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Jesus Unfiltered - Testify
Testify is the 4th and final volume of Chip Ingram’s series, Jesus Unfiltered, an exposition of the entire Gospel of John. Testify reveals Jesus’ last days on earth and His final words to His followers, from then to today. It’s a bold, gritty assignment – far from the ease and prosperity of content religion. Jesus tasked His followers with a mission to testify; He promised a future of tribulation; He provided the limitless power of the Holy Spirit; and He guaranteed the hope of victory. Testify will encourage and challenge you to take your faith to the next level – to be strong and courageous – for the sake of His Kingdom to come.More from this series
Question for you, you don’t need to yell it out loud, but…Anybody concerned about the future right now? I mean, in my adult life, this is the craziest, wildest, man alive. It’s not just concern about America. It’s around the world, it’s, I mean, if there was ever a time to be, What in the world is going to happen? And how do you trust when life is hard and doesn’t make sense, at times? That’s what Jesus is going to explain as we start this new series. Open your Bibles, if you will, to John chapter 16.
Let me very quickly go through an overview of the entire book and then I want to get you right on the edge to where we are, the very last night Jesus is on the earth. And then we will look at John chapter 16. Because what he is going to do is He is going to tell a group of followers that, your body language was great when I said, “Anybody concerned or fearful of the future?” It was like, “Ahhhh! Yeah!” You know? These guys are really concerned. And what He says to them applies to us and what He says might really shock you.
In the first five chapters, you should look, we are in the gospel of John. The first five chapters were about Jesus’ miracles and these testimonies and the question was: Will you believe? The early part of the gospel was, “Will you believe that I came from God? Will you believe when I have done these miracles that I am who I say I am?”
Then, the second five chapters, verses 6 through 10 were really about, “Well, will you follow? It’s not just enough to intellectually agree that I am the Son of God, that I have raised people from the dead, that I have healed people; but I am the Savior of the world.
And are you willing to follow – I am blazing a path – will you follow Me? I am the Good Shepherd,” chapter 10.
Then the next five chapters, chapters 11 through 15, He gets very intimate and it’s more with His inner group who are following. He says, “Will you love Me? And I don’t mean an ooey-gooey feeling. He says, “He who keeps My commandments is the one who loves Me. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friend.” Are you willing to love Me? And then are you willing to love each other the way I am loving you? The bar is getting really high. And the guys stay on the team.
And then, finally, in chapters 16 to 21, we are going to ask and answer the question where Jesus will say to them and they actually obeyed, and He will say to us, “Will you testify? Will you verbally, out loud, what you have seen, what you have heard, what you have experienced of Me in your life, will you testify like a witness in court that these things are factual in your experience so that other people could grasp and understand the great, great love of God?”
Now, with that as a wide-angle zoom, I want to take the camera and zoom in and I want you to imagine, it’s the last night that Jesus is on the earth. And just imagine there’s a little GoPro camera on one of the disciples so we can see what is going on.
And so He has told them, “We are going to celebrate the Passover.” And they make it into this room and they all walk in and they are still a little arrogant and so there was no servant, so no one washed their feet, and it was dusty. So Jesus comes in, He takes off His outer garment, He ties a towel around Him, and one by one by one, He goes to the disciples and He, being the teacher, kneels down and washes their feet.
And then they start the meal and as they start the meal, He tells them someone is going to betray Him and He gives a signal to two of His disciples and Judas gets up and goes to the religious leaders.
And for thirty pieces of silver, that night, he is going to lead some officials and some people with weapons to take Jesus away; arrest Him and then crucify Him the next day.
So Judas leaves and we are still seeing what is going on and He institutes what we now call “The Lord’s Supper,” and He took the bread and He said, “This is My body that I am going to give for you.” And they are still foggy, but He is talking about, “I am going to die on the cross, in your place, to pay for your sin and the sins of all the world. Take this cup; My blood is going to be spilled. It’s going to be the covering of a new covenant with God.”
And then it says, “They got up, they go out, and they sing a hymn.” And as they sing the hymn, then they are walking to the Mount of Olives. That was where they hung out and prayed and Judas knew the place; so that’s where he is going to meet Him.
And He is going to go pray, but before He does, these guys are scared to death. Like, We don’t get You’re going to come and You’re going to come back. They didn’t get the resurrection. But they love Him. And He says, “I want you to know, you’ve got to stay connected. All you need to do to be a follower, just stay connected to Me,” and as they pass a vineyard, He said, “I am the vine,” I am life, “you are the branches. My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me you’ll bear fruit.
I am going to produce My life inside of you.” And so, number one, all you need to do is abide – write that down. “I want you to abide in Me,” in chapter 15.
At the end of talking about what it means to abide in chapter 15, then He, it’s like He keeps repeating this. Now, “I, here is My new commandment. I want you to love each other. I want you to lay down your lives for one another. I want you, more than blood relatives, I want you to do whatever it would take. If you would have to die for one another, physically, I want you to love at that level the way I am going to die for you. Because the way the whole world is going to know that I am for real, I came from the Father, that I am fully God and fully man is they are going to watch your lives and the only explanation of your love for one another at this level will be that what I said is true.”
And then, third, He is going to say, “Finally, I want you to testify. I want you to tell people, I want you to be the witnesses, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” With that said, if you’ll open your notes, open your Bible, John chapter 16 in the gospels.
I want you to really see: What does this actually say? Because He is going, this is His last night. And He is recruiting a team of eleven guys that will start the greatest revolution in all of history.
These eleven guys will be two billion strong, about two thousand years later – that’s us. In almost every known language, every country everywhere, followers of Jesus. And every one of these eleven, except one, will literally die, will be killed for their faith. And it will be out of this love for each other and their love for Him that, like wildfire, within three hundred years, the Roman Empire gets turned around. By 313, they estimate thirty-three of the sixty million people in the Roman Empire were followers of Jesus by their radical lives and their testimony.
So what I want you to do, as you glance at the notes, what was He saying to His first disciples, and if you just notice, He’s going to clarify their future role, He is going to give them some expectations, He is going to explain where He is going and what the Holy Spirit is going to do, He is going to give them some timing issues because they don’t really understand, and then He is going to tell them that it’s going to be really tough but there is hope. You ready to dig in? Have your passage? Let’s start with chapter 15, the last two verses.
They are outside, and now He is telling them, “Guys, it’s My last night.” “When the Helper,” or, “the Comforter, the Holy Spirit comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father.
He will testify about Me and you also must testify for you have been with Me from the beginning.” He clarifies their role. Here’s all I want you to get. Their role was not to start a new religion, it wasn’t just to be nice guys, it wasn’t just to be morally pure. Their role was to testify about who Jesus was and what they saw He actually did.
“Testify” means to give evidence as a witness to facts, it’s to serve as evidence or proof that something actually existed or it’s the case. All I want you to get is their role isn’t just to be nice people who even serve God. Their role is to verbally and with their life testify.
Second, He sets their expectations for the future. Now, He is going to launch a movement and I don’t know, if you were recruiting people for a worldwide movement, I think you ought to be a little bit more positive. Like, “Hey, guys, if you just follow Me, everything is going to be great. You’re going to be upwardly mobile, life is going to be wonderful. If you’re single, you’re going to find a wonderful person. Your income is going to go up, your health is going to be great.” It’s kind of like stuff you hear on TV about Christianity. But let’s find out what the Author of Christianity said about facing the future that is difficult.
16, He says, “All these things I have told you so that you will not go astray or stumble.” Literally, the word means: So you won’t be caught off guard or be surprised. He goes on to say, “They will put you out of the synagogue. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is doing it as a service for God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or Me.” Well, why are you telling this bad news to us? “I have told you this so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.”
He is setting their expectations. In just a few days, He will die, He will rise from the dead. For forty days in a resurrected body He will teach, there will be five hundred witnesses, this won’t be some little thing done in a corner.
But these followers, they will be expelled from the synagogue. That means their kids can’t get an education. They are expelled from the synagogue. That means their families will disown them and the way life worked is everything was in the family business.
He is saying, “I want you to know I am leaving, and by the way, your life is going to get turned upside down. It’s going to get really bad. In fact, it’s not just that bad, here’s what is going to happen: they are going to kill you.”
How would you like to join a movement and the leader says, “Hey, this is going to be great; they are going to kill you.” But, see, they knew who He was. They knew there was a forever life, not just a “right now” life. And He says, “I am saying this to set your expectations so that you are not shocked or caught unaware.”
Notice the third thing He does. He explained where He was going – back to the Father.
And then this new role of the Holy Spirit that is completely different.
Picking it up with me, look at verse 5. “Now I am going to Him who sent Me, yet none of you ask, ‘Where are You going?’ Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you, but if I go away I will send Him to you. And when He comes, He will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment. In regard to sin because men do not believe in Me. In regard to righteousness because I am going to the Father. And with regard to judgment because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”
And now He goes on, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can bear now. But He, the Spirit of truth, when He comes will guide you into all truth. He will speak not on His own, but He will speak only what He hears and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to Me by taking from Mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said, ‘The Spirit will take from Mine and He will make it known to you.’ In a little while, you will see Me no more, and then after a little while, you will see Me.”
So, imagine, you’re fearful. He’s leaving, it sounds like He is talking in circles, you believe He is the Messiah, you thought He was going to set up His kingdom now and pull down Rome. Now He is telling you, “Here’s your expectations!” And, basically, what He says is, “Are you ready, guys? You are in for the greatest paradigm shift in all of life. Formerly, you had relationship with the Father through Me, you believed in Me, you heard My words, you watched Me touch people, you watched Me raise the dead, you watched Me feed five thousand people, you saw the miracles, you have seen it all. I am leaving to go back to the Father, but I am sending another.” Some of your translations say, “…Helper,” or, “Comforter.” The Greek word is paraklēt. “One who is called alongside.”
And in chapter 14, He says, “another just like Me.” And so after He dies and is risen from the dead, and the New Covenant is instituted, every one of His followers who turned from their sin and received Christ, the Holy Spirit actually will come and live inside of them. And the very power, the personality, the person of Christ by the Holy Spirit will live inside of every believer – that’s what the New Covenant is about.
And so what He’s saying is, It’s actually better because if I was over here talking with Peter and John and James wanted to, I can’t talk to two people. I am limited by this body. But what I want you to know is that I am leaving to the Father and when the Spirit comes, a number of things are going to happen.
Number one, He is going to be working in people’s hearts. He will convict people of sin. He will show them that they fall short; their life doesn’t work. In fact, He is going to do more than that, He is going to convict people of their life. My righteous life and how I live is the bar of God’s standard – this perfect life of love and holiness. And the Spirit is going to let people know that they don’t live that way. And then I am going to defeat Satan and when I defeat death and Satan, the Spirit of God is going to be working in the world and He is going to be living inside of you and as He works and as you verbalize and live this life, there is going to be a movement of God where I am going to let everyone anywhere who longs to know what it means to be forgiven and have a relationship with the eternal and holy God, that they can have that through Me.
And, by the way, I know that you’ll have a lot of questions. So this Spirit of truth, this One coming alongside, who will represent Me, He is going to take of Mine, He will give it to you, He will guide you, He will direct you, He will whisper, “This is the way. Walk in it.” Don’t worry, guys. It’s better that I go. And, by the way, He is going to exalt or glorify Me.
When the Spirit of God is working in a powerful way, Jesus becomes the focal point. And so He is changing this paradigm and their heads are kind of spinning. And then, notice, He is going to go on to say, He is going to clarify His timing. Because He has been talking about, “In a little while, I am going to do this and in a little while I am going to do that.” And I think these guys are a lot like us. Like, “How long is a little while?” Right?
And, I don’t know about you, but if I was sitting there and I followed Him, and I have made big sacrifices and now He is public enemy number one now, people are down on me, and He has just told me, “Hey, there’s a good chance you’re going to get kicked out of the synagogue and you might even be killed, or you will be killed,” what is this “little while” stuff? What is really going to happen? So, He explains.
Let’s pick it up, verse 17. “Some of His disciples said to one another, ‘What does He mean by saying, “In a little while you will see Me no more, and then in a little while you will see Me” and “Because I am going to the Father”?’ They kept asking, ‘What does He mean by “a little while”? We don’t understand what He is saying.’ Jesus saw that they wanted to ask Him about this, so He said to them, ‘Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, “In a little while you will see Me no more, and then after a little while you will see Me?” I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will be turned to joy.’”
See, the “little while” is tonight He gets arrested, tomorrow He dies, He gets buried – little while – three days later; resurrected. Sorrow after the death and for three days, those guys don’t know what’s happening. He is resurrected.
Notice the illustration. “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of the joy of the child who is born into the world. So with you: Now is a time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask Me anything. I tell you the truth, My Father will give you whatever you ask in My name. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask and you will receive and your joy will be overflowing or full. Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will speak no longer this kind of language but I will tell you plainly about My Father. In that day you will ask in My name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and I entered the world; now I am leaving the world to go back to the Father.
“Then Jesus’ disciples said, ‘Now You are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that You know all things and that You don’t even need to have anyone ask you another question. This makes us believe that You came from God.’” They have had this faith journey, and now it has clicked. They really get it. God has come to earth in the flesh, fully God, fully man, lived this perfect life, blazed this trail, taught as no one else has taught, and now they get He is going to the Father and all those promises of the Old Testament are going to become a reality.
Notice, He clarifies the timing before and after the resurrection, and then I want you to make a little note. There is a new relationship. The paradigm changes with the Holy Spirit.
But did you catch the new relationship to the Father? Anyone? Before, if you wanted to talk to the Father, “Hey, Jesus, why don’t you ask Your Dad about this?” And He says, “No, no, that’s not…don’t ask Me. You have access.”
“You have intimate access before the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Ask your Father; He loves you exactly the same way He loves Me. So ask big. Whatever you need. He is for you. He is unlimited in His power. He knows all things. Now the Spirit lives inside of you and you have direct access through Me.”
It’s a picture, I heard a story of a fellow that was in a war and was wounded and realized that He was not going to live and was with the medics and all the rest and they bring him to the tent, and as they do. And he took this envelope, he says, “Whatever you do, you have to take this to my dad. Just, will you make this commitment? I know I’m going to die.” And he bled to death; he died. The guy comes back from the war and finds out where his father lives, knocks on the door, he said, “I was your son’s best buddy and he asked me to give you this. And here are his dog tags and here’s a letter.”
The father opens it up; he weeps. And the letter says, “Dad, I didn’t know if I was going to make it or not. But whatever you would have done for me, if I would have made it home, will you do for him? He is my best buddy. So if he needs a college education, pay for it. If he needs help with anything…” You get it? That father, what do you think that father is going to do for that guy? Whatever he needs.
See, it’s like Jesus saying, I am your sponsor! I have opened the gates of heaven. You start believing that, you’ll pray different and your answers will be different.