Rev. Dick is pastor of Grace Protestant Reformed Church in Standale, Michigan.
In the privacy of the upper room in Jerusalem Jesus was teaching His disciples things of the new covenant of grace. The old covenant was about to be done away. The old covenant pictures, the symbols, the types were about to be fulfilled in the real salvation of the cross of the Christ. There must be instruction, important instruction, on this last night before His death. Instruction in something new, something wonderful!
Listen to the Master’s instruction. Jesus washes feet! An old covenant way, still, of teaching the coming reality of the cleansing blood of the Lamb. Jesus celebrates Passover! He is, we must see, still fulfilling all righteousness, under the law until His death, but in this also pointing to Himself, the Christ, our Passover. Then, an entirely new covenant thing! A new supper. The Lord’s Supper! The remembrance and celebration of the Lord’s death and life, and of the communion there is with God through Christ’s atoning work.
New covenant: taught in these old covenant ways and in this new covenant Supper. Covenant of God’s salvation in Christ. Covenant also in which we have a part. Not a saving part, but a part of thanks, a part which becomes those who are the saved. Covenant in which we are obliged unto new obedience. Covenant of our washing each others’ feet. Covenant of our showing the Lord’s death till He come, in our godly, believing participation in and celebration of Christ’s death and life. New Covenant of the new commandment Christ gives: that we love one another as He has loved us.
Great instruction in the great and eternal new covenant of grace! The secret of the Lord Jehovah, now being revealed in the brightness of the dawning of the new age. The secret of the covenant. This, this secret of the new covenant must be with those that fear Him (Ps. 25:14)!
There needs to be more instruction. A whole discourse of it. We have it recorded for us in John 14-17. It is Jesus’ final, farewell covenant discourse. For this Judas must be gone. Sometime, probably even before the institution of the Lord’s Supper, Judas had indeed left the upper room to betray the Savior.
It is just as the Savior wanted. Now He is alone with the eleven true disciples. He has secrets just for them for now (afterward for us)! They are the loved of God. They are the lovers of God, people of the covenant, God’s friends. To them, and them alone, Jesus will tell a secret. He will show them the mystery of the gospel of God with us. He will show them the mystery of God with us not only in the flesh, but in the Spirit soon to be poured out upon the church and into the hearts of His own.
Jesus will speak this secret as only the Prophet of God can: to the heart, tenderly, making saving and enduring impressions. What He says, this secret, will be, and must be with the church. They must not lose it or forget it. It must be the consolation when Jesus is a-dying, and when He is gone to glory and the disciples are left behind. It must be with us now. Until the end of time when He comes again the church must recall the secret, and live out of it and by it.
There are several secrets revealed of this covenant, really, in this last discourse of John 14 -17. The discourse is filled with divine and loving whispers to the friends of God! There is the secret of heaven. There is the secret of the Spirit, the secret of friendship, and the secret of Jesus praying in the sanctuary of the Father.
Now and in several articles to come we consider several of them. Secrets! From God to us! Listen! Hush! Shout! Sing! How shall we
show that the secret of Jehovah is with us?
Questions for Study, Meditation, & Discussion
1. Heaven (vv. 1-4)
Jesus, knowing that the disciples are troubled in heart at His announcement of the betrayal and of His imminent demise, preaches heaven. A good example to follow, I am sure, for pastors today: preach
heaven to God’s troubled people!
What does Jesus here say of heaven? Discuss several other passages which present the truth of heaven. What phrases, words teach that heaven is a real place? A great and blessed place? A place for particular people, and not for all? A sure place? How does Jesus
prepare this place for His disciples? Children ask lots of questions about heaven. We have questions too. What of heaven do we not know? What are some truths about heaven and about us which explain why we do not know certain things about heaven?
Jesus announces that He will come again (v. 3) to receive the disciples unto Himself. To what coming again does Jesus refer?
2. The Way to Heaven (vv. 6-11)
At the occasion of the question of the doubting Thomas (v. 5), Jesus preaches another of the several “I am” statements recorded in John: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
What does Jesus mean by saying He is a “way”? A way—where? A way—how? What is “truth and “life”? How is Jesus truth and life? What is the connection between Jesus being the way, and His being the truth and the life?
Jesus says that He is the way—He Himself is the way. He does not merely show a way, or teach a certain way, but He Himself is the way! He Himself—not an impersonal force, but a Person, is the way, the truth, and the life! Note too: Jesus says He is the way, and the truth, and the life! And He qualifies this by saying no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Very important that we understand what Jesus is saying here. He is saying: He is the only way, the only truth, the only life, and that there is no other way, no other truth, no other life than Jesus!
What does this revelation of Jesus as the way to the Father reveal of the new covenant salvation? Why is there need for such a way, truth, and life as Jesus?
What do verses 7-11 teach of Jesus as the way to the Father?
3. Believing in the Way to Heaven (vv. 1-14)
Throughout the passage Jesus exhorts to faith.
Explain how Thomas (v. 5) and Philip (v. 8) show little faith. How can we show little faith?
Three fruits of faith are stated and/or implied in the passage.
First: hearts at peace. If our faith is weak, to the degree that it is we are “troubled” (v. 1). There is disquiet in our hearts, a commotion of soul, distress. But where faith is, there is peace and comfort. Comment on how the following passages teach this peace through faith: Psalm 42; 55:22; Romans 5:1; Philippians 4.
The second fruit of faith is good works. No: the fruit is great works! For, as Jesus says, the works believers shall do are like unto His own works, and even greater than Jesus’ works (v. 12)! What would these works be? How, according to the text, are these works possible?
Third, the fruit of faith is effectual prayer (vv. 13, 14). “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do…. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” What are some principles of prayer brought out in these verses? To what end, according to the text, does God answer prayers?
4. Perspective (John 20:31)
Jesus, in this last private discourse to the disciples, begins by teaching something crucial to their continued existence as church, and to their being part of the foundation of the New Testament church. He teaches exclusivism. He teaches He is the way, and that there is no other. He preaches faith in God in Him, and in Him only, revealed.
They stood. Thank God the disciples stood. They were sinful. They had little faith at times. They fled. They denied. But in their heart, and in the end, they stood for Jesus, and just for Jesus. They stood, by the grace of God, though almost all were martyred for their faith.
But the church has since departed, and fallen. There is this pluralism. There is the preaching from many pulpits across the land that there are other ways to God than through conscious faith in Jesus. How do we stand? Individually? As churches?
Standing in these latter days will mean trouble. The world and the false church tolerate everything but intolerance. But we ought not let our hearts be troubled: Jesus is in heaven. There is a place prepared and being prepared for us there. He will come again to take us home.
Secret of Jehovah! Heaven! Fellowship forever with the Father! And Jesus the way!