit to guide their understanding of the Word of God. Believers are not dependent upon a select few to help them understand what the Word of God says and means.
The Lord Jesus was concerned that His followers have an understanding of future events. He did not want them to be in the dark about such important issues. It was expedient for all believers that the Lord send the Dove of Heaven in order that we might know what is ahead. “…and he will shew you things to come.” What a blessed Savior! What a blessed Comforter! While we may not fully understand all of the details of the future, we know enough that Paul could write, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” Our Blessed Lord’s provisions for us guarantee that. Amen!
Scripture Reading: John 16:16-24
Don’t you wish that the world could “see” the Lord Jesus Christ as you and I have been privileged to see Him? Some see Him as a founder of a major world religion. Others see Him as nothing more than a trouble maker. Some care nothing about seeing Him at all, but those who know Him as Lord and Savior have an all-together different view of Jesus Christ. “Sir, we would see Jesus.” May God ever help us to see Him more clearly.
Jesus knew that the events of the following days would cause great sorrow, confusion and fear in the hearts of His disciples. While His followers would be weeping and lamenting, the world would be rejoicing that Jesus had finally been silenced through death. But Jesus knew that the disciples sorrow would be turned into joy. The Psalmist wrote, “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalms 30:5) This Messianic Psalm that was written for the dedication of the house of David prophesied of the joy that would come through the resurrection of Christ. “O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou has kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.” (Psalms 30:3). The disciples of Christ were most sorrowful when they observed Him being mistreated, beaten and crucified. That sorrow was turned to joy when He conquered death through glorious resurrection. John 20:20 says, “And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.”
Just one of the blessings of the resurrection for His followers would be the privilege and promise of prayer. “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” Beloved, the risen Savior and the Blessed Comforter makes it possible for you and I to go to God in prayer, trusting and believing that our prayers will be answered. See the following passages: 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Romans 8:26-27. What we see in the Lord Jesus is One Who looked ahead and made provisions so that every need of His followers would be met entirely. Praise His Name for such glorious provisions!
Scripture Reading: John 16:25-33
We have spent extra time in these final teachings of the Lord Jesus prior to His crucifixion. All of His words are of the utmost importance, but the emphasis of His final words to His disciples would be with them for the rest of their days. In Verses 32 and 33, He was preparing the disciples for the trauma they were about to face.
There was a prophecy in the Old Testament about what would happen to Christ’s followers when He was “smitten.” In Zechariah 13:7 we read, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, said the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn my hand upon the little ones.” Of course we know that Jesus is the Shepherd in this prophecy. See also Zechariah 11:4,7; Isaiah 40:11. What is really of interest is the fact that Jesus was facing mockery, derision and incredible suffering, but His concern was not for Himself. His concern was for His sheep. Our goal has been to more clearly see and understand the Lord Jesus. Do not miss this most important aspect of His Person. Jesus loved His own and everything He was facing was for them, and for us who would follow.
Along with knowing what He was facing, He also knew what His followers were facing. He knew what His disciples would be facing in the immediate future, and He knew what they would be called upon to endure throughout the rest of their lives. He also knew what all believers of every era would face. “In the world ye shall have tribulation….” The world would forever oppose Christ, the things of Christ and His followers as well. But Jesus gave His followers this assurance, “…but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” He overcame the world through His righteousness and through His goodness. He overcame the world through His almighty power, and He has assured His followers that they, too, will overcome the world. John wrote of this; “…I write unto you…because ye have overcome the wicked one….” (1 John 2:13,14; See also 1 John 4:4) Jesus told His disciples what they could expect from the world, but then gave them the assurance that through Him all followers of Christ could know blessed victory. Praise God for our Blessed Shepherd! Amen!
Scripture Reading: John 17:1-5
“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said….”
One cannot “see” Jesus without gaining an appreciation of the depth of His prayer life. Jesus prayed. He prayed much, and He prayed often. We have just gone through Chapters 13 through 16, examining the teachings of our Lord to His own prior to His arrest, trial and crucifixion. When He completed those teachings, in the presence of His disciples He lifted up His eyes to heaven and prayed the great prayer of Chapter 17. I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit inspired John to write down this prayer, for in it we have great insight to our Lord’s thinking and His desire toward us, His followers.
“Father, the hour is come….” Please read the following verses: John 4:21,23; 5:25,28; 8:20; 12:23; 13:1; 16:32. The “hour” Jesus referred to so often in John’s Gospel was a reference to the event for which He came into this world. It was a reference to His crucifixion. It is vital that we see that, for the crucifixion was God’s plan from the beginning.
In this “hour,” the Lord Jesus would be glorified and He, in turn, would through the crucifixion glorify God the Father. In John 12:28, Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” In John 13:31 and 32 we read, “Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.” The glory of which Jesus was referring was His crucifixion. One might inquire, “How could Christ receive glory through crucifixion? And, how could the Father be glorified through the crucifixion of the Son? Glorification through crucifixion came to both the Father and the Son for that was the plan of the Godhead for the redemption of fallen man from the beginning. The Triune Godhead would be glorified for it was through the Cross that mankind was given the opportunity to have sins forgiven and to be restored in fellowship with God; a fellowship that had been broken because of sin. Read here Revelation 5:8-14. The Almighty God will forever be praised and given glory for the great work of redemption purchased on the Cross!
Scripture Reading: John 17:6-12
The single most important reason for the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ was His death on the Cross. In Hebrews 10:5 we read, “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body has thou prepared me….” Then in Verse 9-10 we read, “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” While this was the most important reason for the Incarnation, in the three plus years leading up to that glorious event, Jesus was busily engaged in teaching and training the men that would carry on His work after His departure. This was the seminary training of the Apostles of our Lord.
The Lord Jesus “manifested” the Name of the Father, and taught them “all things” that were given Him of the Father. Jesus prayed, “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” These men accepted by faith that the Lord Jesus was the promised Messiah, and that He came representing the Godhead on earth. That, by the way, is what all must do that are saved.
Jesus then prayed, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” The Father gives all to the Son that come to Him in faith. When Jesus said that He prayed not for the world, He was not implying that He cared not. Absolutely not, “For God so loved that world that He gave His only begotten Son….” Jesus cared. That is the reason for His condescension. However, the vast majority of the world believe not, and for that reason Jesus said, “I pray not for the world….” One of the things that Jesus prayed for His followers was that they might be kept by Divine power; “…keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” Beloved, the Lord Jesus prays for you! He seeks the Father’s blessings and provisions on your life, praying that you might be kept by Divine power. See 1 Peter 1:5. “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory Divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God. Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.”
Scripture Reading: John 17:13-19
The true follower of Jesus Christ has a unique place in, and relationship with the world. In His great prayer of John 17, the Lord prayed, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” The believer is intentionally and purposefully left in the world, even though being the object of the world’s hatred and the world’s effort to defile. Jesus affirmed in this prayer that His followers “are not of the world” just as He was “not of the world.” This separation from the world results in the world’s hatred and resentment. When sinners come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, although previously being part of the world that is separated from God, they now become the objects of the world’s hatred and derision. The believer truly has a unique place and relationship with the world.
Why did the Lord add the thought in His prayer of not taking His own out of the world? Actually, He went further than just stating that He wishes for His own to remain in the world. He actually sends them out into the world. “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” This sending forth of His own into the world is done that they might be “light” and “salt,” (Matthew 5:13-16) and that they might be His witnesses in the world. The Lord chose through the sharing of His Gospel by those who have experienced its saving power to reach the unreached. Therefore, they are left in the world, and sent forth into the world as His representatives. (Matthew 28:18-20 ; 2 Corinthians 5:20)
Believers do, however, find themselves in a hostile environment. Being objects of the world’s hatred, the believer finds himself in a perilous situation. Also, because of sin and its allurement, followers of Christ are in constant danger of being lured away into the world’s vices. For this reason, the Lord Jesus prayed, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” Child of God, this should be an encouragement to you. Although we are all sinners, and prone to sin and disobedience, we do not have to succumb to the world’s temptations. The Holy Spirit indwells us, giving us wisdom and guidance. Our Lord mediates for us, (1 Timothy 2:5) and the Father works to “keep us from the evil.” May the Lord ever help us to maintain our unique place in this world in a way that pleases Him and brings others to His saving grace!
Scripture Reading: John 17:17
“Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.”
May I remind you that these devotional studies were inspired by the request of certain Greeks to Philip, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” Their desire was that they might know and understand the Lord Jesus Christ. We are currently examining the High Priestly prayer of the Lord Jesus in John 17. Verse 17 is worthy of a closer look as we endeavor to “see Jesus.”
It first tells us the Lord’s will for His own; their sanctification. He had touched on that when He prayed, “keep them from the evil.” “Sanctification” speaks of separation from profane or unholy things. It has to do with setting apart and consecrating and dedicating to God. Our Lord’s will is that those who have become His followers through faith be holy as He is holy, and separate from the world and its evil. Jesus want His sheep to be sanctified.
Now, look again carefully at John 17:17. The instrument through which our Lord works to sanctify us unto Himself is His Holy Word; “…through thy truth….” This is why we are encouraged and commanded to “study,” to “read” and to “keep” God’s Word at all times. (See 2 Timothy 2:15; Deuteronomy 17:19; Revelation 1:3) There is a sanctifying power in God’s Word, a power that enables the child of God to “withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13) There are certain words that come to mind that describe what the Word of God is to the believer, words like illumination, inspiration, and preservation. Oh, what a blessed resource the Lord has provided for us in His precious Word. The Lord Jesus wants His own to be “sanctified,” and He greatly uses His inspired and infallible Word to accomplish that. Child of God, be a ready student of God’s Word. Feed on its truths regularly. Allow your life to be guided by its principles. Hide its wisdom in your heart, for as the Psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
Scripture Reading: John 17:20-23
There is a song that goes, “When He was on the Cross, I was on His mind.” In fact beloved, the saved were on His mind in eternity past. Paul wrote, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love….” (Ephesians 1:4) This truth should not surprise us for, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” (Acts 15:8) According to John 17:20, all of His followers were on His mind when the Lord Jesus prayed this great prayer.
The prayer “for them…which shall believe on me” was that they might “be one.” Jesus prayed, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Through His saving grace, the Lord Jesus reaches individuals from different backgrounds, different languages and cultures, and brings them together into one body in the Church. They literally become “one” in Christ. I have witnessed this firsthand, as have some of you reading these words. I have been in a foreign country, where few if any could speak English. In that situation, I was introduced to individuals I had never met, that were from totally different cultures and with whom I could not directly communicate, but I sensed a kinship and oneness that drew us together. That common bond that united us was Jesus Christ, and our mutual faith. We were experiencing that “oneness” of which the Lord did speak.
Through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have been made one with God, and at the same time one with other believers around the world that walk in the unity of the faith. (See Ephesians 4:1-6) This unity is the Lord’s will for His own. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalms 133:1) “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10) One with God! One in Christ! One with others of like faith! Blessed will of Christ! And, blessed place we have in Christ! Amen!
Scripture Reading: John 17:24-26
“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am….”
The Lord Jesus longs to be with His own, those who have believed in Him as Lord and Savior. He longs to be with them in a daily walk through their lives. He said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5) It is His to will to be in constant communion and fellowship with them, and that at all times. (1 Thessalonians 5:27) The Lord longs to be with His own when they gather together for worship. (Matthew 18:16) And, according to the following passage, the Lord wills to be with His own throughout all eternity. Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:3)
One of the blessed thoughts of that eternal day in His presence is that we will be able to behold His glory; “…that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me….” There is a song that comes to mind here.
Oh what glory awaits me in Heaven's bright city
When I get there, such sights to behold.
A million scenes of rare beauty
Will demand that I view them;
Still Jesus will outshine them all!
Mansions will glisten on the hills of Glory
Happy reunions on streets of gold;
Angel choirs singing glad praises forever
But Jesus will outshine them all.
Blessed thought, dear child of God! Some day we will fully behold His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth! (John 1:14) “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)
Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:36-46
We are allowed in these verses to enter with our Lord into the inner sanctum of the Garden of Gethsemane. In fact, none of the disciples were allowed to enter into that sacred place. Peter, James and John were permitted to get closer to the place where the Lord prayed, but even these men were kept back at a distance. The Holy Spirit drew back the veil to allow us to observe our Lord in His deepest agony; an agony that resulted in His sweat becoming as “great drops of blood.” (Luke 22:44)
When the Greeks requested of Philip to “see Jesus,” He informed them that the only way they could really see Him was in the light of His suffering and death. (See John 12:21-26) It is here in the Garden that we truly begin to see and understand the man, Christ Jesus our Lord. We first see Him as “exceeding sorrowful, even unto death….” Thayer notes that the Greek word translated “exceeding sorrowful” means to be overcome with such sorrow as to cause one’s death. I met a man once in the hospital who was 103 years old. One of his nurses told me that there was really nothing wrong with the man, he was just grieving for his wife that had died just a few days earlier. He soon followed her in death and, according to those who cared for him in his final days, his death was the result of his “exceeding sorrow.”
What caused this “exceeding sorrow” of the Son of God? Perhaps it was the fact that upon Him was being laid the sins of the world. All of the rebellion, wickedness and ungodliness of the human race was His to bear, and He would bear it all the way to Calvary. Perhaps it was the fact that the unbroken fellowship He had enjoyed with the Father from eternity past was about to be broken as He became “sin for us, Who knew no sin.” Later, we will hear Him cry out, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Man of sorrow, what a Name,
For the Son of God Who came.
Ruined sinners to reclaim,
Hallelujah, what a Savior!”
His desire of His own at this time was, “…tarry ye here, and watch with me.” It is hard to imagine that God the Son, the Everlasting, All-powerful Christ, had need of anything or anyone. But He did. He needed His chosen disciples to watch with Him and to pray for Him. Sadly, in this they failed. While He suffered alone, His weary sheep slumbered.
This presents for us a precious scene. Three times, the Lord Jesus went further into the Garden to pray, and each time He returned to find His disciples sleeping. “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” This was a rebuke, but it was a gentle one for His weary lambs. When he returned after the third time in the Garden praying, again He found them sleeping. Then we read these words, “Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” Note Verses 45 and 46. There seems to be a space in time between these verses; between the Lord saying, “Sleep on now,” and “Rise, let us be going….” Is it not possible that in that period of time, and only the Lord knows how much time passed, He stood guard over His sleeping disciples as a Shepherd watching over His sheep? His care for those whom the Father had given Him was His greatest concern.
This blessed picture provides for us a summary of the Lord Jesus and all that He did, as well as all He is currently doing. He is the Great Shepherd of the sheep, and they are ever in His care. We saw it in His condescension, His lowly and humble life, and we are clearly seeing it here in the days of His sufferings. “Sir, we would see Jesus.” To do so, and to understand the heart of the Son of God, we must see Him in the light of His sufferings. This was His message to the Greeks, and it is His message to you and I today. Read the following companion passages to Matthew 26:36-46: Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1-2.
How blessed you and I are to have been enabled by the Holy Spirit to “see Jesus.” Notice Jesus’ words recorded in John 6:40; “And this the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Praise His Holy Name for this blessed “seeing” of Him for Who He really is, and for the salvation that is ours for His enabling us thus to “see” Him!
Scripture Reading: Luke 23
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
We are endeavoring to more clearly “see” the Lord Jesus through His sayings. Our view of Him today takes us to the Crucifixion, a most brutal and exceedingly beautiful sight. A careful reading of all of the Gospel records of this blessed event is really necessary to correctly understand this most important accomplishment of Jesus Christ.
What a flood of emotions must have swept over His soul! We see that in the Garden, and then later in the house of the High Priest. It is clearly visible in the mock trial as He stood before Pilate, the Roman governor. Hanging on the Cross between two thieves, hearing the derisions being cast toward Him as He was dying for the very ones that are crying out against Him, and knowing full well that He was enduring all of this alone must have overwhelmed His emotions. But, if His actions, responses and prayers are examined closely as He was suspended on the Cross, it is easily recognized that Jesus was enduring this time of suffering intentionally. He was completely in charge of this event, and was permitting it for an eternally determined cause; the salvation of precious souls. Listen to this most important prayer uttered among the seven things that Jesus said on the Cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” He prayed not for vengeance. His prayer was not for relief from His sufferings. His prayer was for those standing around His Cross that were partially responsible for His sufferings. What they were doing was all in the Divine plan of redemption, but they were accountable before God. They had rejected the offer of the Lord Jesus, and they were continuing to do so as He was dying. Even as death approached, they railed upon Him as ravenous beasts. This did not in any way, however, alter His great feeli of love toward them. He prayed for the very ones that were so filled with hatred for Him. “Wounded and bleeding. For sinners pleading. Blind and unheeding. Dying for me.” Blessed Redeemer! My He ever help us to see Him more clearly!