The eleven men who were left were very quiet. The voice of Christ was very soft and low — tender with farewell.
It was now only a matter of hours until Christ and his disciples would be separated. He wished to fill those last hours of fellowship with the tenderest and most significant of His teachings.
The most sacred… the most tender… the most heart-felt emotions… are those expressed at the end of the letter…
The tenderest caress comes just before the parting. The softest word just before the conversation is ended… before the train pulls out… before we turn away.
We seem to catch the quiet intimacy of that fellowship. Unforgettable words of parting and comfort were spoken by Jesus to His friends. Jesus has written them out for us:
- “Little children … a new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you … By this will all know that you are my disciples…”
- “Let not your heart be troubled; … In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you…”
- “I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you…”
- “I am the vine, you are the branches… Abide in me, and I in you…”
- “these things I have spoken unto you that in me you might have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world…”
Overcome the world? When the one who spoke was so soon to fall under the power of Caesar? Yes, for in reality we must remember that Jesus could have escaped the cross. No one compelled him to go to Jerusalem on that last journey. Indeed His friends and apostles urged Him not to go.
Watch Him, in the bitter hours that lie immediately ahead, time after time taking the initiative in deciding His own fate.
Christ had begun His ministry by telling His apostles that the Son of many must suffer many things. Must — there was no other way. It was for that purpose that He had come into the world.
“For as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up .. that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
There was Light in the little room that night. But beyond the light lay a death-ridden world…
- in the midst of the military might that was Rome where life was cheap
- in the philosopher’s porticoes of Athens where the mind found no hope
- in the dangerous living of the great shipping centers of Asia Minor to the disease infested alleys of old Jerusalem –
Men feared death, dodged its hideous grasp, could nowhere find respite from their fear.
But here was something new… Here was one facing death — not afraid but confident … already triumphant … already speaking about seeing His friends again … about never leaving them…
Strange words … about being with them to the uttermost parts of the earth and to the end of time.
How? Why? Because He alone knew the Father’s eternal purpose for what it was — the determination once and for all to destroy the power of death — once and for all to deliver men from their lifelong bondage to the fear of death.
Within a matter of hours, Christ Himself was to become the instrument by which the Father would — for all time — make death not a wall … but a door.
~ Peter Marshall -The First Easter (McGraw-Hill, 1959) pp. 16-19