Wednesday, March 27, 2013

John 15:1 - 18:24 - Abiding, Holy Spirit, and High Priestly Prayer

LINK: John 15-17  &  John 18:1-24


Thursday after Dinner and before 9 pm

215. Jesus teaches about the vine and the branches: John 15:1-17
216. Jesus warns about the world's hatred: John 15:18-16:4

The Seventh (and last) "I am" Statement

This is one of the most important chapters in all of Scripture. So, I wanted to start it with prayer:

Lord God, I pray that You would teach us, by Your Holy Spirit, the truth about abiding in Christ so that we might abide the rest of our days.  Help us to prayerfully meditate on the truths of this chapter so they sink deeply into our souls. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

I love John 15:5 in The Message:

I am the Vine, you are the branches. 
When you’re joined with me and I with you, 
the relation intimate and organized
the harvest is sure to be abundant. 
Separated, you can’t produce a thing

We know from our study of the Old Testament that Israel was God's beloved, chosen vine, but it only produced worthless fruit (Isaiah 5:1-7, Psalm 80:7-16, and Ezekiel 15:1-5). Therefore, Jesus as the "true vine" came to fulfill the vinedresser/gardener's purpose of bearing fruit. 

Fruit-bearing is accomplished when the branches (true believers) abide in the vine. What does it mean to "abide"? The Greek word for abide means “to remain in or with someone, i.e., to be and remain united with Him, one with Him in heart, mind and will. To be vitally united to.”[1]

To be vitally united means to have His words "in" You as the life-giving energy source (15:7-8) and to confess sin so nothing hinders intimate communion and the flow of energy (15:3, 9-10, 14:21).  When we are in this communion, we will bear fruit, experience His pruning (so we can bear more fruit, 15:2; Hebrews 12:1-11), experience answered prayer (15:7), love for other believers (15:9, 12-13), and joy (15:11); but we will also experience the world's hatred and persecution (15:18-16:4; 1 Peter 4:12-13). Jesus was preparing His disciples for the persecution and even death they would face (Acts 7:59; Acts 12:2, 9:1-4), and abiding in Him would be so key through all of that!

Dead wood (some branches not in vital union with God) will be cut off and thrown in the fire. Some commentators interpret this verse as meaning that these branches are believers who have lost their salvation, but this contradicts other verses (3:16, 36; 5:24; 10:28-29; Romans 8:1). Other commentators believe these are "professing believers," like Judas, who look like believers on the outside but have not totally believed in Jesus.

Fruit (karpos) can mean:

1) Winning others to Christ (Romans 1:13)
2) Growing in obedience and holiness (John 4:35-38)
3) Giving of money (Romans 15:28)
4) Displaying Christian character (Galatians 5:22-23)
5) Exhibiting good works and service (Colossians 1:10)
6) Giving glory to God in praise (Hebrews 13:15)

217. Jesus teaches about the Holy Spirit: John 16:5-15

Jesus' departure was necessary, but His disciples were sad. He told them that His leaving was to their benefit so that the Helper/Counselor (Holy Spirit) would come. As I mentioned before, the word in the Greek is paraklētos.  It was a term used for legal assistants or advocates who pleaded or presented a case. It literally means, "called to one's side, i.e. to one's aid." Jesus is our intercessor, advocate, and comforter. The Holy Spirit would convict ("to present or expose facts, to convince of the truth") the minds of the unsaved so that they might see the truth of God regarding God's righteous Servant, Jesus. 

Since John 14-16 are key chapters in developing an understanding of the Holy Spirit, now might be a good time to go through those chapters again and make a list of all that you have learned about Him (see also 1:32-33; 3:5-6,8,34; 4:23-24;7:37-39; and 1 Corinthians 2:6-16). 

218. Jesus teaches about using his name in prayer: John 16:16-33

With all this teaching, the disciples did not totally understand. He did not attempt to clarify because He knew that everything would become clear in a very short time. He would be dying hours from that time! 

They were still confused, but all would become clear in that they would see Him rise from the dead after three days and rejoice. It would all become clear. He used the illustration of a woman in child birth (to a bunch of men!) to drive home this point. 

Then, Jesus talked about the changed relationship they would have with God as a result of all of this. Previously, people approached God through the priests. After Jesus' resurrection, all believers were now priests and they could approach God directly (Hebrews 10:19-23; Romans 5:2). We do this through the merit of Jesus and in His name which makes us acceptable to God. Ponder this for a moment and praise! See other references to "in Jesus' name" in John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:24, 26. With this the disciples believed that Jesus "came from God," but Jesus knew that there would be testing in this area of belief as they would be scattered to their homes as they deserted (Matthew 26:56) and denied Him (John 18:17, 25-26). 

In the meantime, He comforted them and assured them that their sorrow would be turned to joy and that they would have peace because He had overcome the world by defeating Satan (Romans 8:37). This statement leads perfectly into the prayer that followed. 

219. Jesus prays for himself: John 17:1-5
220. Jesus prays for his disciples: John 17:6-19
221. Jesus prays for future believers: John 17:20-26

Jesus concluded the Upper Room Discourse with what is often referred to as the "High Priestly Prayer." Jesus had accomplished the Father's will and had manifested the Father to the world so that they might have eternal life through the Son. Jesus would now suffer, be sacrificed, resurrected, and return to His previous glory with the Father. We are also to glorify God (John 17:10; Romans 11:36; 16:27; 1 Cor. 10:31; Ephesians. 1:6, 12, 14, Westminister Larger Catechism, Question 1). Glory is used eight times in this chapter and is a key word.

The prayer is particularly for the remaining eleven disciples, but He also prayed it for all believers in the future (John 17:20). He prayed that His chosen believers would be 1) safe from Satan's power and the world, 2) set apart in holiness and purity, and 3) united through His truth. 

After 9 pm until Pre-Dawn

224. Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Matthew 26:47-56, Mark 14:43-52, Luke 22:47-53, John 18:1-11.

Judas brings a large crowd, and the John account explains it was not only from the Jewish religious leaders, but also the Roman cohort (about 600 soldiers).

When they said they were looking for Jesus the Nazarene, John records that Jesus responded by saying, "I am." The NASB adds He in italics indicating that this word is not in the original Greek. If you are reading this in many other versions (including the NIV) they say “I am he” without italics and a very important thing is lost in the translation. Jesus was asserting His deity by saying “I am” (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58)!  I think this is why the people fell to the ground!

Matthew, Mark, and Luke mention Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss. John mentions Peter's brash act of cutting off the slave's right ear and even mentions his name! Jesus was arrested willingly and without any harm to His disciples fulfilling His prayer in John 17:2 (John 18:9). 

Here is the helpful map of Jerusalem I mentioned above: 
(click on link and then click again to view a larger image of this very helpful map)

From: The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, p. 84

Religious (Jewish) Trials

By José de Madrazo Agudo (1781-1859) [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

225. Annas questions Jesus: John 18:12-24

Around 11 pm 

Religious Trial One (see map above for location in ESSENE QUARTER) 

Annas was Caiaphas' father-in-law and former high priest. He was appointed high priest by Quirinius, governor of Syria, in A.D. 6, but he was deposed by Valerius Gratus in A.D. 15. The office of high priest was a lifetime position, but the Romans often deposed them. Annas was succeeded by five sons and then by his son-in-law, Caiaphas, who was the current high priest (John 11:49-52).  


John 15 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible because I believe it is at the heart of everything when it comes to walking with Jesus! 

Kay Arthur, in the book of John Precept Upon Precept Bible Study writes:

This could be one of the most profitable chapters you'll ever observe in your study of the Word. The main truth of this chapter is the root of all truly successful Christian living. . . To understand and to appropriate this truth is the difference between living and serving God in the flesh and living and serving God in the Spirit.

Amen Kay! Back in the 80's, I discipled a group of women through their college years, I could not think of a more appropriate way to send them out their senior year than studying the Upper Room Discourse of John 13-17. I titled it "Abiding Discipleship." We lingered the longest in John 15. At the end of the study, I had them synthesize what they learned through prose, poetry, or song.

One of the funniest women (they were ALL funny - we laughed our way through 2 1/2 years of study together), Sue, made up a song and had us all sing this tag line over and over:

I really wanna' do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do (as we snapped our fingers to the beat)

While she started out singing: 

"Just be in Me
Like a branch is in a tree
Let my words abide in you
And you abide in me

Just love from the heart
like I loved you from the start
So love to the end
Like I first loved you my friend"

Then, she ended it by abruptly singing "Just BE!" We all stopped our tag line then too because we no longer wanted to DO.

The song is so simple, but that is how it is with Jesus. Our walk with Him is not about "doing" anything. It is about being IN Jesus.  The doing comes out of the being. We developed an acrostic for the word abide:


That is the goal of my life. How about you?


Remove the head coach, and the team flounders; break the fuel line, and the car won’t run; unplugged, the electrical appliance has no power; without the head, the body dies. Whether for leadership, power, or life, connections are vital! [1]

In our walk with Christ and the fruit-bearing ministry He gives us, our connection to Him, the life giving Vine, is the only thing that will give us power for living.

I read a story about an elderly church janitor who was going deaf and losing his mental faculties. One day, the head pastor found this janitor furiously working, with sweat on his brow, as he finished up vacuuming the sanctuary carpet. The only problem was the man had forgotten to plug the vacuum into the outlet and had not realized it. His labor had been fruitless!

I grieve for that dear old man. I grieve for us sometimes too. How often do we labor so diligently in our lives and ministries without being plugged into our true Source of power?

Abide means to “to remain in or with someone, i.e., to be and remain united with Him, one with Him in heart, mind and will. To be vitally united to. [1] Are you vitally united with Christ? How does this manifest itself in your life? Where is your power source? I relied on my own capable, hard-working self for years until I came to the end of my own self-effort. What about you? Wherever we are in our relationship with Jesus, we can always go deeper. Prayerfully evaluate your life and ministry and journal about it.

[1] The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1992) p. 960.

[2] The Life Application Bible, (Wheaton, IL, Tyndale House Publishers and Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), p. 2156

One last thing: Warren Wiersbe once said, "Once you have begun to cultivate this deeper communion with Christ, you have no desire to return to the shallow life of the careless Christian." This is so true!

If you are reading according to Bible Book Club schedule, you are reading this section of John during Holy Week. One of the disadvantages of following the Holy Week time is that you must gloss over these very meaty chapters in the Upper Room Discourse. I spent a whole year in John 13-17 back in the 80s. Go back over this!
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