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Category: John

Unity

In John 13 Jesus issued a new command to His disciples to love one another and by so doing, it would let the world know they were His disciples. In John 15 He encourages His followers to abide in Him and prove to be His disciples by bearing much fruit. In John 17 Jesus is offering His “High Priestly Prayer” and what caught my eye this morning in particular is is the following (emphasis mine):

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
John 17:20–23

We often think of unity as being so critical because it allows us to get along well with one another. It allows the church to function much more smoothly if we’re unified. It’s more comfortable for us to be unified. It feels good to be unified. Read more

Fruit, Love, and Discipleship

The other day while reading through John 13 I noticed that Jesus told His disciples:

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:35

So, one of the ways we prove ourselves to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ is through the love that we have for other disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today while reading in John 15 I saw this:

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
John 15:8

Here in John 15 Jesus is telling His disciples that they prove to be His disciples by bearing much fruit and in fact, this brings glory to God the Father.

It can be natural to read those two verses and find yourself wanting to reconcile the connection between (1) loving other believers and (2) bearing much fruit. After all, if they are both means by which our authenticity as disciples of Chris is proved, surely there is a connection, right?

Perhaps, if I had longer than a quick 5-minute coffee break, I could draw out all of the implications of these two statements but that’s not what I’m drawn to this morning. I’m more focused the command that Jesus issues in verse 4.

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Show and tell: a teaching on humble service

In John 13 we read of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples as they gather for what would be their final passover meal together before Jesus was betrayed and crucified. This morning I found myself wondering what it would look like if, instead of actually washing their feet, Jesus had simply delivered a compelling message to His disciples and offered them His verbal instructions on the merits of assuming a posture of humility and seeking to serve one another. What if He just used His words to instruct them on the behavior He desired them to model?

You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
John 13:13-15

Jesus acknowledged His position and authority as their leader; both as Teacher and Lord. And yet, He is the one who took off His outer garments, wrapped a towel around His waist, assumed the most lowly and humble position possible, and washed the stinky, filthy, sinful feet of His disciples. The master humbled Himself to become the servant. Why? To provide the disciples with a living, breathing example. Jesus modeled the behavior He wished for them to exhibit. He showed them that if even He would humble Himself to serve them in this way, how much more should they serve one another in like manner. Read more

Take Heart; He Has Overcome

I had the chance to chat with my daughter (the other early riser in our family) this morning before I left the house for work. We were talking about friends and how the people with whom we hang out and spend time with can have an influence on us (and vice-versa). Our conversation reminded me of something I read earlier in the morning which I was able to share with her. Specifically, it was about John 16:33 where Jesus says,

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

What we talked about was how Jesus made it very clear that we will have tribulation in this world. The world can be a very complicated, confusing, frustrating, challenging and scary place. But, in the midst of this trouble-filled world there is good news. Jesus has given us His word because He desires us to have peace. And one of the things He tells us through His word is that He wants us to take heart because He has overcome the world.

My daughter and I agreed that if we are going to have trouble in this world, we want to know and spend time with the One who has promised us peace in the midst of it. We want to spend time listening to the words of the One who has overcome the world.

My prayer for my daughter is that she would spend time reading, studying, and believing God’s word. My prayer for her is that the Holy Spirit would lead her into the truth of God’s word and illuminate the scriptures to her that she might be equipped for every good work. My prayer is that she would stay connected to the One who has overcome the world and that she experience and know His peace which surpasses all understanding. My prayer is that she too will overcome.*

*What I found especially ironic that this verse was part of my daily reading plan today is that yesterday at church we sang Overcome by Jeremy Camp.

Knowing The Way

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

It’s a verse that is familiar to most people and in fact, it’s one of the first verses I memorized by using the Navigators Topical Memory System back in the day. As important as this verse is and as true as this verse is, I can sometimes forget the context in which this verse was originally presented. It starts out with “Jesus said” so of course, when looking at this verse in isolation, we should consider questions like “to whom is He saying it” and “why is He saying it”.

Jesus had just told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house and that He would return to take them to Himself so that where He is, they may also be. Jesus also acknowledged that they (the disciples) knew the way to where He was going. In response, Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” It is in response to Thomas’ question that Jesus says that He is the way, and the truth, and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.

Although the path to life is narrow, it is not hidden. Jesus has made clear to all who are seeking and want to know the way. The way to Jesus, the way to the Father, the way to eternal life.

At the encouragement of Warren Wiersbe I invite you to read Luke 15:11–24, the story of the Prodigal Son, in connection with John 14:6. Like the sinner, the boy was lost (15:24), ignorant (15:17—“came to himself”), and dead (15:24). But he came to the father! (15:20) He was lost, but Christ is the Way; he was ignorant, but Christ is the Truth; and he was dead (spiritually), but Christ is the Life! And he arrived at the Father’s house when he repented and returned.

The good news is that if you know the truth, you also know the way.

The Power of a Testimony

Woman at the well drawing waterWe had our monthly men’s breakfast at church yesterday where one of our guys shared his personal testimony. It’s always encouraging to hear the guys share their stories. This is true for many reasons; we get to learn more about them, we can typically relate to something they share and realize that we’re not the only one, and we can rejoice together with how God has been working in their life. Yesterday, I was also reminded of something I read last week in John 4. It’s the story of when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well.

There is a lot of depth to the story but the thing that jumped out at me is contained within the following verses:

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:39–42

After having an encounter with Jesus the woman goes and tells people about it. She shares with them what happened and how she felt about it. She told them about Jesus. And because of this, it says that many believed because of her testimony.

But what amazes me even more than the fact that people believed because of the woman’s testimony is the fact that they were then compelled to seek out Jesus for themselves. They went to Him and asked Him to stay with them and He did. And because they spent time with Him and listened to His word, many more believed. A Samaritan woman’s personal testimony was the catalyst that initiated a chain reaction of events resulting in many coming to salvation.

What an ecouragement to be more transparent, vulnerable and willing to share with others what is going on in my life and frame it in the context of my faith. To share with others what Jesus has been telling me through His word that they might be compelled to seek Him and listen to His word as well. And in so doing, perhaps they too will believe what they hear for themselves and know that He is indeed the Savior of the world.

Come for the blessings but stay for the trouble

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.
John 17:14-15

Just before Jesus is betrayed and handed over the be crucified, He prays His last prayer – for Himself, His disciples, and for all believers. It’s interesting to note in the verse above that right after He acknowledges that the world hates the disciples, He makes sure that God the Father doesn’t jump to any conclusions. He makes it clear that He’s not asking the Father to remove them from the world and thereby save them from going through the trouble of being hated. His request is simply that they be kept and protected from the evil one.

He could have certainly requested that the Father take them out of the world. But He didn’t. In fact, He made it clear that wasn’t what He was asking. Why?

Well, there are many reasons but the one that comes with a knee jerk is that there would be work for them to do. They were to continue their ministry and in so doing, glorify God the Father just as Jesus had glorified Him by doing His will and completing the work with which He had been tasked. In particular, Jesus had manifested God’s name, demonstrating the full reality of God’s attributes through His life (in both word and deed) here on this earth. Before ascending into Heaven Jesus commanded His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything they had been commanded. They had work to do. They had a purpose. They had a mission that could not be fulfilled if they were taken from the world at that time.

Perhaps another reason is that the trouble to be found by remaining in the world would be useful for the perfecting of the disciple’s faith. Perhaps it would provide the right conditions and context to magnify their testimony of the power and grace of the almighty God in Heaven.

As I think through this it certainly provides me with a different perspective and filter which I can apply to my own “troubles’ in this world. It encourages me to consider how my troubles might be useful in refining my faith, in reinforcing my dependence on the presence and power of the Spirit, and in providing a living testimony of God’s all-sufficient grace. And, as I encounter trouble in this world, I can take heart and remember that Jesus has overcome the world, He has conquered sin and death, and He has promised that no one can snatch the believer from the Father’s hand.

God is sovereign and there is nothing that happens that He does not allow to happen. The next time trouble comes your way, don’t just look for an escape. Look for how you might press into the Lord and glorify Him in the midst of it.

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