The Last Words of Jesus to His Disciples
( Originally Published 1915 )
JESUS WENT on giving his last talk with his disciples, in the room after the supper. Among other things, he said : "This is my last command to you. Love one another as I have loved you. No one can give greater proof of love than by laying down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not any more call you `servants'; for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you `friends,' for all things that I have learned from my Father I have told you. It was not you who chose me, but I have chosen you, and appointed you to go and bear fruit that shall last, so that the Father may give you whatever you ask in my name.
" This is what I command you, to love one another. If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, since I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember what I said to you, `A servant is not greater than his master.' If they have tried to do me harm, they will try to do you harm too. If they hold to my word, they will hold to yours also. It is written in the Holy Book, `They hated me without any cause,' and that word has come true in me; for they have indeed hated me when there was no cause for it. But when that Helper comes, he whom I will send to you—the Spirit of Truth who comes from the Father-he will speak for me; yes, and you shall speak for me, for you have been with me from the very first.
"I have said these things to you now, so that in the times to come, knowing these things you will not be discouraged nor fail. They will put you out of their churches; yes, there is coming a time when if anyone kills you he will think that he is pleasing God. They will do these things because they have not really known my Father, nor known me. But I am telling you of these things now, that when the time comes, and you find the rulers and the people your enemies, you will remember I told you, and will be ready for these things.
"I am telling you the truth; it is best for you that I go away; for if I do not leave you, that Helper, the Spirit of God, will not come to you; but if I go away, I will send him to you. When he the Spirit of Truth comes, he will lead you into all truth; and he will make known to you what is to come. In a little while you will not see me any longer; then after another little while you will see me again."
These words seemed to the disciples hard to under-stand. They said to each other:
"What does he mean by telling us, `In a little while you will not see me; then after another little while you will see me'; and `I am going to the Father'? What does he mean by `a little while'?"
Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him; and he said to them, "Are you trying to find out what I meant in saying `a little while and ye shall not see me, and then a little while and ye shall see me'? I tell you truly, that in a very little while you will be weeping and sorrowing, while the world around you will be glad. Then in a little while again, your sorrow shall be turned into joy, for you shall see me again, and your joy shall never be taken away from you.
Jesus meant them to understand that in a few hours he would be taken from them and placed upon the cross to die; that he would be buried, and all these things should give them pain and sorrow. But in a few days he would rise again from the grave, and then they would be glad and happy, with a happiness that should never pass away, even though he should again, after that, leave them and go to the Father.
After saying these things, Jesus lifted up his hands to God and prayed. In his prayer he gave thanks to God that he had been able to finish the work that had been given him to do. He prayed also for his disciples, that they might all be one in heart, and love each other, and that they might be kept faithful to the end. He prayed, too, not only for those his disciples, but for all who through their words should come to believe in him as the Saviour of the world; that they all might be of one heart, loving each other; one with Jesus, and one with his Father.
When Jesus had finished his prayer, they all sang a hymn together, and went out of the supper room into the silent streets of the city. They walked toward the Mount of Olives, as if expecting to return to Bethany, the place from which they had come in the afternoon.
With the disciples, as they went out of the house, was a young man whose name was John Mark. He may have been the son of the man at whose house Jesus and his disciples had eaten the supper. If that be so, then his mother's name was Mary, just like the name of Jesus' mother, though she was not the same woman. Long afterward, this John Mark wrote one of the four gospels, telling of the life of Jesus, "The Gospel of Mark.