“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1 NIV)
On the night before his crucifixion Jesus gathered with his disciples in a room that has become simply known as “The Upper Room”.
Knowing that the events of the next 24 hours would severely challenge their faith and that he had limited time to prepare them to carry on in his absence, Christ poured out his heart to them in a way that is unmatched in all of Scripture.
In fact, some have referred to the Upper Room Discourse detailed in John 13-17 as the “Holy of Holies of Scripture”. As we approach Easter, my next few posts will be anchored in those chapters.
There are times in our lives when we all need to be reminded of the truths our Lord shares with his disciples that fateful night – times when our faith is being tested; times when God’s ways do not line up with our expectations; times when we need to rest in the perfect love, infinite wisdom, and sovereign control of our Heavenly Father.
In my mind, the Upper Room Discourse contains some of the deepest theology found in God’s Word – theology that is pivotal to understanding and practicing the Christian faith in a world that is often hostile to our message:
- In Chapter 13, Jesus gives us a new command: “Love one another”, demonstrating his own love toward the disciples in an act normally performed by the lowest slaves – the washing of their filthy feet.
- In Chapter 14, he speaks of the place he has prepared for us – words that have comforted countless people through the years, knowing that loved ones who have died in Christ are with Him, and that as fellow believers, we will join them there when the Lord calls us home.
- In Chapter 15, Jesus describes himself as “the true vine”, with the Father as “the gardener”, while we are “the branches”, employing a memorable metaphor to illustrate perhaps the most important key to living the Christian life – staying connected to the vine.
- Chapter 16 defines the role of the Holy Spirit in maintaining that connection, reminding us of Christ’s words, convicting us when we fail him, and guiding us into even deeper truths than the disciples were able to bear at that time.
- Chapter 17 contains the longest prayer of our Lord recorded in the Gospels as he prays for himself, for his disciples, and lastly, for all of us who would come to faith through their message.
Just as these words of Christ were carefully crafted to equip the disciples to carry on in his absence, they equip us to live the life we are called to live as his followers, drawing from the supernatural strength of the Holy Spirit to be bold in our witness, loving to one another, and faithful in following his commands.
A few blog posts will cover only a small portion of the 155 verses in these chapters, just scratching the surface of the vast treasure that is stored there. I encourage you to find a quiet place and explore further into the depths of the Upper Room Discourse with me. Feel free to add your insights and comments.
There may be no better way to prepare our hearts to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord.
“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” (John 17:17-18 NIV)
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