Unit 15 – The Passion Escalates
The Final Discourse
15.01.00.A. JESUS LOOKS MOURNFULLY OVER THE CITY OF JERUSALEM. Artwork by William Hole of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art, 1876. Alone on the Mount of Olives, Jesus looks westward across the Kidron Valley toward Jerusalem and the temple. His heart is sorrowful as He ponders the future of His people and His nation, yet He must prepare His disciples for the events that are about to transpire.
The time had come for the climax in the life of Jesus. The primary concern of the gospel writers was that the world would understand the meaning of His life, and especially, the dramatic events of the Passion Week. As previously mentioned, chronology was not as important to these writers as the work of Jesus that was about to unfold. This section begins with John who writes the portion of the discourse in which the major theme is the relationship of the believer with Jesus.
15.01.01 Jn. 15:1-8
IMAGERY OF VINE AND BRANCHES
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. 2 Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches.
The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.
6 If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.
While salvation through Christ Jesus is free, if one is truly saved there will be clear evidence of that salvation. In this passage Jesus used the analogy of a vine branch to a believer. There are four interpretations of the unfruitful branches in verse 2:
- They represent Christians who turned away from their faith and, therefore, lost their salvation.
- The unfruitful branches represent the plans and events of a believer’s life that God changes (or prunes), so that person will become a more productive servant.
- They represent people who said they were believers, but they were never truly born again.
- They represent believers who were unfruitful in their lives and were disciplined by means of death.
The first and second viewpoints are traditional ones while the third and fourth viewpoints arose out of Calvinism. While this is obviously a theological subject, it must be noted that James said that believers are not saved by works, but good works are proof of genuine faith (James 2:17). The proverbial “bottom line” is that Jesus loves every believer to the point that He will administer discipline or correction when needed.
Cast of Characters
True Vine = Jesus
Branches = His people who are “in Him.”
Jesus again expressed spiritual ideas with Hebraic pictures, as in this phrase, “I am the true vine.” To this day, the grapevine remains a symbol of Israel as it did in the Hebrew Bible. The imagery was one in which God was the vine trunk and the Jews were the branches that received life from that trunk. Israel had been the vine, into which all people had to connect to worship God. But when Jesus said, “I am the vine,” He clearly stated that He was the only way to God the Father and eternal life in heaven. In this profound statement, Jesus, in essence, stated that He was God. Statements of this nature were extremely difficult for the disciples to accept, and impossible for anyone else to accept because all rabbinic teachings said that a man could not be God nor could God be a man. In essence, they could not comprehend the deity of Jesus. This is more than a symbolic identification with a vine; it is also a reflection of the famous “I am” statements of God that were given by Moses. In essence, the seven “I am” statements of John’s gospel have a double meaning.
The prophet Isaiah revealed God’s purpose for the nation with the figurative description of a vineyard (Isa. 5:1-7). Israel was God’s chosen vineyard. Therefore, it is only natural that Jesus would refer to His disciples in the same motif. He told them that without Him, they could do nothing, but with Him, they could perform greater miracles than He had performed. In essence, Jesus was and continues to be the vine while the apostles, disciples, and believers were the branches. They were “yoked” together to produce fruit.
The disciples could not miss the imagery of the conversation they had with Jesus in the temple. Over the entrance door was a large grapevine, carved in stone. It had been covered with gold, paid for by wealthy contributors who had their names inscribed in the gold leaves. The vine was an object of incredible beauty. However, the aristocratic leadership of Israel had become an unfruitful vine. Their limited evangelistic efforts did win converts, but those converts quickly became equally unfruitful. That is why Jesus referred to Himself as the “true” vine.
On an interesting side note, the term “vineyard keeper” is better translated as “gardener” as it is translated from the Greek term georgos, meaning farmer. It is God, the Farmer, who prunes (meaning to “cleanse”) the vine from dead and useless branches.
“Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes.” Grapes have two kinds of branches – those that produce fruit and those that do not. The unproductive branches are pruned back in December and January as not to drain strength from the productive branches. Pruned branches are then used for cooking fuel.
“Throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” Jesus clearly spoke of eternal death for those who refused His words and work. He is the only way, the only life, and the only truth that leads to eternal life. There are two kinds of people Jesus was probably thinking of in this discussion.
- The leading Jews who were actively opposing Him
- Those people in the future who would claim to be His followers but their deeds will not reflect any commitment to Him. Clearly a fruitless life leads to destruction.
“You produce much fruit.” The difficulty with this passage in John 15:8 is the interpretation of the word “fruit.” The Western cultural understanding suggests work or employment that would advance the Kingdom of God. And while that is an honorable goal, it is not the meaning of this term. Rather, it is a reference to the fruit of the Spirit, as further described in Galatians 5:22-23 as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (cf. Eph. 5:9; Phl. 1:11). This fruit is the major element in one’s life, whereby he becomes renewed in the image of God that was nearly destroyed at the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden. This fruit cannot be self-produced; it can only come from above. As the Holy Spirit prunes the lives of the believers, new spiritual growth can come forth to produce this fruit (cf. Jn. 15:6; 1 Cor. 3:11) and in this way the Father honored and glorified.
Jesus spoke these words as they looked upon the temple and saw the colossal golden vine and branches that decorated the temple gates. The origin of the vine is also from Isaiah and it became the focal point of the conversation. Josephus described the temple symbolism:
As to the holy house itself, which was placed in the midst of the inmost court, that most sacred part of the temple, it was ascended to by twelve steps; and in front its height and breadth were equal, and each a hundred cubits…. Its first gate was seventy cubits high and twenty-five cubits broad, but this gate had no doors for it represented the universal visibility of heaven, and that it cannot be excluded from any place. Its front was covered with gold all over and through it the first part of the house that was more inward did all of it appear; which, as it was very large, so did all the parts about the more inward gate appear to shine to those that saw them. But then as the entire house was divided into two parts within, it was only the first part of it that was open to our view. Its height extended all along to ninety cubits in height, and its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty. But that gate which was at this end of the first part of the house was, as we have already observed, all covered with gold, as was its whole wall about it. It had also golden vines above it from which clusters of grapes hung as tall as a man’s height; but then this house, as it was divided into two parts: the inner part was lower than the appearance of the outer, and had golden doors of twenty-five cubits altitude, and six in breadth. But before these doors there was a veil of equal largeness with the doors. It was a Babylonian curtain embroidered with blue and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful. Nor was this mixture of colors without its mystical interpretation but was a kind of image of the universe. For by the scarlet there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colors this foundation of this resemblance. But the fine flax and the purple have their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one and the sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was mystical in the heavens, excepting that of the twelve signs representing living creatures.
Josephus, Wars 5.5.4 (207-214)
15.01.01.A. RELIEF CARVING OF VINE AND BRANCHES. Vine and branches has long been an icon for Israel, as well as a promise of prosperity by God. This carved stone door header of a home was found near Capernaum. Photograph by the author.
In another book, the first century historian said these words concerning the decorative vines:
The temple had doors also at the entrance, and lintels over them, of the same height as the temple itself. They were adorned with embroidered veils, with their flowers of purple, and pillars interwoven: and over these, but under the crown-work, was spread out a golden vine, with its branches hanging down from a great height, the largeness and fine workmanship of which was a surprising sight to the spectators, to see what vast materials there were and with what great skill the workmanship was done.
Josephus, Antiquities 15.11.3 (394-395)
The faithful rabbis, who recorded the description of the temple and its services, wrote this description:
A golden vine stood over the entrance to the Sanctuary, trained over posts; and whosoever gave a leaf, a berry, or a cluster as a freewill offering, he brought it and [the priests] hung it thereon.
Mishnah, Middoth 3.8
Incidentally, the crown-work was a memorial for four individuals involved with the construction of the temple (Zech. 6:14). Every time they entered the temple they saw the vine carved in its gates, the symbol of true Israel. How fitting then that Jesus said He was that vine, not only symbolically, but also concerning the reality of the believer to Himself. Jesus is the source of life for all who desire it.
. For Further study, see Derickson, “Viticulture and John 15:1-6.” 34-52.
. See Ps. 80:8-16; Isa. 5:1-7; Jer. 2:21.
. The Seven “I AM’s”: Bread of Life (Jn. 6:35, 41, 48, 51): Light of the World (Jn. 8:12); Door of the Sheep (Jn. 10:7, 9); Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:11, 14); Resurrection and the Life (Jn. 11:25); the Way, the Truth, the Life (Jn. 14:6) and the True Vine (Jn. 15:1, 5).
. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 25.
. Interestingly, the Greek term georgos, is the origin of the English name “George.” See also Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 295; Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 410 n1.
. The term “fire” was frequently used by Old Testament prophets: Isa. 29:6; 66:15; Ezek. 38:22; Amos 1:4; 7:4; Zeph. 1:18; 3:8; Mal. 3:2; 4:1. The term is also found in numerous extra-biblical books such as Jubilees 9:15; 36:10 and in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
. The twelve signs represent the signs of the Zodiac.
15.01.02 Jn. 15:9-17
COMMAND TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER
9 “As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. 10 If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.
11 “I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. 12 This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. 17 This is what I command you: Love one another.
Evidently, John’s later years were spent in Ephesus, before he was banished to the island of Patmos. While in Ephesus, even as his health began to fail in old age, he continued to remind the believers to love one another as recorded by Jerome. John apparently thought this was an important teaching he had to pass on to the church.
When the blessed evangelist John, the apostle, had lived in Ephesus into his extreme old age and could hardly be carried to the meetings of the church by the disciples anymore, and when speaking he could no longer put together many words, he would not say anything else in the different meetings but this: “Little children, love one another!” When at last the disciple and brothers present got tired of hearing the same thing again and again, they said, “Master why do you keep saying the same thing?” John replied with a saying worthy of him: “Because it is the Lord’s command, and it is enough if it is really done.”
Jerome, Commentary on Galatians
“I do not call you slaves anymore…friends” The Hebrew word doulos is at times translated as slave although servant is a better word. Furthermore, it is a slave or servant of the highest honor. For example, Moses was a doulos of God (Deut. 34:5). Jesus now calls His closest disciples and other followers friends because friends have a choice to whom they give their affection and loyalty, slaves do not. The word friends is translated from the Greek term philon, which represents more than a passing friend; it is a dear friend, a cherished friend, as someone special to the heart. This is a unique concept in that no longer are believers servants of God, but they hold a cherished position of being a friend of God as did Abraham (Jas. 2:23) and Moses (Ex. 33:11).
. Thomas, The Golden Treasury of Patristic Quotations: From 50 – 750 A.D. 164.
. Other examples are Joshua in Joshua 24:29, David (Ps. 89:20), the Apostle Paul (Titus 1:1), and James (Jas. 1:1).
. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 229.
15.01.03 Jn. 15:18-16:4
JESUS WARNS OF THEIR PERSECUTION
18 “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. 20 Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master’ (Jn. 13:16). If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of My name, because they don’t know the One who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin. Now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 The one who hates Me also hates My Father. 24 If I had not done the works among them that no one else has done, they would not have sin. Now they have seen and hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened so that the statement written in their scripture might be fulfilled: They hated Me for no reason (Ps. 35:19, 69:4).
26 “When the Counselor comes, the One I will send to you from the Father — the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father — He will testify about Me. 27 You also will testify, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
1 “I have told you these things to keep you from stumbling. 2 They will ban you from the synagogues. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 They will do these things because they haven’t known the Father or Me. 4 But I have told you these things so that when their time comes you may remember I told them to you. I didn’t tell you these things from the beginning, because I was with you.
“If the world hates you.” The word world, as John used it, means a human society organizing itself without God. The goals of life and worldviews of those who do not know God will always be vastly different from those who love Him and are committed to His calling and lifestyle.
“If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” Jesus gave clear warning that persecution would be coming upon the disciples, instigated by the same religious leaders who were persecuting Him. This prophecy was fulfilled as Jewish anti-Semitism rose, traditional Jews rising up against Judeo-Christian Jews. Such hatred was usually spread in worship services, as evidenced by the twelfth benediction of the Eighteen Benedictions that were recited in every synagogue on Sabbath. It has a pointed statement concerning heretics, including the Nazarenes, meaning those who followed Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus warned His disciples of pending persecution. He presented four reasons why men would hate and try to kill them.
- Before they came to faith, the believers were a part of the world, but when they accepted Christ, they came out of the world. For this reason they were hated (Jn. 15:19).
- Jesus has a special relationship with those who are dedicated to Him, for which they are persecuted (Jn. 15:14, 20).
- The world does not know the Father (Jn. 15:21) and, therefore, does not know Jesus.
- Finally, the Word of God condemns the world, since those of the world choose not to accept Him, and, therefore, they hate all those who did accept Him (Jn. 15:22).
If there was ever a prophetic warning that was to be fulfilled quickly, this was it. Two historians, Suetonius and Tacitus did not waste a moment to make their comments about the so-called troublesome Christians. Suetonius quoted Emperor Claudius (reigned 41 – 54) who said that the followers of “Chrestus” (meaning “Christ”) were,
“A race of men who belong to a new and evil superstition.”
Suetonius, Life of Claudius 25.4
At this point it is important to restate the fact that the Romans believed all religions were ancient and, therefore, placed them under a legal protection. They even went out of their way as not to offend the Jews, whose religion certainly confused them more than any other. That is, until Jesus came. The followers of Jesus believed that God had done a new work – and that, obviously, was not ancient. So in Roman thinking, Christianity was not a religion, but a superstition, and superstitions had to be removed from the Roman society. That gave grounds for government sponsored persecution. For that reason, the Roman historian Tacitus referred to the members of the church as,
“The notoriously depraved Christians (as they had been popularly called).”
Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome 15.41
Other reasons why early Christians were persecuted were numerous. Note the following examples of the popular myths that were said of them:
- They were disloyal to the Roman Empire at the best and insurrectionists at worst because they refused to claim that “Caesar is Lord.”
- Christians were said to be cannibals because they continued to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus. Even though Jesus was long past crucified and buried (and ascended), superstitious people were easily convinced this accusation was true.
- Since the early church had a weekly fellowship meal called the Agape (Love Feast) and they greeted each other with a kiss of love, also known as a holy kiss, believers were accused of practicing immorality. This was an astounding accusation in light of the lifestyle of the pagans who had few, if any, objections to immorality.
- Early Christians were said to be incendiaries because they believed that when Jesus returns He will bring fire and destruction upon the earth.
- Christians were destructive to families, because converts to the new religion broke up families and marriages. Of all the charges, this one was noteworthy because often children became believers and the parents didn’t; or the wife became a follower of Jesus and the husband didn’t, and therefore, left her. In essence, Jesus was right when He said He didn’t come to bring peace, but to bring the sword (Mt. 10:34).
Both Suetonius and Tacitus were modest in their comments about Jesus and the early believers. To make matters worse, wherever pagans spread these accusations, the Jewish leaders “confirmed” the so-called truth to ignorant listeners. It was concerning situations like these that Jesus said spoke of the Holy Spirit who would minister to the believers during difficult times.
“Scripture might be fulfilled.” The words Law and Scripture are usually a reference to the Torah, but in this case, it is applied to the entire Hebrew Bible. It is interesting that Jesus always referred to the Scriptures as “your law,” “their law,” or “the law,” but never as “our law.” Jesus was the author of the law and, therefore, is not subject to it. He never disobeyed it, but came to fulfill its intended meaning.
“The Counselor … the Father … Me.” The Trinity is clearly identified as the Holy Spirit, God the Father, and Jesus. The Persons of the Trinity are not distinguished by their relationship to a common essence, but by their relations of origin to the Father. There was subordination of Jesus to the Father for the sake of His mission on the Earth, but not in terms of eternal relationship. The ancient Hebrews spoke of God as they experienced Him as a Unity (cf. Deut. 6:4). The church, however, experiences the Unity as a Trinity.
. Barclay, “John.” 2:185.
. Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 94, 106; See also “The Eighteen Benedictions” in Appendix 18.
. Mellowes and Cran, Producers. From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians. (DVD). Part 2.
. It is called a “holy kiss” or “kiss of love” in Paul’s epistles as well as in 1 Peter.
15.01.04 Jn. 16:5-15
THE NECESSITY OF JESUS LEAVING
5 “But now I am going away to Him who sent Me, and not one of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 Yet, because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you. 8 When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: 9 About sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; 11 and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
12 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you.
The prophets Joel (2:28) and Ezekiel (36:27) predicted that the Holy Spirit would someday dwell among His people. Jesus said that day was about to arrive. However, for the Spirit to come Jesus would have to leave. It was the ministry of Jesus to reveal the Father to humanity. Now it would be the ministry of the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to humanity, that they might believe and accept Him and the Kingdom of God. Only the Spirit could do this.
“He will convict the world.” John used the Greek term elegchein that is frequently translated as convict or convince. While there is no perfect translation of this term, both English words appear to present the best clarity of John’s statement.
The cultural meaning of righteousness has always been to hold the biblical code of ethics, such as giving to the poor or expressing kindness, especially in situations when it would not be expected. Righteousness (Gk. dikaiosyne) is defined by a number of terms such as uprightness, upright, just acquitted or better said in a simplified manner, as if I never sinned. But Jesus introduced a new definition of righteousness – that is to have an ongoing relationship with God.
The conviction of sin in one’s life does not necessarily lead one to repentance. It does, however, bring one to the knowledge of their condition before God Almighty. Conviction occurs when the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to show a sinner his guilt. The acknowledgment of sin is a necessary prerequisite to true repentance. Therefore, while the Holy Spirit brings the conviction of sin to one’s mind, the actual request for forgiveness must result by one accepting forgiveness and grace. Only then can righteousness being to grow within an ongoing relationship with God.
. Barclay, “John.” 2:191-94.
. Brown, “Righteousness, Justification.” 3:352-54.
15.01.05 Jn. 16:16-24
PROMISE OF JOY OUT OF SORROW
16 “A little while and you will no longer see Me; again a little while and you will see Me.”
17 Therefore some of His disciples said to one another, “What is this He tells us: ‘A little while and you will not see Me; again a little while and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’ ?” 18 They said, “What is this He is saying, ‘A little while’? We don’t know what He’s talking about!”
19 Jesus knew they wanted to question Him, so He said to them, “Are you asking one another about what I said, ‘A little while and you will not see Me; again a little while and you will see Me’?
20 “I assure you:
You will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice. You will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy.
21 When a woman is in labor she has pain because her time has come. But when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the suffering because of the joy that a person has been born into the world.
22 So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your hearts will rejoice, and no one will rob you of your joy.
23 In that day you will not ask Me anything.
“I assure you:
Anything you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked for nothing in My name.
Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.
Verses 19 to 24 form a unique parable. The disciples failed to understand, but Jesus knew what they were thinking (v. 19) and answered their thoughts. He presented an event from daily life to express a spiritual truth – a teaching method He used many times. He said that He would be dead for only a very brief time, but would then return. They would suffer horrible grief at His death, but that deep sorrow would become overwhelming joy at His resurrection. Just as a woman giving birth anguishes in pain, she is overwhelmed with joy at the new life. Here again, no matter how much Jesus could have explained the future; everyone had immense difficulty understanding Him. They were trapped in thinking about a personal Friend and their physical land, whereas Jesus was speaking of transcending into the spiritual world and returning.
“She no longer remembers the suffering.” The Greek word for suffering is thlipsis, which would be better translated as a great anguish or a great tribulation, definitely more severe than suffering. Yet this narrative is not about the anguish or tribulation that Jesus would suffer, but the agonies of the disciples at the end of the Passion Week. All those horrific events, however, will seem pale in light of the coming resurrection and the future life with the Holy Spirit. Victory is waiting for the overcomers (Jn. 16:33). This is further discussed in the next section below.
“I assure you.” Some translations, such as the King James Version, translate this phrase as verily, verily or truly, truly. The meaning is to assure the listener of the certainty of the message, as is the word amen. In fact, the word amen, often seen as truly or verily in some translations of the gospels. The term amen (Gk. amen, 281) is a confirmation of truthfulness. When numerous Old Testament passages are examined, Amen is said by God to mean, it is and shall be so, and by men, so let it be.
. Isa. 26:17-19; 16:7-14; Hos. 13:13-14; Jn. 16:21.
. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 35-36.
. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 279. See also 05.04.02 and 11.02.26.
. https://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#inbox/135861d7fcdfed9d Retrieved February 22, 2012. See also Green, Interlinear Greek-English New Testament; Berry, Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament; Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 279.
. Vine, “Amen.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:25.
. Vine, “Amen.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:25.
15.01.06 Jn. 16:25-33
EXPLANATIONS WILL BRING UNDERSTANDING
25 “I have spoken these things to you in figures of speech. A time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in My name. I am not telling you that I will make requests to the Father on your behalf. 27 For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
29 “Ah!” His disciples said. “Now You’re speaking plainly and not using any figurative language. 30 Now we know that You know everything and don’t need anyone to question You. By this we believe that You came from God.”
31 Jesus responded to them, “Do you now believe? 32 Look: An hour is coming, and has come, when each of you will be scattered to his own home, and you will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
Jesus told them that in the near future they would understand His words. But first they would suffer, and then have victory because He has “conquered” the world. Coupled with this information, He told them they would have free access to the heavenly Father. Therefore, when they prayed, they could pray directly to the Father for their needs and petitions.
“You will have suffering … I have conquered the world.” In this passage is the same Greek term thlipsis that is often translated as either suffering or troubles, although great anguish or a great tribulation is clearly the preferred description. Jesus did not speak about the sufferings and troubles of life that come with revolts and social upheaval that would occasionally break out. He was speaking of the intense pressure concerning life and death situations. In that context He said that He conquered the world, a word that comes from the Greek term nenikeka, rooted in nike that means victory.
After the tribulation experience of the crucifixion; the huge loss, and sense of lostness and loneliness of Jesus dying, then the incredible resurrection, John later wrote to the early believers and said,
You have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
1 John 4:4
John went on to say that those who overcome the persecutions, temptations, and challenges of this life, to them Jesus will give the right to enjoy the food from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God (Rev. 2:7). Little wonder then, that the Apostle Paul said that believers are more than conquerors (Rom. 8:37).
Throughout history, many Christians have suffered for their convictions. While “the cup” that Jesus took cannot be compared to the worst of suffering by His saints, many have considered it an honor to die for their Savior. Church tradition says that Peter believed this and, when he was crucified, he asked that it be upside down because he was not worthy of an ordinary crucifixion. Today, the connection between the sacrament of Communion and sharing in Christ’s suffering is clear to those living under Islamic and Communistic rule. As they gather to share in the Holy Rite, they also participate in His sufferings at the hands of their oppressors. In doing so, they witness for Jesus and invite their persecutors to remember the death of Jesus and accept the gift of eternal life that He offers. Finally, in the passage, Jesus identified Himself as the One who brings peace and the One by whom His believers have already secured ultimate future victory.
. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 36.
. Nettleton, “The Cup of Suffering in Nigeria.” 3-4. For more information on todays persecuted church see, The Voice of the Martyrs, a ministry that aides the persecuted church through practical and spiritual assistance while leading Christians in the free world into fellowship with them.
. See “Jesus, the Fulfiller of Selected Names of God” in Appendix 32 for additional attributes.
15.01.07 Jn. 17:1-5
JESUS PRAYS FOR HIMSELF
1 Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said: Father, the hour has come.
Glorify Your Son so that the Son may glorify You,
2 for You gave Him authority over all flesh;
so He may give eternal life to all You have given Him.
3 This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God,
and the One You have sent — Jesus Christ.
4 I have glorified You on the earth
by completing the work You gave Me to do.
5 Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with that glory I had with You
before the world existed.
The chiastic structure is explained in the following manner:
A Father, glorify the Son (v. 1c)
B The Son will glorify the Father (v. 1d)
C Those given by the Father to the Son (v. 2a-c)
D Eternal life (v. 2d)
D’ Eternal life (v. 3a)
C’ Those who know the Father and the Son (v. 3b)
B’ The Son glorified the Father (v. 4)
A’ Father glorify the Son (v. 5)
John 17 is the high priestly prayer of Jesus. He not only prayed for Himself, His disciples/apostles, and for His followers, but with this prayer He is seen in transition from Prophet to Priest. Throughout His life, prayer was a necessity and He regularly withdrew to a quiet place for private prayer (Mk. 1:35, 6:46; Lk. 5:16). Luke made notation that Jesus prayed before every major decision or event (3:21; 6:12, 9:18, 29, 22:32, 34, 23:6). The quiet olive orchard of the “Garden of Gethsemane” was only a few hundred yards from the temple and was a favorite place where He prayed (Lk. 22:39). When Jesus prayed for Himself, He asked His Father to “glorify your Son.” It was the crescendo of His ministry to save humanity from the death of sin; to restore the image of God in those who would trust Him. It was for this purpose He desired to come from the beginning of the world. It is noteworthy that in verse 5, and elsewhere in the New Testament, the divinity of Jesus is clearly stated.
. For passages that refer to the deity of Christ, see Mt. 1:18-25, 3:17, 17:5; Lk. 3:22; Jn. 1:1, 14, 18, 33-34, 3:16-18; 1 Jn. 4:9; Isa. 9:6; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 1:15; 2:9.
15.01.08 Jn. 17:6-19
JESUS PRAYS FOR DISCIPLES
6 I have revealed Your name to the men You gave Me from the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7 Now they know that all things You have given to Me are from You, 8 because the words that You gave Me, I have given them. They have received them and have known for certain that I came from You. They have believed that You sent Me.
9 I pray for them.
I am not praying for the world
but for those You have given Me,
because they are Yours.
10 Everything I have is Yours,
and everything You have is Mine,
and I have been glorified in them.
11 I am no longer in the world,
but they are in the world,
and I am coming to You.
Holy Father, protect them by Your name that You have given Me, so that they may be one as We are one. 12 While I was with them, I was protecting them by Your name that You have given Me. I guarded them and not one of them is lost, except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture may be fulfilled. 13 Now I am coming to You, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have My joy completed in them. 14 I have given them Your word.
The world hated them because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world.
15 I am not praying that You take them out of the world
but that You protect them from the evil one.
16 They are not of the world,
as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them by the truth;
Your word is truth.
18 As You sent Me into the world,
I also have sent them into the world.
19 I sanctify Myself for them,
so they also may be sanctified by the truth.
“I have revealed Your name.” The term name is not the sound or word by which one is identified, but in the Hebrew Bible it reflects one’s character. This is especially true of the name of God, and there are more than a hundred names of God. For example Psalm 20:7 clearly describes the trust one can place in God. Yet the name of God was deemed so sacred that it was not mentioned. When Jews spoke of the name of God, they used a four-letter symbol called a “tetragrammaton,” which was “YHVH.” It represents the name Jahweh or, in English Jehovah, which is the word for Adonai, meaning Lord. Only the high priest said it once when he entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. The name Elohim is the name of God associated with strict judgment while the name YHVH is associated with mercy, love, compassion, and forgiveness. The characteristics of YHVH are demonstrated in Exodus 20:6, Psalm 103:17-18, and John 14:15. Jesus came as YHVH – full of grace, love, and mercy, but when He returns, He will rule as Elohim, yet His characteristics of YHVH will be present.
Nonetheless, when Jesus said that He revealed the name of God, He referred to His character and personality. It was His glory that men could see His special relationship with God, and that relationship was available for anyone. He prayed for His disciples, those who knew Him, and for those who would believe in Him in the future. He prayed for two important issues:
- He prayed for their preservation (Jn. 17:9-15), since there would be times of extreme difficulty and anxiety.
- He prayed for their sanctification (Jn. 17:16-19).
“I have revealed you.” This phrase could also be translated to say, “I have manifested your name.” In Hebrew the word “name” is not singular but a plural in the sense that God has many names, each of which reveal His character. Jesus revealed God the Father by love and compassion, as well as concern for justice. Furthermore, the terms “lift up” and “glory” as found in the Old Testament account of Joseph point to this time in the life of Jesus. His character and personality revealed the character and personality of God.
“So that the Scripture may be fulfilled.” What Scripture? At times Jesus spoke of the broad sense of a passage rather than a specific quotation. Ironically, in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 the Apostle Paul implies this, even though that passage was not written at this time. This proves that the Apostle Paul had the same thought as did Jesus.
. See Appendix 26.
. Barclay, “John.” 2:209-11.
. Chumney, Eddie. “Understanding John 1:17.” Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l. Newsgroup Email Newsletter. June 10, 2004. See also 15.01.08 Jn. 17:6-19.
. See video comments by messianic scholar Timothy Hegg in 01.01.02.V.
. A partial list of other problematic passages is listed in Appendix 13.