Monthly Archives: January 2020

The Whole Point

15:27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. ESV

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You, who “have been with me from the beginning” will also bear witness.   You’re probably familiar with the triangle illustration of the Godhead where each point represents one of the three persons, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, that make up the whole.  The lines between those points are what I’m calling life lines.  Together they represent a continuous cycle of life for those who by accepting and acting in accordance with Jesus have placed their lives securely within that perfect triangle.

Look what happens to that perfect triangle when you factor in your own experience as an image bearer living as a triangle within a triangle.  It was fascinating to play around with fitting the odd shaped, imperfect triangles that represent our lives into that perfect triangle.  The life lines are all different but each of them are all anchored by the same three points, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  They’re the anchor points that connect our uphill climbs, precipitous slopes and blessed straight paths that shape our life in Christ.

I hope my illustration represents those three points are the constants and the variables are those life lines.  Those variables change the witness of our life and are the reality that “will also bear witness” to those anchors.  That’s what  completes our witness and makes us fit perfectly within that perfect triangle.  That’s the whole point!

Bedrock

John 15:26 “But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. ESV

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The titles the Bible uses for the Holy Spirit range from Advocate to Intercessor and Companion to Friend.  All titles have the same implied message;  Jesus has provided 24/7 personal support for those who abide with Him. Your commitment is involved and your mind is involved but the bedrock of your personal faith is formed by what the Holy Spirit reveals to God about you, and to you about God.

The Advocate recognizes, and targets, our needs through the transformative stories we read and hear as part of our personal devotion.  Those stories become the seeds of His purpose – to direct our personal growth.  The Advocate is the Intercessor between all involved parties – God, Himself, Jesus and you.  He is the one Companion you have that can speak absolute truth to God on your behalf, fully aware of your needs.  Only a Friend with the absolute knowledge of God’s truth is able to testify this encouragement back to you: “Christ’s anointing teaches you the truth on everything you need to know about yourself and him, uncontaminated by a single lie. Live deeply in what you were taught.”a 

The bedrock of personal faith, devotion and growth is the testimony of the Holy Spirit that teaches you to “live deeply” in what you are still being  taught.

a I John 2:27 [MSG]

 

Proof!

John15:25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ [ESV]

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The reference to “is written in their Law” without a footnoted citation left me searching commentaries to unravel the obscurity of that phrase.  Here are some notes I made searching for clarity that became my food for thought.
• Jesus as command-giver vs mankind as command-keepers
• fulfilling the law through merit or mercy
• divine destiny
• finally this quote from an obscure commentary by Philip Schaff “The very law of which the Jews boasted, and into which, from imagined reverence for it, they were continually searching,—in that very law they might see themselves. In such a connection of thought might it not he [Jesus] be called ‘their law’?”

√ The first note I checked off without question was, of course, the divine destiny of Jesus.  That is a foundational tenet of our faith as Christians.
√ Then I went on to considering the difficulty of yielding to a command-giver when you’re a command-keeper living in a highly merit-based system.  That is a foundational dilemma of human nature.
√ Finally the quote from Schaff reminded me of this foundational truth from Jesus himself in Matthew 5:17
“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.” [NLT]
Proof: ‘They hated [Jesus] without a cause.’

aPhilip Schaff (January 1, 1819 – October 20, 1893) a Swiss-born, German-educated Protestant theologian and a Church historian who spent most of his adult life teaching in America.  He also served as president of the committee that translated the American Standard Version of the Bible, though he died before it was published in 1901

One of a Kind Mirror

John 15:24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.

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The  relationship of mankind to Jesus is a mirrored reflection of it’s relationship to God.  Jesus life and works were, and still are, a one-of-a-kind mirror for all mankind to see that sin is a reality BUT that intimacy with God can also be a reality.   “Accepting and acting in accordance [abiding] with Jesus is the divine solution that allows Jesus’s intimacy with God to become the shared experience for mankind that can overcome sin.

Without that abiding all that’s left is the human solution for the wide chasm between mankind and God.   “…They have seen and hated both me and my Father.” 

 

Prism

John 15:23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 

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The Word doesn’t get any more plain-spoken than Jesus having to speak such a dark truth about himself.  It’s stunning.  Jesus was the perfect re-creation of God on earth.  He was the prism that would bring the light of renewal to our relationship with…well…Himself.  Light is the only way to combat hatred.

The word “prism” reminded me of this photo I’d taken. I had several small prisms placed in windows and throughout the day as sunlight would pass through them their rainbows of color would catch my eye around the house.  I’d found this empty nest, filled it with pretend eggs and set it on the mantle window sill.  I had no idea of how dramatic that ordinary nest could be until the sunlight through the prism lit it.

The primary message of my photo is pretty obvious.  When Jesus is the prism that light is filtered through there’s a dramatic change that brings to mind God’s promise of the rainbow as a sign of His covenant.  There’s an equally effective message for the dark half of the photo.  Jesus came into the world “as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

He Speaks

John 15:22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. NLT

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Jesus had “come and spoken to them” to make them aware of their guilt.  John records this truth about Jesus’s living Word; it reveals the destructive reaction of human nature to the awareness of sin and guilt.  That same reaction has lasted across time and many generations.  Is there anybody reading this that can’t understand a defensive response when confronted with their sin?  Let me answer that for you…NO!  Jesus’s Word only requires changing the generic pronoun “they” to make it personal enough to impact our human nature today too.

Hearing Jesus speak about sin in the same sentence with your name awakens an awareness of guilt that leaves you with a choice: defend your sin or take Jesus at His Word.  Jesus has “come and spoken to [me].” He speaks to offer this replacement for excuses…opportunity.  Opportunity to let defensiveness be replaced with repentance that replaces guilt with forgiveness and Grace.

Eyes Wide Open

John 15:21 But they  will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

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Hate and persecution were shocking words Jesus used just a few verses ago to warn his followers what they might expect “on account of my name.” Those who used Jesus’s name as a confession of their faith needed courage.  Jesus warned them they were marked as different, and a risk to the existing state of conformity, by those who “do not know him who sent me.”  The acceptance of that risk with eyes wide open was the necessary seal of their identity as a follower of Christ within a world of conformity.