He was and is thinking about us

John 17

Jesus prays for me and everyone else who will believe in him.

“20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”’

Jesus prayed for me. He knew about me, about us. We were on his mind and in his heart as he was preparing to go to the cross. In less than 24 hours he would be dead. Crucified. A form of killing that kills with pain. Knowing how and why he would die, he prayed for us.

Earlier in this chapter Jesus says something that’s very important and I don’t want to skip over it.

“After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

Eternal life is gained by knowing God, and knowing Jesus, God in the flesh.

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

I don’t get it right all of the time. I fail, I stumble but I keep coming back to Jesus and ask for forgiveness and the weird thing is, he does. He forgives me.

He knew about me and prayed for me. He knows about you too. He longs for all those who will believe to jump in and do it.

It was on purpose

He knew what was coming and and he did it anyway.

He was innocent and he did it anyway.

Jesus knew how and when and what was coming to him and for him in Jerusalem and yet he went there willingly.

Matthew 20.

“17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”’

Why? What prompted him to continue on into Jerusalem knowing he was about to die in the cruelest, most painful way that mankind had ever invented?

Obligation?

Duty?

Compulsion?

No.

It was love.

In Isaiah we read this:

“4 Surely he took up our pain

and bore our suffering,

yet we considered him punished by God,

stricken by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.”

Jesus knew we needed him to die in our place so he suffered the death we deserved. Then he was raised to life that we can live forever with him, this man who willingly walked into Jerusalem, knowing it would kill him.

He did it for us.

He did it for me.

He did it for you.

Today, what will we do about this?

Today.

We follow our leader by mimicking our leader

“Following the leader, the leader, the leader, we’re following the leader wherever he may go”🎼.

As I was typing this I could hear the tune in my head. I can’t remember what it’s from. Peter Pan?

Jesus actually said something like this in Matthew 20.

“20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

21 “What is it you want?” he asked.

She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” they answered.

23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”’

Where is our leader? Right now? He is in heaven, preparing a place for us. What else is he doing? He is interceding for us. What was he doing before that? Before that the greatest man that ever lived was dying for our sins.

Philippians 2 Paul stayed this principle in a more practical way.

“2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.”

Christians, those of us who follow Jesus, should be the servants of all

And as I was typing this I was imagining a CEO leaving a boardroom to unstop a toilet, a nasty toilet, filled to rim.

As a Christian, There should be no job beneath our dignity. “What do you need? How can I help? Child care? Diaper duty? Dog doody duty? Teaching in Sunday school? Janitorial? Visiting shut ins? Visiting the hospital? Visiting the jail? Cleaning? Gardening? Cooking?

As I’m writing this it feels very flannel graph ish. Disconnected from life and pretend. The main truth, that no job is beneath me is there but my approach and how I’m saying falls short of honesty.

The reality, Jesus served us, following him we must strive to serve. Humility for the sake of humanity, to care about other people and care for other people. To do what needs to be done.

As Christians, how are we doing? Does being a follower of Jesus change how we act? Change what we do and how we do it? Does it change why we do it? Does Love compel us to serve?

Jesus make me more gooder at being good and doing good and serving and loving.

And yet…

We are a sorry lot.

The Psalms say this about us.

“God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

Psalm 53:2-3

And yet he still loves us. And yet he still has provided a way back to him.

Paul says In his letter to the Romans “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Romans 5:6-11

The Jewish patriarch Isaac had a son Jacob. Jacob was a conniving grasping weasel of a man. One night though he had an encounter with God and he wrestled with him throughout the night. That night he was changed physically and spiritually and God even changed his name from Jacob, which means supplanter, to Israel which means “he struggles with God” “may God prevail”.

At the end of of psalm 53 the last verse mention Both names of Jacob, his name before he encountered God and his new name God gave him.

“Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

Psalm 53:6

When God reveals to the world his plan to save us from our sin through Jesus, Let the old guy, the old selfish supplanter rejoice, and let the new man, the man God has touched and changed be glad. Now the world can know that there is hope in God through Jesus. Our sins can be forgiven and we can be given a clean start, maybe even a new name.

Hitting the time clock and headed home.

Quitting time. My favorite time of day. Packing up my gear, putting away the tools. Cleaning up and setting up for tomorrow. It’s a great time of day. What if you walked onto the job at quitting time and still got paid for the whole day?

Bonus!

That’s what happened in Jesus’ story in Matthew 20.

“20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”’

Some of us are reaching quitting time, not just of a job or a career but of life. It is the eleventh hour. The sun is setting. What does God want from us? What will God do for us?

Whether we have accepted him as a toddler and worked for the kingdom to our old age or if we lived our entire life in rebellion but on our death bed we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead, we receive the same reward, eternal life with our father in Heaven. God is as excited to welcome Home those who punch in into the kingdom time clock as they are punching out of life for the last time as he to welcome those who have served him long and hard “born the heat of the day”. He loves us all.

Jesus died to pay for our sins. All of them. Whether it’s the grocery sack full of the at age 16 or 26 or a cargo ship full at 56 or 66 or 76. The age doesn’t matter and the amount doesn’t matter. Jesus died to pay for our sins. You only have to ask. Forgiveness is for all at any age, even at the eleventh hour.

God wants his kids to come home. Will you accept his gift of salvation today?

Here is a preview:

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

Revelation 22:1-5 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Revelation%2022:1-5&version=NIV

How clean is your kitchen?

It’s about the heart. Or the kitchen.

Our external actions don’t always expose where our heart, our beliefs and motives and longings our true feelings are. We can mask where we really are, what we really are.

Jesus exposes one mans heart in a very gentle and loving way in Matthew 19.

“16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]”

20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”

Would we eat at a restaurant that stored poison next to food prep areas? If you didn’t know about it you might. The front of the restaurant may be clean and inviting, the service excellent, the prices good, the food very tasty but the buying public doesn’t see the kitchen.

God sees our kitchen. We may never kill anyone but we have a long list of people that we hate. We have already murdered them in our heart.

We may never commit adultery but we cherish our fantasies, we have done the deed in our heart.

The front of the restaurant doesn’t determine the safety of the food. It’s in the kitchen. The public part of our life, no matter how squeaky clean it is can still be hiding a very dirty and perverse and dangerously poisonous heart.

God sees into our “kitchen”. God sees our heart. AND he loves us anyway.

In Romans Paul tells us this about God’s heart for us:

“6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

And later in Romans he says this:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Jesus loves us. Even me. Have you seen my kitchen? Sometimes it’s a mess, (not my literal kitchen, it’s very clean) but the kitchen of my soul. Yet Jesus loves me. Jesus loves even me, even you.

Today will you ask him to forgive your mess and take you into his family? I did.

The garden, Pruning

There are so many parallels to find in gardening to living the life of a Christian. I mentioned a few the other day, weeds and sin, the constant battle, the seasons, planting of, caring for, harvesting of and the seasons of life.

One part I didn’t mention was pruning. Pruning is one of this activities that to me, seems counterintuitive. I want more from my plants so I cut back branches from them. (?)

Another counterintuitive practice is thinning, but Jesus didn’t talk about thinning. He did however, talk about pruning. In John 15.

““I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:1-8

God has a plan for us. Part of that plan is to be fruitful. Part of being fruitful is be pruned back. Not all areas of growth in our lives will be fruitful. The way to success is not in having a bunch of branches and leaves, it is to have only fruitful branches.

If God is our gardener or vine dresser, if he is the Lord and master of our life and our faith, and we have in faith prayed, “God, father, please make me fruitful.” We should not be surprised if our lives suddenly lose some branches.

I do want to be fruitful. I do not not want parts of my life to be cut off. I do trust God, my father to skillfully shape me and cut off parts of my busyness so I will be fruitful for him.

Will we trust him with his pruning shears? Snip-snip. Who knows better how to shape my life? Me, or the one who created me with a specific purpose? And still as I write this I am wondering and a little nervous about what will he take away so I can be more productive?