Day 265 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue John.
John 16 – With His departure in view—within hours, now—Jesus encourages the disciples about the future ministry of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the quintessential encourager. As did His apostles, we share great blessings through the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit, whom we received the moment we believed in Jesus (Romans 8:9; Galatians 3:2).
The Spirit is the consummate Helper. He frees us from trying to live the Christian life in our own power. The gospel is not “do more and try harder”; rather, it is “see Jesus and surrender to the Spirit.”
How can we have confidence that the writings of the New Testament are inspired and trustworthy? Because the Holy Spirit reminded the apostles of Jesus’ words and teachings (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit constantly draws attention to Jesus—nestling the gospel into our hearts and applying the finished work of Jesus to our lives (Romans 8:16). To see and enjoy grace is the supreme work of the Spirit, as He bears witness to the truth and comfort of God’s Word in our hearts.
The gospel frees us from the need to pose and pretend. Jesus anticipated the disciples’ sorrow, so He validated their forthcoming tears and lamenting. But He also promised the emergence of great joy—similar to the transformation of pain into joy when a mother gives birth to a child.
Years later, the apostle Paul used the same metaphor—of our world being “pregnant with glory”—to describe life in Jesus (Romans 8:18–25). Our salvation has been given to us, but its blessings are yet to be fully revealed. Life in the “already and not yet” is often filled with complexities, changes, and challenges similar to those experienced in pregnancy, but a full-term birth is guaranteed—for both God’s children and His cosmos.
Jesus continues to prepare His disciples for his “double leaving”—through death to the grave, and by ascension to the Father. Before His return, followers of Jesus should anticipate tribulation in this world, but the promise of overcoming stands, because Jesus is the overcomer par excellence. Indeed, the theme of living as an “overcomer” must be anchored in the gospel of grace. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11)—that is, by placing our faith in the finished work of Jesus and our union with Him (1 John 5:4–5, 11–12). Overcoming is not something we do for Jesus; it is something we do by Jesus.
How do you allow the Holy Spirit to guide you each day?
John 17 – Jesus’ appointed “hour” has finally arrived. Very soon He will travail in prayer over His impending cross; but now, He intercedes with joy over His beloved disciples. No earthly feasts can even faintly compare with the nourishment we are given in Jesus’ “high priestly prayer.”
Unlike Israel’s high priest, Jesus didn’t have to offer a sacrifice for His own sins as He came into the Father’s presence. The final Day of Atonement involved this eschatological (end times) High Priest becoming the sacrifice for the sins of the people (Hebrews 7:27). There is no greater love than this (John 15:13; Romans 5:6–10).
The joy set before Jesus, as He prepared to endure the cross (Hebrews 12:2), included at least two things. Jesus longed to return to the Father, to enjoy the life He shared with Him before the world was created. But Jesus also felt great joy in anticipation of redeeming and cherishing His international bride. He now delights in us and rejoices over us, as a bridegroom over His bride (Isaiah 62:5; Zephaniah 3:17).
Having given Himself for our sins once for all (Hebrews 7:27; 1 Peter 3:18), Jesus now prays for us without ceasing (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). Because the disciples were given permission to eavesdrop on this prayer, we know what Jesus thinks of us and what He is now praying for us.
Jesus counts us a love gift to Him from the Father (John 17:6). He treasures and cherishes us as a bridegroom treasures his bride, for that is what we are (Ephesians 5:22–33). Should anyone ask, “Who gives these sinners to this Savior?” the Father responds enthusiastically, “I do!”
Because we are already beloved by Jesus, He prays for the increase of our joy—the same joy that fills His own heart. He also prays for our protection in the world—a battlefield that is also our mission field. Jesus doesn’t pray that we won’t suffer (Philippians 1:29) but that we will be kept from the Evil One, our defeated foe who seeks to sabotage our worship and work in the world.
Jesus also prays for our sanctification by the truth of the Father’s words. The Father’s words will always point us to Jesus—who is our “wisdom from God,” our “righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). The same grace that justifies us is the grace that sanctifies us. All saving benefits come from our union with Jesus.
Jesus expands His prayer to include those who will believe in Him. The “Great Commission” isn’t our job to get done, but God’s promise to fulfill. We are privileged to live as characters in God’s story of redemption and also as proclaimers of that story; but we must never forget, it is God’s story.
Jesus prays for the unity, not the uniformity, of His believers. God is praised, and the world takes notice, when Christians demonstrate a Spirit-given unity—a unity we must be eager to maintain (Ephesians 4:1–3). Our fallen instincts encourage us to build our identity on what distinguishes us even from other believers, but Jesus exposes the self-centeredness of such a mind-set. Our union with Jesus brings a unity in Him that transcends all secondary disagreements.
How are you encouraged by Jesus’ prayer for you?
John 18 – Earlier in the history of redemption, another king crossed the Kidron Valley, reeling in the pain of betrayal. King David, barefoot and weeping, went away from Jerusalem because his son, Absalom, had conspired to replace his father by force—enlisting a small army to assist him. David’s dear friend and counselor, Ahithophel, was also a part of the conspiracy (2 Samuel 15–17). King David fled from their advances; but Jesus, the greater Shepherd-King promised in 2 Samuel 7, fled into the betrayal of those closest to Him—Judas and Peter.
No one could take Jesus’ life from Him; He freely laid it down for us (John 10:17–18). A large army of natural enemies, both Jews and Gentiles, tried; but Jesus spoke two words, “I am,” and they fell back to the ground (18:6)—an echo of divine encounters in the past (Exodus 3:14) and a preview of the day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord—many to their coronation; many others to their condemnation (Philippians 2:1–11).
Not only was the glory of the Son of God revealed in Jesus’ arrest, but also the compassion of a caring Savior. Peter’s misguided action of cutting off Malchus’s ear is superseded by Jesus’ merciful action of reattaching the severed ear (Luke 22:51). Oh, how low our God stoops to show mercy to the ill-deserving!
Peter’s words of denial, “I am not,” are the tragic counterpoint of Jesus’ words of affirmation, “I am.” But even as the rooster was crowing, Jesus was still loving Peter “to the end” (13:1). Our sins do not separate us from the love of Jesus; Jesus separates us from the love of our sin, and from sin’s guilt and power. Peter’s threefold denial of Jesus will be answered, in time, by Jesus’ threefold restoration of Peter (21:15–19).
The unrighteousness of self-righteousness is placarded before our eyes in the ugly irony of these verses. The rulers of Israel refused to enter the governor’s headquarters because of their scrupulous commitment to the demands of the law, not wanting to be defiled before eating the Passover. But they were unscrupulous in their commitment to rid the world of the One to whom the law points—the One who fulfills the demands of the law for us—the true Passover Lamb, Jesus. He took the defilement of the cross so that we might know the unhindered delight of our God (Zephaniah 3:14–17).
When Jesus declared, “My kingdom is not of this world,” He wasn’t implying that His kingdom has no implications for the earth and the world we now live in. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather He was saying, “My kingdom is on another plane than the kingdoms erected in the fallen ways of humanity.” For in fact, Jesus’ kingdom is simultaneously over this world and very much in this world. He has come to make all things new.
How are you comforted to know that as a Believer you can never be separated from the love of God?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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