Echoes From the Upper Room

“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)

As Easter approaches, I find myself being drawn once again to John’s account of the Upper Room Discourse where Jesus shares his most intimate thoughts with his disciples the night before his crucifixion. As John chronicled the events of that night, he had very little to add to the words of our Lord. How they must have echoed in his heart for years before he sat down to preserve them for all eternity.

Like John, I find anything I have to offer in the way of commentary completely unnecessary. As we remember and reflect this Easter weekend, may this sampling of our Lord’s words from the Upper Room echo in our hearts as well and, more importantly, may they reverberate through our lives.

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” (13:14)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (13:34-35)

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (14:1-3)

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” … Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. … The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (14:6,9,10)

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (14:27)

“I am the vine: you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (15:5)

“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” (15:26-27)

“You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. … Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (16:20,22)

*”I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (16:33)

Indeed he has overcome. Happy Easter, everyone. He is risen!

Jesus gave us a model for the work of the church at the Last Supper. While his disciples kept proposing more organization – Hey, let’s elect officers, establish hierarchy, set standards of professionalism – Jesus quietly picked up a towel and basin of water and began to wash their feet.” – Philip Yancey, Church: Why Bother?

*Note: All Scripture from the New International Version (NIV) of the Gospel of John.

 

 

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Reflections From the Upper Room

“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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