Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Using the Greek New Testament for devotions part 5: Nuances

Spotting Jesus' nuances.

Today I was reading in John 6 where disciples leave Jesus, and Jesus turns to the twelve and asks them a question,

ESV John 6:67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?"

If looking solely at the English, it would be hard to know what Jesus is getting at. Is he annoyed? perplexed? Is he making a genuine offer to the disciples to leave?

In the Greek, we see it clearly spelled out. The question begins with 'me', indicating that this a question that expects a negative answer, "No". Therefore Jesus is asking if they want to go away, but asking in a way that shows that he does not expect them to go away.
This led me to ponder why he did not expect them to go away. I believe the answer is found in v.64

John 6:64 But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)

So we see that Jesus knew from the beginning which of his disciples were genuine believers, and which were not. How so? This is made clearer in the next verse:

John 6:65 "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."

As I said in a much earlier post, the "coming" is "believing", and the context is people not believing in Jesus. Jesus says that the ones who believe in him are the ones to whom this has been given by the Father.
The tense of "given / granted" is a periphrastic pluperfect, meaning the giving has happened in the past, and the results of this action were in the past. In other words, the ones who believe in Jesus, were given that ability in the past, and then as a result of that, they then believed.

This then is why Jesus knows that the 12 disciples (minus Judas v.70-71) will not permanently leave him. It is because he knows that the Father has drawn them (v.44), that the Father has given them to Jesus (v.37), that Jesus will never lose them (v.39).

Later, before Jesus went to the cross, he prayed the priestly prayer, bearing these disciples in mind (7:6). So right through Jesus' ministry, even right before he went on the cross to pay for their sins, he had the 11 disciples in mind, and he knew he would not let them fall away.

What is amazing is that, we see that he didn't just pray that prayer for them, but for us to (7:20).
Therefore, if we believe in Jesus, we can be confident that Jesus will not let us permanently fall away. When we read Jesus saying, "You don't want to go away too do you?", we see that Jesus knows that we will not, because he knows that the Father has given us to him.

Praise Jesus!