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In John 18: 1-27, we have an account of the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas betrayal, and Peter’s denial.

We see Jesus, unarmed, betrayed, with no friend by his side, and apparently helpless. But we also see Jesus is in total control. This is his “hour.”  When struck unjustly in front of Caiaphas he speaks his truth quietly and then, in the face of more unjust accusations, he just becomes silent.  Oh, if only we could learn from the silence of Jesus.  So often we speak merely to justify ourselves (we try to control how we appear to others through this) and so many times this is so unnecessary! Why do we do this?

On another thought: What would we have done in Peter’s shoes? Peter, a poor fisherman, was probably very overwhelmed by all that had happened. Jesus arrested and allowing the arrest to happen, not allowing Peter to defend him with violence, and then taken to Caiaphas.  Peter is allowed into this house but he’s now afraid and wondering what is going to happen.  A combination of tiredness, confusion, and fear for his life, probably led him to deny Jesus three times. What are our fears of identifying with Christ? Can we even articulate them clearly –  all the situations and circumstances in our life when we are not able to identify with Christ?

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Linda Clinard led the study this week on John chapter 17 (Connolly (22) Trial and Trust). She highlighted his prayer for the unity of Christ’s believers.

Here’s some notes:

Chapter 17 is part the final section of what’s called the Farewell Discourses. In this, the longest prayer we have from him, Jesus prays the prayer of self-consecration and pastoral care. He prays first for himself drawing attention to the Father, then prays for his disciples, and finally prays for all future disciples.

Jesus came

  • to do the Father’s will (we see that in 4: 34; 5: 30, 38; 6: 38, 39)
  • and the Father’s work (5: 36; 9: 4)
  • speak the Father’s word (3:34; 7: 16; 12: 49)
  • to bear witness to the Father (5: 36; 7: 28) and
  • to live in a close relationship with the Father (8: 16; 18: 29; 16: 32)

In the prayer for himself, we learn that self-surrender is key for our discipleship. We must surrender ourselves to God, just as Jesus surrendered himself to the Father. Believing, knowing and receiving Jesus means experiencing God. This is eternal life.

As he faces the cross, Jesus prays for the protection of the disciples that 1) they won’t be tempted into disobedience, 2) and just as the Trinity experiences eternal unity, so may believers. He asks the father to sanctify his disciples.

His prayer for the unity of disciples is very important because this is how the world will believe in Jesus/God. Believers will be brought together in the same spiritual life around the truth that saves – Jesus is Savior.

Biblical doctrines of election and sanctification are themes that occur in John 17.  Just like Jesus and the disciples were chosen (17:2) and set apart for holiness, so are we.  When believers are united, our faith grows, and we are able to surrender our individual wills to the larger group because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

Now, in Spring, through our study of John, chapters 17 – 21, we’ll continue to see how Jesus draws attention to the Father and performs the last and most glorious sign. Jesus demonstrates for us what Christianity is really all about:  self-surrender, self-death, submission, obedience.  These are words that we, and our culture, don’t really like to hear and aren’t comfortable with at all – after all, we’re totally into “rights” and asserting especially ours, aren’t we? Here’s a review of what we’ve been learning so far:

One way we’ve been studying John is by looking at how it is all about “belief” – What do we believe? How do we believe? What brings us to belief(s)? What increases our ability to believe and conversely how are they negatively affected? We examined the different types of “faith” we see exhibited by different characters in John: signs-faith by the people who come to belief in Jesus because they see the signs – miracles – Jesus does. Then the signs lead them on to greater belief as in the case of disciples or those healed or they fall off. Here’s a small review of what we’ve learned so far about the Book of John.

  • Entry points for belief in Jesus  – belief is allegiance to Jesus – allegiance is following Jesus – what does it mean to know, believe, and receive Jesus? Means to experience Jesus in our gut, in our brains, in our lives, right now.
  • John is also a Book of Signs (the many signs that show Jesus is God) and a Book of Glory (about Jesus revealing his glory and the glory of his Father)
  • Sign #1 – Jn. 2: 1-11 – water into wine – bold faith –model for faith is Mary, Jesus’ mother
  • Sign #2 – Jn 4: 43-54 – remote healing – unorthodox faith – model for faith is the Royal official
  • Sign #3 – Jn. 5: 1-9 – disabled man walks – this lame man is a negative paradigm of discipleship, he is a model of signs-faith – initially believes but then falls away and does not persevere when Jesus invites faith 5:14-15 but rather betrays him to the Jews – prefiguring analogous acts of betrayal
  • Sign #4 – Jn. 6: 1-14 – feeding of 5000 – abiding faith – Philip and Andrew fail Jesus’ test as they focus on purely natural, materialistic terms; Jesus also summons the crowds and his disciples to a higher level of commitment and ultimately this alienates many. Abiding faith vs. sign faith is a critical motif in John’s soteriology – 6: 2 – it is not those who begin to follow Jesus but those who persevere who remain his disciples – 6: 60-70. Our models for abiding faith are the disciples who become the apostles.
  • Sign #5 – Jn. 9: 1-7 – Blind man sees – Christian faith – Jesus demonstrates he is the Light of the World by healing the blind man. The opening of eyes was a natural expression for receiving sight – cf. 2 Kings 6: 20; Isaiah 35: 5; 42:7 or for being able to see more clearly (Genesis 21: 19, Luke 24: 13).  It also applies to receiving spiritual vision – revelation from God.  This blind man contrasts positively with the Jewish leaders and elite as a man who is open to God – he is our model of faith – a positive paradigm of discipleship.
  • Sign #6 – Jn. 11: 1-45 – Lazarus raised to life – Bold faith – Martha; Salvific faith – Martha; Courageous faith – Thomas; Jesus is a model of obedience and surrender – demonstrates dying to live (self-death)  Self-death is when we put others first, before ourselves.