Final instructions shared with friends or colleages November 4 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: John 15:1-17:26; Mark 14:32-42; Matthew 26:36-46; Luke 22:39-46

Final Instructions

If you knew that you were going to die in less than a week, what would you do? Cry? Probably, but what would you do for those who would be left after you were gone? You might gather your family and friends together or your business associates and give them encouragement and some last instructions. Jesus left many final instructions before he was to die.

Jesus was not on a hospital bed. Jesus talked with his disciples on the Mount of Olives and in the Garden of Gethsemane. Knowing that his arrest was imminent and that his disciples would scatter, Jesus exhorted them to remain in him (continue in the obedience of his teachings) as branches remain in the vine in order to be fruitful. He also told them to love each other. After Jesus would die and one month later return to heaven, the disciples might be tempted to go out on their own and separate from each other. Jesus instructed them to be one in mind and spirit and to remain faithful to him so that they might be fruitful in their endeavors.

Jesus also warned his disciples that they would be hated even as he was hated, but they must still testify about him because they had been with him from the beginning. Are you one of his followers? Jesus wants you to testify to what God has done in your life, even if you are hated. The world needs Jesus.

The disciples were filled with grief when Jesus spoke of his departure, so he gave them good news - he was sending the Holy Spirit to them from God the Father. He would be their Comforter and Counselor in his absence. He would be with them and teach them everything they needed to know. They would not feel orphaned. They would draw confidence from the Holy Spirit and have incredible power to accomplish all that God desired.

After comforting the disciples, Jesus prayed for them in what is commonly referred to as the Lord’s High-Priestly Prayer (John 17). It is so called because it was an intercessory prayer. Jesus prayed first for himself because his departure was near. He longed to be in heaven with his Father again. After that most personal part of his prayer, he interceded for his disciples and those who would follow thereafter.

What did Jesus pray for his disciples? His immediate concern, understandably, was for the remaining eleven apostles in whom he had invested three years of ministry, but he also prayed for all present and future believers. In John 17: 9, 11, 15, 17, 20-21, 24, and 26, Jesus asked God to protect present and future believers from Satan. He is a formidable foe. He seeks to destroy God’s servants and their ministries. Next, Jesus prayed that God would make us more sanctified (set apart unto him) through his truth. Last, Jesus prayed to God to make us one with Christ, to be with Christ someday and see his glory, and to give us the same love the Father has for his Son. Wow! It is most humbling and amazing that Jesus the Son of God would pray to God the Father for us! God’s care for us is greater than that of any parent for his/her children. Jesus knew we would face difficulties in this life, and so he prayed for his disciples and us.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus suffered terribly in the spirit. He was in such distress that his sweat was like great drops of blood. Why was he in such great distress? Was it because of the prospect of impending suffering and death? Maybe. Was it because of the anticipation of taking the whole world of sin upon him? Maybe. But Jesus also suffered terribly in his spirit because he was anticipating separation from God his Father. They were closer than spouses, best friends, or even a mother and child. Jesus came from the essence of God himself in a way we cannot understand. He was with God the Father and the Holy Spirit in glory for an eternity. But in his great love and grace Jesus set aside his glory and came to earth in the flesh to live as a man (John 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8). Now Jesus was going to die and somehow be separated from God. Why? He would have to be separated from God because God is Holy and cannot look upon sin. God was going to turn his back on his own Son as he took the sins of the world upon himself, while being crucified on a cross. Jesus could not bear being separated from from his heavenly Father. He cried out to Him. God heard his cries and sent an angel to strengthen him. However, it was God’s plan to have his Son suffer and die in our place so that we might be saved from our sins. As difficult as it was, Jesus submitted himself to God’s plans. God's plans for us are not always easy. We may experience pain. We may cry out and God will hear, but he may not deliver us if we suffer for his glory or for the gospel. Will we submit ourselves to God’s plans, even when they are difficult? That should be our prayer.

Jesus’ last instructions were for the disciples to watch and pray lest they enter into temptation. What kind of temptation was Jesus talking about? He was talking about the temptation to scatter and deny him when persecution would come. Persecution did come for them, and persecution will come for us. Will we watch and pray or will we succumb to the world’s temptations for comfort and convenience? Will we betray Christ who gave his life for us?

What if we mess up like Peter did? There is hope for those who mess up (see next lesson).

Lessons to live by (regarding last instructions):

  • Do you know Christ? He can give you forgiveness, spiritual life and peace. He can give meaning and purpose to your life (more...).
  • Remain in Christ. Be faithful to his teachings and his practices so that you will be fruitful in your endeavors for him.
  • Love each other and work together with other Christians in unity.
  • Jesus wants you to testify to what God has done in your life, even if you are hated. The world needs Jesus.
  • You can draw confidence from the Holy Spirit and have incredible power to accomplish all that God desires.
  • Jesus is your advocate before God. He prays for your protection, your holiness, your oneness with Christ, your love and joy, and that you might be with him after you die.
  • Submit yourselves to God’s plans for your life, no matter how difficult that may be.
  • Watch and pray that you do not succumb to temptations.

Today’s Bible memory verses:

John 15:9-11

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (NIV)

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