When the Path to the Father Leads Through Suffering—Even Death Itself

            Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of this New Testament book. When you come to this particular set of chapters within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find a powerful shift and transition taking place within the public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. UP until this point within the ministry of Jesus the Christ we have seen His activity being directly linked and connected to the Jewish feasts of the LORD. From the second chapter all the way through the twelfth chapter we have found Jesus’ movement, manifestation and ministry being directly influenced by the Jewish feasts of the LORD which were celebrated in the city of Jerusalem. Time and time again we find Jesus journeying from Galilee unto Judaea and unto the city of Jerusalem at the time of one of the feasts of the LORD. What’s more, is that time and time again within the gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ we find Jesus entering into Jerusalem—and not only entering into the city of Jerusalem, but also entering into the Temple where we find Him teaching and preaching among the people. It is impossible to read and understand the words found in this gospel narrative without and apart from reading it through the lens of the Jewish feasts of the LORD and Jesus’ powerful connection and link to the Temple of the LORD. In fact, I would dare say that within the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle John the manifestation and ministry of the Lord Jesus the Christ was intrinsically connected to the city, to the feasts, and to the Temple. You cannot read this gospel and not encounter and come face to face with this awesome and powerful truth and reality, for time and time again you will find Jesus making the journey to Jerusalem from where He was that He might be in the midst of the city during a time of one of the Jewish feasts which were present in the midst of the city. More often than not—despite the fact that we do find Jesus in Galilee—we find Jesus’ movement and ministry being within the city of Jerusalem at a time when the city itself would have been crowded with all those travelers, sojourners and pilgrims who would have made the journey unto the city that they might celebrate and observe the feast of the LORD.

            In the opening chapter of this gospel narrative we find the apostle John writing how the world was made by the Word which became flesh and which dwelt among us, and yet the world knew Him not. Not only this, but the apostle John would also go on to write that Jesus came unto His own and His own received Him not. This is incredibly important, for it sets the tone and the stage for the events we find written within and throughout this gospel narrative written by the apostle John. While the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John is indeed a powerful declaration and description concerning Jesus the Christ as the Lamb of God and the Word made flesh which dwelt among us, it is also a powerful declaration and description concerning the controversy and confrontation which would take place between Jesus the Christ as the Messiah and the Christ and the Jews. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the words which are found in the opening chapter of this gospel narrative, for it helps us to understand and recognize that which would take place within the rest of the gospel as the events of the life and ministry of Jesus unfolds before our eyes. The gospel narrative written by the apostle John deals a lot with the persecution of Jesus at the hands of the Jews, and how time and time again the Jews were greatly offended with the words which He spoke—and not only the words which He spoke, but also the works which He produced and manifested among them in their midst. The more you read the gospel narrative written by the apostle John the more you will witness and behold this powerful animosity that was directed to Jesus from the hearts, the minds and the souls of the Jewish people. In all reality, I would dare say that the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John is a tremendous picture of Jesus coming unto His own and not only His own not receiving Him, but His own raising themselves up against in persecution and opposition.

            The more I read this gospel narrative written by the apostle John the more I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the truly powerful truth that this is a book that is replete with and saturated by example after example and account after account of this persecution of Jesus from and by the Jews as the Jews would be greatly offended with His words and His works. As early as the second chapter we begin to see this animosity of the Jews toward Jesus, as in the final verses of the second chapter we find Jesus entering into the Jewish Temple in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, and after He had fashioned a scourge made of small cords He proceeded to overturn the tables of money, drive out those who bought and sold within the Temple, and cast out all the merchandise that was found within the Temple. Upon seeing, witnessing and beholding this reality found within the Temple of the LORD the Jews would be greatly offended with the actions of Jesus and demanded to know by what authority He performed these actions—and not only by what authority He performed these actions, but also demanded of Him a sign to demonstrate and prove unto them that He had the authority and the right to engage in such actions and behavior in the midst of the Temple. Of course we know and understand that it was at this time when Jesus would make the emphatic and bold declaration and proclamation that if they destroyed this temple He would rebuild it in three days. This statement greatly puzzled and perplexed the Jews during that time, for the Jews would respond unto Jesus by declaring how it took forty and six years to build the Temple, and would Jesus raise it up in three days. The apostle John writes and records that the Jews didn’t understand, nor did they recognize that what Jesus was speaking about was not the physical Jewish Temple which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, but the physical temple of His body. Moreover, the apostle John would write that it would be after Jesus was raised from death to life on the third day that His disciples would remember this say and would believe upon Him in an even greater degree and measure.

            It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for even when you come to the third chapter of this gospel narrative you will be brought face to face with the powerful words which Jesus spoke unto Nicodemus who was the Pharisee which came to Him by night that he might hear and listen to the words which He would speak. It would be during this nighttime encounter between Jesus and the Pharisee the Son of God would speak of being born again—and not only being born again, but also being born of the water and of the Spirit. The words which we find in the third chapter is a truly remarkable and astonishing discourse and exchange which would take place between Jesus and this Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus who would come unto Him by night seeking to have an honest and open dialogue and exchange with Him. What we must needs realize and recognize when reading the words which are found in the third chapter of this gospel narrative is that not only did Jesus speak unto Nicodemus concerning being born again and being born of the water and of the Spirit, but Jesus would also speak unto Nicodemus concerning the Father, and how the Father had sent the Son into the world to fulfill and accomplish something very specific. What’s more, is that while explaining unto this Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus Jesus would declare and speak unto Him concerning the purpose, the ministry, and the assignment of Jesus within the earth. It would be when speaking unto Nicodemus Jesus would also allude to and speak about the manner and means in which He would die—this despite the fact that He would not actually reveal unto this Pharisee what would unfold during those days and at that time. Jesus would emphatically declare unto Nicodemus that just as Moses lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, so also must the Son be lifted up—and if the Son be lifted up He would draw all men unto Him. What makes this dialogue and exchange even more intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that within this same exchange Jesus would also speak to and concerning those hearts which would reject and refuse to receive and believe upon Him. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the third chapter of this gospel narrative:

            “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, He cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto Him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: BUT HE THAT BELIEVETH NOT IS CONDEMNED ALREADY, BECAUSE HE HATH NOT BELIEVED IN THE NAME OF THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD. AND THIS IS THE CONDEMNATION, THAT LIGHT IS COME INTO THE WORLD, AND MEN LOVED DARKNESS RATHER THAN LIGHT, BECAUSE THEIR DEEDS WERE EVIL. FOR EVERY ONE THAT DOETH EVIL HATETH THE LIGHT, NEITHER COMETH TO THE LIGHT, BUT HIS DEEDS SHOULD BE REPROVED. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:5-21).

            We must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for the words which we find here not only speak to that which is necessary to enter into the kingdom of God—namely, being born of water and of the Spirit—but it also speaks of the great love the Father had for the world that He would send His only begotten Son into it that whosoever would believe on Him would have everlasting life. What’s more, is that within this passage of Scripture we also find Jesus speaking about those who would not receive Him—those who would despise and reject Him. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to this, for in the opening chapter of this gospel narrative we find the apostle John writing how to those who believed on Jesus He gave power to become the sons of God. The New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John does indeed and does in fact present us with those who would believe on Jesus the Christ—including a Samaritan woman at a well in Samaria, including many within a Samaritan city of Sychar, and even the man born blind whom Jesus had given sight. With that being said, however, we must needs read the gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus written by the apostle John as a powerful discourse of the Jews’ rejection and failure to receive Jesus as the Christ and as the Son of the living God moving, living, dwelling and abiding among them. The words we find in the third chapter of this book are a powerful discourse and declaration which took place between Jesus and Nicodemus, and how Jesus would speak unto Nicodemus concerning the manifestation of light into the world, and how men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. Moreover, Jesus would go on to declare that every one that does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light lest their deeds should be reproved. Oh how we must needs recognize and understand this, for within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John—from the second chapter all the way through the time of Jesus’ betrayal by one of His own in the garden and His subsequent trial as a result—for this gospel is a powerful treatise concerning the Jewish rejection of the Messiah and their failure to receive Him.

            As I sit here today I can’t help but be absolutely drawn and captivated with and by the fact that time and time again within this gospel written by the apostle John you will find the Jews not only refusing to believe in Jesus as the Son of the living God and as the Christ, but also their rejection of Him. The more you read this gospel narrative the more you will witness and behold example after example of the Jews’ animosity and opposition toward Jesus—not only because of the words which He spoke, but also because of the works which He wrought among them in their midst. The Jews took great offense with Jesus’ works—particularly and especially when He would show an apparent disregard for the sabbath day and would heal others on that day. The Jews felt and believed that Jesus’ healing on the sabbath was a clear violation—not only of their traditions, but also of the Law of Moses. It would be because of Jesus’ apparent lack of concern and regard for the sabbath the Jews would persecute Him—and not only persecute Him, but also seek to slay and destroy Him. You cannot read this gospel narrative written by the apostle John and not find a tremendous opposition toward Jesus—not only by the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of Israel, the Pharisees, and the teachers of the Law, but also by the Jews themselves. More often than not we tend to associate the opposition and animosity Jesus faced during the three and a half years of public ministry He engaged in as coming from the religious community and system of that day, and yet the truth of the matter is that the opposition, the persecution, and the rejection He would face and experience would come from the Jews as much as it would come from the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of Israel, the Pharisees and the like. Oh that we would truly understand this, for within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find the Jews seeking to eradicate and extricate Jesus from the equation. Not only this, but there were at least two times when the Jesus sought to take up stones against Jesus that they might put Him to death by stoning Him. It is something absolutely astonishing to read the words which are found in this New Testament gospel, for not only did the Jews reject and fail to receive the Lord Jesus the Christ, but there were numerous times when the Jews sought to take up stones which they would seek to use to put Him to death.

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that if we are to understand the account that is found in the thirteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John we must not only recognize and understand this opposition, this animosity, and this persecution of Jesus, but we must understand how the Jews sought to take up stones to cast at Jesus, how the Jews sought to lay hands on Him, and even the powerful declarations made within this gospel concerning the hour and time of the Lord Jesus not having come yet. When you come to the thirteenth chapter of this gospel you will find a transition taking place—one which would actually be manifested earlier on in the previous chapter when Jesus would speak unto His disciples when it was told Him how the Greeks sought to see Him. It would be on this particular occasion and at this particular time Jesus would begin speaking of His time and His hour having come, and how He must needs be glorified—and not only glorified, but glorified through suffering and glorified through death. If you truly want to understand the events which took place in the thirteenth chapter—and not only the events which would take place in the thirteenth chapter, but also the words which Jesus would speak unto His disciples within the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and even the seventeenth chapters, you must needs recognize and understand this powerful concept of persecution toward Jesus and its direct and apparent link to the time and hour of Jesus not having come yet. It’s important that we recognize and understand this reality of the hour and time of Jesus not having come yet, for it would be something that would first be manifested in the second chapter when we find Mary the mother of Jesus coming unto Him concerning the wine running out. It would be in response to the words which Mary the mother of Jesus spoke Jesus would declare unto her, saying, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour has not yet come.” Consider if you will the following words which were found within this gospel narrative concerning the time and the hour of the Lord Jesus, and how several times within and throughout the gospel we find Him speaking of this time and hour not having yet come:

            “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I To do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come” (John 2:4).

            “Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready. The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come” (John 7:6-8).

            “Then they sought to take Him: but no man laid hands on Him, because his hour was not yet come” (John 7:30).

            “Then they said unto Him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as He taught in the Temple: and no man laid hands on Him; for his hour was not yet come” (John 8:19-20).

            “And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:23-24).

            Please pay close attention to the words which are found within these various passages written and recorded within this gospel narrative, for the words which we find in these passages bring us face to face with the tremendous fact that while we do in fact read of the Jews’ persecution of Jesus, and while we do in fact read of the Jews failing to receive Jesus the Christ—both Jesus the Christ would declare, and the apostle John would write concerning the hour and time not having yet come. Despite the fact that the Jews would persecute Jesus the Christ, despite the fact that Jews would seek to eradicate and extricate Jesus from among them, there would be no man who would lay hands upon Him, for His time and His hour had not yet come. As much as we must needs read the words found in this gospel narrative and understand this great persecution of the Jews toward and against Jesus the Christ, we must also recognize and understand the strong and powerful declaration found within the gospel concerning the time and hour ordained and appointed by the Father which was in heaven. It’s important for us to understand that this time and this hour was not and had not been appointed by Jesus the Christ who was the eternal and only begotten of the Son, but it was appointed and ordained by the Father. When we read this gospel narrative written by the apostle John we must needs recognize and understand this reality and concept of the time and hour which was directly associated with the movement and ministry of Jesus—and not only linked and connected to the movement and ministry of Jesus the Christ, but also concerning the persecution of Jesus by and at the hands of the Jews—for not even the eternal Son who was beloved of the Father had ordained and appointed this time. When the apostle John writes, and when Jesus the Christ speaks concerning the time and hour not having yet come, we must needs recognize and understand that this was directly linked and directly connected to that which was in the heart and mind of the Father.

            It’s actually quite captivating to think about the language found in this gospel narrative written by the apostle John concerning the time and hour having not yet come for Jesus the Christ, for that time and that hour was directly linked and connected to the fact that the Jews could not lay hands on Him, nor could they put Him to death before the appointed time. What’s more, is that this reality and this concept concerning the time and hour having not yet come would be intrinsically linked and connected to the suffering which Jesus would face and experience—and not only the suffering He would face and experience, but also the death He would face as He would be nailed to a cruel Roman tree and then hung there before all those who would watch and behold the Son of God hanging upon a cross at Golgotha. In all reality, I find this to be something worth noting and pointing out, for as surely as the time and hour found within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John had to do with the suffering and death of Jesus the Christ, and as surely as this time was not ordained, nor was it appointed by the Son Himself, so also is the time and the hour of Jesus’ return appointed and ordained by the Father alone. It would be Jesus Himself who would declare that no man knows the hour in which Jesus would return unto the earth—not even Jesus Himself, nor the angels in heaven, but only His Father in heaven. It’s actually quite intriguing to think about and consider this awesome and powerful truth, for there was an appointed time which was ordained by the Father for the suffering and death of Jesus the Christ, and there was an appointed time for the return of Jesus the Christ as He would be manifested in the midst of the heavens to gather together His bride and His body unto Himself. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful truth and reality, for when reading the gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find time after time and example after example of the time and hour having not yet come for Jesus to be glorified—and not only for Jesus to be glorified, but also for Jesus to be betrayed, for Jesus to be tried and falsely accused, for Jesus to be accused and condemned, and for Jesus to ultimately suffer and be put to death at the hands of the Romans who would nail Him to a cross and force Him to hang there upon the cross until He died.

            This reality and concept of the time and hour having not yet come—and not only how it had not come, but also how in the twelfth chapter of this gospel how it had indeed and had in fact come—is truly astonishing and necessary when reading the words found in this gospel, for it helps us to not only understand the divine will, the divine plan, and the divine purpose of the living God, but also understand the tremendous animosity and persecution of Jesus the Christ at the hands of the Jews. There were countless times within this gospel narrative when we are brought face to face with the Jews desire to persecute Jesus—and not only to persecute Him, but also to take up stones with which they might put Him to death, and laying their hands upon Him that they might put Him to death. I am absolutely and completely convinced that if we want to truly understand that which is found in the thirteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John we must needs recognize and understand this persecution of the Jews, for this persecution of the Jews would ultimately set the stage for that time and that hour when Jesus would be glorified—and not only glorified, but also glorified through suffering and glorified through death. What an incredibly powerful reality and concept it is when you think about it, for up until this point we find the Jews persecuting Jesus, and within and through that persecution seeking to lay hands on Him, seeking to take up stones against Him, and seeking to lay hands on Him that they might destroy and put Him to death. Not only this, but eventually within this gospel you will find the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of Israel rising up within Jerusalem against Jesus that they too might persecute Jesus the Christ. With this in mind I would first like to invite you to consider the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John, as well as the words which are found in the opening verses of the thirteenth chapter of the same gospel. Consider if you will the following words which are found within these two chapters concerning the time and hour of the Lord Jesus’ suffering, death and being glorified having now come:

            “Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorirfied. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: other said, An angel spake to Him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This He said, signifying what death He should die” (John 12:23-33).

            “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 bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wasth thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean” (John 13:1-11).

            There is not a doubt in my mind that in order for us to truly understand the words which are found in the thirteenth chapter—and not only the words which are found in the thirteenth chapter, but also the events which took place in the chapter, and the words which Jesus spoke—it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this reality and concept of the time and hour which was found within this gospel narrative. It would be in the twelfth chapter a powerful shift and transition would take place—not only within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, but also within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John as well. It would be in the twelfth chapter Jesus would declare that the hour had come that the Son of man should be glorified. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus declare that the hour had come for the Son of man to be glorified, but Jesus would also emphatically declare how He should not ask that He might be delivered from this hour, but it was for this hour and for this cause He had come. Directly linked and connected to this are the words which the apostle John wrote in the thirteenth chapter, for within the thirteenth chapter we find the apostle John writing how Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father. What’s more, is that not only did the apostle John write that Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, but also that Jesus loved His own which were in the world, and loving them unto the end. Moreover, the apostle John would go on to write how Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God.

            It is with all of this in mind I feel it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that surrounds this opposition against and persecution of Jesus which came at the hands and hearts of the Jews, for it helps us to understand that time when the hour had finally come that the Son might be glorified. In the twelfth chapter of this gospel narrative we find and read Jesus declaring unto His disciples that His hour had come—and not only that His hour had come, but He would also declare concerning His hour that He ought not ask to be delivered from that hour, but that it was for that hour He had actually come and been sent. Even in the thirteenth chapter we find the apostle John writing in agreement with this particular time within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ that the hour had indeed come for the Son to not only be glorified, but also to return unto the Father. What makes this truly astonishing and remarkable is when you think about and consider the fact that the only way back to the Father was through suffering. What’s more, is that not only was the only way back to the Father through suffering, but the way back to the Father was through the cross and through death itself. What we must needs recognize and understand is that it would have been one thing for Jesus to become the Word made flesh and to dwell among us for three and a half years and then to return unto the Father without and apart from suffering and experience death upon the cross at Calvary, but it would have been something else entirely and altogether for the only way back to the Father to be through suffering and death. The more you read the words found in these passages of Scripture the more you will realize that although the hour had come for Jesus to be glorified, and for Jesus to return to His Father who was in heaven, He would and could not return unto the Father without and apart from suffering and death. It would be through suffering and death Jesus would actually pass through the door and pass through that which would ultimately be necessary to return unto the Father who was in heaven. Even though the Son was glorified with the Father from before the creation of the world, and although the Son was the eternal Word which was in the beginning with God, and in the beginning was God, He would not and could not return unto the Father apart from suffering, apart from death, and even apart from being buried in the heart of the earth for three days.

            I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the hour having come for Jesus the Christ to be glorified, and the hour coming when Jesus would return unto the Father, and it’s entirely and altogether worth noting and pointing out that the only way back to the Father was through suffering and through death. The Son was beloved and begotten of the Father, and yet even though He was beloved and begotten of the Father which was in heaven He would not return unto the Father without and apart from suffering and death here upon the earth. As you read the words found in these chapters of the gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written by the apostle John you will find Jesus speaking of how He was returning unto the Father, and how He returned unto the Father to prepare a place for us that where He was we might also be there together with Him. Even with this being said we must needs recognize and understand that there was no glory without and apart from suffering, and there was no return apart from the cross. It would be through suffering and through death Jesus would return unto the Father who was in heaven, and it is this reality we must needs pay close and careful attention to, for within and throughout the gospel narratives we find a powerful and wonderful invitation being given unto us by Jesus the Christ to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, and to follow Him. There is something truly awesome and truly powerful about the hour having come for Jesus to be glorified, for although Jesus knew that He had come from God and that He would return unto God, He also knew and understood that the only way back to the Father was through suffering and through death. More often than not when we speak of the ascension of Jesus the Christ and His subsequent return unto the Father who was in heaven we think of it in terms of His simply needing to return unto the Father, and we fail to recognize and understand that the return unto the Father was directly linked and connected to His suffering and death upon the cross.

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that the more we think about and consider this reality the more we appreciate and understand the significance and importance of the hour having come, for although there would be time and time again within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John when it would be declared that His hour had not yet come, and that His time had not yet come, there would come a point in time when that hour—the hour for which He had been sent into the world, and the hour for which He had journeying toward—would finally come. After three and a half years the hour ordained and appointed by the eternal Father which was in heaven would finally come in the earth when Jesus would indeed be glorified, and when Jesus would return unto the Father. The words we find in the thirteenth chapter begin to set the tone and set the stage for the return of Jesus the Christ unto His Father who was in heaven—a return unto the Father who was in heaven after He had come down unto earth from His Father which was in heaven. Within and throughout the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find Jesus speaking of His coming down from heaven and His coming from the Father, and even in the opening chapter of this gospel narrative we find it written concerning His being the only begotten of the Father, and His coming down from heaven unto the earth. Within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find it written how the Word became flesh and dwelt among us—and not only how the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, but also how the Word came down from heaven to be manifested and present among us. It is in the eighteenth verse of the first chapter we find John the Baptist emphatically declaring concerning the Son that no man hath seen God at any time, but the only begotten Son, which was in the bosom of the Father who hath declared Him. When speaking unto his disciples who would come unto him concerning Jesus baptizing men and how all men would come unto Him, we find John the Baptist declaring that He who came from above is above all, and he that was of the earth was earthly. It would be John the Baptist who would go on to speak and declare how the Father loved the Son, and gave all things into His hand, and how all those who believed on the Son have everlasting life. Oh it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand these words, for one of the underlying themes found within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John was how Jesus had come down from the Father which was in heaven, and how Jesus was indeed the Word which became flesh and which dwelt among us.

            It is as you read the words found in the twelfth chapter of this gospel narrative you find it written concerning Jesus the Christ how He would declare that the hour had come that the Son of man should be glorified. Jesus would also go on to declare that unless a corn of what fall into the ground and die and abides along. If, however, it dies, it brings forth much fruit in the midst of the earth. Jesus would further go on to declare that those who love their lives shall lose it, and those who hate their lives in this world shall and would keep it unto life eternal. Additionally, Jesus would declare that if any man served him they were to follow him, and there where Jesus was there would His servant be. Moreover, Jesus would further declare that if any man would serve Him, it would be that man whom His Father in heaven would honor. It would be at this point Jesus would also go on to declare that His soul was troubled, and would then proceed to present the question whether or not He should ask the Father to deliver Him from this hour which had finally come and which had finally been manifested in the midst of the earth. Jesus would emphatically proclaim and declare that it was for this cause He had come unto this hour, and then would entreat the Father to glorify His name. Oh it is absolutely incredible to think about and consider the awesome and powerful truth that although Jesus would indeed return unto His Father who was in heaven He would and could not return unto Him without and apart from suffering and death. The only begotten and beloved Son of the Father would indeed return unto His Father who was in heaven, yet that return would come as a direct result of suffering and death, for it would be through suffering and death He would indeed pass from this world into eternity with the Father in heaven. Oh the more I think about this the more I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the eighth and twelfth chapters of the epistle which was written unto the Roman saints—and not only the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Roman saints, but also the words which Jesus would speak unto His disciples, which are recorded for us in the tenth and sixteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. Not only this, but I am also reminded of the words which the apostle Peter Himself wrote concerning suffering within the epistles he wrote in the New Testament. With this in mind I invite you to first consider the words which are found in the epistle written unto the Romans, then consider the words found in the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, and finally the words which are found in the writings of the epistle written by the apostle Peter:

            “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but ny reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we seen not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? IF God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifeth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:18-39).

            “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grave given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:1-3).

            “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and against the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above His master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefpre: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before me, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:16-39).

            “Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-28).

            “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:3-12).

            “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a  murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:12-19).

            “Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a little while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:5-11).

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which are found within these passages of Scripture, for they not only help us to understand the narrative of Jesus the Christ and His return unto the Father, but also our journey unto the Father when the appointed time comes that we look upon and behold Him for the very first time. The more I read the gospel narrative written by the apostle John the more I am brought face to face with the absolutely incredible and powerful truth that although the hour had come for Jesus to return unto the Father which was in heaven, and although the hour had come for Jesus to be glorified with the glory He had with the Father from eternity, it would not come without and apart from suffering and death. It was indeed true the eternal and only begotten Son knew and understood that the hour had come for Him to depart out of this world unto the Father, and that He was come from God and would return unto God, however Jesus also understood that there would and there could be no return unto the Father who was in heaven without and apart from suffering and death. Pause for a moment and think about how absolutely incredible this truth truly is, for although we know that Jesus the Christ would indeed return unto the Father which was in heaven, we must also recognize and understand that He would not return unto the Father without passing through suffering, and without ultimately passing through death. Although Jesus would indeed ascend unto the right hand of the Father He would not do so without passing through the suffering that would come upon Him in the flesh, as well as death which would be the ultimate result and culmination of that suffering. What’s more, is that in addition to suffering and in addition to death Jesus must also be buried and His physical and natural body remain buried in a borrowed tomb for three days. The apostle John would record the words which Jesus spoke concerning His hour coming that He be glorified, and the apostle John wrote concerning the hour coming which Jesus should depart out of this world unto the Father, but what we must needs recognize is that there would be no glory without suffering, and there would be no ascension without death. Not only this, but there would be no return unto the Father without resurrection, and there would be no resurrection without and apart from death. THERE WOULD BE NO GLORY WITHOUT SUFFERING! THERE WOULD BE NO RETURN WITHOUT RESURRECTION! THERE WOULD BE NO RESURRECTION WITHOUT AND APART FROM DEATH!

            THE GLORY AND RETURN OF THE SON THROUGH SUFFERING AND DEATH! I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which Jesus would speak unto the disciples on the night in which He was betrayed, and I am absolutely and completely captivated with the fact that while He did in fact speak of His return unto the Father, and while He did in fact speak of His going away—He would not speak of His return unto the Father without and apart from suffering. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to return unto His Father who was in heaven, and the catalyst that would bring about that return would be the suffering He would experience within this earth. What’s more, is that within the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find Jesus teach the disciples concerning the suffering which He must needs experience and face within this life. It would be in the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find multiple references of Jesus teaching His disciples concerning the suffering which He must needs face and experience—and not only the suffering He must needs experience, but also the death He must also experience. With this being said, we must also recognize that when Jesus taught His disciples concerning His suffering and death, He also spoke unto them concerning His resurrection It would be the suffering and death that would make possible His resurrection, and resurrection would be the beginning of the process and path of His ascension unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew concerning Jesus’ teaching His disciples concerning the suffering He must needs face within this life—and not merely the suffering He would experience, but also the death He would experience, and the subsequent resurrection:

            ”From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21).

            “And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: and they shall kill Him, and the third day He shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry” (Matthew 17:22-23).

            “And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him: and the third day He shall rise again” (Matthew 20:17-19).

            Each of these passages brings us face to face with the truth that not only did Jesus know He was going to be betrayed, but Jesus also knew that He would suffer many things of the elders, and the chief priests, and the scribes and be killed. Jesus taught the disciples that He would be betrayed into the hands of men, and how men would kill Him, and on the third day He would rise from death to life. Not only this, but Jesus would speak unto and teach the disciples that they would go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man would be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they would condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him. These words must be carefully considered and understood when reading the dialogue and exchange which Jesus had with His disciples on the night in which He was betrayed, and as He spoke unto them in the upper room, for Jesus knew and understood that the hour had come for Him to be glorified, and that the way and the path to that glory was indeed through suffering. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to return unto His Father which was in heaven, and when speaking unto the disciples He would show and demonstrate unto them how the path to the Father would indeed be through suffering and even through death—a reality which He would highlight and underscore when instructing and inviting those who wished to come after Him to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow after Him. Not only this, but when speaking unto the disciples Jesus would also prepare them to face and endure suffering—and not only to endure suffering, but to endure persecution, to be hated of all nations for His name’s sake, and to be cast out of the synagogues and brought before kings and governors. Oh we musts needs recognize and understand this truth, for more often than not the path to the Father leads directly through a place we would oftentimes rather not pass through. More often than not the path unto the Father leads directly through suffering, through persecution, through affliction, through opposition, and yea, even death itself. For Jesus the path and journey unto the Father would ultimately and inevitably lead directly through suffering and death, for there would be no return unto the Father without and apart from the suffering and death He would experience within this life. Jesus knew that glory awaited Him, and Jesus knew that He would return unto the Father which was in heaven, however, Jesus also knew the way, the path and the journey to that glory and unto the Father was through suffering and death. There was absolutely no way around this suffering, and there was absolutely no way around the cross which He would not only be forced to carry, but also be nailed to and hung upon.

            What makes the garden of Gethsemane so incredibly captivating and beautiful is that when Jesus prayed before and unto the Father which was in heaven He would declare unto the Father, saying, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thy will be done.” Jesus in the flesh did not want to walk and pass through suffering, and did not want to pass through and experience death, and yet Jesus recognized and understood that the only way back to the Father was through suffering and death. Jesus knew and understood that He would indeed return unto His Father who was in heaven, however, that path and that journey would lead Him directly through the valley of the shadow of death and the suffering which would pave the way for death. It’s interesting and worth noting that it would be the suffering Jesus faced and would endure that would pave the way for death, and it would be only once suffering and death had worked their perfect work in Jesus the Christ that He would be able to rise from death to life on the third day, and would ultimately return unto the Father which was in heaven. The apostle Paul recognized and understood the intrinsic link and connection between suffering and glory, for when writing unto the Philippian saints he would write the following words which are found in the second and third chapters of this particular epistle: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but  made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11). “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made comformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:7-14). Consider also if you were the following words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the absolutely incredible truth that as surely as Jesus would indeed return unto the Father, and as surely as Jesus would indeed be glorified with the glory He had with the Father in the beginning, He must needs pass through suffering and death. The hour would ultimately and eventually come when Jesus would return and ascend unto the Father which was in heaven, and when Jesus would sit down at the right hand of the Father, but the New Testament authors knew, recognized and understood that there was no sitting down at the right hand of the Father which was in heaven without first suffering, and without experiencing death, and without being buried in a borrowed tomb for three days. There would be no being set down at the right hand of the Father which was in heaven without first dying and being buried in the heart of the earth, and remaining there until the perfect work would be complete and the Spirit would raise Jesus from death to life and bring Him forth from the grave. Oh it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that more often than not there are times within our lives when the path to the Father is found through suffering—and not even suffering, but also perhaps even death. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that the path to the Father for Jesus would lead Him into the garden, through betrayal, through suffering, through accusation and condemnation, through being mocked and scourged, and ultimately through being crucified upon a cruel Roman cross as His body and physical form would hang there upon the cross for six hours. The ultimate question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are not only willing to walk this path which might lead us through suffering—and even death itself—but whether or not we are willing to embrace it knowing that it is the path which can and will lead us directly unto the Father which is in heaven.

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