Category Archives: Gospel of John

Holy Thursday ~ Maundy Thursday

[34] A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. [35] By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV)

[12] “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. [13] Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. [14] You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:12-14 ESV)

“Maundy” comes from the Latin word that means “commandment”. And the text we traditionally look at is John 13:34-35 but John 15 12-14 is a great followup and explanation of what this love looks like. So I offer these reflection points as you enter this Triduum, “The Three Days” (Maundy Thursday – Easter Vigil) and look forward to Easter:

(1) Jesus FREELY laid down his life for you. He wasn’t forced.

(2) Jesus calls you friend, not servant, since he has made know to you what the Father has made known to him.

(3) Laying down your life may not mean a physical death for someone but rather humbly serving one another (Washing their feet; see John 13:1-20)

(4) Laying down your life for someone should never feel coerced; if it does then you’re really not laying your life down for them.

(5) If you believe that Jesus laid his life down for you then laying your life down for someone else will be a joy.

(6) If the truly value the Life you have through faith in Jesus, then laying your life down in this life is not a loss but rather a gain.

(7) And as I have written about before, if you truly love Jesus, then following the commandment to love one another is done joyfully and not begrudgingly.

Reflect on these points.
Read these texts over and over.
Give thanks to God that Jesus gave his life for you.
And then go out and joyfully give your life for someone else.

Praise be to God!

Holy God, thank you for Jesus and I praise you that he laid his life down for me, a sinner, that I may have Life eternal. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Hate Your Life (John 14:15 and 15:12-15)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” [John 14:15]

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” [John 15:12-14]

Yesterday was a John 14 kind of day (see “Love and Obedience” from March 24) but today is a John 15 kind of a day.

Yesterday I was struck by John 14:15 that talks about loving Jesus and keeping his commandments; that obedience is an act of love, not an act of duty or something to avoid punishment. We obey Jesus because we love Jesus and we want to please him; not in order to get something in return but because he has already given us something: Eternal life through faith in him.

Now today…

Jesus gives the commandment (which, if you love Jesus, you will be pleased to receive) to love one another as He has loved you. Then Jesus goes on to define the ultimate display of love. Are you ready for this?
Laying down your life for your friends.

Then Jesus goes on to say that you are his friend if you do what he commands. So therefore if you love Jesus you will not only freely and joyfully obey him but you will lay down your life for him. In essence, you will “hate your life in this world” (John 12:25)

WHAT?!?

John Piper, from his Solid Joys devotional, “How to Hate Your Life” says this:
It means, at least, that you don’t take much thought for your life in this world. In other words, it just doesn’t matter much what happens to your life in this world.

If men speak well of you, it doesn’t matter much.
If they hate you, it doesn’t matter much.
If you have a lot of things, I doesn’t matter much.
If you have little, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are persecuted or lied about, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are famous or unheard of, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are dead, these things just don’t matter much.

But it’s even more radical. There are some choices to be made here, not just passive experiences. Jesus goes on to say, “If anyone serves me, let him follow me.” Where to? He is moving into Gethsemane and toward the cross.

To love Jesus is to die to this world and cling to the eternal life you have in him. If you are truly clinging to the hope of the resurrection, then what happens in this life really matters very little; for this world can not take away that which God gives through Jesus Christ. But if you are “loving” this life; clinging to it, then you are not looking to Jesus and therefore not loving Jesus.

But if you want a more vivid picture, then imagine this:
Clinging to this life/world rather than Jesus (loving him) is like hanging over a fiery pit and clinging to nothing but a small thread. And you don’t need me to tell you what’s going to happen eventually.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Will you lay down your life for Jesus?
He already laid down his life for you.

Awesome, amazing and mighty God; You loved us first. You love us even though we are sinners. You love us even though we are disobedient. You love us even though we seek this life. Turn our hearts towards You that we may see Your love through the cross of Christ. In Jesus name, Amen

The Pastor -|—

Love and Obedience (John 14:15)

image

http://bible.com/59/jhn.14.15.ESV

It has been a John 14 kind of day as this chapter has been stuck (in a good way) in my brain and heart.

I was out visiting this morning; bringing communion to a couple members at a nursing home and assisted living facility out of town. During the course of the communion service I read from John 14 (since it has been on my mind today) and verse 15 struck me so I tried to make some mental notes on the fly. When I got home, I immediately created the above image through my YouVersion Bible app on my tablet and reflected on this some more. A few thoughts about this verses came to mind:

~ Obedience is a joy because of the one you are obeying.
~ Obedience is trusting the person you are obeying.
~ Obedience is not something to avoid consequences.
~ Obedience comes naturally because of the one whom you love.
~ Obedience out of love is not demanded but freely given.
~ Obedience out of duty is not love.
~ Obedience out of love is not about you but rather the one whom you love.

This is really a beautiful verse in the midst of a beautiful chapter. The love of Jesus should lead you to freely and joyfully obey all that God has commanded. For the one you truly love, you want to please, not because of fear of punishment for disobeying, but because you don’t want to hurt the one whom you love.

Just throwing this out there for you to ponder and reflect on.
Go…

The Pastor -|—

Peace in a Troubled World (John 14)

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” [John 14:1, ESV]

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” [John 14:27, ESV]

Beautiful bookends to a beautiful chapter. The beginning of Jesus’ farewell discourse begins with peace and encouragement to not have troubled hearts. Following this and up through verse 27 Jesus talks about:

Going to the Father
Preparing a place for us
Bringing us home to the Father
That he and the Father are one
In the mean time, giving the Holy Spirit
Not leaving us as orphans
Loving Jesus means loving the Father
The Father loves you

And finally: Peace
So therefore: Let not your hearts be troubled

What a beautiful discourse. And what a great reminder, because think about it, how often do you let your hearts get troubled? How often is your peace rattled?

~ You share your faith with your son or daughter, father or mother, friend or coworker and nothing. They still won’t accept Jesus and therefore it’s easy to become discouraged.
~ You just lost your job, money is tight, your health is not the best; and your heart is troubled about the future and whether things will ever get better.
~ A drunk driver kills someone one, yet another report of ISIS reigning terror someplace, the news reporting another murder involving domestic violence; and you wonder if peace will ever be a reality.

But Jesus says, Do not let your hearts be troubled. I got this. I have overcome this world. I have defeated death. Stuff may happen now that is unpeaceful and discouraging, but think on me. I give you a peace like nothing the world can give, so stop looking for peace there.

And it is this peace; the peace that only Jesus gives, that allows one’s heart to not be troubled. It’s thinking on Jesus that encourages our discouraged hearts. It is faith in the crucified and risen One that truly brings peace in an unpeaceful world.

No matter what you do; no matter how hard your search; no matter how hard you try, you are never going to find or create a situation where your heart will be completely free from trouble or discouragement. Maybe you can do something for the short-term, but there will always be something lacking without Jesus.

So turn to Jesus and let not your hearts be troubled. And know a peace that surpasses all understanding and surpasses anything that this world can promise.

Be at peace, my friends, and praise God always and forever.

God of peace, Your love and compassion and faithfulness is what we truly need in a love-less, compassion-less and faith-less world. May we turn to You and be at peace; knowing that Jesus died and rose that we may have a place at the Great Banquet table and a room in Your Mansion. What a joy to think on this promise. What peace. Thank You, oh God, in Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Don’t Kill Jesus (John 11:48)

If we let him (Jesus) go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” [John 11:48, ESV, Bible.com/app]

Earlier on in this chapter, Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and greatly troubled over the people’s lack of hope. Later, when at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, Jesus wept. He didn’t weep because his friend was dead and gone, but rather  Jesus wept because the people were in a state of hopelessness; they didn’t believe that Jesus could do anything. But Jesus knew what he could do and therefore wanted the people to have hope that death is not the end. Jesus wanted people to believe in HIM.

Following the raising of Lazarus scripture says that many people believed in Jesus but others went and reported this to the pharisees; the religious leaders of the day. Their response was troubling (the verse above) as…

They were only concerned about their jobs and not the people.
They were only concerned about their “Church” instead of the Kingdom.
They were only concerned about their job descriptions.

The people were coming to faith in Jesus and that would change the course of the “Church”; the course of history, and (as they feared) the course of their nation. So something must be done (as we read in the rest of the chapter):

[53] So from that day on they made plans to put him (Jesus) to death.

Kill Jesus
Stop this Gospel
Get control of the situation
Stay relevant

Wow, that sounds familiar (and not because I have read this text before). This is familiar because this is happening today in a couple ways:

(1) The Gospel, the Church, biblical interpretation are changing because many feel if they don’t change these then the Church will get left behind. And so in order to “protect” the church; 2000 years worth of doctrine is changing, interpretation of the Bible is “evolving”; and all in a effort to help the Church become/stay “relevant”. So this Pharisaical concern is nothing new as leaders are trying to protect their jobs, positions and status.

(2) This Pharisaical concern is also happening in the local church. This appears through churches afraid to take a stand for what they believe. “Let’s just go along with how things have been done and not upset the apple cart”.Let’s just continue with what the higher ups tell us is the truth,” The fear is that change will cause a disruption in the peaceful status quo.  And so the status quo is fought for, tooth and nail, when fighting for THE Gospel should be the way.

We can not allow things to go on like this. THE Gospel of Jesus Christ is what we should be clinging to and not this Pharisaical concern of relevancy. The Church can not let the culture dictate it’s doctrine. Our doctrine comes from God and God alone through Jesus Christ. Our doctrine is the unaltered Bible; the Word of God. This hasn’t changed and it is not going to change. People need to hear THE Gospel and not some watered down version that meets their needs. To do that causes great harm as anything watered down loses it potency.

Jesus (and him alone) is the Resurrection and the Life. All who believe in him, though they die, will live; and all who lives and believes in Jesus will never die. That is the Good News. Do you really believe this?

If so…

Worship GOD through Jesus Christ
Spread THE Gospel
Give GOD control of the situation
Stay in Scripture

Cultural relevancy is something Jesus never advocated but rather Gospel faithfulness; no matter what the culture thinks or says.

So with Jesus I weep and thus pray…

That the Church remains faithful/returns to faithfulness
That Christians stand strong for what they believe against all odds
That the authority of scripture is held high and untarnished
That the unaltered Gospel is proclaimed with boldness
And that in the face of relativism, the Church does not budge

JESUS is Lord and King. Let’s boldly and proudly announce this and stick with this confession…

…and not kill Jesus.

God, King of all creation, make us bold in our faith that we may boldly proclaim Your glory. Make us strong to stand, that when push comes to shove; as relativism tries to assert it’s so-called claim on the culture, that we stand. Make us unashamed of the Gospel that our hope may be secure in Jesus. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Valentine’s Day Everyday

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. [John 15:13]

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Now with that off my chest allow me to roll into my Valentine’s Day rant (if that is the right word)…

You see, I have a love/hate relationship with this day. It’s not because I am single (I’ve been happily married for over 10 1/2 years to an amazing woman/Valentine). The reason for my feelings about this day is this:

Why is there only one day out of the year where people are encouraged to go the extra mile for the one they love?

It seems to me that if you love a person, they would be your Valentine 365/366 days a year. It would seem to me that flowers and chocolates and candle light dinners would be the norm throughout the year. It would make sense to surprise that special someone with a random card on let’s say April 11 or June 4 or August 23, etc (just random days by the way). Why only on February 14?

And I can almost hear the comments out there:

He’s just a cheapskate or too lazy to do anything today.

I can understand that sentiment but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The fact remains, I love my wife; so much so that I would like to think that I would die for her. And therefore I want her to know that everyday of the year, not just one day where I go overboard with various signs and acts of love.

In much the same way (and more), Jesus’ love for you is an everyday, 24/7, 365/366 day a year thing. It’s not something that Jesus just shows on high holidays like Easter or Christmas. But rather Jesus goes out of his way to show this love in amazing ways throughout the year and throughout your days.

If love is such a wonderful thing (and it is) it deserves to be expressed all the time. And in case your wondering how my wife feels about this attitude, well, we’re in the same boat. She tells me, wait until after Valentine’s Day to get me flowers because they will be cheaper then. What husband doesn’t want to hear that :-)

And I’m sure the chocolate candy industry or Hallmark or florists are not going to like a post like this post (at first) but I am not saying to boycott them today but rather use them throughout the year to express your love to your valentine everyday.

Go out of your way to show the love of Christ every single day. Go out of your way to proclaim the Good News of the resurrection and the hope of everlasting life. Go out of your way to show how much you love people. Jesus did.

So happy Valentine’s Day today, tomorrow, and the next day and the next day and the next day, etc, etc, etc…

May the love of God through Jesus Christ fill you will all hope and peace for the New Life to come. Have a wonderful and blessed day.

Praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—

The Wolf and The Shepherd

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” [John 10:28-30]

Earlier in chapter 10, Jesus is talking about him being the Good Shepherd. He cares for his sheep and his sheep hear and listen to his voice, and thus follow.

[The sheep, of course, are those who place their faith in Jesus.]

Under the care of anyone else, the wolf comes and snatches the sheep away because the hired hand does not care for the sheep like the shepherd does.

[The wolf, of course, is Satan]

I am the Good Shepherd Jesus says. Under my care the wolf will not snatch you away.

But yet there are many sheep who would rather put themselves under the care of “hired men”. They follow them because of what they claim to provide. These sheep blindly trust these false guides but when the going gets tough, the “hire men” have no interest in the well being of the sheep. They will run away and protect themselves for they know deep down inside that they have no power over the wolf. And they are definitely not willing to lay down their life for the sheep.

Just before these verses, the Jews are questioning Jesus; imploring him to tell them plainly if he is the Christ. Jesus basically said this, maybe not as plainly as they wanted, but Jesus did say it.

I am the Good Shepherd and I lay down my life for the sheep.

The problem is that the Jews are still following and listening to the “hired men” so they can’t and won’t hear the voice of another shepherd. So therefore they can’t understand or accept a “Christ” that is going to die.

But this is what this Good Shepherd does:
~ He places himself between his sheep (you) and the wolf.
~ The wolf attacks and kills the Good Shepherd (Jesus).
~ The wolf celebrates his victory.
~ The wolf prepares to devour the sheep.
~ BAM!
~ The Good Shepherd rises from the dead; claiming and protecting his sheep.
~ The wolf is held at bay; unable to snatch the sheep out of the shepherd’s hand.
~ The wolf’s ultimate defeat is at hand.

And only the sheep of the Good Shepherd can hear this and see this and know this.

Through faith in Jesus you will never parish.
Through faith in Jesus, Satan can not touch you (but Satan still can entice you, so beware).
Through faith in Jesus we are corralled into the Father’s hand.

I am the Good Shepherd and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Meditate on that verse today and relish in the joy of being in the Good Shepherd’s flock.

May God grant you the ears to hear the Good Shepherd.

All praise, honor and glory be to God our Father through Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd. Amen.

The Pastor -|—