Category Archives: Sunday

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.” 

 

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.

Complete Identity

John 15:20 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. ESV

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“Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.” Remember just a few verses ago when Jesus called you friend?  Why does Christ remind us now of the servant/master relationship?

We live in a world of two polar opposite masters; Jesus who is God and the princes of this world who aren’t. All of humanity will have to choose which of those two powerful masters to serve. There’s no inbetween. You can’t be a friend to both. You’ll either have to organize your life without God OR accept and act in accordance [abide] with Jesus’s example.

Take a moment and consider just what that example is.  Jesus has already declared himself to understand your past, believe in your future, and accept you just the way you are. He has called you friend. He wouldn’t have forgotten that when He said “A servant is not greater than his master.’  Remember “Jesus took upon him the form of a servant” [Philippians 2:7].  John 15:20 is not a reminder to us of His position as Master but of His complete identity with His own servanthood and His desire to prepare us for the reality of accepting that identity  as our own.

Life on the Edge

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. [NRSV]

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Reading John 15:18 feels like I’ve fallen off the edge from one celebrated reality… the birth of the Promise of Advent as evidence of God’s love…and directly into a world of gray.  That world is filled with inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.  The edge is real and the world of  gray is real.  That’s unsettling because this world is our only option right now.  

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said  “I discovered later, and I’m still discovering right up to this moment, that is it only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith.” God’s Promise has not come to separate us from this world but to clearly define how different the options are on either side of that edge.

Jesus is our world-shaping option who’s provided another reality for navigating a complete life on the edge in this world while we learn to have faith: “I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.”  [John 17:15 NRSV].  

Curious

John 15:16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.  [NRSV]

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“Bear fruit, fruit that will last” is the curious qualification for the “whatever” in the response “SO…the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.” I’ve spent hours and typed many paragraphs these last few days trying to explain to myself what that specific “fruit that will last” is because it’s so important to that “whatever.”  

In the end I’ve discovered to bear “fruit that will last” is something far simpler and more personal and it’s my tie-in to Advent.  Jesus is our  gift of faith.   “Bear” usually implies the power to sustain without flinching or breaking and faith is the only “fruit that will last” long enough to make “whatever” a reality in our life.

Genetic Connection

John 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. [NRSV]

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I’m still working on the idea of shared DNA.  The celebration of Jesus’s birth is our annual reminder that God did in fact replicate His own redemptive DNA.  If God is the ultimate creator of us all, then we share that same DNA. That is our proof we are personally “related” to Jesus.  Friendship and obedience are like genes on that redemptive DNA string that can produce amazing similarities and distinct differences.  Genes spell out the information they contain but interact differently with one another and may affect the traits the gene controls.  So while the DNA may contain the same information the results may be different.  

Some may read John 15:14 and conclude that IF we do what Jesus commands, we are His friends.  That is certainly true, but just as true is the conclusion that BECAUSE we are Jesus’s friends we will do as He commands.  Christmas activity is filled with cookies, cakes and candy.  This cute word play helps makes my point about the variation John 15:14 addresses: “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts.”  It’s a humorous way to say we’ve got the DNA and we’ve got the genes but they don’t always spell the same thing.  Advent is God’s reminder to us our relationship to Him is not an either/or option.   It has to be both friendship and obedience.  God placed his own DNA in that Bethlehem cradle long ago to reveal our relationship to Jesus is our genetic connection to Him that makes that possible.

Love Story

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. [NRSV]

I read that the word “love” appears in the Gospel of John more often than in the other three gospels combined.  We may be familiar with many stories of Jesus showing love during His life as he taught, fed, healed and prayed for people.  We’ve learned our lesson well that the complete expression of that love is the death of Jesus followed by His resurrection.  That’s the ending.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus during this time of Advent as the embodiment of God’s love for His creation.  It almost seemed too simple to even try to write about until another thought entered my mind.  Jesus was always present with God.  He wasn’t a Heavenly go-fer who did God’s bidding.  He was God.  That certainly deals with the idea of simple doesn’t it?  Jesus knew full well what becoming human meant for Him.  He knew His future right from the get-go.  We begin this annual celebration knowing the end of the story, Jesus was willing to surrender His own life for us.  The beginning of the “love” story is the part that makes this Advent a reality.   Jesus loved us enough to enter our world as a helpless infant.  His own future on earth began with His willingness to trust that the humanity He entered would become a part of building His life on earth so that His love would become their salvation.