THE APPROACHING ORDEAL
by Bob Wheeler
Having promised His disciples His peace, He told them, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27; NKJV). He then reinforces this exhortation by reminding them of what He had told them earlier: that He was going away and coming back for them (v. 28; cf. 13:33,36; 14:2-4); and He points out that “If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.” What was about to happen to Jesus would be a horrible ordeal; but in the end it would result in His being reunited with His Father, which for Jesus would have meant more than everything in this world. If the disciples, then, genuinely loved Christ, they would have rejoiced at the prospect because the good that Jesus would experience would far outweigh the loss that they would be suffering, and if they truly loved Him they would be at least as concerned for His welfare as their own.
Then Jesus goes on to say, “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe” (v. 29). This is an important point that He makes here. Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. The Jews expected the Messiah to reign. If Jesus, then, were really the Messiah, how could He get killed by the Romans? Would that not be proof positive that He was not the Messiah? – That He was simply a helpless human being subject to circumstances beyond His control?
The answer is that Jesus knew in advance what would happen to Him and made no attempt to avoid it, because it was all a part of God’s foreordained plan. What was about to happen would happen precisely because that was God’s plan for the Messiah, and the fact that Jesus would be killed by the Romans does not in any way detract from the fact that He was the Messiah. The fact that He could tell His disciples in advance would only underscore the fact that He was really in control of the situation and that He submitted to it voluntarily.
Jesus now tells them, ominously, that “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me” (v. 30). He recognized that the fateful hour had now come. He also recognized that there was more to it than just a human social and political dynamic – what ultimately lay behind it was that “the ruler of this world was coming.” This, of course, is a reference to Satan himself, who has been the archenemy of God all along, and has made every effort to frustrate the plan of redemption. Satan knows who Jesus is, and wants to put an end to it all right at that moment, before, he thinks, it is too late. He will be the real driving force behind Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion.
But, Jesus says, “he has nothing in Me.” Even though Jesus will go through the charade of a trial and an execution, He is perfectly innocent. No one can point to any crime that He has actually committed. In fact, He is perfectly sinless, the very model, ethically, of what every human being should be.
And then Jesus concludes this section by saying, “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do” (v. 31). Why would Jesus subject Himself to such a horrible ordeal? Because He loved the Father and the Father ordered Him to do it. What an amazing example of humble and self-sacrificing love! He was willing to sacrifice His honor, His reputation, His very life, simply because this is what God the Father wanted Him to do. What an example of humble submission to the Father’s will!
And what a lesson there is for all of us. Our natural inclination is to be self-centered and act in our won self-interest. Half of the time we really do not care about others, let alone make personal sacrifices for them. And yet what God requires of us is that we love Him with all of our heart and love our neighbors as ourselves. And that, in turn, requires a willingness to sacrifice self. If Christ was willing to do that for us, should we not be willing to do it for each other? We are left without excuse!
Jesus then says, “Arise, let us go from here” (v. 31). As He and the disciples left the upper room and walked through the streets of Jerusalem on their way to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was conscious that He was now on His way to His execution. The awful moment had finally come.