Friday, July 31, 2020

John 18 - Part 3


Read John 18

Following the kangaroo court held by the Jewish religious leaders, Jesus was taken to Pilate, the Roman Governor of the region.  From the beginning, we see how out of sync with the norm this is.  The Hebrew people, especially the religious Jews don’t like the Romans. 

Nobody likes to be conquered and nobody likes the conqueror’s taxes laid upon them.  The religious leaders were only the top dogs to their own people because the Romans permitted it.  That had to be a thorn in the side that festered on and on; yet, Jesus was brought to Pilate.

I can visualize the scene.  The Jews won’t go in because they would be considered unclean for entering the estate of a pagan, and the Passover meal was drawing near.  I’m not sure of the actual scripture  that made entering the palace an act of uncleanliness, but the process for cleansing was usually a week-long affair.

For the Romans to enter the inner parts of the temple would also make it unclean, and at least to this point, the Romans had observed this practice.  For all the Romans put up with, it’s hard to understand why Pilate even entertained these men seeking him to leave his abode because it was an unclean place and they didn’t want to be unclean for their special meal.

If I was Pilate, I think I would have said, “Come back when that is not a factor.”

But Pilate went out to meet the Jewish leaders.  They wanted to hand Jesus over for execution but Pilate asked, “What’s he done?”

The response of those seeking the execution services of the governor was priceless.  “We wouldn’t bring him to you if he wasn’t guilty.”

In the business of leadership, many factors are considered before deciding.  Sometimes all factors are considered in an instant.  At other times, it’s a more protracted process.  What delays decision-making?  Red flags. 

What are red flags?  Joe Scmuckatelli volunteered to drive the church van and take the kids to the concert.  Joe has three DUIs and a suspended license.  That’s a red flag.  It says, let’s slow this whole decision-making process down, and the answer is surely going to be no way.

Here is another red flag.  We wouldn’t bring him to you if he were not guilty.

Pilate told the Jews, go judge him by your laws.  The Jews replied that they were not authorized to execute anyone. There’s a technical term for that answer.  It’s called horsehocky.  Think back to Chapter 8. The woman brought before Jesus was not there for counseling.

The Jews wanted Jesus to consent to her stoning as required by the Law of Moses.  Many brought stones for just that purpose.  It didn’t happen, but men came prepared to administer justice.  We remember the words of Jesus:  Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.  One by one stones hit the ground and the men left, but their intent was to execute this woman by stoning.

It's possible that the Romans withheld this authority from the Hebrew people, but probably at some later date, perhaps after the destruction of the temple a few decades later.

So, Pilate encounters his next red flag in the request of these religious leaders; yet he takes Jesus inside to talk with him.

Pilate asks:  “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus was going to the cross.  It wouldn’t stop here so he gave Pilate no excuse to free him.  Instead, Jesus seemed in the mood to banter.

Did you come up with that on your own?

Did you hear than from somebody?

Pilate is surely thinking to himself, Am I not the one holding all the cards here?  Why is this man taunting me? 

I’m no Jew.  It was your people who handed you over to me!

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
Now there was something Pilate could get some traction with, this man claiming to be a king.  He said, so you are a king then?

Jesus still bantered, You got that right.  Jesus was going to the cross.  He came to speak truth and be the atoning sacrifice for our sin and it had to be as prophesied in the scriptures.  He would not be stoned.  He would be lifted up.  Pilate was essential to this fulfillment.

Pilate didn’t really want to do this.  He even offered to release Jesus according to an annual custom afforded the conquered Jews.  The Jews declined and asked for Barabbas, one who stood condemned for revolt. 

Pilate was surely confounded by why these self-righteous Jews wanted a murderer set free and a man with whom he could find no fault condemned.

Jesus was not guilty, but he must be sacrificed as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  The kangaroo court and the illogical decision of Pilate to continue this charade were necessary to fulfill scripture.

Jesus could have called for help and a dozen legions of Angels would have come to his rescue, but Jesus did not call for evacuation.  He chose to continue to the cross so that we might be made right with God.  He would be with his Father soon enough, but not until everything was accomplished.

In our blessing of hindsight, we see that.  Jesus must go to the cross.  He who had no sin would be condemned for our sin.  The sins of the entire world would be upon him.  Scripture must be fulfilled.

We get that, but did you catch something else in the conversation between Pilate and Jesus?

Jesus said that his kingdom was not of this world.  We get that too.  The Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven are not a part of this world. 

We get that.  We can live in the Kingdom of God now, but it’s not a part of this carnal world.

Sometimes we gloss over the next thing Jesus had to say.  But now my kingdom is from another place.”

But now—but for now—my kingdom is from another place.  The world and the authorities and powers within were a temporary state of being.  They are so temporal.  They are not eternal. 

There will come a time when the powers and forces of this world give way one way or another—surrender or eviction—to the Kingdom of God.  God’s kingdom will come to this world.

We have seen so much depravity in the hearts of the religious Jews, forsaking the very law by which they desired to convict Jesus.  This was necessary to get Jesus to the cross.  Think to the words of Joseph to his brothers after their father’s death.

What you intended for evil, God used for good.

There was nothing right, holy, good, or otherwise virtuous in the kangaroo court held for Jesus, but God used it for good.  It was necessary.

Likewise, the pagan governor seemed to be trying to do the right thing by his standards, but Jesus must be lifted up according to what was prophesied, and the Roman mode of execution was often the crosss.

The journey to the cross had to be fulfilled; yet on the way, Jesus promised that this temporary situation in the world would not last.  God’s kingdom would come.  His will would be done upon this earth.

But for now when we live in God’s kingdom we are strangers in this world.  We are swimming against the current.  We just don’t fit in.

We will have trouble in the word, but we take courage because we know that Christ overcame the world.  It was an interesting journey to the cross to conquer sin and death, but he did that for us. 

We can have peace in this troubled world and even prosper in many ways that the pagans have made into their gods, but we should know with certainty that this situation that we know in this godl
ess world is temporary. 

One day, things on earth will be as they are in heaven.

One day, the kingdom of this world will give way to the Kingdom of God.

But for now, we live amidst trouble and hatred and sometimes even persecution, but all of that is temporary.  Our perseverance will pay off and we will see what God has in store for us, even on this earth.


You will be just fine now but you also have something to look forward to.  Jesus has claimed you for eternity.  All your tears will be wiped away.  You will be with your Lord and you might just get a glimpse what it would be like to live on this earth without the presence of sin.

For now, that’s not the case, but we persevere now and know the Kingdom of God will one day come to this earth and things will be done here as they are in heaven.

Some days we see and feel all the blessings of our Lord.  Other days are tougher for us.  We endure and press on and the road is marked with suffering, but we know what God has in store for us.

We live in God’s kingdom here and now but one day it will be all around us for everyone to see.  It’s not there yet, but the building permit for it has been signed.

Some days we just have to realize what is happening is just for now.  It’s just for now.  It’s just for now.

His kingdom will come.  Press on through the present insanity.  It’s just for now.
Amen.

John 18 - Part 2


Read John 18

Jesus was arrested and bound and taken to the father-in-law of the High Priest.  Annas had been High Priest and then was succeeded by Caiaphas during the year of the Lord’s birth, but Annas seemed to still be referred to and considered the High Priest in many ways.  It’s as if there are two high priests.

We don’t really know why he went to Annas first but it appears that what took place was in the courtyard of Annas’s home.  Peter had to wait outside the courtyard gate until another disciple came to get him.

Then the kangaroo court is called to order.  The charges are read.  Bail is determined. Counsel is assigned to the defendant.  Wait!  I said, this was a kangaroo court.  It looked nothing like our modern justice system.

The high priest Annas questioned Jesus about his teaching and disciples.

Jesus replied that he had done everything openly.  Why not call some witnesses to what he said and taught and who followed him?

Someone struck him for saying this to the high priest.  Jesus again responded by asking what offense he had given that would warrant being hit.  He held his ground.  If I have done something wrong, let someone testify.

Jesus was then sent to Caiaphas, the serving High Priest.  We don’t get an account of this encounter but do know that Jesus was to be taken to Pilate.

No charges.

No testimony.

No witnesses.

No counsel (in defense of the religious leaders, this is a modern concept).

No official setting.  This was in the courtyard of the high priest.  Of course, it was the middle of the night.

No public witnesses.  Only the conspirators and their collaborators and servants were present.

No propriety whatsoever.  It was indeed a kangaroo court.

So, let me note once again, not done during normal or appropriate working hours. This was zero dark thirty.  How do we know what time it was?  We get a good indicator at Peter’s last denial of Jesus.

It was a kangaroo court.  Put such events in the same category as a cabal, a coup d’├ętat, vigilante justice, and other forms of lawful authority being ignored or overthrown or supplanted in some way, at least in the moment.
It was a kangaroo count.

Before Jesus was sent to Pilate, we also see Peter’s three denials.  One was outside the courtyard; Peter couldn’t go in.  The other disciple—probably John—was allowed in because he was known to the high priest.  That disciple came back to get peter.  The girl at the gate asked Peter, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?”

There’s denial #1.

I don’t like to bring too much from the political world into my messages.  Elsewhere, I will cuss and discuss politics to your heart’s content, but not so much here.

Here is my exception.  I was watching a video of an AOC town meeting.  A woman in the crowd had the microphone, presumably to ask a question, but she kept going on and on about how we had to eat our babies to survive.  They were using up too much oxygen and we have to eat them. 

This went on for several minutes and AOC was helpless to stop her.  I can make fun of AOC as well as the next guy, but my thought was there were at least 30 other people there, maybe more.  Nobody there said a word.  Not one word of rebuke or counsel or just someone with enough awareness to say, “enough.”

Why would I bring this up?  We focus on Peter’s first denial.  Jesus said it would happen and it did, but what about the other disciple?  Did he say nothing?

“C’mon Peter, that’s our Lord in there.”

“This is no time to wimp out now.”

“What gives.  Don’t you remember all of your boasts about never deserting Jesus?”

We see none of this, but we also know that this other disciple did not have to state his allegiance to Jesus.  He was known to the high priest and got in on those credentials.  So, while Peter gets the wrap here, the other disciple deserves no accolades.

 This is followed by the next two denials.  Peter was warming himself at the fire, obviously not part of the main action, but one of the straphangers asked him if he was a disciple.  Peter denied following Jesus.

Again, a relative of the man whom Peter had attacked with a sword, asked: “Were you not with him in the olive grove?  I’m sure that I saw you.”

Again, Peter denied this and the rooster started his wakeup calls.

Imagine the chills that went through Peter.  This was exactly as Jesus said it would be and Peter was denying the very person who told him what would happen. I’m not sure if that’s irony or paradox, but I’m glad I was not in Peter’s shoes.

So, we have a kangaroo court that ultimately gets Jesus before Pilate and the words of Jesus about Peter fulfilled in short order.

Much will fall into place with Jesus before Pilate.

Amen.

John 18 - Part 1


Read John 18

His hour had come.  His teaching was done.  Now it was time for the arrest. 

The disciples had followed Jesus across the Kidron Valley, which is something of a wadi, and stopped in a group of olive trees, presumably what elsewhere is called the Mount of Olives.

We don’t see the interaction between Jesus and his disciples here.  We don’t see him praying in sorrow and anguish and those closest to him falling asleep.  What we do see is Judas guiding some officials from the Chief Priest and Pharisees.  They brought some armed soldiers.

The disciples did have a couple of swords.  You have to look to Luke’s gospel to get this tidbit and they were not for defending Jesus on this night.  For inquiring minds who want to know, in this case know the logistics, the disciples had swords and later on Peter would use one.

Jesus knew what was about to happen and he did not prolong the encounter.  The armed group approached and Jesus asked: “Who is it that you want?”  In modern vernacular, he would have said, “Who you looking for?’ 

Jesus may have healed on the Sabbath but I just can’t see him ending a sentence with a preposition.  This is 2020, so I am required to announce, that the last statement was tongue-in-cheek.

The group noted they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus answered, “I am he.”

Jesus didn’t draw a sword.  He did not call upon 12  legions of angels.  He spoke the words I am.  We have experienced seven I am metaphors in John’s gospel, but this I am is the self-identifying voice of God.

I am

At the mention of these two simple words, the guards withdrew and fell backwards.  Two words conveyed more power and authority than this group brought with them. 

Did you ever see the video on Facebook or YouTube or whatever else exists out there of the road rage?  It’s a staged video and intentionally so, not like so many others purporting to be actual events.

In this video, the two vehicles have pulled over to the side of the road and the man in the trail vehicle gets out and grips a tire iron and starts walking toward the front vehicle with angry intent. The man in the first vehicle gets out with a .44 Magnum.

Immediately, the man with the tire iron starts doing the blind man act with this war stick.  They say don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.  Well, a tire iron doesn’t work much better.  It’s a funny video and makes a good comparison.
It didn’t matter how many soldiers or weapons the arresting party brought with them; they were no match for two words:  I am.

Jesus could have ended the whole affair in that moment, but he did not.  He asked them again who they wanted. Again, they said Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus said I am he.  It was as if to say, Here I am guys.  Let’s get this show on the road.

We need to understand that Jesus was not overcome by armed guards.  He surrendered fully to his Father’s will and the purpose for which he was sent.

Jesus said that they came for him so leave the others alone.  Do remember that Jesus just affirmed to his heavenly Father that he had lost none of those men given to him, except the one who had to betray him, and just happened to be the one who guided this armed party to him?

Jesus said take me and leave them alone.  None of them would be lost.  They were to be sent into the world.

Peter, who would very soon deny Jesus three times, took one of the swords and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant named Malchus.  Peter hacked of an ear from an unarmed man.  Peter was still governed by the flesh.

Jesus told him and us, that nothing would get in the way of his mission.  “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

As we wrap up this section, we find the servant missing his right ear, but in Luke’s gospel, Jesus heals the servant.  Luke’s gospel also does not name the disciple who cut off the servant’s ear.

These are some interesting tidbits for your continued study, but as we conclude this section, know this.

1.     Jesus would complete his mission.  In two words he could have dispatched anyone who would confront him, but he would do just what he was sent to do.  More on this when Jesus stands before Pilate.

2.    Peter was still wrestling with the flesh.  Peter and his sword would take on the world, a world that Jesus told him he had already overcome.  Do you ever wonder why Jesus picked Peter to follow him?  Perhaps, it is so we could see our humanity and wrestling matches with the flesh on full display in the gospels. 

We still wrestle with the flesh like Peter, but we must know and take heart that Jesus has already overcome everything that we wrestle with now.

Jesus knew what was ahead of him.  His hour had come and though he had the power to stop what was ahead of him, it was for this very purpose that he came.

Amen.



Sunday, July 26, 2020

John 17 - Part 3


Read John 17

Jesus prayed for you.  It’s in the Bible.  He prayed for you.

Jesus having prayed for the men who followed him for three years so that they would be sanctified for the work ahead of them, also prayed for us. 

John’s account was not originally broken into chapters, so these thoughts have been a continuing thread throughout these last hours.

Jesus had been telling his followers that he was in the Father and the Father in him.  The Father and I are one.  You want to know the Father, then know me.  I am the way to the Father.

You do know the Father because you know me.  You may not understand it yet, but because you have believed me and listened to my words and will soon put them into practice, you know my Father.

Jesus then prayed that we might have the same relationship.  Whether we received the good news in Jerusalem, Antioch, Philippi, Rome, or Burns Flat, America; we can enjoy this special relationship with God the Father through Christ the Son and have God’s own Spirit dwell within us.

Jesus prayed that this special relationship would go viral.  It was meant to reach the world. 

He wanted his followers to know him and to make him known.  That has been the mission and commission passed from generation to generation since those first apostles were sent into the world.

Jesus noted that the world did not know his Father, but those who followed him would make him known.  Those that have professed Jesus as Lord also know the Father.

We know the Father through Jesus and make him known through Jesus. We didn’t follow him all over Samaria and Galilee like the 12, but in a way we did.  The words that we know so well are living and active.  We follow Jesus when we engage the scriptures.

In many ways, we acquire the experience of the 12.  We were not there; yet we were.  This indirect experience becomes a part of us.  Our discipleship grows.  We mature as Christians.  And it is no slight thing that Jesus prayed for those who would come after the few men with whom he was spending his last hours.

We grow closer to our Father when we study his word.  We know liberty when we embrace his word.  Some can’t quite comprehend liberty in a list of 2 constraints and 8 restraints handed down from Mount Sinai, but it’s there. 

I’ll use my trusty example of the ladder.  Most ladders are narrow by design.  It’s hard to support much weight if they are wide.  The ladder requires you to restrict yourself to a very narrow set of rungs, but it enables you to reach new heights.  You are no longer restricted to ground level.

But we are not restricted to the 10 Commandments.  Jesus taught loving others as much as he loved us.  This is when we discover God’s heart.  We love those who will never repay us.  Some may dislike us or even hate us.  We have talked much about being hated because of Jesus.

But there is liberty in loving those who will not return our love.  There is liberty in being hated for following Jesus.  We know with certainty that we are on the right path.  Sometimes we think liberty is being able to do just what we want.  We can do that, but that is not our call.

Let’s go with another trusty example, the cup.  The cup restricts liquid to its confines.  Liquid stays in the cup until it is poured out or you drink it or your kids knock it over.  It seems restrictive.  But it is this same cup that enables you to take your cup of coffee from the coffee pot to your office or dining room table.  You have been liberated.

You think that 10 directives are tough?  What about 613 instructions, not all of which apply to everyone, but still, if it’s just half, that’s a bunch.  But the culmination of commands comes in loving one another with everything we have.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 

You might think that you are giving up everything, but you are gaining the fulness of life.  Jesus wants us to live to the full.  He wants us to have abundant life.  He wants us to really live.  We do this only when we let go of our worldly thoughts and desires and learn to love each other. 

We live a life of love for others.  Jesus prayed for us to live this life and make him known.  The love that we have for one another is how we are known and how we make him known.

We are unshackled from sin and death and our own sinful nature when we learn to love as Christ loved.  We know true liberty when our life is in Christ and he is in us.  We can finally live as we were designed to live.

When we love as Christ loved we are free from doubt.  There will be trouble in the world, but we have no doubt that Christ overcame the world and has put us on the correct path. 

Jesus did not just throw in a prayer before he went to the cross.  He asked his Father to protect those who followed after him seeking to have God first in their lives.  He asked those who came out of the unbelieving world to seek the Father, his kingdom, and his righteousness to have the protection from the Evil One that they needed.

He prayed for us, not that we would not have trouble and obstacles and mountains to climb but that we would have his Father’s protection from evil.  Jesus prayed for us.

And Jesus spoke aloud so his prayer would be an affirmation that God would be with those who became disciples of the Christ.

We have heard Jesus say I am in the Father and the Father is in me.  In turn, he told the disciples that he was in them and they in him.  The Father and I are one.  Jesus wants us in this relationship.  He wants this relationship for us.

Jesus prayed that we might truly know the Father by knowing him.  We can not read this prayer in the third person.  He was not praying for them or for some constructive third party.  Jesus prayed for us.

How do we come to know God through Jesus?  Jesus said it would be by the message carried by the disciples. 

We have received this message.  We have access to this message all the time.  We understand this message with the illumination of the Holy Spirit.  We are to carry this message to the unbelieving world.

Jesus prayed that we would know him and make him know. Let’s live up to his expectations.

Know him and make him known.  

Amen.


John 17 - Part 2


Read John 17

Sometimes things make better sense when they are being explained to someone else.  Jesus prayed to his Father in heaven but even in his petitioning his Father, the disciples gained understanding of what was to come and their part in it.

Jesus said that he was present with those whom the Father had granted to him to follow him for his ministry on the earth.  They had received everything that the Father gave them through Christ Jesus.

The disciples believed in Jesus.  He is the Son of God.  He is Messiah.  He is Christ.  He is holy and anointed and these men followed him wherever he led, even when it looked like certain death was in store.

All of these disciples had made it to this point, except the one who was needed to betray Jesus and set his trip to the cross in motion.  God the Father and Jesus the Son would be glorified shortly, but Jesus wanted these few men to be a part of his glory and know the joy of doing the Father’s will.

Jesus would return to the Father.  The baton would be passed to these few men.  The Spirit would be with them but they would build the church that we know today.  They would take the love of God that we know in Christ Jesus to the world.

Jesus had called these men friends.  He loved them dearly for about 3 years.  He wanted them to know what it was like to do the things that the Father desired for them in his heart.

There would be challenges and persecution, they would be expelled from synagogues, they would be hated, but they would be doing the will of the Father in heaven.

Jesus did not ask his Father to take their missions away from them and extract them from the world.  He asked for protection as Jesus sent them into the world.

In the sending, they would know joy.  It’s a feeling and a comfort that few know.  To be sent in harm’s way doing exactly what you know to do produces a satisfaction that you can’t get in your 9 to 5 gig.  It’s about living with purpose.  It’s about seeing obstacles in your path and knowing God will give you a way through, over, around, or something yet to be revealed to you.

Jesus wants these men to charge into battle and do what he commissioned them to do, but he wants his Father to protect them from the Evil One.  The good news was headed to the world.  These few men were being prepared to go boldly.

They will face danger but they will have the protection of the Father.  They will be accompanied by the Spirit, and they will know the joy of doing exactly what Jesus commissioned them to do.

They will be sanctified for their most unique purpose.  They truly will be on a mission from God.  Everything that they had observed, been taught, had explained over and over again, or already knew from holy scripture would shape them for their purpose.

They were being sanctified as apostles, men who would be sent into the world once Jesus had ascended to the Father and the Spirit had come.

As we look at this prayer and what Jesus has asked his Father to do, let’s considered that this very prayer was answered.  We are evidence of that answer.

These men carried the good news of life in Jesus Christ to the world and sent forth others on the same mission.

Each of you is fruit of this prayer being answered.

Amen.


John 17 - Part 1


Read John 17


What do dictionaries, glossaries, the back of the textbook, and chapter 17 have in common?

That’s where you can often find the definition of words and terms.

Oh, you mean Google.  That’s where we get our answers these days.  

Sometimes we use Siri but Siri will give you attitude if she can’t understand the question.  So let’s stick with Google.

So, I go to Google and ask for the definition of eternal life and it says it is life after death.  Webster’s says it is life without beginning or end.  But what does the Bible say?

In this 17th chapter, we get one of the few definitions in the Bible.

Are there other definitions?

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

That’s cool but how long is that?  How many days.  How many years?  How many millennia?

Jesus gave us this definition in the context of a prayer offered for his disciples and then for us.  He didn’t say break out your calendars.  He didn’t say, you’re going to need a new calendar app for your phone.

He said that eternal life is in the relationship with the eternal God.  We have listened to Jesus say that he is in the Father and the Father in him for several chapters.  He has counseled his followers to remain in him as a branch remains in the main vine.  We cannot produce fruit otherwise.

Now we are told that eternal life also comes from continuing in relationship with God through Christ Jesus.

We like dates and times, places and events, and things that fit into our perception of reality.  Jesus said, here’s reality.  It comes in relationship with your heavenly Father and me.

Jesus stepped out of heaven to live in this world as a human.  We get that.  Emanuel, God with us, we get that.

Realize that he also stepped out of eternity into our temporal world where no one understands eternity.  Solomon noted that God placed eternity in the hearts of men, but could not define what eternity was. 

People just think that eternal life is more days or years or centuries.  It that eternity of time happens to be in heaven, they expect calorie-free chocolate as well.

You want a human perspective on eternity, ask an eighth-grader who hates English or Math class how long those 50 minutes in the classroom lasted.  They lasted an eternity.

Ask the person who barely makes it paycheck to paycheck how long it is before she gets paid again.  That’s an eternity.

Ask the Christian singing Amazing Grace, how long eternity is, and they will tell you when we’ve been there 10,000 years, we’re just barely getting started.

Jesus said that eternal life is in the relationship with our Father in Heaven and in him.  It’s not about time.  It’s about relationship. 

We understand this in song.

When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more
And the morning breaks eternal bright and fair

People are count and measure creatures.  Jesus tells us that metrics don’t apply in eternity.  Relationship is what counts.

We are to know Christ and make him known.  In that relationship, we know God the Father and we know eternal life.

Our commission is to take that relationship to the lost.

Our command to love one another charges us to bring that relationship with us as we feed the hungry or clothe the poor, or help someone who is in need.

We are told to seek God and his kingdom and his righteousness and all the things that we need that have become gods to the godless will be given to us as well.

In similar thought, we are to seek God and his kingdom and his righteousness, abide in this fruit-bearing relationship, and we will be given the days and years and millennia that the godless desire as well.

But our hearts seek the relationship not the time.  Time is the reward that accompanies the relationship.

Have you noticed that when you are doing something purposeful that you enjoy, times flies?

When it is something that you begrudge, time drags on.

It could be the same amount of time.  We get a little taste of what eternal relationship might be like. 

Let’s put it this way.  If you had no purpose in life, why would you want eternal life?  If your life just seems to drag on and on, why would you want more?

If you live for God’s purpose, time has much less relevance to you.  The purpose, the relationship, the fellowship governs your life.

The blood of Jesus made it possible to live in right relationship with God.  In that relationship lies our eternity.  You won’t need a clock or a calendar. 

Eternal life is knowing your Heavenly Father and his Son whom he sent into the world to claim us forever.

Amen.



Thursday, July 16, 2020

John 16 - Part 2


Read John 16

The disciples have to contend with Jesus not using PowerPoint.  They wanted bullets with dates and times and locations.  Jesus gave them words about he is here now but will be gone for a while and then be back.

The disciples remained confused.  Was he just going to the bathroom during the commercials or was he packing for a long trip?

The disciples still didn’t get a PowerPoint slide.  Jesus said that this was the time for anguish.  The world would be celebrating but they would be saddened.  That was not the end of the story.  Their sadness would turn to joy and the sorrow that they knew would be forgotten.

Jesus compared what was to come to childbirth, an experience that these men knew at best second hand, but they knew that women had great pain all the way up to the point where they gave birth.  Then the pain was forgotten and joy filled their lives.

At best, they could relate to the psalmist.  Sorrow may last for the night but joy comes in the morning.  Jesus was once again preparing his disciples for what was ahead.  Jesus was going to the cross, but his concern was these few men would be equipped to take the news of God’s great love to the world.

Now we come to a brief sentence that might answer some questions about all four gospels.  Have you ever wondered if when Jesus said, If your eye offends you, pluck it out, he was speaking literally or in hyperbole?

If you hand offends you, then cut it off.  Now that’s some stuff right there.  Did Jesus want a bunch of one-eyed and one-handed people roaming the world?  Was he speaking figuratively?

The bottom line in both of these examples was true.  Better to get into heaven with just one eye or one hand than not at all, but perhaps we get a little relief from the literal interpretations in this chapter of John’s gospel.

Jesus told his followers that he would not longer use figurative language with them.  He would speak more directly.  So, if he was going to stop using metaphors and hyperbole and the like, that must mean that he did use them at least on occasion.

For those of you who are missing an eye or a hand out of strict compliance, perhaps you should have read all four gospels before amputating.

The parables and metaphors and other figures of speech would make sense when the Sprit came, but for these last few hours, Jesus told his followers that he would be direct with them.

Jesus said that he came from the Father and now was returning to the Father.  The disciples said, now we get it, but Jesus asked, do you really believe?

Do you really believe?

If you do, ask for what you need from the Father in my name.  I’m not asking for you but because you ask in my name, my Father will hear you and give you what you need.

Jesus would pray for his disciples in the chapter to come, but he was preparing them to boldly approach the throne of grace with their requests.

Now we come to the verse that I use time and time again.  It was to prepare the disciples for what was ahead of them.  It is for us today as well.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”


Jesus told his disciples that he was letting them know what would come, not so they could convert their stocks into silver or gold.

Jesus told his disciples that he was letting them know what would come, not so they could avoid conflict as they went into the world.

Jesus told his disciples that he was letting them know what would come, not so they could stock up on toilet paper.

Jesus told his disciples that he was letting them know what would come, so that they might have peace.  In him, they might have peace. They must know that things were not spinning out of control.  These times of trial and testing must come upon the world.  There would be trouble in the world.

You will have trouble in the world, but you can still live in peace.  Peace not dissonance will reign in your life.  Peace not anxiety is your constant condition.   Receive the peace of the Lord.  It’s much better than what the world has to offer. 

But how can we have this peace in the middle of turmoil?  How can we experience troubles that come from living in this world and still have peace?  How is this possible?

Jesus said, take heart—take courage—I have overcome the world.


Sin and death have lost their sting.



Sure, there will be trouble in the world.  We see examples of human depravity every day, but we are to be strong and courageous because Jesus has overcome the world.

Our peace is in him. 

Our life is in our Lord not in the troubles of this world.  We may have peace in the middle of turmoil because of God’s great love for us that we know in Christ Jesus.



My peace is in Jesus.

I will close with some figurative language, at least it’s a Mnemonic that might help remember today’s message.  

No Jesus. No Peace.

Know Jesus.  Know peace.

Remember these words of our Lord.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Amen.