The Last Gathering

                                                                   Key teachings of Jesus at the Last Supper

Part One

Jesus, knowing he would be arrested and crucified only hours from now, gathered his 12 disciples one last time. Stunned and confused by the news that he was leaving them, Jesus pressed home vital truths his beloved disciples would need to carry on without him.  His final words to them are recorded only in John’s gospel, chapters 14-17.  

Below is the first in a short series of teachings Jesus shared during their Last Gathering. (John 13)

Jesus stoops to wash other’s dirty feet (John 13)

As Jesus 12 disciples gathered with him in the Upper Room, they had no hint that this would be their last supper together.  At this point, they remained completely in the dark about the shattering news Jesus would soon deliver about his imminent departure.

The disciples entered the Upper Room sulking, still irritated with each other over an earlier dispute about who would be the greatest in their Master’s coming kingdom.  Still harboring anger and resentment, they silently reclined around the table. Customarily, one should have risen and humbly washed the street dust off the other’s feet. No one would.

Jesus rose, picked up the water and towel, and began to wash their feet, beginning with Judas, the one who planned his betrayal.  The disciples were astonished and ashamed. Their Master was washing their dirty feet. Peter protested, even refused it, until Jesus made it clear that unless he complied, he would expel him from their fellowship.

As always, Jesus acted out of genuine love and humility. He needed to break the foul mood and return the disciples’ attitudes back to unity and love. Within 24 hours he would be dead, crucified on a cruel cross, and he had important last things to tell them.  They needed to hear.

By stooping to perform this act of lowly service, Jesus changed in minutes these angry, proud and resentful men into a band of humble and loving disciples.  Esteeming others greater than themselves.  Jesus cleansed the sin stain from their consciences, and opened the way for restored fellowship with himself and the others.

This provides a profound example for us, of course, of the need for humble service toward each other. And provides a picture of our need for cleansing of the individual sins that stain our conscience, break our fellowship with the Lord, and block the flow of blessings.   Once having been truly cleansed by the blood of Jesus, we need only to be washed of the sins we allow later to defile us.

---Beverly Nickles

Part Two

Jesus, knowing he would be arrested and crucified only hours from now, gathered his 12 disciples one last time.  Stunned and confused by the news that he was leaving them, Jesus pressed home vital truths his beloved disciples would need to carry on without him. His final words to them are recorded only in John’s gospel, chapters 13 – 17. 

Below is the second in a short series of teachings Jesus shared during their Last Gathering. (John 13-17)

 

Jesus lavishes love and promises (John 13-17)

Five full chapters describe Jesus’ final conversation with His 12 disciples in the hours before His arrest and crucifixion. Usually called “The Upper Room Discourse” (John 13-17), this teaching is considered a high point of the four gospels.

Jesus lavishes love and promise after promise on His closest disciples and all who would come after them. Then He seals it with a prayer to the Father to fulfill all the promises made. Moreover, He states that soon He will be seated at the right hand of the Father’s Heavenly throne. There He will intercede personally for His own until He sees them gathered around Him for eternity.

He tells them He is leaving, but goes to prepare a place for them.  He will come again to get them and take them there with Him. However, until that day they won’t be left on their own, for He is sending another to them like Himself.  The Holy Spirit, who will advocate, help and lead them into Truth.

The most common word in these five chapters is “love”.   “Having loved His own, He loved them to the end.” In spite of themselves, or anything they did or ever will do, He loves them infinitely and always will.  His love is unconditional and eternal.

Love is the dominant reality of the Christian life. 

Jesus pours out promises of all He will do for them. These promises are active for all His disciples even now. He promises among other things: His indwelling Holy Spirit to teach and help; love and the capacity to love others; a home in Heaven; provision for all needs; spiritual fruitfulness; joy; victory during persecution, power to proclaim the gospel; answered prayer.

Finally, He prays in the disciples’ hearing for the Father to fulfill all His promises.   All these things and more already belong to those who are truly His.

---Beverly Nickles

Part Three

Jesus, knowing he would be arrested and crucified only hours from now, gathered his 12 disciples one last time.  Stunned and confused by the news that he was leaving them, Jesus pressed home vital truths his beloved disciples would need to carry on without him. His final words to them are recorded only in John’s gospel, chapters 13 – 17.

 

Below is the third in a short series of teachings Jesus’ shared during their Last Gathering.  (John 14)

Jesus --- the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14)

Jesus announced with a burst of triumph that the hour of his glory drew near. Jesus’ victory over death on the Cross would be the high point of his glory. And as He is glorified, the Father is glorified with him.

Jesus announced a new commandment, “…That you love one another, as I have loved you…”  This love commandment itself wasn’t new, but Jesus was calling his disciples to a higher, more sacrificial love. A love that lays down its life for the other. And this high form of love would reveal to nonbelievers that they are outside of the faith.

He begins to comfort his distressed disciples by telling of the place he’s going to and the goal of going there.

Jesus was returning home to his Father’s house in heaven. And his Father was theirs, also. He was going to prepare a place for them in heaven, “…that were I am, there you may be also.”

Jesus would prepare his disciples a place, and soon make the way to get them there through his resurrection from the dead.  He said, “You know where I’m going, and you know the way.”

Thomas, still thinking in human terms, asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you’re going.  How can we know the way?”

Jesus uses this opportunity to more fully instruct his disciples concerning himself.  But he reverses the order of Thomas’ question, stressing first the “way”, and then the destination.

Jesus said, “I am the Way.”  Jesus is the only way to eternal salvation. The only perfect way acceptable to God the Father to pay our sin debt.  He is the only mediator between God and man for eternal salvation.

Jesus said, “I am…the Truth.” Christ is absolute Truth because he is the perfect self-revelation of God the Father.  He embodied and taught all that men need to know and believe about God; what we should do as his children; and who we should be.

Jesus said, “I am…the Life.” He is the author and giver of life: natural, spiritual and eternal. He always was --- and always will be --- the only way to truly live. And the only way to never die, but live forever.

---Beverly Nickles

Part Four

Jesus, knowing he would be arrested and crucified only hours from now, gathered his 12 disciples one last time.  Stunned and confused by the news that he was leaving them, Jesus pressed home vital truths his beloved disciples would need to carry on without him. His final words to them are recorded only in John’s gospel, chapters 13 – 17.

Below is the fourth in a short series of teachings Jesus shared during their Last Gathering. (John 14)

 

Jesus: sending another like me (John 14)

 

Jesus comforts his disciples telling them he would send them another helper just like him.

Shocked by the unexpected news of his soon departure, Jesus compassionately calms his disciples. They are afraid and distressed.  What would happen to them now?  Jesus has stuck closer than a brother and cared for their every need. What about the promised Messianic Kingdom? They held high hopes of occupying within it an honorable position.

Jesus promises to send another helper, an advocate, to come alongside them and to live inside their souls. Another helper exactly like Jesus, infinitely more capable than they themselves, who can help with anything they need at any level.  And this new relationship will be far better for them because he will live inside of them at all times into eternity.

Jesus promised now to send the Holy Spirit to them after he left.  He said, “I will ask the Father, and he will send you another helper.”  With the sealing of the Spirit, these disciples and all who would come after them, could remain in the presence of the Triune God for the rest of eternity. He promised a personal, individual and binding relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Spirit of Truth declares and reveals God’s Truth, teaches Truth, illuminates Truth, and leads into all Truth Jesus true disciples.  But those with unregenerate hearts lacking the Spirit and fixed on the things of this world cannot receive Truth, for it is spiritually discerned.

In heaven, the highest goal is fulfilled. God’s gift now of his Holy Spirit remains but a down payment on our heavenly inheritance. Then we will live eternally in the full presence of the Triune God.

---Beverly Nickles

Part Five

Jesus, knowing he would be arrested and crucified only hours from now, gathered his 12 disciples one last time.  Stunned and confused by the news that he was leaving them, Jesus pressed home vital truths his beloved disciples would need to carry on without him. His final words to them are recorded only in John’s gospel, chapters 13 – 17.

Below is the fifth in a short series of teachings Jesus shared during their Last Gathering. (John 15)

Jesus said, “I am the vine…abide in me” (John 15)

Jesus already said his last words to his disciples. Prepared to face the night, he says, “Arise, let us go out”

But on their faces, he saw distressed and confused expressions, and a hesitancy to leave.  The disciples felt they would soon lose Jesus, and feared that without him they could do nothing. Jesus lovingly gathered them around him and tried to calm their fears.

“I am the true vine, and you are the branches.”  Jesus spoke a parable about the vine and branches. The vine symbolized their close connection to him.  He told how it would continue and be maintained. “Abide in me, and I in you.”

Secured by Christ’s life, and the attachment of faithful disciples to him, God’s purposes in creation could bear fruit on earth.

He highlighted some characteristics of this union.

First, that Christ and his disciples together form one whole, and neither is complete without the other. A vine cannot bear fruit without its branches; and branches cannot live separate from the vine.   Separately, the stem remains fruitless, and the branches wither and die.  Together they form one fruit-bearing tree.

God is a Spirit.  He needs human hands to do the work, and a mouth to speak his words.  He gives these to his disciples, while supplying them with love and perseverance and everything needed to accomplish the task.

Second, this unity works as one organic whole because one common life unites them.  The disciple is joined with Christ in an intimate and vital spiritual union. Through this, he receives the same Holy Spirit that made Christ who he was on earth.

The branch is one with the stem because it draws life from it and bears fruit appropriate to that tree.  If that connection is maintained, Christ’s beliefs, thoughts, feelings and goals become the disciple’s own.

Third, the expected result of this connection is “righteous” fruit flowing from Christ’s life through the disciple.  As the Apostle Paul said, “Not I, but Christ in me. “

The Father attends to disciples as a gardener attends to plants.  In every season, he loving cuts away the sin and disobedience that hinder fruitfulness. And fruitless branches are cut off and cast into the fire.

---Beverly Nickles

Part Six

Jesus, knowing he would be arrested and crucified only hours from now, gathered his 12 disciples one last time.  Stunned and confused by the news that he was leaving them, Jesus pressed home vital truths his beloved disciples would need to carry on without him. His final words to them are recorded only in John’s gospel, chapters 13 – 17.

Below is the sixth in a short series of teachings Jesus shared during their Last Gathering. (John 15)

Jesus said, they will hate you, too (John 15)

 

Mixed in to the love and lengthy list of promises he lavished on his disciples; Jesus warned them of dangerous times ahead.  Jesus said, they hated me, and they will hate you, too.

Events that followed demonstrated the truth of Jesus’ words.  Going out in Jesus’ name brought down on his beloved disciples regular abuse with various ones stoned, beaten, imprisoned and even murdered.  All the original 12 disciples eventually were martyred, except for John who was boiled in oil and exiled on the Island of Patmos.

This was the beginning of a long history of abuse, punishment and sometimes death of Jesus’ followers down through the centuries.  Statistics show that persecution against Christians has accelerated and even gained momentum in our times.

Jesus gave three reasons.  One, the Father lifts true believers out of the evil world system and sets them apart.  The righteousness and Truth they now represent rebukes those who remain in the world system controlled by Satan and triggers hostility. Two, the world hated Jesus and so hates those who represent him.  Three, unregenerate people really don’t know God, but hate him though they may be blind to that.

Old Testament verses prophesied Christ’s coming, rejection and crucifixion.  A Messianic prophesy (Ps. 69:4) says, “they hated me without a cause.”

In their minds, the already distraught disciples probably questioned how they would survive. How could they fulfill their mission in the face of such hatred and persecution? Jesus told them. When the Helper comes, the Holy Spirit, he will provide the power needed to overcome. 

The Holy Spirit provides all a believer needs to stand in the evil day.  He has supplied to believers down through the ages everything the Father has to offer and still empowers believers today.

And in a hostile world, believers joined by the Father’s supernatural love, can cling to each other.  Brethren, love one another.

---Beverly Nickles

Part Seven

Jesus, knowing he would be arrested and crucified only hours from now, gathered his 12 disciples one last time.  Stunned and confused by the news that he was leaving them, Jesus pressed home vital truths his beloved disciples would need to carry on without him. His final words to them are recorded only in John’s gospel, chapters 13 – 17.

Below is the seventh in a short series of teachings Jesus shared during their Last Gathering. (John 14)

 

Jesus: preparing a place for you (John 14)

 

Jesus told them, “I go to prepare a place for you.”  And further, “…if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

He had just told them, that “…in my Father’s house are many rooms…”

Jesus continues to unfold the shocking announcement that so distressed his inner circle. That he would be leaving them within hours. Further, he tells them that they cannot follow him now, but will follow him later.

The time of Jesus’ humiliation is drawing to a close, climaxing within hours with his crucifixion, and ushering in his return to glory. 

Now, amidst the many promises Jesus showers upon them comes an eternal and heavenly one. That he will return now to his Father’s House, which is Heaven, and there prepare a dwelling place for each disciple, whom he will later receive to himself. This promise made then to each chosen apostle, extended to all disciples throughout time who would come after them.

In ancient times, children grew up in their parent’s homes, and when married built on additions and continued to live there.  Over time, the father’s house grew from the addition of more and more dwelling places. This pictures Heaven with only one house, the Father’s House, with many rooms or dwelling places.  All the children will dwell as one family for eternity in the Father’s House.

When the time comes, he will receive each child to live with him there. Jesus told them, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, you may be also.”

That’s a promise.  And Jesus tells only the Truth.

---Beverly Nickles