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“Lord, Where Are You Going?” A sermon appropriate for Ascension Day January 18, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Ascension, Body of Christ, John's Gospel, Messiah, Peter the Apostle, Religion, Sermons.
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John 13:31-38

It is a cool spring night. The fall before during the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus openly proclaimed that He was going away (John 7:33). Now this was a strange statement for someone who claimed to be the Messiah, for someone who is going to overthrow the Roman oppressors and sit on the throne of David. John 7:35-36 tells us how that they speculated that Jesus would go out among the Jews dispersed throughout the Roman empire and begin to teach the heathen.

The disciples were not much better. When Jesus again said, I am going away, Peter’s question was simple, “Lord, where are you going?”

I. Jesus had said, “I am going to be glorified” (verses 31-32).

A. Jesus glorified the Father in His crucifixion (verse 31b-32a). Just a few days before in John 12:27-33, Jesus explained that through His death, the Father would be glorified. We sometimes sing a song to the effect that we were in the mind of Christ when He died on the cross but ultimately Jesus Christ died so that the Father would be glorified. God hates sin and, as we heard last week in Sunday School, God hates sinners but He sent His Son to die for those sinners so that He might be glorified. What most honors God, more than all the acts of creation or judgment or benevolence put together is that His Son came to die that sinners might be made righteous. That is how that Jesus glorified the Father and, I might add, that is also the beginning of the glorification of Jesus, the Son of God by the Father (John 17:1-4).

B. As wonderful as the glory of the cross is, that is not the main point that Jesus is making here when He says, “I am going away.” It is a necessary part of His future glory but this glory is beyond the cross, beyond even the resurrection. The Father glorified the Son in His ascension into heaven, that is, in His exaltation to the throne of God. (verses 31a and 31b).

Peter did not really understand what Jesus was talking about and that is why he asked, “Lord, where are you going?” Fifty days later, Peter made it very clear that he understood what it was that Jesus meant. In Acts 2:33-36, Peter explains in detail how that the Father glorified Jesus Christ.

C. This double glorification is necessary for our eternal salvation (John 17:1-5 and 1 Peter 1:17-21).

II. Jesus is going soon and will not be found or followed (verses 32b-33, 36-37). The word “seek” here is an important word. It means more than wondering where something is at and looking around to see if you can find it. Desire is implied here. You see, as Wesley put it in the Christmas carol, “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” Jesus is the “Desire of the nations.” He is the Messiah. Even those who rejected Him, who crucified Him, they also desired Him, they also sought Him, but they did not recognize Him as the one for whom they were seeking.

A. This statement had immediate emotional impact (verses 36-37, John 14:1). It caused Peter to ask questions. It troubled them. The one whom they had sought, whom they had desired, had come. He had called them and they had followed Him. They recognized Him as the Messiah. They knew that He was the Sent One, the Son of God. And now He is going and refuses to tell them where He is going. This was very hard for them to accept. In fact, Peter says, Lord, you can take me. I’ll go. If it cost me my life, I will go. These are questions of deep, troubled emotion. This is not an intellectual exercise.

B. This statement had eternal implications (Compare John 8:21 with John 13:36). This is where the main difference between the rulers of the Jews and the disciples is to be found. Jesus told both groups that they would seek Him, that they would desire Him. The rulers of the Jews, He said, would seek Him, that is, would seek the Messiah, but that they would die in their sin and would not be able to come to where Jesus is. The disciples also would seek Jesus and would not at first be able to follow Jesus Christ but they would in the future be able to follow. Why? Because they recognized Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, the Sent One, the Son of God.

III. Jesus has left us with an important command to obey while He is gone (John 13:34-35, 37-38).

A. This command is new…

…in that it had not been obeyed (Compare verses 34-35 with 1 John 2:7-11). The command to love your neighbor, to love your brother is part of the key command of the Old Testament law – Leviticus 19:18. but it had been ignored. When Jesus came along and He began to preach and practice love for one another, it was received as radical and new, not because it was not known but because it was not often previously practiced and in the religious leadership of that day was hardly practiced at all.

B. Obedience to this commandment is modeled for us by Jesus Christ (verse 34b). This command is not only new because it had not been obeyed previously but also because it had finally the perfect model, Jesus Christ. Now we already have earlier in this chapter an illustration of this love through the washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus Christ (see especially verses 14-15). We understand that to love one another demands that we submit ourselves as slaves to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

There is, however, another point about the washing of their feet that illustrates for us how we are to love each other. Not only does it involve humbling ourselves before one another but also involves honoring the one who we are serving. Not everyone had their feet washed in that day. No one ever washed a slave’s feet. He washed feet but there was no one to wash his. The washing of feet was reserved for the honored guests of the house. In other words, if I am going to love you as Christ has loved me, not only must I humble myself to the servant’s position but I must also exalt you to the honored position.

Almost every time when I preach a strong sermon on the necessity of loving one another, not just in this church, but throughout my ministry, someone asks me how? Again, we know what it means to love one another, to humble ourselves and to exalt one another. What we do not recognize is how to do this. A few minutes after Jesus spoke to words of John 13:34, He returned to this theme in John 15:12. John 15:9-10 tells us how we can love one another as Jesus loves us. We must abide in His love as He abides in the Father’s love. John 15:5 points out that unless we abide in Christ, we are powerless. That includes especially our love for one another. Are there practical things that you can do? Yes. Ephesians 4 gives us a whole list of practical ways to love one another. It begins though with Christ enabling us. Without Christ’s help, we cannot love one another and to the extent that I do not love my brother and sister in Christ is the proof that I am not abiding in Christ as I should.

C. To ignore this commandment is to set ourselves up for a spiritual trap (Compare verses 37-38 with John 21:15-17). Peter is an excellent example of someone who followed Christ but had problems loving his brothers, his fellow disciples. We find in John 13 that he still must learn to obey this commandment. Is He a believer? Yes. Is he abiding in Christ as he should? Absolutely not. Here is a man who is more concerned about proving his loyalty and his usefulness to Christ than exalting his fellow disciples above himself. Peter paid a price for his powerlessness to love. He fell into the trap of Satan. He denied Christ. Not once. Not twice but rather three times.

When you look at John 21:15-17 and remember the events and the words of both Peter and Jesus in the upper room, we find that Jesus visited one last time this theme of love for Christ and for His people before He ascended to heaven.

“Peter,” he said. “Do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord! I love you.”

“Peter, if you love me, follow my example, feed my sheep. The good shepherd gives his life for his sheep. Greater love has no man than this, that he should lay down his life for his friends. Peter, give your life for my sheep, for your brethren. If you do that, then people will know that you are my disciple.

Peter was willing to show his loyalty through death. Jesus wanted to world to see Peter’s loyalty through his life, specifically, through his love for his fellow believers.

In 1 Peter 2:22, after that Jesus described the glorification of Jesus Christ by the Father, Peter follows Jesus pattern and commands the believers to love one another. Peter learned his lesson well. Although it took a little time, he came to the point where he understood the connection between his salvation and his relationship to his brothers and sisters in Christ. Have you understood that connection and how are you putting it in practice?


Holiday Sermons from Hebrews 1:1-2:4 (from Christmas to Easter) August 31, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Ascension, Christmas, Crucifixion, Easter, Good Friday, Hebrews, Humor, Messiah, Palm Sunday, Religion.

Compared to last week there were just too many good sermons on the few sites that I gather from to include them all. Don’t forget to read the humorous quote at the bottom of this post justifying the ignoring of the chapter divisions. It’s good!

Christmas from Ray Pritchard

Palm Sunday from John Piper

Maundy Thursday (could also be used for Good Friday) from John Piper

Easter Sunday (could also be used for Ascension Thursday) from John Piper

Okay, not a holiday sermon but very powerful covering 2:1-4 from John MacArthur

A different approach covering the same verses as I will be on Sunday. This one is from Ray Stedman. Great quote from this one: “We shall ignore chapter divisions as we go through this book for, on the best tradition, those were put in by a drunken man riding on horseback.” Not very spiritual but I like it.