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Learn from the Best 最高のお方から学ぶ

The archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope, the Coptic Christian leader, and the leader of the Orthodox church go into a bar… but this is not a joke, it’s true (only they didn’t really go into a bar).

They have come together and agreed to – finally! – fix the date for Easter. The date itself hasn’t been set yet but there is agreement to set a date which should be determined relatively soon.

In the meantime, Easter Sunday arrives on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. Which means that no-one knows when Easter is without looking at a calendar. It also means that Lent – the beginning of the Easter season – began back on February 10. Lent is the season in which we prepare our hearts to receive the Easter message in all its wonder and passion and joy.

How did Jesus prepare his disciples’ hearts for the first Easter 2000 years ago?
Teaching. 教え
We know this because we find a lot of this teaching in John chapters 14,15 & 16. And that’s what we will look at today.

There are 7 teachings (God and Jesus really seem to like the number 7!) in this section and I’m going to pick out the highlights of the teaching but I encourage you to read carefully and prayerfully through these chapters and learn from them in their full context.

Encouragement 励まし
Identity 独自性
Promise 約束
Dependence 依存
Warning 警告
Empowerment 力を与える
Victory 勝利

Encouragement: “Don’t be troubled”

John 14:1. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”

There is a plan in place. No matter how hopeless or dark things may seem, God has everything under control. Nothing surprises God, nothing is too hard for Him, nothing is hidden from Him, nothing can defeat Him. Take heart. Take great heart. God always wins. Live your life in a way that displays trust in God’s unfailing love.

Identity: “I am the only Way to the Father”

14:5,6 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. “

This teaching must be either supremely arrogant (and rejected) or supremely true (and received). And this teaching is central to the Easter message.
この教えは極めて傲慢で(拒絶されるもの)あるか極めて真実であるか にちがいありません。そしてこの教えはイースターのメッセージの中心なのです。

If there were other ways to God then why would Jesus have to die?! If there were other ways to God then how could God allow His Son to be needlessly sacrificed? Jesus was the only way to the Father. Peter taught this in Acts 4:12 when he told the crowd that there was no other name under heaven by which people can be saved; and Paul taught it in 1 Timothy 2:5 when he said that there is but one mediator between God and man and that mediator is the man Jesus Christ.

Before He died, Jesus wanted His disciples to know that He was the Son of God and the only way to the Father. 2000 years later, after a resurrection, an assumption and a pentecostal outpouring, this truth remains more powerful and wonderful than ever.

Promise: The Holy Spirit

14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

When Jesus ascended to heaven after His work on the cross and resurrection, that would have been quite enough. Sin had been defeated, eternal life had been secured for all who believed in Him. But there was more. We haven’t been left alone with fond memories and some excellent teaching. There was always a bigger plan. There was always a higher calling for disciples. The Father sent the Holy Spirit in Jesus name, to comfort, guide and empower His followers.
The presence of the Holy Spirit would be with all believers, all the time.
More on this later…

Dependence: The vine and the branches

15:4,5 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
5 わたしはぶどうの木、あなたがたはその枝である。もし人がわたしにつながっており、またわたしがその人とつながっておれば、その人は実を豊かに結ぶようになる。わたしから離れては、あなたがたは何一つできないからである。

Dependence can be a dirty word in the world where independence is king.
But not in God’s Kingdom. Dependence on God – the essence of the beatitudes we were looking at last week – is absolutely necessary and doesn’t allow for compromise.
This can be hard hearing for modern, educated, ambitious souls. Because there are many things we can do without God.
But we cannot do any Kingdom work – we cannot do any work that will bring the Kingdom of heaven into the world – apart from Him.

We must remain in Christ for two things to happen:
to bear Kingdom fruit 御国に実を結ぶため
for our joy to be complete 私たちの喜びが完全なものとなるため
Apart from Christ these things are unattainable.

Warning: Persecution

15:18,19 If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
19 もしあなたがたがこの世から出たものであったなら、この世は、あなたがたを自分のものとして愛したであろう。しかし、あなたがたはこの世のものではない。かえって、わたしがあなたがたをこの世から選び出したのである。だから、この世はあなたがたを憎むのである。

It’s not all roses. We know that. Jesus knew that, and He knew that the going would get very tough for us at times, too. Although it can get complicated, the underlying reason is simple.
The world hates God.
We belong to God.
So there will be times when the world hates us.

My NIV notes say that persecution for Christians is “inevitable” (unavoidable). I agree with this. This doesn’t mean we go looking for trouble. But it does mean that as we stand for Christ there will be times when we are unpopular.
Let me finish this section with a question. If you have never been persecuted for your faith in Christ, why not? What does this mean? And if you have been persecuted for your faith in Christ, under what circumstances and what does this mean?

Empowerment: The work of Holy Spirit

16:14 He will bring glory to me, for he will take what is mine and make it known to you.

Jesus has already taught on the promise of the Holy Spirit as a divine comforting presence and a guide. Now He is teaching about the Holy Spirit as One who provides and One who empowers the Christian to live a life that brings glory to Jesus.

Specifically here, the Holy Spirit provides and empowers with knowledge and with truth to stand against the persecution of the world, and (again) to see the Kingdom of heaven manifest upon the earth.

This is something that we must never tire of seeking. We must regularly seek a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. I urge you to make this a priority. Pray with me, pray with other believers for the filling of the Holy Spirit, the empowerment of the Holy Spirit so that we can routinely display the manifestations of the Spirit and bring glory to Jesus on a daily basis.

Victory: Grief Turns to Joy

16:22-24 Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
23 その日には、あなたがたがわたしに問うことは、何もないであろう。よくよくあなたがたに言っておく。あなたがたが父に求めるものはなんでも、わたしの名によって下さるであろう。
24 今までは、あなたがたはわたしの名によって求めたことはなかった。求めなさい、そうすれば、与えられるであろう。そして、あなたがたの喜びが満ちあふれるであろう。

Big promises here. We need to understand this and we need to step out in faith for this.

The emphasis here is praying to the Father in the name of Jesus under the leading of the Holy Spirit. Doing this will see great blessing and will complete our joy.

Let me review. In preparing for Easter, Jesus taught his disciples the following things:

Encouragement 励まし
Identity 独自性
Promise 約束
Dependence 依存
Warning 警告
Empowerment 力を与える
Victory 勝利

Let’s be sure to learn from the Master.