Lessons From The Upper Room
Written by Jay Yeager
Thursday, 19 February 2009 17:58

Lessons from the upper room

(John chapters 13-17)


The events in the upper room cover five chapters in John’s record of the gospel. Beginning in John chapter thirteen through John chapter seventeen, these one hundred fifty five verses constitute the longest recorded discourse we have between Jesus and his apostles.


The lessons are numerous and profound, on this, the last evening before his betrayal and subsequent trial and death. We want to notice a few of them in this study.


The Lord’s Supper finds only a brief mention, “And supper being ended…” (John 13:2). Matthew, Mark and Luke go into greater detail, whereas John covers the events following the Supper.


Judas is in the upper room; however, he exits early, the devil’s influence is strong, greed and impulse driving his actions. Folks, when the love of money rules the heart (I Timothy 6:10), restraint and judgment are often lost. Judas turns to stealing (John 12:5-6) and betrayal to feed his greed (Matthew 26:14-15).


Folks, the simple truth is this - a greedy heart is never satisfied. “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity” (Ecclesiastes 5:10). Judas will feel remorse, but only after the death of Jesus (Matthew 27:3-5).


The right sentiment regarding wealth and possessions is expressed in Proverbs 30:7-9. “Two things have I required of thee; deny me not them before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain”


Serving others is the pathway to greatness


Jesus washed the feet of the disciples (John 13:4-17). Folks, Jesus never intended to start a religious ritual to be practiced down through time; rather, he used a custom of that time to teach us a lesson on being a servant.


In the Jewish homes during the first century there were certain courtesies offered to guests, one of those courtesies was to wash their dusty feet. Jesus would rebuke Simon the Pharisee for withholding that common courtesy from him (Luke 7:44).


In the upper room there was no host, and none of the disciples offered to perform this courtesy for the others, so after the supper ended, Jesus gird himself with a towel and washed the feet of the disciples. Jesus does what no one else wanted to do, or was unwilling to do!


Why? To show us the meaning of service. What Jesus demonstrated for us in John 13, he tells us plainly later on “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:27). In short, the path to greatness is in serving others!


The command to love


“A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).


The command to love is not an optional part of Christianity. Every Christian should recognize its importance, and preachers should emphasize it, as did the apostle Paul. “But as touching brotherly love, ye need not that I write unto you, for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another” (I Thessalonians 4:9).


What happens if we fail to love the brethren? The same apostle that penned John 13:34-35 spoke of the consequences; namely, darkness and death.



“Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes” (I John 2:8-11).



“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:14-18).


Now having said that, when we love, as we are commanded to love, people will see Jesus living in us!


The second coming – a precious promise


“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).


The second coming of Christ is not in doubt, only the ignorant deny what the scriptures affirm (II Peter 3:3-5). The Bible makes this clear, that while we may not know the “when” of his coming (Mark 13:32-33), the following is will certainly be true:

  1. His coming will be loud (I Thessalonians 4:13-18).
  2. His coming will be visual – every eye will see him (Revelation 1:7)
  3. His coming will be sudden (I Thessalonians 5:1-3).
  4. Judgment will commence (II Corinthians 5:10; Luke 19:12-27)
    1. A blessing for some (Matthew 25:21; 23).
    2. A terror for others (Revelation 6:15-17).
    3. None shall escape (I Thessalonians 5:3)


The way – the truth – the life

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Of all the lessons found in the upper room, none are more important to humanity than this one. The only way to the Father is through Jesus Christ.


This truth is repeated frequently in the New Testament (Acts 2:22-47; 3:13-26; 4:12; 8:12; 35-39; 13:22-39; John 4:42; I John 4:14; 5:11-12 et al).


The way - A term often used to describe Christianity (Acts 9:2; 19:9; 23; 22:4; 24:22).


The truth – grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17). It is truth that will make us free (John 8:32).


The life – the words of Jesus are life (John 6:63), he is the prince (footnote – author) of life (Acts 3:15).


Beloved, salvation and damnation have the same number of letters, the difference between the two (and the difference has eternal implications) is that one is with Christ, the other is without him. On the very night of his betrayal, Jesus is informing man that the hope of heaven is in him, and in none other.


Inspiration of the Holy Spirit


“But the comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).


“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13).


These two verses are the keys of inspiration in regard to the New Testament, so we can have confidence that the things spoken and written are the words of God, not the words of men (I Thessalonians 2:13).


These verses certainly do not stand alone; inspiration is affirmed in many other places. I mention a few:

  1. Matthew 10:16-20 – the very words they were to speak would be given to them.
  2. Ephesians 3:3-4 – God revealed the very words they were to write.
  3. I Corinthians 2:10-13 – verbal inspiration is in these verses. God communicated with words!


  1. II Timothy 3:16 – all scripture (Old Testament and New Testament) is inspired of God.


The true Vine and the branches


“I AM the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you, as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:1-6).


Outside of Christ men can do nothing. The spiritual responsibilities belong to those who are in Christ. This may provide some insight into why Paul was grieved when the woman possessed said, “…These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this she did many days. Paul being grieved…” (Acts 16:17-18).


It was not what she was saying, for she was speaking the truth, but rather, who was saying it. The responsibility to make known the will of God belongs to the church (Ephesians 3:10-11), those in Christ.


The emphasis here is upon those (branches) individuals (John 15:2; 6) who are in Christ, to bear fruit. Fruit is an expected thing. Patience is on display in the parable of the fig tree (Luke 13:6-9), as well as an end of patience…The Lord will wait so long and no longer.


What happens if we fail to bear fruit? We are cut off, and separated from the vine, the branches are soon withered. Folks, there is a twice dead (Jude 12). Bear fruit!!!


The hatred of the world


“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his Lord, if they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:19-20).


There are some things that every follower of Christ ought to expect, namely, the world will not care for you, because you are not of the world. “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14).


Beloved, if the world speaks well of you, you need to be very concerned. “Woe, unto you, when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). Who does the world hear? Those who are of the world (I John 4:3-5).


The (real) Lord’s Prayer

(John 17:1-26).


The Lord’s Prayer can be divided into three main sections:

  1. Jesus prays for himself (John 17:1-8)
  2. Jesus prays for the apostles (John 17:9-19)
  3. Jesus prays for all who believe on him through their word (John 17:20-22).

“Glorify thy Son” (John 17:1; 5), the glory Jesus willingly surrendered for our benefit (II Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:7-8).


The work of the Father (John 17:4), the work Jesus said was his meat to finish (John 4:34), on the cross Jesus would say “It is finished” (John 19:30).


Jesus did not want his followers to be taken out of the world (John 17:15), to influence the world, his followers must be in the world (Matthew 5:13-16; Philippians 2:15). But rather keep them from the world’s deadly embrace (I John 2:15-17).


The prayer for the unity of those who believe on him through the apostles teaching (John 17:20-22). This ought to pierce the heart of all who claim to follow Jesus. In the shadow of Calvary, as it were, Jesus prays for the oneness of those who are his disciples. Unity of doctrine (Ephesians 4:1-7; II John 9-11), unity of mind and purpose (I Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 3:17).


Love for Christ


“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Love and obedience are inseparably connected. Do you love Jesus? Then obey him! To become a Christian:


You must believe that Jesus is the Son of God (John 8:24)

You must repent of your sins (Acts 17:30)

You must confess Christ before men (Matthew 10:32-33)

You must be baptized for the remission of your past sins (Acts 2:38)

If you are a Christian you must faithfully serve him (Revelation 2:10; Hebrews 3:14)