In Departing There Is Found the Mystery of Returning

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first fourteen verses of the fourteenth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the first of our chapters highlighted within the gospel of John which contain some of the most powerful words spoken by Jesus the Christ. If you study the four gospels you will notice that there are certain places where entire chapters are given and devoted to highlighting the words which Jesus spoke—whether to His disciples or to those before Him whom He taught and spoke to. The words which we find contained in the fourteenth chapter of johns gospel are the first of what would make up four entire chapters devoted to nothing but the words which Jesus spoke while on the earth. I have to admit that I enjoy this even more when you consider these words and the words of Jesus in red font and red print . The Word of Gos is quick and powerful regardless of whether or not the words spoken by Jesus are in red font or whether they are in the standard black font. I have to admit that I enjoy opening up the four gospels and reading the words of Jesus in red letters and in red font because it seems to do something truly wonderful and powerful when you look at and consider them. The words found in the fourteenth chapter of the gospel of John not only come directly on the heels of a personal and private encounter Jesus had with His disciples in the upper room, but also before additional language Jesus spoke that He might ready and prepared His disciples for His departure. I am convinced that in order for us to truly understand the words which are found written and contained in this passage it is necessary and imperative that we recognize the words which the apostle John wrote at the beginning and outset of the thirteenth chapter. As you read the words which are found at the beginning and outset of the thirteenth chapter you will notice the apostle John uses some incredibly unique and powerful language concerning the heart and mind of Jesus on the night when He celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples. Upon beginning to read the thirteenth chapter of this gospel written by John you will find the apostle writing concerning Jesus that He knew that the hour had come—His hour had come—that He might be glorified in the earth and be glorified before His Father in heaven. What’s more, is that as you continue reading you will find the apostle going on to write how Jesus loved those who had been given unto Him and entrusted into His care, and loved them unto the end. Furthermore, you will find the apostle John going on to write how not only did Jesus know that His hour had come that He might be glorified in the earth, but He also knew where He had come from and where He was returning. You cannot read the words found within these five chapters without first coming face to face with the words found at the very outset of the thirteenth chapter.

As I stand here this morning I can’t help but find the words which the apostle John wrote concerning Jesus the Christ as both the foundation and catalyst for what would be done and what would be spoken in the following verses and chapters. In direct relationship and response to Jesus knowing that His hour had come, that He loved His own unto the end, and that He knew where He had come from and where she was going He laid aside His garments, took up a towel wherewith she girded Himself, and began washing the feet of the disciples with the same towel He had been girded with. What’s more, is that Jesus would them dry those same feet with the towel which He had girded Himself with. This is quite unique and remarkable when you think about and consider it, for not only did Jesus wash he feet of the disciples in the context of fellowship and community there in the upper room, and not only did He wash their feet in the context of those who would forsake and abandon Him, that one who would deny Him, and that one who would betray Him, but He also did so in the context of an example set forth before their very eyes. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that the context of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples was indeed in the context of those who would abandon Him, as well as that one who would deny and that one who would betray Him, but it was also to set an example and precedent for them upon His departure. Jesus could have washed the feet of the disciples at any time within and during the three years He walked with them, however, He specifically chose this night out of the countless nights which had spanned three and a half years. There could have been any night during the three and a half years when Jesus could have washed the feet of his disciples and yet He deliberately and intentionally chose this night of the celebration of the Passover to do so. After supper had been finished and after supper had been completed Jesus laid aside His garments, took up a towel which He used to gird Himself, and then proceeded to wash the feet of the disciples giving them an example. What we must come to terms with is that the washing of their feet took place in the context of His departure from this earth and returning unto the place of His Father. When we think about and consider Jesus washing the feet of His disciples we must understand that it took place in the context of His departure and an example they would follow in the wake of Shia absence and departure.

As you read the words written and contained within these five chapters you will find that they were written in the context of Jesus departing this earth and returning unto His Father. If you read the words which the apostle John wrote and the words which Jesus the Christ spoke you love come face to face with the awesome reality that everything Jesus did and everything Jesus spoke was in direct relation to Jesus understanding and knowing that He had come from the Father and that He was returning unto the Father. We cannot and must not seek to read the words found within these chapters outside of and apart from the context of His hour coming upon both Himself and the whole earth—the hour when He would be glorified in the sight of men, and glorified in the sight of the Father. In all reality, I would dare say that Jesus the Christ was glorified in the sight of men—even as He hung their dying upon the cross at Golgotha—for Jesus Himself declared that if He would be lifted up He would draw all men unto Himself. This is actually quite remarkable and intriguing when you take the time to think about it, for Jesus the Christ was indeed glorified upon His resurrection from the grave, and even in His ascension unto the right hand of the Father, however, I would also dare say that He was glorified even in death as He hung there naked and bleeding upon the cross. The words we find written within these chapters must be wonderfully and powerfully understood in the context of Jesus knowing and understanding that the hour had come for Him to be glorified, and even for Him to return unto the Father. Both the words, as well as the actions which Jesus performed and spoke on the night of the Passover centered upon the reality that He was in fact departing from this earth and returning unto His Father. What’s so unique and captivating is that that departure would be found within and through the context of death, burial and resurrection. It was true that Jesus would return unto His Father, however, that departure and return would not take place without and apart from His death upon the cross, His burial in the tomb, and His resurrection. Jesus would be glorified and He would return unto His Father who was in heaven, yet both realities would be manifested in the context of death and burial. Even though Jesus would ultimately be glorified and would return unto His Father, He would have to walk through death and the grave before and in order that He might experience that glory. Oh that we would read the words found within this passage of scripture and understand that everything that was spoken and everything that was done took place in the context of Jesus preparing to depart from this earth and returning unto His Father’s house in heaven. Jesus enjoyed unique and unbroken fellowship with the Father while on the earth, and yet He was now preparing to return unto His Fathers presence and unto His Father who was in heaven. Oh that we would recognize and understand that which is found in these chapters as being directly linked and intrinsically connected to the departure of Jesus from the earth and His return unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven.

I am thoroughly convinced that when we think about and consider the words which are written and recorded within chapters thirteen through seventeen of the gospel written by the apostle John we must come face to face with the incredible reality that the words contained therein are in direct connection to the reality that Jesus the Christ was preparing to depart from this earth and return unto the Father who was in heaven. As you read the words which make up the introduction and opening of the thirteenth chapter you will find the following words written and recorded by the apostle John concerning Jesus and that which He knew going into this night as He and the disciples celebrated the feast of the Passover. Beginning with the first verse of the thirteenth chapter you will find the following words written and recorded by the apostle John concerning the knowledge which Jesus had entering into this night, and entering into this supper and final meal He would share with the disciples prior to His glorification through death upon the cross. Consider the following words which were written and recorded by the apostle John beginning with the first verse of the thirteenth chapter: “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded” (John 13:1-5). We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the context that is found within this particular portion of Scripture, for what is written and contained therein serve as the underlying context and foundation for everything Jesus would speak on this particular night in the company and presence of His disciples, as well as everything He would do. It would be in the context of His departing from this world unto the Father, and in the context of Jesus loving His own unto the end, and His knowledge that the Father had given all things into His hands, and even the knowledge that He had come from God and went to God that Jesus sought to make ready and prepare His disciples for that departure. It’s worth noting that Jesus didn’t immediately begin with the words which we found written in the fourteenth chapter, but chose to begin instead with an example which they should follow. It’s absolutely intriguing to think about and consider the fact that Jesus did not choose to begin with immediately speaking unto the disciples of His departure, but with the act of humility and love as He washed their feet and dried them with the towel which He had girded Himself with.

As you think about and consider the words which the apostle John wrote within chapters thirteen through seventeen you will find that they begin with an act of humility, an act of love, and an example that they should follow, and concluded with a prayer for them. I have to admit that this is quite interesting and unique when you take the time to think about and consider it, for what would ultimately be the means whereby Jesus would prepare His disciples for His departure unto His Father would begin with an act of humility and an act of service, and would continue and conclude with a powerful and wonderful Intercessory prayer for them in His absence. We cannot and must think about and consider the words and actions found within these chapters outside of the context of Jesus departing unto His Father who was in heaven, nor even apart from the context of Jesus knowing where He had come from and where He was going, for to do so would be to miss the awesome reality of what was spoken and done within the chapter. This night of preparation would be more than simply preparing for the feast of the Passover, but it would be Jesus the Christ making ready and preparing His disciples for His departure out of this world, and their being catapulted into the world. Up until that moment in time it was Jesus who was thrust into the midst of the world—this despite the fact that Scripture clearly indicates that Jesus had chosen the disciples from and out of the world. Everything we find spoken and performed on this particular night would center around the undeniable reality that Jesus the Christ was going to depart from this earth and would return unto His Father who was in heaven. In all reality, I can’t help but see a strong similarity between that which we find written within the New Testament gospel of John—specifically in chapters thirteen through seventeen—and that which is found in the Old Testament book fo Exodus when the first instructions concerning the Passover were given. In fact, I would dare say that if we are to truly understand that which is found within this passage of Scripture we must be willing to turn and direct our attention to the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Exodus—particularly and especially concerning the instruction given unto the children of Israel by the Lord through His servant Moses. It would be the instructions given unto the children of Israel through the servant of God—Moses—that the children of Israel would be prepared for a different departure. That which we find in the Old Testament book of Exodus is not about Jesus the Christ departing from the earth and returning unto His Father who was in heaven, but rather it was about the children of Israel preparing themselves to depart from the land of Egypt—departing from their slavery, bondage and oppression—and being thrust into the wilderness and world if you will. In fact, I would submit to you the words written and recorded in the twelfth chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus beginning with the first verse of the chapter:

“And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel,s aging, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: and if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbors next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: and ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will s mite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread” (Exodus 12:1-20).

As you read the words which are found written in this passage of Scripture you will notice the specific instruction the Lord gave unto the children of Israel, for the Lord instructed them that they should eat of the Passover meal with their loins girded, their shoes upon their feet, and their staff in their hand. What’s more, is that they were instructed to eat this meal in haste, for it was the Lord’s Passover and He would pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and would smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast. Furthermore, the Lord would execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt, as He would wonderfully and powerfully manifest Himself as glorious and all powerful in the midst of the land of Egypt and in the eyes of the children of Israel. This is quite astounding and captivating when you take the time to think about it, for on this particular occasion there were countless lambs which were being killed in order that the blood might be used to paint the door posts of the houses, and in order that the lamb might be eaten roasted with fire and with bitter herbs. What’s more, is that on this particular night, the Lord would enter into the land of Egypt, would pass through the midst of the land, and would smite the firstborn of all the land of Egypt—both man and beast. What makes this quite interesting when you consider it in light of what is written and recorded in the New Testament gospel of John is that on the night of the Passover, it would not be the firstborn of men that would be slaughtered and killed, but it would be the only begotten Son of the Father that would be slain. Jesus would prepare His disciples for His departure, and He would prepare them for His return unto His Father in heaven, and what He was ultimately preparing them for was the death of the Lamb of God which took away the sins of the world. While in the land of Egypt it was lambs and goats which were killed and their blood spilt among the children of Israel, it would be the sinless and spotless Lamb of God on this particular night that would be slaughtered and killed, and this particular Lamb whose blood would be shed and spilt within and upon the earth. Even more than this, is the reality that on the night of the Passover during the days of Jesus the Christ, it wouldn’t be the firstborn of men that would be killed, but it would be the only begotten Son of the Father that would be killed. Taking this one step further—in the land of Egypt the Lord executed judgment against and entered into judgment with the gods of Egypt, and yet on the night Jesus was betrayed, and when Jesus was crucified upon the cross the Lord was once more entering into judgment and was once more executing judgment, yet not upon the gods of a single nation, but rather upon the gods of the world, and even the prince this world himself. As Jesus hung there naked and bleeding upon the cross there was a definitive and decisive battle that was waging in the heavens and in the unseen realm, for the Lord would enter into judgment against the gods of the nations, and the prince of the world, and would execute judgment upon them.

As surely and as much as I believe that what we find in chapters thirteen through seventeen are directly connected to the reality of the departure of Jesus from this earth and returning unto His Father in heaven, I am thoroughly convinced that on this particular night as Jesus made ready and prepared His disciples for His departure from this earth and from this world, there is a strong link and a strong connection to that which we find in the Old Testament book of Exodus. The more I think about and the more I consider the words which are found in the thirteenth chapter of the gospel written by John, and even the opening verses of the fourteenth chapter, the more I can’t help but come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that there is a strong and intrinsic connection between a Passover which would be celebrated while the children of Israel were still in the land of Egypt—the very first Passover which would ever be celebrated. On the night when Jesus was betrayed both He and His disciples would celebrate the Passover—not only would they celebrate in honor of the Lamb of God which would be sacrificed upon the cross of Calvary, but they would also look back and remember the very first Passover when the Lord entered into the land of Egypt, put to death the firstborn of both man and beast within the land, and executed judgment upon the gods of Egypt. The Passover meal which Jesus and His disciples celebrated not only anticipated and looked forward to that which was ahead and that which was about to take place, but it was also to look back and commemorate that which had previously taken place within the land of Egypt. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we read and what we find in the New Testament gospels, and what we find in these five chapters is a wonderful and powerful preparation for the judgment which the Lord was about to execute upon the gods of the nations, and upon the prince of the world. I previously wrote about the darkness which covered the earth for a period of about three hours when Jesus hung upon the cross naked and bleeding, and I wrote how the darkness which covered the earth at that time—the darkness which covered Calvary and Golgotha—was not necessarily a physical darkness as when there is the absence of light, but rather a convergence of all the gods of the nations, and all the powers of hell itself, and even the prince of the world himself there at the cross as they surrounded and enveloped Jesus the Christ. I have previously written how I believe that on this particular day when Jesus cried out unto the Father asking Him why He had forsaken Him, He was crying out in the midst of the darkness that covered the earth at that particular time, and as He found Himself surrounded by earthly foes and adversaries, and even surrounded by the gods of the nations and the prince of the world himself. In that moment, Jesus was completely and utterly surrounded on all sides by enemies and adversaries—both earthly and spiritual in nature—and it was in that moment He cried out unto the Father asking why He had forsaken Him. The reason I mention this is because just as in the land of Egypt and on the night of the Passover the Lord would execute judgment against the gods of the Egypt, so also on this particular occasion during the days of Jesus would the Lord once more execute judgement against gods—albeit not the gods of a single and specific nation, but rather the gods of the nations and the gods which were present in the world.

When you read the words which are written and recorded within the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John you will find Jesus instructing His disciples to not let their heart be troubled, and then instructing them that just as they believed in God, so also should they believe in Him. Immediately following these words spoke unto the disciples that they should not not let their hearts be troubled, Jesus would go on to declare unto them that in His Father’s house were many mansions, and if it were not so, He would have told them. Jesus would go on to declare and speak unto His disciples that He went to prepare a place for them, and that if He went to prepare a place for them, He would come again, and receive them unto Himself, that where He is, there they might be also. Within the opening words of the fourteenth chapter we not only find Jesus preparing the disciples for His departure, but also preparing them to once more be reunited unto and reunited with Him. One of the things I find absolutely incredible when reading the words contained within this passage is that while it was true that Jesus did in fact prepare the disciples for His departure, He also prepared them for the reality that He would prepare a place for them, and would come again, and receive them unto Himself. Despite the fact that Jesus would depart from this earth and would return unto His Father, He would return again and would receive His own unto Himself. I absolutely love how Jesus did in fact prepare the disciples for His departure from this world and from the earth, and yet as certainly as He prepared them for His departure, He also prepared them for His return. This reality is evidenced and manifested all the more on the very day when Jesus would ascend into heaven unto the right hand of the Father when the clouds received Him out of the sight of all those who looked on at the mount of Olives. If you turn and direct your attention to the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will of course find Jesus ascending and returning unto the Father who was in heaven, but you will also find angels appearing before all those who watched Jesus depart from this earth, and speak unto them concerning the departure of Jesus, as well as its intrinsic link to His imminent return. Please don’t miss this, for in the departure of Jesus unto the right hand of the Father there is also a portent and depiction of His return once more in the same manner in which He departed from the earth. It was true that Jesus did in fact depart from the earth and returned unto His Father in heaven, however, it is also true that just as He departed from this earth and returned unto His Father in heaven, so also in the same manner would He return and come again. Oh, dear reader, consider if you will the words which are found within the Hew Testament book of the Acts of the apostles beginning with the first verse of the chapter:

“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after that through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also He shewed Himself alive after His passion but man infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when He had thus spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey” (Acts 1:1-11).

If there is one thing we must recognize and understand concerning the departure of Jesus the Christ unto His Father who was in heaven, it’s that just as surely and as certainly as Jesus departed unto His Father in heaven, so also would He come back and return once more unto the earth just as He had departed and left. There is concealed within the ascension of Jesus a motif and portent of His return and of His coming back again, for the angels emphatically declared and exclaimed unto those who stood steadfastly gazing up into heaven that this same Jesus whom they saw depart before their eyes and ascend into heaven would in the same manner return again and come back for His own. This language is found within the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John, for while Jesus did in fact speak of His departure from this earth and His return unto His Father who was in heaven, He also declared unto the disciples that if He left He did so in order that He might prepare and make ready a place for them that where He was they might also be with Him. In all reality, that which Jesus was doing on this particular night was not only preparing them for His departure from the earth, but He was also preparing them for their being reunited with Him in glory when both they and He would be in the presence and glory of His Father who was in heaven. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this absolutely wonderful and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss out on that which Jesus the Christ was speaking unto His disciples and even unto us in this generation. Jesus was the living Word become flesh, and Jesus did in fact take upon Himself the sins of the world as He died upon the cross, was buried, and was raised from death to life, and Jesus would indeed return unto His Father and ascend unto the right hand of all glory and power, however, it would be from that place Jesus would prepare a place for us in order that where He was we might be there also. How absolutely astonishing and remarkable it is to think about the fact that even in the departure of Jesus He was still making ready and preparing a place for us in order that we might be with Him. In other words, the departure of Jesus would be in order that he might make ready and prepare a place for us in order that we might not only abide with Him in the glory and presence of His Father, but in order that we might experience unhindered and unbroken fellowship with the Father, the Son, the Spirit and all the saints of the ages in the eternal glory of the living God. Jesus instructed His disciples to not let their heart be troubled, and then instructed them that just as they believed in God, so also they should believe in Him. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to declare unto them that He was the way, the truth, and the life, and that no man comes unto the Father, but by Him. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to emphatically declare unto the disciples that if they had seen Him, they had indeed and had in fact seen His Father who was in heaven, for He was the absolute and perfect image and embodiment of the eternal Father upon the earth. Oh that we would read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and would come face to face with the intrinsic link to the first Passover which was instructed and celebrated in the land of Egypt, the Passover which was celebrated with the eternal Lamb of God with His disciples, and the awesome reality that in the departure of Jesus from this earth is also the motif and portent of His return and coming back for us who are the saints of God and disciples of Christ.

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