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Apr 17 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 14, 2019


Mark 14:26-31; Luke 22:35-38 and John 15:1-11

Intro: Did you know Gospel of Mark does not have proper ending?

Women came to Jesus’ tomb, the body was gone, but an angel met them there and instructed them to go tell his disciples that he had risen. Then the last words of Mark’s gospel are:
they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid (Mk. 16:8)
– Christian scribes must have found this disturbing, so they made up endings
• it’s odd that Mark would leave his story hanging that way,
• because his gospel really is a masterpiece
◦ in way he used literary tools that were available to him
◦ in fact, Matthew and Luke borrowed Mark’s basic outline
▫ and retold some of his stories exactly as Mark had written them
– perhaps the abrupt ending is evidence of his genius
• the story of Jesus does not end with his resurrection
◦ it goes on – and will go on forever
◦ that’s similar to way John ends his gospel
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written (Jn. 21:25)
• Mark may be saying, “You are writing the next chapter with your life”

There is another possibility–but it’s rather subtle
– maybe Mark wrote the end of story before he got to the end
• while in the temple, Jesus told a parable about a vineyard
◦ the owner left it in care of tenants, who took it over and killed the owner’s son
◦ Jesus asked a question and answered it himself,
What will the owner do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others (Mk. 12:9)
• all three Synoptic gospels include this parable, because it defines Jesus life and ministry
◦ specifically, in relation to God and religious system of the temple
◦ the end of the parable is the end of Mark’s gospel
– of course, John was familiar with this parable
• is it possible that he offered another story regarding the vineyard?
◦ another analogy– but not parable
◦ only in this one defines his relation to God and his new community
• this is the vineyard taken from the priests, scribes, elders
◦ the vineyard that was given to others
◦ the ideal vineyard – the true vine – where God is in charge
◦ this is one way of reading John 15

In John 15-16 we have Jesus’ last teaching while on earth

This passage contains some of Jesus’ most memorable sayings
– sayings we will be meditate on for the rest of our lives
• Jesus and his disciples are somewhere between the upper room and the Mount of Olives
◦ perhaps when passing the temple he pauses and says,
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser
• this was a familiar image in the Hebrew Scriptures
◦ Isaiah painted a picture of Israel as God’s vineyard, whose fruit was disappointing
◦ God wanted justice and righteousness; got bloodshed and cry of oppression (Isa. 5:1-7)
– in Jesus’ story, the branches are not Israel, but the disciples
• and the fruit God looks for is love (the ultimate source of justice & righteousness)
• but something Isaiah doesn’t even hint at and we do not find stated clearly in the Synoptic gospels:
◦ the success of vineyard depends on an organic and vital relationship with Jesus
◦ not a mechanical duty or legal agreement
▫ but life flowing into life
Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me (Jn. 15:4)

The key word in this analogy is “abide” – remain, stay, dwell
– Jesus uses it repeatedly–for example:
abide in me and my words abide in you (v. 7)
abide in my love (v. 9)
• in the letters of Paul, one of his favorite expressions: in Christ
• in some way, Christians are wrapped in the Person of Jesus
◦ sheltered, nurtured, sustained – both intimate and constant
◦ the air they breathe, the space they inhabit
– I tried to think of way of defining this or explaining “abide”
• but I couldn’t reduce it to a simple formula or its ingredients
• I’m pretty sure you have to experience it to know what it is
◦ if you can say, “Abiding feels like …” or “Abiding like …”
◦ and finish sentence, then that is where you want to be; always

There was a moment in the evening that seems like a graduation of sorts
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you (v. 15)
– this is a promotion, from servants to friends
• this moment is enveloped by a commandment
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you (v. 12)
These things I command you, so that you will love one another (v. 17)
• if we had to identify a specific way to keep ourselves in Christ,
◦ it would be love – the greatest commandment (cf. Jude 20-21)
◦ it boggles the mind how many Christians fail to see or to live this

This chapter pivots on verse 17 and then tips over

Jesus tells his disciples, “Love is the key, the command, the way to be in me”
– then he makes this sharp turn and says,
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you (v. 18)
• he jumps from the love that holds them to himself,
◦ to the hate that separates them from the world
• these two forces will be shaping their progress — love and hate
– the world will persecute them, but won’t stop God’s work
• that’s because the Spirit of truth will be working alongside them
◦ a few specific details of his work appear in the next chapter (vv. 7-11)
• he is ultimately responsible for the success of God’s mission
◦ the Spirit seems like a silent partner (the only person of the Triune God unnamed)
◦ so much so, that we seldom rely on him as much as we could

Chapter 16 is Jesus’ explanation for the purpose of this conversation

Several times Jesus begins with the statement
I have said these things to you
– this provides an outline for this part of the conversation
First: (v. 1) I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away
• they would suffer for their devotion to Jesus
• so he is preparing them to accept and endure suffering
Second: (v. 4) I have said these things to you that when the hour comes you may remember that I told them to you
• so they wouldn’t be taken by surprise
• or assume that they had failed their mission
Third: (v. 4) I did not say these things to your from the beginning, because I was with you
• they didn’t need to be scared off before starting out
• but the time had come for them to hear it – and prepare themselves
◦ he had told them only what they needed at the time
Fourth: (v. 12) I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now
• this is one of the central ideas behind John’s Gospel
• when Jesus was crucified, the disciples’ education was still unfinished
◦ think of the two disciples Jesus met on road to Emmaus (Lk. 24:13-35)
• the Spirit would take over their education (Jn. 16:13-15)
◦ in this way, John’s gospel is more complete than Synoptic
Fifth: (v. 25) I have said these things to you in figures of speech
• this also is like a graduation or promotion
◦ and relates to their progress from servants to friends
◦ they have advanced from “figures…” to “plain” speech
• Jesus had asked Nicodemus,
If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things (Jn. 3:12)
• Jesus had been gradually preparing the disciples to receive more
◦ Paul and the letter to the Hebrews refer to our ongoing education
◦ it includes a maturation – from drinking milk to digesting meat
Sixth: (v. 33) I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace
I can imagine the disciples exclaiming, “Peace! You’ve told us you’re going away, that we’ll lose sight of you, that the world will hate us and we’ll be scattered. How do you think these things are going to bring us peace?”
• they would not find peace in their circumstances or the world
◦ rather, In the world you will have tribulation
• the source of their peace would be Jesus himself
◦ they would have to keep returning to his abiding presence

Conclusion: There is one more instance of Jesus saying
I have said these things . . .

It is back in chapter 15: These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full
– we do not know what Jesus means by his joy
• I am tempted to think it is something divine and transcendent
• a powerful energy, like an ocean wave
◦ but that is merely me letting my imagination go where it will
– I have not fully grown into this yet – others have
• I have tasted it, but I do not live there

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples (Jn. 15:8)
For the past couple of months, off and on, my son Michael has helped me do some demolition, clean up, and repair of a slump stone wall and road in our small neighborhood. I found that I really enjoyed having him work with me. Not only because he is a hard worker with remarkable artistic skill, but sharing his company made the tedious tasks lighter and easier.
– I thought of that when meditating on God and his vineyard
• it occurred to me what a joy it is to work with my heavenly Father
• and to work with Jesus and the Spirit, knowing that our work is good

We can expect hardships
but we can also expect compensation
and the compensation is infinitely greater than the hardship
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time
are not worth comparing with the glory
that is to be revealed to us
(Ro. 8:18)
For this light momentary affliction
is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory
beyond all comparison
(2 Cor. 4:17)

If the hardships begin to feel overwhelming
remember Jesus with his disciples
and how he closed his last teaching to them:
But take heart; for I have overcome the world

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