John 14:27 “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John devotes one-third of his book to the 24-hour period immediately preceding Jesus’ death. Chapters 13—17 describe one of the scenes from that long day and night, and nothing like these chapters exists elsewhere in the Bible. In their slow-motion, realistic detail, they provide an intimate memoir of Jesus’ most anguished evening.
Leonardo da Vinci immortalized the setting in his famous painting The Last Supper, with the participants arranged on one side of the table as if posing for the artist. John himself gives few physical details; instead, he focuses on a whirlpool of emotional currents.
John holds a light to the disciples’ faces, and you can almost see the awareness flickering in their eyes. All that Jesus has told them is slowly settling in. As for Jesus, “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1).
Jesus Prepares to Leave
Never before has Jesus been so direct with them. Around the table he avoids parables and painstakingly answers the disciples’ redundant questions. The world is about to undergo a convulsive trauma, and the 11 fearful men with him are his hope for that world.
Jesus patiently explains until at last the disciples show signs of understanding. God’s Son, having entered the world to reside in one body, will soon leave the earth to return to the Father. Yet someone else—the Spirit of truth, the Advocate—will come to live inside them.
Yes, Jesus is planning to die. He is leaving them. But in some mysterious way, he is not leaving. He will not stay dead. For the disciples, caught up in the excitement of the Passover but sobered by Jesus’ haunting focus on death, it is all too much to grasp. This night Jesus gives them an intimacy with the Father such as they have never known; even so, he promises an even greater intimacy to come. He seems aware that much at which they now nod their heads will not make sense until later.
How would you describe Jesus’ reaction to impending death? Panic? Confidence? Sober concentration? Resignation? Concern for others?