Jesus’ Life and Ministry
THE memorial meal is over, but Jesus and his apostles are still in the upstairs room. Although Jesus will soon be gone, he has many things yet to say. “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” he comforts them. “Exercise faith in God.” But more is required. “Exercise faith also in me,” he adds.
“In the house of my Father there are many abodes,” Jesus continues. “I am going my way to prepare a place for you . . . that where I am you also may be. And where I am going you know the way.” The apostles do not comprehend that Jesus is talking about going away to heaven, so Thomas asks: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How do we know the way?”
“I am the way and the truth and the life,” Jesus answers. Yes, only by accepting him and imitating his life course can anyone enter the heavenly house of the Father because, as Jesus says: “No one comes to the Father except through me.”
“Lord, show us the Father,” Philip requests, “and it is enough for us.” Philip apparently wants Jesus to provide a visible manifestation of God, such as was granted in ancient times in visions to Moses, Elijah, and Isaiah. But, really, the apostles have something much better than visions of that type, as Jesus observes: “Have I been with you men so long a time, and yet, Philip, you have not come to know me? He that has seen me has seen the Father also.”
Jesus so perfectly reflects the personality of his Father that living with and observing him is, in effect, like actually seeing the Father. Yet, the Father is superior to the Son, as Jesus acknowledges: “The things I say to you men I do not speak of my own originality.” Jesus properly gives all credit for his teachings to his heavenly Father.
How encouraging it must be for the apostles to hear Jesus now tell them: “He that exercises faith in me, that one also will do the works that I do; and he will do works greater than these”! Jesus does not mean that his followers will exercise greater miraculous powers than he did. No, but he means that they will carry on the ministry for a much longer time, over a much greater area, and to far more people.
Jesus will not abandon his disciples after his departure. “Whatever it is that you ask in my name,” he promises, “I will do this.” Further, he says: “I will request the Father and he will give you another helper to be with you forever, the spirit of the truth.” Later, after he ascends to heaven, Jesus pours out on his disciples the holy spirit, this other helper.
Jesus’ departure is near, as he says: “A little longer and the world will behold me no more.” Jesus will be a spirit creature that no human can see. But again Jesus promises his faithful apostles: “You will behold me, because I live and you will live.” Yes, not only will Jesus appear to them in human form after his resurrection but in due time he will resurrect them to life with him in heaven as spirit creatures.
Jesus now states the simple rule: “He that has my commandments and observes them, that one is he who loves me. In turn he that loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will plainly show myself to him.”
At this the apostle Judas, the one who is also called Thaddaeus, interrupts: “Lord, what has happened that you intend to show yourself plainly to us and not to the world?”
“If anyone loves me,” Jesus replies, “he will observe my word, and my Father will love him . . . He that does not love me does not observe my words.” Unlike his obedient followers, the world ignores Christ’s teachings. So he does not reveal himself to them.
During his earthly ministry, Jesus has taught his apostles many things. How will they remember them all, especially since, even up to this moment, they fail to grasp so much? Happily, Jesus promises: “The helper, the holy spirit, which the Father will send in my name, that one will teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things I told you.”
Again comforting them, Jesus says: “I leave you peace, I give you my peace. . . . Do not let your hearts be troubled nor let them shrink for fear.” True, Jesus is departing, but he explains: “If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going my way to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am.”
Jesus’ remaining time with them is short. “I shall not speak much with you anymore,” he says, “for the ruler of the world is coming. And he has no hold on me.” Satan the Devil, the one who was able to enter Judas and get a hold on him, is the ruler of the world. But there is no sinful weakness in Jesus that Satan can play on to turn him away from serving God. John 14:1-31; 13:27; Luke 22:3, 4; Exodus 24:10; 1 Kings 19:9-13; Isaiah 6:1-5.
▪ Where is Jesus going, and what answer does Thomas receive regarding the way there?
▪ By his request, what apparently does Philip want Jesus to provide?
▪ Why has one who has seen Jesus also seen the Father?
▪ How do Jesus’ followers do greater works than he did?
▪ In what sense does Satan have no hold on Jesus?