The chapters we are studying this week in John have always been some of my favorite chapters. Jesus is alone with His closest friends and disciples and one of the most famous paintings in the world depicts this “Last Supper.” However, what makes these chapters so meaningful to me is Jesus’s teachings about friendship and love. I would often turn to them when I was down and wanted to read something that would help me feel closer to the Lord.
Before we jump into the study, I want to share a personal experience about John 17. For many years I had had discussions with many of my friends about the nature of God. I believed that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost were separate physically, but that they were “one” in every other way. It made sense to me through reading the gospels, but it was contrary to many of the more mainstream Christian viewpoints.
With that background, one day while I was training to be a missionary in the Provo MTC, a group of missionaries and I were reading John 17. When it was my turn to read a few of the verses out loud, I was overcome with the spirit and felt the Holy Ghost confirm to me that what I believed was true. In addition, I felt that the reason Jesus’s great intercessory prayer is so important is because God truly wants us to be at “one” with Jesus and God in the same way Jesus is. It is a call to belief and faith in addition to a declaration of the nature of the relationship between Jesus and God.
With the weeks getting short on our study of Jesus’s life and ministry I hope that you can find something new and motivating in these chapters to help you find ways for your discipleship to grow.
CHAPTERS FOR STUDY WEEK 22 – John 13-17
– The only way to live with God and Jesus Christ is through the path Jesus has established.
– Friendship is the pinnacle of discipleship.
– We must find the ways in which we can be one with the Lord in our lives and try to adjust how we see things and how we act toward others.
Context and Timeline:
– Last Supper Attendees – based on the language of the translation and previous situations, it is very likely that there were more disciples than just the twelve apostles, including women, at the supper.
– When Jesus strips off his outer garments and places a towel (apron a slave would wear) on His body, He is making Himself as lowly as possible before washing the feet of His disciples.
– It can be difficult to understand Peter’s denial of the Savior. However, I think it is easy to miss that the disciples and many in the city were still expecting Jesus’s ministry to conclude with a military and political revolution. When Jesus tells Peter that where He is going Peter cannot follow, Peter is willing to die for the Lord, but this is all in the context of Peter being willing to fight and liberate the people alongside the Lord. When Jesus is captured it is easy to see why Peter’s faith falters, since he was not yet understanding Jesus true mission.
– There has been some debate over whether the last supper was a Passover meal. In other gospel accounts it is considered a Passover meal, but John seems to indicate the Passover meal would normally be the next day when Jesus is being crucified. I feel like it is likely that the last supper was representative of a Passover meal, albeit earlier than traditional.
– It seems weird that the other disciples didn’t understand Judas being the betrayer after the way Jesus speaks to him, but it seems likely that it was common for Jesus to give Judas money to give to the poor and so that can explain why no one else understood what was happening between Jesus and Judas.
– The discourses Jesus teaches about the Holy Ghost seem redundant, and some scholars believe that one was given to a smaller group of people and the other to another group right after. They have similar concepts taught in slightly different ways.
– Comforter actually means assistance, not as solace which is how we typically would define it.
– Mansions actually translates better as a house with many rooms that others can visit and stay at.
– Consecrate in this term means sanctify and has illusions to temple worship where the priests would form their hands in cupping shape and have part of the sacred offering placed into their hands. This act was a symbolic consecration and made the priest holy. Jesus is symbolically consecrating these apostles so they can be holy as well.
We begin the story with Jesus and many disciples gathering to eat, most likely the Passover meal earlier than traditional but on the appropriate day since the sun has set on Thursday evening, the final meal Jesus will eat before His death. John does not give us the details of the meal, the other gospels explain the sacrament is instituted at that time, but instead skips to the end of the dinner and explains to us that by this time Judas had already been influenced by Satan to betray Jesus.
After the dinner ends, Jesus humbles Himself and takes on the garbs of slaves to wash the feet of the disciples. Peter at first rejects the offer, but when Jesus explains that Peter can have no part with Jesus if he refuses, Peter asks Jesus to wash his whole body. After Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, potentially including Judas, Christ explains that this act of humility is the foundation of leading the other disciples and the church moving forward.
Jesus is interested in teaching his closest friends more, but before doing so He encourages Judas to get on with the betrayal. Many of the disciples were concerned Jesus thought it was them who betrayed the Lord, but Judas takes the hint and leaves with money on his journey to betray the Messiah.
At this point, Jesus and some of the disciples leave the place where they were eating dinner and Jesus lets them know that He will not be with them much longer and He has important things to teach them. Peter can’t understand why Jesus would not bring him with to fight and die, but Jesus puts down Peter’s energy by predicting the three denials Peter will speak before Jesus’s death.
I want to breakdown the rest of the chapters into sections of teachings and culminate it by walking through the intercessory prayer in John 17. I will include questions after each question instead of the questions section.
- Believe in Jesus Christ (John 14:1-14)
- After the confrontation with Peter about the disciples not being able to go where Jesus is going, Jesus tells the disciples not to worry but to believe in God and in Him. He then tells them He will be preparing a place for them in heaven.
- Thomas asks how they can find the way to where Jesus will be and Jesus says that the only way is through Jesus Christ. If we know Jesus then we will know God.
- What does the Lord mean by He is the only way? How do we find that way? If it means bringing our path in line with His path what things can you change today?
- Teachings on the Holy Ghost (John 14:15-30, 15:26, 16:7-15)
- The Holy Ghost is:
- The Comforter (Assistance from God)
- The Spirit of Truth (How we find truth)
- Only received if we believe in Jesus Christ
- Jesus will come to us through the Holy Ghost when we are alone.
- We must love Jesus and His words to receive the Holy Ghost.
- Holy Ghost will bring truth to our remembrance, teach us all things from God.
- Holy Ghost will bring peace when we are troubled if remember what Jesus is doing for us.
- Holy Ghost testifies of Jesus Christ.
- Holy Ghost will be with us on earth when Christ is not.
- The Holy Ghost will give us more revelation as we move forward in our life.
- What other roles does the Holy Ghost fulfill? In what ways can you feel the Holy Ghost presence and influence? How do we seek out the Holy Ghost in our lives?
- The Holy Ghost is:
- Choosing Discipleship (John 15:1-11, 15:18-16:4 16:16-24)
- Jesus makes clear when he compares himself to the true vine that those who do not abide with Him and choose Him will be cut off. We abide with Him by loving Him and trying to keep the commandments.
- Persecution will be a condition of discipleship. There is no scenarios where Satan will not seek the demise of disciples. This is something that can strengthen us.
- Despite the pain that can come from discipleship, the rejoicing and joy that will fill us is worth the cost.
- Why is discipleship meant to be hard? What can we do to strengthen others when it is too hard? Are there things we can currently give up or include in our lives that would strengthen our discipleship?
- Friendship and Love (John 15:12-17)
- See Below
- Being One with the Lord (John 17)
- Eternal Life is knowing Jesus Christ and God – in this context it is knowing them like friends.
- When we take upon us the name of Christ our life is a reflection of Christ’s life.
- Jesus talks about his life as as an example of how to live the way God wants us to live.
- When Jesus passes the responsibility to represent God onto those who believe in him, it is done so that we can all experience greater joy.
- We can all be one with God and Jesus Christ if we believe and bring our lives into harmony with the will of God and Jesus Christ.
- Glory is rejoicing in the love we share with each other.
- In what ways do you feel at one with the Lord? What ways can we do better? Does being at one with our friends and loved ones make it easier to feel connected that way to God? If so, should we spend more time growing our love for others?
These teachings and the great intercessory prayer that follows them are so special. I believe the Lord saved them for this moment and that they can be read as His final instructions to us as well. I think if we can read them like a personal sermon that we can grow closer to the Lord and hear His voice in our hearts.
Key Moment or Scripture: John 15:12-17
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.
Friendship is the greatest title that can be bestowed upon someone. Jesus waits until the very end of His life to name His disciples friends. I have always felt that friendship is where our character is revealed and really at their essence friends and disciples can be the same thing. Or maybe it is better to say that friendship at its purest is the same as being a disciple.
Jesus gives us some instructions for friendship – the pinnacle of friendship –
1. Love each other as Jesus showed how to love – without condemnation for wrong actions, but with encouragement to change.
2. Sacrifice what might be most important to you for the benefit of your friends if necessary.
3. Do what I commanded is better stated as – Take care of my children and the things that are most important to me while I am gone.
4. Friendship is sharing the knowledge and understand you have with each other so you can trust. Sharing feelings is peak friendship because it makes you vulnerable and in return love grows.
5. When friendship exists you seek to be better for each other and that fruit spreads by bringing more people into the fold of friendship
I have always felt the only thing we take with us when we die is our relationships and that a huge part of our journey is learning to be friends to not only those it is easy to be close to, but to people that are different from us as well.
When you think back to all the things we have learned from Jesus’s teachings and then apply them into the context of friendship it is a very revealing experience. Jesus wants us to become friends with different people, learn how to deal with things that are hard in the context of friendship. Forgiveness, patience, humility, serving, all the parables speak to friendship. I truly believe that as we practice being good friends that we become better disciples.