As I prepared for this Sundays message (5th July 2020), I was deeply affected by that which the Spirit impressed upon me.
In the first part of the series, we began in John 13 by considering three men specifically mentioned in that particular chapter, each of whom represented one of three conditions present in the midst of our Lord and the apostles as they gathered in the upper room at the time of the Feast of Passover. And it was the way in which the Lord addressed each of those conditions, that formed the basis of the teaching of Part 1. As we move on, if in chapter 13 there were three men representing three conditions, in chapter 14, we shall find four men asking four questions, to which the Lord provides answers. And in a similar way to the first part of the series, it is the way in which the Lord answers these questions, that forms the basis of the teaching for Part 2.
Although we understand that all Scripture is God breathed and being given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness, may I say that I believe that John 14 is one of the greatest chapters of the Bible. The great truths revealed by Christ in the answers He gave to the questions raised by the disciples in this chapter, not only form the foundations of much of Christianity, but herald in a new dispensation that marks a change from that which went before… something on which I hope to expand upon on Sunday.
But it is something far simpler that really touched me!
Having previously said that the four questions and answers we shall be considering are all found in chapter 14, this is not strictly accurate. Because chapter 14 opens with the Lord responding to a question asked by Simon Peter toward the conclusion of chapter 13.
“Lord, why can I not follow you now?”
Peter goes on to say that he will lay down his life for the Lord, to which Jesus responds by predicting his three time denial of Him. Now, I can only imagine how heart breaking this must have been for Peter, who was still desperately trying to come to terms with the fact that Jesus had just told His disciples that He was going to leave them and for now, where He was going, they could not follow Him. (Something they appear unable to understand as being a reference to His sacrificial death, which He and He alone had to go through by Himself, for the atonement of us all). The fact that no man other than Jesus Christ, could do such a thing, is emphasised by the fact that despite Peter’s protestations that he would lay down his life for the Lord, Jesus had to show him that at that time, he would not even testify to being His disciple, let alone die for Him. (Something which of course he did do later – hence the Lord saying ‘you cannot follow me now’). But Peter must have been broken. The Lord had just told him that He was leaving them, and they could not follow Him, and to make matters worse for Peter, when he asked why not, Jesus had told him that he would deny Him three times… devastating! And that is how chapter 13 concludes.
But we should remember, when the books of the Bible were originally written, they did not contain chapter or verse references. The Bible was divided into chapters and verses to help us find Scriptures more quickly and easily and the chapter divisions commonly used today were only developed by Stephen Langton, an in around A.D. 1227, following which, the Wycliffe English Bible of 1382 was the first Bible to use this chapter pattern. Knowing this, might help us to understand that the opening statements of chapter 14, are in fact a continuation of the Lord’s conversation with Simon Peter at the conclusion of chapter 13… amazing!
Why is it amazing? Because having just told His disciples that He was leaving them, having just told them that where He was going, they could not yet follow, Jesus offers the most wonderful reassurance to them and to us all… “Let not your heart be troubled”.
We do not have to have troubled hearts today. We might not be able to see Jesus bodily, but we know where He is, and we know what He is doing. He is in the Father’s house, where through His finished work of Calvary and His intercession on our behalf, He has been preparing a place for us. Moreover, in answering the subsequent question of Thomas, He tells us all how we can get there… He (the I Am) is the way, the truth and the life and the only way to the Father is through Him.
The time is approaching when Jesus will come again and receive unto Himself those who believe in Him, that they might be with Him where He is… the Rapture. Rest assured, it is coming, He is coming, something of which Peter became most certain following his initial disappointment…
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
The real question today is… have you come to repentance and put your trust and faith in Jesus Christ?