Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for March 19

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for March 19

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By Dr. Ben Stubblefield
Visiting assistant professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

I Will Come Again

John 13:31–14:6

Jesus has now prepared and taken His final meal with His disciples, and He’s indicated that Judas is His betrayer. Satan enters the room and then Judas. The eyes of Christ lock with the eyes of ancient evil, and He commands, “Whatever you do, do quickly (13:27). Judas departs, and Jesus begins His final and perhaps most intimate sequence of instructions, what some refer to as the Upper Room Discourse, with His disciples.

Honor Through Love (31–35)

Judas has now set the machinery of Christ’s betrayal in motion, and so Jesus indicates “now” is the pending moment of His glorification. D.A. Carson refers to this moment as the “shame of the cross” that is also the Lord’s “supreme moment of displayed glory.” Jesus glorifies the Father in His faithful trust and obedience, and the Father glorifies the Son through His death, resurrection and exaltation.

Jesus prepares His disciples for His absence (v. 33) by explaining to them how they should conduct themselves while He is away (v. 34). The direction is so simple that a toddler could memorize it, yet so profound that all us adults have a hard time keeping it!

It’s not new in the sense that nobody ever told folks to love each other. It’s new in the summons to its particular quality of love: “as I have loved you.” So remarkable, so extraordinary, so sacrificial is Christ’s love, such that when we love each other as He has loved us, the world will have no trouble identifying Christ’s people (v. 35).

Honor Through Loyalty (36–38)

Alarmed by Jesus’ announced departure, Peter asks a follow-up question irrespective of the new commandment, and more focused on knowing what Jesus is up to. The Master knows what Peter doesn’t: that His atoning death cannot be replicated or replaced (v. 36).

Faithful Peter makes a faithful oath, but it is one made after good food, among pleasant company, and in relative security. Before the rooster crows, the confidence of the apostle will wane in the darkness, among enemies, in reach of danger (vv. 37–38).

Our brother Peter leaves us his example to learn from. Our high ideals are easy to herald in front of applauding listeners. But when we are derided, threatened, tested, Jesus asks us as He asked Peter, “Will you lay down your life for Me?” Our times are not so dissimilar, and, most certainly there is an hour of testing upon us. We would do well to learn the lesson lest we too should fear the rooster crowing.

Honor Through Believing (1–4)

It would be natural to think that Jesus should be troubled, and the disciples should be comforting Him. Instead, His disciples are troubled, and Jesus works to comfort them. In what is a clear claim to His divinity, Jesus invites them to extend their confidence in God to Him (v. 1), and believe that His going away is actually for their greater good (vv. 2–3).

Indeed, He goes to prepare a place for them that they may be forever where He is. Although many singable hymns describe a mansion for each of us when we get to glory, it is not clear that Jesus has this in mind.

He focuses more on His provision of a place for each of His disciples to belong. And what comforting news! Nobody gets left out of the Father’s house because there’s room enough for all.

“But how do we get there?” Thomas asks. And it’s a sensible question, given what Thomas knew at the time. And Jesus responds unforgettably: “I am the way” (v. 6). Our promise of coming glory is guaranteed by the person, Jesus Christ. It’s calm for the troubled and balm for the wounded, the truth that Jesus’ work didn’t stop at Calvary; no, He’s just preparing a place for me at His return.