“Rise, let us go from here.”
There are two times in Bible times when this intriguing sentence was spoken. The first one we will look at is not actually from the Bible, but reported by contemporary historians, most notably Josephus.
“Moreover at that feast which we call Pentecost [June 66 AD], as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, ‘Let us remove hence.’” [Wars 6.299 (6.5.3)]
An interesting comment from Ed Stevens:
“Note that Josephus gives us the exact day and hour when this event occurred (on the day of Pentecost at the hour of the evening sacrifices), where it occurred (in the Jerusalem Temple), and who witnessed it (the officiating priests). The Jewish priests testified about what they felt and heard in the Temple at night on Pentecost in the year AD 66, at the very time when the Zealot war with Rome was about to begin.
“This transfer of a large multitude from one place to another in the unseen realm seems to have been the resurrection of the dead and the change of the living saints, when they were caught up to be with Christ. This event occurred at Pentecost, fifty days after Passover. Notice also that it occurred at night, not during the daytime. That explains why no one noticed the snatching away of the living saints.” – page 221, Final Decade, Ed Stevens
There is much more that needs to be said about this remarkable event, both as to who were involved in it and the nature of the event itself, but that needs to wait for a separate article.
The Sentence in John
But there was an earlier occurrence of this sentence. We have this from John 14:31 (ESV)
“… but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.”
I do not think that the inspired writers of the New Testament would include this last phrase if it was as trivial as it sounds. There has to be more than is on the surface. Many sermons and commentaries assume that this was spoken just after they had left the Upper Room. But John Gill makes two observations that merit consideration. He says that John 14:31 was spoken before Jesus and His disciples went to the Upper Room, that they were, in fact, arising from Bethany and just now going to their appointed room. More significantly he shows that the phrase that Christ spoke, and the phrase that was spoken in the night air in 66 AD, had a possible Jewish significance. This would lead to a possible eschatological connection that has been overlooked by many. Notice the several “possibles”. I am frankly not sure of the suggestion from Gill on the background of the phrase, but I think it is worth considering.
Here is the comment from John Gill on John 14:31, underlining is mine:
“arise, let us go hence: not from the passover, or the supper, for the passover was not as yet, and the Lord’s supper was not instituted; nor in order to go to Mount Olivet, or to the garden, where Judas and his armed men would be to meet him, and lay hold on him, as is generally thought; but from Bethany, where he and his disciples now were, in order to go to Jerusalem and keep the passover, institute the supper, and then surrender himself into the hands of his enemies, and die for the sins of his people; for between this and the sermon in the following chapters, was the Lord’s supper celebrated; when Christ having mentioned the fruit of the vine, he should drink new with his disciples in his Father’s kingdom, he very pertinently enters upon the discourse concerning the vine and branches, with which the next chapter begins: the phrase is Jewish; so R. Jose and R. Chiyah say to one another as they sat, , “arise, and let us go hence” (f).
(f) Zohar in Exod. Fol. 74. 1.”
(I was unsuccessful in finding this quote from Zohar. Any help in locating this would be appreciated. At any rate, whether or not this phrase has a Jewish background is minor to the main point of this article.)
The Eschatological Connection
“I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” – Matthew 26:29
This comment from Jesus in the Upper Room makes the connection between this Last Supper and the Parousia, the beginning of which the believers are raptured. If this latter event did indeed happen right at the “Let us depart from here” utterance recorded by Josephus it raises the possibility that the quote in John was more than just a casual comment, but had an added prophetical meaning.