Vs. 16, “Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).” This is the Resurrection chapter, on Easter Sunday we were reminded of this…and many of us Christians forget just how very important the Resurrection is to our Christian faith. Jesus would appear to three sets of people…one to Mary Magdalene, one to disciples, and lastly to Thomas. It’s also interesting to note how John outran Peter to the tomb (vs. 4)…it could be perhaps John was younger than Peter….but there could more of a reason…a spiritual one. Jesus had not yet reinstaed Peter and so perhaps Peter’s self-confidence and spiritual energy was still low…Isaiah 40:31 says that those who wait on the Lord “shall run and not be weary…”.
Regarding application…We Are Blessed! Vs. 29, “Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Indeed…it will be a monumentous moment in life when we literally stand in the presence of our Lord. Yet, I share this passage often reminding us how blessed we are to have faith in Jesus! There are many doubters in this life…people who have to see to believe…and even then…many still didn’t believe. Remember, many Jews and Gentiles literally saw Jesus up close and personal…experienced His love and miracles…and yet many walked away from Jesus. I don’t believe for a second that those who contend they would believe Jesus if they actually saw Him. Remember that God reveals Himself through nature and through our innate awareness of a higher being. To believe in Jesus and yet not see is a wonderful blessing and showing of our faith.
Vs. 30, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John would record three of the last seven statements of Christ on the cross. He is careful to point out the fulfillment of Scripture with the gambling of Jesus’ garment, the piercing of His side and the prophecy of no bone being broke (Some naysayers will tell you that Jesus really didn’t die…but the soldiers deliberately did not break His bones because they knew Jesus was in fact dead…They had done this many a time, and would know the difference between someone who is alive and someone who is dead). It’s heartwarming moment for Mary as Jesus looks upon her and asks John to take care of His earthly mother…even though Jesus would not be there, He made sure someone was going to care for her.
Regarding application…Hardened Hearts. Vs. 6, “As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” Think about this…Jesus was standing before them a badly beaten man (Vs. 1)…perhaps, Pilate even deliberately had him flogged thinking the Jews might have some compassion on Jesus’ beaten state. Instead, this only seemed to incite the raged crowd of Jews, who only a few days earlier were crying out, “Hosanna, blessed be the name the Lord”….fickle to say the least….incredibly hardened hearts is the reality. The depravity of man can reach heights we could have never fathomed…yet we seem to as a society nearly glorify it! Think of the new movie coming out Nightmare on Elm Street. Moviegoers seem to delight in evil. A hardened heart is the beginning of such depravity. Brothers & sisters in Christ….how is the condition of your heart? Satan tried to silence the Lamb of God….but Jesus would triumph over evil…and we can do it too because of Him!
Vs. 36, “Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” Jesus was standing before Pilate because He willingly allowed Judas Iscariot and the detatchment of soliders, chief priests, and Pharisees to arrest Him that night. Now the intersesting thing to note is the comparison with the garden. The first man, Adam…was in a garden and failed all the while hiding himself….while Jesus (the Last Adam), would triumph and boldly reveal Himself. We also see the sad reality of Peter’s denial of Christ three times…the Bible is not trying to depict Peter as a failure…rather reveailing to us how we are much like Peter at times.
Regarding application…Disobedience. Vs. 10, “Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)” In drawing the sword, Peter was most definitely disobeying the Lord. Think about it…Jesus does not need our protection. The weapons we need to be using our not physical ones…rather spiritual ones. Peter used the wrong weapon, had the wrong motive, acted under the wrong orders, and accomplished the ultimate wrong result! Graciously, Jesus heal’s Malchus’ ear and therefore protecting Peter against possible arrest. Though Peter was brash and courageous…he unwillingly tempted Jesus to fight back! Sometimes, we act before we pray. Even with good intentions….we can disobey God when we choose to not heed His Word.
Question: How does disobedience to God look like in our day? There is obvious disobedience….not reading His word, not bearing the fruits, not loving others, etc… But I think that if we were to compare the disobedience to Peter’s….that would be like us trying to do things “OUR” way when it comes to approaching church. Trying to do things “OUR” way when it comes to singing, prayer, fellowship. We might be trying to serve God, but if it is not in the parameters of His will, it is flat out disobedience. Brothers & sisters in Christ…let us prayerfully consider if we have knowingly or unknowingly been disobeying God. By His Grace, His mercy triumph’s over judgment….but let us not procrastinate, for salvation of the lost is at stake!
Vs. 1, “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed…” This is one of the most remarkable sections of Scripture! Here are what a couple of notable Godly men would say about this passage…Matthew Henry, “It is the most remarkable prayer following the most full and consoling discourse ever uttered on the earth.” Martin Luther, “This is truly beyond measure a warm and hearty prayer. He opens the depths of His heart, both in reference to us and to His Father, and He pours them all out. It sounds so honest, so simple. It is so deep, so rich, so wide. No one can fathom it.” As Jesus begins His prayer, we notice how He begins with himself…Some have likened it to tuning an instrument….every instrument should be tuned up before it is played, therefore, before we begin to pray for others, we need to pray for ourselves. That is not selfishness; it is essential. He would go on to pray for His disciples of that day and end it with praying for us!
Regarding application…Unity & Salvation. Vs. 23, “…May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Hmmm…we don’t see these words mixed in this way too often…but it is a stark reminder of why it is so important to be unified as one. Obviously, Jesus set the example of how He and the Father were one. But, lives literally are at stake when the church chooses to be selfish rather than unified. When the common goal and denominator is not Christ…churches will be divided. Not may be, not can be…it will be! All of us take a mighty role in the spreading of the Good News by simplying be a unified universal church, local church, youth group, etc… There are many today who have left the church at a young age (teenagers, young adults) because of the hypocrisy and divisiveness they witnessed in the churches. May we humble ourselves and become servants so that the heart of Christ can take precedence in our lives!
Vs. 33, “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.” These things that Jesus speaks are the elaboration of the greater things that will come when He goes to the Father and the Holy Spirit comes. It wasn’t always going to be easy after Jesus would leave…even the apostle Paul prior to his conversion would be a picture of death to those who tried to live for Christ. That is why Jesus would encourage them of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Holy spirit is in the world to convict us (Vs. 8), the Holy Spirit is in the world to instruct us (Vs. 13), and the Holy Spirit gives us access to pray (Vs. 24). The day that Jesus is talking about in (Vs. 26) is most likely the time when the Holy Spirit would come (Acts 2). Yet, Jesus would also keep their feet on the earth and remind them that they will also sadly fail him…but no matter what trouble presents itself….Jesus has overcome!
Regarding application…Messages Everyday. Vs. 12, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” The Voice of Truth has much more to say. Imagine if we had the opportunity to literally sit at the feet of Christ…perhaps like Mary (the younger sister of Martha) did when Jesus came to visit their home. It would be amazing to have heard the famous sermon on the mount and the countless other messages Jesus would preach in His ministry. Yet…Jesus indeed speaks much more through the Holy Spirit today, His living complete Word (the Bible) and through servants of the Lord (missionaries, pastors, teachers, etc.). So many voices to hear…we live in a short attention span world. A world where commericals are just 30 seconds (because they know it will lose the attention of the audience if it is any longer). Messages in many churches today are deliberately prepared to be only 15-20 min, because they don’t want to offend people who have other plans for their Sunday (sports, watching t.v., barbeques, etc.). Let me remind you of a biblical example I love to use…It is the prophet Ezra and this event is chronicled in the book of Nehemiah. Vs. 3, “He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.” (Nehemiah 8:3). Daybreak till noon???…that’s at least a 5-6 hour message and to top that off…the people stood at the message, lifted their hands, kneeled before God, and wept at the reading of the Word! We lack in many things…when the message of God comes to us (bible, prayer, sermons, QT reflections…) let us be much more respectful to pay close attention and let His Word’s touch our hearts!
The last five words in the previous chapter are, “Come now; let us leave.” (John 14:31b).. which suggests that Jesus would be sharing about the Parable of the Vineyards as they were passing some vineyards on their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. While there are many applications we can glean from all of Jesus’ parables…keep in mind, there is always going to be generally one main truth. And in the Parable of the Vineyards…the main truth Jesus is teaching in this parable is the importance of abiding in Him so that we may bear fruit. Many people will point out Vs. 6, “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”…validates that we can lose our salvation, once we’ve had it. First of all…such teaching contradicts other verses (John 6:27, 10:27–29, etc.). To abide in Christ does not mean to keep ourselves saved…it means to live in His Word and pray (Vs. 7), obey His commandments (Vs. 10), and keep our lives clean through His Word (Vs. 3–4). The Christian who fails to abide in Christ becomes like a useless branch, like the salt that loses its taste. I Corinthians 3:15 teaches that our works will be tested by fire. The Christian who fails to use the gifts and opportunities God gives him will lose them…meaning gifts (Luke 8:18 and 2 John 8).
Regarding application…The World Hates Christians. Vs. 18-19, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” Jesus would segue from love of each other & God…to hatred from the world. Basically, Jesus was warning us of what is to come…not maybe, not perhaps, not someday…what will come. Question: What is the world? It is made up of socities, religions, people, organizations, philosophies, etc…the world has it’s leader (satan). While we may physically live in the world….spirititually we must not be of it (Rom. 12:1). The old illustration of the ship and the water still applies…there is nothing wrong with the ship being in the water; but when the water gets into the ship, watch out! Question: If the world hates Christians…how can a Christian love the world? Jesus mentioned to us all in His Word yesterday about how He would not leave us as orphans…He will send us reminders that were created to be His. When I went to Multnomah Bible College, most of you know I had the dream dying in glory in the mission field and following in the footsteps of Jim Elliot. Especially being an orphan once myself…it is still a hope of mine to give back directly one day. We can either love the world (in a bad way)…or love the world so much that we want to share the Good News to all! While I’m not overseas…I am a missionary to the city of Corona/Riverside!
Vs. 6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” What a wonderful chapter! Though, Jesus’ death was iminent…He would invest this time in sharing incredilble promises for both the disciples of then and all of us now. Because Jesus was truly the Son of God and the Father was in Him…He was able to remind them that He was preparing their true home in Heaven (Vs. 2). It’s a very touching picture when Jesus promises them and us that He will not leave us as orphans (vs. 18)…and what a tragic thing when a child has no father and mother. But, we would not be alone…for the promised Holy Spirit would bring us comfort (vs. 26). We also have the promise that if ask in Jesus’ name and according to His will…He will grant (vs. 13, 14). The Holy Spirit was already a testament to that promise!
Regarding application…Trusting Jesus. Vs. 1, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” Think about it…all around the world…people are seeking comfort. They long for comfort in a crazy, sin-filled world. A world where not only can children become orphans…but children can be murdered by their own parents, a world where children are abused and used by evil people (especially in the third-world countries), a place where the enemy (satan) is nearly relentless at trying to bring us down. Yet, their is only one place that we can fill the hole and void that lies in our hearts. It’s through our Lord Jesus Christ! Believing in Jesus and Trusting in Jesus can be two very different things. It’s like a person who believes a plane is safe to ride in…but you can believe it and yet not trust it by choosing to drive rather than fly. Likewise…we can believe Jesus all we want…but trusting is a verb…it means we must take action in what we believe. Question: What is it that Jesus is asking you to Trust Him with today? It could be a struggle with a relationship in your family. It could be with a relationship with friends at school you know that are not good for you…it can also be with a good friend, yet it’s hard to open up to them because you’ve been let down before. It can be with worrying about your future, where will you go, what will you do, where you will live? There is much that our hearts can grow troubled in, isn’t there? Yet, take solace in Jesus’ compassionate words….”Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”
Vs. 16, “I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” We now enter into the section that would chronicle the upper room events. In the culture at the time…it was slaves who washed feet…the disciples were too interested in being served rather than serving. Jesus would show us the way to true humility. When Jesus is about to wash Peter’s feet (Vs. 8)…He would teach us a very important lesson on “holiness”. When we are saved, we are washed all over (Vs. 10)…when we confess our daily sins to the Lord, we are washing our feet. For today’s purpose…Jesus is cleansing us through the water of the Word and as we His Word…we confess our sins and keep our feet clean and walk in the light. It is this daily cleansing that keeps the believer in a relationship with Christ. The lesson here has nothing to do with “renewing” or “losing” our salvation. Many believers make the same mistake Peter made (Vs. 9)…they want to be saved (washed) all over again when all they need is to have their feet washed. Jesus would then remind us of the true mark of His disciples…loving one another (Vs. 35).
Regarding application…Lay Down Our Lives. Vs. 38, “Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” Think about it….everytime we meet at church we sing of incredilbly powerful songs about laying down our lives. “I will offer up my life in spirit and truth…” Question: Are you really ready to lay down your life for Jesus? Don’t get me wrong…just like Peter…nearly all of you truly indeed love the Lord! I think most of us would like to believe wholeheartedly that we would be ready to lay down our lives just like Peter did with confidence. But listen to what Dwight L. Moody (Founder of Moody Bible Institute) would say when someone asked him, ““Do you have grace enough to die for Jesus?” He answered, “No, He hasn’t asked me to do that. But if He asks me to, I know He will give me the grace to do it.” AMEN! In our weakness, He is made strong. Dearest brothers & sisters in Christ…I pray that each of you would be ready! Ready to go, ready to serve, ready to live, ready to change, etc….all loyalty for Christ! But more importantly…may we all be ready to lay down our lives. That is what Jesus would say, “Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23). Jesus took up the cross because He was ready to lay down His life for us. Likewise…may we do the same!
Vs. 23, “Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Now we come upon the Passion week of Christ…which was just last week for all of us. We are reminded of Mary’s extravagant love as she poured out the perfume on Jesus (Vs. 1-11). After the Triumphal entry, some Gentiles (vs. 20) come to request to see Jesus (Vs. 20-36)…it was Gentiles who came to Jesus at His birth and now Gentiles who come near His death. Question: Why does John mention Gentiles at this time? Because Jesus has been rejected by Israel. Notice, how the Jews demanded to see a sign (Matt. 12:38) while the Gentiles requested to see Jesus (vs. 21). God has no favoritism and the Good News is for us all! And sadly, we are reminded again of the Jews unbelief (vs. 37-50)
Regarding application…Losing in Life. Vs. 25, “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” The world loves winners and hates losers. That is a fact in this world…always will be. Tiger Woods received a rousing welcome back to the Masters…why? Because he is a winner…despite his martial transgressions. But, we are not of this world. The Godly missionary Jim Elliot would say, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Truly wise words…and Jim Elliot was a still a young man when he wrote this. Many considered it tragic when Jim lost his life…but many of the Auca Indians who killed him were saved because of him losing his life. Question: How do we love our lives? By putting our lives first. By loving the money, the recognition, the comforts of this world over the sacrifices it takes to live for God. Jesus lost his life….for all intensive purposes, the world believes Jesus lost. But, we know better… Now, the challenge is to ask ourselves each day…how will I lose today?
Vs. 1, “Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.” We now come across the seventh miracle in John’s Gospel and this is quite a dramatic one! In any religion, death and resurrection are always central! Jesus would once again show us His power by raising the dead…and in our lives, we were also resurrected spiritually! In the story of Lazarus…we can see quite a comparison to our own lives. Lazarus was physically dead (we were spiritually dead). He was decayed and smelled bad (We are spiritually decayed over time). He was raised and given life (We were raised and given eternal life). He was set from the bondage of death (We were set from the bondage of sin). He witnessed to others how Jesus had saved him (We are commissioned by Jesus to do that too). He would fellowship with Jesus (John 12) (We fellowship with Jesus). Eventually He was persecuted (John 12) (And we too are blessed to be persecuted).
Regarding application…God Always Hears. Vs. 42, “I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” Last chapter, I asked if you hear God…this time, we are reminded that God always hears us! True…God may say wait or He may say No to our requests at times…but isn’t it amazing that God always hears! Think of all the people that call upon His name throughout the earth…yet God in His incredible power can zero in on YOUR voice and hear everything you have so say! Great stuff! Yet, don’t forget…not only does He hear every prayer…he also hears all of our other words (gossip, slander, ridicule, etc). Every word that comes out of your lips…in fact…every thought that runs through your mind….God always hears! Good thing to remember before we think or say something….