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John 14:15-31

“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?” Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.
John 14:15-31

Dear God, there’s a little second coming action in this story today. But what does Jesus say about it?

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

You came to bring peace and to take away our fear. You didn’t attract people to you through fear. The early church didn’t attract others to faith in Jesus through fear. If I’m doing something in my representation of you that brings fear then I think I’m doing something wrong. Not that Jesus didn’t get angry or warn people about not being ready. But what he really offers is relationship with you and peace.

Father, make me an instrument of your peace. Holy Spirit, please live through me and in me today. When anyone looks at me I want them to see the light of the world inside.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2019 in John, Uncategorized

 

Yet I Will Rejoice — Habakkuk 3:17-19

The above image is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. The image was created by Ned Bustard and is called “Habakkuk 3:17-19.”

Habakkuk 3:17-19
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.

Dear God, I was flipping through the Revealed book this morning and this image struck me. It was the broken piggy bank that got my attention. My first thought head, Oh, I’ll bet there’s a story in this.

Then I read the passage. Once again, this seems to go with the theme of my prayers to you lately about how we just don’t know what the future holds, and even though my circumstances might look bad to me my worship of you will remain.

In this case, Habakkuk is praying and he is worshipping. This whole chapter is actually a prayer to you. These last three verses bring it all together. Basically, even if everything around me is falling apart, I will rejoice in you. I will take joy in you because you are God and the God of my salvation. You are my strength and my security, even if my earthly security seems in doubt.

As for this image, here are a few things I notice. First, I doubt Habakkuk had a piggy bank, so this is given to me to make a point that I get as a 21st-century American. Habakkuk would have looked at this image and not understood the shattered pig, but I get what Bustard is communicating to me here. My money is gone. My earthly security is gone. The last of my back-up plan is gone. I didn’t just take money out of the bank. I irrevocably broke the piggy bank as a last resort. Now it’s all gone. And yet, Habakkuk is worshipping. His arms could be up in despair, but the key is in the expression on the face that Bustard gave Habakkuk here. He is smiling (I think) and his eyes are looking at heaven. He has the halo around his head to signify that he is a holy man/saint/prophet.

And then there are the words that Bustard chose to you: Righteous//Shall Live By//His Faith. This is a call back to Habakkuk 2:4 when he says, “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.” By including part of this passage in the image, I think Bustard is also contrasting this image with the actions of the proud. A proud person would be sitting in front of a broken piggy bank with their head down in despair, weeping. But Habakkuk is advocating that the righteous person will live by his/her faith. When the piggy bank is broken and all of the earthly resources are exhausted, the righteous person will be found worshipping you.

Father, there have been several times over the last year when I’ve turned to you in faith. There were some instances when I hand’t even gotten around to bringing the need to you yet, and you were providing anyway. But there have also been times when I was at the end of my resources and I was discouraged and depressed. There have been times when I didn’t live by my faith and worship you. Thank you for this image by Ned Bustard. Thank you for reminding me this morning that you are sovereign and my hope. Thank you for reminding me that there is more to my life than what I see with my eyes and can process with my brain. There is faith, and when I live by that then I don’t need to understand what is happening around me. I just need to worship you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

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The Definition of Insanity

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The above image is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. It is called “Isaac Blesses Jacob” and was created by Wayne Forte.

 

Dear God, I’ve heard this definition of insanity attributed to several people and I don’t know who exactly said it, but the idea is that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That’s what I think of when I think about the ritual in many cultures that the eldest child is assumed to be the head of the children for that generation. The problem with that logic is that all one has to do is look at the Old Testament and see that it hardly ever worked out that way.

  • Abel was younger than Cain and yet he was the one who pleased you more with his heart and his worship.
  • Isaac was the son you wanted to bless even though Ishmael was Abraham’s first-born.
  • Jacob was famously second to Esau and yet he received an unbelievable blessing from you that I still can’t believe.
  • Joseph was not the oldest by a long shot, but he ended up being the most useful.
  • Skipping forward, David was the youngest of his brothers and he was obviously the one you called for Israel.
  • Solomon wasn’t anywhere near the oldest of David’s sons.

The list goes on and on. There is a flaw in our logic. I think I saw that Prince Harry’s new son is 7th in line to the throne of England. What? Picking your line of succession that way is like playing roulette. How can you possibly know through birth order who will be the next best king?

But let’s slow down. How often does our logic and intuition fail us as well? How many times have I hired the wrong person? How many times have I trusted the wrong person? How many times have a voted for the wrong person? In terms of King David, he certainly wasn’t Samuel’s first choice, and Samuel was really wise and clued into you.

No, at the end of the day, I think I need to 1.) seek your wisdom more and not lean on my own, and 2.) be prepared to walk down the road you have for me regardless of what it might hold. I remember when I was about to be a freshman in college I had been assigned a three-person dorm room with two other random guys. My mother had a friend whose son was going to my university and they decided to set us up as roommates. I remember protesting at the time, even telling her that I didn’t want to force anything, but let things play out the way you had set them up. But she did it and I ended up with a great roommate. The she go a little Rebekah on me and upset the natural order of things? Probably. But much like Rebekah’s decision, it probably worked out for the best.

Father, help me to first and foremost be sensitive to you and what you have to say to me. Love through me. Help me to give good counsel when asked and to know when to remain silent and admit that I don’t know. Give me your peace. Give me your discernment. But most importantly, give me your love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness, etc. in all situations.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

Passion Week – The Resurrection of Christ: John 20:1-10

The above image is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. It is titled “Christ Risen” and was created by Edward Knippers.

John 20:1-10 [ESV]
And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’s head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Dear God, I’m so grateful this morning. I’ve spent the week trying to sink into the depths of this Passion. Sure, I didn’t really go all the way. I had work. I had other things that took my attention. But I can say that this is likely the most thoughtful I’ve ever been about Holy Week. And here we are.

When I woke up this morning and made my breakfast, I played four songs. “Sunday’s on the Way” by Carman, “He’s Alive” by Don Francisco, “Easter Song” by Keith Green, and then “Gotta Tell Somebody” by Don Francisco. The first three were about Easter and Jesus’s resurrection in one way or another while the fourth was about a grateful father who just had to tell somebody what Jesus did for him. It was fun and worshipful. You are alive! And you have done great things for me.

Father do I “gotta tell somebody?” Have I counted my blessings and shared your greatness and mercy with others? Do I live with the joy that you are alive? Help me to do better. Live through me. Love through me. Let you kingdom come and your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

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Passion Week – The Last Supper: Matthew, Mark, Luke & John

The above image is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. The image itself is called “Bitter Herbs” and was created by Tanja Butler.

MATTHEW

Matthew 26:20-35
When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.” Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

MARK

Mark 14:17-31
And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

LUKE

Luke 22:14-38
And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this. A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves. 28 “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

JOHN

John 13-17
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times. 14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here. 15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another. 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. 16 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. 25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. 6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Dear God, it’s Maundy Thursday. I thought I would spend some time with all four Gospels and how they tell the story of The Last Supper. Keeping with the theme of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) vs. John’s Gospel, the first three tellings of the story are quite similar and John’s is much more detailed. Judas’s betrayal and Peter’s denial makes all four stories, as does the breaking of the bread and pouring of the wine. Luke gives us the part about selling cloaks for swords (very odd and controversial), but John really goes off and captures Jesus’ mood in a different way. The washing of feet. The teaching that happened.

As I look at the image “Bitter Herbs” created by Tanja Butler, Jesus is at the head of the table, and Judas is at the end, looking away. Bustard says of the image, “In this print, Christ offers Judas bread with his own hand, a gift the defecting disciple receives with a distracted mind and heart.” That’s not how it hits me. I see it as Judas not being able to look Jesus in the eye. Everyone else has their attention on Jesus–either on his face or his hands. But Judas has to look away.

I honestly don’t know how Jesus even got through this evening. This meal. This last time with his disciples. This last moment before great pain and suffering. But meals can be bonding.

I happened to read a great article this evening that my son pointed out to me. It was about how Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs uses food and wine to build his team into a family. It was a great piece that I read out loud to my wife and then forwarded to several people. I wonder how many meals these men, these 12, shared like this.

I could go on an on. I could talk about all of the things that Jesus said in John as he tried to leave them with one last piece of himself. But at the end of the day, this meal is about relationship. Eleven men are in as much relationship with Jesus as they can humanly be, while one knows it’s already too late. Thankfully for the first 11, even though Jesus tries to warn them, they are not completely aware of what the next 18 hours holds.

Father, thank you for providing a Passover Lamb for me. Thank you for giving my home blood on the doorpost and causing the angel of death to pass over it (with my “home” being my body). I can never fully appreciate what happened this night nearly 2,000 years ago, but to the extent that I can, I am very grateful that the fruits of it have poured all of the way down to me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

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Passion Week – The Triumphal Entry: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-16

The image above is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. The image is called “The Triumphal Entry” and was created by Diego Jourdan Pereira.

Matthew 21:1-11

As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.” This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said, “Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.’” The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!” The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked. And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Mark 11:1-11

As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it soon.’” The two disciples left and found the colt standing in the street, tied outside the front door. As they were untying it, some bystanders demanded, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They said what Jesus had told them to say, and they were permitted to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it. Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David! Praise God in highest heaven!” So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he returned to Bethany with the twelve disciples.

Luke 19:28-44

After telling this story, Jesus went on toward Jerusalem, walking ahead of his disciples. As he came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” So they went and found the colt, just as Jesus had said. And sure enough, as they were untying it, the owners asked them, “Why are you untying that colt?” And the disciples simply replied, “The Lord needs it.” So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on. As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen. “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!” But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!” He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.”

John 12:12-16

The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s cold.” His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.

Dear God, I want to spend some time with the Triumphal Entry today. It is Palm Sunday after all. My wife and I went to a special church service this morning where a man who is with “Jews for Jesus” came to walk the congregation through the different parts of the Passover meal. So now, as we enter Passion Week, I want to take some time to really sit with this week in a different way than I ever have before. Of course, that starts with Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups and what I’ve been getting out of the different artists’ interpretations of the stories.

So here I am with the Triumphal Entry. The first thing I did was look to confirm that the story shows up in all four Gospels. It does, although John seems to have a different focus than the other three. The first three give a lot more backstory, but John focuses on the crowds, the excitement, how the prophecy angle impacted the disciples after it was all said and done, and the Lazarus connection (remembering that one John gives us the Lazarus resurrection story).

So what did Diego Jourdan Pereira notice in this story? First, this image is a little difficult for a left-brained person like me to decipher. It’s hard to tell what I’m seeing here. I see the donkey with its head down. I see Jesus, who appears to have his head down. Are those lines in the background palm branches? I ended up having to go to the commentary on this piece a little sooner than I like. Here’s what Ned Bustard said about the piece, including a quote from the artist:

According to Jewish tradition the glory of God appeared through the Beautiful Gate and will appear again when the Messiah comes (Ezekiel 44:1-3). And it is said that Jesus entered through this gate on Palm Sunday. But the gate, disciples, crowds, cloaks, palm branches, and hosannas are all missing from this depiction of the Triumphal Entry. All that remains is a downcast donkey and a sorrowful Jesus. The artist explains, “The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that while everyone else was celebrating around him, Christ’s mind was elsewhere. He was thinking about the destruction of Jerusalem and his own impending fate on the Cross. His tears are internal as well as external.” But Jesus would not turn aside from the path. Luke 9:51 says, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”

I’m having so many thoughts, it’s hard to sort through them. I guess my day started with a revelation that might have been more obvious to other Christians–you intentionally made Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection part of Passover. Jesus could have been killed any time and in any way, but your plan was to have his death and resurrection exactly coincide with the Passover celebration in Jerusalem that year. Why had I never thought of that? I guess I can be a little dense.

Then I have the thought from Luke 9 that Bustard brings out in the end of his description–that Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” We’ll see the emotions of Jesus play out over the next few days. In fact, he probably shows more emotion during this week than he does in the rest of the stories about him. He clears the temple out of anger. He curses a fig tree. He sweats blood. But when it comes down to it, he didn’t have to do this. He could have bailed, except for the fact that he was following your will, and your will was for him to walk this path. He was to be our Passover lamb.

Father, hep me to sink into this week. Help me to spend this week worshipping you–every aspect of you. You are GREAT and yet you are humble. You are all powerful, yet you are sacrificially loving. You can look through the screaming crowds of the Triumphal Entry and see the wickedness in each of us, and yet you proceed. You knew better than to believe the love you were getting from the crowd. You knew that some would turn on you and some would simply disappear. The more I sit with these ideas the more humbled and thankful I am.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

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“Asleep in the Light” by Keith Green

Asleep in the Light” by Keith Green

Do you see?
Do you see?
All the people sinking down?
Don’t you care?
Don’t you care?
Are you gonna let them drown?
How can you be so numb?!
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes,
And pretend the job is done

“oh, bless me, lord!
Bless me, lord!”
You know, it’s all I ever hear!
No one aches,
No one hurts,
No one even sheds one tear
But, he cries,
He weeps,
He bleeds,
And he cares for your needs
And you just lay back,
And keep soaking it in

Oh, can’t you see such sin?!
’cause he brings people to your door,
And you turn them away
As you smile and say,
“god bless you!
Be at peace!”
And all heaven just weep,
’cause Jesus came to your door,
You left him out on the streets

Open up! open up!
And give yourself away
You see the need,
You hear the cries,
So how can you delay?!
God is calling,
And you are the one
But like Jonah, you run
He told you to speak,
But you keep holding it in

Oh, can’t you see such sin?!
The world is sleeping in the dark,
That the church just can’t fight,
’cause it’s asleep in the light!
How can you be so dead?!
When you’ve been so well famed
Jesus rose from the grave,
And you!
You can’t even get out of bed!

Oh, Jesus rose from the dead!
Come on, get out of your bed!
How can you be so numb?!
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes,
And pretend the job is done!
You close your eyes,
And pretend the job is done!
Don’t close your eyes,
Don’t pretend the job is done

Come away! come away!
Come away with me, my love!
Come away from this mess,
Come away with me, my love!
Come away from this mess!
Come away with me, my love!
Come away,
Come away with me my love!

Dear God, I have the honor and privilege of getting to preach tomorrow to a group of people who are very precious. So what is it that you need them to hear?

As I was working through the Presbyterian church’s prescribed liturgy for this Sunday, the Old Testament reading was out of Joshua 5, which I journaled about last Sunday to kick this week off. That’s kind of set the tone for the week. The Promised Land. They had arrived. The men got circumcised and they were expected to start supplying their own food from the land–you turned off the supply of manna. Now it was time to go and take the land.

When they first left Egypt, I would imagine that they didn’t necessarily think through what going back to the Promised Land about which Moses told them would cost them. They might have seen it as their reward for years of slavery. But that wasn’t it. This was just the next chapter for them as a people. It would be hard. They would have to devote themselves to you first. They would have to fight. They would have to struggle. That is how their people would survive and how you would eventually bless the world–through Israel as a nation. As much as their lives were not about “them” while they lived generation after generation in slavery in Egypt, their lives were still not about them. They were about you. They were about your plan.

As I sat down to pray to you this morning, I wanted to clear my head and get focused so I turned to the Christian music on my iPod. I wondered what I should listen to, and I heard a nudging for Keith Green. Eventually, I landed on this song. I think it’s perfect for what I’m talking about in the spirit of taking the Promised Land. “Asleep in the light.” Isn’t that what a lot of us are? Asleep in the light? Isn’t that what I am a lot of the time?

So what will I preach tomorrow? The message is going to be that it’s time to take the land. This particular church has been in limbo through various setbacks for too long. They are now muddled in fear and frustration. They are mired in lethargy. This might sound harsh, but it feels like it’s true. They are too concerned about what is happening within their doors and not concerned enough with what is happening in the neighborhood around them. The message will be, “God has supplied you with manna and he has given you talents, but now it is time to wean yourselves from the manna and start working for your community. It is time to start taking the land. And it starts with personal commitment (see the mass circumcision in Joshua 5:2-8). What will you do to bring commit yourselves to God and bring your talents to the table? What will you do to see that this church advances into the Promised Land and doesn’t flounder in the wilderness? When will you look around and see the world around you dying?

Father, help me to do this well.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

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