Come home

John 14

Come home.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Jesus the Way to the Father
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

God our father is beckoning us to come home.

He stands on his front step of his house smiling and waving, scooping the air in a “come here” motion. He is smiling and pleading. “Come home! Come and spend time with me, rest here with me”.

As we approach we are scared and disappointed by the fact that between us and him is an expanse. The expanse is uncross able, impossible. We recognize the expanse for what caused it, our sin. We stop and shout across to our father, “how? How can I get to you? I want so much to come home to you but how?”

He smiles and points. There is a bridge that we didn’t see. As we run towards the bridge we notice it’s odd shape and as we get even closer we see the bridge is covered in blood and then we hear a voice, his voice, Jesus’ voice, “it is finished” and we realize the bridge isn’t something, it is someone. The only bridge to our father is his bloodied and beaten son, stretched across the expanse of our sins.

The only way to God our Father is across the bridge of Jesus’ death. Will we take it?

The father is calling us, come home.

Size matters

Seed faith. Size matters.

Pictured is a mustard seed. No matter what seed we talk about, inside the seed there are plans and genetic design plus the unknown life force packed into the seed to recreate the parent plant as soon as the conditions are right for growth. It’s magic or masterful at the very least.

In Matthew 17 Jesus talks about faith and how it affects our ministry.

“14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” ‘

I don’t like being scolded. Who was Jesus scolding here? The dad? The son? The disciples?

In Mark there is more of Jesus’ conversation with the dad recorded.

“20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”’

If you can. The dads faith seems to be the faith in question. The Mark version adds prayer to the cure, some manuscripts also add fasting.

I have a list of people that I pray for, a written list. There are four names scribbled out. These four names represent four people who are dead now. I was praying for them and they died anyway.

Jesus says in this passage that if our faith is as big as a mustard seed that I can move mountains, that nothing will be impossible for me. So what size IS my faith?

If we look at the details of Marks version of the story I must ask myself, did I ever fast for these sick people? No. I did not.

I have an ineffectual prayer life in part because I don’t take it seriously. Who am I talking to? The dog? (Sometimes they are the only one in the room). Who am I talking to and what can He do about what I am asking him about? Gods will and his plan are sovereign but I am still seeing things that I would like to change. Do I believe God can do them? If I don’t believe, why am I wasting my time?

I have either never or seldom asked God to increase my faith. Today that changes.

God, please make my faith bigger. I want to see change in my world. Use me. Help me to see what to ask for and to believe in your bigness enough that people lives can be set free from torment and disease and the repercussions of sin. Grow me so the kingdom, Your kingdom can grow through me.

Amen?

Amen.

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.”