Today we are studying the major part of the preparation of the Disciples for the most darkest time, the most testing time ever in their lives.
What was that test?
1. The Revelation of the Betrayer
2. The demonstration of humility
3. The departure of Jesus
4. The Greatest must be the least
5. The Absence of Jesus and the Presence of the Spirit.
The preparation of the Upper Room is essential for any ministry or any body of believers to access the fullness of the Spirit and the demonstration of authority as fruit of that preparation. It is essential that we remind ourselves that in these small hours there, Jesus had to instill in them all the summing up of 3 years of teaching and showing them who He was. He is wanting us this Pascal week to show us afresh who He is to us.
1. Revealing the Betrayer
The first thing Jesus does when they enter the preparation of the Upper Room is reveal that within their midst Satan had found the place to dominate and guide to the most evil of tasks, hand Jesus over to death. We know that above all else, God has His Sovereign Hand above all to turn the most bitter of betrayals to the biggest of eternal victories. This is meant to cover us and encourage us. Nevertheless the effect of the “kiss” of Judas was the scattering and dismay and confounding of the disciples. We have to remember that the disciples are on the way to transitioning to being apostles. This bitter test is the essential part of the Christian walk.
We remember that many times we experience in our congregations, our groups that very often the betrayal comes from the very inner circle. It can be motivated by the thirst for power or money. For Judas, it was motivated by avarice. And we see Judas taken over by Satan himself who saw to it, that the master plan was fulfilled. The plan to betray and to divide is nothing new. The hurt comes in when we experience it at such close quarters. We see that in David’s life that Saul, anointed to be king had turned for giving favour to wanting to kill David. Judas did not see the trap of satan which culminates in him regretting but not repenting. Jesus sees this as they enter a time of intimate preparation and Jesus saw to it that a distinction takes place. He gives Judas the bread, and as he is exposed in birthing betrayal satan himself enters and takes possession. Here amazement and dismay abounds.
Satan is expelled from their midst and they are now with Jesus. How many seasons we experience where Jesus exposes satan in our midst so that He can be in a place where there is no oppression and where we can experience Him fully. Let us therefore be encouraged that Jesus wants to bring us into Greater Intimacy with Him. This is that season.
2. The Demonstration of Humility: Breaking false concepts of Leadership and Authority
As soon as Judas exits the scene, Jesus sets about to demonstrate the type of authority that should be exercised in the Kingdom of God, in contrast to the religious and political aspects that had come into the faith of the day. Jesus washes their feet, a task done by a slave, which in Peter caused particular discomfort. Jesus wanted to impart to them the kind of authority that should be exercised. Leadership is equal to servanthood, is not the pursuit of self interest but focussing on the cleansing and well being of others. Leadership is given not taken. Gifts and ministries are recognised and not imposed. Jesus goes at great length to teach them that beyond this, the Temple that He is bringing in would just descend into the same spirit of the faith of the day. The same self righteous power hungry characters would take over bringing corruption into that which was birthed in Heaven itself.
3. The Departure of Jesus
Here Jesus prepares them for their greatest failure: their reaction to Jesus being taken from them temporarily and when He would be taken permanently. There was an immediate process to undergo, which is lived out in the Garden after the Upper Room time. Jesus tells them first about His Impending seizure from them. Every ambition of theirs concerning Jesus in “soil ripe for revolution” would be confounded by the death of their Saviour. All aspirations of the implantation of the Kingdom was to be broken. What men looked for was a warrior to take Kingdom by force. Jesus’ mission was everything but that. And He tells them that their heartbreak would turn into their joy.
Do we have hidden ambitions? It is almost certain that in our lives we will experience life changing experiences which are turning points in our living in Him. Many times in my own life there were occasions when I passed through seasons of deep testing, deep misunderstanding and mistrust from others, sickness and loneliness, but Jesus was to show me that despite all this, I was to obey. Sometimes we go to almost “death” and the finish of all things until Jesus comes in with Resurrection power to show He is Lord in us and through us. But death to self has to happen.
4. The Greatest Must be the Least
The greatest debate amongst the disciples was always who was the greatest and favourite of Jesus. We see that Jesus demonstrates this through Peter. Peter was always eager to speak and act. Sometimes saying things that were bold and true, doing things like walking on water, and having that boldness that was beyond the others. In this state Peter was too ambitious and too arrogant to even fulfil yet the call. In the denial after the betrayal Peter sees his own flesh and his own failure, means that when Jesus does call him in John 21 Peter is everything but expecting the ministry to be bestowed upon him. He is so broken that even went back to fishing, the old life. So the conversation of John 21 goes along 2 tracks, personal intimacy and failure, and ministry call. This means that MINISTRY IS NEVER BESTOWED BECAUSE OF PERSONAL MERIT OR ANY QUALITY. it is given in the place of brokeness. And we see Peter stand up on the Day of Pentecost boldly preaching in power and revelation and his shadow healing and delivering people. We lose sight of this. That is why in many seasons God takes us through humiliation and breaking so that we do not become conceited. Even Paul had a messenger from the darkness which afflicted him, because with the high calling he had to learn the cost. And knowing always that the flesh is weak means that there is an access to a capacity to overcome and to flow in power and authority. This is the school of the Spirit by which every man and woman of God must pass through throughout their lives.
5. The Absence of Jesus and the Presence of the Spirit
Jesus in John 14 encourages them that His Permanent absence will mean His Permanent Presence. He says that He would return to the Father and ask for the Spirit to be sent down to be with them. He talks about the dwelling places that He was going to prepare. We traditionally equate this with the “mansions” in Heaven. However the original text does not give that implication. The True meaning is that Jesus went to prepare for all of us, a DWELLING PLACE IN HIS SPIRIT, which we live in and move in. This dwelling place over time will transition us to a permanent and eternal place in God.
Therefore Jesus is demonstrating here that we must come into that place, which He says in John 15, a place of ABIDING. Making our home, our resting place in Him. Hebrews 4 alludes to this new place, when David “speaks of another day”. The first day is in Genesis where God rested from Creation, and the second Day, is when God rested from His Salvation work in Christ. We can be sure there will be a third day when all that is spiritual, residing in the heavenly realms, shall be brought into existence at the abolition of this temporary and fallen creation. The first part of the new creation is the human heart culminating in a New Jerusalem, a New Earth, and a New Heaven.
Therefore the preparation of the Upper Room is to prepare us for the bad circumstances of life, and how we overcome, and to know how we come into our ministry, and by what authority we are to exercise. Also how we come into our eternal rest in Him.
May we this Passover, come into the deeper realisation that Jesus prepared us to enter into a far richer place than we care to realise. We gaze upon His Death, as ugly as it was, and we glimpse the glory that was to raise that same wounded body to a place of limitless glory, and movement, so imparting a new kind of living, and concept of life. We must see that all around this period Jesus takes us through death, showing us how to access new life, beyond just “being saved”, because their is a higher kind of life that must be lived out, bringing us into a eternal place of worship and service to Him, who is the Lamb, who is the King, who died and who was raised, and Glorified so that we too can enter the place of eternal rest.