Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Journey 2016 - Journey to the Upper Room 3-6-2016

Text:  John 13:1(NLT)

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.

One of the last things Jesus did before his death was to celebrate the Passover meal with his disciples in the Upper Room.  The Lord's Supper, the celebration of Passover in the Upper Room, is a Christian celebration.  A time to stop and reflect on what Jesus has said to his disciples, and also says to us.

Luke 22:7-13:
Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread arrived, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed.  Jesus sent Peter and John ahead and said, “Go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together.”
"Where do you want us to prepare it?” they asked him.
He replied, “As soon as you enter Jerusalem, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.

1.  Preparation for Passover
The slaughter of the sacrificial lamb occurred at the Temple for the forgiveness of sins.  Then the meat was taken to be roasted for the Passover meal.  There is much symbolism in the Passover meal:
  • Lamb - symbolic of the blood on the door posts of the Israelites so the death angel would pass over them as they ate their final meal before fleeing Egypt.
  • Unleavened Bread - they did not take time for bread to rise with leaven, for they would need to be ready to flee in haste.
  • Bowl of Salt Water - represents the tears shed in Egypt over their hard labor.
  • Bitter Herbs - reminder of the bitterness of their days in slavery.
2.  Participants with Jesus in the Lord's Supper
  • the twelve disciples were there, a group of many diversities:
  1. two sets of brothers - Simon and Andrew; James and John
  2. eleven were from Galilee...all except Judas Iscariot, who was born in a small town in Southern Judea
  3. five were fishermen
  4. one was a tax collector
  5. one was a zealot
  6. three were considered the inner circle of Jesus:  Peter, James, and John
  • Jesus loved them all, just as he loves us all as we are.  His prevailing love filled the Upper Room.
  • Jesus washed their feet.
  • Jesus came them a new command:  So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35)
3.  Jesus prepares his disciples for his departure
  • “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (John 14:1-3)  Jesus pours his heart out to them as he prepares them for his departure.
  • “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.  Jesus was assuring his disciples he would not leave them alone.
  • “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.  Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  (John 15:1-5)  
  • “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.  (John 15:18-21)  Jesus reminded the disciples in this world they would have difficulties, but they needed to remain in him, to abide in him and they would overcome.
  • Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:31-33)  Jesus knew the disciples would all desert him when it came down to him facing the trial and the cross.  But he wanted them to know they could still have forgiveness and peace as long as they trusted in him.
  • After speaking with the disciples so intimately about what was ahead for them, he prayed his final prayer for the disciples.  John 17:6-26:  

“I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.
"My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.  During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.
"Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy.  I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do.  Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.  Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world.  And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.  Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
“O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”

The prayer that Jesus prayed for his disciples, was also prayed for us...for all of his followers.  “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.  

Next week we will Journey to Gethsemane.  Be in prayer as you approach Easter, stopping to take time to reflect on the greatest Sacrifice ever made for us.  Jesus loves us that much!  What can we do in return for the price paid for our sins?  I choose to live simply and finish well, to be able to hear the words of the Father, "Well, done, my good and faithful servant!"  One day...not too far off...I will be in the presence of the One who gave his all for me!  And I will be with him eternally!!  Praise his holy name!!

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