But this dedication is for others to read:
These are private words addressed to you in public
- (T. S. Eliot, A Dedication to my Wife)
These poetic lines capture the essence of Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse in John 13-17. In these chapters, Jesus unveils his heart, speaking tenderly to reassure his apostles of his love for them. We’ve been given the privilege of overhearing the innermost concerns of Jesus’ heart toward his closest friends. We have an echo, a glimpse of Jesus’ mind as he dedicates these private words to be read publicly all around the world. To put it another way, Thomas Goodwin called John 13-17 a “window into Christ’s heart”, an idea that Sinclair Ferguson himself borrowed in his book, Lessons from the Upper Room: The Heart of the Saviour. As the subtitle suggests, Ferguson guides our gaze toward Jesus’ heart, providing a heartfelt comfort amid all the tumult in the world around us. In an age of rapid technological changes, growing cultural hostility against Christianity, global pandemics, and warfare, knowing the steadfast love of Christ who loved his disciples to the end compels us to rest in our Saviour. He is the Rock on whom we can build our lives. He is our tender Saviour who will not break a bruised reed, nor quench a faintly burning wick (Isaiah 42:3). Lessons from the Upper Room serves as an apt antidote to the deeply inculcated societal unrest that we all see and inadvertently absorb.
Tim Challies, in his review of this book, uses the metaphor of a tour guide as a helpful illustration to describe the effect of Ferguson’s exposition of the Upper Room Discourse. Challies writes:
In Lessons from the Upper Room, he [Ferguson] serves as a kind of tour guide who describes what has happened in this room, what it meant at the time, and what it continues to mean today. He offers a guided tour of one of the most significant evenings in human history and tells how and why it matters to you and to me and to the course of events in this world.
Ferguson’s lucid writing style, theologically sound exposition, and personally enriching application portray the heart of Christ toward sinners on earth. This book is no dry analysis. It provides clear and concise clarity on what the passage says with a passionately pastoral application for people with real struggles and hurts. It is a supplementary resource that has edified my re-reading of John 13-17 as I encounter the text with greater delight and adoration. This book reminds me of the privilege of having God’s Word translated into the vernacular so that anyone can listen to the sweetness of our Saviour’s parting words to his apostles. Any Christian will be edified by Ferguson’s treatment of the Upper Room Discourse, and as such, I am glad to recommend this book to you.
P. S. If you want to read a more comprehensive review that I’ve written on this book, click here
– Koh Saito