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"He Loved Them to the End"

Presented on The Lutheran Hour on April 14, 2019
By Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Lutheran Hour Speaker
Copyright 2020 Lutheran Hour Ministries

Listen (5-10mb)  Download (35-70mb)  Reflections

Text: John 13, 18, 19

I have friends with me today. Together we represent five continents. Asia, Europe, and Africa, North and South America. I'll let them introduce themselves, tell you their names and where they were born.

I'm Kou. I was born in Sinequan, Laos.
I'm Sunita. I was born in Liberia, West Africa.
I'm Dorothy. I was born in London, England.
I'm Micah. I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.
I am Beatriz. I was born in Montevideo, Uruguay.
I'm Mike. I was born just south of the Canadian border in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Together we represent a diverse set of backgrounds. We were raised in different households. We grew up listening to different kinds of music and eating different kinds of foods. We've inherited different kinds of traditions; we are different. And yet, we have been brought together in a unity that is not of this world.

On this program we've been listening to this historical biography that was written 20 centuries ago. It is an eyewitness account of this unconventional Rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth, who is the most talked about Man in history. I want to narrate for you the events as seen through John's eyes leading up to His death, and we will pause at His death. But the story doesn't end there.

See, my five friends here and I, we have been brought together because Jesus is risen from the dead. We have come to trust in Him because He died for us to save us from the power of our sin, and He lives so that we might have life with God, and we want to share this life with you. Wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever you've done, you must know that this Jesus loves you. That He died and rose so that you may have life in His Name. We want to share this life with you. So listen to His story in these excerpts of the Good News, according to John 13, 18 and 19.

"It was just before the Passover. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. And having loved His own, who were in this world, He loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already put it in the heart of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Him. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power. So He got up from the table, took off His outer garments, wrapped a towel around His waist, and began to wash His disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was around His waist. Later, after Judas had taken the bread, he went out, and it was night.

"When Judas had gone out, Jesus says, 'Now the Son of Man is glorified. And God is glorified in Him. And God will glorify Him in Himself, and He will glorify Him at once. Children, I will be with you just a little longer. You will seek Me and just as I said to the Judeans, "Where I am going, you cannot come." A new command I give you, love each other, even as I have loved you so you must love one another.'

"Peter says, 'Lord, where are You going?' Jesus answered, 'Where I am going, you are not able to follow now, but you will follow later.' Peter says, 'Lord, why can't I follow You now? I will lay down my life for You. Jesus said, 'Will you? Will you really lay down your life for Me? I'm telling you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.' And after He said this, Jesus and His disciples went out and they crossed the Kidron Valley.

"There was a garden on the other side and Judas, who betrayed Him, knew the place because Jesus had often gone there with His disciples. And so Judas came guiding a detachment of guards, with officials from the chief priest and the Pharisees, and they were carrying torches and lanterns and weapons. And Jesus, knowing all that was about to come upon Him, He went out and says, 'Who are you seeking?' And they said, 'Jesus of Nazareth.' He says to them, 'I am.' Judas the traitor was standing there, and when Jesus had said, 'I am,' they drew back and fell upon the ground. And again, Jesus said to them, 'Who are you seeking? And they said, 'Jesus of Nazareth.' He answered, 'I told you that I am, and if it is Me that you seek, then let these ones go.' This happened to fulfill the Word that He had spoken, 'I have not lost one of those that You have given Me.' Now Peter, he had a sword and he drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. And Jesus says to Peter, 'Put away your sword. Shall I not drink the cup the Father has giving Me?'

"And the detachment with their commander and the Jewish officials, they grabbed Jesus and they bound Him. They led Him away to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good for one man to die for the people.

"Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus and the other disciple, because he was known by the high priest, went into the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus, but Peter had to stay out by the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back and spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in. And she, the servant girl, says to him, 'You aren't also one of His disciples, are you? And he says, 'I am not.' The servants and the officials had made a fire. It was cold, and they were trying to keep warm, and Peter was also standing there by the fire warming himself.

"Now the high priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and about His teaching. Jesus answered, 'I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple where all the Jews gather. I've said nothing in secret. Why do you question Me? Ask those heard Me. Look, they know what I said." And an official, when Jesus said these things, an official who was standing nearby struck Him in the face. 'Is this how You answer the high priest?' He demanded. And Jesus said to him, 'If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike Me?' So Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas.

"Meanwhile, Peter was still there, warming himself by the fire. So they said to him, 'You are also one of His disciples, are you?' Again, he denied it, saying, 'I am not.' And one of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off said to him, 'Didn't I see you with Him in the garden?' Again, Peter denied it. At that moment, a rooster crowed.

"Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to the headquarters of the Roman governor. By this time it was morning. And in order to avoid ritual uncleanliness, they did not go into the governor's headquarters because they wanted to eat the Passover. Pilate came out to them and said to them, 'What charge are you bringing against this Man? They answered him, 'If He hadn't done something wrong, we wouldn't have brought Him to you.' Pilate said to them, 'Take Him and judge Him by your own law.' They answered him, 'We don't have the right to execute anyone.' This happened to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death He was going to die. Pilate went back into the headquarters and he called Jesus and said to Him, 'You are the King of the Jews?' Jesus said, 'Do you say this on your own? Or have others told you about Me?' Pilate replied, 'Am I a Jew? Your own nation and Your chief priest handed You over to me. What is it that You have done?' Jesus answered, 'My kingdom is not from this world. If My kingdom were from this world, My servants would fight to prevent My arrest by the Jewish leaders but as it is, My kingdom is not from here.'

"Pilate said, 'So You are a king. Are You?' Jesus answered, 'You say that I am a king. For this reason I was born. For this reason I came into the world to testify to the truth. Whoever is on the side of the truth listens to My voice.' Pilate says, 'What is truth?' Again, he went out to the Jews gathered there, and he said to them, 'I find no basis for a charge against this Man. Now, it is your custom that I release to you one prisoner during the time of Passover. Would you like for me to release for you the King of the Jews?' The Jews there shouted, 'No, not this one! Give us Barabbas!' Now, Barabbas had taken part in an uprising. So Pilate took Jesus and had Him flogged.

"Soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they arrayed Him in a purple robe. They came up to Him again, and again and were saying, 'Hail King of the Jews!' Again and again, they struck Him in the face. Once more Pilate came out to the Jews gathered there, and he said to them, 'Look, I'm going to bring Him out to show you that I find no basis for a charge against Him.' Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate says, 'Behold, the Man.' As soon as the chief priests and the officials laid eyes on Him, they shouted, 'Crucify! Crucify!' And Pilate said to them, 'You take Him and crucify Him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against Him.' They said, 'We have a law and according to that law He must die because He claimed to be the Son of God.' Pilate, when he heard this word, was even more afraid. He went back in and said to Jesus, 'Where are You from?' Jesus did not answer. Pilate says to Him, 'You will not speak with me. Don't you realize that I have the authority to set You free? And I have the authority to crucify You?' Jesus answered, 'You would have no authority over Me unless it were given to you from above. Because of this, the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.' And so from that point on, Pilate was seeking to release Jesus, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, 'If you let this Man go, you are no friend of Caesar's, because anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar!' Pilate when he heard this, brought Jesus out, and Pilate sat down at the judgment seat in the place called the Stone Pavement which an Aramaic is called Gabbatha. It was the day of preparation of the Passover, the sixth hour around noon, and Pilate says to them, 'Behold, your King.' And they shouted, 'Away, away, crucify!' And Pilate says, 'Shall I crucify your King?' The chief priests shouted, 'We have no king but Caesar!' So then Pilate handed Him over to them in order for Him to be crucified.

"The soldiers took charge of Jesus. And carrying His cross, He came to the place of the skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha, and there they crucified Him, and with Him two others, one on each side with Jesus in the center. Pilate prepared a notice to have it fastened above His cross. It read, 'Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.' Many of the Jews read the notice because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic and Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, 'Do not write the King of the Jews, but that this Man claim to be the King of the Jews.' And pilot said, 'What I have written I have written.'

"The soldiers, when they crucified Jesus, they took His clothes and divided them into four shares, one for each of them, with only the undergarment remaining, which was seamless woven from top to bottom in one piece. The soldier said, 'Don't tear it. Let's cast lots to see who gets it.' This happened to fulfill the Scripture, which said, 'They divided My clothing among themselves and for My garment they cast lots.'

"Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother's sister Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother standing there, and the disciple whom He loves standing next to her, He said to her, 'Woman, here's your son.' And to the disciple, He said, 'Here is your mother.' From that day on, that disciple took her into his own home.

"Then Jesus, knowing that all things were finished, and in order to fulfill the Scripture, He said, 'I thirst.' There was a jar of wine vinegar. So they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch and lifted it to His lips. When He had received the drink, He said, 'It is finished.' With that, He bowed His head and gave over the Spirit."

This is the Good News of Jesus, according to John.

I tell you this story because I have been brought to trust in Him. And in Him, I have forgiveness and new life. I want to share this life with you. We want to share this life with you. My friends here Kou, Sunita, Dorothy, Micah, and Bea, you all have come to know Him and to trust Him in your own time, in your own place, in God's own time and place, according to God's Word. And I know that our listeners would be blessed to hear what Jesus means to you.

Reflections for April 14, 2019

Title: He Loved Them to the End

Mike Zeigler: What is one thing that you come to know or more deeply know about Jesus through hearing His Passion?

Kou: I grew up in a context of animistic sacrifice. I was so privileged and honored to be born in a Christian family, because my clan became the first Hmong clan in northern Laos to become Christian. So I was confused. I didn't understand all the animistic sacrifice around me. My mother's side of the family, they weren't Christians, and so we witnessed these things all the time, the animal sacrifice for all the animistic rituals. And it just, time and time again, when people don't even have the means to purchase the animal, it becomes such a drainage in the family's resource to do that. This is why when the Hmong people become Christian, the freedom from this animal sacrifice, the burden has been lifted by this freedom in Christ that He is the once—

Mike Zeigler: It is finished.

Kou: -- for all sacrifice. It is finished!

Mike Zeigler: Finished.

Kou: And I didn't understand that fully, because I was born in a Christian home and grew up in a Christian family, like that. But then looked around me, and it was like ... and now, you can appreciate these people that come out of that animistic background, so appreciative of their new life in Christ.

Manu: What I've come to learn about Jesus is that He would do anything to save our soul, His nature of forgiveness, you know, I've come to learn that He was also a servant-leader, how He, even during His last hour, He was still serving, you know, before He died.

Jon Christopher: So, this time around, we do this on an annual basis, right? The whole Passion of Christ. And as I was listening today, I just kept feeling like, man, Jesus, He has no instincts for self-preservation whatsoever, and He just willingly walks into the mouth of the lion. There were so many moments before Pilate, before the guards, I don't know how I've never paid attention to this before, but like, you know, the first time they called to Him, and He responded, (they) bow down. There was so many moments when He could've stopped doing what He was doing and saved Himself. In the grand scheme of creation, he would've been well within his right to do so.

Mike Zeigler: Sure.

Dorothy Glenn: In everything that He said and did, He was respectful. I'm not sure if I could stay at that level of calm. You know, not to say that we can see or hear outside of the dramatization, you know, whether or not He had a tone to His voice. But, just the response to Pilate and to others that questioned Him. I think that there's something to be learned in that, in the midst of being faced with death, knowing that He's doing what He needs to do, He stayed calm and did it.

Bea Hoppe: Jesus didn't want to impose Himself on anybody. He offered Himself as a sacrifice for everybody, but He doesn't impose Himself on anybody. It would have been so easy for Him to just do something, whatever. He was God, you know, to convince everybody there that He was the Son of God and still, He didn't. He chose not to do it, because that's not the way God operates.

Mike Zeigler: He was going to be obedient to His Father.

Bea Hoppe: He was obedient, and God doesn't impose Himself on anybody and that's what Jesus did. So, He was respectful even to that point of not trying to impose God to anybody.

Mike Zeigler: Good news that you would want to share with our listeners.

Kou: My people, they are dominated by fear—fear of the evil spirits, fear of ancestral spirits, fear of Satan, himself. And the good news is that Jesus' death, resurrection has the power to overcome this fear, Satan.

Jon Christopher: My favorite phrase comes from this Passion, and it's one that I hold near and dear to my heart, that if there's one phrase you should hold onto it's "It is finished." Now, then, in the future, in the it is the evil of the world. It's done, it's over, it no longer has power. And since the evil of this world is done and lost its power, now there's life, new life, eternal life, with God, with this man Jesus who died for you.

Bea Hoppe: And also along those lines ... I'm the last one here, so, I loved when Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world." And I think that that's what I have trouble (with) sometimes because we are so much into our today and our tomorrow and our next day or this week that we forget that this is not all there is. So when Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world," He's telling us there is something else that is going to be much, much better. Put your everything into what is coming, also. So, set your priorities the right way. And I think that's what we need to take out of this, too. That there is something else. And He is the door, the gate into that other world.

Manu: I would like to say that, in agreement with everything that everyone else has said, that do not be a slave to fear. I'm a testimony of not being a slave to fear, to ancestor worship, because I was delivered from that and just knowing that Jesus loves us so much, so much that He went the extra mile to make sure that we're taken care of. Yeah, so, do not be a slave to fear.

Music Selections for this program:

"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.

"A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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