Guests: Beverly Beem and Zdravko Stefanovic
Relevant Passages: John 14-16
In John 14-16 Jesus prepares his disciples for his departure. Soon he will be arrested, put on trial and executed as a criminal. He points out that his followers will experience the hatred and condemnation of the forces that have been arrayed against him. There is the likelihood of the small group splintering up and its members turning against each other under the pressure of that hostility. How will they survive without his presence and guidance? And even if he does return for them how will they be able to convince others to believe in him while he has apparently abandoned them?
Jesus meets these huge obstacles by several important declarations. He will not abandon them but will come back for them. The loss of his presence will turn out to be an actual gain, for in his absence the Spirit will come and they will actually do greater works than he. He will be in the presence of the Father to support their petitions. He appeals to them to love each other even if it means laying down their lives. In part by means of the allegory of the vine and the branches, he points them to a life of intimacy with him even though he is absent from them. Finally, as hostile as the world may seem to them, in fact he has already conquered the world.
For your reflection and discussion:
- How is this farewell speech compare with other farewell speeches in the Bible like that of Moses in the book of Deuteronomy or Paul in Acts 20?
- Jesus speaks of us being in him and he in us. How tangible is the “communion” or “personal relationship” with Christ? Is it the same for each person or are there some who are more mystical than others? In what sense can the union of the Father and the Son differ from the union of us with Christ?
- Jesus says that his disciples will in faith do greater things than he had done (14:12). How can this possibly be true?
- If Jesus is the vine and his disciples are the branches, what is the fruit? How do we stay connected with Jesus? What does it mean to exist apart from him since even in rebellion human life is sustained by God?
- Several times in this farewell discourse Jesus refers to the future coming of the Holy Spirit. Wasn’t the Spirit already in the world before departure of Christ? What is the relationship between the Holy Spirit and Christ? Why is Jesus’ departure a necessity in order for the Spirit to come? In what senses or ways do we experience the Holy Spirit. How does the Holy Spirit teach us and remind us of what Jesus said to his followers?
- Jesus says that his love for his disciples is dependent on their obedience, even as his Father’s love for him depends on his obedience (John 15:10; see also 14:23). This seems to contradict an earlier statement that God loved the world so much that he gave his Son (3:16).
- Jesus points his disciples to a time when he will see them again (16:16-22). When this time comes they no longer will need his intercession on their behalf with his Father( 16:23-27. When did or will that time be?
- Jesus ends his remarks with the positive statements: John 16:33, “Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world!” When did this happen?