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Showing posts from March, 2012

The Arrest - the Beginning of the End

John 18:1-11 (NIV)
1 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.
2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.
3 So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, "Who is it you want?"
5 "Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "I am he," Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)
6 When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Again he asked them, "Who is it you want?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth."
8 "I told you that I am he," Jesus answered. "If you are looking for me, then let these men g…

Jesus' Prayer for Us

At the end of Jesus' conversation with his disciples that evening of his arrest, he prayed.   I love reading this prayer because it is a revelation of what Jesus was thinking that night - knowing he was going to be arrested, and eventually die, that very next day.

John 17:1-26 (NIV)
1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time 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 may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing 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.
6 "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.
7 Now they know that everyt…

Listening to the Spirit

As Jesus continued to speak to his disciples that night of his arrest, he told them to expect the work of the Holy Spirit in order for them to do what they were called to do.

John 16:1-15 (NIV)
1 "All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.
2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.
3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.
4 I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.
5 "Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?'
6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief.
7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard…

Learning to be a friend

John 15:9-17 (NIV)
9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.
11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
17 This is my command: Love each other.


Most of have aquaintances but few friends...pity the person who has no friends.  Friendships…

Trellis Growth

As Jesus continued his discourse with the disciples on that evening of his arrest, he makes it clear that he does not expect their growth and development to stop - but rather, just the opposite - that they will grow in their faith and in their work through the power of the Holy Spirit working through them.
He said,
John 14:12 (NIV)
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
It's hard for us to imagine doing "greater things" than what Jesus did.  Yet that is what he said.

It is clear that two things work in tandem to make this happen. On the one hand, it is the Spirit of God that makes it possible.  John 14:16 (NIV) 
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--
It is the Spirit of God that comes to us and makes us possible to do the works of God.  In the Greek that this was written in, the word for the Spirit as …

The Spirit and the Son

While it was clear from Jesus' conversation with his disciples that he was going to be leaving, it was also very clear that he didn't want them to think they were on their own.
And neither should we.
We have this life in Christ, and we are doing this ministry of Church for the sake of God's Kingdom...but, we are not doing it alone.  In fact, when we attempt to do anything for God in the energy of our own flesh, we're bound to fail.  That's why the words that Jesus said to his disciples that last night are so crucial for us to hear again.
John 14:16-29 (NASB)
16 "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;
17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
19 "After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me;…

Seeing The Father

John 14:4-15 (NASB)
4 "And you know the way where I am going."
5 Thomas *said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?"
6 Jesus *said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
7 "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him."
8 Philip *said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us."
9 Jesus *said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
10 "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.
11 "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.
12 "…

A Mansion Beyond?

As Jesus talked with his disciples that evening before his arrest and crucifixion, he wanted them to gain understanding of why this was all happening, AND, where it was all going.
It is the BIG picture that we often hear about.  A need exists at times for us to step back and gain a bigger perspective on what is going on around us.
Lost in the hectic-ness of life with all of it's running around, dealing with difficult, as well as normal everyday stuff...we lose sight of where it is all going.

Why are We Here?
Where is this all going?
God, what are you doing?
What do you want me to do? Be?

We don't stop long enough to ask the real questions.  Instead we stay occupied with the "little" things...the tyranny of the urgent some have called it.  It is those things that keep us occupied, while causing us to avoid "what's it all for, anyway?"

Here comes Jesus into this last evening:
Gathered for Passover as a community
He gives them an example of serving in was…

The Real Mark of Jesus in Us

It's the Thursday evening before Good Friday.  As the Upper Room dinner began to end, Jesus got up and washed his disciples feet, and then as we saw yesterday, he told them all, including Judas, that he knew he was to be betrayed.  Judas left the meal - the disciples unsure of why he was leaving - assuming that he was going out to buy something.

With Judas gone, Jesus turns his attention back to the disciples.  He has some more to say and he begins this rather lengthy conversation (it's going to go on for two more of John's chapters) with an admonition on what is the real mark of his disciples - love.

John 13:33-38 (MSG)
33 "Children, I am with you for only a short time longer. You are going to look high and low for me. But just as I told the Jews, I'm telling you: 'Where I go, you are not able to come.'
34 "Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another.
35 This is how everyone will recognize that y…

Betrayed by Failed Expectations

No one names their children Judas.  No other name is more recognized as anathema than his name.    It's hard to sort out what to do with Judas.  He walked with Jesus, learned from him, saw the miracles, knew what Jesus was up to early on.  Yet when it came down to it he betrayed Jesus.
What's perhaps more amazing is that it doesn't surprise Jesus at all.

John 13:18-32 (NIV)
18 "I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: 'He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.'
19 "I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He.
20 I tell you the truth, 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, "I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me."
22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know whic…

Loving Well

As Jesus came to  his last hours on the earth, he spent them with his disciples - a show of his dedication to their special relationship with him.  If it were me and I knew this was my last night, I might want to take time to talk about what's important, and what they must remember....and perhaps it would be about doctrine, or beliefs, faith, etc.  Jesus goes a different direction:

John 13:1-17 (NIV)
1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, 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 b…

A Psalm of Jesus?

As Jesus journey through his life, he certainly was aware of the earthly outcome.  He made it clear to his disciples that the outcome was to go to Jerusalem where he was to be arrested by the authorities and would be crucified.
It's a strange thing to think about all of that and realize that in months to come this is where life is going to go.  Jesus knew his role was to be the Passover sacrifice.
John 12:27-28 (NIV)
27 "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.
28 Father, glorify your name!" Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again."


Jesus knew the Father's will.  He knew that the sins of the world needed a solution that went far beyond yearly sacrifices.  Those, as important as they were, could not atone for the sins of the world.  So, his was to be that "Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world".

T…

Died for Our Sins

This period of time leading up to Easter should lead us to think more deeply about Jesus' death on the cross...and not just the fact of it, but the why of it?  The short answer of course is that Jesus died for the sins of the world...but more specifically, for our sins, my sins.

An interesting part of the Gospels is when Jesus speaks to this:
John 3:12-15 (NIV)
12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?
13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man.
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.


The reference Jesus is making is from the Old Testament.  Numbers 21:4-9 (NIV) 
4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way;
5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, "Why have…

From Death to Life

After Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem the excitement was followed by surprise.  The Jewish throngs crowding into the city for Passover were expecting a national Messiah as their hero...come banish the Romans and get rid of all the pagan people from their lands.
Sound familiar?
Sounds a bit like the posture of militant Jihadists from the Middle East today.  The strong ethnic nationalism is based on the fear of losing identity.  Get rid of the foreign nationalists who bring in their culture, their values, their ways of doing things...return back to the fundamentals of our own culture...Fundamentalism is the same in all areas.

Jesus surprised everyone...
John 12:20-28 (NIV)
20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast.
21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. "Sir," they said, "we would like to see Jesus."
22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, &quo…

They Call It Triumphal

John 12:12-19 (NLT)
12 The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors
13 took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Hail to the King of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said:
15 “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.”
16 His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.
17 Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it.
18 That was the reason so many went out to meet him—because they had heard about this miraculous sign.
19 Then the Pharisees said to each other, “There’s no…

Anointed with Love

Mary, Martha, Lazarus were three of Jesus' closest friends - disciples yes, but not one of the 12 that accompanied Jesus day in and day out.  These three were the kind of friends that you just "hang out with"...the kind of friends that don't mind you dropping by and sharing a cup of coffee, or a story, some laughs.   They each were unique, and even though we know the Lazarus story fairly well, it's the sisters who are most prominent.
Yesterday I shared about Martha, but today belongs to Mary.  Here's the passage again:
John 12:1-11 (NLT)
1 Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead.
2 A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him.
3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.

Anointed to Serve

John 12:1-11 (NIV)
1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.
3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected,
5 "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages."
6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7 "Leave her alone," Jesus replied. "[It was intended] that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.
8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not a…

A Bonhoeffer Prayer

John 11:45-53 (NIV)
45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.
46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. "What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs.
48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."
49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all!
50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish."
51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation,
52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make…

Inevitable Choices

Psalm 121:1-2 (NLT) 
1 I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth! 


The days leading to Easter are filled with challenges.  We don't live in a world of ease, but one filled with challenges to faithfulness, integrity, character, courage and strength.  It's easy to get lost in the bad news and the sense of despair that surrounds that news.  People do awful things...to others and to themselves.
Wouldn't it be nice to just get rid of the evil and live in a world without that pain?
The problem is, we don't...and we won't - at least not until Jesus returns and his Kingdom is set upon the earth.
The Cross represents God's solution.   Sin is a World-wide infection.  It is an epidemic that cannot be cured by our best strategies, or our best efforts.  There is no political solution.  No country can police away the evil.  There is no pastor, no teacher, no counselor, no friend, or parent/spouse that ca…

The God Who Became King

Most of the parables Jesus told had to do with either the Kingdom of Heaven, or His position as the King of that Kingdom.  For example:


Luke 19:11-27 (NIV)
11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.
12 He said: "A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.
13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. 'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.'
14 "But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king.'
15 "He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
16 "The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.'
17 "'Well done, my good se…

Resurrection Reality

Among the things that scripture speaks about that is as much a mystery as anything is the word: Resurrection.  It is a truth that NONE of us have ever seen.  We know that the Resurrection is based on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus.  Yet when Jesus was upon the earth he spoke about it repeatedly.  In one incident he was asked about it...but with an attempt to trip him up.

Luke 20:27-40 (NLT) 
27 Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead.
28 They posed this question: “Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife but no children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name.
29 Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children.
30 So the second brother married the widow, but he also died.
31 Then the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them, who died without children.
32 Fina…