MPGC10 - THE LAST SUPPER - Christ's Comfort to His Disciples and to Us
My father traveled out of town every week with his sales job. Upon occasion he needed to take an extended trip. With the thought of dad being gone more than a week I would plunge into sadness. He was the light of my life. Dad always tried to reassure me at these times. There would be a lot of last minute chats. He would tell me exactly where he was going and about the work that he was going to be doing. He would tell me the exact day and time that he would fly home with the promise he wouldn't need to do that again for a whole year. Then there came the promise of a gift if I would be good and help mom. He would assure me of his love and that he'd be thinking of me everyday. By the time we finished our chat I was comforted enough to accept what was to happen.
Jesus did something of the same with his disciples. While we just looked at the bad news all in one study, He actually interspersed that news among a great deal of comfort. He knew that his dear disciples were frightened and grief stricken with what had already been said.
It is the apostle John that captures best the words of Christ's comfort in three of his most famous chapters - John 14-16. These are the verses we'll refer to most as we look at.....
THE LAST SUPPER - Christ's Comfort To His Disciples and To Us
It is always the unknown that brings the most fear to us. We have already seen that Jesus did not want his disciples to walk in darkness. He has been candid about what HE would face and candid about what THEY would also face because of him.
Day 1- Let's review what the disciples already knew would happen as a result of their commitment to Jesus.
A- They could say farewell to comfort - Luke 9:57-58
B- They would face hatred and persecution - Matthew 10:16-22
C- The too would carry a cross - Matthew 16:24
But now Jesus will share with them some of the glory that will be theirs as a result of their commitment to Him.
Day 2- Where is Jesus going and what will He be doing?
John 16:28 / John 14:2
Day 3- A great and comforting role that the Lord has fulfilled for us is that of being a forerunner. We just saw this thought in John 14:2 and we also see this thought in:
Hebrews 6: 19-20
Jesus opens a way so that we can follow. He does the hard work of blazing the trail to Heaven and to God so that we can follow Him.
Day 4- Once the trail to Heaven and God has been established what will Jesus also do for us?
In essence he is telling the disciples that the cross will not be the end of the story. The fact that Jesus will come again to take us home to Heaven means that He will be victorious despite what the next few days will look like.
And because he is victorious, we will be able to overcome the troubles of this world and sit with Him in Heaven.
Revelation 3:21 / Revelation 17:14
Day 5- Heaven is where Jesus is now seated at the right hand of His Father. In a short while those who belong to Jesus will be there with Him. It helps us to make sense of the troubles we face here on earth.
2 Corinthians 4:17
In Heaven we will always be with the Lord. Nothing will separate us from Him. There will be no more living in the shadows.
THE COMFORT OF SEEING
Day 6- The Jews proclaimed, "no man has seen God at any time." To the Greeks God was invisible. But now, here was Jesus saying otherwise.
Day 7- Phillip responded to this and asked what he thought was truly impossible.
No one would have dared to think that he could see God. Yet, here was Jesus saying otherwise.
So when we look at Jesus and see the Father what do we see?
Day 8- In Jesus we see God sanctifying the ordinary. Here was Jesus born in an ordinary home to an ordinary Jewish family in a small town in Galilee.
John 1:14a / Galatians 4:4 / Philippians 2:7
Day 9- In Jesus we see God respectful. As a child, Jesus was respectful to his parents and obeyed them.
Luke 2: 51-52
In the same way God is respectful to all men in guarding their free will. He never imposes Himself on any man. Instead he knocks politely at the doors of their hearts to be admitted.
Day 10- In Jesus we see God working. As a young man he had been trained by Joseph in the carpenter trade. He knew what a hard day's work was and about dealing with customers. After Joseph died, he provided financially for the family.
Matthew 13: 54-57
"The curse upon work in the Old Testament (Genesis 3:19) is now tinged with glory in the New Testament because it has been touched by the hand of God." William Barclay
Day 11- In Jesus we see God tempted and God victorious.
Luke 4: 1-13
In Jesus we see how God enters into the very situations that we find ourselves in. He is on the front lines of life just as we are and not a commander behind the scenes.
Day 12- In Jesus we see God caring and loving. God cares passionately for men and women. He enters into their sorrows and pain and works to heal, comfort and to guide. While there are many examples of healing in the Lord's ministry this story helps us understand that God cares for the whole person.
Matthew 12: 9-13
A withered hand might not seem as bad as a life threatening illness or being totally paralyzed but Jesus saw a man that couldn't work to provide for his family. A man that couldn't work was a drain on society and was useless. Jesus not only restored his hand but his self respect.
Day 13- In Jesus we see God's authority.
Matthew 7:29 / Matthew 28:18
We see this authority extended over earth forces that men would see as impossible to counter.
Mark 6: 47-51
Day 14- In Jesus we see God confronting the injustices of his day.
Mark 11: 15-17
We see in this passage the anger Jesus had when he saw the common man being subjected to extortion and fraud.
Day 15- In Jesus we see God overruling man's legalism and harsh cultural rules so he could express love and kindness. Here are two examples.
A - No one dared touch a leper. Jesus not only spoke to the leper, he touched him. - Matthew 8:1-3
B - Jewish men did not associate with women in public and certainly not Samaritans. They had absolutely nothing to do with Samaritans. Here we find Jesus engaging in conversation with a Samaritan woman that surprised even her!
John 4: 5-10
Day 16- In Jesus we see God facing betrayal and death on a cross.
Luke 9:22 / Philippians 2:8
God could have easily condemned men for their sins but instead he chose the cross so as to save men from their sin and allow them the option to fellowship with Him forever.
1 Peter 3:18
Day 17- In Jesus we see God ascending. Because He overcomes so can we.
1 Peter 3:21-22 / John 16:33
Day 18- And so Jesus comforts his disciples and us today with the fact that now everyone of us can see God. Jesus brought God's mind, God's voice, God's word, God's action and God's love to men. At the back of Jesus and in Jesus, is God.
John 10:30 / John 12:45
Day 19- Jesus now makes a claim that he can be tested by the things he said.
When we listen to Jesus we can't help but feel that if we lived by all that he spoke the world would be a far better place because we would be far better people.
Day 20- He also claims that he can be tested by what he has done.
John 10:37-38 / John 14:11
It was the same claim that Jesus gave to John the Baptist.
Matthew 11: 1-6
THE COMFORT OF DIRECT ACCESS
Day 21- Jesus would be leaving the disciples behind on earth so that they could continue the ministry among men that He had started. Imagine how weak and inept they must have felt. But Jesus knew something that they didn't know yet.
Greater works? How would this be possible? Remember that Jesus had never preached outside of Palestine. He knew that when He died and rose again he would be set free from the limitations of his flesh. Now His Spirit would be able to operate through every person and in every place that they went. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.
Day 22- As the disciples carried on the Lord's ministry they would be faced with spiritual, cultural, financial and physical challenges beyond what they had knowledge and provision for. What does Jesus give them to use in order to get what they need?
John 14: 13-14
Day 23- The use of Christ's name when they prayed to God for their needs was a powerful tool. The use of Christ's name was the power and authority they needed. No longer would they be weak and helpless. Just as they had lived with Jesus for three years and produced fruit for God now they would continue to live with Jesus through His Spirit and produce fruit for God.
John 15: 5-8
Notice that Jesus does not say all our prayers would be granted but only "those in His name." That is the test of any prayer --"Can I ask this in the name of Jesus?" Are we praying our own personal desires or are we praying those of the Lord? To know the Lord's desires require the close "abiding" that John speaks of. Reread:
John 15: 5-8
Day 24- With a final note of clarity, Jesus says we can now go directly to God with our requests. Jesus will not be asking for us but we'll be asking for ourselves - in His name.
Day 25- How is this possible? There are two reasons.
1- God loves us because we love Jesus and believe that He came from God. - John 16:27
In the back of everything is the love of God and Jesus tells us that plainly.
2- Jesus is going home (to His Father) by means of the Cross.
His work on earth is finished after the crucifixion and resurrection and He will reside at the right hand of the Father.
Day 26- Not only is the way open for our direct access to the throne room of God but Jesus will be interceding for us as well!
Romans 8:34 / Hebrews 7:25
What a great comfort for the disciples and for us today that we have direct access to God at any time. There is no problem too big or small that we can't discuss with our Heavenly Father.
THE COMFORT OF STILL HAVING THEIR TEACHER
Day 27 - The disciples by this time are filled with a sense of foreboding tragedy. But Jesus now tells them.....
The word for orphan means more than a child without parents. It could also refer to a student or disciple without their teacher. They would not be orphans because He was coming back!
Day 28- Jesus will die, rise from the dead and then come back to them as a risen presence. He will be alive. They will be alive with their eyes opened. Their minds and hearts will understand and they will know in a new way the Son of God.
What will the disciples realize after the events of those days are over?
Their lives would be lived in fellowship with the Trinity! This verse demands a study on it's own but every believer becomes part of the greatest love relationship in the universe!
Day 29- Love is the basis for this fellowship. But what is the proof of our love for Jesus?
John 14:15, 21a
In return for our love and obedience what three things are we promised?
Notice the final phrase in verse 21, "and show myself to him." God reveals himself to the one who obeys him. As we act on revelation that God gives to us he will give still more. So -- instead of losing their teacher, the disciples were about to be drawn even more closely into the fellowship of God.
THE COMFORT OF A HELPER
Day 30- If we love and obey Jesus WHO will He ask His Father to give us?
John 14: 15-16
Jesus knew that His disciples (and us) could never live a life of unselfish love without help. He would not leave us to struggle with the Christian life alone. And so He promises to ask His Father to give us the Holy Spirit. The word John chose to use in his gospel is "parakletos" and this means "someone who is called in" , or "someone called alongside".
Depending on the translation of the Bible you are reading, that word "parakletos" might be translated -- advocate, counselor, helper, intercessor, strengthener, standby or comforter. Let's take a minute to look at each of these words and what the dictionary gives as their definition. This will give us a much greater picture of all that the Holy Spirit will be for us in life.
ADVOCATE - A person who pleads a cause, or propounds an idea. A lawyer that pleads a case. The Holy Spirit will plead our case before God.
COUNSELOR- A person who gives advice about problems. A lawyer who pleads cases in court. The Holy Spirit will be to us a personal guidance counselor as well as pleading our cause before God.
HELPER- A person who contributes to the fulfillment of a need. A helper helps people or institutions. The Holy Spirit guides us in what we are to do and then helps us to do it. When a person is in trouble or distress, doubt or bewilderment, the Holy Spirit comes in as a Helper to carry us through to sure footing.
INTERCESSOR- A negotiator who acts as a link between parties. The Holy Spirit is our link between God in Heaven and us on earth.
STRENGTHENER- one who provides us with additional strength. The Holy Spirit enables us to cope with life. When we feel no strength left to run the race, he comes alongside of us to encourage and strengthen us. He substitutes victorious living for defeated living.
STANDBY- One who is available or ready to provide service. What a comfort to know that the Holy Spirit is always standing by to give us aide in whatever we need.
COMFORTER - one who calms, pacifies, sympathizes and commiserates with someone who has misfortune. When no one else in life knows you enough to comfort the ache inside, the Holy Spirit is there to do that.
Day 31- How long will the Holy Spirit stay with us?
John 14: 16b
Day 32- What will the Holy Spirit always be to us?
John 14: 17a
This phrase "Spirit of truth" is used by John a few more times. What will this "Spirit of truth" do for us and for Jesus?
John 15:26 / John 16:13-15
Day 33- Why will only disciples of Jesus be able to know and benefit from the Holy Spirit's help?
The world will never recognize the Holy Spirit because it has no room for God. The world lives and organizes life as though God were irrelevant. Therefore there is no capacity to recognize the Holy Spirit. We can only see what we are fitted to see. For example, an artist sees color, shape and beauty in what someone else sees as only a swamp. A doctor sees trouble brewing by a simple look at our eyes while we are oblivious to the symptoms.
The world is too busy with its own pursuits to wait for the Holy Spirit. He waits to be received by us as He is the gift of the Father to us. He is the promised one who was given when Jesus left the earth.
Day 34- At a time when there weren't many books and people didn't write things down, the disciples must have wondered, "Will we remember all that Jesus told us?" Why didn't they need to worry about this?
John 14:26 / John 16:13-15
This is one of the Holy Spirit's roles in a disciple's life -- to remind us of what the Bible (God's word) says, and to teach us new things. If we don't understand a verse in scripture we can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal its truth. I find He always does so either immediately or with time. He is our resident commentator.
Day 35- The Holy Spirit also has a role to play in the world at large. John talks about three things that the Holy Spirit will do.
Let's look at these three things. There is a Greek word used in this verse -- elegchein -- which can be translated reprove, convict or convince. It is a word used for cross examining a man on trial with the idea of questioning him until he sees and admits his errors which he has not yet seen.
Day 36- A man or woman will never see their need for a savior unless they see their sin. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to convict men of their sin. When a person feels true conviction of sin what will result?
Psalm 32:3 / Psalm 38:4 / Psalm 51:3 / Acts 2:37/ Acts 24:24-25
Day 37- What is the root of sin in man's life?
When we don't believe in God or what God says, then we live life without regard to consequences. What will result if we choose to live like this?
So the first role of the Holy Spirit with men and women of the world is to convict them of their sin, so that they will see their need for a Savior.
Day 38- After a man or woman is convicted of their sin they need to see that their only hope of forgiveness and right standing with God (righteousness) lies in a Savior -- someone outside themselves that God accepts on their behalf. This someone is Jesus Christ. It will always be the Holy Spirit that will finally convince a person that the crucified Christ is truly the Son of God.
Matthew 27:54 / Acts 9:1-19
Notice in Acts 9:18 it says that "immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again...." They are talking about his physical sight but I believe this is a good description of how things will be when the Holy Spirit convinces someone that Jesus is their Savior. There will be a knowing from the inside out apart from mere head knowledge. The Holy Spirit will remove the blinders from our eyes.
Day 39- Finally, we see that the Holy Spirit will convince a person about judgment.
A person may suddenly realize that if he keeps living any way he wants to live there will be consequences. He senses danger ahead. This "knowing" comes from the Holy Spirit.
Romans 14:12 / 2 Corinthians 5:10
After a person is convicted of sin, convinced of Christ's righteousness and convinced of the judgment ahead, the Holy Spirit will give the certainty that in the Cross of Christ there is salvation. Through His death on the cross we are saved from judgment and forgiven of our sin.
Now why would the Holy Spirit's role in the world be a comfort to the disciples?
I believe it's a comfort because it took the burden off them (and us today) of trying to do these things in our work with men. I'm sure they were feeling wholly inadequate to carry on the Lord's work. They were simple men without training in public speaking, apologetics or miracle working. But Jesus is saying to them and us that we don't need to convict and convince. Our role is to speak and live in the truth. The Holy Spirit will take it from there. He will apply that truth to men's hearts.
THE COMFORT OF BEING SUCCESSFUL
Imagine that you have been a part of a great ministry or enterprise. Suddenly the founder dies leaving the direction and leadership of that ministry falling on your shoulders. If you can imagine yourself in this situation then you can imagine a little of what the disciples were thinking and feeling.
Jesus could speak well but could they? Jesus could tell good stories but could they? Jesus could heal any body. Would they be able to do that? Jesus could feed huge crowds with practically no food. Could they do that? Jesus could raise up a dead person. How would they ever be able to do that?
Jesus who knows all things answers these wonderings without being asked. John records it all in one of the most famous chapters ever written in the Bible -- John 15. It is about the vine and the branches.
Day 40- The image of the vine became a symbol of Israel and was often used in the Old Testament. Notice as you read these verses that it always describes Israel in a state of degeneration.
Isaiah 5:1-7 / Jeremiah 2:21 / Ezekiel 15:1-8 / Hosea 10:1
Day 41- What did Jesus call himself?
The Greek word for "true" is alethinos and means genuine or real. What does Jesus mean by calling himself the true vine?
The Jews because they were God's chosen people, falsely thought that they were as a nation the true vine of God. Jesus says, "Not so!" It will not be Jewish heritage that is the way to a man's salvation. It will be faith in Christ alone that will set a man right with God.
Day 42- Every vine has two kinds of branches. What are they and how are they dealt with?
What are branches without fruit? Here are three possibilities.
A- the Jews in refusing Jesus became withered and useless branches
B- The Christian who is all talk and no action is a fruitless branch
C-A Christian who has abandoned the faith and become a traitor to Jesus Christ is a branch without fruit.
Day 43- Jesus now tells his disciples how they will be successful in carrying on the work when He is gone. What is the key to success?
John 15: 4-5 , 7
He also states clearly what will happen if they choose to go it on their own.
Day 44- The secret to any disciple's success will be a close walk with Jesus and His abiding presence in them through His Holy Spirit. We are weak but Jesus is strong. Our knowledge is limited but the Lord's is not. We are prone to sin and selfish living but Jesus is victorious and faithful. When we have Jesus we have it all. How does this life of abiding show us to be true disciples?
The true comfort here for the Lord's disciples is that we are not dependent on our abilities or brilliant speaking. It is dependent wholly on our letting the Lord Jesus live through our lives by means of His Holy Spirit abiding in us. Christ's Spirit uses the bodies of his children (by living within them) to operate around the world today. Our moment by moment contact with Jesus is what makes us fruitful, brings glory to God and proves that we are His disciples.
Day 45- When Jesus does send the Holy Spirit to his dear disciples, He (the Holy Spirit) will testify to them the truth of Jesus and all that He has said to them. What will this enable the disciples to also do?
John 15: 26-27
We will continue to study the comfort of Jesus to his disciples in the next study when we look at the legacy Jesus leaves for them and for us.
Next Study: MPGC#11