How do you respond to the flood of global headlines and explosive local news? Day after day, we see numerous tragic events by scrolling through posts. Many hit close to home. Dread, even fear of death, can lace simple tasks like checking the mail, answering the phone, or opening the door during chaotic, unprecedented times.
What do you do in the face of trouble? On the brink of His brutal execution, Jesus did not retreat into fear or self-protectiveness. As He saw the approaching hour of His arrest and death, Jesus cared for His disciples. He washed His disciples’ feet. He carefully prepared them for future hardships, life, death, ministry and glory.
John 13-17 records some of Jesus’ final days on earth. These chapters tell of Jesus’ precious time alone with His disciples, referred to by Bible students as The Upper Room Discourse. This study includes us in Jesus’ brief retreat with His disciples. Jesus’ thoughtful love, tender care and determined faith should entwine us in intimate relationship with Himself, His Father, and His people as one in the Spirit.
Studying these chapters presents a change of pace from the increasing tensions evident in John 1-12. To this point, John’s Gospel has traced the rising conflict about Jesus’ claim that belief in Him is the same as allegiance to God Himself. Many people believed in Jesus, but the majority rejected His claim to be the Son of God. Some sought to kill Him, and would do so in only a few days’ time.
In John 13-17, Jesus offers grace to the one disciple who would betray Him. He promises the others that their sorrow over His death will turn to joy. He guarantees the indwelling Holy Spirit’s presence among them. He speaks of His heart’s greatest desires for all believers in chapter 17, often called Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer.
Crises threaten to bring separation, sorrow and despair. But Jesus calls His followers to a better way. In daily troubles of every kind, we can seek God’s comfort in confidence through faith. Who do you cling to when calamity comes? Jesus speaks the words of these chapters to strengthen and prepare His disciples– then and now. He cares that we not simply survive, but that we serve one another and thrive as He fulfills His purpose for the world through His people.
Jesus has overcome the world. We share in His victory as we depend on His Spirit whom He has given each one who trusts in Him. Will you step away from increasing conflict and rising tensions in your day for some time alone with Jesus in John 13-17? Will you let Jesus care for you, empower you to show the world the love and truth of God, to love others, to make disciples and to withstand the persecution of the unbelieving world?
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