Carrdiography: Writing from Carr’s Heart

Saturday, September 18, 2021

John 17: 6 – 12

On second look and second thought, something else grabbed my attention and I don’t really know what to do with it. “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one…”

Protect them by the power of your name so that they may be one as we are one. So, what exactly does that mean? As I wrestle with it I know that it is mystery. I know that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are Three in One. I know that there is Only, One, True GOD in three persons – the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.

I can’t even imagine the unity those Three in One possess. I know there is no division between them. I know there is no separation whatsoever between them. I know those Three in One are completely intimate with One another. I know their relationship is completely diversified and unified, Three in One.

Honesty time, I can’t get my head around it. I can’t get my head around such unity in the Trinity and I can’t get my head around such unity among us human beings and the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. But you know what?

I am so glad Jesus prayed for it. I am so glad Jesus continues to pray for it. I hunger, I thirst, I long for such unity with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and my siblings in Christ. I plead with the Almighty, Eternal GOD – Bring it on, please. LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Friday, September 17, 2021

John 17: 6 – 12

Jesus has already prayed that he was given authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all people and that this eternal life is knowledge, personal knowledge of the only true God and Jesus Christ. So, in reality the job of Jesus was making the Father known or revealing him to the Father by, in and through his life here on earth.

In today’s passage, Jesus’ confirms that he has revealed the Father to those he had been given out of the world. I wonder: who is he talking about here. Is he speaking specifically of the disciples? This could well be because he speaks of them knowing with certainty that he came from the Father, was sent by the Father and that all were kept safe except the one doomed to destruction. I assume here and I know the dangers of assuming that he is speaking of the disciples and Judas at this point.

But, I also wonder if Jesus is speaking more broadly about all the others who had expressed belief and trust in Him including the disciples but also all those others who had made that decision to trust Jesus. We are told in Acts that there were at least 120 early believers prayerfully waiting for the promised gift so I wonder if these were included in Jesus’ prayer.

Though later in this prayer Jesus specifically includes all those who would later believe through the disciples’ message this passage greatly comforts, inspires and even excites me.  Jesus prays specifically for their protection, by the power of the Father’s name, Jesus prays for their protection by both the power of His name and the power of the name the Father gave to the Son. Could that be Jesus, the most glorious name I know?

Regardless if we are specifically covered here in this section of the prayer or not I know and am fully confident that we too are protected by that Name which is above all names, Jesus Christ the LORD! Amen? Amen!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

 Thursday, September 16, 2021

John 17: 1 – 5

As I look at this reading a second time something grabbed my attention. Jesus is praying to His Father, apparently in front of the disciples before they have left the upper room, so this is still before his arrest in the garden. There is still much work for Jesus to do, and yet.

And yet, Jesus speaks to His Father with such boldness, with such confidence. Jesus speaks as if his work has already been completed. He says here in verse 4, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.”

Did you catch that? Jesus declares that he has already finished the work his Father gave him to do here on earth. What was that work? From my perspective and understanding, that work fully encompasses the entire breadth of Jesus’ life on earth including his private life, his public ministry, his arrest, his trial, his being found guilty, his flogging, his humiliation, his mocking, his crucifixion, his death and his resurrection from the dead.

Although certainly nearing the end of his life here at this point, there is still much work which remains and certainly the most challenging part of his work. Jesus must now die a painful, cruel, all-encompassing death on that crude, wooden cross.

Such is Jesus’ faith, such is Jesus’ confidence, such is Jesus’ relationship with the Father that he can boldly, even formally announce that the work has been completed. He so loves and obeys his Father while loving us that He knows he is going through with the cross before he actually confronts the cross.

And let’s be honest here. This isn’t the first time Jesus has confronted the cross. The brutal truth is that Jesus has confronted the cross, his cross since the founding of the universe. Hallelujah! Amen!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

John 17: 1 – 5

I read Jesus’ prayer here and I wonder. If you were given authority over all people what would you do with it? If I was given authority over all people what would I do with it? I cannot tell you exactly what I would do with such authority if it would ever be given to me. Frankly, I have never really thought about it.

But, I doubt seriously I would have cared so much about those people I had been given authority over that I would give them eternal life. Can you imagine that? I mean that is definitely a nice gesture, right? And I may even consider doing that, giving eternal life to all the people I had just been given authority over, but at what cost?

I mean, I generally like most people I have ever met but would I care enough about them that I would die for them to give them eternal life? I hate to admit this but probably not. How about you? I don’t even want to imagine all that Jesus suffered and I don’t even think I can imagine all that Jesus suffered to give eternal life to all the people God had given him.

And did you catch how Jesus defined eternal life here in his prayer? Jesus defined eternal life, that gift Jesus gave to all who had been given to Him, as knowing the one, the only true God and his Son, Jesus Christ. Knowing would mean intimate, personal relationship with the God of the Universe! What a gift at what cost!

Jesus, from the bottom of my heart, Thank You for using your authority to bring me into right relationship with yourself by using that authority to die for me. You could have done anything with that authority and you chose to use it to die for me. WoW! Simply WoW!!! How do you respond to such a gift?

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

John 16: 31 – 33

I was about to skip over the last three verses of John 16 and then their relevance and importance smacked me. Jesus seems a bit surprised, maybe even bewildered that it is at this late date the disciples finally say they believe he came from God.

So, they now believe he came from God. He has already told them that several times plus that he is returning to God. They know he will soon leave them to return to his Father. They know he will soon leave them for a brief time and then return to them. I think they are still trying to figure all of that out.

Jesus then tells them that the time is now about to arrive when they will all be scattered to their own homes. Frankly, we have only heard the mention of Peter’s home in all of the gospels but here Jesus says they will all be scattered to their own homes when their home had really been with Jesus wherever he led them over the last three years.

Now, he tells them they will all be scattered, they will be separated and they will all leave Jesus alone. This is what we will see happen shortly when he leads them to the Garden of Gethsemane where Judas Iscariot will lead a group of soldiers and others to arrest Jesus. As they arrest Jesus, the others scatter although we are told that John and Peter remained close by Jesus at least for a while…

Jesus then tells them that even though they will abandon him and leave him alone, he will not be alone because His Father will be with him. Jesus has given them a head’s up about all of these things so that when they happen they will know his words of prophecy and prediction were indeed true.

He has told them these things so that in Him they will have peace because even though they are about to see the world’s wrath unleashed against Jesus, he has overcome the world.

These are relevant, important, reassuring words for all of us today as we see the world in disarray all around us causing many to doubt, worry, fear and even lose their faith. Jesus has overcome the world. Jesus proved that when he rose triumphantly from the grave and here we are all these years later proclaiming that victory by our faith. We are to have peace in Him. Hallelujah? Amen!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Monday, September 13, 2021

John 16: 25 – 33

Now, this indeed fascinates me. Jesus had been with these disciples for more than three years. He had shared himself with them; he had shared his very life with them. Day in and day out, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year for three years; they had been with Jesus.

They had watched with wonder as he performed miracles they hadn’t even imagined could happen. They had watched him heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, give sight to the blind, give hearing to the deaf, enable the crippled to run and jump and dance. They had heard him speak with authority that had never been heard before. They had been with Jesus.

They had exulted with Him. They had suffered with Him. They had come to the place where they had expressed belief and trust in Him.

And yet; and yet it is here in his last moments with them where he is once again pouring out his heart to help them understand what is about to happen, to help them understand who he is and where he is going. It is at this moment that they tell him they finally get it; that he does know all things; they he really did come from God.

WoW! Belief can happen at any time and we should respect that. As I hear the stories of folks and as I read Scripture I come to the conclusion that GOD does work in mysterious ways and does draw us to himself in a variety of mysterious ways. I guess the next few days in the disciples lives would really prove if they did indeed believe in Jesus. The next few days may prove if we really do indeed believe in Jesus. Amen? Amen!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Psalm 46

It is so hard for me to believe but today is the twentieth anniversary of the attacks against our nation by terrorists on September 11, 2001. That is one of those days I will never forget. I remember exactly what I was doing that morning when I received the news. I am sure you do, too.

On most mornings when I would arrive at Asbury United Methodist Church in Maitland, Florida, Maia and I would walk through the sanctuary on our way to dropping her off at pre-school. Often times we would sit in the altar area to talk and pray.

On that day, someone came in to tell me about the first plane striking the World Trade Center. I hurried Maia off to school and then basically remained in shock most of that day and week and year… Psalm 46 really comforted me and helped me to navigate through those days. I share it with you this morning.

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains

fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam

and the mountains quake with their surging.

 

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy place where the Most High dwells.

God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

 

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.

 

He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.

He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;

He burns the shields with fire.

 

He says, “Be still and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.”

 

The LORD Almighty is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Friday, September 10, 2021

John 16: 23 – 28

Speaking of the days of joy which will dawn with his resurrection, he tells them that they will no longer ask him anything because they can go straight to the Father and ask Him for anything in Jesus’ name meaning Jesus’ will for Jesus’ sake.

He also tells them that in those days of inexplicable joy he will no longer have to speak figuratively to them about his Father but can speak plainly to them. He reminds them that he won’t even have to ask the Father for anything for them because they can go to the Father directly. WoW!

I think sometimes I take that for granted. When you have grown up with it and can’t really remember a time when you weren’t praying to the Father directly you can forget just what an awesome, hard-earned gift that is.

It was indeed a hard-earned gift which cost Jesus his life and I for one don’t want to ever take that lightly or forgetfully. Jesus completely risked himself to suffering and death to open back up for us our direct line to God the Father and even more than the direct line, direct relationship! WoW!

We are loved by the Father because we love the Son and have taken the risk to trust the Son and believe the Son came down from the Father and has returned to the Father. We are loved by the Father!!! Hallelujah! Amen!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Thursday, September 9, 2021

John 16: 16 – 22

It has been a heavy night; it has been a confusing night; nothing like any of them expected. This was to be a typical, normal Passover family celebration and it became oh so much more. They would not know just how much more until time had passed.

Jesus has told them that he is departing this world on more than one occasion throughout the night. He now tells them again that he is leaving for a brief time but will be back soon. The disciples seem to reel at his words. They start asking him questions; they need specifics; they need details as if maybe they can get some control over the situation if they know the details.

They don’t even seem to understand what he means when he tells them he is going to his Father. Perhaps even then as the hour drew near they just could not get their heads around the possibility that Jesus might actually die.

He tells them that grief and weeping are heading their way but joy will soon accompany them. He is surely speaking of his arrest, his trial, his scourging, his crucifixion and his…resurrection. They just can’t conceive of that yet but they will eventually get there.

He then compares the entire process to child birth which just seems to apropos in every way. I am sure those disciples would soon feel like they had gone through the sufferings and travails of birth in every way as they watch Jesus suffer and die and bewilderingly enough, rise from the dead.

They will indeed feel wrung out in every way but joy comes with the birth, so much so that the suffering and travail are forgotten in the light of the empty tomb. Hallelujah! Amen!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

John 15: 26 – 16: 15

So far in John chapter fifteen Jesus has compared his relationship to the disciples as one of vine and branches with the Father that Gardener who prunes and trims the branches for maximum fruit production.

By using that powerful imagery Jesus called the disciples to cling to him, to remain in him at all costs. Their intimate relationship of self-giving love between Father, Son and believer must be foremost in their lives, must take the highest priority.

Jesus then warns them that just as the world hates him, it will also hate them and just as the world will kill him it will seek to kill them as well because of their intimate relationship with the Son and the Father.

Now, Jesus reintroduces the Advocate, the Holy Spirit to them. He even tells them that even though they are grief-stricken because he has told them that he is going away, it is absolutely necessary for him to leave this world so that their Advocate, the Holy Spirit can come down and be with them, be in them!

Jesus tells them that the Holy Spirit’s main job is to testify about Jesus while they the disciples will also be testifying about Jesus. Testifying about Jesus and His work in our lives is the main job for all of us! He then tells them that even as they are being killed in the synagogues because of their testimony about Jesus, their Advocate, the Holy Spirit will be with them.

The Holy Spirit will “prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”

The Holy Spirit’s job is all about Jesus – to testify about Him, to convict people about sin because they don’t believe in Jesus, about righteousness because Jesus ascends to the Father in holiness, about judgment because Jesus’ death and resurrection have condemned the devil and to guide us into all the truth which is JESUS!!! Hallelujah! Amen!!!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

John 15: 18 – 25

Jesus knows that difficult days are coming upon the disciples. He knows that just as the world has hated and rejected Jesus which will be clearly demonstrated over the next several hours with his arrest, flogging, mocking, crucifixion and death; so, will the world hate and reject his disciples.

He is up front with them about this. He tells them that the world will hate them because they do not belong to the world because Jesus has chosen them out of the world. What are the implications of that for you and me? If we have also been chosen by Jesus out of the world and no longer belong to this world, how will the world treat us, how should we live in this world?

Again Jesus returns to the fact that the world has rejected him because it did not know His Father. Isn’t that amazing? These would have been the ones who thought they knew the Father best; who thought they were basically the only ones who knew the Father and they totally missed Him when revealed in and through Jesus. LORD have mercy!

Jesus now declares that because he has come to earth and revealed the Father by doing the works that no one else ever had, then they are without excuse. The world hated Jesus without reason. The world is guilty for its sin. LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy! PLEASE!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Monday, September 6, 2021

John 15: 1 – 17

Moving away from the metaphor of the vine and branches but not too far away, he returns to the very core of his message, his ministry, his life – LOVE! “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”

The image of vine and branches and gardener brought us back to the clarifying soil of the soul and now Jesus digs even deeper, reminding the disciples that this entire venture is all about love. As the Father loves the Son so the Son loves us and as the Son loves us so are we all to stay and steep in his love.

Jesus will not give up proclaiming the truth of He and His Father. They would soon see for themselves just how much Jesus loved the Father and just how much that love would compel him to live in obedience to the Father.

The truth of Jesus’ love for the Father and for humanity would resonate deep within them as that mallet hammered cruelly against each nail through his precious body onto the cross. Jesus would give us all an eternally lasting image of obedience from love with his death on the cross.

And he doesn’t leave this as some general, non-personal expression of love (can there even ever be a general, non-personal expression of love?) by telling them that the greatest expression of love is when one gives their life for one’s friends and if we are counted among His friends, we must obey his commands not out of a sense of duty or demand but out of LOVE.

And we have been specifically chosen to produce fruit and it seems that primary fruit is LOVE! Hallelujah! Amen!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Saturday, September 4, 2021

John 15: 1 – 8

Jesus is the true vine, his Father is the gardener and we are the branches. True life, support, connection, nourishment and power come to the branches through the vine. The only way that the branches can live is by remaining intimately, intentionally connected to the vine.

The second the branch is separated from the vine it dies. The second the branch is separated from the vine, fruit production halts. The purpose of the branch is two-fold – to remain attached at all costs to the vine and to produce fruit.

Overseeing this entire process is the Gardener, the Divine Gardener who tenderly, carefully, intentionally and intimately cares for both the vine and the branches to insure that they are connected and producing fruit.

Sometimes the Gardener has to prune back the branches to help them grow stronger and healthier. Although temporarily painful for the branch this insures that the branch grows thicker, stronger and healthier. Good, healthy fruit will soon be on the way!

When branches stop growing and stop producing for a variety of reasons, sometimes the Gardener has to cut off those branches because they have somehow become disconnected from the vine and are no longer fulfilling their purposes. Those branches are like those in a garden who are discarded in a pile as refuse.

Which branch do you want to be? I would say that we all want to be living, productive branches which provide nourishing, life-giving fruit for all around us. If that is the case we must and I saw must stay intentionally, intimately attached to the True Vine regardless of the cost, the pruning, the cutting, the hurting! Amen? Amen!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

 

Friday, September 3, 2021

John 15: 1 – 4

In a deep, dark moment with the cross looming over them all and Jesus’ words of departure and promise filling their ears I have a hunch that the disciples were confused and certainly on overload.

They were confused and on overload with the prospects that one of them would betray Jesus, Peter would deny Jesus, Jesus would soon leave them to see the Father and although they would see Jesus, the world would not. If they themselves were not spinning I would say their thoughts were.

And then Jesus adds into the mix a teaching about the Advocate or Holy Spirit that he would soon send them in his absence. What is a first century Galilean fishermen to think? What is anyone of us to think?

And right as the centrifugal forces of their spinning hearts and minds begin to reach critical speed, Jesus changes his language and his text. He gives them a picture – the picture of a vine and branches and fruit and the Gardener.

He announces and pronounces himself to be the vine, His Father the Gardener and the disciples as the branches. He explains that just as a gardener trims and prunes the vine to allow for utmost production and health so does the Father prune and trim all of the branches that do not bear fruit in Jesus – that means me and you!

Jesus calls for all of his disciples then and now to cling to Him, to remain in Him no matter what so that we can all produce the best fruit for God’s Kingdom. Just as branches must remain connected onto the vine to live and produce fruit, so must we stay intentionally connected to the vine to produce living, healthy, productive fruit.

Lost in the swirling confusion and heaviness of that moment, I have a hunch that this picture of the vine and branches long stayed with the disciples as it now stays with us. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches; any questions? Thank you, Jesus!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Thursday, September 2, 2021

John 14: 28 – 31

I wonder if the disciples understood what Jesus meant when he told them that he was going away. I wonder if the disciples understood what Jesus meant when he told them that he was going to see the Father.

I doubt the disciples could have ever conceived that when Jesus talked about going away and going to see his Father that the means of his departure was the cross. Even though he had told them many times over the course of his public ministry that he had come to earth to suffer and die, could they have ever understood the cross? Do we understand the cross?

Jesus’ departure from this earth was to be a sign to the disciples so that when he left the earth they would believe. Do you think that thought crossed their minds a few hours later as they watched him suffer, bleed out, smother and die? Jesus seems to describe a pleasant trip but it was not. Jesus returned to the Father through agonizing death.

And the prince of this world? Do you think the prince of this world had the slightest notion the implications of the cross? Do you think the prince of this world in his agitations and temptations and exultations thought for a moment that the cross would be the way of freedom not just for Jesus but for us all?

The prince of this world came to confuse, condemn, accuse, kill and destroy. The cross and the threat of the cross was certainly one of his preferred weapons. He came to kill and destroy the Son of God and all along he was giving Jesus the opportunity to demonstrate to the whole world, nay, the entire cosmos, just how much he loved the Father with his obedience to the point of death on the cross.

In humbled silence I can only shout: Hallelujah! Amen! Thank you, JESUS!!!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

John 14: 22 – 27

Judas, not Judas Iscariot but the other Judas unfortunately named once again asks the question everyone else would have liked to ask but couldn’t or wouldn’t: “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

Jesus had indeed just said that he was going away and the world would not see him anymore but that the disciples would see him again which does indeed lend credence to Judas’ question.

But then Jesus begins to talk once again about the Advocate and the Spirit of truth. He tells the disciples that they should live in such a way that they demonstrate just how much they love both the Father and the Son by the way they live boldly obedient lives.

He once again reiterates to them that the one who loves the Father and the Son will demonstrate that love through obedient living. And once again I am sure we all remember just how difficult it is to live obediently.

Before the disciples can give up the hope of living obediently which honestly is a daunting, nearly impossible task, Jesus speaks once again of the pending arrival of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit; pending because for the Advocate, the Holy Spirit to arrive, Jesus had to leave.

Jesus had to vacate the premises so the Advocate, the Holy Spirit could take His presence far and wide beyond the borders of flesh and blood. And by the way, to answer Judas’ question: Jesus and the Father would be seen by the world as the world watched the Holy Spirit move in and through the disciples and they lived loving, obedient lives. May it so be here with you and me today. Amen? Amen!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

John 14: 15 – 21

Remember yesterday when Jesus told the disciples that if they loved him they would obey his commands? Remember about how hard that can be to achieve?

In today’s passage Jesus reassures the disciples of two thousand years ago and today that He will go to his Father and ask him to send down the Advocate to help us with that loving and obeying. This Helper, this Advocate is the Holy Spirit who won’t just help us out from time to time or only on a temporary basis but forever!

And even though the world may say that this Helper does not exist because the world neither sees Him nor knows Him but the disciples of Jesus know Him because He lives with us and will be in us! WoW!

Jesus will not leave us or abandon us or orphan us but will come to us and be with us in and through the Holy Spirit! Jesus also promises us that because He lives, we will also live! Isn’t that great, amazing news?

On this darkest of nights when Jesus would be arrested, betrayed, disowned, lied about, spat upon, scourged within an inch of his life, mocked and finally crucified, He promised his enduring presence and his eternal life through the Holy Spirit!

I am not sure if the disciples really captured all of what Jesus was telling them at that moment; I mean I am pretty sure most of us haven’t captured it today. Of course I can’t remember all of the sermons or conversations I have heard in my sixty years of life but I don’t recall ever hearing much about the Holy Spirit.

I am thrilled to say in the last twenty years or so of my life I have begun to not only hear much more about the Holy Spirit but know Him intimately as he dwells within me. Jesus fulfills His promises! Jesus gives the gifts He promises! Hallelujah! Amen!

If you don’t think you have received this Helper into your life please take time now to simply ask Jesus for His great gift. Jesus fulfills His promises! Hallelujah! Amen!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Monday, August 30, 2021

John 14: 15

Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.”

Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? If we love Jesus we will intentionally, gratefully keep his commands. I have tried that statement on youth in a youth group way back when and with my own children. “If you love me, keep my commands.” It didn’t always work so well…

Simple? Maybe. Easy? Not so much.

I heard a story several years ago that has stuck with me. It is not mine but it resonates with me. A woman was married to a tyrant. He controlled her in every way. Every single day he gave her a list of demands that she had to do for him every, single day. If she didn’t do the list of tasks, her life was miserable. She was controlled and abused. There was no love there.

That abusive marriage eventually collapsed. Years passed and she met another. With great fear and trepidation she married again. She loved him. He loved her. After several months had passed she realized that the reality was that she was now doing many of the same things she had done in her previous marriage but this time she was doing them from her own heart because she loved him. They had actually become fun and exciting to do not chores demanded by a taskmaster.

What do you think? Love was the difference. Love was the answer. Love is still the answer. But you know what? With love we still need help. Jesus will reveal that Helper to us in tomorrow’s reading. Hallelujah! Amen!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

John 14: 1 – 14

Speaking of amazing, unfathomable gifts; Jesus has another drop-the-mic moment here with the disciples when he tells them to “listen up” and proceeds to tell them that they will soon be able to do all the incredible things they have seen him do and even greater, more amazing things than even he has done!

WoW! Whoa! The caveat is two-fold here to receive and participate in this amazing, unfathomable gift. First, they need to believe in him. Remember what we said previously about believe? It isn’t intellectual assent. I mean, that’s certainly part of it but even more to believe is to put one’s complete trust in Jesus, to put our full weight on him, to go all in with him.

Second, Jesus tells them that He will do whatever they ask in his name. Asking in Jesus’ name just doesn’t mean mentioning his name or name-dropping Jesus but submitting to Jesus for Jesus’ will to be done rather than ours. This hits at our very motives.

We trust in Jesus, we submit to Jesus and ask that His Name be glorified and exalted in what we are asking Jesus to do for us – no ego, no greed. Just Jesus. And Jesus brings the Father back into this discussion of this glorious gift.

The doing of what Jesus has done and even greater things than these will not, cannot happen unless Jesus departs this world and goes to the Father. Then the Father will be glorified in the Son by all these glorious things happening here on earth by those who trust in Him and submit to Him. WoW! Thank you, Jesus! Have your way with us, LORD Jesus!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Friday, August 27, 2021

John 14: 1 – 14

What an amazing, unfathomable gift that the God of the universe, our Creator, the “I am Who I am”, “our Father who art in heaven” chose to reveal Himself in and through the flesh and blood of His Son! WoW!!!

Have you stopped to consider just how amazing that is? One of the biblical passages that has impacted me the most is from Colossians 1. I know I’ve shared it with you before on several occasions but I just can’t help myself. This seems like the perfect time!

COLOSSIANS 1: 15 – 20

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

I am particularly struck here with the truth that God chose to have “all his fullness” dwell in Jesus. So, as Jesus said to the disciples, they should have been able to tell that the Father was in the Son and the Son was in the Father because the fullness of the Father dwelled in Him. And that fullness had to naturally or supernaturally shine through Jesus always; even on the cross as they would soon experience.

LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy! Thank you, Jesus!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Thursday, August 26, 2021

John 14: 1 – 11

It intrigues me that here in this intimate moment, here in one of the last moments Jesus will have with his disciples this side of the cross he tackles a theme that he has wrestled with the Jewish authorities over and over and over.

You would have thought the disciples would have gotten it by this time so late in Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus and the Father are one. I know, it is a confusing concept but from John’s perspective it seems that he had spent large swathes of his time trying to teach and convince the people that the Father had sent Him, the Son to earth; that Jesus and the Father are One.

I mean, on more than one occasion stones had been picked up by the authorities to stone Jesus on just this point and here we discover that the disciples really didn’t get it either. Here on this last night, this dark night, this intimate night, this farewell night the disciples want Jesus to show them the Father.

Then Jesus responds by saying, “Don’t you know me?” I know it is confusing but Jesus demonstrated and revealed the Father in everything he said, everything he taught, everything he did. And they missed it. They missed Him.

That must have been exacerbating to Jesus on that last, crucial night. We can pick up his frustration in his words. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.”

Frankly, it breaks my heart that Jesus had to give a concession to his inner circle, his closest friends. If they didn’t believe that He and the Father are One then at least believe in his words that prove they are indeed One. As for me, I do believe that the works of Jesus prove that He and the Father are One but I choose to take His Word for it. Hallelujah! Amen!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

John 14: 1 – 7

After dropping the bombs and the mic on the disciples of betrayal and denial, Jesus reassures them that they all know the way to the place where he is going. Hmm. He may have thought they knew the way to the place where he was going but they don’t seem to have had a clue.

Thomas and God bless Thomas by the way for just being Thomas, asks the question that I am sure they all wanted to ask but couldn’t or just wouldn’t: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Not only did Thomas not know the way to the place where Jesus was going, Thomas didn’t know the place where Jesus was going.

As it often turns out, we humans get hung up on locations and directions when that wasn’t going on here at all. Jesus attempts to clarify it for them all by proclaiming and this is such a powerful proclamation I want to include it fully here: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Knowing the way to the place where Jesus was going was oh so much more about personal relationship with Jesus than any kind of directions or rules or laws or maps, etc. They knew the way to where he was going because they knew HIM. He was the linchpin to relationship with the Father and He is still the linchpin to relationship with the Father.

And in case you missed it, where here turns out to be a WHO, The WHO – the Father, the “I Am Who I Am!” Wow! Hallelujah! Amen!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

John 14: 1 – 4

Grief, stunned grief seems to have settled upon and within the disciples as they hear Jesus telling them that one of them would betray him and that Peter would disown him. It was indeed a “drop-the-mic” moment as silences ensues.

I mean really, what can you say when two of your group of twelve are going to betray and disown Jesus and one of those two just might be you? As the darkness descended outside, it surely descended inside as well. Maybe, when Judas went out into the dark, that darkness invaded their holy space.

Knowing their hearts, knowing all of their hearts, Jesus tries to calm them down. He tells them not to be troubled but to believe in God and to believe in Him. The word “believe” has so much baggage for many of us. In this situation, I prefer the word “trust” which is used in some translations.

Believe often time gets mistaken for academic, intellectual consent and just seems a bit clinical, a bit cold for me. Trust implies much more than academic or intellectual consent. Trust implies a movement of the heart, an action of the will, an act of surrender.

Jesus reassures them. He paints a picture for them of a massive mansion with many rooms, rooms especially prepared for each of them. He tells them that if he goes there, he will come back for them to take them there. Trust.

He then tells them that they know the way to the place where he is going. Trust. I wonder, is the way directional or personal? Trust.

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Monday, August 23, 2021

John 13: 31 – 38

Even though Judas has been identified to some as the betrayer, the one who seems to have had the worst time of it during dinner is Peter. I mean if we stretched to say this was an evening with dinner and a show, Peter would have been the show part.

It was Peter who reacted negatively to Jesus washing his feet. First, telling Jesus in my words that not on God’s green earth would he let Jesus wash his feet, then relenting and asking Jesus to bathe him as well. Now, as Peter makes this great proclamation of self-sacrifice for Jesus – laying his life down for Him – Jesus tells him that within the next few hours Peter will disown him three times.

Often times we use the word deny but here the word is translated disown which has a particular lasting sting to it. By this time, Peter surely would have known that Jesus spoke the truth about him even as bad as it sounds. Peter must have learned of the veracity and power in Jesus’ words by this point.

John doesn’t tell us how Peter responded to Jesus’ words but I have a feeling this was one of those “drop the mic moments” when nothing more could be said…

And in the middle of all this as the disciples worry about what happens next and why they can’t follow Jesus where-ever it is that he is going and reeling at the news that big, bold Peter would disown Jesus not once, not twice but three times, Jesus lowers the boom on them in another way.

He gives them a new command. He tells them that they are to love one another just as he has loved them. On that very night he has already demonstrated his love for them by washing their feet and in the next few hours they will plumb the true depths of his love for them. Wow! LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Saturday, August 21, 2021

John 13: 31 – 32

Something just captured my attention. As the last section closed, Judas had been given the bread, Satan entered in and Judas went out which was a sign to at least Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved that Judas was indeed the betrayer.

However, the other disciples did not find this unusual at all. They just assumed that Jesus was sending Judas out to buy more supplies for the festival…in the dark. I don’t know it with certainty but would say that night-time probably wasn’t the best time to shop for supplies in that day. I can’t imagine there being any convenience stores or grocery stores staying open real late back then.

Judas rushed out and it was night may have much deeper meaning that we think. Particularly, since Jesus begins to speak of being glorified and any time I think of glory or glorified there is bright, all-consuming light involved.

As Judas rushes out into the night to seal Jesus’ fate of a cruel death, Jesus revels in the coming glory for himself and for his Father. On the darkest of nights, Jesus revels in the light to be revealed.

This stands as a reminder for me that when it seems to be the darkest and even though things don’t seem to be able to get any worse, they somehow still do and as the darkness further descends it is precisely the time to look for God’s glory. Wow!

I know Jesus said that Lazarus’ death was to reveal God’s glory so I wonder if all deaths everywhere and all darkness everywhere could in fact simply be opportunities to trust God and revel faithfully in His glory. Amen? Amen!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Friday, August 20, 2021

John 13: 18 – 30

It seems very clear in this reading that all of them wondered if they were the betrayers. It seems just as clear to me that none of them suspected Judas as the traitor, other than Jesus of course. Judas was the treasurer of the group. Treasurers would of course have to be trustworthy, dependable, above reproach, correct?

Even after Jesus is asked who the betrayer was and demonstrates it by giving a piece of bead to Judas who then ate it; the disciples do not realize the significance and think Judas left to buy more supplies as a treasurer most likely would do. And we are told that as Judas left, it was night. It was indeed.

Earlier we saw that Judas allowed the devil to prompt him. The devil prompted Judas to betray Jesus and he began to negotiate with the Jewish authorities on price and procedure. Judas followed the devil’s promptings.

Now, we see that when Jesus handed Judas the bread and Judas took the bread that Satan entered into him. I wonder. I have always found it quite powerful when handed bread whether the sliced bread my dad loved so well at the dinner table or the glorious rolls my mother used to make or the heavenly cornbread my grandmother used to make or the wafer the pastor would give me at communion.

It always felt like a holy moment to me and yet here when Jesus, the Son of the Living God, gives bread to Judas; Judas allowed Satan to enter in to him. Did Satan enter in at that moment because Judas had already been giving in to his promptings? Whose promptings are we allowing to guide us? Who will we let enter in?

LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Thursday, August 19, 2021

John 13: 18 – 30

We have already been told a few verses earlier that Judas had been “prompted” by the devil to betray Jesus. The very next sentence in verse 3 tells us that even knowing that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God; even knowing that Judas’ plot was about to be fulfilled, Jesus responded by submission, humility and loving service. WoW!

Now, if we read carefully we can feel the weight of that burden on Jesus’ shoulders. We are told that Jesus was “troubled in spirit” and then told them clearly, plainly that one of them would betray him. Let’s stop there for a moment.

Jesus had lived with these men for more than three years. He had shared his bread with them. He had shared his very life with them. He had gone all in for them and now he knows and shares the painful truth that one of these beloved, one of his inner circle, one of his closest friends would betray him. How would that make you feel? Have you ever felt that way?

The disciples seem to reel at this news and question Jesus on whom it would be. In other gospel accounts the disciples actually are quoted as saying, “Lord, is it I?” which makes me think that they all realized that they could very well betray Jesus. Maybe they all knew that betrayal may be just a kiss away. LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

John 13: 1 – 17

As Jesus took off his outer garment, wrapped a towel around him and began to wash the disciples’ feet, I wonder whose feet he washed first. I have a hunch it was Peter’s. I mean Peter seemed to always be first so Jesus went to him first. It could be possible.

Would the response from any of the disciples been any different? I doubt it. I bet none of the disciples were particularly excited that Jesus was going to wash their feet but after Peter’s denial and rebuttal I am sure they all at least grudgingly accepted the fact that Jesus was going to wash their feet.

What would they have said if they knew Jesus would die for them? Do you think it would have comforted them any at all if they realized as they watched the crucifixion that Jesus was dying for them? Probably not, most likely it would have made it worst. What do you think?

After he finished washing their feet he then told them that if He, their teacher and Lord had washed their feet then they needed to wash each other’s feet. What would such a group be like if all of the members humbled themselves before each other, bowed down and washed each other’s feet in humility, in submission, in intimacy?

What would worship be like in such a group? What would church meetings be like in such a group? What would the world be like in such a group?

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

John 13: 1 – 11

Just as Jesus knew who he was, where he was from and where he was going, so do we know who we are, where we are from and where we are going. That knowledge enabled Jesus to live out his mission and fulfill his mission with love, obedience and service. How are we fulfilling the mission in our own lives?

This is one of those scriptural moments when it behooves us to put ourselves in the story. If you had been there on that night long ago what would you have seen, heard, smelled, tasted, touched and felt?

Celebrating the Passover as Jesus and the disciples did might not be such a familiar part of our own practices but this was an incredibly important, sacred night of identity shared intimately with family and the closest of friends with food, pageantry, memory, worship and hope.

How would you have responded when Jesus took off his outer cloth, wrapped a towel around his waist, knelt before you and began to wash your feet? I have all the confidence in the world that I would have behaved exactly as Peter did. Peter knew exactly who Jesus was, where he had come from and where he was going. Peter also knew exactly who he was, where he had come from and where he was going.

No way on God’s green earth that Peter was going to allow his Lord, his Master to wash his feet! This was a moment of intense pride on Peter’s part and he had to let go of that pride to fully experience all that Jesus had for him. He had to submit and surrender himself and let Jesus do that servile task of washing his nasty, smelly, funny-looking feet to fully become who he was called to become.

I have a hunch that one great way to look into another’s soul is to wash their feet. Would you let Jesus wash your feet? Would you open yourself up to such love? Would you open yourself up to such humility? LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Monday, August 16, 2021

John 13: 1 – 5

Jesus knew. Jesus knew that his time was coming to an end here on earth. How did he respond or react to that knowledge? He loved. Jesus’ response to his mission had always been one of love. He had loved the people the Father had given him here on earth and he completed his mission by loving them to the bitter end. He knew. He loved.

We are told in kind of a sidebar by John the evangelist that the devil had already prompted Judas to betray Jesus. That is an interesting turn of phrase there. John doesn’t tell us that the devil had already tempted Judas but that he had prompted him.

When I think of being prompted by someone I catch a flashback from my senior play in high school standing just off the stage out of sight from the audience but not those of us on stage, quietly reminded us what we are to say next. Is this what Judas allowed the devil to do to him? Did Judas really allow the devil to prompt him? Who do we allow to prompt us?

Jesus knew. Jesus knew who he was. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power. Jesus knew where he had come from. Jesus knew where he was going. And how did Jesus respond to this knowledge, this power, this certainty?

He humbled himself, took the apron of a servant and washed the feet of his disciples. Wow! Simply wow! Do we know ourselves? Do we realize what all God has done for us? Do we know where we came from? Do we know where we are heading? How will we respond? Will we respond to what we know in love, in service? Or will we let some lesser being prompt us to go astray? LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Isaiah 42: 1 – 7

So, you may know by now that I absolutely love the book of Isaiah. As I think back over the years in my walk with Christ I cannot overestimate the impact of Isaiah on my understanding of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I cannot overestimate the impact of the book of Isaiah on my life.

As I was ready to delve into John 13 today this particular scripture from Isaiah popped into my head and I want to share it with you to prime the pumps for Jesus and the disciples in the upper room and beyond.

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope. 

“This is what God the LORD says – the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”

Now, I ask you, does this remind you of Anyone? As we head into the last several chapters of John let us remember these prophetic words of Isaiah and see if they ring any bells for us the rest of the way. Amen? Amen!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Friday, August 13, 2021

John 12: 44 – 50

These seem to be the last words, other than those spoke during his trial or his crucifixion, which Jesus spoke publicly. I want to write them out for you to read for yourselves:

“Then Jesus cried out, ‘Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say us just what the Father has told me to say.’”

I just want to recap a bit here. Jesus says that the one who believes in Him isn’t just believing in Him but His Father. He goes even farther to say that the one who looks at Jesus is actually seeing the Father who sent Him. So, I wonder. If the person who looks at Jesus sees the Father does that mean that those who look at us as followers of Christ see Jesus and the Father? Shouldn’t they? LORD have mercy!

Jesus came to save not to judge but it seems to be his words that will judge. So, shouldn’t we always pay the strictest attention to his words so that we will not be judged by them but rather saved by them? Christ have mercy!

And oh to be in such a close, intimate, obedient relationship with the Father to know that we have said and done exactly what the Father told us to say and do. WoW! LORD have mercy! Thank you, Jesus!!!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Isaiah 53: 1 – 12

And because I am who I am, I just have to share these prophetic words from Isaiah with you another time. John used Isaiah 53:1 in John 12:38. Here is the rest of it:

“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces, he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

 

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;

The punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

 

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to slaughter,

And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away, yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

 

Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

 Remind you of anyone?

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

John 12: 37 – 43

“Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.”

The people of Jesus’ day, particularly those who should have known better, just could not get over themselves or their stereotypical notions or what they thought they knew to surrender and entrust themselves into Jesus’ hands.

John follows up this powerful description by using some of Isaiah’s prophesies which around 700 years old at that time were talking about the inability of the people to see, hear or understand. Actually, even in Isaiah’s encounter with God when he was consecrated and called, God told him that the more he preached and prophesied the less they would see, hear or understand.

Let’s think about it for a minute. So far in John’s gospel we have seen Jesus heal the man who had lain crippled for 38 years by the Bethesda pool which was an absolutely astounding miracle which many refused to believe because it happened on a Sabbath.

A little later we saw Jesus incredibly heal the man who had been born blind which seems to have been in a category all by itself. Once again this miracle occurred on a Sabbath and people were so divided over it that they refused to even recognize him as the man born blind.

Then, Jesus apparently arrives late to Lazarus’ illness only to completely shock and stun everyone in Bethany that day by raising Lazarus from the dead. Many believed upon experiencing that moment while others rushed back to Jerusalem to tattle on Jesus.

And all along, the religious authorities, the very ones who should have known better and should have recognized Jesus right away as the Messiah were plotting and planning his death so as to save their own skins. These people were indeed unable to see, hear or understand or even worse, choose not to see, hear or understand.

LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy.

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

John 12: 31 – 36

Jesus declares that judgment on this world is now coming. How is the world going to be judged? How will the prince of this world be driven out? Judgment and the banishment of Satan will happen by Jesus being “lifted up from the earth.”

Not only will the world be judged and the prince of this world driven out by Jesus being lifted up but also all people from the earth will be drawn to him. So it seems here that judgment has a double-edge to it – some will be driven out while others will be drawn to Jesus.

And by the way, lest we think some in the crowd that day did not know what Jesus meant when he said he would soon be “lifted up,” it seems all understood him to be speaking of his crucifixion. Here we see the biblical reality of what it means to be the Messiah clashing with the traditional expectations of the people. They couldn’t imagine the Messiah dying.

And yet, it was actually by dying that the Messiah would bring judgment on the earth and defeat the devil, the prince of this world. As they struggle with the impending death of the Messiah and try to relate it to their understanding of the Law, Jesus implores them to choose to trust in him while they still had the light, while the light was still with them.

I get the sense as I read this passage that this encounter with the crowds may just be the last ditch effort of Jesus to challenge his doubters to trust in Him before it was too late. And I suppose this last ditch effort echoes into eternity as there will come a time for all when it will be too late to choose. Have you chosen yet? Won’t you choose Him now? Please? Hallelujah! Amen!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Monday, August 9, 2021

John 12: 27 – 30

We revisit a bit what I think just may have been John’s account of Jesus’ travails in the Garden of Gethsemane. There is no evidence whatsoever that Jesus was in the garden at this point. It is much earlier in the week than the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke portray that event happening.

And really, John has another perspective going about Jesus than the other writers really don’t have. John has a more cosmic perspective of Jesus as the Word and the Light. However, with Jesus talking about his soul being troubled it just reminds me of his travails in the garden on that last, dark night.

In the other accounts of his garden travails it all comes out the same anyway as Jesus reconfirms, reaffirms and recommits himself in to the Father’s hands to drink the cup which has been prepared for him so all of the accounts are similar.

In Luke 22:39-46, he has Jesus praying and struggling in such anguish that his sweat falls like great drops of blood and an angel has to come to minister to him. Here the Father’s heavenly voice responds to Jesus declaring that He has already glorified Jesus’ name and will indeed glorify it again. Jesus tells those around him that the Voice was for their benefit, not his.

There are definitely similarities here between these two verses and the synoptic accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke but I must confess that John’s depiction of Jesus as he struggles is definitely a bolder, more powerful Jesus in a rather passing moment rather than the dramatic, enduring scene of the others.

The other accounts are in Matthew 26, Mark 14 and Luke 22 if you want to take a look at them. What do you think? Which account do you prefer? I don’t know exactly why but the Lukan account resonates most with me probably because it reassures me in my moments of doubt and struggle. Thank you, Jesus!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Saturday, August 7, 2021

John 12: 20 – 28

Some Greeks approach Philip and ask if they can see Jesus. Jesus responds to their request by not directly responding to their request. Instead he prophesies that his death is close at hand. Jesus will be glorified by and through death.

Using parabolic language he tells them that his death will be like the planting of a kernel of wheat which when buried in the ground produces a great harvest of wheat; the death of Jesus will be likewise – we who trust in Jesus are part of that harvest from death. Hallelujah!

He tells them that if they love their lives and hold on to their lives then they will in fact lose their lives but that the only way to keep their lives is by submitting them and giving them away. Jesus uses the word “hate” here to increase the power but is speaking of surrender and submission and trust here.

He also reminds them again that whoever wants to serve Jesus must follow him wherever he goes and the one who serves and follows Jesus will be honored by the Father.

And at the close of this passage we may encounter the closest we will in John’s gospel to the Garden of Gethsemane struggle moment in the other gospels. Jesus says: “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”

John doesn’t give us here any sweat like great drops of blood or triple repetition of his prayer for escape and ultimate submission. No, here in this gospel, Jesus declares his soul is troubled but boldly proclaims that he came to earth for just this hour. WoW! Thank You, JESUS! Hallelujah! Amen!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Friday, August 6, 2021

John 12: 12 – 19

The very next day Jesus and the disciples entered triumphantly into Jerusalem on what we know today as Palm Sunday. If we stop for a minute we can see that our author John really uses the Lazarus miracle as a linchpin for all that follows.

Even though Jesus is a wanted man, a fugitive even, in large part because of the miraculous raising of Lazarus from the dead; he still comes to Jerusalem knowing the ruling, religious authorities are planning on arresting him to kill him.

He doesn’t slip into the city with fear and trembling. No, they basically enter Jerusalem with a prophesied, spontaneous parade. The prophet Zechariah had seen this coming about five hundred or so years before and now the people responded to Jesus’ arrival as if it had been specifically planned for that exact moment. Hm.

As people waved palm branches before Jesus they shouted words of welcome and acclaim and worship to their “king of Israel.” It was a heady moment which many would not fully understand until after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Many who had witnessed the Lazarus miracle and I imagine, the celebrity-studded dinner party the night before rushed out to greet Jesus and spread the word about him. The ruling, religious authorities chafed at all this and realized all of their maniacal manipulation and maneuvering was getting them nowhere. Would they give up? Not on your life but rather on Jesus’ life.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living GOD, have mercy on us sinners.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living GOD, have mercy on us children.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living GOD, have mercy on us saints.

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Thursday, August 5, 2021

John 12: 9 – 11

This dinner party seems to have become the social event of the year, maybe forever or at least until Christ returns, and that will indeed be the social event of eternity! Anyway, here at the same spot, you have Lazarus who not so long before was plumbing the depths of death and Jesus, the man who had raised him from the dead. WoW!

You better believe that word of this social engagement spread quickly and before long people began to arrive from Jerusalem which meant that the ruling, religious authorities soon knew that Jesus was indeed on his way to celebrate Passover and stopped for the night at Bethany.

I am not sure what the paparazzi of that day looked like or even did. I mean, I know there weren’t any flashbulbs popping during dinner but the papyrus leaves were brought to burning as the reports were written posthaste!

Excitement certainly permeated the premises and spread throughout the area but not nearly as far as that perfume Mary unleashed. It permeated to the very depths of the heavenly holy of holies. Amen!

We do see however the depths to which the ruling, religious authorities had slipped. Not only do they want to kill Jesus but they now decide to kill Lazarus as well. We are told that because of Lazarus many Jews were putting their faith and trust in Jesus.

We can see just how hard their hearts and heads are now. God forbid we ever allow that kind of hardening to occur in our hearts, our minds, our eyes, our ears, our souls. LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

John 12: 1 – 11

This wonderful feast has been provided for Jesus and the disciples. It turns out to be much more than just a dinner party. Actually, worship breaks out when Mary humbles herself before them all and anoints Jesus’ feet with the expensive, fragrant perfume – a beautiful scene.

This beautiful scene is shattered when someone complains about Mary’s extravagant love. Judas, who we haven’t really heard from at all so far in Jesus’ story, complains about what a gigantic waste this all is. Rather than waste this expensive perfume on Jesus she should have sold it and given the money to the poor.

Do you notice how Judas twists all this under the guise of giving to the poor? He cloaks his manipulative, stealing ways with a garment of concern for the poor. How dare he? He tries to besmirch a beautiful moment with hypocrisy and lies. And I think we can see his true feelings for Jesus here…

Jesus however immediately counteracts Judas’ attack by telling them that she has just done a beautiful thing for him to prepare him for his burial. Jesus clearly refers to his approaching crucifixion here. He knew death was coming, did Mary? Regardless, she once again demonstrated her love for Jesus while still in the land of the living. Hallelujah!

Jesus told them that they would always have the poor with them but not him; his time was fast approaching. So I ask myself and you: because Jesus died, raised from the dead, ascended to heaven and poured out His Holy Spirit upon the Church on Pentecost, he is with us here and now. What are we doing to show our love and reverence and adoration to Him?

LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

John 12: 1 – 3

The suspense is building. Passover is a few days away. Thousands of people will make their way from all over the known world and perhaps some of the unknown world to participate in the Passover. Suspense is building as people are on pins and needles waiting for Jesus and wondering what will happen with him.

Once again, Jesus cannot be coerced. He and the disciples stay where they are and then head for Bethany to visit Mary, Martha and Lazarus. The dead man not only walks and talks but eats as well. Can you imagine being an invited guest at that dinner party? Wow! Lazarus, who not long before was dead and buried sits at the table with the man who shattered the gates of death and brought Lazarus back to life. I say it again. WoW!!!

Martha shows her love for Jesus by serving him and all the invited guests. Martha, rather than being obsessed to be the “hostess with the mostest” may just know that her love language is serving others and she demonstrates that here.

Once again we see the differences between Mary and Martha, this time without a word of complaint from Martha. Mary loves Jesus in a different way. She humbles herself; some would even say she abased herself by loosening her hair in public which supposedly only loose women would do.

She falls at Jesus’ feet once again which is common territory for her. She opens a container of expensive perfume and pours it on Jesus’ feet. She then loosens her hair and wiped his feet with her hair – what an example of humble, extravagant love. The fragrance filled up the room.

Think about Mary and Martha for a minute and the different ways they demonstrate their love for Jesus. How do you best demonstrate your love? Do you best demonstrate your love by listening to others, serving others, humbling yourself before others, giving gifts, just being with them, etc.?

Now, might be a good time to figure out how we best show our love naturally and then do that to demonstrate to those around us and to Jesus just how much we love them. Amen? Amen!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Monday, August 2, 2021

John 11: 45 – 57

I feel compelled to take another look at this passage. Many were eyewitnesses of the Lazarus miracle; some put their faith and trust in Jesus while others hurried back to Jerusalem to inform on him to the Sanhedrin.

The astonishment expressed by the religious authorities isn’t about what Jesus has just done but what will happen if they allow him to continue in this way: everyone will believe in him and they, the religious authorities will lose their power, positions,  authority, etc. as “the Romans will come and take away both their temple and nation.”

As they worry and wallow in bewilderment, their high priest rises and tells them that it is better for one to die for the people than for the whole nation to perish. We are then told in an aside by the author that earlier in the year this chief priest had prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation and for all who had been scattered around the world.

Little did he know the full implications of this prophesy. Now, who am I to say if this was a legitimate prophesy or not but I do know that it doesn’t really count if you take matters into your own hands to manipulate events so that your prophesy comes true? I mean, many a prophesy was fulfilled by Jesus but he humbled and submitted himself before God and man to bring fulfillment.

This is obviously not what is going on here with the Chief Priest Caiaphas and his minions as they manipulate to maneuver and control events. They begin to plot how to take his life which means that Jesus and the disciples leave for a remote place and can no longer move around like they once did.

Jesus really does seem like a fugitive at this point but Passover is coming. Passover is coming. LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Saturday, July 31, 2021

John 11: 45 – 57

Lazarus had been raised from the dead. There were a lot of eyewitnesses. Many people had beat Jesus to the scene. They knew Lazarus had been dead for four days upon Jesus’ arrival. They knew he was dead and gone, dead as a doorknob, dead.

Jesus arrives, visits his tomb, prays, calls him by name and raises Lazarus from the dead. It was an incredible, unbelievable, glorious moment! Those many eyewitnesses witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime miracle that really does not happen once in a lifetime. This was one of those outlier events except the One doing them was all about doing outlier events.

As we saw a few verses ago when some saw Jesus full of love while others questioned why he hadn’t healed Lazarus in the first place; we now see many of those eyewitnesses trusting what they had seen and experienced and put their trust in Jesus.

There were others who for whatever reason rushed back to Jerusalem to inform the Sanhedrin what had happened. I would like to give these eyewitnesses the benefit of the doubt and say they went there to share the good news but I have a hunch it wasn’t that at all. They were there to stir up more trouble for Jesus. How could they?

This passage in a nutshell shows us just the hardness of heart that Jesus had encountered among the elite, ruling, religious authorities. They simply refused to believe. Why? They were all about themselves. They were more concerned about what they would lose (their place, their position, their importance, their nation, etc.) than what everyone would gain (intimate, personal, saving relationship with God Himself).

Their hearts were so hard that it didn’t matter to them if Jesus was the Messiah or not. Their reputations, their positions, their presumed power were all that mattered to them. They sold their souls for much less than the world had to offer. LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Friday, July 30, 2021

John 11: 43 – 44

As amazing as this event was, I have always left it with a smile on my face. I just love to imagine what it must have been like for Lazarus to come straggling out of that tomb still wrapped up from head to toe with all of those burial clothes still clinging to him. I mean he had to come walking out of that tomb with his arms stretched out like Lon Chaney, didn’t he?

I wonder if he had trouble finding his way out of the tomb but then I realized that he just made his way to the light and I’m not talking about sunlight here. I am talking about the Light of the world which had just personally pierced the darkness of death for Lazarus. Hallelujah!

But the phrase that just grabbed my attention was what Jesus said to them at the end, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” It makes me wonder. Was he just talking about those strips of cloth that someone had lovingly wrapped around his dead body?

I could certainly be convinced that he was talking about those strips of cloth; that is most obvious. But this had been an incredibly emotional time for them all over a period of several days. Whenever those professional mourners got involved the level of emotion could easily rise to hysteria but not for Jesus, the depth of emotion he demonstrated here was more than any of that.

As I look at those grave clothes, the way they bound Lazarus, the way they covered his face, the way they kept him from quickly moving to the light I wonder about all the things in my life I allow to bind me in that way. I wonder about all the things in my life I allow to bind me and hold me back from living a full resurrection life with Jesus.

Some of my personal grave clothes are doubt, worry, anxiety, fear, greed, pride, ___________(you can fill in the blank here), etc. and they do a marvelous job holding me back from fuller relationship with Jesus. I sincerely repent of all that now and spring forth into joyous light and life! Care to join me? Hallelujah! Amen!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Thursday, July 29, 2021

John 11: 38 – 44

Walking with the crowd of mourners and friends, Jesus arrives at the tomb and once again is deeply moved. Scholars tell us that the Greek word used to describe this depth of emotion both here and up in verse 33 is the word most commonly used to describe a horse snorting. Jesus was deeply moved and dignity had been put to the side.

Was Jesus so moved by Lazarus’ death? Was Jesus so moved by the grief of Mary and Martha? Was Jesus so moved by the mourners, some of whom would have been professional mourners? Was Jesus so moved by the devastating power of death over his people? Was Jesus so moved by their helplessness before death? We may not know exactly why but one thing we do know – Jesus was so moved emotionally that he snorted like a horse. Wow!

He walked to the entrance of the cave and instructed them to remove the stone from the entrance. Martha reappears just in time to remind us that she really is still that Martha. Apparently not realizing yet what The Resurrection and the Life had in mind she recoils in horror at the smell emanating from the tomb because her brother’s body had been in that enclosed cave for four long days.

Decomposition had indeed set in, his spirit had certainly departed by then and it probably did not smell like roses there. Jesus then brought her back to heavenly aromas by reminding her: “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

This event and the timing of this said event was for the revelation of God’s glory. Jesus had arrived just in time. Jesus looked up and prayed out loud to his Father so that all those gathered here would know of their relationship and would know where Jesus got his power so they may finally believe that the Father had sent his Son to earth.

Let’s keep in mind that the death of Lazarus had come on the heels of an ongoing confrontation between Jesus and the religious authorities about his identity, his authority and his relationship with the Father. Uh, don’t look now but the next minute might clarify all those questions.

Jesus called Lazarus by name and out he came. I heard a minister once who said that Jesus had to call Lazarus by name because such was His power that all of the dead would have risen at that moment. He was probably right but I take comfort in the fact that Jesus called out Lazarus by name and will do the same one day for me. I am sure glad that is settled for me; like Martha I believe. How about you?

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

John 11: 28 – 37

With Jesus’ bold, life-transforming declaration ringing in her ears and resonating deep within her heart, a hopeful Martha runs to find her sister Mary. She tells her Jesus has arrived and is looking for her. Mary got up suddenly and left to find Jesus; many of the mourners who were there to comfort her followed her.

Seeing Jesus and falling at his feet (yes, this is the same loving, worshipful Mary), she told him just as her sister had that if he had been there her brother would not have died. Wait a minute. I have always seen this as a complaint from both Mary and Martha but the truth is they were both right. This is also a bold declaration of faith in Jesus, certainly tinged with accusation but a declaration as well. Oh, how they trusted their friend Jesus!

Jesus responded to Mary and the other mourners with a noisy, deep-seated groan revealing his anguish perhaps at those before him being held in the seemingly eternal grip of helplessness, death and grief when he knew it wasn’t eternal at all, he knew Lazarus would soon be back in the land of the living.

He was deeply moved by their grief and sadness; so much so that he joined them with his own tears as they led him to the body. Some were deeply moved by Jesus’ tears and reflected on how much Jesus must have loved Lazarus. Others wondered out loud why a man who had healed the man born blind couldn’t have kept his friend from dying.

Some saw beauty in the moment; others saw judgment. I see a man who yes, loved Lazarus and was about to bring him back to life. But even more, I see a man who loves us all equally and did something once and for so that all of us may escape eternal death by trusting in him as did Mary and Martha. Are you in?

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

John 11: 25 – 26

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’”

Ready to move on to Mary’s encounter with Jesus I realized that I can’t go there just yet. How can I run from such a proclamation by Jesus?

On his way to a funeral for one of his closest friends, surrounded by mourners, having a rather casual conversation for the setting, Jesus has one of those drop-the-mic moments. I am convinced that being the Son of God – fully divine while fully human and filled with the Holy Spirit – Jesus must have known that he wasn’t really going to a funeral. He was headed to a rising and he had ring-side seats.

Confronted by heart-broken Martha about his tardy arrival and what that all cost them, Jesus told her that her brother would rise again. She mistook Jesus’ words for powerless, well-meaning words from a fellow mourner who was as helpless before death as she was. He wasn’t.

Demonstrating to her that these weren’t just kind words to help her through her brother’s passing, Jesus took it a step further and declared Himself as the veritable resurrection and life. Jesus declared that He held the power over death and life.

He was the RESURRECTION and the LIFE! Even though he hadn’t faced the cross yet, he was on his way and he knew that the battle had already been won by his obedience, his love, his holiness, his humility.

When questioned if she believed this, Martha replied that she did indeed believe because she believed he was the Messiah, the Son of God so if this Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God who had come to earth – death would somehow be defeated in and through Him. She believed! Do we?

If we believe that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, the Son of God, the Resurrection and the life, how should we live on this earth this side of eternity? LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Monday, July 26, 2021

John 11: 17 – 27

Once again it is Martha who rushes to see Jesus first. I am still not sure why her sister Mary didn’t accompany her. Maybe Martha was in such a hurry to see Jesus that she forgot to tell Mary he had arrived. Maybe Martha was still Martha, caught up in all the details.

I am sure Martha was devastated by her brother’s death. I am sure Martha was hurt, angry and disappointed as she grieved. She may have been more than a little upset that Jesus had not arrived in time. Scholars tell us that it would have taken a day for the messengers to get to Jesus thus a day for them to get back. Why did Jesus not come when summoned by his close friends?

Jesus may have known that by the time the messengers arrived Lazarus had already died. Jesus seemed to know what was going to happen and why. This had happened for God to demonstrate his power and glory through the Son to glorify the Son.

Regardless, when Martha arrived she immediately told Jesus that if he had been there her brother would not have died. Do I pick up a bit of blame in her statement? It seems that way to me.

Jesus then tells her that her brother will rise again and Martha’s rather numb response seems to indicate that this just may have been what everyone had been telling her but there is one thing about having your brother with you in the here and now and an all-together different thing to wait until the resurrection of the dead to see him again. It is certainly hope but hope deferred.

Jesus responds to her rather numb, disinterested acknowledgement by declaring with these eternal, turning-the-funeral-upside-down words: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?

Jesus rocked the funereal proceedings with this declaration. He rocked Martha. As she reels he asks her if she believes this and she responds powerfully without blinking: “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Numb no longer, Martha powerfully declares her faith and hope in Jesus. Hope had indeed arrived and she rushed to go tell her sister Mary that he wanted to see her. Hallelujah! Amen!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Saturday, July 24, 2021

John 11: 17 – 20

Jesus received word, apparently from Mary and Martha that their brother Lazarus was very ill. I have a hunch they assumed Jesus would come forthright but he didn’t. How did Mary and Martha feel about Jesus’ delayed arrival?

I mentioned previously that the waiting had to have been hard on all of them: Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Jesus. Uh, it was probably hardest for Lazarus who died while he waited although I am thinking it was hardest on Jesus who loved these people and wanted the best for them.

The disciples were fine with the waiting because they didn’t want Jesus to risk his life and perhaps theirs by returning so soon to Jerusalem where they sought either to arrest him or stone him. Little did they know…

As they neared Bethany Martha and Mary received word that Jesus was approaching which makes me think that they may have had somebody out on the highway looking for him. Martha and only Martha went out to meet Jesus. I wonder why Mary didn’t go too.

We know from previous encounters that Martha is the one who worried about all the details when Jesus was coming for a visit while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet to be with him, to learn from him, to worship him. Martha seems to be concerned more about practical details while Mary seems to seek the depth of relationships.

But it is Martha who rushes out to see Jesus and the disciples. Who knows? Maybe she was still vying for that coveted “hostess with the mostest” award by welcoming such an honored guest. I am sure both sisters were devastated in their grief and probably upset with Jesus for his delay. Why didn’t Mary go to welcome Jesus? Why did Martha go?

We might never know and I don’t think we can make assumptions here about them but I think it speaks volumes about Martha that she went out to meet Jesus. What do you think?

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Friday, July 23, 2021

John 11: 1 – 16

Jesus gets the news that his good friend Lazarus is very sick. Again, he must have received this news from a messenger sent specifically and intentionally by Mary and Martha to get Jesus’ attention, to get Jesus there ASAP!

Upon receiving the news Jesus announces that this illness will not result in death but will be for God’s glory to glorify His Son. And then, Jesus stays where he is. It makes me wonder if the messenger hurried back to Mary and Martha thinking that Jesus was on his heels.

It makes me wonder how hard it was for Jesus to sit still and wait because we are told just how much Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus but there was something bigger afoot here. It makes me wonder just how hard it was for Mary and Martha to wait for Jesus and he did not arrive until four days too late.

Can you imagine what that must have been like for them? They must have been so desperate! At first their desperation may have been tinged with the hope that Jesus was on his way but that soon turned to desperation drenched in frustration and maybe even anger when Jesus didn’t come until Lazarus had been in the ground for four days.

When Jesus tells his disciples that Lazarus has fallen asleep and they needed to go wake him up, the disciples misunderstood and told him that Lazarus needed to sleep, that it was good for him. Then, Jesus removed the blinders and told them that Lazarus had died and he was glad he hadn’t been there so that the disciples may believe.

The disciples were alarmed that Jesus was thinking of heading back toward Jerusalem and reminded him that the last time they were there the people tried to stone him. History has focused most on Thomas as the doubter but I have always been intrigued that the name “Thomas” actually meant “Twin.”

Some think he was known as the “Twin” because he looked so much like Jesus, imagine that! Imagine the pressure of looking like Jesus. Oh, wait a minute! As followers of Jesus shouldn’t we all look like him? But it was Thomas here who encouraged the disciples to go with Jesus and die with him. Oh to be His twin! Hallelujah! Amen!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Thursday, July 22, 2021

John 11: 1 – 4

I haven’t been fully released from chapter ten yet but just a few more words. Scholars tell us that in John’s gospel, chapter ten contains Jesus’ last public proclamation and the Jews’ last public rejection of Jesus, except of course for the cross.

From John’s perspective the rest of his gospel is more private in nature with Jesus and his disciples being either alone or in other more intimate settings. You may remember that chapters 13 – 17 are all about their time together privately celebrating the Passover in the upper room.

Here, we are told that Jesus receives word that one of his close friends, Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha is very ill. One has to wonder if Jesus received that word by a special messenger sent specifically by Mary and Martha to inform Jesus and get him to Bethany as soon as possible.

Nevertheless, Jesus does not leave immediately for Bethany. Jesus simply says and I am not sure who he is speaking to here – the messenger or his disciples but he tells them: “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

I want us to stop here for today. Is there something happening in your life like sickness or death or some other dark obstacle we human beings often face? I know there well could be in all of our lives and we may not even be aware of it yet.

What might it be like though if we choose right now to take this perspective from Jesus? Knowing that Jesus died so that we might have life and knowing that physical death still occurs but without that eternal sting for us who believe, can you choose to embrace this idea that whatever is coming our way will not end in death but is for God’s glory so that He can glorify His Son?

Let us choose together to proclaim: “Whatever comes my way today, whatever it may be – darkness, sadness, sickness, death, disappointment, heartache, etc. – I choose to trust God enough to know that it will not end in my death but in God’s glory so that Jesus will be glorified through it. Bring it on in the Name of Jesus.” Amen and Amen!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

John 10: 40 – 42

I have a self-proven theory which has been hypothesized, well-experimented and proven time after time after time by me. When I am self-righteous; when I know I am right; when I am all about me; when I am prideful; when I get offended because someone rattles my self-righteousness; I pretty much go blind and deaf and shall I say it, dumb.

Much like, well, exactly like the prodigal son; when I come to my senses I cannot believe how I acted and what I said. I am ashamed. I have hurt others. I have humiliated myself. I repent. I seek forgiveness. Ever happen to you?

It just seems to me that this may be at the heart of what’s going on here and went on all the time with Jesus and his accusers. They just seem to be so full of themselves of who they are and how they are and what they know that they have forfeited their abilities to perceive Jesus.

We have now seen on two separate occasions that his listeners became so upset with Jesus, so incensed with him, so blinded with rage that they literally picked up stones to stone him. Both of those occasions happened on the temple grounds.

I wonder if that had something to do with it. Surrounded by the glorious trappings of the temple and all that signified to them, not just spiritually or religiously but also nationalistically it just seems that they become so caught up with themselves that they lose it. I hope they didn’t lose it forever.

In today’s passage Jesus and his disciples have left Jerusalem and retreated across the Jordan to the country. They find themselves where John the Baptist used to baptize; maybe they were at the spot where John actually baptized Jesus.

We aren’t given specific details as to what Jesus was doing but I have a hunch Jesus was just being Jesus; loving, healing, teaching, serving. As the folks observed him they thought of John’s testimony about Jesus and saw how it all matched up seamlessly. Hm.

Without the fancy trappings of religion, nationalism, pride, self-righteousness and knowledge they remembered the words of John, they watched Jesus and came to the obvious conclusion. Jesus was that Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. Amen? Amen!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

John 10: 30 – 39

As you may expect, Jesus declaring that he and the Father were one did not go over real well with his listeners. As a matter of fact they quickly picked up stones to stone him which makes me wonder if they had brought their own stones because this all happened pretty fast – a self-service stoning.

Jesus as you would expect did not back down one iota. Without blinking an eye or dodging a stone he calmly asked them for which of his miracles or good works the Father had given him were they stoning him. They said that they weren’t stoning him for any of the good works he had done but for saying that he and the Father were one which was blasphemy.

I have to ask a question here. Weren’t the good works which the Father had given Jesus which had never been done by anyone before in human history also proclaiming that Jesus and the Father were one? Again, I am biased but I kinda, sorta hear them loud and clear. What about you?

Jesus uses Psalm 82 when judges were called not only “gods” but “sons of the Most High” to prove that there was biblical precedence for being called a god legitimately. And if he was indeed the Son who had been sanctified, set apart and sent down as God’s Son then he wasn’t blaspheming, he was telling the truth. Wow!

But he doesn’t want them to just take his word for it; he wants them to take a look at all of the good works he has done. He even goes so far to tell them if they can’t believe in him they should believe in his works which reveal that the Father is in Jesus and Jesus is in the Father.

Do they believe Jesus or his works? Not hardly; in one instance they pick up stones to execute him and now they try to grab him and arrest him, most likely so they could properly stone him. They just will not believe. LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Monday, July 19, 2021                                                 

John 10: 22 – 30

So it seems that a good amount of time has passed between the conversation with Jesus and the Pharisees about sheep, shepherds, pens and the Good Shepherd. It is now winter and Jesus is back in the temple courts for the Festival of Dedication.

The scene kind of reminds me of today’s paparazzi surrounding a celebrity as Jesus finds himself surrounded once again by a crowd who asks him to tell them plainly whether he is the Messiah or not. He tells them that he has already told them plainly.

He tells them that he has already told them plainly by his words and his deeds which he has done in his Father’s name. Jesus says that it is those deeds done in his Father’s Name which proclaim, confirm and affirm his identity as the Messiah but they do not believe – they refuse to believe.

He tells them that they do not believe because they are not his sheep and they are not his sheep because they refuse to listen to his voice calling their names. He once again reiterates to them that his sheep recognize his voice, trust him and follow him where-ever he may lead. These refuse to recognize, listen or follow.

He further reveals his identity to his questioners by telling them that he gives eternal life to his sheep and they will never, ever perish or be snatched out of his hand. They cannot be snatched out of his hand because the Father, who is greater than all, has given them to him and no-one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Jesus cements and seals this explanation by boldly proclaiming that he and the Father are one. Really, could he had been more clear to them about his identity as the Son of the Father as one with the Father? I don’t think so and don’t look now but I suppose I am a sheep because I recognize Jesus’s voice, he calls me by name and I follow Him where-ever he leads. How about you? Baaaaaaaa…

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Saturday, July 17, 2021

John 10: 19 – 21

I am still hung up on the responses about Jesus in these three verses. Some accused Jesus of being demon-possessed and raving mad while others kept in mind his powerful miracle of healing the man born blind and knew no demon could ever heal anyone from anything. I know this divergence of opinion about Jesus is not rare yet it still startles me.

If we look at Jesus’ public ministry from the perspective of all four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) we could never decide that anything Jesus spoke there or taught there or did there could ever be confused with a demon. May God forbid…

I mean he spoke with an authority no-one had ever encountered before. He had baffled the experts in the temple since the time he spoke to them while twelve years of age. Demons trembled before him and declared him God before anyone else recognized him. The miracles he performed on a daily basis were astounding and breath-taking.

In his gospel, John seems to give us much more of the ongoing conversation between Jesus and the Jewish authorities. It almost seems like John majors on that ongoing conversation. It seems like it has been several weeks now that we have seen Jesus trying to explain to them who he is and his relationship with the Father. He speaks to them directly. He uses colorful stories. He pulls out all stops but they still refuse to believe.

And here, after he has just healed the man who had been born blind and tells them this story of sheep and shepherds, they accuse him of being demon-possessed and stark raving mad yet none of that can be seen in any of this. They just won’t believe in Jesus. They choose to reject Him.

I know I am biased. I grew up in a Christian family and was raised in church. I am well-familiar with the life story of Jesus. I am blessed. I believe in Jesus. For all I am worth, I trust Jesus. C.S. Lewis once said something along these lines that Jesus was either a stark, raving lunatic like someone who declared himself a poached egg or he was who he said he was.

I believe with every ounce of my being that Jesus was who he said he was – the Good Shepherd, the Son of God! How about you? LORD have mercy. Christ have mercy. LORD have mercy!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Friday, July 16, 2021

John 10: 17 – 21

Jesus now moves full-bore into his relationship with his Father. As I have said before, much of the first half of John’s gospel is Jesus proclaiming and explaining his relationship with the Father. Here he uses a simple, bucolic setting of sheep and shepherd to delve into this all important connection.

In the midst of talking about what it means to be a good shepherd by the Good Shepherd, he explains that a good shepherd knows his sheep by name and they know him. Earlier he explained how a good shepherd calls each of his sheep by name, they recognize his voice and follow him where-ever he leads them.

He returns to that image here by referring to sheep in other pens who will also know his voice, recognize his voice and follow him. He knows his sheep and his sheep know him and I am so thankful for that “his” which denotes ownership and relationship which come at the highest of costs; his willing, obedient sacrifice of his life for their salvation and well-being.

He compares his relationship with his sheep with his relationship with his Father; just as he knows his Father and his Father knows him which demonstrates an intimate, personal connection we all long for. Jesus explains that the reason the Father loves him so is because he lives in obedience to the Father and lays down his life for us sheep.

He lays down his life and will take it up again which refers from my perspective to his crucifixion and his resurrection from the dead. Jesus is not forced to be the Good Shepherd who gives his life for his sheep; he willingly embraces the role for our benefit and blessing.

With such powerful, inspiring, delightful imagery and explanation there are still some in the crowd who accuse Jesus of being demon-possessed except nothing from Jesus’ mouth is anything like what a demon spews. They just will not walk through the gate. Others know that Jesus’ words are confirmed and affirmed by his amazing miracles, in this case, the healing of the man born blind.  Hallelujah! Amen!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Thursday, July 15, 2021

John 10: 11 – 16

We saw yesterday how Jesus took this simple, pastoral setting of sheep, shepherds and sheep pens to a whole new level by introducing himself as the gate for the sheep and the corresponding necessity for those who want rich, abundant pasture to walk through that gate.

Now, Jesus takes this simple, bucolic analogy to an even deeper level when he now proclaims and identifies himself as the Good Shepherd who doesn’t run away in the face of danger as a hired man would but defends his sheep with his very life. The Good Shepherd willingly gives his life for his sheep.

In other words, the Good Shepherd isn’t in it for the money or any of the benefits offered by the sheep – wool, food, etc. The Good Shepherd isn’t like a hired keeper of the sheep who flees at the first sign of trouble, forgetting all about the sheep to save his own skin. The Good Shepherd cares about the sheep so much that he willingly gives his life to save the sheep.

Jesus again declares himself as the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep by name and whose sheep know him. He connects this relationship with his ongoing discussion over most of the gospel of John with his relationship with his Father by pointing out that Jesus knows and is known by his sheep just as he is known by his Father and he knows his Father – an indelible, unbreakable link!

This Good Shepherd also points out that he has sheep in other pens which demonstrates he loves and cares for sheep outside of the Jewish sheep pen but including all those Gentile sheep pens where folks like you and me exist. His is not an exclusive sheep pen but welcomes all of us sheep from all around the world to join his one flock led by the One Good Shepherd. Hallelujah!

Jesus is speaking of events yet to come which would soon prove that he is indeed the Good Shepherd who dies once and for all to defend his sheep from all over so that anyone who trusts in him would live. I rejoice and humbly offer myself to the Good Shepherd who gave his life for me, how about you?

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

John 10: 7 – 10

In the first six verses of this chapter Jesus did not identify himself in any way within the story; he was just setting the stage with a simple, familiar setting of sheep and shepherds. Beginning in verse 7 he puts himself in the middle of this bucolic setting by clearly identifying himself as the “gate for the sheep” thus taking this simply analogy to a whole new level.

We saw previously that the shepherd is known by the gatekeeper and enters boldly with welcome through the gate. Jesus now calls himself that gate for the sheep so anyone who wants to get to the sheep must go through Jesus. Of course, Jesus is now talking about much more than sheep. Jesus is talking about human beings and eternal matters like faith and trust and life everlasting.

Jesus declares that anyone who enters through him in faith and trust will be saved. Anyone who enters in through him can come and go and find pasture – revel luxuriantly in rich, abundant, joyous, living relationship while the thief who enters not by the gate but by climbing sneakily over the fence comes to steal, kill and destroy.

Was he pointing at the Pharisees as he spoke about thieves? Was he pointing the finger at false prophets as he spoke about the thieves who come only to steal, kill and destroy? Was he referring to all those “so-called” messiahs who had arrived on the scene making eternal promises only to perish and take their promises with them? I wonder who he would be pointing his finger at today.

I wonder if these words about being the gate for the sheep would resonate with the disciples while in the upper room when Jesus told them he was leaving and that they knew the place where he was going. When questioned by Thomas who seems to be totally lost here Jesus replies, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

I have a hunch this simple, pastoral picture may have come to mind for them on that dark night. I know it resonates with me and I have chosen to walk through that gate and revel in that abundant life. Thank You, Jesus! I invite you to join me in walking through that Gate. Hallelujah! Amen!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

John 10: 1 – 6

It seems to me that Jesus uses one last great analogy to try and get through to the Pharisees confronting him. I don’t know about you but as I have read and rather plodded my way through the last few chapters I have been frustrated.

I know what I know so I can’t really transport myself back to the days of Jesus and think that I would be any quicker to believe in him than most of the people around him. I mean I would like to think I would immediately recognize Jesus for who he was and completely trust in Him but I would have probably been like everyone else – frustrating!!!

Here, Jesus uses an analogy that would have been quite familiar to everyone in that day – sheep and shepherds. He describes for them a very familiar setting of sheep in a pen. The shepherd does not have to climb sneakily over the fence as a thief would to get to the sheep but boldly enters the gate while the gatekeeper slings the gate wide for the shepherd to enter.

The sheep know their shepherd and recognize his voice. The shepherd knows his sheep and calls each of them by their own distinctive name. The sheep recognize their names being called and rush to meet the shepherd and follow him out of the pen.

The shepherd has his own sheep, knows each of them personally, calls each of them by their own names and leads them out of the pen by name. Sheep will not follow a stranger’s voice but flee from the stranger.

The shepherd has the sheep’s best interests at heart while the thief is only after his own gain. Sheep know that. Sheep trust their shepherd. Sheep flee from the thief. Any questions?

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Monday, July 12, 2021

John 10

In this chapter Jesus uses powerful imagery of sheep and shepherds to further reveal himself to his listeners, particularly the Pharisees. As I read this chapter I am reminded of these verses in Ezekiel 34 which I want to share with you before we dive in to John 10.

“The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flocks? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.’” Ezekiel 34:1-6

“’For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will look for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will then them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.’” Ezekiel 34:11-16

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

John 9: 35 – 41

Of course, with his bold declaration about Jesus, the man who had been born blind was kicked out of the synagogue. For many this would have meant that his life was over but for him, his life was just beginning in loud and living color.

Jesus heard the news and went to find him. Finding him, Jesus asked him if he believed in the “Son of Man” which is a phrase that had not been used with the healed man. Interesting, isn’t it? This un-named man who had been born blind saw so clearly that he could testify to Jesus’ identity without knowing exactly who he was; I mean after all he hadn’t seen him. He only knew he had been born blind but could now see!

When Jesus identified himself as the “Son of Man,” the seeing man immediately declared his trust in him and worshiped Jesus. Surrounded by so-called seeing people, it was the blind man who encountered Jesus and saw him for who he was. Jesus declares here that he came into the world so that the blind would see and those who see would become blind.

We see that in living personification here as the man who had been born blind knew without a doubt that Jesus was the Messiah while many of those seeing people around him, who thought they knew all the answers couldn’t “see” Jesus.

They thought they could see. They said they could see. But they couldn’t see Jesus, they wouldn’t see Jesus. Can we see? LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Friday, July 09, 2021

John 9: 13 – 34

Torn blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

In a nutshell, this man just confirms and affirms all that Jesus spoke in chapter 8 about his identity, his purpose, etc. This seeing man saw through all the blind darkness and confusing haze to trust, worship and serve Jesus. I once was blind but now I see! How about you?

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Thursday, July 08, 2021

John 9: 13 – 34

We get better insight into this situation when the Pharisees and others refuse to believe that this was the man who had been born blind, even when he testifies about himself. They will not take his word for it and call in his parents to confirm his identity and story.

His parents do testify that this man they now see standing before them wide-eyed and seeing is indeed their son and that he was in fact born blind. But, that is as far as they go. They won’t speak for their son as to why and how he is indeed standing before them wide-eyed and seeing.

John editorializes here and tells us that the reason they won’t go any further is because they are afraid. You see, the Jewish leaders had already put the word out about Jesus. If anyone acknowledged him as the Messiah they would be expelled from the synagogue which meant everything to them.

His parents are afraid that if they testify or acknowledge that it was Jesus who healed their son then that would be an acknowledgement of Jesus as the Messiah. They would then be kicked out of the synagogue, which was the veritable center of community life for them; for everyone.

If they got kicked out of the synagogue they would lose face before their community. Remember that these people had probably lost face with the community at the birth of their son as the stigma of who had sinned to cause such a thing hung constantly over their heads. I feel for them, I really do. It had maybe taken the rest of their lives to work themselves back in to the community.

Not wanting to risk their status, they put the onus back on their son who has always had that onus on him anyway. At this moment which they had probably never even dared to dream of because of its ridiculous, outlandish, impossible nature; the parents won’t rejoice or trust or embrace but try to save face.

I can’t be too harsh on his parents. I have no idea what they’ve been through but I know it was excruciating, humiliating and challenging to get where they were nevertheless they left their son out to dry and won’t acknowledge Jesus because of selfish fear. When have we not acknowledged Jesus because of selfish fear? LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

John 9: 13 – 34

The debate over this miracle continues. Isn’t this interesting? Jesus saw a man who had been blind from birth, had compassion on him, made mud out of spit, put the mud on the man’s eyes and told him to go wash at the Pool of Siloam. The man obeyed Jesus and when he washed he saw.

I have a feeling this man had been ever-present in the community. We are told that he begged so he was most likely intentionally placed strategically and systematically. It may have been that anywhere one traveled in their town they ran into the man born blind. He must have been a very real part of the fabric of their community.

And yet, no-one really recognizes him; neither his neighbors or those who walked by him every day and ignored him hoping he would just go away recognized him. This rose many questions about his identity. Is this really you? Are you the man who was born blind who either sinned before birth or your parents sinned before birth?

Interesting isn’t it that they seemed not to be able to identify him except for his blindness. Pharisees join the ongoing debate. He opened the door to a whole new level of debate and division when he tells them that Jesus healed him. This all happened on a Sabbath which caused people to second guess this entire situation and question Jesus’ character.

Division rears its ugly head as some just couldn’t imagine a good person working on the Sabbath while others just couldn’t imagine someone who could heal a man born blind as being sinful. Since he had been healed by Jesus, the Pharisees ask him what he thought about Jesus and without blinking he called Jesus a prophet.

Why won’t they believe that this is the man who was born blind? Why won’t they believe his account of what happened to him? Why will they not glorify God for what He is doing in and through Jesus? Is it a complete and total lack of perception? Is it hate? Is it fear? What keeps us from believing?

LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

John 9: 1 – 12

While the disciples eyed the man born blind and asked nosy, judgmental questions about him and his parents, Jesus looked at him with eyes of love, truly seeing him as a whole person. Without even being asked, Jesus spat into the dirt and made mud. He then applied that mud to the man’s unseeing eyes and sent him to wash in the Pool of Siloam.

When the man washed he could see… As he walked home seeing, he encountered his neighbors and others who had seen him begging who weren’t quite sure if it was him or not. I am not sure if they had never really looked at him because now they couldn’t quite recognize him with seeing eyes. It doesn’t make sense, does it? Who was blind then?

It seems like first they were talking about the man as if he wasn’t really there but he was. Overhearing their questions of his identity he finally proclaimed that he was indeed that man who had been born blind but now he could see!

He told them how the man Jesus had made mud, put it on his eyes and sent him to wash it off at the Pool of Siloam. When he washed he could see. It interests me here that there doesn’t seem to be anyone rejoicing about this amazing miracle; I mean the man who has just seen for the first time ever doesn’t seem to be overly excited himself.

It has been hinted at by the fact that the neighbors and onlookers can’t fully recognize this man who had lived among them for decades. It is further demonstrated by the way they seem to talk about him rather than talk directly to him. It seems like they may think he’s beneath them in some way. It’s like they don’t treat him like a whole person.

And now we see why there isn’t really much excitement among them for this amazing miracle. When he mentions Jesus they just want to know where he went. Ahem, it also seems like this miracle may have been performed on the Sabbath. LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

 “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Monday, July 05, 2021

John 9: 1 – 5

Jesus and his disciples encounter a man who had been born blind. Upon seeing him the disciples immediately ask Jesus if this man or his parents had sinned. I have to say that when I see someone blind that is not the first question which comes to mind; actually that question never comes to my mind; ever.

Their question does reveal to us however their mindset, their perspective, their understanding and those of the world in which they lived. If someone was born blind or deaf or crippled or different in some way, they or their parents must have sinned to deserve that.

Now, we aren’t told where exactly Jesus and the disciples encountered this man. He may have been walking down the street towards them. He may have been strategically place on the side of the road to beg and receive alms but I don’t think so. This just doesn’t seem to be that kind of situation.

They saw the man and questions began to swirl around him, about him. Can you imagine growing up in that situation? Can you imagine having questions asked about your moral character on a regular basis? Judging by the disciples’ reaction here he may have been questioned and judged on his moral character day in and day out because of the way he was born. Can you imagine that?

It is important to note here that Jesus did not ask that question; Jesus knew better. Jesus knew that God doesn’t punish or tarnish us like that. As Jesus looked at the man born blind he knew that he had been born blind so that God’s glorious works might be displayed in him.

I have a hunch that as Jesus looks at all of us he sees that same design, that same potential. We are all designed and planned and purposed so that God’s glorious power might be displayed in us, through us. The question is if we will allow God to demonstrate his glorious power in and through us. Holy GOD, here I am, have at it! Hallelujah! Amen!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Saturday, July 03, 2021

John 8 Recap, Continued

We continue to slow down and take another look at one of Jesus’ powerful statements in John 8.

“Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad…Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!” (8:56, 58)

Perhaps Jesus is subtly teaching them here how Abraham lived by looking forward in faith and joy at Jesus’ day. After all, if anything, Abraham was a man of faith which always looks ahead.

They, of course, mocked him scornfully about Abraham knowing that there is no possible way Abraham and Jesus knew each other. How could they? Abraham had been dead for about two thousand years by then and Jesus wasn’t even fifty years old. There was no way they knew each other unless One of them was the Son of GOD!!!

Then after being accused throughout his public ministry of not being clear to them as to who he is and where he came from, Jesus decides to leave no doubt. He says, “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!”

Does that ring any bells to you? Let me give you a hint: “Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:13 – 14)

Jesus just gave them the greatest “I Am” statement of all! Jesus declared to them that he was “I AM WHO I AM!” Wow! That is why they picked up rocks to stone him. He had declared without leaving any doubt who he was – I AM WHO I AM! Hallelujah! Amen!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Friday, July 02, 2021

John 8 Recap, Continued

We continue to slow down and take another look at one of Jesus’ powerful statements in John 8.

“I am not possessed by a demon, but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death…If I glory myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” (8: 49 – 56, selected verses)

As we saw yesterday, Jesus went so far as to tell his listeners that they were children of the devil because of the way they were behaving by refusing to believe in Jesus. How did they respond? They responded by saying that Jesus was possessed by a demon. So, they still aren’t getting it. They still don’t understand or perhaps, want to understand. They refuse to hear!

Jesus refutes their accusation that he is demon possessed and simply tells them he is honoring his Father. He is honoring his Father by doing and saying exactly what his Father wants him to do and say. The Father will seek his glory but Jesus is not seeking the Father’s glory, he is simply obeying the Father’s word.

We have circled back once again to this word – obedience. Jesus continues to reiterate that obedience is required to demonstrate right relationship with GOD. Not only does Jesus call those who want to believe in him to lives of obeying his word but he himself obeys GOD by obeying his word.

Obedient living is required! If obedient living is required for Jesus how can it not be required for us? LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

Thursday, July 01, 2021

John 8 Recap, Continued

We continue to slow down and take another look at one of Jesus’ powerful statements in John 8.

“Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not near is that you do not belong to God.” (8:43 – 47)

I think in another attempt to get his listeners attention and get them to really pay attention to them, Jesus tells his listeners that they are children of the devil. I don’t know about you but that would really wake me up and make me mad.

He has already disputed their proclamations that they are Abraham’s children and the Father’s children by pointing out that their behavior just does not back that up. He now announces that they are the devil’s children because they are acting just like the devil in plotting to kill him and refusing to believe the truth.

He goes on to tell them that He is speaking the truth but they refuse to believe Him. Even though they could not prove him guilty of any sin, they insisted on refusing to believe him. Of course, they would know eventually after his resurrection that he was not guilty of any sin otherwise he could not have risen from the dead.

They couldn’t believe because they didn’t trust and they didn’t trust because they didn’t belong to God. If they belonged to God they would have heard and understood and believed. How could they belong to God? They could belong to God by submitting, believing and trusting in the One God sent. It took the risk of faith. Many just were not up to that risk? Are we?

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” (Psalm 86:11)