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
“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.
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]
“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.
John 15:8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become [be] my disciples.
One of the “biggest” ideas of Scripture is distilled to an absolute and simple truth in this one verse. It’s the will of God. It begins, “My Father is glorified by this…” Surprisingly it’s not a list of things you must do but the more subtle and important variation between the words “become” and the footnoted [be]. Growth is focused on “becoming.” Glorifying God is focused on “being what you’ve become.” Those two forms of the same word are the distilled reality of living in God’s will.
BE: “exist, have life, breathe
Knowing the will of God seems impossibly big but Jesus has clearly identified how simple it is: bearing fruit and being a disciple of His. The one who exists to BE in Christ is simply and absolutely living in the will of God. The will of God is not a struggle of the mind to grasp all the “shoulds” and do them. The will of God doesn’t require perfection; Jesus has got that! The Word of God is not a crib sheet with the right answers to all the questions that haven’t come up yet.
When God breathed life into Adam He established drawing breath as evidence of life. God in his sovereign will has chosen Jesus and the Holy Spirit and given us the Word to breathe His life into us. Every breath taken “accepting and acting in accordance [abiding] with” Jesus is simple and absolute proof of life that glorifies God and confirms you are in His will and you will bear fruit. Just abide and breathe!
Truth; John 15:3 You have already been cleansed [or pruned] by the word that I have spoken to you. [NRSV]
Inspiration: Remember the Apostle Peter? Remember how he protested when Jesus wanted to wash his feet? Jesus’s response to Peter sounds just like John 15:3 to me – ”you’ve already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.
Reality: OK, this is a test! Get a pencil and paper and write down the first five true things you remember Jesus has spoken personally into your heart. Write them in the order you remember them without any concern about a timeline. It doesn’t have to be a complete list and they don’t have to be written as verbatim scripture but they do have to be real to you. AND THIS IS KEY: don’t go back and edit them in any way as you read them again. [you know it’s me I’m talking to]. The important thing is they ARE written in the order you remember them.
[ •Test IS the root word of test meaning “to bear witness.” Do not confuse this root test with the same word which means examination. It is true that when you take an examination you are a witness for your own knowledge and, unless you cheat, you are showing what you do or don’t know. However, here the word means a solemn telling of the truth of what you know, bearing witness for truth’s sake.
You may have already had the experience of writing or giving your testimony. You know how difficult it is to distill the most important things Jesus has done for you from the many really good things that have happened in your life without turning it into an “I was and now I am” testimony. I believe the results of your test are listed in the priority of their impact on you specifically. Can you believe the things you just wrote down are an accurate recounting of Jesus and the Holy Spirit verifying “you have already been cleansed”? If you can, that belief can make your list the perfect outline that moves what you wrote from that examination kind of “test” to the root of a new “testimony.” A testimony that bears witness for truth’s sake to the I AM. My wish would be that you would use your results and write your own new kind of testimony.
This is my own “unedited” list. My new testimony is only to show you an example of how effectively it can work.
1. I have been crucified with Christ. I have scars but they’re part of the testimony of my healing.
2. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
3. Jesus will complete the work he’s begun in me
4. The greatest of these is love
5. Lord help my heart, soul, mind an strength
Nobody wants to admit their inability to deal with life or being wounded. Even healing can leave scars. I want my scars to be changed from something that needs to be hidden to evidence of blessing. I want to be like Jesus. I want Him to be the power that allows me to believe and live as if I have “already been cleansed. ” I want to view those scars as the revelation of a changed heart not a sign of condemnation. I want to believe my soul has caught a glimpse of promised immortality, my mind has been challenged by the Word of God and I really do have the strength to live by the words Jesus has spoken into my heart – I AM “the word that I have spoken to you.”
Hebrews 11:39 & 40 [NLT]
39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.
Hebrews 11 turned out to be a literal page turner for me. I read it in different versions of the Bible and then I read more about these two verses in several commentaries all because of one word – US.
US? Yes…it’s “us!” We have become part of the history of these people from the past because of God’s completed work in Jesus. Those ancestors made it into this “By Faith” chapter because their faith reached into the future of US. That past and their faith has reached beyond time to strengthen our present with the promise of completion for US all as the future unfolds. US is God’s version of “outreach” at it’s most creative. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to imagine the past, present and future as a triangle. The triangle is also the identity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and they are the reality of the Field of Hope for our daily life, past, present and future..
Triangles are the strongest shape. When a force is added to a triangle it is spread evenly through all three sides. They work together like a building truss and make a structure that is extremely strong and stable. That strength is the promise of God. It’s the field of hope that includes all of US.
2 Peter 2
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken
2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.
4 For if God did not spare angels
5 if he did not spare the ancient world
6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah
7 and if he rescued Lot
9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.
This is a convicting chapter filled with evidence of the reality of humanity. It’s undeniable evidence that makes it easy to jump to the wrong conclusion. It’s not about “them vs us. It’s about the undeniable separation between God and man. Anything else is a wrong comparison.
I felt a little twinge of mean-spirited satisfaction that I’m not “them” as I read. Having to admit to a mean-spirited attitude at all is bad enough but I read on to discover I have another issue; a kind of holier-than-thou satisfaction that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment” and God “rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless.” That’s the “us” I identified with. I liked it but then I realized I missed the point entirely.
The grim evidence of this chapter is only a reminder we aren’t rescued and renewed by the separation of “them vs us” but by this undeniable truth: God’s Divine justice is absolute, unlimited, unrestricted, unrestrained, unbounded, boundless, infinite, ultimate, total and unconditional.