We pick up today with Jesus’s Upper Room Discourse. Jesus has told His disciples that He is leaving, that He is sending the Spirit, that they are to love as He has loved, and that they will be persecuted in the world. Jesus now tells them why He has said these things: to keep them from falling away (16:1). When persecutions and trials come, man’s tendency is to change what we do, not double down on it. Jesus wants them to stay the course, even if it means death (v. 2). Doing that is proof that they are Christ’s. Though the world doesn’t know God (v. 3), this persecution for the sake of Jesus is proof that the disciples do. And Jesus wants them to remember He predicted all of this so their faith can remain strong (v. 4).
Jesus tells them that they are now ready to hear this. He didn’t tell them all of this from the beginning (v. 4), but now they are ready to hear it. That none of them ask Him where He is going (v. 5) may seem odd, because they have asked Him (13:36, 14:5). But now that Jesus has explained it to them, the reality of His leaving has deeply saddened them (v. 6), because they know now where He is going. But Jesus encourages them: it is good that He is going, because then He will send the Spirit (v. 7). Think about what Jesus is saying. It is better to have Christ present spiritually through the Holy Spirit than to have Him present physically (see 20:29). We have what’s better!
The Holy Spirit will convict the world (as in, not jut Israel) of sin (v. 9). He means this in the good way, like we will be brought to repentance. He will convict the world concerning righteousness because Christ will not be physically present (v. 10). This means that the Spirit will work righteousness by faith, not by sight. In addition, in the power of the Spirit, Satan and the rulers of this world will be judged as the church reclaims the world (as in, not just Israel) for God (v. 11). That Christ still has things to say that they cannot bear (v. 12) is a reference to their need for the Holy Spirit to teach them more fully (v. 13 – see 14:26, 15:26). This will include things that are yet to come. The Spirit will declare more fully the truth about both Father and Son (v. 15). The Spirit’s ministry is not to bring attention to Himself.
Jesus then speaks of His return. They will see Him physically again (v. 16). Though they wonder about what this means (vv. 17-19), Jesus explains. The weeping and lamenting of the church1 (our suffering for the sake of Christ) will lead to salvation and rejoicing for the world (v. 20). The joy Jesus speaks of here could be the fruit of our labors (souls being saved), or it may refer to His Second Coming when the church’s work is done and we receive our reward. The birth metaphor (v. 21) and the “I will see you again…no one will take your joy” (v. 22) seems to favor the latter option. In that day, we will ask nothing of Christ because we will have everything (v. 23). In the meantime, we need to ask, and we will receive (vv. 23-24 – see Jas 4:2).
Again, Jesus telling them plainly about the Father will be the work of the Holy Spirit (v. 25). In the Spirit, we will ask in Jesus’s name for what we need, and the Father will provide (v.v. 26-27). Note that the disciples know where Jesus has come from as opposed to the unbelieving Jews that did not. Jesus is returning from where He came (v. 28). And the disciples profess their faith in Christ (vv. 29-30). But Jesus warns them that their faith is weak. They will abandon Him (v. 32). Yet they will have peace (v. 33) – a reference to the coming of the Spirit – see 14:26-27), because they will understand that Christ’s death is victory for Him and them. This is how they will withstand the trials and persecutions of the world.
Jesus then prays to the Father. Through what is about to happen, God will be glorified (17:1). And note the Father and Son do it together: they are both glorified (v. 1), they both choose the elect (v. 2), and they are both known to the elect (v. 3). The glory Jesus is about to return to is the glory He had from eternity past (v. 5). Christ has made the Father known to the elect, and they have obeyed the Father by believing in Christ (vv. 6-8). Jesus states who He is praying for: those who believed then (v. 9) and all who would ever believe – all the elect (v. 20)! And His prayer is that all the elect would come to faith. Jesus is leaving, but the church is to carry on that work (v. 11). Note that Judas Iscariot was never part of the elect (v. 12).
Jesus then prays for their (our) protection in the world (vv. 14-15). Note that our enemy is the evil one: Satan. We are in a spiritual war, not a physical one. He then prays that through the Word they would be sanctified (v. 17), because they are being sent to carry on His work on the world (v. 18). Jesus has made Himself holy so we can be holy (v. 19 – see Lev 19:2, 20:7, 26). Note the identification of Christ with the Scriptures. Both are the Word. Both are the truth. In verse 21, Jesus prays for unity. We are united with Christ and the Father when we are united with each other. We are partakers, even, of the glory of Christ (v 22). Through this unity, the world will come to know Christ (v. 23). Through this unity, we truly know God (v. 25). Through this unity, God continues to work in us (as the church and as individuals) by His Spirit (v. 26).
After this prayer (and as we know from the other Gospel accounts, the Lord’s Supper), Jesus and His disciples go to the Garden of Gethsemane (18:1). This was a regular stop for them, so Judas had an idea of where Jesus would be (v. 2). So Judas brings Roman soldiers and Jewish Temple guards to arrest Jesus (v. 3). John throughout his Gospel account presents Judas as much more active and aggressive in his betrayal than do the other three Gospel accounts.
Jesus is ready for what is about to happen (v. 4). He comes forward and asks Whom they are looking for. When they say His name “Jesus of Nazareth,” Jesus literally says the covenant name of God: “I AM” (v. 5 – the “he” is not in the Greek, Jesus just says “I AM”). When Jesus said this, they all fell to the ground (v. 6). At the name of Jesus, every knee bowed. Jesus then offers to surrender if the disciples would be free to go (v. 8). This is the protection Jesus prayed about in 17:12 (v. 9). But Peter, always rash, draws a sword and cuts off the ear of the High Priest’s servant, whose name the writer of this account knows (v. 10). But Jesus knows He must go to the cross, and He tells Peter not to resist them (v. 11).
Jesus is arrested (v. 12) and brought to Annas (v. 13). Peter and John follow, and are able to gain access to the courtyard because John knows the High Priest (vv. 15-16). Peter is recognized by a servant girl as a disciple of Jesus, which Peter denies (v. 17). The encounter with Annas of verses 19-24 is a separate encounter from Jesus’s trial before the council recorded in the other Gospel accounts, which Luke tells us happened in the morning (Luke 22:66), hours after Peter’s denials (vv. 25-27).
Jesus is then brought to Pilate (v. 28). That the Jews did not want to defile themselves because they had to eat the Passover shows that Passover began the following day, which would begin that evening. That the Jews insist on Roman punishment for Jesus (vv. 29-31) is a fulfillment of 12:32-33. Getting no satisfactory answers from the Jewish leaders, Pilate questions Jesus directly. Pilate thinks in physical terms, while Jesus is speaking in spiritual terms (vv. 36-37). Jesus’s claim to truth prompt’s Pilate’s famous “what is truth” question (v. 38). Pilate is not asking a deeply philosophical question here. He is saying that truth is utterly irrelevant. This is why he releases a murderous rebel (vv. 39-40) and kills Jesus who he himself finds innocent. It was not about truth, but political expediency. Pilate did not hear Jesus’s voice, so he was not “of the truth” (v. 37).
1 If we posit that more than just the Apostles were present for this (which I do), then the entire church of that day could have literally been in that room.