The last few weeks we have been looking at a few of Jesus’ interactions in the gospel of John. The first week we opened up with the story of Nicodemus, a great Pharisee who sought Jesus out in an attempt to level with Jesus the man. Nicodemus didn’t realize that he wasn’t speaking to a teacher or even a prophet sent by God, he was speaking to the Son of God, the Messiah himself. He left Jesus that evening with more questions than answers when Jesus said, No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit” Essentially, we must repent, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us.
The next week we looked at an incredible miracle where Jesus took a few loaves of bread and a couple fish and fed well over 5,000 people. The greatest takeaway wasn’t the miracle though, it was the fact that Jesus wanted his disciples to understand that He was in control of everything and that while there may be difficult times, even to the point of losing our lives, Jesus is in complete control and has our best in mind.
Then last week we asked a really tough question. Why do bad things happen? We, along with the disciples asked if things happen because of sin or even our parents sins. We learned that in John 9:3 that Jesus says, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” We learned that sometimes we go through situations in life where God might be displayed.
Tonight were going to walk with Jesus through the darkest day in human history. This day however is a day that had it not happened, our life, in regards to our relationship with God would be completely different. We pick up this message in John 17:20-24,
20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
In this passage this is Jesus praying for His disciples, but then Jesus goes beyond those that were physically with Him. Jesus prays for “all who will even believe in Him through their message”. Jesus’ prayer includes all of us and everyone else right now on this earth who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior.
I can remember a time a little over four years ago when Lauren and I had just found out that we were expecting Brooklyn. We were set to become first time parents and to be honest I think we were both a little bit overwhelmed. You can probably relate to being overwhelmed by something. I know that when I am overwhelmed the first thing I’m going to do is find the holiest person that I can possibly find to get them to pray for me. In our case, there was a sweet older lady in our church named Mrs. Nita. She was a prayer warrior and loved the Lord with all of her heart. We asked her to pray for Brooklyn shortly before she was born.
It’s pretty common for us to ask people to pray for us, and typically when we do we ask someone we trust. Maybe people have sought you out to pray for their needs?
In this case we see that Jesus is praying for us! Now I love Mrs. Nita, but even she would tell you that she is no Jesus! Jesus is the ultimate person that you would want to pray for you and here in John 17:20-24 He does just that!
This was the opening act for what would be the hardest day in human history, and a day that we’re going to unpack tonight.
After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. 2 Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. 3 The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
4 Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
Jesus was betrayed and arrested. After being arrested, He was put on trial, and all but two of his disciples totally abandoned Him. We read next that Peter denied ever knowing Him.
15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus. 16 Peter had to stay outside the gate. Then the disciple who knew the high priest spoke to the woman watching at the gate, and she let Peter in. 17 The woman asked Peter, “You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?”
“No,” he said, “I am not.”
18 Because it was cold, the household servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire. They stood around it, warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself.
Jesus was one of the most famous people to ever live, and yet he was betrayed by one of his best friends. He was tortured physically and died broken, homeless, single, alone, betrayed and in pain. In this way your Lord and Savior, can relate to every emotion and pain that you feel today.
Jesus was whipped to the fullest extent of the law with what is called a cat of nine tails. It was a metal whip, that had stone and metal balls fastened to the end, then hooks, glass and metal shards to tear away flesh.
Many people died during the torture itself because it was so excruciating.
Why did Jesus go through this? Just for reference let's look at a passage in the book of Isaiah that was written some 700 years before Jesus was born. It says in Isaiah 53:1-9,
1 Who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
2 My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him.
3 He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.
7 He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
8 Unjustly condemned,
he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
9 He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave.
After being tortured, pilate turned Jesus over to be crucified. They nailed Jesus’ hands and feet to a cross. They pierced his side, and John 19:28-30 says,
28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
It is Finished
On that cross, Jesus paid the price for our sins. You and I are both sinners, and the cost of that sin is death. Jesus was the sacrifice for our sins. I don’t want to assume that all of us have a relationship with Jesus. If you would like to talk with someone about giving your life to Jesus and starting an ongoing personal relationship with Jesus. Please talk to one of us before you leave tonight!
I want us to close tonight by practicing something that Christians have been doing since the day Jesus gave his life on the cross. Matthew’s gospel records,
26 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”
27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. 29 Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”