Wednesday with John — Likeness

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’  26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Truth is hard to hear.  It evokes a harsh reaction from the world. The world hated Jesus without a cause because He spoke and made them aware of their sin.  How much more will they hate those who Jesus chose to save from their midst.  Jesus sent the Spirit of truth to help us get over ourself and bear witness about Him

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus is well aware that hatred and persecution by the world is part of His identity because He has identified sin by what’s He’s said and done. 

What does it say about people?
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’

Is there truth here for me?
”Likeness” to Jesus is a critical element of Christian belief.  It’s difficult to read that being like Jesus may well include the hatred and persecution of the world. It’s difficult to be confronted with the reality that if they persecuted the perfect Jesus, they will also persecute me if that “likeness” begins to show.  Self-protection is the last barrier the Spirit of truth has to remove so when I “bear witness” to Jesus my words reveal “a servant is not greater than [her] master,” both to the world…and to myself.

Sunday with John — Clearly Defined

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
My serious directive for you is that you feel for others the same intense, deep affection I have for you.  That is the sacrifice of your life that matters to me.  I want you to have this guiding principle to share in your relationships.  I don’t need a person who just responds to my authority and doesn’t understand what I’m doing.  I want someone who shares with others the bond of mutual affection they have with me.  I picked you as the best alternative for this time and place to carry the weight of that growth because growth is the result that reproduces my love in you. The Father’s answers will be given to you to the same extent you call on Him acting in accordance with me!  This authoritative order will become more natural as the Father’s answers start to reproduce the same intense feeling of deep affection I have for you in your own shared relationships.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
All that I have heard from my Father and I have made known to you.  I chose you for a purpose.

What does it say about people?
You did not choose me.

Is there truth here for me?
Today my general theme of these verses was clearly defined using dictionary definitions.
Commandment — serious directive of a guiding principle
Love — an intense feeling of deep affection
Servant — a person who performs duties for others
Master — one having authority over another
Friends — someone with whom one has a bond of mutual affection
Chose — picked out the best alternative
Appointed — designated time or place
Bear — carry the weight, support
Fruit — result of growth that can reproduce the source
Abide — act in accordance with
Ask — to call on for an answer
Command — give an authoritative order.
So — to the same extent
One Another — shared relationship

Wednesday with John – Either/Or

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 ABIDE in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it ABIDEs in the vine, neither can you, unless you ABIDE in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever ABIDEs in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not ABIDE in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you ABIDE in me, and my words ABIDE in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. ABIDE in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will ABIDE in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and ABIDE in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
The source of Spiritual growth and fruit is dependent on the connection to Jesus and that the Father is maintaining the vineyard.  We are the branches, pruned by the activity of Jesus in our lives through the Word.  The branches attached to the vine are sustained by it and kept clean by the pruning so their growth can produce fruit able to reproduce the source.  “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus is the true vine and [His] Father is the vinedresser.  The Father is glorified by the growth that proves the life of the branch is its relationship to Jesus.  Jesus’s joy comes from abiding in His Father’s commandments so He can share that joy with us.

What does it say about people?
Pruning happens in life with or without the vine. Abiding is a choice.

Is there truth here for me?
ABIDE
is an action word with two definitions.  Either I choose a) to accept or act in accordance with what it says OR b) I can’t abide or tolerate what it says.  Firstly in only 6 verses the word ABIDE appears 10 times.  Secondly the sing-song rhythm of all those “abides” made it easy for me to slide right over them as if abiding was a “given” because Jesus said “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.”   It wasn’t until I re-read the verses using the Either/Or choice I realized all that repetition is more than a gentle reminder.  There’s an urgency to that word.   To “ABIDE” in Jesus is a choice in life you repeatedly have to make if you’re going to survive the pruning.

Sunday with John — God’s Own Memories

John 14: 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
“The ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me…I do as the Father has commanded me…Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid…”. I’ve left my peace with you so after I have gone to the Father you will remember I said ‘I am going away, and I will come to you’…The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” and you will rejoice!

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
The Father is sending the Helper in Jesus’s name. Jesus loves the Father and obeys Him because the Father is greater. The Helper is a teacher and a reminder of all Jesus demonstrated about loving the Father. 

What does it say about people?
Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Is there truth here for me?
The day-to-day world is broken by dull memories of the intimacy people once had with the Father. Time and distance from that long-ago original home have erased much of the awareness of that intimacy.  But God’s heart has remained faithful and He still remembers the past!  It was God’s own memories of that lost intimacy that sent Jesus in the flesh to demonstrate how to live that perfect relationship with the Father day-to-day.  It’s was God’s own memories of that lost intimacy that brought Jesus to the moment of knowing His death would restore  what His life could not.  It was God’s own memories of that lost intimacy that sent an internal Helper, a Holy Spirit in Jesus’s name to teach dull hearts “all things” about how the Father would insure their future.  It’s interesting to consider that I am here this Sunday to write, remember and rejoice with you because of the completed plan that began with God’s own memories of our lost intimacy with Him.

Wednesday with John — Manifest Destiny

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.  18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Obedience demonstrates love and Jesus knows we need help with that.  He has a plan…an invisible helper, a “Spirit of Truth” to show us how to practice what He preaches.  The world cannot recognize this Spirit of truth but “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him…and we will come to him and make our home with him.”  This Spirit will clearly demonstrate [manifest] everything true about who “I am” to each one individually.  “The word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me…I will not leave you as orphans.” 

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
The Father will give you another helper.  I am in my Father.  I will love and manifest [demonstrate] myself to those who love me.  I will not leave you as orphans, WE will come…

What does it say about people?
Not all people will see Jesus demonstrate Himself.

Is there truth here for me?
John has told us Jesus has come to nourish life, (John 6:35) give us light to see it unfold, (John 8:12) provide a door to enter into another life (John 10:9) and a guide (John 10:11,14) to demonstrate for us what will make it last (John 11:25) so we can be a complete family…forever. (John 14:6).  That’s what “the world cannot receive, because it neither sees [Jesus] nor knows Him” but thanks be to God for that “Spirit of Truth” and that Jesus has demonstrated our destiny. “You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

 

Sunday with John — Connection

John 14:8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Philip is unable to comprehend the connection between his belief in Jesus and the truth of Jesus’s connection to the Father.  Jesus cannot comprehend how these faithful disciples who have heard His words and seen His works still cannot see the separation between their belief in Him “Lord show us the Father, and it is enough for us” and the truth He has already taught them, “I’m am in the Father and the Father is in me.”  Addressing that separation is the last part of their preparation for the future. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater than these will he do…Because I am going to the Father”…I will give you “more” than the comfort of belief, you will have the truth of the Father “glorified in the Son” who will always respond “If you ask me anything in my name.”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? 

What does it say about people?
The same “Lord” Philip is now speaking to is the one he recognized in John 1:45 as “him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote.”  What Jesus is confronting Philip with is he hasn’t yet made the connection that He is also the “Father” Philip is asking Him to show them.  

Is there truth here for me?
A relationship with Jesus is the foundation of our belief but that belief receives it’s power through its connection to the truth of Jesus’s identity as God.

Wednesday with John — Complete

John 14:1-7 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus has led these disciples so many places they needed to go. Following Jesus has been their primary focus.  Now that focus must shift from primary to complete: “Believe in God; believe also in me.”  Jesus is clearly telling them their heart’s longing must now find that truth without His physical presence.  He’s told them “you know the way to where I am going,” but they’re troubled because they don’t really understand he’s talking about eternity.  Thomas asks “How can we know the way?”  Jesus answers “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” — I AM your connection to God. “I go and prepare a place for you” in the “Father’s house…Let not your hearts be troubled…From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only life the Father has chosen to fill the many rooms in His house.

What does it say about people?
“Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

Is there truth here for me?
Sometimes my heart’s longing is just to understand eternity as a family vacation in an attractive sounding destination when the one thing it really needs to be complete is the simplicity Jesus’s comfort offers me today: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”

Sunday with John — Reliably Prepared

John 13:36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Peter was a follower of Jesus and prepared to go anywhere with Him.  He was convinced of the reliability of his own words “I will lay down my life for you.”  Jesus knew that night Peter was going to learn the answer to his question “Lord, why can I not follow you now?”  Jesus knew Peter’s preparation to “follow afterward” must include understanding the deniability of human reliability.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus knew the whole plan!  He had no illusions about the present situation or that every detail would become a reliable part of Peter’s future.

What does it say about people?
Peter’s mind could not comprehend the unpredictability of his own heart.

Is there truth here for me?
Every follower of Jesus knows this story.  Any believer who’s ever professed an “absolute” belief has discovered the reliability of their words challenged by their own unpredictable heart.  My heart wants to believe the faith God has given me is a monolithic [formed of a single large block of stone] superstructure that will stand up against every challenge but then I read and ponder: why wouldn’t God choose the same preparation He required of Peter for me, or for you?  The deniability of my own human reliability is where my faith discovers it’s true dependence on the grace of God.   Grace reveals the truth that Jesus is less interested in unmovable, monolithic superstructures than He is in hearts that will be reliably prepared by Him to “follow afterward.”

Ezekiel 36:23b, 26 & 27 …Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes…26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Wednesday with John – Jesus Loves ME!

John 13:31 When he [Judas] had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus knows Judas going out from them has removed the last barrier to His glory.  The “new” truth was “now”  to be fulfilled.  The glory of the Son of Man was going to become the same glory God gives Himself. The disciples had been taught by the Master. They could follow Jesus’s example and inspire others longing for the truth of God but they could never substitute themselves as Jesus did to redeem lives. That truth wasn’t “new.” Longing for God’s protection wasn’t new. Longing for God’s provision wasn’t new.  Longing to please God wasn’t new.  The “new” commandment was “just as I have loved you,” your love for one another will make those longings a reality that will be a visible way to recognize followers of Jesus.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus declares ”now” is the time the God is going to be reveal His glory in Him and in Himself.  Jesus is going to go where no one else can.

What does it say about people?
People long to know they are loved. The new command was for people to love  each other in the same way Jesus has loved them.

Is there truth here for me?
Learning about Jesus and desiring to live like Him are the easy things really.  The “new” thing Jesus commands is the hard thing; love one another: just as I have loved you,  It’s not hard because it requires time and effort, it’s hard because I know the truth about me. It takes a kind of sanctified egotism to believe and experience how much Jesus Loves ME!  He loves me enough to hold my hand while I tiptoe into the depth of that security.  This I know; the more secure I am knowing the depth of Jesus’s love for me, the more I will be free of my last barrier to love others that much too.

Sunday with John — After

John 13:21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
After… the example of service He’s given them, Jesus is troubled in His spirit because of what He knows; “one of you will betray me.” The disciples look at one another, “uncertain of whom he spoke.”  The whispered interchange between “one of His disciples” and Jesus must have been only one of the hushed conversations happening around that table.  Only Jesus and that one disciple know the deadly meaning of that small piece of bread Jesus gives to Judas.  But after taking what looked like a common offering  of friendship to most of his brothers, Judas knows what Jesus knows.   Satan has identified him as the betrayer but Jesus has offered him mercy, not disgrace. “So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out” into the darkness.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus was troubled in His spirit.  Jesus chose to let Judas know Satan had identified him as the betrayer but with an act of mercy rather than disgrace.

What does it say about people?
The disciples first response was to identify the betrayer.  They clearly did not hear the exchange between the one disciple and Jesus that would connect Judas leaving to the betrayal. 

Is there truth here for me?
I saw truth about mercy in reading and pondering this whole sad story of Judas’s betrayal of Jesus.  Jesus has the power to accomplish His Father’s purposes through mercy, not the public disgrace of exposed sin.   Satan is the one who who relishes that job.

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:35-36 ESV