John 21

Vs. 1, “Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way.”  It’s important to note the Sea of Tiberias was another name for the Sea of Galilee.  The disciples were instructed earlier to meet him in Galilee (Mark 16:7, Matthew 28:7).  There seems to be a split with scholars on whether or not Peter and the disciples were right in returning to their previous occupation of fishing (vs. 1-8).  Some suggest that is why there were not successful (vs. 3).  In the end, we see Jesus helped them miraculously catch a net full of fish!  Peter by now has gained the reputation of being the one to act first, excitedly swims the 100 yards to shore to get to Jesus (vs. 7-8).  What a privilege for the fisherman to come eat breakfast that the Lord Jesus prepared for them (vs. 9-14)!  Upon finishing the meal, Jesus turns to Peter and begins a most memorable dialogue (vs. 15-17).  Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him and three times Peter confirms his love.  Question: Why three?  Remember, Peter denied Jesus three times.  Question: What is the purpose of this question?  Not only was Jesus reminding Peter that he must become a fisher of men, but he must also help lead the church by shepherding the flock.  Jesus then gives Peter the reminder and perspective that following Him will also lead to death by martyrdom.  Indeed, Peter will lay down his life for the Lord (John 13:37).  Naturally, Peter wonders about others and points to John’s fate (vs. 20-21).  But, Jesus reminds him that it is of no concern and importance for us to know the fate of others (vs. 22-23).  I love the ending of the Gospel of John as we have a certain amount of lighthearted hyperbole concerning Jesus’ exhaustive ministry (vs. 24-25).  Indeed, we have only a very small account of the amazing life of our Lord Jesus!

Regarding application…Do You Love Jesus?  Vs. 17, “The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Certainly, most of us would quickly answer, “Of course, yes I Jesus.”  Yet, Peter stands as an example to us all about love, restoration and purpose.  Peter boastfully stated he would lay down his life before Jesus’ arrest.  His failure wasn’t a lack of love as much as it was fear and a lack of mature faith.  Don’t misunderstand, Peter should not be frowned upon.   He was a instrumental part of leading the early church!  God would use him so powerfully!  I know in my own life my claims for loving Jesus have been quite lofty.  But, when I have failed Him, I also find much solace in Peter’s response.  He did not allow his failures to keep him from loving the Lord and seizing God’s “second chances.”  Loving Jesus is far more than our private and personal relationship with Him.  Loving Jesus is loving His church and loving the lost.  Brothers and sisters, this is our purpose too!  Don’t worry about what others are doing or not doing like Peter was about John.  Let the words of Christ ring in your heart to love Jesus and others deeply today!

John 20

Vs. 20, “After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”  Certainly, one of the most theologically important aspects of Christology (Study of Christ) and our faith is the fact of resurrection.  Having recently read through the other synoptic Gospel accounts (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24), we have a rich understanding of Jesus’ appearances to His disciples.  John takes us a bit deeper into the discovery of not finding Jesus’ body (vs. 1-9).  After waiting the full Sabbath Day (Saturday), She along with the other women came to attend to Jesus’ body in the tomb that was bought by Joseph of Arimathea.  John gives us almost a humorous account of him outrunning Peter to the tomb.  After their inspection of the tomb, Mary lingers and has an encounter with Jesus (vs. 10-18).  Jesus’ appears to the disciples on Sunday evening (Easter Sunday) as they hide with locked doors in fear of the Jews (vs. 19-23).  In this little section houses one of the most theologically controversial passages in Scripture!  Question: What does John mean when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on them (Vs. 22)?  When we look at the full scripture, we are quite familiar with the giving of the Holy Spirit seven weeks later at Pentecost to the early church.  Theologians have debated whether or not those in the upper room were given the Holy Spirit earlier.  And lastly, we are given a memorable encounter with doubting Thomas (vs. 24-29).  We can’t help but see the patient love and teaching Jesus gives to Thomas.  The disciples had the privilege to see many things, that were done for their benefit as well as ours to help increase our faith (vs. 30-31).

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.” There are moments in Jesus’ dialogue that He is looking past the disciples and envisions His church!  Similar to Jesus’ prayer (John 17), Jesus again is referring to us!  It’s natural to have a tendency to be envious of the disciples who had such an intimate relationship with our Lord.  Yet, Jesus is reminding us (the church) that we are even more blessed!  Serving the church over all these years, I’ve seen God work in mysterious ways.  Yet, the most intimate moments are not found in the unexplainable.  Our faith is based on what we do not see.  The disciples were challenged to believe Jesus was truly the Son of God.  We don’t even have the physical manifestation of Jesus, yet our faith is challenged even more.  But are more blessed.  I’ll take that!  Take time in your day today to focus on the blessings rather than the struggles.

Tomb

John 19

Vs. 7, “The Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”  The Jews continued their fervor despite Pilate’s efforts to dissuade them (vs. 1-16).  John gives us additional insight that Pilate had Jesus flogged earlier before the before the trial, quite possibly to show the angry mob that Jesus was being punished.  The other synoptic Gospel’s record Jesus flogged more severely after the trial.  Remember that John wrote his Gospel many years later and was giving us a fresh perspective on what the early church had already known.  It is never an easy thing to be reminded of that fateful day Jesus bore the sins of the whole world on the cross (vs. 17-37).  John wants to remind us that what happened at Calvary had been prophesied and fulfilled in the dividing of Jesus’ garments (Psalm 22:18) and piercing of His side (Psalm 34:20) and no bones broken (Zechariah 12:10) were also fulfilled.  The burial of Jesus (vs. 38-42) was a special request made by Joseph of Arimathea and assisted by none other than Nicodemus (John 3).

Regarding application…It Is Finished!  Vs. 30, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”  The hope of the world and the forgiveness of sins finally culminated in this moment of sacrifice, pain, and most importantly, love.  My wife and family are working on a five hundred-piece puzzle in their spare time over the last couple of weeks.  I’m sure once that final piece is inserted, there will be a collective gasp of jubilance and beauty as they survey the weeks of hard work to put together a rendition of a masterpiece.  Since the creation of the world from a human perspective, the Lord Jesus knew what was going to happen.  I encourage you to take time to come before the Lord with thanksgiving in your heart today.  Jesus finished the sting of death.  However, our lives are not yet completed.  Let us put our trust in the Lord always!

John 18

Vs. 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.”  Many of us are quite familiar with Jesus and the disciples going to pray at the garden in Gethsemane (vs. 1-11).  Because the synoptic Gospel’s thoroughly cover the prayer, John gives us more details to the arrest that night.  It a dramatic scene as a detachment of Roman soldiers along with some of the chief priests and Pharisees come to capture Jesus.  Jesus’ response to affirm His identity was a revelation that caused the whole group of arresting men to draw back and fall to the ground (vs. 6)!  Jesus knew this was going to transpire and was ready.  Notice how the Shepherd was prepared to protect His sheep (vs. 9).  Upon the arrest, they first send Jesus to one of the former high priest, Annas (vs. 12-14, 19-24).  This is an unlawful interrogation and a violation of their own laws.  Meanwhile, Peter is fulfilling Jesus’ prophetic words that he will deny Him three times (vs. 15-18, 25-27).  In the latter half of our chapter (vs. 28-40), Jesus stands before Pilate the Roman Governor.  Though the Israelites had their own ruling council in the Sanhedrin, they did not have full autonomy from Rome.  They could not sentence a person to die (vs. 31), except for only law if a person violated the sanctity of the temple.  Pontius Pilate was known as a brutal man who controlled Judea with a strong arm.  Perhaps the Sanhedrin could uses his history of violence for their motive.  However, upon questioning Jesus, Pilate has found no reason to convict Jesus of their accusations.  We are informed in the Gospel of Luke that Pilate also sought a second opinion from Herod who ruled over Galilee.  Once his enemy, Herod didn’t find any reason to convict Jesus either.  In a final move, Pilate used the annual practice of granting pardon to a prisoner and surely though they would release Jesus over a Barabbas (vs. 39-40).

Regarding application…Are You Listening?  Vs. 37, “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  It is ironic that Jesus is seemingly on trial, but the tables are turned spiritually.  It is Pilate, the Jews, and all of us who are on trial.  Question: Will we accept the testimony of truth?  If we do not, we will stand condemned.  Which side are you on?  When Jesus speaks, those who believe will listen.  This past Sunday, the message at Roots was in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus called Matthew to follow him.  Matthew heard Jesus’ voice, the Shepherds voice and he followed him.  There are many voices in this world that will try to have you hear them out.  Take time today to drown out the noise and listen to the voice of truth!

John 17

Vs. 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.”  While the Gospel of Luke records Jesus praying on many occasions, John gives us a glimpse of the most beautiful prayer recorded in Scripture.  Jesus’ pattern of prayer follows that of Moses (Deuteronomy 32-33) as He prays for personal matters (vs. 1-5), His disciples (vs. 6-19) and His future disciples (vs. 20-26).  Remember, that Jesus knows the hour is near for Him to be ready to bear our sins on the cross.  Jesus shows us the kind of heart we should have in prayer.  Even when Jesus prays for Himself, it is not out of selfish ambition.  It’s incredibly touching to see Jesus’ heart for His disciples as He loved them so dearly and knew the temporary pain that would soon come.  And lastly, Jesus’ prayer for the church today is literally one that prays that the church would be “one.”

Regarding application…Having Harmony.  Vs. 23, “I in them and you in me. 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.”  In music, harmony can make any simple melody sound beautiful when you combine different instruments or voices to the mix.  While there is beauty in solo’s, there is something amazing when you bring everyone together.  I’ll never forget the moment in Angels stadium in Anaheim when Chris Tomlin led us thousands of people in worship and just went “a cappella.”  It sent goosebumps down my spine as I heard the a small segment of the universal church lifting their voices to the Lord.  Certainly, worship is powerful aspect of being one.  However, having harmony goes far beyond singing.  Question: How can we help fulfill Jesus’ prayer that we the church would be one?  Take time to pray for your church as Jesus did for us!

John 15

Vs. 5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  This is Jesus’ seventh and last I AM statement in the Gospel of John.  The vine and the branches metaphor was a sacred image in Judaism during Jesus’ time; the vine was the symbol of Israel (vs. 1-17).  While vines can grow different fruits, the word vine in the bible nearly always refers to the grapevine.  The relation the vine and fruit from the branches is a vivid illustration of God’s relationship with His creation.  Jesus would surprise His disciples by declaring that He was the true vine (vs. 1) and that we are the branches.  There are times the gardener (the Father) must prune the branches so they can bear more fruit.  In the latter half of our chapter, Jesus exhorts the disciples not to be surprised to be hated by the world (vs. 18-27).  There will be times when we may want to live like the world, love the world and conform to the world.  But, the Holy Spirit is coming (vs. 26) to give us the ability to not allow the world to scare us from living for the Lord.

Regarding application…Bearing Fruit.  Vs. 8, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”  Question: Are you connected? We live in a world that is literally connected; Roads, the internet, phone lines, social networking, etc.  If I don’t connect my smartphone every night, there is a good chance I will run out of battery life before the end of the day.  So, I always make sure my phone is connected.  Likewise, we must stay connected to the vine (Jesus).  Question: Why, so that we can bear much fruit.  We will know true believers by the fruit they bear.  There are so many people who are perplexed by understanding Jesus, God, faith, etc.  It is because they are not connecting to the true power source.  As you have connected yourself to Jesus today, consider ways you can bear fruit so that people will see you are Jesus’ disciple!

John 14

Vs. 1, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”  This Passover Feast was no celebration for the disciples.  The tension in the room was obvious and many of them were troubled.  The thought of Jesus leaving was them was more than they could bear.  Jesus wanted to encourage them that His leaving wasn’t without a purpose (vs. 1-4); that He would be preparing a place for us.  In their distress, they still didn’t understand fully what Jesus would do on the cross.  The cross would pave the way for them and us to have access to God the Father (vs. 5-14).  Though Jesus is leaving, He promised them that they would have power to do great things because of the Holy Spirit (vs. 12-17).  Jesus reassures them that He will also come back (vs. 18-24), though biblical scholars are split on what Jesus is referring to; Resurrection at Easter or the Second Coming.  And lastly, Jesus goes on to elaborate more about what the Holy Spirit will do to help the disciples (vs. 25-31).

Regarding application…One Way, Jesus!  Vs. 6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  In a world where spiritual pluralism seems to be the new thing, we as Christians hold on to an absolute truth.  Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life.  This is the sixth of the I AM statements and one that certainly has the attention of many.  The world looks at this statement and scoffs at the idea of such an exclusive way of thinking.  It is a dangerous and presumptuous road we travel down when we begin to declare that God is not right.  Jesus died so we could have life.  And many people of the faith (Hebrews 11) and the many saints/believers since have died to share the Jesus in the way to eternal life!  Let us hold to such truth and declare that in our lives!

John 13

Vs. 14, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”  We begin a new section in the Gospel of John as we now focus on Jesus alone with His disciples.  The previous chapters focused on signs that pointed us to Jesus as the Son of God.  We come to the last supper with Jesus and the disciples in the upper room.  From John’s perspective, the focus is more on Jesus’ actions after the meal had been served.  The washing of the disciple’s feet (vs. 1-17) would be a stark reminder that we are to serve each other with humility.  Though the enemy was prompted Judas Iscariot (vs. 2) to begin his betrayal, Jesus would still wash his feet.  It is important to note that Judas Iscariot was never a true believer (vs. 18-30).  That is why Satan was able to enter him (vs. 27).  Prophecy also was fulfilled (vs. 18) from Psalms 41:9.  After Judas left, Jesus goes on to encourage the bewildered disciples.  And lastly, while Peter would end up laying down his life (vs. 36-38), he would have to go through some learning trials first.

Regarding application…Do You Understand?  Vs. 12, “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.”  In that moment, the disciples were a bit perplexed.  But Jesus was sharing a truth much deeper than simply washing someone’s feet.  I would contend that the Lord often brings circumstances in our lives that don’t always make sense for the sole purpose to teach us a life lesson.  I didn’t understand why God had me start being a Youth Pastor so many years ago.  It was never something I personally desired or wanted.  However, God was teaching me a lesson he would remind Peter later in the Gospel of John.  We are to feed and take care of His sheep (John 21:15-17).  I didn’t understand it at the time, but God used that circumstance to teach me a deep truth.

John 12

Vs. 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.”  In this chapter, we see Jesus being obedient to the Father by coming to Jerusalem one last time.  Before Jesus would enter Jerusalem, we see a most beautiful picture of love and sacrifice by Mary with the expensive perfume (vs. 1-11).  The anointing of Jesus would symbolize preparation of His death.  The raising of Lazarus and Passover would bring Jesus to entering Jerusalem triumphantly on a donkey (vs. 12-19).  All four Gospels record this one-time where Jesus allowed a public demonstration dedicated for Him as He fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy (Zechariah 9:9).  The palm branches symbolized peace and the Israelites were hoping that Jesus would bring peace to their people.  The donkey was an animal a king would ride on bringing peace to his people.  The next section of our chapter involves Jesus’ interaction with the Greeks (Gentiles) who came to also worship the LORD (vs. 20-36).  Jesus takes the time to meet with them and shares with them the hour has come (vs. 23).  Like Jesus’ obedience, we too must follow God’s will and call in our lives.   It’s a fitting passage for John’s Gospel reminds us that the Good New is for all!  Sadly, there were still many who would not put their faith in Jesus (vs. 37-50).

Regarding application…What Matters Most?  Vs. 43, “for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.”  It’s an easy thought to quickly frown upon such behavior by leaders who feared the wrath of the Pharisees.  Have a little backbone and courage!  But receiving love from the world is far more powerful than we realize.  Living in a socially connected society, it is naïve to think that we are not affected.  Think about all the things we do to receive the praises of men; academics, college, careers, clothes, makeup, hairstyles, possessions, etc.  God is not impressed by such standards, nor should we.  Take time brothers and sisters to consider what matters most to you!  Let’s live a life that brings glory to God first and foremost!

John 11

Vs. 1, “Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.”  We now come to undoubtedly the most powerful miracle recorded as Jesus shows He has power over death and life in an indisputable resurrection of life in Lazarus (vs. 1-44).  Upon receiving the message that Lazarus was sick, Jesus surprises us by not going to Bethany right away (vs. 4-6).  It was a dangerous thing to go to Bethany (vs. 8, 16) for it was only a couple of miles away from Jerusalem.  The disciples knew by this time how polarizing Jesus’ ministry was and how dangerous it would be to be so close the capital city where the opponents held the strongest influence.  Upon arriving to Bethany (vs. 17-37), Jesus comforts the grieving sisters; Martha and Mary.  John shares with us the fifth I AM statement as Jesus states, “I am the resurrection and the life…” (vs. 25).  We are given quite a personal perspective on the emotions of our Lord (vs. 35).  For the benefit of all of us, Jesus raises Lazarus (vs. 38-44); I wonder what kind of testimony Lazarus would have on what he might have remembered.  However, all of these miracles culminated to the point that the enemies of the cross conspired to stop Jesus’ influence (vs. 45-57).

Regarding application…Man of Sorrow.  Vs. 35, “Jesus wept.”  Question: Why did Jesus weep?  Certainly, He knew that Lazarus was going to be raised up to life again.  However, this was a unique miracle and one that is certainly not going to be repeated until the resurrection of the dead when Jesus returns again (I Thess. 4:13-18).  There could have been many reasons Jesus wept.  Perhaps he wept because He saw the pain of those he loved in sorrow, perhaps he wept because he knew that death was never something He intended for his creation.  One of the members of my church recently lost a loved one.  There was a beautiful service and as the eulogy was being shared, I couldn’t help but weep with the grieving.  Fortunately, life is a vapor in the wind and death is but a entryway into eternal life for those who are saved.  In the midst of all of our busyness, let’s take time to have our hearts reach out to others.