I love scripture. Spending time alone reading and pondering passages in the Bible delights me as much as sitting and having coffee fueled talks with a dear friend. Anytime that I’m focused on the Word and listening I hear from the Lord – and a conversation ensues.
I’ve been spending time again in John 13 – 17. As I’ve shared before, these chapters carry great weight for me because they detail Jesus interacting with His disciples during the last night of His life. He knew it was His last night so I know that what He shared that evening was of utmost importance to Him. He was communicating His heart to these men that He loved. I read the passages through in one sitting again last week and what I heard means
so much to me. Here’s a sample:
“Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” John 13:7 This answer from Jesus came in response to the question Peter asked that was on the hearts of the disciples – “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Although phrased as a question, I hear it more as an “I don’t THINK so” statement – a way of saying, “This isn’t your job, there’s no way my master and teacher is going to wash MY feet”. The disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was doing. Jesus acknowledged that fact and tried to explain to some degree, but also just affirmed what they were thinking and feeling. And then He went ahead and washed their feet. Jesus telling the disciples, “later you will understand” ministers to me. I go back and forth with my understanding of how the sovereignty of God interplays with the circumstances of my life. Does God orchestrate every second of my life, overseeing the minutest detail and the most profound events? Or does He allow events to happen in response to nature and man’s choice, but then minister to me in the midst of the circumstance? I don’t know the fullness of how the sovereignty of God reigns in my life. But I do know that He is present, concerned, caring, listening, and answering; God who is aware of my questions and feelings and available to me in the midst of each moment of my life. I need only listen.
“Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” John 16:22 Jesus knew the confusion of the disciples as he spoke to them and He knew what they were going to feel as they experienced His death. Jesus also knew beyond His death to the power of the resurrection and even more to the joy awaiting them in eternity. He didn’t tell them to not feel grief. He didn’t tell them that they should be happy because His death would be their salvation. Instead he acknowledged their grief, affirming them. He put hope before them telling them that He would see them again and they would rejoice. This statement from Jesus to His disciples and now to me in my quiet time with Him, gives me great comfort. I find it interesting that He doesn’t say “Don’t worry, you’ll see me again”, but rather “I will see you again”. Somehow knowing that ‘He will see’ implies relationship, the hope of reciprocal interaction that implies life and not some ghostly visitation from someone just out of reach.
The last night of Jesus’ life paints a picture for me of a teacher who deeply loves those He teaches, who knows His followers inside and out, who prepares them for what is coming, and who promises that death will not be the end of relationship. Oh how I love Jesus!