By Dr. Don Bierle, FaithSearch President[Editor’s note: We will provide the promised Part 2 of “Is 2022 the Beginning of the End?” after Easter, in our next issue.]
I have found the Upper Room discourse (John 13-17) to be one of the most informative and life-changing passages in the New Testament. It reveals the heart of Jesus in a very personal way. That night, before His arrest in the Garden and before His crucifixion the next day, the apostle John tells us Jesus wanted to show His apostles (and eventually us) the “full extent of His love” (John 13:1, NIV).
The disciples had forsaken everything to follow Jesus. Within twenty-four hours, He would be dead, and all their hopes and dreams shattered. That night Jesus wanted to be intentional about sharing some specific things which would sustain them in the spiritual darkness which would surely follow His death. What was foremost on His mind?
- He gave an example that “greatness” in His kingdom is to be a SERVANT (John 13:5-17)
- He taught that His broken body and shed blood are our SALVATION (Matthew 26:26-28)
- He provided assurance of His DEITY which gave Him mastery over what was about to happen (John 13:19)
- He promised another “PARACLETE” (advocate; counselor) who would be in us (John 14:16-17, 26)
- He promised 24/7 access to the Father through PRAYER (John 14:13-14; 16:23-24)
- He revealed the KEYS to understanding our future RELATIONSHIPS with Him, believers, and unbelievers (John 15:1-27)
- He promised His further REVELATION of truth (New Testament) through the apostles (John 16:12-15)
- He foretold His RESURRECTION, victory over the world, and future peace in Him (John 16:16-22)
- He entrusted the EXTENSION of His MINISTRY to His followers until He returns (John 17:18)
- He prayed for every believer to be WITH HIM forever (John 17:24)
Obviously, I cannot discuss all these at length here. Rather, I will highlight a couple of them. To access my teaching on the entire list, go to our Web site or directly to Facebook® (click on “More” and select Videos). The series is “With Jesus in the Upper Room.”
Jesus wanted to make it clear to His apostles that He was not the deceived and helpless victim of treachery when He went to the cross. The disciples may have had their faith shattered had these events taken them completely unawares. They might have thought Jesus’ enemies too resourceful for Him.
To make clear that He was the master of events which were soon to transpire, He revealed His supernatural knowledge. Early in the evening (John 13:19) Jesus revealed His intention: “From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.” A little later (John 14:29) He said it again: “And now I have told you before it comes to pass, that when it comes to pass, you may believe.” Jesus left no room for doubt about His heart of concern for them by repeating His motive two more times that evening: “These things I have spoken to you, that you may be kept from stumbling…” (John 16:1); “But these things I have spoken to you, that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them” (v. 4).
What prophetic things did Jesus reveal? He said: before morning Judas would betray Him (John 13:21, 26); Peter would deny Him three times (John 13:37-38); and all of them would run for their lives and leave Him alone (John 16:32; Matthew 26:56). He also said: weeks later they would receive the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17); and they would begin experiencing persecution (John 15:18-20; 16;2). All these prophecies happened just as Jesus said. Surely, even on their darkest days, it would occur to them, “only God could know these things?”
On the occasion of the burning bush recorded in Exodus 3, God declared His name as “I AM WHO I AM” or just “I AM” (v. 14). Furthermore, He announced, “This is My name forever, and this is My memorial name to all generations” (v. 15). In no uncertain terms God affirmed this in Isaiah 43:10, 11, 13: “‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘And My servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I AM HE. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me. I, even I, am the Lord; And there is no savior besides Me…Even from eternity I AM HE…’” This name of God is found frequently in Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Isaiah.
That night in the Upper Room Jesus said (John 13:19), “From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I, I AM HE.” The apostles knew that “I AM HE” was the name of their Lord and God (YAHWEH). Jesus applied to Himself the very name by which God made Himself known when He undertook to redeem Israel. The “I AM” brought them out of slavery in Egypt. Now the “I AM” will die for them on the cross.
This was a consistent claim of Jesus (John 8:28, 58; 18:5-6). At the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus shared with the people that He was “from above” and “not of this world” (John 8:23), and “unless you believe that I AM HE, you shall surely die in your sins” (v. 24). There is no salvation in anything less! Jesus’ supernatural knowledge supported His divine name, His claim to be God.
What an assurance this thought must have been to the apostles in the darkness of the next few days. It is ironic that Jesus worked selflessly up to the last minute to make every provision for the disciples’ crisis of forsakenness, but He was to face, entirely alone, a burden greater than our ability even to comprehend (Mark 14:33ff.). The disciples could not even stay awake to pray with Him in the moment of His crisis (Mark 14:33ff.) – but that is precisely why He died: because of our helplessness. We do not assist Him in His death. Rather, we are the cause of it. God’s provision for our sins was grace alone (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:8-9).
Jesus’ Prayer (John 17)
Lest we think that Jesus’ prayer in the Upper Room was for the apostles only, He made clear that it wasn’t: “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word.” What was His expressed heart’s desire for us?
- To be kept faithful, true to His name (vv. 11-12)
- To be protected from the evil one (v. 15)
- To be set apart from the world (vv. 16-17)
- To be united as believers (vv. 21-23)
- To be present with Him (v. 24)
How incredibly meaningful! I want Jesus to say of me some day that I was an answer to this prayer! You too?