Different book-same message

John 13

Knowing what was coming, Jesus did it anyway.

“18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned[a] against me.’[b]

19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”

21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”

22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”

25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”

26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him,[c] God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”

37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!”

Jesus, knowing what was about to happen, who would betray him and who would deny and abandon him, did it anyway. He knew his future.

He knows ours too. He knows our weaknesses and strengths and loves us anyway. We don’t have to hide, we can’t really hide, not from him. He knows our hearts, he knows our secrets and loves us anyway.

Anyway.

Once I was talking to a friend, another friend came up, interrupted our conversation to spill her guts, I stood and listened then as her story ended, with all the compassion I could muster I said “anyway…” And carried on with my original conversation. I destroyed my friendship with the second friend that day.

Anyway.

Jesus loves us, anyway, in spite of our failings. In spite of our own misused “anyway”s.

Jesus known us. AND he loves us and is committed to making us more like him so some day my anyways will restore and not destroy.

“Hi, my name is Moses”

Did they have name tags?

When Moses and Elijah appeared on the mountain top and spoke with Jesus, how did Peter James and John know who they were? Did Jesus say, ” Hey Mo, how are you Elijah? What’s up?” Or was it just deduced from the context of the conversation?

Maybe there was an introduction? “Peter, James, John, this is Moses, the law giver, and this is Elijah, the mighty prophet..”

Let’s read the text from. Matthew 17.

“17 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

10 The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.”

The Jewish people were looking for a messiah, some one to come and shake off the oppression of Roman rule. They knew from the prophecies of the Old Testament that Elijah was supposed to come and usher in the messiah.

Here is Elijah, not an Elijah type but the real original Elijah standing before them. As a bonus the leader of leaders, a messiah of his own generation, freer of the Jews from Egyptian bondage, Moses, was standing there too. Two of the most influential humans to ever walk the planet. If they were talking to anyone other than God himself, they would be the ones to to listen to, they would have the message from God, they would be the star of the show but the voice from God said, “this is my son, listen to him”.

I think this scene may have been like a prize fight ring where the trainer and coach are in the corner encouraging and pumping up
The champion before he takes on the two ugliest and strongest forces known on earth. The forces Jesus was about to fight were Sin and Death. Up to that time these two, sin and death, were undefeated. Jesus was about to battle them not for himself but for us.

He will win. He did win. As he said from the cross, “it is finished”.

Jesus has defeated our enemies, sin and death. By defeating sin he removed the separation between us and God. Our debt is paid, the slate is clean and we have access to our loving Heavenly Father. By defeating death he took away the period at the end of the sentence so our life can go on with God. Physical death can now be the doorway to eternal life with God.

There is a questionnaire to fill out.

Who is Jesus?

What has he done for you?

It’s an open book test. There is a strong hint in Romans 10:9-10.

“9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

He knew

He knew.

Jesus knew how he would die and he did it anyway.

Matthew 16 Jesus begins to tells his disciples that he was going to suffer and die.

“21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

He did it any way because he knew why he would die. Without his death as payment none of us would have a chance at having our relationship with God restored.

He died for me, a sinner. We can all say that sentence and it will be true, the sad part, being a sinner, and the happy part, that Jesus died for us, all true for each and every person.

If you didn’t know that yet, what will you do about it today? Don’t wait, act today. Decide. Will you receive the gift Jesus has given?

If you’ve read this and you heard it before and you acted on it and now are a disciple of Jesus, I am so happy but I have a follow up question, who have you told about this Jesus who loves enough to knowingly die in our place? 2/3rds of the world still hasn’t accepted his gift. There are many who need to hear. Who will we tell today?

Doing the dirty work

John 13

(Originally posted 5/12/2016)

Dirty work

” It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

I’m not sure how we got away from this, the foot washing. I guess some groups still do it. It’s a Maundy Thursday thing. Some groups do it more often. I have washed feet but never have I had my feet washed.

Washing feet is an act of saying we are all human. I fail at perfection. No matter how well I cover up, conceal, perfume or otherwise hide my imperfections my feet will still sweat and stink.

Will you help me not stink? Will I help you not stink? Life is dirty. Feet get dirty. We can cover up or we can confess our human-ness and participate in keeping each other less dirty and less stinky.

It’s not just our feet is it? It’s my heart and my mind. My life and my actions. Will we help each other clean up our life and actions? Will we trust each other?
“But my feet have been in some really deep poop”.

We are all at times in deep poop. Life is at times, deep poop. Deep stinky sticky poop. Are we committed to clean others as we ourselves are cleaned?

Confession and forgiveness. Cleansing each other in a close and personal way.

Christianity isn’t living the perfect life. Christianity is living the forgiven and forgiving life.

The light

John 12

(Originally posted 5/11/2016)

Are you in darkness? Jesus is the light of the world.

“John 12

Belief and Unbelief Among the Jews
37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:

“Lord, who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”[h]
39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them.”[i]
41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”’

I am afraid of the dark. As a child it paralyzed me. As an adult I’ve worked past the fear, and I carry a flashlight. All of us with phones carry a flashlight. Jesus can be our spiritual flashlight.

Jesus being light and bringing light into our lives is one of the things that can make us uncomfortable. There are things done in darkness, or memories hidden in dark corners of our hearts, things done by us, things done to us that we want to stay hidden. Hidden and forgotten.

Jesus came to expose those things not to shame us or hurt us, but to forgive us and free us from the pain and the stench and the mess and the clutter.

Some of us are hoarders of bad memories.

I challenge all of us today to let the light of the world into our darkest corners so that cleansing and forgiveness can begin.

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

A very important question

Who is this Jesus guy?

(Originally posted 5/9/2017)

That is the most important question we can ever answer. Who is Jesus?

It’s not just a life and death question. It’s an eternal life or eternal separation from God question.

In Matthew 16 Jesus asked his disciples this very question.

“13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.”

In my mind I see Peter answering this casually, with a mouth full of the first century version of potato chips.

Muffled by the food in his mouth and crumbs tumbling out and he said it, “you are the Christ, the son of the living God…”

Only God’s Spirit can reveal this truth to a person.

I pray today that folks that read this post would stop and answer the question for themselves.

Who is Jesus?

For those of us who already know him, I pray there would be fresh revelation of what that means to us and to the world. For those who haven’t discovered who he is yet, may Gods Spirit shine it into your hearts.

Jesus is the messiah, the son of the living God.

Acts: the first follower to die

I have been reading through the book of Acts. A fuller title is “the Acts of the Apostles”. It tells the story of Jesus’ followers, and the birth and growth and expansion of a new thing, the Church.

The story is written by Luke, the same man who wrote the Gospel of Luke.

These men and women were part of something new and different. They believed in a God who is one God. They believed this one God sent his son Jesus into the world to live and love and serve and touch and heal and die. he died to pay a debt. The debt of sin. Then he rose from the dead. He stayed a brief time then he ascended into heaven. He then sent a third part of God to the believers, God’s Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit empowered the believers to carry on doing the same type of ministry that Jesus had done, live and love and serve and touch and heal and yes sometimes to die.

In the early church the nature of living in community where all things were shared and housing and feeding widows was just part of the ministry, the apostles were getting overwhelmed with the duties and so they chose 7 men to take over feeding the widows. One of these men was Stephen.

“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia —who began to argue with Stephen. But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.”
Acts 6:1-10 – NIV

The Jewish leaders arrested Stephen, falsely accused him of blasphemy and stoned him to death.

Two things worth noting happened, well three really.

First this: “All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.”
Acts 6:15 – NIV

The second thing was that Stephen preached a message to the Jewish leaders that connected the dots. He taught from their scriptures how Jesus was the one God had sent. The message we have recorded is a chapter long, if you want to read it, it’s found in Acts 7.

The leaders were infuriated and they stoned Stephen to death.

The third Stephen did was as he was dying, he forgave his assassins.

“When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.”
Acts 7:54-60 – NIV

Stephen wasn’t a teacher or an out front preacher. He was a lowly servant who was faith filled and faithful and who understood the Bible and the message and mission of Jesus, who was filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit to perform miraculous acts, even though he was only a waiter in a soup kitchen.

I identify with Stephen, probably because when Jesus found me 40 years ago, I was in the back room of a little 35 seat cafe where I was a waiter….and a cook and a dishwasher and a cashier and window washer and even occasionally a restroom cleaner (I should’ve been this one more often).

The message for me as I have pondered this is just to continue to be faithful in whatever God puts in front of me, to serve all the people around me with my whole heart, to do even the menial dirty work, to study and ingest the words of God and apply them to my life and to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that when needs arise, he can work through me to supply those needs, even in supernatural ways. I need to be ready to serve him, even up to and including dying for my faith in this Jesus who has saved and cleansed and rescued me.

How about you? What does God say to you through this first follower of Jesus to die for his faith?

I