Monthly Archives: May 2021

In Himself

John 5:26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

Is this one verse saying God granted a self-contained life to Jesus similar to what He did for Adam?  OR Is this verse saying Jesus’s life was “God in himself?” That is a bigger truth worth pondering.

The repetition of “in himself” slips by so quickly it’s easy to read it without questioning if there might be something more.  It’s easy to accept Jesus being the living example of the perfection of God, His emissary if you will, sent to be like an extension cord that would connect us to the power of God.  That is the truth of experience but words are gifts I believe God uses to direct devotional thoughts. The idea of “in himself” identifying Jesus as both the extension cord and the power made me think about Jesus as the sacrifice God made for our life on earth even before His sacrifice on the cross.

God “in himself” as Jesus was sacrificed on a cross to assure us there was a  connection that would lead to eternity.  Heaven is surely a blessing to look forward to but we live life our life on earth.  The first sacrifice of God “in Himself” was Jesus living on earth to become the connection of this life and eternity.  God “in himself” as Jesus on earth could teach us by example how to experience a connection to God that would turn every day of life, here and now, into the beginning of an eternity to come.

The Source

John 5:13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

How many people’s lives have been changed by Jesus and they don’t know it?  I wonder how often Jesus has stepped into someone’s life with an act of unrecognized mercy that was attributed to luck or fortune?  Why did healing happen to someone who had no apparent knowledge of Jesus?  This is such an unusual story to me.  A body had been physically healed but it was only later that Jesus “found” the healed man to wake up his mind to the source and the purpose of what had happened to him.  That’s the message of this one verse.  The mercy of Jesus doesn’t come with strings attached but it’s an incomplete blessing until it becomes the wake-up call for our mind to recognize Jesus as the source of all mercy.

Living Water

John 4:1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples)… ESV


“You can learn more from a book if you stop and
ask it questions than if you just read it passively.”
John Piper on Bible reading

Why would John have side-noted “Jesus himself did not baptize?”  John knew what his purpose was; to use baptism with water to point to “He who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”  He clearly wanted to protect Jesus from the Pharisees and establish the difference between his external baptism and what Jesus was doing.   “Jesus himself did not baptize” because His greater purpose was to accomplish an internal transformation with a new birth and “living water” that would become “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

It was “living water” that would make new birth a possibility for Nicodemus.  It was “living water” that took Jesus to the place Jews believed was a mix of spiritually corrupt Israelites and pagan foreigners to offer that new birth to a Samaritan woman. “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” of “living water.”   It was “living water” that revealed true worship doesn’t happen because of an external ritual or a place, but because “the Father is seeking true worshippers to worship him in Spirit and in Truth” in the most unexpected places.

Born Again

ESV 3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”…16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  

Born again is an intangible idea.  There is no document that can verify its reality or prove it has happened.  Every detail of that new birth is internally stored in you. You are the safekeeper of your salvation through Jesus.  I wonder if that’s exactly what this Word from Philippians 2:12 is speaking about?  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 

Born a second time is a mysterious internal awareness that allows our heart to “see” the Kingdom of God has been placed within us for safekeeping.  That awareness is the gift of the salvation God has worked in us.   Our new birth is confirmed to us by personal growth and discovery that equips us to live a life of faith, despite our fear and trembling, because…God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 

In-The-Flesh

John 2:23 Now when he [Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. 

When Jesus was a man, “many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.  But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people.” It’s so easy to assume Jesus’s perfect response to His in-the-flesh life was a foregone conclusion.  He was fully God and still retained His shared knowledge with God but make no mistake about it, Jesus’s life in-the-flesh wasn’t a pretend life, set up to create a pretend identity with man.  It had real risk and a real purpose.  The reality of Jesus in-the-flesh life was risking the suspension of all His Sovereign rights to complete His identity with all people.  “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [to ease the anger or disturbance of a superior being] for our sins.”a

God felt the painful reality of what Jesus would endure in-the-flesh as if it were His very own…because it was.  He was watching a part of Himself struggle to cope with living in a broken world trying to overcome the very flesh that had given Him life without those Sovereign rights.  God did not miss the effect of fear, hunger, fatigue and temptation on His Son.  The real purpose to Jesus’s life in-the-flesh that bears witness to His complete identity with all people is “Although he [Jesus] was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.”b

Obedience to God in the circumstances of life completes our identity with Jesus and still has the power to move God’s heart from Law to Grace on our behalf.

a 1 John 4:10
b Hebrews 5:8 

The Wedding

John 2:9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. ESV

God’s Word about this wedding began way back in Genesis, with a rib.a  One rib that turned one flesh into two people that completed the image of God, “male and female He created them.”  Then God set up a condition, a promise and a blessing.b  The condition was the agreement to each set aside others in order to be joined together.  The promise was there would be a unique new “oneness” that would strengthen their own individuality.  The blessing was, in that joining each would become more fully themselves [naked] before one another.  That’s the ideal.  This wedding is the next act of God’s story.  

It’s about introducing Jesus into the marriage.  All the expected trimmings of a celebration of family and friends with food and drink aren’t enough to make God’s ideal a reality without Jesus attending the party.  God’s intent for the marital relationship was that it would flesh out the relationship He desired to have with His people.  God is the bridegroom and his church, you and I, are His bride, but it takes Jesus to keep the party going.  “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine.  But you have kept the good wine until now…And his disciples believed in him.”  

a Genesis 2:22
b Genesis 2:24-25

STILL Glory

John 1:14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. NLT 

What does the glory of Jesus look like in real life today?  The dictionary defines glory as magnificence and beauty.  “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.  All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”a

There is STILL glory in that broken image I see in the mirror.  It may be puzzling but I have seen the magnificence and beauty of Jesus in the unfailing love and faithfulness of others with perfect clarity this last month simply because…

The Word became human and made his home among us so even brokenness would not be able to hide “His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”

a I Cor 13:12 NLT

The Purpose of Light

John 1:6 God sent a man, John the Baptist, 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 , who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. NLT 

I don’t think there has ever been a time when I have more clearly seen the “Light.”  I really can’t even understand it myself.  As odd as it is to write these words in the midst of grief over my husbands death, I feel the power of love, life, and thankfulness and light more completely than ever before. 

This is my important testimony to you: The Light that has broken through the darkness of grief reminds me the “birth that comes from God” does so much more than overcome the darkness of death.  You can depend on Jesus’s promise to give light to every circumstance of life…even death…so you can be comforted to continue.

Learning to Live Alone

John 1:1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2 He existed in the beginning with God.  3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.  4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.  5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. [NLT]

It’s almost a month since my husband was killed.  I have been so blessed and comforted by my family.  They have buffered the reality of my loss with their presence.   They’ve flown in from around the country to help me navigate the unthinkable reality of death with the basics of life; food, activity and the practical and legal details that are now a part of my life.  What was previously “normal” activity has now become a reminder of being alone but they have been the hands-on proof of God’s assurance that is not the case.  One by one they’ve returned to their own homes and this week I finally have to face learning to live alone in mine.

It’s scary because I’ve realized I have never actually lived “alone” before.  I moved from my parents home to my marital home nearly 63 years ago.  I chose this book of John to read and ponder in these next weeks because it was important to my husband and the book of John is where my life of faith began long ago.  I wasn’t physically alone then, but it was the place I first read the words that revealed Jesus gives life that spans all time, circumstances and relationships.  What was true then is still truth now. “The Word already existed…with God… The Word gave life to everything…and the darkness can never extinguish it.”