It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love. John 13:1 (NIV)
One of the ways that Jesus showed His disciples the full extent of His love was through washing their feet, as we looked at yesterday. With only hours now from His death, He showed them His love in yet another way – by preparing them for what was going to happen. John 13-17 tells us what Jesus said to His disciples on the night before His death. All five chapters record the words He spoke in one evening when, with only the disciples as His audience, He gave final instructions to prepare them for His death and resurrection, events that would change their lives forever.
If you knew your time was limited, you would be motivated to say the things that you’ve put off saying. The instructions Jesus gave His disciples in these five chapters were vital to their success in processing the horrible scene that was about to unfold. He spoke to them of His love and commanded them to love one another. He predicted Peter’s denial, despite Peter’s adamant claim of loyalty. He assured them of where He was going and that He would be preparing them a place. He answered their questions and settled their doubts about who He was and who they could be through faith in Him. He told them of the gift the Father would send, the Holy Spirit, who would come to live within them offering to them His abiding presence and power. He left them with His peace that would keep them through any storm. He used a common illustration of the vine and the branch to describe the relationship He sought with them, that would make their lives fruitful and fulfilled. He was honest about the grief they were about to feel and, yet, said God would soon turn their grief into great joy! And, then, He prayed with them and for them.
John 17 records the prayer that Jesus prayed for His disciples. It’s amazing to me that He included you and me in that prayer as well. Listen to His prayer in John 17:20, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message….” Jesus had every believer who would ever respond to His invitation to follow Him on His mind, in that garden, when He prayed. And what did He pray for? Verse 21 says, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”
In Jesus’ final prayer, only moments before His death, He prayed for us! If you knew your time was limited, you would not put off saying the things that need to be said and praying for those closest to you. So, say it now! Pray it now! The truth is: you don’t know how much time you have, and you don’t want to leave any regrets. You may need to write down what you want to say for clarity. Think it through. Then, plan a time that will be uninterrupted that is good for you and them. It may be over coffee or dinner. Let them know how much you value them and in what ways you are praying for them. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it will make in your relationship!
- What is it you need to say to your closest friends and family that you’ve neglected to say?
- How can you more effectively pray for them? If Jesus’ prayer was for unity in our relationships with one another, what can you do to promote unity in your relationships?
- To enrich your Lent Experience, carve out some time to read John 13-17 and listen to the words that Jesus spoke to His disciples the night before His death.