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“THe beginning of Jesus' last evening”
by Hugh Davidson   
July 18th, 2001

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                                 The beginning of Jesus last evening 

John 14:1-6, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”


When a couple gets married there are many ways they have to celebrate the special events in their lives. For instance, he may take her out to dinner on their wedding anniversary or even on the anniversary of their first date or he may ignore these days altogether. There’s no such thing as right or wrong; at least in his mind. And then at Christmas, either they may open their gifts on Christmas Eve or they might wait for Christmas day. And for those who do it on Christmas day may open their presents as soon as they wake up and then there are others who like to have a leisurely breakfast first and then take their time enjoying the experience. And then at Easter, there are those who give their children enough chocolate to make them sick and then they expect them to enjoy a big meal while others just concentrate on buying all kinds of new clothes for Easter Sunday and then there are many who ignore the commercial side of Easter altogether and see Easter as a time to observe the Lord’s death and all that means to them. And then there’s the issue of how we celebrate the birthdays of our family and while some like to throw a big party and give all kinds of gifts, there are others who just say happy birthday if they even remember it. The fact is; there is no right and wrong in any of these things. It’s how you’ve been raised or maybe even a reaction to your upbringing.   

In the passage we’re looking at today the disciples knew it was time to celebrate the Passover and they also knew there were certain things that had to be done to observe this particular feast while there was also some leeway at the end where they could enjoy a time of fellowship anyway they wanted to. For instance, I’m sure there were some of them who may have seen this as a time to celebrate the previous year and talk about what they hoped to do in the year to come while there might have been others who saw this as a time of devotion and prayer. In either case, the Passover was like a time of evaluation where one could reflect on the past and plan for the future.

And so we see here that Jesus had arranged a place to have the feast and it was the disciples’ responsibility to go buy the lamb and get all the various types of food that were used to illustrate how the children of Israel had been delivered from Egypt; because after all, this was what the feast was all about.

And as I said, once the feast was observed there was no such thing as right and wrong as to what they were supposed to do afterwards and so we see where Jesus takes His time and teaches His disciples about what was going to happen, then tells them what to expect and prepares them for what was to come in terms of their home in heaven and all they had to look forward to. He also told them He was coming back for them and they needn’t worry because He would be watching over them while He was gone.

This particular time with His disciples was so important that John actually devotes twenty per cent of his writing to this last evening of Jesus’ life. And just before we get into this portion of the passage, I want you to see that there are seven misunderstandings that take place in these four chapters. That’s seven times when Jesus speaks and they don’t seem to understand what He’s talking about.

The first one is found in John 13:36 and 37 where Peter asks Jesus where He’s going and then he promises to follow Him even if it costs him his life. And basically, I think Peter assumed that Jesus was about to fight to the death with the Roman army and so he told Him he’s more than willing to stand and fight right beside Him. That’s quite a statement and knowing Peter I think we can assume he meant it at the time and yet we see Jesus telling Peter that when the time comes for him to stand the way he’s claiming he will, he’s going to fold like a tent. And I’m sure that Peter said to himself, yeah, I’ll show you! But Peter didn’t know what Jesus was talking about.

And then in John 14:5 when Jesus told the disciples He’s going back to where He came from and that He’s preparing a place for them we notice Thomas says, we don’t even know where you’re going, so how can we know how to get there? And like Peter, Thomas was thinking in terms of this world and Jesus’ words didn’t make any sense to him either. Many think Thomas thought Jesus was going to find a hiding place from the Jews and Romans and he was saying, if they can’t find you, then how are we supposed to?

And then in John 14:8 Philip asked Jesus a simple question when he said, show us the Father and that will be enough. And although it sounds like a simple question it actually appears somewhat absurd when you realize that no one has ever seen the Father and then we notice that when Jesus responds He says, when you’ve seen Me you’ve seen the Father. And I’m sure that Philip thought to himself, I’m sorry I asked the question because he was probably more confused than ever about who was standing right in front of him.

And then in John 14:22 when Jesus said He would manifest Himself to those who heard and kept His word it says, then the other Judas asked Him how they could see Him when everyone else couldn’t and not only did he not understand that Jesus would come back to them personally after His resurrection but they also misunderstood His ability to reveal Himself to believers today.

It would be like you or I talking to a non-believer and saying, “Well the Lord told me I wasn’t to do the very thing I wanted to do.” To another Christian that might make perfect sense but to a non-Christian they would think you’re hearing voices from the grave. And to the believers of Jesus day the things Jesus was talking about didn’t make sense because the things that were about to happen had never happened before. 

In John 16:17 the disciples were discussing with one another what Jesus meant when He said, “What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? In a little while you won’t see Me and then in a little while you’ll see Me again.” And of course they were confused about how He was going to do the things He would do simply because they didn’t understand what was about to happen in terms of His death and resurrection. And again, it was the same as the previous illustration. They had nothing in their past experience they could relate this to.

And then in John 16:29 the disciples said to Him, “His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.” And the problem was; they didn’t know when He was speaking in proverbs or when He wasn’t and when they thought they understood what He was saying when He told them about things that were about to happen, the fact was, they couldn’t possibly have understood what He was saying because they didn’t understand what was about to happen.

All these things show us the disciples were in a state of confusion when it came to hearing about what was going to happen because they really couldn’t understanding any of it until it came to pass. So, the fact that they had a lot of questions shouldn’t really bother us, because we can see that if any of us were in the same situation we’d be also be just as confused. I think we have to be amazed at the fact these disciples showed any faith in the person of Jesus as well as in what He had to say.

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