Carrdiography: Writing from Carr’s Heart

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Acts 3: 1 – 10

We see the generosity that was being experienced within the community of the earliest followers of Jesus being shared with the outside world. In this particular case it was with that man who had been lame since birth. It was that man who had spent his life being carried to the temple so he could beg.

He must have been part of the normal fabric of temple life and as such, I wonder just how often visitors ever really looked at him; I mean, really looked at him. I have no doubt they dropped a few Shillings into his hat but did they really look deep into his eyes to see the suffering of his soul?

On this day, Peter tells him to look at him and then gives him the gift of healing. I love that picture. When Peter grabs the man by the hand and lifts him up while calling on the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth to heal him, his feet and ankles became strong. What?

When Peter grabbed the man by the hand and called on the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth to heal him, his feet and ankles immediately became strong. WoW!!! And then the man began to walk and jump and praise God as he accompanied Peter and John into the temple.

And when the others saw him walking and jumping and praising God they recognized him as that man who used to always sit by the Beautiful gate begging. But what they truly saw with astonishment and wonder was the Beautiful life of one who had been healed by Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

I don’t know about you but something like this has never happened to me but I wonder if when I touch those around me in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth if they are strengthened and encouraged and healed. LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Friday, December 03, 2021

Acts 3: 1 – 10

The Holy Spirit inspired, Holy Spirit infused living continues as we see Peter and John going into the temple at three in the afternoon to pray. They saw a man who was lame from birth being carried into the temple courts to beg.

That phrase “lame from birth” speaks volumes as this would have been one of those afflictions folks would blame on the poor man doing something bad from before birth or on his parents for their sinfulness, etc. His affliction gave others a reason to judge and speculate and condemn as if his affliction wasn’t enough.

It would probably also mean there was really no hope for him being healed because he had this since birth. But then he “happens” to enter the temple courts the same time as Peter and John who speak to him. Note, they didn’t wait for him to ask them for money. In a sure rarity they actually spoke voluntarily to him, not under duress and told him to look at them. Wow!

The lame man must have been pleasantly surprised; no, more than that, he must have been stunned. He surely thought that was his lucky day but he had no idea. Expecting money, Peter tells him that they do not have any money but what they do have they give to him.

And what did they have? Peter and John had no silver or gold but they did have faith and in that faith they didn’t even give that man lame from birth an option; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Peter grabbed him by the hand and commanded him to walk!

Can you imagine that? Wouldn’t you have liked to have been there to witness that amazing miracle which the man didn’t even pursue? I sure would have and even more, I would like to witness a similar miracle today. Come, Holy Spirit, come… Please!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Acts 2: 42 – 47

Another sign of their transformed lives by their ongoing encounters with Jesus through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit may just be their eagerness to meet together daily in the temple courts. And I have a hunch they didn’t just meet for an hour.

It seems like they just may have spent the entire day, every day, together in the temple courts listening to the apostles proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. Luke doesn’t mention it at all so I am assuming there were no complaints about long-winded preachers or boring talks or services lasting too long.

It just seems that they were so eager to learn, so excited about their new found faith relationship with Jesus that they just could not get enough. And then it seems that even after their meetings in the temple ended they gathered together in their own homes to continue to fellowship together while they ate with happy hearts. Wow!

May it be so again. May it be so again. LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy. Come, Holy Spirit, come…Please!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Acts 2: 42 – 47

Those early days after Pentecost were not just filled with preaching, teaching, Bible study, breaking of bread and fellowship but an actual living out of the Spirit-filled life. We aren’t given immediate details but are told in this passage that miracles and wonders were occurring daily which astounded.

This community of early followers of Jesus Christ was marked by constant fellowship, unity and generosity. The unity and community were accentuated and marked by generous giving and sharing. Luke tells us that they “had everything in common” and “they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”

They demonstrated their Holy Spirit living through unity and generosity. I have a hunch that most of those gathered today in those early days were not incredibly wealthy people but they gave sacrificially to help each other. Even to the point of selling their own property to give the proceeds to those who needed help.

They gave sacrificially, even selling their own possessions and property to help their brothers and sisters in Christ. It is obvious that their lives had been completely transformed by their encounters with Jesus before and after the cross and of course, their ongoing relationship with Him through the Holy Spirit.

I want that, too. Don’t you? LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy.

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Acts 2: 42 – 47

After the powerful day of Pentecost when the disciples experienced the mighty rushing wind of the Holy Spirit and tongues of fire descended on them enabling to speak in foreign languages; after the day of Pentecost when Peter stood and powerfully proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ and explained that very day’s events; after the day of Pentecost when more than 3,000 heard, received, believed and were saved; it didn’t end there.

It is an impossibility for me to over-estimate the importance of being saved! I mean we were created to have eternal, intimate, saving relationship with our triune GOD which demands salvation. Experiencing eternal salvation is the most important event in any of our lives but there is more to it; much more than being saved.

We see that fact in action right here in chapter two of Acts. If being saved was all that mattered the story could have, should have and would have ended there but it didn’t because it isn’t. J. D. Walt calls salvation the “first half of the gospel” and maturing into Christlikeness or sanctification as “the second half of the gospel.”

We see that lived out here by the disciples and the early believers in Jesus. They just didn’t go their own ways rejoicing in the fact of their salvation and living their lives as they wanted. No, they joined together and lived out this new found, saving faith together. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer.

They devoted themselves early on to the spiritual disciplines and devoted is not some mealy mouth, warm and fuzzy word. “Devoted” means going all in with one’s heart, soul, strength, mind, body, etc. which we see demonstrated in these ending verses of chapter two and for the rest of Acts.

How devoted are we to make sure we grow in our saving faith to become full-fledged disciples of Jesus Christ, to become like Jesus Christ? LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy.

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Monday, November 29, 2021

Acts 2: 22 – 41

I was about to dash right by the ending of this section without considering the impact of Peter’s Holy Spirit-inspired sermon. As he finished declaring that those in attendance that day had crucified Jesus, the Lord and Messiah; they were cut to the heart.

They were so cut to the heart that they did not see Peter as their enemy but as their brother and as their brother they asked Peter what they needed to do. Peter told them that they needed to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. And that they would receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit not just for themselves but for their children and all who were far off. Hallelujah! Those who were far off? That’s you and me!

But then Luke tells us that Peter warned them with many other words and pleaded with them to save themselves from their corrupt generation. Have you ever pleaded with someone? Have you ever pleaded with someone to save themselves by trusting in Jesus?

Peter not only spoke eloquently and powerfully on that day. Peter poured out himself for all those listening that day. He pleaded with them that they might be saved and more than three thousand were saved that day! WoW!!!

I ask again, have you ever pleaded with someone to trust in Jesus? Today might be a great day to pray and ask God to give you such a person to plead with or maybe, 3,000 such persons. Amen? Amen.

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Today we find ourselves on the Saturday immediately following Thanksgiving and the Saturday immediately preceding the advent of Advent. I think it wise to spend time in one of my favorite Psalms today as we put a bow on this week and prepare to prepare for Christmas. May we keep our LORD in the center of it all. Hallelujah! Amen!

 

PSALM 103

 

 “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits –

Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,

Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

 

 

The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

 

 

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field;

The wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.

But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,

And his righteousness with their children’s children –

With those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.

 

 

Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.

Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.

Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, O my soul.”

 

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Philippians 4: 10 – 13

As I anticipate the chaos of “Black Friday” with folks camping out or waiting in long lines or forcing themselves through opening doors or fighting over gifts I am reminded of these words from the Apostle Paul written from a first century “Green Mile” in a Roman jail.

“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

This year may all learn the secret to contentment regardless of our circumstances is in Him who loves us, Him who died for us, Him who rose from the dead for us, Him who gives us strength – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

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

 

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Habakkuk 3: 16 – 19

“I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights…”

I want to take a break from Acts today and give thanks.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes Thanksgiving can come off as revelry for possessions and things and food or is it just me? I don’t know. Maybe it is because the sheer consumerism of Black Friday follows so closely on the heels of Thanksgiving that it just seems that way to me.

But Habakkuk 3 resonates in my heart to offset those feelings or actions. The prophet Habakkuk received a word from the LORD that punishment was coming on Israel in the form of a devastating, invading army. Israel had gone too far in revolting and rebelling against GOD. It was time.

Habakkuk knew what was coming. Habakkuk’s heart pounded, lips quivered, legs trembled and decay crept into his bones. This was just about as bad as it could get. Though the fig tree fails, though the grapes fail, though the olives fail, though the fields fail, though the animals fail… yet I will rejoice in You.

Can we give thanks in such a landscape? Can we give thanks in such barrenness? Can we trust GOD when everything around us fails and falls apart? Can we?

Give thanks to the LORD for He is good, his steadfast love endures forever. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus! Happy Thanksgiving!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Acts 2: 22 – 41

Peter just doesn’t throw the prophetic words of King David out for dramatic effect. He dives in deep into the word to demonstrate that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were powerfully predicted by none other than King David more than 1000 years before.

To me it seems that Peter used the quotes from the Psalms to tie a nice bow on his proclamation about Jesus to prove the identity, the power and the purpose of Jesus. He ends with a cutting statement in 2:36: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

Now, I am wondering and perhaps wandering. Did Peter actually recognize people there that morning who had actively participated in the crucifixion of Jesus? Or was he speaking metaphorically in the fact that all of us everywhere were actively involved in the crucifixion of Jesus because of our sin?

Either way fits for me but you notice that no-one in attendance on that glorious morning argued with Peter. No-one seems to have tried to defend themselves against these powerful charges. Also, we may note that no-one present that morning seemed to dispute any of the facts with Peter.

Not a single voice was raised to dispute the resurrection of Jesus; no one said anything about him not really being dead or his body being stolen or any of the other rumors concocted to explain away his powerful resurrection.

I might add that unfortunately many of those vicious, false rumors continue to circulate today in attempts to confuse and dishearten but on that day the response was simple: “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Without batting an eye Peter responded: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…” If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, what better time than right now to follow Peter’s lead and do so? Hallelujah! Amen! Thank you, Jesus! Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Acts 2: 22 – 41

But Peter doesn’t stop with Pentecost in using the Scriptures to explain and anchor it to his listeners. He immediately dives in and perhaps uses a Scripture that is even better known and more beloved than Joel’s prophetic words.

Peter goes right to King David in Psalm 16 and quotes David to once again anchor and explain Jesus; the significance of his life, his ministry, his death, his resurrection and his ascension. With great calm and decisive precision, Peter declared: “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”

Do you see how Peter powerfully delivered the Gospel in a nutshell to all those gathered? Do you see how he connects with them by calling them “fellow Israelites” and then using scriptures attributed to their beloved King David to undergird, strengthen and prove the identity of Jesus of Nazareth?

Do we need any other proof of the existence and presence of the Holy Spirit than this occasion when the formerly failed, humiliated and shamed Peter boldly stood up in the presence of his peers and proclaimed Christ? I don’t think so… Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Monday, November 22, 2021

Acts 2: 14  – 21

It was an extraordinary morning in every way. The disciples had been awakened by the sound of a mighty, rushing wind in the Upper Room and then tongues of fire descended on each of them. They then began to proclaim the wonders of GOD in foreign tongues.

Now there just so happened to be people visiting Jerusalem at that time from all over the world. These people who, whether they knew it or not, had been especially invited for the events of that morning – they heard the glories of God proclaimed by common folk in their own particular languages! Wow!

These people were utterly amazed and bewildered by what they witnessed while others mocked that the disciples were drunk. Peter, once again demonstrating his forgiveness and reinstatement by Jesus, stands and speaks to the large crowd gathered there.

He first responds to the mocking by pointing out that it was too early in the morning for any of them to be drunk. He then sets the tone for all that is to follow by placing the events of that morning precisely in the middle of Joel’s prophesy about “That Day…”

Scholars tell us that many in attendance that day, if not most, would have instantly recognized Joel’s prophetic words. Many had clung to those words through the years as they longed for that day when God would once again break into human history to set things right and elevate Israel to her deserved status and height above the nations of the world.

How the listeners’ hearts must have resonated within them as Peter shared Joel’s words with them and then boldly proclaimed that what they were witnessing that very day was indeed the fulfillment of Joel’s prophesy and the breaking in of God into human history to set everything right.

Peter anchored and explained the extraordinary events of Pentecost solidly within the Jewish Scriptures for all those Jews who found themselves that day in Jerusalem. Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Acts 2: 1  – 13

I am sure there were a variety of reactions on this day of Pentecost. We have already seen that many were bewildered and utterly amazed at what they heard being proclaimed in their own languages by people who didn’t normally speak those languages.

Many of those people in their bewilderment and their utter amazement asked, “What does this mean?”

While others “made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine.” Now, I will admit it here that I am not a drinker of wine or other alcoholic beverages but these folks seem to have had experience with it.

I have certainly been around folks who imbibed a bit too much, particularly in my college days and I remember attending several wild parties but never once did I hear someone drunk speaking in Arabic or Latin or Turkish, or Greek or Egyptian or Libyan, etc., etc. Never once! Have you?

But there seem to have been some on that day who chose not to see the miracle, who chose not to be bewildered or utterly amazed and made a crass joke about it; made a crass joke about those speaking; made a crass joke about the Spirit by which they spoke.

Is it any different today? LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy! And by the way, Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Friday, November 19, 2021

Acts 2: 1  – 13

I continue to have all of those countries mentioned in this passage on my mind today. Let’s rehearse them or re-remember them: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Crete were some of the nations mentioned. Most importantly those nations represent people loved by God.

On this day of Pentecost almost two thousand years ago, the promised gift of the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples and other early followers of Jesus and the Church was born. On this day of Pentecost folks from many different nations “just happened” to be in town and heard the glories of God declared in their own languages.

Very intentional, extremely specific seeds were sown on that day. Later we will discover that more than 3,000 people trusted in Jesus on that day. As we work our way through Acts we will see how the Gospel moved from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and to the rest of the world rather strategically and intentionally but make no mistake the journey began on Pentecost with this great sowing for the world.

Travel back in the days of Acts was challenging, difficult and for many, almost impossible. There were surely many in Jerusalem on that day who would never have the opportunity to travel out of their country to see the rest of the world.

But for us today in our world, we have the rest of the world all around us; the rest of the world lives in our neighborhoods, attends our schools, works in our stores, eats in our restaurants, etc. What are we allowing the Holy Spirit to do in and through us so that the rest of the world in our lives comes to know Jesus? Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Acts 2: 1  – 13

Luke uses words like “bewildered” and “utterly amazed” to describe the listeners’ reactions when hearing those common Galileans speaking in languages which were not their own. Pentecost was simply an amazing, astounding moment with a purpose.

The empowering moment of Pentecost wasn’t for show. It was purposeful. It was intentional. Jesus had told the disciples to wait for His gift from on high and when they received that gift, Jesus told them they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

On this day of Pentecost we are told that there were God-fearing Jews that day from every nation under heaven and then Luke names at least some of them: “Parthians, Medes, Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs…”

Honestly, I normally try to avoid these place names because some of them are difficult to pronounce but today I took a different tact. I decided to look them up and see where they were located back in that day.

We have the following peoples represented on that day: Iranians, Kurdish folks from Northwest Iran, folks from Southwest Iran; residents of Mesopotamia which could include folks from Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey; folks from throughout Turkey, Egyptians, Libyans, Italians, Arabs, Cretans and Israelites.

I marked all of these locations on the world map in my office and discovered that all of these peoples basically surround Jerusalem moving outward toward the uttermost parts of the earth.

Now that is astounding to me as I see Jesus telling them to be his witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth and here it begins on one, single, solitary day. WoW! Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Acts 2: 1  – 13

As you might imagine, all of this mighty, rushing wind, tongues of fire, and over a hundred people speaking simultaneously in languages from all over made a bit of a racket.

It made so much of a racket that the God-fearing Jews from all over the world who “just happened” to be in town that weekend for the festival of Pentecost or Feast of Weeks heard this racket and gathered in bewilderment. Why were they bewildered?

They were bewildered because they heard these common Galileans speaking in tongues from all over the world. Can you imagine the power in that moment? Can you imagine being in a city that was no longer your own, hundreds of miles away from your own home, feeling very much like a foreigner or at the very least like a stranger and then hearing people speaking in your own language? More than just speaking in your own language, they were declaring the wonders of God in their own tongues! WoW!

Although heading in a different direction or so I thought, I was just tweaked by the power of that. There is so much in our world that is cold, calculating, impersonal and divisive. How important and how transformatively powerful is it when someone meets us where we are in some way that reminds us of home?

Could this be one of the wonders of that Pentecost morning long ago?

Common Galileans, many of them fishermen were declaring the wonders of God which tugged at the hearts of these God-fearing Jews as God the Father drew them back home to Himself through His Son by their own languages spoken by people who didn’t know those languages! WoW!

As followers of Christ, what might we do to meet people where they are, make them feel at home somehow and allow the Holy Spirit to draw them to Jesus through us? Might just be something for us to pray about and seek. Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Acts 2: 1  – 13

When the day of Pentecost came, when the gift Jesus had promised came, they were all in one place. It seems like they had strictly obeyed Jesus, gone back to Jerusalem and waited together for the gift just as Jesus had commanded them.

So, let’s set the context a bit and maybe a timeline for what had recently happened in the lives of the disciples. Jesus was arrested late on a Thursday, crucified on Friday, rose triumphantly from the dead on Sunday, showed himself to be alive to the disciples for forty days, ascended to heaven and then ten days later on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples and all the early believers in Jesus.

Pentecost occurred with the sound of a mighty, rushing wind coming from heaven and just filled up the house where they were waiting. The Hebrew word for Spirit in the Old Testament is ruach and the Greek word for Spirit in the New Testament is pneuma. Both of those words mean air or breath. Just as Jesus had breathed on the disciples that Easter evening in the upper room, the Holy Spirit was poured out on them and others powerfully on Pentecost.

That mighty, rushing breath was accompanied by tongues of fire that came and rested on each of them. I seem to remember that John the Baptist had said that one day they would be baptized by fire and here it is. With this new breath and this powerful fire within them they began to speak in languages which were not their own. They began to praise and glorify God in languages which were not their own. Why?

Tune in tomorrow to find out. Come, Holy Spirit, come!!!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Monday, November 15, 2021

Acts 1: 15 – 26

While the disciples and others waited in Jerusalem for the gift, we can see that Peter had become their de facto leader.

Peter who had staunchly defended Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, who had thrice denied that he had ever even heard of Jesus in the courtyard of the chief priest, Peter whose ears must have always rung with the rooster’s crowing, Peter who wanted to go fish, Peter who ate breakfast with Jesus, Peter who confessed to Jesus three times that he loved him, now stood before them feeding the sheep.

Peter, using Scripture as a guide, told them that it had been prophesied about Judas’ betrayal and his demise. Now they needed to find a replacement for Judas. Did you notice the qualifications for this replacement? Would you like to be Judas’ replacement?

“Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us…” (Acts 1:21-22)

It needed to be someone who had been with them the entire time of Jesus’ public ministry and ascension. It had to be someone who had been with Jesus. Hmm. It didn’t need to be someone particularly gifted or well-spoken or powerful or good at counting money but someone who had been with Jesus to witness to his resurrection.

Sometimes I think we look for highly qualified people to serve at church when the reality is we need people who have been with Jesus, who spend time with Jesus to witness about Jesus. And thank GOD that He doesn’t call the qualified but qualifies the called! WoW! Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Acts 1: 15 – 26

In those far too brief experiences I have been blessed with in praying continuously, I have learned that it is really a state of the heart and mind. Praying continuously is having the proper posture of surrender, humility and love before God, almost being consumed by the Holy Spirit.

Consumed by the Holy Spirit in such a way that the direction of my thoughts and desires is toward GOD, I find that prayer becomes my default setting and at rest my mind and heart automatically turn toward GOD. Trust me, it is an awesome experience!

Recently I have been using two Scriptures to aid my default setting – “This is the day that the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (118:24) and “Have no anxiety about anything but in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

As we see from this passage in Acts, praying continuously doesn’t mean you get nothing else done but that in this humbled attitude of their hearts in prayer, the disciples were able to make an important decision regarding the replacement of Judas.

As some pundit as said, “they were not so heavenly minded that they were of no earthly good” but just the opposite, they were so heavenly minded they were of lasting earthly good. Amen? Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Friday, November 12, 2021

Acts 1: 12 – 14

After the two men dressed in white, who just had to be angels, prodded them away from their lingering looks or in my words, gave them swift kicks to go back to Jerusalem and get busy waiting; the disciples went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.

Interesting isn’t it that Jesus ascended from the Mount of Olives which is near where he struggled so in the garden before completely surrendering himself to his Father’s will? From the struggle of submission came the ascension into the heavens. Wow! I wonder if the city of Jerusalem was even aware of this momentous event happening in their midst…

Anyway, the disciples went back to the upper room in Jerusalem and joined with the women, Jesus’ mother Mary and his brothers. We know the faithfulness of Mary and the other women who traveled with Jesus and the disciples to support the ministry but we haven’t really heard much about or from his brothers other than that they weren’t real supportive of Jesus or his ministry. However, something has changed! Jesus has risen from the dead and they believe!

Here they all are waiting for the promised Gift and how did they wait, how were they able to wait? By coming together to pray continuously. Have you ever prayed continuously? I can’t say that I have but there have been moments, days, even weeks when I have spent more time in prayer than normal and the experiences have been deeply transcendent and transformative for me.

As we approach the holidays why don’t we start to pray continuously with words formed in our minds, words of thanksgiving written on the page, Scripture in our hearts and songs on our lips? Let’s try it! Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Acts 1: 1 – 11

In all my waxing about waiting and looking longingly, perhaps forlornly into the sky as Jesus ascended far out of sight, I have overlooked what was most important here – the purpose for the gift.

I believe the disciples were still the disciples at this point which means they just didn’t fully grasp what was going on and why it was going on. Even though they had now been with the greatest teacher in the history of the world for over three years spanning his public ministry, his private life, his very public death and his powerful resurrection they still weren’t one hundred percent sure.

Remember back in John’s account of the lakeside encounter that some of the disciples present weren’t even sure it was Jesus, were afraid to ask him yet, knew in their hearts it was Jesus. Now, when he leaves them I have a hunch panic was in their throats. Maybe that’s why they just kept looking up for him long after he had departed.

He told them to go wait for the gift and they began asking specifics about when the kingdom would be restored to Israel which reveals again that they still didn’t get it. Jesus really blows off their question and tells them that with the gift they will receive the power…

Is it power to be used for their own purposes or their own glory? NO! The power of the Gift will enable them to witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world. This Gift would empower them to cross geographical, cultural and ethnic boundaries to witness about Jesus Christ.

The purpose of the Gift is to witness for our Master, our Savior, our Lord, our Friend! How is your witnessing for Jesus coming? How is mine? LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Acts 1: 1 – 11

This passage continues to intrigue me quite possibly because it tweaks my humanity. I think back over my lifetime, particularly my childhood and remember what an impossibility it was for me to wait for a gift.

I have clear memories of roaming all over the house weeks before Christmas seeking out those ever-elusive Christmas gifts. It became such an obsession that I eventually realized that Mom and Dad were hiding them elsewhere.

One year while visiting my grandparents we were playing on a bed when I fell off and accidentally found our unwrapped presents under the bed! Wow, what a bonanza! We actually got them out and looked at them, caressed them actually while all of the adults were in the very next room. But you know what?

Whenever I found the gifts early it seemed to take away some of the surprise and most of the joy. On rare occasions, maybe once, we were allowed to choose one gift from under the Christmas tree and open it on Christmas Eve. Of course I enjoyed it but it just seemed to take something away from the experience.

I don’t think I am alone in this struggle to wait. Our society seems to be all about instant gratification and I want what I want now but thinking back over my life there is something so sweet about the anticipation, the waiting.

Have you waited on the LORD today? Have you waited for the Gift? Let’s wait together. Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Acts 1: 1 – 11

Jesus tells the disciples not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the gift He had promised them, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. So how do the disciples react?

They immediately begin to ask Jesus if that means the kingdom will soon be restored to Israel and Jesus does not go there, Jesus will not go there. He tells not to worry about when the kingdom will be restored but to be busy waiting for the Holy Spirit and then witnessing to all the world about Jesus!

I guess we can then see that the disciples weren’t so great at waiting either. They seem more concerned about worldly powers than the impending, indwelling Holy Spirit within them. Maybe they still didn’t get it…

And perhaps because they didn’t get it when Jesus ascended into heaven they just stood there looking up long after he had disappeared from sight. Perhaps, staring so long at where Jesus had been that angels had to encounter them and send them on their way.

I have a hunch they were wishing Jesus was still with them. I bet they were asking themselves and each other, “what’s next?” Maybe they were simply afraid to leave that spot in hopes that Jesus may come back to them.

But the truth was that Jesus had great work for them to do. First on the docket was going back to Jerusalem and waiting. Jesus knew that without waiting for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit that the work of witnessing would never happen. It couldn’t happen without the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit within them. Come, Holy Spirit, come!!!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Monday, November 8, 2021

Acts 1: 1 – 5

Well, when I began writing on Matthew back on January 1, 2020, I thought I would make it through all four gospels in a year. It has taken almost two years. As we approach the holidays this may not be the best time to take the plunge into the book of Acts but it seems like the next, best, logical step.

I will probably veer off a few times as we draw closer to Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas but as the Holy Spirit leads us through His Word which endures forever.

For the second time, Luke begins his writing with a brief introduction/foreword addressed to Theophilus who we know very little about. He could have been a wealthy believer who commissioned Luke to write his account of the life of Jesus and the actions of the Holy Spirit through the apostles but we do not know that for sure. He could have simply been an acquaintance of Luke’s who Luke sought to bless with his gospel. I have a hunch though this book was written specifically for each of us, for all of us.

Luke sets the stage for Acts by beginning where he left off in his gospel, telling us that Jesus appeared several times after the resurrection to the disciples and made many convincing proofs to them that he had resurrected from the grave and he was alive.

On one such occasion he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait together for the gift the Father would send them which would be the gift of the Holy Spirit. Have you ever waited for a gift? Have you ever waited for God?

I am not good at waiting. I have never been good at waiting. I have distinct memories of a child feeling like I would lose my mind as I waited for someone to arrive: my cousins for the holidays, a taxi to pick us up and take us to town and of course, Santa Claus.

I would like to think I’ve gotten better at waiting as I’ve aged but I am not there yet. However, I know that to grow in my relationship with Jesus I need to wait patiently, expectantly, faithfully for him not just every once in a while but all the time. LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy, Please! 

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Saturday, November 6, 2021

John 21: 20 – 25

Aren’t we people amazing! I mean Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him and in the process both reinstates him and commissions him for the work ahead. In the course of this reinstatement and commissioning Jesus tells Peter that the time will come when people will lead him where he doesn’t want to go…meaning his death.

This was an amazing moment and then Peter spots John in his vicinity and feels like he just has to ask Jesus what will happen to John – Something better? Something worse? Oh, those ultra-competitive disciples! Peter just couldn’t help himself!

In the process of calling Peter back to Himself which is what is absolutely most important here, he says, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Please note here that Jesus did not say John would remain alive until he returned but if he wanted John to remain alive until he returned. That is a major difference and what happens?

The rumor begins to spread that John isn’t going to die… WoW! As the rumor spreads about John surely the emphasis by many was placed on the greatness of John rather than on the glorious mystery revealed in Jesus and the work Jesus left for the disciples to do.

Isn’t it just the way we human beings are? John knew the truth and told them that Jesus didn’t say he wouldn’t die but if Jesus chose that to happen it wasn’t really anyone else’s business. I wonder how much distraction that misunderstanding and rumor caused among the early followers of Jesus who just like us, were so prone to quit their eyes on the Savior for something else… Oh well:

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, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Friday, November 5, 2021

John 21: 20 – 22

It had been a long, restless, fruitless night fishing without catching until Jesus intervened. Then, breakfast had been awkward as Jesus grilled Peter on whether he loved him or not. Even though Jesus was giving Peter the opportunity to boldly declare his love for Jesus instead of denying him, Peter suffered through the questioning and seems to have been heartbroken by the third time.

Jesus then told Peter that an even more awkward time awaited him when he would die for his love of Jesus. Almost immediately, Peter lifts up his eyes and spies John. Peter just can’t help himself. He sees John and has to ask about John – what will happen to John?

Competition has reared its ugly head. Now the writer of this gospel consistently refers to himself as “the one whom Jesus loved” so maybe competition continued after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Remember, it was John and his brother James who went to ask Jesus for the seats beside him in heaven and according to Matthew their mother went to ask Jesus the same thing.

In my own experience I have seen competition and territorialism in church cause great havoc and it just isn’t Christ-like behavior. Jesus tries to nip this sense of competition in the bud but telling Peter that if he wanted John to remain alive until Jesus’ return what was that to him and then he calls Peter back by saying, “You must follow me.”

It is so easy to take our eyes off of Jesus and look at any number of others; maybe to make sure they aren’t getting one up on us but as for Jesus, his words echo through eternity to each of our ears – “You must follow me.” Where are our eyes fixed? Who are we following? LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Thursday, November 4, 2021

John 21: 15 – 19

Have you ever thought about the word “love?” We who speak English use the same word to express our love and devotion to God, to each other, to our favorite sports teams, to our favorite hamburger, etc. Kind of weird, isn’t it?

The Greeks used different words to express different kinds of love. They used “eros” to speak of sexual love. They used “philia” to speak of affectionate, brotherly love. They used “agape” to speak of selfless, unconditional love, the highest form of love. Apparently they had even more words to describe different forms of love which we won’t get into here.

Scholars tell us that the way John wrote this passage on the encounter of Jesus and Peter, he chose to use two of those types of love. In the first two instances Jesus asked Peter if he loved him with “agape” love and each time Peter responded with “philia” love. The third time Jesus asked Peter if he loved him with “philia” love and Peter responded with “philia” love.

This makes great sense to me as I put myself in Peter’s place. His failure in the courtyard as he boldly denied three different times that he knew Jesus must have devastated him. I believe that his failure so devastated him that he considered leaving the disciples; he just didn’t feel worthy. He had denied Jesus!

I think he replied honestly here that he could love him with brotherly affection, he was just too bruised and broken to commit himself beyond that at that moment. Yet, we know from history that he moved beyond “philia” love to love Jesus selflessly as he gave his very life for the One who had given his life for him.

There are two points here to note. First, Jesus didn’t force Peter to a higher form of love, he accepted him where he was. Two, over time Peter’s love deepened and matured to that highest form of love as he gave his life for Jesus who had given him eternal life. Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

John 21: 15 – 19

I am sure there have been more awkward breakfasts but can’t think of one off-hand. I wonder if the disciples talked much to Jesus. I mean, if they weren’t one hundred percent sure that it was Jesus and they were afraid to ask him, what would they have talked about?

Surely they were starving after a long night of fishing but I wonder if they ate much that morning. I mean what would it really be like to eat breakfast with someone you had watched die a gruesome death and now there he stood before you alive?

Yes, I imagine it was an awkward breakfast but then Jesus began speaking to Peter and asked him if he loved him. Talk about awkward but at least they now knew it was indeed Jesus.

Jesus asked Peter three separate times if he loved him and Peter replied three separate times that he did. After each of Peter’s responses, Jesus talked to him about caring for His sheep.

I guess we could say Peter was vexed after the third time Jesus asked. But apparently Peter had missed the significance of the charcoal fire on the beach which must have reminded him of that similar charcoal fire burning on that cold, dark, long, horrible night.

Peter seemed to have missed that just as he had denied Jesus three times, Jesus was now giving him the opportunity to declare his love for Jesus three times. Peter had now been fully reinstated back into right relationship with Jesus and into his proper role with the disciples.

By the way, in case you missed it, reinstating for Peter at least meant that he would be lead where he didn’t want to go and would die for his love of Jesus. In spite of all that, Jesus commanded Peter to follow him! What would Jesus say to you and me if he invited us to breakfast on the beach? LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

John 21: 1 – 14

I love this passage. It has so much for us to masticate. A typical night of fishing turns in to much, much more. Typical for me anyway in that no fish were caught until a well-meaning bystander told them where to cast their nets.

John suspected the well-meaning bystander was Jesus. When he told Peter, Peter got dressed and dove into the water to get to Jesus first. When the others arrive mystery seems to set in on the shoreline. They find breakfast cooking on a charcoal fire.

They suspect it was Jesus but don’t seem to be a hundred percent on that. They wanted to ask him who he was but didn’t. They chose to believe in their hearts it was Jesus. Mystery seems to be as thick on that shore as the smoke rising from the fire but one thing is made very clear.

They caught 153 large fish. Over the last two thousand years or so much conjecture has been made about the significance of that number. Many people much smarter than me have come up with any number of ways to get significant meaning out of those fish symbolically.

I even heard a preacher once link those 153 fish prophetically to the number of nations in the United Nations and the imminent return of Christ. Still waiting…

For me, the 153 fish lend credibility to the story which was told to us by a fisherman. I mean, if you had such an awesome catch of fish, wouldn’t you count them? I sure would. What a wonderful way for Jesus once more to demonstrate his abiding love for these former fishermen by giving them such a large haul of fish!

How will Jesus show his abiding love to us today? Let’s look for it. Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Monday, November 1, 2021

John 21: 1 – 14

Apparently out of the disciples on that particular fishing trip who were waiting for Jesus to appear to them, no-one recognized him on the shore but John. As the disciples reveled in this magnificent, historic catch of fish it was John who pointed out to Peter that the man who enabled them to catch the fish was none other than Jesus.

In a reckless moment of excitement, Peter puts his outer garment back on and then dives into the water. He couldn’t contain himself. He had to get to Jesus wet clothes and all. Or maybe he wanted, he needed to be properly clothed when encountering his LORD.

The others stayed behind wrestling the catch of fish back to shore. Arriving on shore they discover breakfast waiting for them, cooking over a pungent charcoal fire. I can’t tell you what exactly is going on here. The disciples would not dare to ask his identity, they knew in their hearts it was Jesus.

Going by other biblical accounts, it seems that the disciples would have had other post-resurrection encounters with Jesus by this point yet there was still some hesitancy with his own disciples. Was it due to the vicious, vile death they watched him endure? Was it just too much for them to fully accept?

As I read this and put myself in the disciples’ place I remember that dad whose son was afflicted by a demon which the disciples could not cast out of him. When Jesus arrives the father asks Jesus to heal him if he could. When pushed on that “if” the man responds, “Lord, I believe! Help thou my unbelief.” Lord, I believe! Help thou my unbelief! Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living GOD, have mercy on me a sinner.

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

John 21: 1 – 14

Interesting indeed to think that Peter’s angst may have led him to the point of quitting but the text doesn’t seem to lead us there. Instead, it seems that while waiting for perhaps another encounter with the resurrected Christ that Peter and the other disciples returned to something they loved to do – fishing.

They returned to a night of fishing on the Sea of Galilee which they had learned to do while at their fathers’ knees. In a turbulent time of upheaval: they were comfortable fishing, they were happy fishing, they were at peace fishing.

They fished by casting the nets out over and over again so it wasn’t just one of those restful sit-in-the-boat ventures while waiting for a fish to bite their hooks. No, this was a vigorous enterprise which failed them on that night – they caught nothing.

And then, some well-meaning soul yells at them from the distant shoreline to see if they had caught anything. I am not a fisherman but don’t imagine that would be pleasant after a long night of fruitless or fishless fishing. This well-meaning soul goes so far as to tell them where to throw their nets.

I understand that in that style of fishing on the Sea of Galilee that someone on the shore might have a better vantage point to see the location of the fish so Peter and the others listened and obeyed. They threw their nets on the right side of the boat which indeed turned out to be the right side of the boat, their nets were filled to overflowing. And they didn’t know who had yelled to them.

A question: do we listen and obey Jesus even if we don’t know it is Him speaking to us? How might that work?

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Friday, October 29, 2021

John 21: 1 – 14

It interests me that immediately following the closing verses of John chapter 20 when it seems that John had closed his gospel by announcing the purpose, the very next word we find as chapter 21 begins is “afterward.” Is this indeed an “afterword’?

Did John had to his gospel after trying to close it? It is hard to say if that is what happened here or not but if it did happen, what an afterward to add and then what a way to end this glorious gospel!

We are told that afterward, Jesus appeared again to the disciples by the Sea of Galilee. It was definitely by the Sea of Galilee, right by it. It seems that seven of the disciples are together, we aren’t sure who all was there and we aren’t sure who all wasn’t there or why.

Anyway, Peter announces to them all that he is going fishing. Now, in this declaration some see finality. Some see this has Peter’s announcement that he is renouncing his calling as a disciple of Christ due to his failures on that long, dark night in the courtyard. Some see that Peter is returning to fishing for fish rather than for men and women. I suppose that could be true reflecting the depth of Peter’s angst and guilt over his failure.

But on this occasion, the other disciples join him apparently for a night of fishing, returning to their former pastime and livelihood of their old lives. Regardless of their motives, they fished and would encounter Jesus one more time. Have you ever wanted to turn your back on your calling and return to more familiar days? LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy on us all, please!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Thursday, October 28, 2021

John 20: 30 – 31

It has been a while but you may remember that the Gospel of John did not have any sort of introduction per se. I learned way back in college speech class that in your introduction you were supposed to tell the people what you were going to say, then in the body of the speech say it and then in the conclusion tell them what you told them.

John dove right in to his account of Jesus’ life and ministry and pretty much left us spellbound and speechless throughout. It isn’t until nearing the end and some way this may have been his first ending when he declares the purpose of his gospel.

“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31)

John is really telling us that there was oh so much more he could have told us about Jesus and his powerful works but that these particular ones, this gospel was written so that we might come to know Jesus and personally trust in Him as our Messiah so that we may have life. Do you have life? Thank God because I for one and living it up in Him! Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

John 20: 24 – 29

This particular passage has continued to nag and gnaw at me. Thomas arrived a day late and a dollar short. Thomas missed the initial encounter with the Risen Lord. All of the other disciples minus Judas Iscariot had been there and had seen for themselves.

Thomas demanded that he would not believe unless he saw the nail marks in his hands and could put his finger in his wounds. Was Thomas making a demand for himself or did he know himself and know what he needed to believe. Did he truly doubt?

By reading the text and seeing Jesus’ words to Thomas, “Stop doubting and believe” I must agree that doubt was at the very heart of Thomas. Even though his closest friends testified to who and what they had seen and heard, Thomas still doubted. Even though his closest friends must have certainly changed with their encounter, Thomas still doubted.

Jesus gave him the gift of a personal, intimate encounter but then commanded him to stop doubting and believe. Does that mean that doubt was not Thomas’ destiny but his choice? Does that mean that doubt is not our destiny but our choice?

I am reminded of God telling Joshua to be strong and courageous. I remember God telling Isaiah to fear not… Shackled in chains in a Roman jail, Paul tells the Philippians to rejoice and to not be anxious. Now, Jesus tells Thomas to stop doubting. Could it be that simple?

YES! By the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit we have the ability to choose not to fear, not to doubt, not to worry but to be joyful and bold and courageous and trusting. How do you choose to live today? I choose trust and boldness and courage and joy and peace. Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

John 20: 24 – 29

Have you ever been left out? Have you ever arrived just a minute late and missed a once-in-a-lifetime experience? Have you ever heard that saying, “a day late and a dollar short?” Have you ever lived it out?

Thomas had such an experience. Thomas just missed out on the once-in-a-lifetime experience; no, the once-in-human-history experience of encountering Jesus on that first Easter Sunday. Can you imagine how he felt – embarrassed, humiliated, bewildered, unimportant, left out?

Regardless of his sentiments Thomas reacts strongly saying, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Thomas picked up the nickname “Doubting” from this passage but it maybe be more accurate to call him, “Demanding Thomas.” He demanded the same experience the other disciples had had. He wanted to see Jesus, too.

I have a hunch that if he paid careful attention to his friends he would have known without a doubt that they had truly seen Jesus and maybe, just maybe, even see Jesus himself in his friends. And let’s be honest, they were still hiding behind closed doors so maybe he could not have seen Jesus in them because of their remaining fear and doubts. But Thomas wanted that experience for himself; Thomas demanded that experience for himself.

And he got it. A week later Jesus returned through the locked doors of the upper room and Jesus invited Thomas to touch for himself, to see for himself; to believe. Thomas touched, Thomas saw and Thomas believed with another powerful declaration, “My Lord and my God!”

This was indeed an amazing moment that impacted Thomas for the rest of his life but the moment is tempered a bit when Jesus tells him that he believed because he saw but blessed are those who had believed without seeing. This encounter turns on its head that familiar saying in our time today: “seeing is believing” when the fact is a bit more challenging “believing is seeing.” May we have hearts to believe and trust before we ever see. Hallelujah? Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Monday, October 25, 2021

John 20: 18 – 23

Jesus so trusted Mary that he entrusted her with the most glorious news ever, news that would transform not just the world but the entire course of human history. Mary went and entrusted that glorious, transcendent, transformative news to the disciples.

And what did the disciples do with it? Apparently, the disciples took that glorious, transcendent, life-transforming news and locked it up with them behind the closed doors of the upper room. As far as we know the sharing of the news ended on this amazing day with them. They kept it to themselves. Why?

Shame? Fear? Disbelief? Incredulity? Maybe it was a bit of all four of these and many other reasons but we know that on the evening of the Greatest Day Ever, the disciples were hiding out of fear behind the closed, locked doors of the upper room.

And Jesus walked right through those locked, closed doors and proclaimed peace to them. He then showed him the scars on his hand and side to prove to them that he was truly alive and not some ghost figment of their imaginations.

He then wished them peace again, sent them out into the world from behind those closed doors to testify of what they have seen and then breathed on them the Holy Spirit. Has anyone ever breathed on you? It is an intimate moment. Jesus breathed on them the Holy Spirit and gave them permission and power to forgive sins.

Wow! Have you been breathed on lately? Oh, how I want to be! As the hymn writer pled, “Breathe on me, Breath of God…” Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Saturday, October 23, 2021

John 20: 11 – 18

Did you ever wonder why? Did you ever wonder why the two angels in white did not appear to Peter and John while they were in the empty tomb? Did you ever wonder why Jesus didn’t appear to Peter and John while they were out in the courtyard?

Did you ever wonder why a woman, Mary Magdalene, was chosen to be the first person Jesus appeared to after his resurrection? Did you ever wonder why a woman, Mary Magdalene, was chosen to be entrusted with the glorious news that Jesus had risen from the dead?

Could it have been because of her great love and trust in Jesus? Could it have been because of His great love for her? Could it have been because Jesus knew she was faithful, faithful enough to risk herself in darkness for Him?

I absolutely love it that consistently through the biblical story God chooses people for particular purposes that most of us probably wouldn’t trust! I mean after all, he has chosen me and you to carry on His story. He loved Mary enough to bless her in this way and he loves us in the same way. Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Friday, October 22, 2021

John 20: 1 – 10

So, as the details of that early Easter morning play out, Peter and John race to the tomb. John wins but hesitates and doesn’t go inside. Peter places second but dashes straight into the tomb, maybe in his older age he just couldn’t stop in time.

By examining the evidence in the tomb, I believe they knew that no-one had stolen Jesus’ body. If anyone had stolen Jesus’ body for a ruse, certainly it would have been one of his disciples, right? The evidence does not point toward a grave robbery or the clothing would have been taken as well.

It also seems to me by the reactions of Peter and John that no one in authority had come to remove Jesus’ body and throw in the trash. Although we are told that they didn’t really know what to think; John seems to believe that something amazing had happened while Peter just seems to go on his way wondering…

The Gospel writer tells us that even though neither of them understood at that point that Jesus had to rise from the dead, John believed. What did he believe? Did he believe Jesus had burst forth from that tomb? Did he believe Jesus had risen from the dead? Did he just believe in Jesus?

As we are still confronted by the empty tomb what do you believe? As for me I believe that Jesus died and on the third day rose triumphantly, majestically, magnificently from the dead. I trust in Him! Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Thursday, October 21, 2021

John 20: 1 – 10

I have a hunch that the bodies of executed criminals were simply discarded like just another piece of trash. It wouldn’t surprise me if the bodies of the two thieves crucified with Jesus had not been immediately tossed into a pile of garbage perhaps filled with other rotting corpses.

Maybe that explains the urgency of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus revealing themselves as followers of Jesus to Pilate and asking for his body, to properly reclaim and prepare his body for burial before sundown on that Friday.

Perhaps that is one reason why Mary risked herself urgently in the dark to get to Jesus’ tomb before anyone else on that Sunday. As “normalcy” returned to their lives did she fear someone would retrieve Jesus’ body before she could and discard of it shamefully?

When she discovered the empty tomb did she run to find Peter and John so that perhaps they could find and retrieve his body before it was treated like trash? If so, could that explain why those two raced to the tomb?

I am not sure. That may have certainly been one of the reasons because I understand the dead bodies of executed criminals were indeed treated like refuse, trash, garbage. Sometimes bodies were left decaying on the crosses for days and weeks.

More than anything else though, I am sure all of these people were compelled by love. Still at a loss as to why Jesus had to die and certainly at a loss as to what had happened to his body, these people loved Jesus. Without knowing any of the pressing details, they loved Jesus and they showed it by their concern for his lifeless body.

We know two thousand or so years later that Jesus triumphantly rose from the dead. How do we demonstrate our love for Him? Have we run after Jesus lately?

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

John 20: 1

After a devastating Friday and an interminable Friday night and Saturday, Mary Magdalene can’t contain herself. She heads out to the tomb on Sunday morning while it is still dark!

Remember, dark back then isn’t like dark now. I mean in our darkness now we often have trouble seeing the stars because of all the street lights and neon signs and other light interfering with the darkness. Mary may well have taken her life into her own hands venturing out into the darkness in her days but she just had to.

Compelled not by hope of the resurrection, compelled not by any sort of desire to re-immerse herself in Friday’s drama and spectacle, Mary was simply compelled by love to go and make the final burial preparations for Jesus’ body.

She went while it was still dark. Of course, we will get to the rest of this glorious story in the days ahead but Mary went while it was still dark. In the devastating darkness that had eclipsed the world on Friday and continued to pummel the soul throughout the world, Mary went to find Jesus while it was still dark.

Do we ever do that? Do we ever go looking for Jesus while it is still dark? Maybe we should… LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

John 19: 38 – 42

I want to stop here for a bit and think about that period of time between the burial of Jesus on Friday afternoon and his resurrection on Sunday morning. I wonder what was going on.

We are told by Peter in his first letter (4:19 – 20) that Jesus descended to the dead and proclaimed life to them there. Perhaps that happened during this time. We aren’t told for sure. None of the Gospel writers mention what was going on with Jesus during this time.

I wonder what Peter was doing. By all accounts it seems that he fled into the night and hid himself. Perhaps he was trying to hide from himself. However, by early Sunday morning he seems to have been back with the disciples in the Upper Room.

I wonder what Jesus’ mother Mary was doing during this time. Had she figured it out yet that Jesus would rise from the dead? Had she put all that the angel had told her and all that Zechariah and Elizabeth had told her and all that Simeon and Anna had told her and all that Jesus had said throughout the years together to comprehend the true nature of his life, his death and his resurrection?

I am most intrigued about the religious authorities. What were they doing then? Did they all just celebrate the Passover as they always did without even thinking about the atrocities they had committed that day? Do you think they ever realized that their ceremonial cleanness was fraudulent?

Could Pontius Pilate sleep during those days? Did he continue to wrestle with whether or not he had made the right decision about Jesus? Or did he put it out of his mind and heart and look for ways to cement his power in Jerusalem? He did strengthen his relationship with Herod you know…

As for me, I am grateful for whatever Jesus did during that time and am grateful forevermore for what he would do on that Easter morning long ago. HALLELUJAH! AMEN!!!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Monday, October 18, 2021

John 19: 38 – 42

It intrigues me that the moment of courage often comes in the moment of abject despair. Joseph of Arimathea had not been mentioned before this event in any of the Gospels. He was certainly unknown to us readers anyway.

Joseph’s companion, Nicodemus, is better known to us because of his nocturnal rendezvous with Jesus to question him and learn from him privately, secretly and perhaps, anonymously in John 3. A little later in John 7, we see Nicodemus at least trying to defend Jesus somewhat before the Sanhedrin.

John flat out tells us in today’s text that Joseph of Arimathea was a secret follower of Jesus because he feared the Jewish authorities. Yet, something has happened to compel both Joseph and Nicodemus to go boldly into Pilate’s courts and ask Pilate for the body of Jesus.

Jesus has died. His lifeless body collapses on the cross. Joseph and Nicodemus boldly go to ask Pilate for Jesus’ body. Joseph seems to have supplied the tomb for Jesus while Nicodemus has supplied the burial materials. Nothing secret at all about this since all 4 Gospel writers mention them.

What compelled them to reveal themselves as followers of Jesus and perhaps forfeit their high positions in society? Was it guilt perhaps? Did they realize that neither of them had done enough for Jesus while he lived? As members of the Sanhedrin were they perhaps trying to make the point that all members of the Sanhedrin were not enemies of Jesus? Or were they simply yet powerfully compelled by love?

I am not sure but one thing is; they chose to unveil themselves as followers of Jesus right when it was most dangerous for them. Most of the disciples seemed to have vanished into the woodwork out of fear but here these two risk it all to treat Jesus’ body with love, respect and dignity. It is never too late for loving courage. Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

John 19: 28 – 37

Not only does John continue to demonstrate that Jesus is in control, he also continuously reminds us that these despicable events are not some random, accidental occurrences but keeps bringing us back to scriptural prophesy which is being fulfilled step by step. There is SOMEONE else in charge here that the world has refused to worship.

We are told that knowing that everything had now been fulfilled Jesus said that he was thirsty so they gave him something to drink. I wonder about that. I am absolutely, one hundred percent sure he was completely parched but he also knew death was near at hand.

Why did he announce his thirst? Was it to once again link his death with the prophetic words of King David in Psalm 22? I heartedly think so. He was thirsty and he needed something to drink. He was thirsty and needed something to drink perhaps to clear his throat because a major announcement was coming.

After drinking the wine vinegar I can see him straightening up as much as he can to free his diaphragm in order to make his announcement. And I have a feeling that when Jesus spoke “It is finished” his words were not just heard locally but throughout the cosmos from the beginning to the end, including the place of death and hopelessness.

Jesus had just announced “it is finished” declaring to the world that humanity’s debt had been paid in full! Hallelujah! Amen! Thank you, JESUS!!!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

 

Friday, October 15, 2021

John 19: 25 – 27

Once again John demonstrates two amazing aspects of this worst day in the history of the world. In this ancient version of “Dead Man Walking” or “The Green Mile” with the Via Dolorosa or “Sorrowful Way” filled with screams, taunts, exhaustion and agony we discover that all is not running amuck.

In the midst of the delirium aimed at him, Jesus stops to address his mother. Yes, you heard it right, on his way to his brutal death, Jesus pauses thus pausing the wheels of history to speak to his mother and “the one who Jesus loved” (most likely John).

At this crucial, excruciating, mind-numbing moment, Jesus demonstrates that he still has all his faculties; Jesus still demonstrates that in reality he is still Large and In Charge. He introduces his mother and one of his closest friends as mother and son thus placing the responsibility for his mother’s care into his friend’s hands.

Can you imagine? At this moment of horror and pandemonium, Jesus has his mother on his heart and mind. WoW! You ever heard the saying, “Blood is thicker than water” which states that familial bonds over-ride and overrule all other relationships?

I am not sure how it happened but the original quote in full coming to us through the Middle Ages was “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb” describing that covenantal relationships like those sealed on the cross by the blood of Jesus supersede all other relationships. I think Jesus demonstrates just that here. WoW! Simply Wow!!!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

John 19: 23 – 24

In the midst of this horror we can still see that horror and death and sin and evil though seeming to rule this day are not in fact in control. The heartless yet simple act of the soldiers dividing up Jesus’ garments seems to be just that until they come to his seamless undergarment and decide to cast lots for it.

As John looks back on the crucifixion, remembering so many details I am so glad he remembered this heartless detail of the cold-hearted soldiers dividing up Jesus’ garments which was probably one of the perks of their jobs as executors. Without a thought they turned to cast lots for the seamless undergarment.

No big deal, right? Until we remember the Psalmist, purportedly David who wrote about a thousand years before that “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” Wow! Inspired by the Holy Spirit so many centuries before David prophesied this about the Messiah which was fulfilled by the soldiers during Jesus’ crucifixion. WoW!

It comforts and inspires me to know in the midst of horrible events that seem to be spinning recklessly out of control, GOD demonstrates that He is still in control through a seemingly unimportant detail which echoes throughout eternity. Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

John 19: 19 – 22

I know, I know that Pilate caved under the political pressure of the religious authorities. I know that Pilate vacillated with Jesus in a major way. I know that Pontius Pilate is still known today as that man who “washed his hands” removing himself from the equation instead of letting the innocent Jesus go. I know.

But here at least he stands up to the religious authorities to insist on declaring that Jesus was the King of the Jews. I know, I know: too little, too late but at least…

And the religious authorities once again show us their true colors. It is still all about appearances to them. In the midst of the horror of this moment, in the midst of an innocent man being shanghaied by them to fulfill their own plot to get rid of him (or so they thought), in the midst of the gore and grime of the cross, they are concerned about what Pilate wrote on the sign.

They would never, ever admit that Jesus was the King of the Jews and he is about to turn their plot upside down and demonstrate that he is the King of Kings for us all! Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

John 19: 16 – 18

John here tells us that “carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull…” This just continues to emphasize John’s perspective of Jesus being large and in charge particularly during his crucifixion.

For some reason as I read that passage it comes to my mind that Jesus is boldly walking to his death, carrying his own cross, bringing that timeless, time-fulfilled moment to pass as quickly as he can. It is as if he is leading us all to the cross. Will we follow?

I have no doubt that he soon collapsed under the weight of that crossbeam and the duty was thrust upon Simon of Cyrene as the other Gospel writers tell us. Simon carried that cross! Will we? Do we?

Jesus had suffered a long, dark, heavy, exhausting, excruciating night; the long, dark, heavy, exhausting, excruciating night ever known to humanity. He had been led hither and yon by his captors, beaten to a pulp in a variety of ways, betrayed by a close friend, denied by an even closer friend, abandoned by most of his friends.

As a human being he simply wore down and wore out as he moved ever so determinedly to the cross…for you, for me. Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

 

Monday, October 11, 2021

John 19: 17 – 27

“So the soldiers took charge of Jesus…”

Just as planned! As David demonstrates in this Psalm written about 1000 years before Jesus:

“But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.

All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.

‘He trusts in the LORD,’ they say, ‘let the LORD rescue him.

Let him deliver him, since he delights in him’

…I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.

My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.

My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;

you lay me in the dust of death.

Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and feet.

All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.

They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” (Psalm 22: 6 – 8; 14 – 18)

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Saturday, October 9, 2021

John 19: 1 – 16

“The Jewish leaders insisted, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.’” (John 19:7)

So, it finally catches up to Jesus. The message that Jesus tried to get through to the religious authorities that he was the Son of God never soaked in and they used it to have him crucified.

As I have tried to note throughout our journey through the Gospel of John, Jesus tried his best in a variety of ways; blunt force trauma, if you will, on several occasions and parables from several different perspectives to declare and convince them that he was the veritable Son of God.

But most of those who heard him simply refused to believe that Jesus was the Son of God, that Jesus and the Father were one, that the Father had sent the Son into the world to save the world. They simply refused to believe Him. In other words, they refused to take the WORD’s word for it…

And to beat it all, they used his declarations and revelations about his True Identity to crucify Him which was what was planned all along since before laying the foundation of the universe. Yes, Jesus was destined to die because we human beings are prone to wander far from God but God won’t leave us to our own devices, He loves us too much for that.

So, instead of looking at all the marvelous, miraculous, good works Jesus had done; instead of patiently listening to His words, they simply refused to believe Him, rejected Him and manipulated to have him crucified. Do we take the WORD’s word for it? I do. LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Friday, October 8, 2021

John 19: 1 – 16

We return to the strange case of Pontius Pilate. We just saw him have a rather deep conversation with Jesus in which Pilate could find no fault with him. Pilate actually went out to the Jewish authorities to set Jesus free but they prevailed and had Barabbas released instead.

Now, I don’t really understand this but I suppose it was just one more example of the world’s rejection and abuse of Jesus. Knowing that Jesus was innocent, Pilate releases Jesus into his soldiers’ hands. They dress him up in a nice, purple robe of royalty then mock and abuse him in any number of ways.

Bringing back out battered, bruised and bleeding before the Jewish authorities, he tells them he is bringing him back out to show them he finds him to be innocent. I absolutely do not understand that. Why treat him so repugnantly if you think he is innocent? Me thinks he was feeling the pressure of both Rome and Jerusalem…

And in an interesting contrast, when the Jewish authorities tell Pilate they want Jesus crucified because he claimed to be the Son of God, Pilate became doubly troubled, hit the brakes and met with Jesus again privately. The news the authorities were using to crucify Jesus caused Pilate to pause and contemplate. Hmm.

But finally, the pressure becomes too much for Pilate and he gives in to the Jewish authorities when they threaten him with Caesar. These people wanted the death of Jesus so badly that they declared Caesar as their king which no Jew in his right mind would have ever said that. Were they in their right mind? I don’t think so…

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Thursday, October 7, 2021

John 18: 28 – 40

Not so fast! I was just about to move on headlong into chapter 19 but something grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go just yet.

The religious authorities, the leaders of Israel, upstanding men, by all accounts righteous men, well, not necessarily by Jesus’ accounts but thus they painted themselves show their true colors here.

They make a deal with a close friend of Jesus for the betrayal of Jesus. They pay him money out of their treasury. They have Jesus arrested at night. They illegally question him and cannot find witnesses with matching, indicting testimony.

After all that, they bundle Jesus up and take him to see the Roman Governor but won’t enter the palace because it would make them ceremonial unclean and they wouldn’t be able to eat the Passover that evening. What the what?

This in a nutshell demonstrates what was lacking in them and indicts them all. They were so caught up in ceremonial purity that they completely missed the Holy, Holy, Holy One they had been dragging around all night as well as their own pungent sinfulness.

And by the way, the best I understand the Passover it was not to be just a meal or just a reenactment of God’s deliverance of the Jews but a holy remembrance, a time to submit and surrender themselves all over again to their Deliverer God. But for these guys it seemed to be a matter of the stomach alone rather than a feast of the heart.

And it turns out that their ceremonial purity wasn’t pure at all. I wonder when we get caught up in ceremonial purity and miss the Truth. LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

John 18: 28 – 40

The questioning and the activities with Caiaphas must have been so earth shattering that John doesn’t even mention them here. He simply tells us that Jesus was sent bound to Caiaphas and then on to the palace of the Roman governor without any details.

Must have galled Caiaphas to realize he was just a minor footnote in history when he saw himself as such an important prophet. But John does give us details about Pilate’s encounter with Jesus and I wonder if maybe, just maybe, it is because Pilate represents the rest of the world to a GOD who was about the whole world.

Just as his words cut to the quick anyone he ever spoke to, they have the same impact on Pilate when they speak of truth and TRUTH. Jesus doesn’t flinch. Pilate? Well, maybe as this skilled, adroit politician delicately straddling the line between Rome and Jerusalem finds no cause for Jesus’ execution and even gives a chance for his escape.

But, of course, in the end, Pilate flinches before the Jewish authorities, allows the rabblerousing criminal Barabbas to go free and hands Jesus over to be crucified. What haunts me most about this scene and let’s be honest here, there is so much that haunts me about this scene but sticking to my ribs and heart is this statement from Jesus: “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

It haunts me because it forces me to ask these questions and I invite you to ask yourselves the same: “What side am I on? Am I on the side of Truth? Do I listen to Jesus? Does the way I live reveal that I indeed am on Jesus’ side? LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

John 18: 19 – 27

“Meanwhile… Meanwhile…”

As Peter warms his hands around that charcoal fire in the high priest’s courtyard denying that he knew Jesus, Jesus is being questioned and slapped.

As Peter continued to warm his hands around that charcoal fire in the high priest’s courtyard, the attention suddenly turns back to Peter and he becomes the one to be questioned: “You aren’t one of his disciples are you?” He denied it tersely using spare verbiage: “I am not.”

But it seems there was another warming his hands around that charcoal fire in the high priest’s courtyard who had seen Peter in the garden. Actually, it also seems that this man was a relative of Malchus, whose ear Peter had detached and Jesus had re-attached. He asks an innocent enough question: “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?”

Another denial from Peter but John chooses not to give us his words perhaps because they were inappropriate curses.

The word “meanwhile” is often used to fill up a space while keeping the story going. “Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and teaching…” (John 18:19) “Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself…” (John 18:25)

Both times the usage of “meanwhile” seems innocuous and innocent but isn’t that the conviction in the word. The character of “meanwhile” depends on the character of the participant. While we wait for Jesus, is our meanwhile filled with slapping or the desire to slap? While we wait for Jesus, is our meanwhile filled with denial and cursing?

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

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Monday, October 4, 2021

John 18: 19 – 24

“Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. ‘I have spoken openly to the world,’ Jesus replied. ‘I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.’ When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face…”

Do you think he knew?

Do you think that official knew when he slapped Jesus that he slapped the Son of GOD?

Do you think that well – meaning official defending the honor of his high priest, knew that he slapped the HIGH PRIEST from the order of Melchizedek who would soon give his life for him and the high priest once and for all?

Do you think that when this indignant official took matters into his own hands and slapped Jesus that he slapped the man who would take all matters into his scarred, blood-stained hands and bring them into right relationship with GOD?

Do you think he knew that when he slapped the face of Jesus he slapped the face of the One by whom, for whom and through whom all things were created, even himself?

Do you think he knew? Do you think he knew?

Do I know??? LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 Saturday, October 2, 2021

John 18: 15 – 18

We are told that Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus and the betrayal battalion into the courtyard of the high priest’s home. The other disciple, whom most scholars agree was John, went right into the courtyard because he knew the high priest and seems to have been accepted by the high priest.

It seems that when John realized that Peter had been stopped at the gate, John went back, spoke to the servant girl on duty at the door and Peter was allowed passage into the courtyard. Interesting enough, she doesn’t ask John if he is one of Jesus’ disciples but instead asks Peter.

Remember, this was a servant girl who questioned him, not a sentry, not a judge, not a tribunal; a servant girl. Who would have ever expected that the mighty Peter’s first denial would come before a servant girl? We never know, do we? That’s why it is wise to always be prepared. Peter’s fall began before a servant girl.

Peter sternly and directly denied that he was one of Jesus’ disciples and proceeded to warm himself with the others as if nothing major had just happened. I wonder if John was nearby warming himself, too. I wonder if John reminded him that Jesus had prophesied earlier that Peter would deny him three times. Was it too late? LORD have mercy, Christ have mercy, LORD have mercy!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Friday, October 1, 2021

John 18: 10 – 14

I almost got too far ahead of myself so want to go back a bit to the end of yesterday’s reading. I was excited. In today’s reading we see Peter drawing his sword to defend Jesus and actually cutting off Malchus’ ear. Interesting that John could identify the high priest’s servant by name, most likely because he knew the high priest and his servant personally.

Anyway, Peter cuts off the ear fiercely and Jesus commands Peter to put away his sword. Jesus then declares, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” That phrase immediately reminds me of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane given to us by Matthew, Mark and Luke as he asked the Father to take the “cup” away from him.

Jesus conquered that temptation in that same prayer with “not my will but your will be done” and here he boldly declares he is drinking the cup the Father has given him. He is not shy, he is not reticent, he is not angry, he is not bitter. He thirsts for the cup of pain, the cup of suffering, the cup of betrayal, the cup of denial, the cup of salvation.

And then Jesus is delivered, no, really Jesus delivered himself into the hands of the betrayal battalion who take him to the high priest, the same high priest who had prophesied “that it would be good if one man died for the people.”

I am sure Caiaphas thought that one man’s death (Jesus) might relieve the pressure building against the religious leaders and Rome. I must imagine that Caiaphas had no idea the full implications of his prophecy – just how good it would be for all that this one man Jesus might die for the people. Hallelujah! Amen! Thank you, Jesus!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Thursday, September 30, 2021

John 18: 1 – 14

This may be a good time to compare this passage in John with Matthew 26:36 – 56, Mark 14: 32 – 51 and Luke 22: 39 – 53. You will certainly see some similarities but you may notice one major difference. John does not present Jesus in his suffering temptation mode in the garden as the other authors.

We don’t see Jesus sweating great drops of blood here or struggling with the cup or praying “not my will but your will be done.” Perhaps because John kinda, sorta gives us that presentation a bit earlier in John 12: 23 – 36 without all the dramatic details the garden accounts provide.

I am grateful for all of the accounts. I am grateful we see Jesus suffering so, humanly so, in the Garden of Gethsemane. I will remain forever grateful for his victorious struggle – “not my will but your will be done.” Hallelujah!

But the John account offers us something different – the majesty, the divinity, the glory of the Son. When Jesus asks the betrayer and his battalion who it is they want and they respond, “Jesus of Nazareth,” it is as if all of creation has been waiting for that moment.

And when Jesus responds, “I am he” and they all backed away and fell down I am reminded of God’s reply to Moses on Mt. Horeb when Moses had led his sheep to the back side, the forgotten side of the desert: “I AM WHO I  AM!”

Scholars tell us that Jesus response is incredibly similar to God’s response and it is as if Jesus is saying, “I AM WHO I AM.” Wow! Hallelujah! And this powerful reply has an amazing response on those seeking to betray and arrest him, they fall down before the Living GOD!

And if we didn’t know before this point, we are absolutely sure now that Jesus is the One who is in control here, not the meandering, miserly, manipulative forces of evil. Jesus reigns! Hallelujah! Amen!!!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

John 17: 25 – 26

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

This lofty, glorious high priestly prayer culminates with these last two verses above. Jesus admits that the world that the Righteous Father has made does not know him. How sad is that? And yet Jesus declares that he knows the Righteous Father and he has made the Righteous Father known to his disciples who now recognize that the Righteous Father sent the Son.

Jesus pledges that he will continue to make the Righteous Father known to his disciples and when we consider that Jesus’ time on earth is running short and mostly pain and suffering only remain, I stand amazed that Jesus continued to reveal the Righteous Father through betrayal, denial, abandonment, scourging, mocking, crucifixion, death and of course, Resurrection!

And what is the goal of this continuing, suffering, triumphant revelation of the Righteous Father? The goal of the Son is that the love the Righteous Father has for the Son will also be in them and that the Son Himself might be in them. WoW!

And remember that the “them” in question certainly includes the disciples who were with Jesus back them but Jesus has already stated that he is also praying for those who will believe through the disciples’ message. That is you and me or at least it could be if we trust and believe and surrender to the Son.

Can you imagine the Father’s love and the Son living in us? It is a reality. WoW! Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

John 17: 20 – 26

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:22 -23)

I wonder what Jesus meant here by “the glory that you gave me”? What was he talking about? I mean when I think of glory I think of a bright shining but other than on the Mount of Transfiguration, I don’t think Jesus normally shone like that; as bright as lightning.

However, I think of Paul’s letter to the Colossians when Paul says that GOD was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus (Colossians 1:19). The author of Hebrews said it this way in 1:3: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”

And by the way, both of those passages lead to direct references to Jesus reconciling all things to God and Jesus providing purification for sins… I love that and it makes me wonder if the glory Jesus is talking about here, at least in part, is that Holy Spirit-infused character of the Holy, Holy, Holy GOD within us mere mortals.

Could it be unity demonstrated to the world through holiness that only Jesus could provide by his death and resurrection through the infusing power of the Holy Spirit? Me thinks so. Come Holy Spirit come and bring that glory and unity and holiness and love with you that all the world may know Jesus. Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Monday, September 27, 2021

John 17: 20 – 23

We continue to look at Jesus’ high priestly prayer today with the reminder that Jesus just wasn’t praying for his disciples or those on the earth at the time he prayed but he also had you and I in mind. Isn’t that awesome?

As I think about that awesome tidbit I am convicted that Jesus was also praying about those who I might not agree with or might have never met or might not like but Jesus prays for them as well. Shouldn’t we pray for those as well?

He then states his desire to the Father that all he prays for may be one just as the Father is in Jesus and Jesus is in the Father. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine what that kind of unity or oneness must be like? I must confess that I really can’t imagine such unity.

Wouldn’t it be simply breath-taking to find ourselves in such unity, such oneness with one another in Christ just as the Father is in Christ and Christ is in the Father? And if I read correctly that unity isn’t just supposed to be with us human beings but also a unity among us and the Son and the Father. WoW! May it so be Oh LORD!

I want that kind of unity! I want to be one with my sisters and brothers in Christ. I want to be one with my siblings in Christ but also with Christ Himself and the Father. And I know such unity is not possible without the Holy Spirit. WoW!

Just writing that out excites me. So, how do we get there? Maybe as Jesus prays for that kind of unity among us so should we pray and seek that kind of unity ourselves.

Lord Jesus, I want to be one with my fellow followers of Christ but even more, I want to be in complete unity with you and the Father and the Holy Spirit. I surrender myself to such unity that you may be glorified. Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Saturday, September 25, 2021

John 17: 20

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message…”

So, did you catch that? Jesus is praying for us all who have trusted in Him on that darkest, longest and most sinful of nights. Jesus was praying for us alive today even back two thousand years ago or so on that longest, darkest and most sinful of nights. Wow!

I don’t know about you but that makes me stop. Actually, that makes me stop and go back read this prayer from the beginning to see what I may have missed. Even more than seeing what I have missed, I stop to go back and claim this High Priestly Prayer from the One, the Only High Priest for myself because he did have me in mind on that darkest, longest and most sinful of nights.

And oh, by the way, He had you in mind, too. I invite you to take a few minutes right now and read this entire chapter of John 17, Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, see what Jesus had to say about you and claim that for yourself right now. How amazing! How Exciting! How just like Jesus! Hallelujah! Amen!

 

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Friday, September 24, 2021

John 17: 13 – 19

And because I am who I am, you know I have to do this today as we continue to be sanctified. One of the best ways I have ever found to submit and surrender myself to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is by John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer. I just have to share my own paraphrased and updated version today:

“I am no longer my own but yours, O Lord.

Put me to what you will; rank me with whom you will.

Put me to doing; put me to suffering.

Let me be employed by you or laid aside for you.

Exalted for you or brought low for you.

Let me be full; let me be empty.

Let me have all things; let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, Most Glorious and Blessed God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit –

You are mine and I am yours.

So be it!

And may this covenant that I have made on earth be ratified in heaven. Amen.”

And again, because I am me I add these Scripture verses to the end:

“For I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20) For God made Him who knew no sin to become sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21) And Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming the curse of the Law for us.” (Galatians 3:13)

Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Thursday, September 23, 2021

John 17: 13 – 19

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” John 17: 17 – 19

Okay, once again we run into what one may call a conundrum but I think it is a good conundrum. What is meant here by truth and word? Well, I know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is hear talking about Holy Scripture which would have already existed in what we know today as the Old Testament but also his teachings and all that would follow in the New Testament.

Jesus never contradicted anything in the Old Testament by the way he lived or taught. I remember him saying somewhere that neither jot nor tittle would be removed but that he would fulfill it all. Well, something like that anyway…

I also fully believe without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is here referring to his words, his sermons, his parables, and the way he lived out Holy Scripture here on earth. But, I am sure you are expecting this from me now; Jesus is also referring to Himself as the word and the truth. Already on this long, dark, sinful night Jesus has declared himself as the way, the truth and the life. In a while he will talk to Pilate himself about truth.

When Jesus asks the Father to sanctify them by the truth he is asking the Father to make them holy, to set them apart, to make them other as is the character of God and His Son but again to leave them in the world not to take them out of the world.

Jesus then says that he will sanctify himself so that they and us will be truly sanctified. And how does Jesus sanctify himself? Jesus sanctifies himself by submitting himself absolutely into His Father’s hands. Does “not my will but your will be done” ring any bells?

So, perhaps for us to be sanctified we too must submit and surrender ourselves into the Father’s Hands. I invite you to say this prayer with me right now: “Father, not my will but your will be done.” Hallelujah! Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

John 17: 13 – 19

“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am not of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” (John 17: 14 – 16)

We continue in this section today by looking a bit deeper into Jesus’ high priestly prayer on that darkest, longest, most sinful night. Yesterday we looked at what Jesus may have meant when he talked about giving the disciples his word.

Now, we see that one of the effects of giving them his word and them receiving his word is that the world now hates them as it hates Jesus. We will soon see the full effects of the world’s hatred for Jesus and at the same time, the full potential of the world’s hatred for the disciples. No wonder the disciples stayed hidden behind locked doors even after encountering the resurrected Christ.

I think our human response to hatred and danger is to escape said hatred and danger. I mean I will be honest and say that my primary, primal response to danger and hatred is to remove myself from the general vicinity of hatred and danger.

But, there is another way. Jesus defined the disciples as being in the world but not of the world. We will take a look tomorrow at how that might be possible but primarily being “born again” by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

But our purpose is not to escape this hateful, dangerous world but to live in this hateful, dangerous world in such a way that the Living Christ is proclaimed in and through us. Our purpose is not to escape, not just to survive but to thrive as the Body of Christ here in this world as the Living Christ prays for our protection. In the world but not of the world… Amen? Amen!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

John 17: 13 – 19

Jesus continues to pray, apparently in earshot of the disciples. He talks about how he gave them the Father’s word and they are hated by the world because of that.

Was he talking about all of his teaching when he used the phrase “your word”? He could well have been. You know, it was his teaching that seemed to infuriate the religious authorities. It was particularly his teaching about the Father and the Son and their close, intimate relationship that seemed to anger the religious authorities the most.

On those occasions when he was threatened with stoning by the religious authorities it usually had something to do with his claim to be the Son of Man (code words for Son of God) and to be in an equal relationship with the Father.

On one occasion Jesus asked them for which of his good works they were going to stone him and the religious authorities replied that it was for none of his miraculous works but that he said he and the Father were one.

Generally, his teachings were challenging and possessed an authority none had ever held before. Is this the word Jesus was talking about here? It could have well been and we maybe should stop here but I think he is talking about more here.

This teacher possessed an authority, spoke with such authority, performed miracles with such authority and lived his life with such authority none had ever experienced before. Thinking of this God-given authority, unique in this world reminds me of how John first identified Jesus in the opening sentences of this Gospel in John 1:1,2,14 : “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

I do believe Jesus is referring to his spoken words but even more, I fully believe Jesus was also referring to Himself here. He had given Himself, the Living Word, to the disciples and they had accepted him. What will we do with the words of Jesus, the Living Word Jesus?

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

Monday, September 20, 2021

John 17: 1 – 13

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”

On this darkest of nights; on this longest of nights; on this sinful of nights; Jesus says in his high priestly prayer that he says these things so that his disciples on this darkest, longest, sinful of nights might have the full measure of his joy within themselves. What things?

Could it be the fact that the Father has given Jesus authority over all people?

Could it be the fact that the Son will use that God-given authority to give eternal life to all those the Father has given him?

Could it be the fact that Jesus said that “all those” were the Father’s and the Father gave them to the Son?

Could it be the fact that eternal life isn’t longevity but intimate relationship with the Father and the Son beginning in the here and now?

Could it be the fact that long before those horrid moments on the cross Jesus had already completed the work the Father had given him to do by his love and obedience?

Could it be the fact that Jesus has revealed the Father to these disciples who were the Father’s but had now been given to the Son?

Could it be the fact that these “human gifts” had chosen to believe what Jesus said and obeyed his word?

Could it be the fact that they had accepted Jesus’ words and knew with certainty Jesus came from the Father?

Could it be the fact that Jesus prayed for their protection while still in the world?

Could it be the fact that Jesus prayed they would be protected by that name given by the Father?

Could it be the fact that all of them had been protected by that Name except the one doomed to destruction?

Could it be the fact that they were not the one doomed to destruction?

Could it be the fact that they were overhearing themselves spoken about with such love and pride and joy?

Could it have been the fact that they themselves were the subjects of Jesus’ passionate prayer?

Could it have been the fact of the confidence, boldness and utter calmness of the Christ on such a dark, long, sinful night?

What do you think? What if Jesus is praying about us in that way right now? WoW! Hallelujah!!! Amen!!!

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness;

Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86: 11)

 

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)