Category Archives: Wednesday

Wednesday with John — Eyes to See

John 19…So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
The chief priests of the Jews have their victory!  Pilate has agreed to the purposeful destruction of Jesus. In this place of death there are three men being crucified but Pilate chooses an inscription for only one — “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The Jews object to the wording but Pilate will not change what he has written in Aramaic [Hebrew], Latin and Greek.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
The Sovereignty of God allows Him to select anyone He chooses to complete His plan to identify Jesus.

What does it say about people?
God choses those who complete His plan to identify Jesus even if they happens to be someone who is only a powerful, pragmatic pawn of providence.[a]  

Is there truth here for me?
There’s a repeated pattern of “three” in the Bible that relates to God’s own identity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  It begins in the book of Genesis.  God had completed a perfect creation as He spoke the life of man into being, “let us make man in our image, after our likeness”…and it was good…for a brief time.  Remember some of the other threes?  The iconic three of faith, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Jesus’s three temptations, and Peter’s three denials?  Three times Pilate saw something in Jesus that made him unable to declare Jesus’s guilt but still he accepted the crowd’s hysterical condemnation of Him.  Pilate put that controversial sign the Jews objected to on Jesus’s cross — “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” — but is unwilling to defy them to save Jesus’s life.  People would read what Pilate had written in three languages; words that would either cause them to mock the man they saw pinned there or shock them into the realization that the sin of mankind had once again ruined any hopes they might have pinned on Jesus.  But there is another three to this story!  In three days Jesus will be the visible evidence of God’s miraculous intervention to restore people to His perfect creation. 

[a] Pilate

 

Wednesday with John —

John 19:1 Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” 6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” 7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” 8 When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. 9 He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus’s brutally beaten body has been clothed as a grisly parody of a king to be brought before the crowd again.  Pilate asks a troublesome question; is this your king?  But the Jews have finally made a real charge against Jesus that frightens him: “He has made himself the Son of God.”  Pilate pleads with Jesus to defend Himself.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
When Jesus finally speaks, His words seem more like assurance to Pilate than a defense of Himself.  “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.  Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

What does it say about people?
The only person in this story that isn’t trying to manipulate this situation is Jesus.

Is there truth here for me
Pilate is “even more afraid” and hoping the crowd will release both Jesus, and him, from this death sentence because “every Roman of that day knew of stories of the gods or their offspring appearing in human guise.”[a]  

[a] Leon Lamb Morris

Wednesday with John – Only One Reason

John 18:28 Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” 31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
The two sides of this evil intrigue continue their back and forth debate about Jesus.    The Romans want evidence to prove Jesus’s guilt but the Jews want Jesus’s death to prove His guilt.  Pilate challenges the action and the timing of these leaders.  “The Romans allowed them [the Jews] a good deal of self-government, but they had not the right to carry out the death penalty. The ius gladii, as it was called, the right of the sword, belonged only to the Romans.” [a]   Neither of these two sides will win. No matter how cleverly debated, their actions are going “to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus is the only one who understands the purpose of this struggle.  God is not fooled into having to work around the deceit and guile of human beings.  No matter what these two power groups do or how they may protest in the future, history will be written to record how man’s evidence, intrigues, manipulations, and laws may effectively fool each other but God is always going to be the winner.

What does it say about people?
The Jews main concern is to get rid of Jesus and not be defiled by entering a gentile house when they are busy defiling themselves by their intent to kill Him.  Pilate is no fool.  He knows guilt is not the reason Jesus has been brought before him.  It’s an attempt to manipulate the law so the Romans will be guilty of Jesus’s death, not them.

Is there truth here for me?
Pilate certainly knows of many good things Jesus has done and is well aware that he’s being manipulated to murder by proxy.  The Jews have no evidence to give other than Jesus is “doing evil.” Jesus is an uncomfortable inconvenience neither side wants to deal with.   Everyone involved has missed a night’s sleep and that may be part of the Jew’s plan.  They know many people who might have stood up for Jesus are still in bed.   Pilate recognizes he’s being manipulated for only one reason: if he kills Jesus it will lessen the backlash for the Chief Priests and judges from the growing crowd of Jesus’s followers. 

[a] William Barclay

Wednesday with John — Verify

John 18:19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
These priests fear Jesus.  They’ve built their system of power and authority on their ability to verify the truth of God; how it’s to be taught and the proper ways to honor it. People are openly responding to what Jesus is teaching; God’s truth alone has the power and authority to the teach people the proper way to respond and honor Him.  The priest’s only hope is to expose Jesus and his disciples as dangerous deceivers determined to destroy their honor, and the authority of what they have built.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Why do you ask me to defend myself?  “Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said…I have said nothing in secret. ” 

What does it say about people?
People understand the need to respect authority, the problem is choosing which authority matters most.  “…one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?”

Is there truth here for me?
How often have I depended on learning the truth of God from someone who’s authority I respect?  The answer is a lot, of course.  Respect is a good thing but it’s not the only part of the system created by God himself to teach us His truth.  These are Jesus’s words from John 14:26  “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.”  You might be thinking, ‘but those respected people are educated.’ Think a little more about that.  Ask yourself where they’re getting the truth you’re putting your trust in?  Even respect requires verification.  Or you may be thinking ‘what if I don’t get the truth right?’  What makes you think that even the most respected human source always gets it right?  The beauty of the system Jesus has put it place is the Holy Spirit teaches you to verify your thinking.  He’s the one infallibly right source of truth that promises to confirm OR correct what you’re learning no matter where it’s from as long as you keep checking in for updates.

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.”

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.

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!!!  

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.

Wednesday with John — Likeness

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 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. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’  26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Truth is hard to hear.  It evokes a harsh reaction from the world. The world hated Jesus without a cause because He spoke and made them aware of their sin.  How much more will they hate those who Jesus chose to save from their midst.  Jesus sent the Spirit of truth to help us get over ourself and bear witness about Him

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus is well aware that hatred and persecution by the world is part of His identity because He has identified sin by what’s He’s said and done. 

What does it say about people?
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’

Is there truth here for me?
”Likeness” to Jesus is a critical element of Christian belief.  It’s difficult to read that being like Jesus may well include the hatred and persecution of the world. It’s difficult to be confronted with the reality that if they persecuted the perfect Jesus, they will also persecute me if that “likeness” begins to show.  Self-protection is the last barrier the Spirit of truth has to remove so when I “bear witness” to Jesus my words reveal “a servant is not greater than [her] master,” both to the world…and to myself.

Wednesday with John – Either/Or

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 ABIDE in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it ABIDEs in the vine, neither can you, unless you ABIDE in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever ABIDEs in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not ABIDE in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you ABIDE in me, and my words ABIDE in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. ABIDE in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will ABIDE in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and ABIDE in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
The source of Spiritual growth and fruit is dependent on the connection to Jesus and that the Father is maintaining the vineyard.  We are the branches, pruned by the activity of Jesus in our lives through the Word.  The branches attached to the vine are sustained by it and kept clean by the pruning so their growth can produce fruit able to reproduce the source.  “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus is the true vine and [His] Father is the vinedresser.  The Father is glorified by the growth that proves the life of the branch is its relationship to Jesus.  Jesus’s joy comes from abiding in His Father’s commandments so He can share that joy with us.

What does it say about people?
Pruning happens in life with or without the vine. Abiding is a choice.

Is there truth here for me?
ABIDE
is an action word with two definitions.  Either I choose a) to accept or act in accordance with what it says OR b) I can’t abide or tolerate what it says.  Firstly in only 6 verses the word ABIDE appears 10 times.  Secondly the sing-song rhythm of all those “abides” made it easy for me to slide right over them as if abiding was a “given” because Jesus said “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.”   It wasn’t until I re-read the verses using the Either/Or choice I realized all that repetition is more than a gentle reminder.  There’s an urgency to that word.   To “ABIDE” in Jesus is a choice in life you repeatedly have to make if you’re going to survive the pruning.