RSS

Category Archives: John

John 2:1-11

“The Wedding At Cana” by Paolo Veronese

The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
John 2:1-11

Dear God, I understand why Mr. Veronese put Jesus in the middle of the image, but I’d have much rather he placed him off to the side somewhere. Maybe a little more inconspicuous. I’m guessing the bride and groom are the ones on the far left, with the bride wearing a white gown. Maybe the mater of ceremonies is the man in the ornate white outfit standing behind the man pouring out the water jar int a wine container. I think he’s holding a glass. Frankly, there’s a ton to see here. I just looked up an article analyzing the painting and it was quite extensive. I don’t think I’ll spend too much time doing that here.

As a Baptist who has lived and worshipped with Catholics closely for 12 years, I now know that this is one of the stories they use to justify Mary’s influence over you, even to this day. Jesus didn’t want to, telling her it wasn’t there problem, but Mary ignored him and assumed he would listen to her anyway. I’ve always wondered if this was actually the right thing for her to do. Was Mary wrong to have pushed him like this?

I wonder what she expected of Jesus going forward. She knew he was in the new phase of his life. I’m sure she had seen him do miracles over the years. Almost like being Superman’s mom, knowing his secret. Was it time to let the secret out? Was it time to release Jesus on the world? Will the predictions of her Magnificat come true?

The truth is, she had zero idea how this was going to turn out. She, along with the entire Jewish people/nation, had a paradigm of freedom and victory. You were going to bring down princes from their thrones. You were going to humble the exalted. You would send the rich away empty, but you would fill the hungry. You would fulfill your promises. It just didn’t look like she thought it would look.

Now, I sit here some days and I try to parse out what I have been taught you will do in the world vs. what the evidence shows you will do in the world. In a macro look at history, we are in such a small part of the timeline right now, and, frankly, even though the Christians in country tends to have placed itself in the role as your chosen people, we are not Israel. We are only one more power on the earth that rose, and will, at some point, decline. Perhaps the decline has started already. I don’t know. All I know is that it is so easy to see the United States as so central to your plans when my only perspective is that of about 5% of the world who lives here–from within the country–but we need to remember that there are more Christians who live outside of the United States than in it. Maybe your people are no longer defined by an organized government. Maybe we are just supposed to be a society that lives and moves without caring about national borders.

Father, this has been a lot of talk to simply say that I don’t know. I don’t know what you are doing in the grand scheme of things. I don’t even know what you are doing in my tiny life. You have me on a need-to-know basis, and I don’t really need to know much. In fact, the less I know the less I’ll mess things up. So help me to be obedient to you today. Help me to do exactly what you want me to do tomorrow. Be glorified in my life and be my God.

I pray all of this in your holy Name,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 7, 2023 in John

 

Tags: ,

John 6:24-40

 24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went across to Capernaum to look for him. 25 They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”

29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’[g]

32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”

35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

John 6:24-40

Dear God, there are all of these great nuggets in this story. Well, I guess there is just the main point of it. Jesus perceives they are impressed with the miracles and want to see more of them. He tells them to focus on you and their faith and they reply, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” Then Jesus says, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

We are such fools. “Show me this.” “Do that for me.” It reminds of of your words to Job in Job 38: “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?” I have something coming up in my life that I’m not happy about. I talked with a friend about it at lunch yesterday. I want to gripe and complain about it. I want to blame you for it, even. But maybe–unfortunately–your words to Job and the people talking to Jesus are your words for me: “Who are you to question my wisdom with such ignorant words? I only want one work from you: Believe in Jesus.” All else is about loving others into doing the same. That’s it. That’s all. It’s that simple.

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, I am good at certain things, but it feels like I fail at the most important ones. Help me to simply worship and love you and till the soil of my heart so that the thorns (pursuit of money and cares of this world) are cleared away and your Holy Spirit has good soil with which to work in my life. I offer myself to you. Love through me.

I pray all of this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 3, 2022 in Job, John

 

Judas

Dear God, I was listening to the Catholic Bible in a Year podcast from Ascension Press by Father Mike Schmitz recently when he was reading from 1 Maccabees. As a Protestant Christian, it was my first time to hear any of the stories. While I was listening, something occurred to me. Judas Maccabeus was a Jewish military hero less than 200 years before Jesus was born. There were two of Jesus’s 12 disciples who were named Judas. I don’t remember reading the name Judas in the Old Testament other than Judas Maccabeus. Is it possible that Judas was a common name to give boys during this era in Israel? Finally–and this one is a big leap–could Judas Iscariot have been wanting to live up to his namesake and frustrated by this fact even more that Jesus didn’t seem to care about Rome’s rule over Israel?

After that, I decided to see who else in the New Testament was named Judas. Just how common was this?

  • Judas Iscariot (we all know him)
  • Judas (not Iscariot): John 14:22
  • Judas, Jesus’s brother: Mark 6:3
  • Judas, called Barsabbas: Acts 15:22 [I wonder if he changed his name because of Judas Iscariot]
  • Jude (author of Jude)–some debate if this might be a duplicate–Jesus’s brother
  • Judas of Galilee: Acts 5:37–rebel leader

Yeah, I think this naming your kid Judas might have been a thing at the time. Of course, that went away over time. Judas Iscariot has become as abhorrent in Christian circles as Benedict Arnold or Adolf Hitler have become in our modern times. I don’t know how many people in Germany currently name their son Adolf, but I would be surprised if it was many.

Father, I don’t know what is in this story for me, but it’s interesting to stop and think about how little decisions, like what to name our child, might impact their lives. I have a few things happening today. Help me as I prepare to go through this day. Let your Holy Spirit go with me. Go with me to work. Let there be healing. Go with me to Rotary. Go with me to San Antonio tonight. Go with me as we strive to bring you glory for all that you do in our lives. Help me to be part of you bringing your kingdom and will being done into the world.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 31, 2022 in Acts, John, Jude, Luke, Mark, Matthew, Uncategorized

 

The God Hole

[In the story “The Rocking-Horse Winner,”] author D.H. Lawrence describes a home where the young family is haunted by the unspoken phrase, “There must be more money! There must be more money! The children could hear it all the time though nobody said it aloud.” The balance of the story is the sad account of how the young son, by rocking madly on his toy horse, discovers a way to predict the winners of horse races. Tragically, he eventually rocks himself to death because the voices never stop. There is never enough money.

Fred Smith, “The Overexamined Life”

Dear God, I read this piece from Fred Smith’s weekly blog this morning and pulled this paragraph from it. It made me think of a few things, so I thought I would pray about it.

The overall point of Smith’s blog post was about how he has noticed some people replacing the pursuit of money with a life of service, but even that seems like it’s never enough. People end up on the same treadmill the rocking-horse winner was on. Always trying to fill a hole in their lives. Always trying to fill what was described to me as a child as the “God hole.”

The God hole, as I understand it, is that shape in our heart that only you can fill. Anything else we try to put there will fall right through and never land. And I don’t fill that hole with you by simply believing in your, praying a prayer of repentance, and then moving on my way. No, I fill that hole with you by applying two of Jesus’s parables at the same time:

15 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:1-5

If I do not attaching the branch of my life to you and then give you the opportunity to prune me then I won’t produce fruit. It’s that simple. I attach my branch to your vine through prayer, scripture study and contemplation, worship, and Christian community–not necessarily in that order.

The next parable is as important:

18 “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: 19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. 20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. 23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Matthew 13:18-23

My biggest threat is verse 22: the seed that ell among the thorns. What am I doing to weed the soil of my life? What I am doing to give good soil to the Holy Spirit to work on my branch? Am I removing the “worries of this life and the lure of wealth?

I guess there’s one final thing that I think is the cherry on top of all of this. It’s what Paul says in Acts 20:24 when he is on his way to Jerusalem where he has a pretty good idea he will be arrested. People are warning him to not go and he replies, “I consider my life worth nothing to me. If only I finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me. The task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. At the end of the day, if I died today and you had only used my 52 years to touch one person then that’s all that matters. I can let go of my own ambitions for my life. Peace is found through just submitting to you today, being obedient when I hear you speak and then praying your blessing on the work you have called me to do.

Father, I give you all of this today. I don’t want anything for myself. I just want to rest in you and work by your direction, with your blessing, and for your glory so that your kingdom might come and your will might be done on earth as it is in heaven.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

Tags: , ,

“Yeshua Ha Mashiach” by Scott Wesley Brown

“Yeshua Ha Mashiach” by Scott Wesley Brown

The room was filled with people
Who had come to hear Him speak
A Simple man with callused hands
And dust upon His feet
Twelve men were gathered ’round him
Like they knew Him as a friend
But I had never seen Him
Though He said He’d always been

Unlike the other people
I had only come to see
But when He spoke I noticed
He was staring into me
I whispered to a woman
Who was listening by my side
Who is this man? and
These words she replied:

Yeshua Ha Mashiach
The image of I Am
The Mystery of Heaven
Come to earth a mortal man
Yeshua Ha Mashiach
The Lion and the Lamb
His eyes are warm and tender
But there’s fire in His hand

More than any other prophet
His words burned me deep inside
Exposing from my hardened heart
The truth I could not hide
For years I had been waiting
For Messiah yet to come
But long before I heard His Name
I knew He was The One

Yeshua Ha Mashiach
The image of I Am
The Mystery of Heaven
Come to earth a mortal man
Yeshua Ha Mashiach
The Lion and the Lamb
His eyes are warm and tender
But there’s fire in His hand

Yeshua Ha Mashiach
The image of I Am
The Mystery of Heaven
Come to earth a mortal man
Yeshua Ha Mashiach
The Lion and the Lamb
His eyes are warm and tender
But there’s fire in His hand

Jesus the Messiah
The Image of I Am
The Mystery of Heaven
Come to earth a mortal man
Yeshua Ha Mashiach
The Lion and the Lamb
His eyes are warm and tender
But there’s fire in His hand

Jesus the Messiah
The Image of I Am
The Mystery of Heaven
Come to earth a mortal man
Yeshua Ha Mashiach
The Lion and the Lamb
His eyes are warm and tender
But there’s fire in His hand

Yeshua Ha Mashiach
The image of I Am
The Mystery of Heaven
Come to earth a mortal man
Yeshua Ha Mashiach
The Lion and the Lamb
His eyes are warm and tender
But there’s fire in His hand
Yeshua Ha Mashiach

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Greg Wayne Davis / Gregory D. Fisher

Dear God, this is a song from the 80s that I hadn’t thought about for a while, but was reminded up a few days ago. I can’t remember what brought it to mind. I think it might have been another song that reminded me of it. Anyway, it has a great beat and it’s just a reminder of who Jesus was.

I was listening to the song this morning after I woke up and watched the video above. The actor playing Jesus is interesting because he doesn’t have the typical “Jesus look.” He’s a little more intense than I’m used to seeing. I’m used to gentle-eyed Jesus, but this one seems to have something different in his eyes. I’m not sure which image I like or lean to more. Okay, I know which one I like more. I like the gentle-eyed one. But have I missed something by not considering a Jesus who maybe looked a little more intense? I read last week about Jesus saying he came to burn things down, cause divisions, etc.

Well, I guess I’ll have to think about that. But what I want to look at is just the idea in the chorus that Jesus was your image. God come to earth. A piece of your nature here with us in physical form. The decisions. The mercy. The anger. The wisdom. The compassion. The exasperation. The joy. The peace. The patience. The forgiveness. The sacrifice. The power. The healing. all of it was in him. All of you was in him. To know him was to know you.

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. 11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.

John 14:8-9

Holy Spirit, Father, Jesus, I need all of your being today and this week. This week, in particular. There are several things going on. Things in different areas of our community. We need your power. Your provision. Your protection. Your wisdom. Your intervention. Your redemption. In fact, we need everything that is you for everything we are. Help us to lean into you this week. Help me. Help each person on my heart right now. Help us to put on your holy armor so that in the face of trials and difficult decisions we might stand. Provide for us. Bless our work. Use all of this to draw each of us closer to yourself.

I pray this through Jesus,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 24, 2022 in Hymns and Songs, John

 

Tags:

10 Observations by Adam Neder: #2. American churches are becoming less politically diverse and more partisan.

I was reading an article from the H.E.B. Foundation Magazine Echoes this morning, and I came across a description of a summer retreat led by Adam Neder. The retreat was titled “Faith in the Ruins.” A description of the retreat in the promotional material for it sums it up: “…as challenges multiply, as the church perfects the art of discrediting itself, as friends leave the faith, many Christians are feeling exhausted, disoriented, and discouraged. Some wonder how much longer they can stick with Christianity–or even if they want to.”

That’s where the 10 observations by Neder came in. I looked at them and thought I would do a series of prayer journals on the 10 observations the article mentioned Neder covered during the retreat.

#2. American churches are becoming less politically diverse and more partisan.

Dear God, I would love to go back to the 1960s and see what the political makeup of American churches was back then. In retrospect, it seems like, from my limited perspective, that Satan used the abortion issue in the 70s to start to divide the church on political lines. When I think about the political divide now and how it has come into the church, it seems, frankly, hopeless. I don’t pray about it like I should, that’s for sure. A couple of weeks ago, I was praying through the verses about us all being part of one body and I asked you if it is possible for American Democrats and Republicans to be part of the same body. The answer is obviously yes because neither side is holier or has the monopoly on you. All political platforms are flawed and full of sin. All of us need to repent. All of us need to extend your grace to others and, even if we think we are absolutely right, allow someone else to be “wrong” as much as we expect them to allow us to be “wrong.” And when it’s important, we can discuss it and keep our minds open to see if there might be error in the way we are thinking or see an issue.

If I were a pastor, I honestly don’t know what I would do except go back to what I said for Neder’s first observation, and go back to emphasizing discipleship. I find that the deeper I get into you the less I need to be right because I realize step by step that I’m wrong so often. And then the more I look for your grace and mercy to be wrong the more I end up giving people space to either be, what I consider to be, wrong or allow for the idea that they might be right and I am wrong. Or, in the end, maybe neither of us are wrong, but simply have different opinions.

Father, Holy Spirit, please be with your church. As Jesus said in John 17:20-21: 20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. This is my prayer for your church. Help us to repent from spending more time reading or watching news than with you. Help us to be in the world but not of the world. Use us as your vessels to love others, take your will and kingdom into the world, and be your ambassadors to a world that needs you. Speak to us. Comfort us. Counsel us. Guide us. Teach us. Motivate us.

I pray this through your son, Jesus,

Amen

 

Tags: , ,

John 15:9-15

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

John 15:9-15

Dear God, I was thinking about Abraham this morning and the juxtaposition of his faith and love for you and the many bad kings that followed David in Israel. The idea was to end up after life in the bosom of Abraham (Luke 16). But they didn’t love you. They gave up on looking beyond themselves and their limited power. They clung to their pride. They didn’t want to submit and then go through the work of worship and relationship with you.

Are we any different? Am I any different? Oh, perhaps I’m a little different in that I continue, at least up to this point, to strive to worship you, pray to you, learn from you, and pursue relationship with you. But it’s all fragile. There are days when it feels easier to just sink into myself and gratify all of my own desires. It’s like marriage a little. It takes work on my part for a healthy relationship. The path of least resistance–the wide path–is to indulge my own selfishness, ignore my wife and her needs, and just…I don’t know…be a jerk. But the more difficult but fulfilling past–the narrow path–takes self-sacrifice, self-denial, and work. But at the end of the day, it’s the much more rewarding path.

How much more so is the narrow path worth it with you? I was listening to a discussion this morning on the theology around hell and the afterlife. I confess to you that I have no idea what all of that means. However, I am confident that relationship with you on earth and the fruits of the Spirit that come from loving you and obeying your commands are worth more than the fruits of the flesh described in Galatians 5. When I come to the end of my life, I’d rather look back on a life marked with love, joy, peace, etc. (Galatians 5:22-23) than a life full of “sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties” (Galatians 5:19-21).

Father, Holy Spirit, please be with me today. Pray for me. Pray for my friends. My wife and I spent some time this morning praying specifically for a friend with family issues. Please guide them. I know this couple does the hard work. I know they worship you. Please be their comforter and counselor now. Please honor their prayers. Please bring glory to the world through this pain. Don’t let it be wasted. And don’t let my day be wasted either. Show me what to do to bring glory to your name throughout the earth.

I pray this through Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 25, 2022 in John

 

John 3:16-21

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
John 3:16-21

Dear God, there is so much to emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually process from the last two days. It’s seems like there are different levels of evil, but it’s hard to know when it’s gone too far. The young man in Uvalde—the evil drove him too far. I don’t know what his motivations were. I don’t know what drove him to crave destruction of so many innocents. I have grieved over the last two days. I’m sure the grief has been terrible for you.

Of course, you grieve like this every day, I’m sure. You see the Uvalde equivalent but on a much larger scale in Ukraine. You see the Uvalde equivalent on a smaller scale in individual homes. You see what we do to each other online. In person. Through our words. Through our actions. Through our silence. You see your children give into hatred and let it feed them. I’ve certainly let anger in me turn into some form of hatred. And all of this just grows in darkness.

Father, help me to really be a source of light—your light—in this world. Help me to experience your complete freedom and joy and then share the opportunity to experience that joy with others. I am your Plan A. Your church is your Plan A. There is no Plan B. Help us to be a light that is willing to shine in the shadows so that your presence might go into all the world.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 26, 2022 in John

 

The Day Before Passion Week

Dear God, I decided to go through all four gospels this morning and see what they record Jesus as being up to the day before the Triumphant Entry and Passion Week. Tomorrow is Palm Sunday so it seemed fitting to try to spend some time with Jesus today–the day before. He’s been through a lot at this point, and he knows where he’s going. He has been through the Transfiguration and visited with Moses and Elijah, perhaps even receiving clarity and encouragement from them. He has rebuked James and John for wanting to kill a bunch of Samaritans for not letting him stay in his town. And now it’s all come down to this.

Matthew and Mark actually record Jesus’s activities fairly similarly. They talk about him healing some blind men. because “Jesus had compassion on them (Matthew 20:34).” Mark 10 is more specific and identifies him healing Bartimaeus. I suppose they wanted us to know that Jesus was still having compassion on people and healing them as he prepared for his Passion.

Luke actually gives us a the story of Zacchaeus as Jesus enters Jerusalem but leaves out the blind men (Luke 19). Luke wants us to know that Jesus was still in the mode of extending grace and forgiveness as he entered his last week.

Finally, and true to form, John gives us a whole different perspective. He tells us about a specific scene in Bethany when Mary (of Mary and Martha fame) showed extravagant love to Jesus by taking our some expensive perfume and pouring it on his feet. One last act of genuine worship before the week began. I wonder if John didn’t appreciate Mary’s gift more in retrospect as he told the story of the fair-weather fans who lined the streets with their palm branches. What Mary gave cost her a lot. What they gave cost them very little.

Father, do I give anything that costs me? How selfish am I? Am I willing to stop and extend your power in the midst of my own strife like Jesus did in Matthew and Mark? Am I willing love someone else through their immorality and show them your grace? Am I willing to give all that I have for all that you are? In all of these areas, am I willing to give you my utmost for your highest? As always, the answer is that I am not nearly the man I aspire to be in these areas. If you’re grading on a curve, then I compare pretty well with people around me, but that’s a steep curve. The truth is, my righteousness is rubbish. Please speak to me and give me ears to hear your voice, your direction, and your conviction.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 9, 2022 in John, Luke, Mark, Matthew

 

Tags: ,

John 19:23-30 — “The Crucifixion” by Eric Gill

The above image called “The Crucifixion” and was created by Eric Gill. It is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard.

23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes among the four of them. They also took his robe, but it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24 So they said, “Rather than tearing it apart, let’s throw dice for it.” This fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They divided my garments among themselves and threw dice for my clothing.” So that is what they did.

25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” 27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.

28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:23-30 (NLT)

Dear God, as I sat down to look at this image this morning, even before reading the passage from John, I noticed something interesting. I noticed the circles around some of the characters’ heads–indicating they were saints, sanctified, or holy. One was Jesus. Two were obviously women (bottom of cross to the right). One was a man. At first I thought this might be the thief whom Jesus assured would be in paradise, but the face is clean and looking up–not dying. No, this is apparently John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. There is a fifth circle for the person on their knees to the left of the cross. It kind of looks like a woman, but I cannot be sure. Again, after reading the passage, I assume it is one of the other two Mary’s or Jesus’s mother Mary’s sister.

Other things I noticed that the artist, Eric Gill, chose to share with us (side note–I just looked up the artist for a link to share here and found that he apparently sexually abused his daughters. Completely heinous! But does it inform the art a little in that, while he allowed Jesus some modesty, he showed one of the thieves completely naked?): He portrays Jesus’s feet separately and not nailed together–I wonder why. He shows women and men who aren’t sanctified–no circles. I understand the man could represent the Pharisees, but who are the two women in front on John (in Gill’s mind). Who do they represent? It’s a reminder to me that it was likely both men and women who were glad to see Jesus die.

I confess, Father, that I know I would have been one of them had I been there at the time. I would not have believed. I don’t know that I’d have followed all of the way to the cross, but when I heard that the troublemaker, Jesus, had died I would have been happy. I am a fool, but knowing this about myself and how much I still love you gives me mercy for the non-sanctified people in the picture. I am sure you have mercy for them too. How do I know? Because Jesus asked you to. He did that so that every head in that picture would have a circle around it. So I join him in asking that you forgive me for what I am doing. Please allow for my foolishness and sinfulness in your plan.

In Jesus’s name, his wonderful, merciful, powerful, glorious name I pray,

Amen

 

Tags: , ,