Monthly Archives: October 2022

Sunday with John — Purposeful

John 18:15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Peter and another disciple are literally following Jesus as he’s taken to yet another place of judgement about his identity.  Out of deference to the identity of the other disciple, who is apparently known as a follower of Jesus, the door has been opened to Peter.  He’s been brought into this place where his identity is unknown, and his response to a simple question, “ I am not,” reveals he doesn’t know himself yet either.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
There is power in everything that is implied in this verses.  Peter thinks he’s followed Jesus here, but he’s been led to this place.  He could have been left outside the door, but he’s been brought in.  The Lord has a purpose for the simple question from a curious girl; to begin to reveal Peter’s identity to himself through a misspoken answer.

What does it say about people?
The strength of those who “purpose” to follow Jesus is not their innocence.  It’s their willingness to face Jesus with their imperfection knowing He will forgive because He has given them their purpose…and His love is the perfection they need.

Is there truth here for me?
I actually felt a physical twinge in my chest as I read Peter’s response to that servant girl. My heart made some connection between the odd exchange in John 13 at that special dinner where Peter asked John to ask Jesus who was going to betray Him. It’s always seemed odd to me he needed to ask what they were all wondering.  Peter wasn’t the only one that needed reassurance of his innocence that night but now in this place he’s heard his own misspoken words of denial, “I am not.”  It may not have happened right then but surely those three words became his own twinge of guilt…as he remembered that night and realized he wasn’t innocent after all…he was a betrayer! 

Peter’s misspoken words, “I am not,” have pierced my heart. I felt those words because I’ve heard my own.  I’ve realized it’s easy to excuse misspoken words as something other than betrayal and then accept my misplaced relief as the standard of my innocence.  I would like to be innocent but innocence was lost thousands of years ago. Instead Jesus has agreed to the truth of my purpose to follow him and offered to take my misspoken words and misplaced relief as an act of repentance and make them into something more purposeful than innocence…purity.

Wednesday with John — Proclaimed

John 18:12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews [Temple guards] arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
The final act of the betrayal of Jesus has begun. The duty of the band of soldiers, their captain and the Temple guards is to arrest Jesus, but executing Jesus is a challenge for the line of authority.   Annas, the first in line doesn’t want to deal with Jesus and hands Him off to Caiaphas.  Caiaphas’s answer is not justice but convenience…sacrifice Jesus for the good of everyone involved.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
There are no additional words here from John to justify the tension between God’s heart and these unfolding circumstances as the death of His Son becomes the convenience of man.

What does it say about people?
Man’s nature of betrayal is the silent emphasis of why these two verses about Jesus’s death matter.

Is there truth here for me?
These two verses showed me how complicated it is to have to deal with God’s “silence.” I wanted John to give me inspired Words from God about His reaction to this betrayal but instead I had to consider His silence revealed His Sovereignty.  God knew exactly when, what and who would be involved in this part of Jesus’s story.  That didn’t mean He justified the evil betrayal or that His heart wasn’t broken by the reality of it.  It didn’t mean He’d overlooked the behavior of all those who took part in it just so His will would be done.  Trying to figure out why John chose to emphasize God’s silence in these two verses forced my mind to consider the wisdom of what God “didn’t say.” The God who is all knowing, ever present and all powerful chose “silence” to endure the anguish of watching every detail of the plan He knew was  coming to pass so His Son would be proclaimed “that one man [who] should die for the people.”

Sunday with John – The Control

John 18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?”They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, I am he.”aJudas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” ESV
[a] Footnote: John 18:5 Greek I am; also verses 6, 8

What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus is the only one who understands the Father is in complete control.  Everyone else is under the assumption they have some control over this situation. Judas has come to this familiar place prepared to betray Jesus.  The soldiers have come to this garden prepared to execute that betrayal once Jesus’s identity has been confirmed.  Peter has come prepared to fight to save Jesus.  Jesus “knowing all that would happen to him,” is the only one who’s come prepared with the truth of His identity.

“Jesus answered them with this curious phrase, two words in both English and in the original language (ego eimi). It is curious because Jesus didn’t say I am He, but simply I am – the He was added by the translators and is not in the original text. With this Jesus consciously proclaimed that He was God, connecting His words to the many previous I am statements recorded in the Gospel of John, especially in John 8:58 (but also John 6:48, 8:12, 9:5, 10:9, 10:11-14, 10:36, 11:25, 14:6).” Enduring Word

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus, identifies Himself as I am!  In those two simple words He acknowledges His compete identity with the Father who IS in control; “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

What does it say about people?
People make decisions within the context of control.  It’s a human part of the reasoning nature the Father has built into His people.  Step 1: accumulate and compile information, Step 2: make an informed decision and Step 3: take action.

Is there truth here for me?
It’s not those three steps that are the problem, it’s the sin of losing sight of who’s in control of our identity.  Sin has distorted reasoning.  Judas for some inexplicable reason had accumulated and compiled his information, knowing Jesus considered him a friend, but chose to believe some lie of reasoning that could justify betraying his friend.  The soldiers chose to rely on the informed decisions of their leaders reasoning, but were knocked to the ground by their own. Peter in this context of wanting to save Jesus had no time to reason but chose violence as his knee-jerk reaction. 

None of these responses are unfamiliar to me.  John has continued to remind me how important it is to remember Jesus is THE control over the context of my identity.  I have a reasoning nature that is improving because of Jesus in my life but it is still distorted.  I can make informed decisions until I’m blue in the face but I just can’t trust they’ll all be perfect.  The one assurance I have is that Jesus is THE control over every action I take.  Jesus has promised He will inspect, correct and redirect every clumsy step I take in my journey with Him toward eternity “to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 

Wednesday with John — Shared Identity

John 17:20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus prays that the truth He’s spoken to “these” He’s kept in the Father’s name will endure for “those who will believe in me through their word.”  He’s giving each of them a part of His own “glory” to unite them with the Father “even as we are one” so “the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”  

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus is asking the Father to grant their shared one-ness to those who “may believe that you have sent me”… in the future. 

What does it say about people?
It’s not unusual that people want to establish their identity with one another.  It’s exactly what Jesus prayed for us.  What is unusual is the ways we’ve chosen to do it.

Is there truth here for me?
Jesus’s trust is complete; that if “these” people [us] can experience that one-ness with each other they will confirm the reality of His ministry to the world.  The Father is going to answer that prayer by choosing to make His followers “perfectly one” in a very distinctly unique way…because of their shared identity with Jesus.

Sunday with John — Separated

John 17:11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified[set apart] in truth.  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus is guarding all those He keeps in the Father’s name so that while they are in the world His joy might be fulfilled in them.  For our sake He has dedicated Himself to giving us the truth that sanctifies and separates us from influence of the evil one.  

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus is going to His Father.  He has faithfully spoken the Word of truth to those the Father has declared His.

What does it say about people?
This world is a proving ground for the people of Jesus to define their identify in Him as separate from the lie of the evil one who says the world is his.

Is there truth here for me?
The world is not the left-behind place the devil would like us to believe it is.  The Father has never given up control over His creation and His world.  From Day One of Creation, the world was been a place of separation: the light from the darkness, Heaven from earth, land from seas, day from night and man from beasts, “and God saw everything he had made and behold, it was very good.”   But it wasn’t nirvana.  God wasn’t creating a puppet world.  It’s the devil’s lie that in this world we are under his control.  God’s choice for the free “will” of man was to show them the clear separation between the devil’s lie and the truth that Jesus is the way we “also may be sanctified in [His]. truth” because we are “not of the world.”   

Wednesday with John — Exciting

John 17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. 6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.”  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
It’s all BOLD, the circumstances, the content, the intent and the focus.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus prayed. He’d accomplished His Father’s work on earth and now His glory would once again be displayed in the Father’s presence just as it had been before the world existed.  Jesus was thankful for those the Father had given Him, who’ve received His Words as evidence for them from the true God. 

What does it say about people?
Believers in Christ hold within themselves a part of His shared glory with the Father.

Is there truth here for me?
The disciples have shared life with Jesus in every possible circumstance.  Over time the content of His life has become a real part of their own lives.  That content is now going to reshape the intent and focus for the rest of their own lives.  Jesus has declared these friends are God’s gift to Him and that He is glorified in them.  There’s something familiar about that. What the disciples have experienced in Jesus’s presence is new birth!  They were in the presence of Jesus!  For us that experience is wrapped in the mysterious phrase: “born again.” It’s really hard to try to define “born again” because Jesus is so personal in what He speaks to those to whom He speaks the Father’s truth.  But…now I’m excited because suddenly the familiar has become more real.  Let these things marinate in your heart from this priestly prayer.  Jesus is praying for you! You are God’s gift to Him!  You are part of His glory!  I didn’t restrain my use of exclamation points because I’ve just seen an exciting truth about “born again” that has changed the tense of what I’ve written to “You” into something very personal for me that has simplified my understanding of “born again.” I have been “born again” because “Jesus’s hour has come” in me!!!  

Sunday with John — Direct Access

John 16:25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”  29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?  32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus knows He’s been the physical connection to the Father’s love for these disciples for the time He’s been with them.  That purpose in His coming has impacted the words He’s chosen and the examples He’s shown them. He’s taught them how to build their own relationship with the Father. Now Jesus has a new urgency; He’s “leaving the world and going to the Father to make sure these friends know His purpose now is to confirm the reality of their direct access to the Father.  The Father’s love for them did not begin with His physical presence nor is it ending with Jesus’s withdrawal from them.  Jesus is “going” to fulfill His promise that direct access has always been the Father’s desire and despite the circumstances He will “overcome the world” and its tribulation to remind them He is the peace of their hearts.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus has always had direct access to the Father.  The Father’s plan always included Jesus coming into the disciple’s world but now that plan is going to be fulfilled by Him withdrawing from it.  

What does it say about people?
These followers of Jesus aren’t just hearing the words He is telling them now.  They remembering the intimacy they have have shared together with Him and already experiencing the grief of that loss.

Is there truth here for me?
I wish John had spelled out the words of those “figures of speech” for His disciples.  They had Jesus Himself speaking to them and yet sometimes they only heard “figures of speech.”  The Bible has given us so many of Jesus’s words that we read and agree with but John has a caution he’s recorded for us: If the most intimate friends of Jesus could be guilty of reducing Jesus’s words to figures of speech how much greater is that a possibility for those of us who only see and hear Jesus through THE Word.  But John has also given us an example from “those” disciples to follow.  It’s an odd one to consider.  I can read what Jesus said… “In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf…”  as a figure of speech and skip right over the truth.  BUT…when I follow the example of those first faithful friends and ask for Jesus to show me the “more” of the Word, my heart hears the truth of Jesus saying; [in that day when you ask in my name you will understand that what you ask prompts the Father’s desire to answer you because I have revealed to you the proof of your direct access to His heart]. ❤️

Wednesday with John – Again

John 16:16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
In a little while I’m going away but then again in a little while you’ll see me. Things are going to be different then.  The sorrow you feel now will be forgotten because I am going to the Father.  I know you’ve got questions you want to ask.  The world will enjoy your weeping and lamenting but truly, truly I tell you your sorrow will turn into joy.  I will deliver you with the pains of labor that give birth to a new human being.  Again in a little while, your heart will no longer remember the anguish of your faith becoming your life.  Your heart will rejoice and be full and no one will be able to take that joy from you because you will know the Father has birthed it in you.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus is going to the Father.  The Father is going to give you answers to whatever you ask in Jesus’s name.

What does it say about people?
We need to learn to trust “whatever” we ask in Jesus name is what prompts the Father’s desire to give us His answer, not that whatever we ask is THE answer.

Is there truth here for me?
Jesus knew the Father’s answer for my deliverance would have to be birthed inside me so my heart could have its questions answered and would be filled enough to recognize Jesus. “A little while” is the lengthy labor of finding the faith in my daily life is really finding Jesus, again, in a little while every day.

Sunday with John — Purpose/Identity

John 16:5 “But now I am going away to the one who sent me; and none of you seems interested in the purpose of my going; none wonders why. 6 Instead you are only filled with sorrow. 7 But the fact of the matter is that it is best for you that I go away, for if I don’t, the Comforter won’t come. If I do, he will—for I will send him to you.  8 “And when he has come he will convince the world of its sin, and of the availability of God’s goodness, and of deliverance from judgment. 9 The world’s sin is unbelief in me; 10 there is righteousness available because I go to the Father and you shall see me no more; 11 there is deliverance from judgment because the prince of this world has already been judged.  12 “Oh, there is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t understand it now. 13 When the Holy Spirit, who is truth, comes, he shall guide you into all truth, for he will not be presenting his own ideas, but will be passing on to you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. 14 He shall praise me and bring me great honor by showing you my glory. 15 All the Father’s glory is mine; this is what I mean when I say that he will show you my glory.  TLB

What is the general theme of the passage?
This small group has been bound together to function as “one” with Jesus in everything they’ve done and everywhere they’ve gone, until now.  Jesus is going away and they are only filled with sorrow.  The “one” that has been their purpose is now going to send a new identity into the world that will ease their sorrow and help them fulfill His purpose for “many” others…a Comforter.  That Spirit of Holiness will convince the world sin is a destructive truth of man but Jesus is God’s truth about righteousness that will separate their identity from the world, relieve the sorrow of their sin and replace it with the shared glory of Jesus and His Father.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
…it is best for you that I go away, for if I don’t, the [Holy Spirit] won’t come. If I do, he will—for I will send him to you.

What does it say about people?
…none of you seems interested in the purpose of my going; none wonders why. Instead you are only filled with sorrow [but] When the Holy Spirit, who is truth, comes, he shall guide you into all truth,

Is there truth here for me?
Jesus WAS their purpose and now He’s going away.  No wonder they’re filled with sorrow.  How will they identify themselves now?  I was struck by the subtle difference between those two words, purpose and identity, and how similar this moment in those disciple’s lives is to my life as a follower of Christ today.  My relationship with Jesus began with a purpose, to learn to be like Him.  Purpose is like a placeholder but identity is what fills that place.  That’s exactly what Jesus was doing here.  He’d been the placeholder for these chosen men and His purpose had become their own but now it was time for more.  A new Spirit of Holiness that would fill His empty place with their new identity as placeholders for many others to find their identity in Jesus. It’s amazing to think that right from the beginning of creation God’s purpose was that Jesus should live on earth, as a man free of sin, to become my placeholder too.  The “one”  place where even in sorrow I might discover His new identity for me was that I could be a placeholder too.