Godís People in Hard Times
Lesson 8

Lesson Eight

Promises to the Eleven

Texts: John 13:16 - John 16

The background of this text is quite important.† It is extremely easy to lift verses from this reading and give them applications that Jesus neither intended nor promised to everyone.† Be sure to determine who is speaking to who before meanings are decided.


The general context: This is Jesusí last night on earth as a physical being.† This conversation occurred in the period between Jesusí establishing the Lordís Supper and his arrest.† The conversation is between Jesus and eleven of the twelve disciples Jesus had hand-picked.† Judas Iscariot already had departed to set his betrayal of Jesus in motion (see John 13:27, 30).


Realize these men had a special relationship with Jesus.† Most (if not all) of them had been with Jesus on a 24-hours-a-day basis for much of Jesusí ministry.† Jesus personally picked them for their role (see John 15:16; Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 3:13-15).† These men heard Jesusí teachings, saw Jesusí miracles, and spent private time with Jesus.† Though there were some things they misunderstood during Jesusí ministry, though at times they had an incorrect focus during Jesusí ministry, these men were special to Jesus.† With them, Jesus would begin a world movement that would last, thus far, almost 2,000 years.† If anyone was to receive special blessings from Jesus, these men would have received those blessings.† If escape from suffering were a characteristic of Christianity, these men would have escaped suffering.


To these men, Jesus gave some incredible promises in this conversation.† (1) He said more than once that these men could ask God for anything in his name and receive it (see John 14:13, 14 and 15:7).† This ďaskingĒ would be based on an understanding that came after Jesusí resurrection.† It would be based on the insights that came in Acts 2.† The foundation for such ďaskingĒ was based on the love for Jesus and God that produced obedience.† It was not an arbitrary ďaskingĒ based on physical lusts and desires, but an ďaskingĒ attuned to Godís purposes in Jesus.


†(2) Jesus said the Holy Spirit (the Comforter, the Helper, the Counselor, the Advocate) would (a) teach them all things and (b) give them perfect recall of all Jesus said to them (see John 14:26).† That is quite a blessing!† Having taught about Jesus for over 50 years, I would like to be taught all things pertaining to being godly and have perfect recall of all Jesus taught.† The ďwhatĒ of their teaching about Jesus would never be an issue nor occupy their time.† They needed to focus on the courage to teach Jesusí message.


However, what did Jesus declare to these special men about suffering?† (1) All he said to them is based on Jesusí premise declared in John 13:16óthey were not greater than him.† He used two easily understood examples: a slave is not greater than the one who owns him (or her); a person who is sent (on a mission or with a message) is not greater than the person who sent him (or her).† These men (by personal choice) belonged to Jesus to take his message to people.† Whatever Jesus endured, there was no injustice in these men enduring the same thing.† Physical suffering was to be Jesusí lot; physical suffering was to be their lot.


(2) Thus, as Jesus was hated, they would be hated also (see John 15:18).† Why was Jesus hated?† Because he did not subscribe to the values of those who led the Jewish people!† Why would these men be hated?† Because they would not endorse the values of the leaders of the societies they were in!† It is the character of God that leads Godís peopleónot greed, not possession of power, not indulging physical desires, not manipulating other people to achieve personal objectives.† It is rare to see compassion, mercy, forgiveness, the true championing of the powerless, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and self-sacrifice in those who lead the societies of our world.† It takes enormous courage to live by Godís values in an evil world.† It takes even more courage to teach people to live by Godís values in an evil world.† Such emphasis is aggressively despised by many who lead people!


†(3) These men could expect to be barred from synagogues because they endorsed Jesusí message about Godís values and focus.† Understand that the synagogue was a thoroughly Jewish institution that guaranteed the survival of Jewish people in difficult moments.† It was fundamentally a religious institution that served a basic role in Jewish life for centuries.† For a Jew to be shunned by synagogues was a serious, unthinkable ďkiss of deathĒ (see John 9:18-23).† Since synagogues harassed Jesus, synagogues would harass these men.


†(4) These men would experience such severe opposition that religious people would consider their deaths to be a service to God (see John 16:2).† Consider Paulís opposition to Jewish Christians in Acts 8:1-3, 9:1, 2, Galatians 1:13, 14, and 1 Timothy 1:12-14 during his pre-Christian existence.† Those who said they represented God would kill these men!


Never did Jesus promise these men an easy, trouble-free life in this physical world.† Jesus did not even pray that these men would be delivered from experiencing the hardships produced by opposition in this world.† Read John 17:14-21.† Jesus prayed for their endurance, not that they be taken away from the opposition.


If suffering was to be expected by those closest to Jesus, why should todayís disciples feel abandoned by Jesus if commitment to Godís values results in suffering?




1. Why is the background so important in this text?† What is the general context?† When did this conversation occur?† Who is the conversation between?


2. What must we realize?† What would Jesus begin with these men?


3. Give and explain two incredible promises Jesus made to these men.


4. All Jesus said to them about suffering is based on what premise?


5. Why was Jesus hated?


6. Godís people should NOT be led by what?


7. What is rare to see?


8. Why could these men expect to be barred from synagogues?


9. How severe would the opposition against them be?


10. Never did Jesus promise these men what?


11. What did Jesus pray for?† What did Jesus NOT pray for?

Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 8

Copyright © 2009
David Chadwell & West-Ark Church of Christ

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