Friday, December 5, 2014

The Upper Room Discourse

Life of Christ 167

          Following the conclusion of the Last Supper Jesus gives to His Apostles what is practically His last will and testament. In just a few minutes they will arrive at the Garden where He will pray for them while they sleep and then events will be taken out of their hands humanly speaking. This is the last free instruction and interaction He would have with them prior to His death. Some of it took place in the Upper Room and some of it took place as they were walking to Gethsemane.
This passage is historically known as the Upper Room discourse. It is found in John 14-16 with an accompanying prayer by Christ in John 17. It reminds me in some respects of the Sermon on the Mount in that it covers a variety of topics over the space of a few chapters. It is a very rich, rich passage. Of course, it is impossible to adequately discuss the Upper Room discourse in one blog post but I will give you a broad overview of it.
Jesus Christ was keenly aware on this Tuesday evening that His Apostles' entire world was about to be turned upside down. In twelve hours He would be dead and they would enter the dark night of the soul that would stretch from the arrest at the Garden until they received news of the Resurrection on Sunday morning. When viewed in this light it is not surprising that we find the Upper Room discourse majors on subjects such as peace, joy, comfort, and love.
It is in these chapters that we find the exceedingly precious promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit who is called, not coincidentally, the Comforter. (John 14.16) There is much discussion of peace. Indeed, I often myself reading from these chapters when as I visit dear members of our church who are laid up in hospital rooms. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14.27) Christ also points them for the second time that day to look for the Second Coming. In this context He specifically says such a knowledge ought to keep us ever rejoicing. (John 16.22)
Amongst all of these encouraging themes is also mixed in a fair amount of doctrine. One of the most famous verses in the entire Bible is in this passage with a completely valid application to salvation. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14.6) We also find clear reference to the necessity of believing in the divinity of Christ (John 14.9) and vital instruction regarding the primacy of abiding in Him. (John 15.4)
From this broad overview I draw this thought: our religion is birthed in a belief in correct doctrine but once birthed it is a tremendous practical help to us. Many a benighted soul wants to avail themselves of Jesus' words here regarding peace and comfort and joy without placing them upon the proper foundation of belief. In short, if you are not saved there are no promises for you here. All the comfort and joy and peace you could ever possibly need is only available to you if you have placed your faith in the claims of Jesus Christ. But once you have, oh, is it ever available! What do you need today? Peace? Come get it. Joy? Come get it. Comfort? The very Comforter Himself lives within us. You cannot get any better than that.

          Over a century ago Longfellow said, 'Into each life some rain must fall.' But it is worse than that. Into each life the bleak midnight enters at some point. The sun is shining only on other people. The moon refuses to cast her reflection for you. Even the stars are blotted out. There is nothing but the blackness of darkness. When, not if, this comes to you, beloved, allow me to point you in the direction of Christ's last words to His own in the hours before His crucifixion. And may you find here all the peace and joy and comfort you need.

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