Category Archives: John

An Unbreakable Thread

Exodus 3:14 & 15b God said to Moses, “I am who I am…“This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.

”…every time you see “Lord” in the English Bible you should think: This is a proper name (like Peter or James or John) built out of the word for “I Am” and reminding us each time that God absolutely is.”  John Piper from “I Am who I Am

• John 6:35 “…I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
• John 8:12 “…I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
• John 10:9  “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.”
• John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
• John 11:25 “…I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
• John 14:6 “…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
•John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

I don’t think I’ve ever consciously thought of God in terms of His proper name being “I Am.”  That idea has added another dimension to the already meaningful “I Am” statements of Jesus.  If you’ve ever had an English class you know the definition of a verb is a word of action that supports the main identity of the subject.  Our subject is God.  His name “I Am” is the verb.  “I Am” is the present-tense version of the verb “be/exist.”  God is!  The “I Am” statements of Jesus confirm the reality of his complete identity with I Am.

That’s a reality that’s still true for us today.  “I Am” is our confirmation that Jesus is still taking action to create an unbreakable thread that binds his followers between Himself and I Am.

Everything

John 15:12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

The “everything” of v15 was the primary word that caught my attention as I read.  Then a simple word count of other key words in the passage became a sort-of-outline for me today; choose/chose [2], servant. [2], friends [3], Father [2], and finally, Love [4]. 

We love being “chosen.” We are blessed to be called a “servant” of Christ.  It’s even better to be called a friend but it’s a humbling to realize that our determination, time commitment, intellect and choice to follow Christ are not the same as “everything.”  A servant’s loyalty can mimic friendship but not necessarily be evidence of the shared intimacy of love.  

You were “appointed”…so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last…” fruit based on a special love relationship. “You did not choose me, but I chose you” is a really important part of our personal relationship to Christ because it’s a really important part of the shared intimacy of love between Jesus and his Father.  That relationship is the primary part of “everything” Jesus wants to share with you.  “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

Listen!

John 10:27–28 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

Alexa!  Hey Siri! OK Garmin!  These are names associated with voice recognition technology that enables a machine or computer program to receive, interpret, understand and respond.  Even if you personally have never used them, you’ve likely heard those names. I suggest there’s an even more important name associated with voice recognition technology…Jesus!

This verse from John is my evidence that God should be the one to get credit for what seems to be a “new” technology that enables those who follow his Son to receive, interpret, understand, hear, recognize…and follow the voice of their Shepherd…and he will respond, “I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”  Listen!  Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; there’s just something about that name.  Master, Savior, Jesus, like the fragrance after the rain; Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, let all Heaven and earth proclaim.  Kings and kingdoms will all pass away but there’s something about that name.  [Bill Gaither]

Second Chance: John 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

John 2 NIV
• 2:9…and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” 11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

• 2:14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”

• 2:23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

The Wedding was people coming together to celebrate an important event and an important time in an ordinary village.  The very happy circumstances of a village wedding became unique and even more memorable because Jesus stepped in.

The scene at the Temple is also about people coming together to celebrate an important purpose at an important time but this time in a very important place.  Chaos, animals and noise were a different set of circumstances that became unique and even more memorable when Jesus stepped in.

Those two stories couldn’t be any more different in their circumstances but there is a common thread; Jesus stepped in to effect change in the people involved.   Thankfully Jesus doesn’t entrust himself to the polar opposites of human thoughts and behaviors.  He has entrusted himself and his heart, instead, to our need for renewal whatever the circumstances look like.

The Firsts – John

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  

We all know about keeping schedules don’t we?  They depend on arriving at the right place at the right time.  That’s why the word “came” defined the reality of the first 5 verses of John for me.  There was a plan!  There was a time!  There was a schedule!  There was a baptist and there was a Jesus!

* John “came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.  He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.”
* Jesus “came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet …to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—…born of God.  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen…the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth…For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”
…so….
16 “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.”
‭‬‬and that’s still on the schedule.  Don’t miss it!

This Then…Give Us This Day – That Mental Leap

3. Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray:…
11 Give us today our daily bread

• Numbers 11: 5 We [the Israelites] remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”
• Exodus 16:4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” … 19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”…21 Each morning everyone gathered as much [manna] as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away.

It’s not much of a leap from this line of the Lord’s Prayer to the “manna” bread God provided daily for the Israelites. They ate it but they grumbled about it even though it was what sustained them during their wandering years until they reached the promised land.  Their grumbling was focused on the familiarity of what they had to eat but in reality their problem was what they “wanted” to eat. 

I’m not that different from the Israelites after all.  I’m not immune from grumbling about the “daily” aspect of the spiritual nourishment God has provided for me.  It’s hard to get up every day and want to look for fresh food in the familiar Book and the familiar Word when I could just flip on the TV.  I remember fondly the tasty spiritual meals I’ve already had and can easily forget they were just “enough for that day.” I confess I need to hear Jesus remind me “this then is how you should pray…give us today our daily bread” and then tell me “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 

I read and ponder daily because because Jesus is that mental leap for me that turns familiar bread into the bread of “wanting” what will sustain me until the banquet at end of my wanderings.  

Because I Was There

John 16:12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 

Quote from Jean-Pierre de Caussade: “The duties of each moment are the shadows beneath which hides the divine operation.”

Could I look back and see the reality of the truth Jesus promised in John 16 and the ‘divine operation’ hidden under the shadow of my own duties?  The earliest shadow I remember goes way back to 1963 before I even recognized there was a journey of faith and I wasn’t on it. I was married.  I was a young mother.  I was in church.  I was in a Bible study.  I was ignorant…BUT I was there.  I’d married a preacher’s kid and you were “supposed” to go to church.  It was only a duty but they had free babysitting.  Isn’t that an interesting list of contradictions? 

I wanted to know how you could be an open person when life was teaching you to build a protective shell of “image” around yourself.  I knew about that!  I asked my question in that Bible study not realizing just how much it revealed what I didn’t know.  I didn’t know God would continue to work his divine operation hidden under the shadow of that one duty…because I was there.

I’m grateful for the discovery of that quote from Jean-Pierre de Caussade this week.  It’s true “the duties of each moment are the shadows beneath which hides the divine operation” and more importantly it confirms the truth of Jesus’s words, and the reality of his commitment: “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.  But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”