Final instructions shared with friends or colleages November 4 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): John 15–17; Mark 14:32-42; Matthew 26:36-46; Luke 22:39-46

Final Instructions

If you knew you were going to die in less than a week, what would you do? Cry? Perhaps, but what would you do for those who are left after you are gone? You might gather your family and friends together or your business associates and give them encouragement and some last instructions. Jesus left many final instructions before he died.

In today's Bible reading, Jesus and his disciples have finished the Passover meal and are now on the Mount of Olives, their favorite place to retire after long days of ministry. Knowing his arrest is imminent and his disciples will scatter, Jesus leaves them final instructions. He urges them to remain in him (continue in the obedience of his teachings) as branches remain in the vine in order to be fruitful. He also tells them to love each other. After Jesus dies, is resurrected, and one month later returns to heaven, the disciples might be tempted to go out on their own and separate from each other. Jesus instructs them to be one in mind and spirit and to remain faithful to him so they might be fruitful in their endeavors.

Jesus also warns his disciples that they will be hated even as he is hated, but they must still testify about him because they have been with him from the beginning. Are you one of his followers? Jesus wants you to testify to what God has done in your life, even if you are hated. The world needs Jesus!

The disciples are filled with grief as the Lord speaks of his departure, so he gives them good news—he is sending them the Holy Spirit from the presence of God the Father. He will be their Comforter and Counselor in Jesus' absence. He will be with them and teach them everything they need to know. They will not feel orphaned. They will draw confidence from the Holy Spirit and have incredible power to accomplish all that God desires.

After comforting the disciples, Jesus prays for them in what is commonly referred to as the Lord’s High-Priestly Prayer (John 17). It is so called because it is an intercessory prayer. Jesus prays first for himself because his departure is near. He longs to be in heaven with his Father again. After this most personal part of his prayer, he intercedes for his disciples and those who will follow thereafter.

What does Jesus pray for his disciples? His immediate concern is for the remaining eleven apostles in whom he has invested three years of ministry (Judas Iscariot is a traitor and has left them), but he also prays for all present and future believers. Then Jesus asks God to protect present and future believers from Satan (John 17:9, 11, 15, 17, 20-21, 24, and 26 )—the most formidable foe. He seeks to destroy God’s servants and their ministries. Next, Jesus prays that God will make us more sanctified (set apart unto him) through his truth. Last, Jesus prays to his Father to make us one with Christ, to be with him someday and see his glory, and to give us the same love he has for his Son.

Wow! It is most humbling and amazing that the Son of God would pray to God the Father for us! God’s care for us is greater than that of any parent for his children. Jesus knows we will face difficulties in this life, and so he prays for his disciples and us.

In the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, Jesus suffers terribly in his Spirit. He is in such distress that his sweat is like great drops of blood. Why is he in such great distress? Is it because he is awaiting suffering and death? Maybe. Is it because he will take upon himself the sin of the whole world? Perhaps. But Jesus also suffers terribly in his spirit because he is anticipating separation from God his Father. They are closer than spouses, best friends, or even a mother and child. Jesus came from the essence of God himself in a way we cannot understand. He was with God the Father and the Holy Spirit in glory for an eternity. But in God's great love and grace, Jesus set aside his glory and came to earth in the flesh to live as a man (John 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8).

Now Jesus is going to die and somehow be separated from God. Why? It is because God is holy and cannot look upon sin. The LORD is going to turn his back on his own Son as he takes the sins of the world upon himself, while being crucified on a cross. Jesus cannot bear being separated from his heavenly Father. He cries out to him. God hears the cries of his Son in the garden and sends an angel to strengthen him. However, it is God’s plan to have him suffer and die in our place so we might be saved from our sins. As difficult as it is, Jesus submits himself to his Father's plans.

God's plans for us are not always easy. We may experience pain. We may cry out and God will hear, but he may not deliver us if we suffer for his glory or for the gospel. Will we submit ourselves to his plans, even when they are difficult? This should be our prayer.

Jesus’ last instructions are for the disciples to watch and pray lest they enter into temptation. What kind of temptation is Jesus talking about? He is talking about the temptation to scatter and deny him when persecution comes. Persecution will come for them (recorded in the book of Acts and other church histories), and persecution will come for us. Will we watch and pray or will we succumb to the world’s temptations for comfort and convenience? Will we betray Christ who gave his life for us?

What if we mess up like Peter did? There is hope for those who mess up (see next lesson).

Lessons to Live By

regarding last instructions

  • Do you know Christ? He can give you forgiveness, spiritual life and peace. He can give meaning and purpose to your life (more...).
  • Remain in Christ. Be faithful to his teachings and his practices so you will be fruitful in your endeavors for him.
  • Love each other and work together with other Christians in unity.
  • Jesus wants you to testify to what God has done in your life, even if you are hated. The world needs Jesus!
  • You can draw confidence from the Holy Spirit and have incredible power to accomplish all that God desires.
  • Jesus is your advocate before God. He prays for your protection, your holiness, your oneness with Christ, your love and joy, and that you might be with him after you die.
  • Submit yourselves to God’s plans for your life, no matter how difficult they may be, and God will supply all you need.
  • Watch and pray so you do not succumb to temptations.

Focus Verses

John 15:9-11 (NIV)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Watch this video of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (begin at 4:17)

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A Look Ahead: After Jesus prepares his disciples for his death, he is betrayed by Judas Iscariot. How does he respond? How should we respond to Betrayal. Find out in our Next Lesson.

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