A Change of Venue
We can get a quite a lot out of one simple verse. We just have to dig a bit. As the 14th chapter comes to a close, it appears that Jesus is telling his disciples that it’s time to go: “Come now arise; let us leave.” ~John 14:31 But clearly, they don’t leave. They stay put. Jesus is just warming to the task. There’s still quite a lot of teaching ahead. When they finally do get up to leave and go on to encounter the betrayer, Judas, we’ve landed way over in John 18: 1, When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.
So, we’ve three more chapters to go before they leave the house. What was it then that Jesus was saying with the words, “Come now arise; let us leave.”? Well, let’s get our Greek on and see! The word for arise is: ἐγείρω (e-gā’-rō). It comes from the root word, ἀγορά (ä-go-rä’) which means: “to collect one’s faculties, to rise from sleep, to wake up.” This is like a hand clap after dinner where the host says, “Up from here, let’s go and have some coffee in the living room!”
If you recall, Jesus had been sandblasting the disciples’ minds with quite a lot throughout chapter 14. He has promised them a future home. He has promised them he’s going to die. He has promised that they will do greater works than he has done. He has promised them peace. And right before he says, “Come now, arise” he has given them this disturbing piece of news: “I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. “Come now arise; let us leave.” ~John 14:30-31 “Great,” the disciples must have been thinking. “You’re going to die and go away and now you’re telling us that Satan is coming to take your place. And the good news…is???” So, Jesus looks into the faces of his beloved disciples and let’s them walk it off for a minute. They don’t leave the house, they just head to the living room.
I’m not sure why I’m enamored of these little nuggets in Scripture. Yet, for some reason they speak to me. I’ve sat with many people in my role as Pastor/Counselor and have heard some pretty horrific stories and have given some pretty tough advice. There almost always comes a moment when I sense that the sponge is full. We’ve been speaking of weighty things. Yes, there is more to say, but let’s first make a pot of coffee. Let’s go outside and get a breath of fresh air. Let’s look up at the stars for a few minutes. Let’s allow ourselves a moment to see something bigger…or smaller…or silly…for a few minutes.
When the disciples re-convene in the living room, Jesus will pick up with one of his favorite subjects – gardening. Up to this point he has been speaking of lofty, heavenly concepts. Next, he will talk of vines and dirt. The disciples will calm down with the change of venue and the cozy, pillowed floor. They will lean in to listen to the familiar voice of love that caused them to leave everything behind and to follow. And quite unexpectedly, like a seed, the promised peace will silently begin to grow in their hearts and minds.