Wednesday 23 April 2014

"TO GIVE ETERNAL LIFE ..." Bible Reading Thoughts for April 22nd


Today we read the conclusion to – what we see as a sort of ‘Bible School’ Jesus gave his disciples in the hours before his arrest.  John, his most intimate disciple, records it in wonderful, thought provoking detail.  It began with the washing of the disciples feet (ch. 13), to the end of ch.17 – for ch. 18 starts with “When Jesus has spoken these words he went out with his disciples … where there was a garden.”
            Ch. 17 contains the climax to his teachings, it is actually his prayer to the Father which John obviously heard.  Christ’s teaching had included the wonderful promise that “the Holy Spirit” described as a “Helper … even the Spirit of Truth” [14 v.16,17]  would be given to them and this “Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” [v.26]
            By this means John was able to write down in great detail the teaching at this ‘Bible School’ that took place that evening, probably till after midnight.  Jesus is praying for the unity of his disciples for at times there had been dispute among them as to who would be the greatest (Luke 9 v.36).  Jesus says in his prayer, “ … Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are  one.” [v.11 & 22].  This shows us that there is a perfect unity (not a Trinity, its’ not a Bible word) between Jesus and God, which true followers must also strive to have.  
            Our Saviour’s prayer to God also acknowledges the “authority” he has been  given “to give eternal life to all whom you have given him” [v.2]  He then says, “this is eternal lifethat they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” [v.3] This is to “know” in the sense of developing a real living relationship with Jesus and his Father, developed from a heart-felt ‘knowing’ of his word.
            Finally, the prayer of Jesus is also – “I do not ask for these (the disciples) only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they all may be one … so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” [v.21,22] And so the disciples became Apostles (which developed the meaning ‘sent forth’ – see Acts 1 v.25) and they were a team, there was no further dissension from jealousies between.  May we fully follow their example as we share the original gospel with others. Sadly the increasing spiritual darkness in our world is obscuring the light – so look at the challenging, but inspiring words of John in his 1st Epistle, ch. 1 v.5 - 7.
As we near the end of Jesus' powerful exhortation to his disciples recorded by John (ch 13-16). Where he lays out agape love, how the world treats the disciple of Christ, and glorifying God.

Ch15 we read the continued exhortation of agape love, great words of encouragement for us (9-10):
"as the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, continue (abide) ye in my love"
"IF ye keep my commandments, ye SHALL abide in my love, even as I have kept my Fathers commandments and abide in His love"

What does this love shown to us, mean to us?
"This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you".

How can we show this?
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends"

We are powerfully reminded of this love by David's words and the example of Jonathan (2 Sam 1:26) "thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women", that is agape love, a love that surpasses and is stronger than the love of a woman. Jonathan gave up his worldly rights and inheritance for David (Christ), we are to show the same love to Christ and each other, esteeming each other greater than ourself.

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