Don't Miss It!

John 18 finishes out with the final verses in 28 - 40. It's Jesus before Pilate. Pilate is the appointed governor from Rome. He's the guy desperately trying to hold onto his position and job. If he can't keep Israel calm, Rome will remove him and put someone else in his spot. (This actually happens later after Jesus is gone.)

What kills me about this is that the Jewish leaders come to Pilate's house, and bring Jesus to the ruler. They won't enter the house. Why? Because if they go in a Gentile's house, they will be "unclean". If they are "unclean", then they have to go through elaborate ceremonies to become spiritually clean again. There isn't time to do that and to kill Jesus before Passover begins.

But what is Passover? It is where the Jews celebrate God saving their first born sons when they were in Egypt. The Egyptians had a plague put on them where the first born boys in each family were killed. But the Jews put the blood of a lamb on the doorposts, and God saved their sons. Passover is a huge celebration where they remember God doing that, and they celebrate being saved, once, long ago. A big part of Passover is looking forward to the Messiah coming again.

So, we have very educated Jewish priests wanting to stay pure so that they can celebrate God saving them and the Messiah coming. They want to kill Jesus quickly, and won't even go into the courtroom to have Him tried due to their desire to be "pure". They are killing the Messiah, the one son sent to save them, and are worried about being pure. The upside down irony is so thick that it's suffocating.

How could they be so stupid? How could they miss it? How could they be so worried about their religion that they miss the whole thing they are looking for? It's ridiculous!

And it is. It still is every time I do it. Every time I judge someone from my basis of how right I am, and how wrong they are, I miss the Messiah. Every time I ignore someone's needs while I am SO blessed with money, health, time, education, and ability, I miss the Messiah. Every time God asks me to do something, and I pretend not to hear, or not to be sure that it is Him asking, I miss the Messiah. It is stupid and ridiculous. It still is today.

Where are you missing the Messiah today?

Take It to the Bank

No comments on John today. Just a confession of my own. I'm worried and scared. I shouldn't be. I know that full well. We are facing some stuff that I can't control. None of it is bad. There are just some dreams I have, some hopes and wishes, and alot has to happen in the next couple of weeks. If it goes one way, doors can open to see those hopes become reality. If it goes another way, they might close for now.

The reason I'm scared is that it's out of my hands. They've been dealt some small blows recently, and they've been given some support. So I have no clue where things are going to go. That scares me. Even after all this time following Christ and seeing Him work miracles over and over, I still have a difficult time trusting Him with my dreams. I can trust Him most time with my day to day needs. I do a good job of trusting Him on the huge miraculous stuff like healing people and relationships. I know He is in charge of the ministry, and do a decent job of following Him there. But its my dreams that make me twitchy. I get nervous with them.

I think it's because I tend to be unsure where some of these hopes and wishes fall. I mean, are they good things I am hoping for, or are they merely selfish things? I have a hard time discerning. And in my mind, that affects how God will carry them out. I often believe He will see them through if they are at some level "good". But I believe He will shut them down if they aren't. That's where my fear comes in.

I don't want them shut down. I want them. That's why they are called hopes and dreams. They are things I hope for and dream about. So, I can't turn them off so easily. And therefore, I worry. But that is wrong. I know that. God says not to worry about today or tomorrow, but to trust Him. Over the past couple of days He has repeatedly been telling me "Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you." And I'm trying really hard to do that.

Yet I worry.

I know God is trustworthy. He ALWAYS has been in EVERY case. He has never, ever, ever dropped me. He has given me more of my dreams and hopes than I could ever imagine. He has been more than kind, more than gracious, more than generous in the BIG deals, and in the small events. I will not fear, because if the Lord is for me, nothing can come against me. I know it. I believe it. I just need to keep telling myself these things.

If I can't completely kill the fear and worry, I am going to cage it up in a cage built on faith. I'm going to choose to keep shutting the door. I will rely on God, and watch Him work. I must, I have no where else to go.

Anybody else ever been in this spot?

In The Name of Love, One More In the ...

Reading today, Jesus continues through His crucifixion stages. Peter denies Him for the second time in John 18:25-27. This time, it was probably in fear of His life. After all, the guy asking was there when he cut the soldiers ear off.

Then Jesus is taken to Pilate, the Roman governor. A couple of details hit me today reading this. One, the Jewish leaders won't take Jesus into Pilate's palace. If they did, they would be "unclean" for going into a Gentile's house. There were ceremonies they would have to go through to become "clean" again. The ceremonies would need to be done before the start of the Sabbath, which was that evening, and they didn't have time to get it done, what with the trying to kill Jesus stuff on their "to do" list. So they wouldn't go in. The interesting note is because that Sabbath was Passover, a celebration when the Jews remembered God saving their first born sons from death. The irony is too deep to handle in that. They want to party, thanking God for saving their first born sons. They are so concerned about being a part of this celebration that they are conducting an illegal trial to kill God's firstborn (and only) son. Does that confuse anyone else but me?

Secondly, when the people cry for Barabbas release instead of Jesus, it says that he had taken part in a revolution. He was part of a group trying to overthrow the Roman government. This is exactly what the people had hoped Jesus would do. But when He didn't, and went down the whole "my kingdom is not of this world" path, they ditched Him and moved on. They wanted a king, but they wanted one on their terms. Maybe Barabbas could be that. He definitely was a better shot at it than Jesus had turned out to be!

But then, as always, as I'm dumbfounded at the thickheadedness and stupidity of the Jews, God reminds me of my tendency to do the exact same things. (Sign) I really don't like it when He does, but then I remember how much He loves me. Anyway, how often do we get so caught up in our ideas of religion and power and influence and marketing and "the way things SHOULD be around here" that we ignore what Jesus is doing all together. We might even ignore Him in His name. I do.

What's His response? He speaks truth, and then lays down His life for me.

I won't even go into the part where He calls us to do the same thing for other people around us. That'll be another day.


I just noticed that my last post was #100. Hmmm.... I think that should mean something, but I'm not sure what.

The Truth Hurts...

I don't want to get on Jesus wrong side. Period. I read verses 19-14 in John 18, and the religious leaders have crossed the line. Jesus doesn't take them on the way I would, yelling and intimidating. He just brings the truth, raw, unvarnished and sharp as a knife.

I think that is what I often fear the most. I can put up with a bully, full of themselves and trying to act like they have power. But when someone has the truth and brings it into a part of my life where I am guilty, off kilter, and wrong; that brings fear to my heart. It brings a requirement to repent, turn around, and go the other way. My pride hates that. And pride leads to fear.

Jesus often stands in a courtroom in my life, with me putting Him on trial, blaming Him for all sorts of things. Often He takes it with mercy and grace and is so kind to me. But at other times, it is just like the scene in this passage, with Him delivering complete truth in such a way that I feel cut in half.

Honestly, I'm so glad He does. I want Him to be King. I really do. And I'm glad when He does. Not right away. But eventually I come around to it. Truth often hurts, but it always heals. Always.

Why play hide and seek?

In John 18:15 - 18, an unnamed disciple gets Peter into the audience where Jesus is being tried in court. It seems like the disciple is probably John. So, here is my question. If John is known by the High Priest, it would seem that they would know he was a disciple of Jesus. And he is given freedom to come into the trial.

Yet Peter, when asked about being with Jesus, denies it. Why? I don't understand. I always thought he was afraid and undercover. But if John was known, there would be no need for him to hide. John was safe, he would have been too. But instead Peter lied and tried to hide. (wow, that rhymes).

Anyway, why did he do it? His life doesn't seem to be at risk. He doesn't seem to be at threat of being arrested. Any ideas why He would hide? If we can figure it out, I'm sure that there is a lesson in it for us.

What do you think?

Tie Him Up Before He Says His Name Again!

John 18:12-14 is such a small section of the story, and yet it contains some interesting points to it. Jesus at this point has knocked the men down just by saying the name of God, He has healed the ear of the man who had it knocked off, and has said He will not fight with a sword. Yet notice that the first thing the soldiers do is tie Jesus up. All they know is force. They didn't have to do this. He was willing to go with them, yet they tied Him up. He had just healed one of their own, and they see Him as a threat.

Then He is taken to Caiaphas, the high priest. This is a man who spent years studying the Bible to understand God. He had lived a life beyond reproach, worked hard to know and follow God. Yet when God spoke to Him face to face, Caiaphas saw Him as a threat. He wanted Jesus killed.

I do the same thing. I get a dream or a plan going, and Jesus doesn't want anything to do with it. Whatever I have planned for my life, Jesus declares it to be destructive, anti-God, and wants to freely come and heal it. But I resist, and want to tie God up and do away with Him, at least temporarily. I'll bring Him back out later and set Him free once I've done whatever it is that I am hell bent on doing. I am the biggest fool of the three between me, Caiaphas, and the soldiers.

You see, I know Jesus. He is the savior, the healer. He has proven a thousand times to me that His way is best and that He wants my very best for me. He is not selfish, mean, or petty. Yet I want to tie Him up and do away with Him at times. When I'm weak, tired, and selfish. When I'm afraid, worried, and unsure. Then I want to be god with the smallest "g" possible.

Lord, I really am sorry. Help me to be the one who surrenders at all times, not just when it's convenient. Help me to follow, and not try to use you when it works best for me. You are God, I am not. Period. And I like it that way.

Knocked Down, But Not Out

With Jesus' time of prayer behind him, we see Him move towards His arrest and ulitmately His crucifixion in John 18. A couple of things stick out to me in this story. One, Jesus is in control of His own schedule. They don't grab Him while He is praying. He gets up, walks across the valley, and then when they come, He walks out to meet them. He is in charge from the get go. It's not something that catches Him off guard, or that He resists. He marches directly into the storm. Wow.

Secondly, notice in verse 6 what happens. Jesus asks who they are after, knowing it is Him. It's dark, and they only have torches. They say they are after Jesus of Nazareth. He answers "I am he." When He says this, they fall to the ground. Why? "I am He" is the name in Hebrew for God. In Exodus, it's the name God gives to Moses to tell the people Who sent him. It's the name the Jews held as holy, and wouldn't speak or write on their own. It's the name of God alone. When Jesus, being God, says this phrase which is one of the names of God, it explodes with the Holiness of God. This Holiness knocks the soldiers back and down.

How could they even arrest Him after this? Its an excellent example of how we get so far down our own paths that we ignore God and do the wrong things in the face of His Holiness. I do it from time to time, and have to get knocked on my rear hard to wake up. Its no wonder they missed it.

What about you? Do we really believe God is in control of the storms around us? Will we march into them with Him? Is there something that you are holding onto so tightly that you ignore His overwhelming power and holiness because of it?

Me + You = One

The last part of Jesus' prayer in John 17:20-26 is astounding. No, really, it is. Read it and see. As Jesus is getting ready to be arrested, He doesn't throw in one more prayer for Himself. He doesn't pray for the 11. He doesn't pray for His mom. He prays for me and you. His last thoughts are about us. So, what does He pray?

He prays for us to be unified. Together. To work as one. To be one in the same way that He and His Father are one. Think about that for a moment. They were separated by two realms, the physical and the spiritual. Yet, even with that separation, they grew closer with each passing day. They loved and listened to each other, and accomplished the Father's will. Hmmm....

So what does that mean for us? What would it look like for me and you, and the other millions of Christians worldwide to be one? How could we work towards being one with the believers in Kenya, China, Afghanistan, Berlin, Boston, London, and Greenland? What would it take? Could it be done?

And most importantly, why is this Christ's prayer for us? Not for us to prosper, be comfortable, have a great life, be politically active, run the world, or be great. He prayed one thing, for unity. Why?

If you read this, I really would like to hear your opinion on it. We don't ever discuss this, yet it seemed to be of utmost importance to our Lord.

Small Numbers, Great Success

As Jesus continues His last prayer in John 17:6-19, He prays a series of thoughts and ideas that have kept me sane at times. Any of us who are going to love others and care for others are going to get our heart broken. It's part of the package. There will always be folks who we pour our heart and lives into, only to have them walk away from the faith, and from us. It's happened to me dozens of times. And it wears on you. It makes it incredibly difficult to keep going, to keep giving. When I see yet another person who has so much potential, who has been shown so much grace, walk away from Jesus and deny Him, I get so mad and hurt sometimes. But God always brings me back to this prayer.

Notice what Jesus says in the prayer. He is kneeling before His Father, and claims that He got everyone to the end who He was supposed to. Everyone that He was sent for are present and accounted for. He was a success in His assignment to come and save mankind. No big surprise. Until you remember who is still with Him. He is down to the last 11 disciples, and a few women. At one point, Jesus had 20,000 people listening to Him teach. He was a rock star in His day. At the point of His prayer, He is probably down to 20 or less followers. Everyone has left, even Judas.

But notice that Jesus claims that it is these 20 He was sent for. It was for these 20 that He came. He knew all along that the 20,000 wouldn't last. People would follow for a while and walk away. He was okay with that. There is no apology from Jesus for "losing" so many. There is no anger in Him at the ungrateful crowds who used Him and split. He wasn't here for them. He was here for the small group of followers who made it to the garden with Him. And remember, He even knew that they would abandon Him temporarily over the next 12 hours. He would die alone.

But He was a success. He had done what He was sent to do.

So what of us? Should we be surprised when others show interest for a while, but then leave? Should we be discouraged that we don't have a 95% retention rate with people? No, Christ tells us not to in His teachings. The parable of the sower, where only a small percentage of the seed grows into a healthy plant. It is part of the process.

So, hold people loosely. Don't take it personally. Understand that God's plan for you is probably quite different than you think. Be faithful. And be thankful. You serve One who truly understands where you are. That is enough.

Heading Home for True North

In John 17, we hit one of my favorite prayers in the Bible. Jesus speaks with God before the arrest with Judas comes. It's almost a man's last words. I've always wondered how John knew these words. Were they said while the disciples were awake? Remember, we are told in the other gospels that the disciples fell asleep, and Jesus was alone. Or did Jesus tell John about the prayer later after the resurrection? I don't know, but either way, it's an incredibly powerful prayer.

In the first five verses, we simply see Jesus getting ready to come home. Regardless of what He knew at what stage of life, there is no doubt at this point He knows who He is, where He has been, and where He is going. Just the resolve in His voice, the strength in faith, is so powerful, it always moves me.

I want to live in such a way that my life and words clearly speak what Jesus says in the first five verses of chapter 17. Check it out:
1. There is a plan. The time has come. This is not an accident and You are in charge.
2. Do what you want with me, because I know it will point back to you.
3. You have given me everything I have so that I might be a gift to them. Use me as you will.
4. The gospel is simple and clear, know and love God and Jesus. That's it.
5. I have done what you asked, and it worked.
6. Take me home to where I am meant to be.

That is a blueprint for life worth living! All for Him, everything He gives me all goes back to Him. My life has a clear and worthwhile purpose and goal, and at the end, it is achieved. I want to live that way.

Any thoughts?

The Ah-Ha Moment

As chapter 16 in John finishes out, I love how Jesus speaks to His disciples. They don't get what He is saying, so He lovingly clears it up for them. And then they have the Ah-Ha! moment where they get it (vs. 31). Notice that Jesus tells them ahead of time that they will run from Him, but that He isn't alone even then. He comforts them before they are heartbroken.

But what of the point on the cross where God turns His back on Jesus? Did Jesus not know that part was coming? Honestly, I don't know. On the one hand, He could have been protecting the disciples by not telling them everything that was to come. He doesn't tell them every detail beforehand, so that could be the case here.

But the Bible is also clear that Jesus learned as He went, that somehow God gave Him knowledge as He got older. So maybe Jesus didn't yet know that God would separate from Him and turn His back on Him on the cross.

The whole thing is confusing to me, I have to admit. What did He know, and when? I would love to hear what everyone else understands about this idea.

Either way though, we see in Jesus this desire to care for those around Him, even as they are getting ready to dessert Him in His worst hours. What love He has for them, for me, for us! I bail on Jesus all of the time, yet He continues to love me. That is an example worth trying to follow.

I would love any feedback you may have.
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