Category Archives: Sunday

Sunday with John — Clearly Defined

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
My serious directive for you is that you feel for others the same intense, deep affection I have for you.  That is the sacrifice of your life that matters to me.  I want you to have this guiding principle to share in your relationships.  I don’t need a person who just responds to my authority and doesn’t understand what I’m doing.  I want someone who shares with others the bond of mutual affection they have with me.  I picked you as the best alternative for this time and place to carry the weight of that growth because growth is the result that reproduces my love in you. The Father’s answers will be given to you to the same extent you call on Him acting in accordance with me!  This authoritative order will become more natural as the Father’s answers start to reproduce the same intense feeling of deep affection I have for you in your own shared relationships.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
All that I have heard from my Father and I have made known to you.  I chose you for a purpose.

What does it say about people?
You did not choose me.

Is there truth here for me?
Today my general theme of these verses was clearly defined using dictionary definitions.
Commandment — serious directive of a guiding principle
Love — an intense feeling of deep affection
Servant — a person who performs duties for others
Master — one having authority over another
Friends — someone with whom one has a bond of mutual affection
Chose — picked out the best alternative
Appointed — designated time or place
Bear — carry the weight, support
Fruit — result of growth that can reproduce the source
Abide — act in accordance with
Ask — to call on for an answer
Command — give an authoritative order.
So — to the same extent
One Another — shared relationship

Sunday with John — God’s Own Memories

John 14: 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
“The ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me…I do as the Father has commanded me…Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid…”. I’ve left my peace with you so after I have gone to the Father you will remember I said ‘I am going away, and I will come to you’…The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” and you will rejoice!

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
The Father is sending the Helper in Jesus’s name. Jesus loves the Father and obeys Him because the Father is greater. The Helper is a teacher and a reminder of all Jesus demonstrated about loving the Father. 

What does it say about people?
Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Is there truth here for me?
The day-to-day world is broken by dull memories of the intimacy people once had with the Father. Time and distance from that long-ago original home have erased much of the awareness of that intimacy.  But God’s heart has remained faithful and He still remembers the past!  It was God’s own memories of that lost intimacy that sent Jesus in the flesh to demonstrate how to live that perfect relationship with the Father day-to-day.  It’s was God’s own memories of that lost intimacy that brought Jesus to the moment of knowing His death would restore  what His life could not.  It was God’s own memories of that lost intimacy that sent an internal Helper, a Holy Spirit in Jesus’s name to teach dull hearts “all things” about how the Father would insure their future.  It’s interesting to consider that I am here this Sunday to write, remember and rejoice with you because of the completed plan that began with God’s own memories of our lost intimacy with Him.

Sunday with John — Connection

John 14:8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Philip is unable to comprehend the connection between his belief in Jesus and the truth of Jesus’s connection to the Father.  Jesus cannot comprehend how these faithful disciples who have heard His words and seen His works still cannot see the separation between their belief in Him “Lord show us the Father, and it is enough for us” and the truth He has already taught them, “I’m am in the Father and the Father is in me.”  Addressing that separation is the last part of their preparation for the future. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater than these will he do…Because I am going to the Father”…I will give you “more” than the comfort of belief, you will have the truth of the Father “glorified in the Son” who will always respond “If you ask me anything in my name.”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? 

What does it say about people?
The same “Lord” Philip is now speaking to is the one he recognized in John 1:45 as “him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote.”  What Jesus is confronting Philip with is he hasn’t yet made the connection that He is also the “Father” Philip is asking Him to show them.  

Is there truth here for me?
A relationship with Jesus is the foundation of our belief but that belief receives it’s power through its connection to the truth of Jesus’s identity as God.

Sunday with John — Reliably Prepared

John 13:36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Peter was a follower of Jesus and prepared to go anywhere with Him.  He was convinced of the reliability of his own words “I will lay down my life for you.”  Jesus knew that night Peter was going to learn the answer to his question “Lord, why can I not follow you now?”  Jesus knew Peter’s preparation to “follow afterward” must include understanding the deniability of human reliability.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus knew the whole plan!  He had no illusions about the present situation or that every detail would become a reliable part of Peter’s future.

What does it say about people?
Peter’s mind could not comprehend the unpredictability of his own heart.

Is there truth here for me?
Every follower of Jesus knows this story.  Any believer who’s ever professed an “absolute” belief has discovered the reliability of their words challenged by their own unpredictable heart.  My heart wants to believe the faith God has given me is a monolithic [formed of a single large block of stone] superstructure that will stand up against every challenge but then I read and ponder: why wouldn’t God choose the same preparation He required of Peter for me, or for you?  The deniability of my own human reliability is where my faith discovers it’s true dependence on the grace of God.   Grace reveals the truth that Jesus is less interested in unmovable, monolithic superstructures than He is in hearts that will be reliably prepared by Him to “follow afterward.”

Ezekiel 36:23b, 26 & 27 …Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes…26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Sunday with John — After

John 13:21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
After… the example of service He’s given them, Jesus is troubled in His spirit because of what He knows; “one of you will betray me.” The disciples look at one another, “uncertain of whom he spoke.”  The whispered interchange between “one of His disciples” and Jesus must have been only one of the hushed conversations happening around that table.  Only Jesus and that one disciple know the deadly meaning of that small piece of bread Jesus gives to Judas.  But after taking what looked like a common offering  of friendship to most of his brothers, Judas knows what Jesus knows.   Satan has identified him as the betrayer but Jesus has offered him mercy, not disgrace. “So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out” into the darkness.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus was troubled in His spirit.  Jesus chose to let Judas know Satan had identified him as the betrayer but with an act of mercy rather than disgrace.

What does it say about people?
The disciples first response was to identify the betrayer.  They clearly did not hear the exchange between the one disciple and Jesus that would connect Judas leaving to the betrayal. 

Is there truth here for me?
I saw truth about mercy in reading and pondering this whole sad story of Judas’s betrayal of Jesus.  Jesus has the power to accomplish His Father’s purposes through mercy, not the public disgrace of exposed sin.   Satan is the one who who relishes that job.

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:35-36 ESV

Sunday with John — A Sinner’s Experience

John 13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you[plural] are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
This is a radical before and after story.  “Jesus knew that His hour had come.” Their preparation “before the Feast of the Passover,” would remind His disciples of their past deliverance by God’s power.  “Having loved His own,” Jesus now chose to show them a new and radical eternal truth about deliverance they would only understand in the future. Jesus’s “laid aside his outer garments” and his own divinity, “to wash the disciples’ feet.”   Knowing “that the Father had given all things into his hands…and knowing there was one, “who was to betray him”…He still washed their feet and “loved them to the end.”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus knew His hour had come.  He was going back to God. The Father had given all things into his hands.  He chose humility from that complete power to be the way “he loved them to the end.”  

What does it say about people?
Peter is a perfect example of how hard it is to keep the reality of the power of God in Jesus straight.  All those disciples had seen that power in Jesus but this is pretty intimidating; this man they’ve identified as their Messiah is now kneeling before them to wash the feet of “his own.”

Is there truth here for me?
The radical “after” of this story is Jesus’s own hand-picked “sinners” became the first people to understand He had shown them the humility of God that would save them forever and allow them to share a sinner’s experience of the Sovereign power of God that could make them clean too.

Sunday with John — Need

John 12:37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” [Is 53:1] 39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” [Is 6:10] 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
The Sovereign Lord has set guidelines to control what is seen, heard and believed by every heart.  John records some of the most difficult Words in the Bible from Isaiah; that God will withhold Himself from those who’s heart’s desire would only lead them to abuse His Grace. God alone knows exactly who to reveal Himself to.  He alone knows the hearts that have created a lord of their own ideas to give them what they want.  Those hearts are not interested in wanting God who desires to give them what they need “for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
God sets the rules. His heart’s desire is to accept confession and heal but His perfect and timeless knowledge knows the reality of each heart.

What does it say about people?
It’s possible to know the reality of the Lord enough to know what His heart’s desires are, without understanding He knows the truth of what your heart wants and acts accordingly to preserve the integrity of His Grace.

Is there truth here for me?
I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard the phrase “wants versus needs.” Usually it’s been cherry-picking that phrase in relation to accumulating “stuff.”  John and Isaiah have thrown Grace into that picture. Can I accept admitting my need for Jesus is part of the gift of Grace rather than a crutch or weakness?  Can you?  Now I think I see what Isaiah saw; when I confess my need for Jesus, the wants of my heart change and I experience the reality of “the glory that comes from God”…His Grace for my need…Jesus.

Sunday with John — Purpose

John 12:20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
There is life hidden in a hard nugget of grain that cannot be revealed until the hard outer shell is broken by the process of decay. That hard outer shell is the barrier to eternal life. “The hour has come for “the Son of Man” to break that barrier and reveal to His servants “the Father will honor” the life that “bears much fruit” in the presence of Jesus. 

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus recognizes God’s timing “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” His purpose is to break through the hard outer shell that prevents life in this world from bearing fruit that the Father honors.

What does it say about people?
Some who have come to worship,“wish to see Jesus.”

Is there truth here for me?
The fruit of eternal life” is hidden in that phrase “whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.“ It’s a hard phrase with a simple “either/or.” EITHER we hate the decay of this world that is going to end, and take us with it, OR we trust Jesus has broken that barrier of decay and given us the fruit of His life to get us through ours in this world so we’ll live with Him forever in the next.  

Sunday with John – Evidence

John 12:9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus and Lazarus are attracting too much attention. The people have heard of the power of Jesus’s life to destroy death and come to see for themselves.  They’ve believed. The chief priests have also seen…and believe death will preserve their power and have “made plans” to destroy life. 

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus is there.  He is part of the large crowd.

What does it say about people?
People have heard of Lazarus having being raised from the dead.  They have seen Lazarus.  He’s the confirmation of what they’ve heard and they are “going away and believing in Jesus.”

Is there truth here for me?
The phrase “going away” is what has alarmed the chief priests.  Going away…from obedience to a powerful, well-developed and highly refined legal system designed to be their evidence that God verifies them. “Many of the Jews are going away” to follow this man, who the priests have identified as an itinerant outlaw, because they have believed Jesus is their evidence that verifies God.

Sunday with John — Surrender

John 11:54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples. 55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Passover is the annual “first-month” commemoration for the Jews of God’s provision of redemption for their ancestors.  It’s an affirmation of a communal history but it’s also a time of instruction for the oldest to the youngest to remember and proclaim. “In every generation a man is bound to regard himself as though he personally had gone forth from Egypt.”a   Passover is their personal commemoration of God’s intervention where death passed over His people to give them life free of slavery and the weight of history, to seek purity in their new beginning, from one year to the next.  “Now the “Passover of the Jews” was at hand…They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?”  

a Rabbi Gamaliel, Mishnah 116b.  

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus has returned to “the region near the wilderness” to complete His last Passover preparation.

What does it say about people?
There’s several amazing details in this story.  They [the people] have come “to purify themselves…they were looking for Jesus” AND they’re talking  to one another about it “as they stood in the temple.” Sometimes even in our ignorance we ask the right question at the right time in the right place: What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?”    

Is there truth here for me?
It’s so like God to redefine life in “the region near the wilderness” — an uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region — a neglected or abandoned area of a garden or town — a position of disfavor, especially in a political contextb — into the place Jesus is prepared to complete the purpose of his last Passover: that my life might be Passed over from death to eternity, Prepared to live now in freedom, my heart changed to desire Purity and finally able to surrender the weight of sin to Jesus, the New Passover, once and for all.

b Oxford Languages definitions