John Chapters 17-19
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
Subject: THE PRAYER AND PASSION OF THE SAVIOUR.
Study Portion: Chapters 17, 18, and 19.
These chapters have been called the 'Holy of Holies' of the Gospel of John. In them the mind of Christ is expressed, and the heart of God revealed.
The Prayer of Consecration
It is first a prayer of-
COMMUNION"- FOR 'ME'
The Son's prayer to the FATHER is on the basis of relationship and equality - we note that, 'he lifted up his eyes to heaven' in the attitude of communion and not 'his hands' as in supplication.
His glory is declared to be -
Filial Glory v. I 'Glorify Thy Son'
Six times He addresses 'the FATHER' and never as 'our Father' as in the disciples' prayer. He is FATHER, V. I, in His relationship to the Son; HOLY, V. II, in the character desired for His own; and RIGHTEOUS, v. 25, in His activity with regard to the world.
Personal Glory v. 5 'Glorify thou ME with the glory that was thine' (U.S.V.).
Note the links between 'I . . . thou . . . thee', vv. 4, 6, 8, it.
It is further a prayer of –
COMMITAL – FOR THEM'
'I pray for them: I pray not for the world but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine', v. 9. Here are –
Declarations - I have v. 6. 'I have manifested thy name' (Weymouth: revealed Thy perfections). v. 8. 'I have given them the words which thou gavest me.' v. 14. 'I have given them thy word.'
Desires- I pray v. 11. 'Keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me that they may be one, even as we are one' (R.V.) – SECURITY and UNITY.
v. 15. 'Keep them from the evil one' (R.V.) – SAFETY and PURITY.
v. 17 'Sanctify them in the truth' (R.V.) – SANCTITY and INTEGRITY.
Finally, we note that it is a prayer of -
I do not pray for these only, but also for those who are to believe in Me through their word, v. 20.
He prayed that:
v. 21. 'They all may be one . . . that the world may believe.'
v. 23. 'They may be made perfect in one . . . that the world may know.'
v. 24. 'They may be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory.'
Note the progress in these requests - for His own he desired unity, glory; for the world, faith and knowledge.
The prayer radiates from Himself and the past, to His own and the present, to His Church and the future.
The Pathway of Conflict
Ch. 18. 1 - Ch. 19. 17
THE TREACHERY OF THE BETRAYAL
In the Garden -Judas What a mystery is Judas! One of the twelve, sharing the secrets of the Saviour, v. 2; holding a position of trust, ch. 12. 6; granted a place of honour at the table, ch. 13. 26; and yet branded as a thief and a traitor, filled with greed, hatred and treachery - the son of perdition. Yet in this terrible deed, the glory of the Saviour shines forth.
We note –
THE CHALLENGE OF MAJESTY VV. 4, 6
Jesus 'went forth' in the power and knowledge of deity and majesty, v. 6. 'I AM' is the language of deity, with its consequent effect upon His would-be captors.
'The words, "l AM he", had given cheer and comfort to the trembling disciples on the stormy lake, Mark 6. 50; and peace to the bewildered disciples after the resurrection, Luke 24. 39; but here to His enemies they are words of terror' (Schaff).
God's children fall on their faces forward in worship, His enemies backward in fear.
'When men sought Jesus to make Him king, He fled from them; now they seek Him to put Him to death He goes forth to meet them' (Slier).
THE COMMAND OF MERCY V. 8
'If, therefore, ye seek me, let these go their way.' The Lord Jesus was fully aware of the weakness of His followers and of the blundering rashness of a zealous Peter, v. 10.
THE CUP OF MEEKNESS V. 11
Peter had taken the sword in human weakness, but Jesus would take the cup in divine meekness - 'the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it'.
Meekness - complete submission to the will of God - was perfectly expressed in Christ. Had He not said, 'If it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt'?
He must conquer by the cross; the cup not the sword was His way.
'Other warriors prepare their horses and their chariots, their bows, their spears and their shields, but Messiah disarms his followers in order that they may overcome. No shield but that of faith, no sword but that of the Spirit' (Home).
THE TRAGEDY OF THE DENIAL
At the Gate- Peter. The cause of Peter's denial was not cowardice but confidence in self - 'though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended', Matt. 26. 33; Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison and to death, Luke 22. 33; If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise, Mark 14. 31. Confidence in self, coldness in heart, Luke 22. 54, compromise in principles, these are sure steps to tragic denial. Beware of standing with the enemies at the gate, go in with the Master.
THE TRAVESTY OF THE TRIAL
V. 19 - ch. 19. 17
Within the Court- Pilate. Trace the movement of the Saviour from Annas to Caiaphas to Pilate. Here was a travesty of justice unsurpassed in human history.
Think first of –
The Voice of the Accusers
The Jews accused Him on the grounds of -
Jewish Law - a matter of customs and religion. Pilate said, 'judge him according to your law', ch. 18. 31. 'Ye have a custom', v. 39. They said, 'we have a law and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God', ch. 19. 7.
Roman Rule - a matter of conscience and reality. They accused him of treason, v. 12 'whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar' (read also Luke 23. 2). Pilate was confronted not by custom but by conscience, not by Jewish rules but divine reality - 'What is truth?', ch. 18. 38. He was then face to face with the One who was Himself 'The Way, the Truth, and the Life'.
Victim of the Charge
He was -
Struck, v. 22. In the palace of the high priest 'one of the officers struck Jesus with the palm of his hand'. This was the first of many 'strikings' He was to receive at the hands of men.
Slandered, v. 30. They called Him a 'malefactor', that is, an evildoer (as in 2 Tim. 2. 9) though 'he went about doing good'. They used bribed witnesses, Matt. 26.59, yet failed to produce a convincing case.
Scourged, ch. 19. 1. 'Pilate, therefore, took Jesus and scourged him', though He was yet uncondemned.
Scorned, v. 3. They cried in derision, 'Hail, King of the Jews'. He was given a mock coronation, clad with a soldier's worn-out scarlet tunic, now faded to a washed-out 'purple'. A common garden reed was His sceptre, and a thorn-branch woven into a crown was placed upon His head -
Behold the Man! Behold your King!
Spat upon - see Matt. 27. 30. The worst possible insult; treated as a worthless and abhorrent thing.
The Verdict of the Judge
Sought to transfer his responsibility, v. 31. 'Take ye him and judge him according to your law'. '1 find no fault in him at all, but ye have a custom.' Three times Pilate had said, 'I find no fault in him'
Swayed by the accusers, v. 34. Jesus answered - 'Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?'.
Scorned the principles of justice, ch. 9. 1. 'Pilate, therefore, took Jesus and scourged him.' He had scourged an innocent man and permitted the soldiers to deride and smite their prisoner.
Scared by fear and favour, ch. 19. 8, 12.
Fear of God - 'When Pilate therefore, heard that saying, he was the more afraid'.
Favour of man - 'If thou let this man go, thou are not Caesar's friend'.
The Passion of the Cross
Ch. 19. 17-42
'And he bearing his cross went forth unto a place called the place of a skull . . . where they crucified him.'
Here is a time more for silent worship than skilful words.
v. 17-22 Crucified and condemned. The Roman mode of capital punishment was by crucifixion, the Jewish by stoning.
'That the scripture might be fulfilled which saith, they parted my raiment among them,' v. 24.
'That the scripture might be fulfilled, he saith, I thirst', v. 28.
'These things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, a bone of him shall not be broken', v. 36.
He was the true Paschal Lamb, Exod. 12. 46. 'And again another scripture said, They shall look on him whom they pierced', v. 37.
'When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then said he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! and from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home', vv. 26, 27.
vv. 38-42 We turn from foes to friends. None of our Lord's enemies ever touched His precious body after his death, this was the privilege of friends.
Read what the other Gospels say of these 'secret disciples' and of their act of daring and devotion.
The body which God 'had prepared him', was not to be mummified or mutilated, but buried as the manner of the Jews is to bury, v. 40.
The heroism of faith is usually kindled by desperate circumstances and is not seldom displayed by those who before were the most timid and scarce known as disciples at all.
It was C. T. Studd who said, 'If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him'. May a fresh vision of His cross and passion, make us valiant for Him.