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Missing in Action

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Introduction

·        God works in mysterious and unexpected ways. Sometimes - perhaps even most of the time - things don’t go the way we would expect.

·        When we are sick, He may not heal us as fast as we would like. When we struggle financially, God may not give us the income we think we should have. No matter your situation, there will be times when you feel like, “Is God there? Does When we were trying to sell our home, He did not sell our home as fast as we would have wanted. But this is no reason not to trust Him.

·        Abraham – birth of Isaac

·        Jesus - Already surprising that so many people would reject Him, including His own siblings. His crucifixion would be very surprising as well.

·        At the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, two other very unexpected things occurred – things which at first might even cause you to wonder if Jesus was really in control; and if He is really God’s Messiah, how He could let these things happen: why was He betrayed, and why did He leave the earth?

If Jesus is the Messiah, why was He betrayed? (18-30)

·        In our passage today, we return to the scene in the upper room; Passover; argument over who will be greatest; foot washing.

·        Concluded with a promise, but also a reminder that not all of them were His true followers and would be blessed

·        Rd. v. 18; cf. vv. 10-11

·        Fulfillment of prophecy; quote from Psalm 41:9 “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me”

·        Background on David, Absolam, Ahithophel from 2 Sam. 15-16

·        Imagine the feeling of betrayal; Being hurt by an enemy is hard, but being hurt by a friend hurts far worse. The one who you think is watching your back ends up stabbing you in the back

·        Paraphrase vv. 19-22 – warns ahead so that you may believe; he who receives whom I send receives Me; stirred up and testifies that one will betray; betray = to give over treacherously; looking at one another “at a loss to know,” even asking “Surely, not I, Lord?” (Mt. 26:22); We already know the outcome; we know Judas is guilty. He already has a scarlet ‘B’ written on his chest, and every time he enters the stage, we know, “He’s the one who betrayed Jesus.” But the disciples did not know that. They were completely shocked; Judas was just one of the guys; he was a master con man; so great was his deception, that even after spending three years together in close contact, they still had no suspicion. But this came as no surprise to Jesus.

·        Paraphrase vv. 23-26 – disciples reclining at u-shaped table, close to ground leaning on right elbow, John apparently closest to Jesus; Peter gestures to him and says “Tell us who it is”; John asks; Jesus answers quietly “the one for whom I dip the morsel”; dip into a bowl a tasty bit and pass it to honored guest.

·        Rd. vv. 27-30

·        If Jesus is the Messiah, why then was He betrayed by one of His closest friends? It was to fulfill Ps. 41:9; plus, Christ had known all along.

·        If Judas was a betrayer, we ought to check ourselves. A reminder that it’s not enough to attend church, or have Christian friends, or to have walked an aisle and been baptized, or to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. By our fruits, we shall prove we are His disciples.

If Jesus is the Messiah, why did He leave the earth? (31-38)

·        Rd. vv. 31-32 – Jesus has spoken of this before; cf. 12:23. Heb. 12:2 says that Jesus, for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of  the throne of God. The cross was the path to glory. His humiliation was the way to exaltation. His sacrifice led to His supremacy.

·        Jesus reveals something that must have been horrifying. Rd. 13:33a

·        Have you ever felt alone or abandoned? Doctor? Friend?

·        Jesus announces He is about to leave. It must have felt as though Jesus was ditching His disciples! He was going to be missing in action. This was not at all what they had expected! This was not what they had signed up for! They had left their nets to follow Him! This was not what the OT had prophesied! Immanuel means “God with us” – not “God away from us!” The Messiah’s kingdom was to be established forever!

·        But this was not the case. In fact, this is the Farewell Discourse.

·        But didn’t Jesus say He is with us ‘to the end of the age?’ How? As God, and as Holy Spirit.

·        >>Perhaps they initially thought, OK. We’ll just follow you. Rd. v. 33.

·        >>If Jesus is gone, how are we to act as His disciples? Rd. vv. 34-35. Love will be the mark of a true disciple, what distinguishes us from the world, what teaches the world who Jesus is in His absence. We will look at this command more in-depth next week. But for now, let it be said that with Jesus gone, how is the world going to know who Jesus is? What His kingdom looks like? What will attract them to the gospel? It’s the love of His church. On the other hand, we can do no greater harm to the name of Christ and to spread of His gospel than to omit love, living in a spirit of division.

·        Rd. v. 36. Peter seems to think Jesus does not want them to go b/c it would be too dangerous. So… Rd. v. 37. But Peter thinks too highly of himself. Rd. v. 38.

·        So, why did He leave? A question that will not be fully answered until future weeks. But we now it was to return to the Father, prepare a place for us, and advance His mission.

·        Maybe you feel like the disciples today, and that Jesus has left? All of your dreams and expectations are crumbling, and now it feels that even God Himself has abandoned you. You don’t see or feel Him, and you hardly have the faith to hang on. Events in your life are unfolding, which are completely unexpected, and seem to question if God is in control, or if He cares.

·        But God is in control, and He is worthy of your trust. The fact that Jesus was betrayed and that He left His disciples behind should not cause us concern. These were part of His plan all along. (And what we will find out in the coming weeks, is that it is actually to our advantage that Jesus went away, so that the Helper would come to us – Jn. 16:7)

·        O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! (Ps. 34:8)

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