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Peter & John — John 13:1-17

John 13:1-17
1Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. 2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
6 When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
8 “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”
Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
9 Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.

Dear God, I think I’m correct in stating that John is the only one who gives us the foot washing story at the Last Supper. What a remarkable thing for him to remember and convey. First, he is the narrator so he gets to add his own editorial to the story. Here’s what John wants us to know:

  • Jesus is aware of what’s about to happen to Him the next day (verse 1)
  • Jesus loved His disciples and was ready to show them how much He loved them (verse 1)
  • Jesus was self-aware enough to understand His own power (verse 3)
  • All of this prompted Him to express His love to the disciples by washing their feet (verse 4)

Then John gets to describe the scene. Everyone at the table seems to willingly accept Jesus washing their feet until He comes to Peter. I’m sure the others felt the same awkwardness that Peter felt, but it was Peter who had the courage to put words to it. Peter’s problem was that he didn’t quite understand what servant leadership looked like. Jesus was teaching a lesson.

Back when I was in my early twenties, I was the leader on a church retreat for a church out of Houston. There was a rough group of about three or four kids who went on the retreat that had mainly middle class kids. They were hard to handle. At one point, we decided to blow their minds by washing everyone’s feet, including theirs. I think it was a good idea, although we didn’t execute it very well. Or maybe we did. We kind of did it out of the blue like Jesus does here. The kids were confused, and I’m frankly not sure it did anything to change their behavior or their receptiveness of your message during the week. But as I think about it now, their reaction was pretty similar to Peter’s, but not because they had so much respect for us that they couldn’t receive our service. I think, for them, it felt more like a way we were trying to humiliate them.

As I further unpack this, I went on a retreat a couple of years ago where the leaders wash the feet of the participants. But are we getting it wrong with doing this? Or maybe not wrong, but are we accomplishing something different than Jesus was accomplishing. The premise within which Jesus was working was that He was their obvious superior. He was their rabbi. He was the Messiah. He was God. And He was now washing their feet. He was loving them. If I am with a group and decide that it is time to wash their feet, what I am communicating to them? Especially if there is no previous relationship. Am I subconsciously setting myself up as their leader?

Father, I don’t know that I resolved anything today or if I might have even gotten some of this wrong this morning. But I do think this has made me think about this story a little more. I have probably treated it a little too casually in the past and possibly done more harm than good in times like that summer at camp over 25 years ago. If I did—if I hurt those boys in any way, I am sorry. As I try to figure out the real lesson of this story—that I am to love others through serving them—help me to do it in a way that is truly sacrificial and not in a way that passive aggressively lift me up over them.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2018 in John, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Luke 22:24-38

Luke 22:24-38 NASB
[24] And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. [25] And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ [26] But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. [27] For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. [28] “You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; [29] and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you [30] that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. [31] “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; [32] but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” [33] But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” [34] And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.” [35] And He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” [36] And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. [37] For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘And HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” [38] They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.”

Dear God, just how many of these “who is the greatest” arguments did these guys have? I think this is the second one that Luke records.

I had an employee recently talk about some of the disagreements and tensions among people on our staff. Now, we have 13 paid staff and 50-ish office volunteers. I told this particular staff person that as long as there are at least two people working in an office there will be occasional tensions. No workplace will be conflict-free.

But these guys…Jesus is describing his death to them, pouring out the last supper and they are arguing about who is the greatest? I can’t imagine how much this must have anguished Jesus in the moment.

I wonder how much I anguish you. I had a good talk with a relative yesterday that included us talking about our kids. We were talking about our inadequacies as parents and how we try to overcome them. We’ve both made decisions that the other doesn’t quite understand, but the nice thing is that I think we are in a place where we give each other the space to make the best decisions that we know how to make at the time and don’t judge the other for things and circumstances we don’t understand.

Father, I’m kind of rambling this morning, but at the end of the day I just don’t want to get so focused on myself that I miss both the anguish of others around me and the call that you are giving me at any given moment. Help me to work well and bring you glory in all that I do.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2018 in Luke, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Luke 9:12-13

Luke 9:12-13 NASB
[12] Now the day was ending, and the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place.” [13] But He said to them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people.”

Dear God, I find it interesting that all three of the synoptic Gospels are careful to link the returning of the 12 after Jesus sent them out with this feeding story. It must have been one of those legendary Jesus stories. “We were tired and Jesus had promised us a break and some alone time with just him. Then the people wouldn’t let us get alone so Jesus taught them. We thought we had a way out because they got hungry so we tried to send them away. But Jesus wouldn’t send them away. Instead, he did this amazing miracle to feed them!

Oh, how I can get a bad attitude when I’m tired. And then I can start to make really bad decisions when I am feeling sorry for myself. But Jesus’ attitude here reminds me of a story I once read about a woman swordfish boat captain. She was one of the characters in The Perfect Storm and she wrote her own book called The Hungry Ocean. It was unique to have a woman captain leading a bunch of men, and the boat owner gave her some advice before her first voyage: “There will come a time when you aren’t catching any fish and the men are going to be tired. They are going to pressure you to go home. Just remember, the captain is the one SOB who won’t go home.”

Father, help me to be the kind of captain Jesus was. Help me to lead and to press on with mercy. Love through me. Provide care for others through me. And minister to me, my spirit and souls in the process.

I pray this by Jesus’ name,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2018 in Luke, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Mark 16:5-8

When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.” The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened. Then they briefly reported all this to Peter and his companions. Afterward Jesus himself sent them out from east to west with the sacred and unfailing message of salvation that gives eternal life. Amen.
Mark 16:5-8

Dear God, Judas took his own life after he betrayed Jesus. I wonder if Peter ever considered it after his betrayal of Jesus. The fact that, in this telling, that the angel mentioned Peter by name indicates to me that Peter was really struggling. What a tragedy it would have been if he had. There is no way, in that moment of despair, that Peter could have known who he would become and the role you had for him to play. His mind wouldn’t let him see it. Satan wouldn’t let him see it. But you sent a messenger to ensure he got the message—man, you’re still my guy.

I talked with a friend this week who called to ask for advice on how to help another friend. Her friend has a middle school son whom they had to put in a mental hospital. He is being scary and destructive. They are afraid of what he might do or who he could hurt, including himself. My advice to her was to first realize how helpless and desperate his parents feel and to accept that she won’t have any advice for her friend. Her job is to love her friend, be there for her in any way, and pray.

There was a movie several years ago with Clint Eastwood that delved into assisted suicide called Million Dollar Baby. Someone was injured to the point of being quadriplegic and Eastwood’s character helped her kill herself because she brought him into her delusion that she had nothing to live for. Watching the movie, I thought of Joni Eareckson Tada. I just looked her up on Wikipedia to refresh myself about her. She turned 69 this past Monday, but she became quadriplegic at 17. She has lived an inspirational life the last 50+ years. Her life changed. Her old temple was destroyed. And it was a terrible reality for her that I wouldn’t want to face. But she absolutely built a new, beautiful temple with her new reality.

Father, I certainly didn’t expect this passage to take me here. And it’s likely that Peter never considered harming himself. I certainly wouldn’t want to suggest this as truth. But it reminds me that those contemplating suicide are in a mental fog that is hiding reality from them. They are hearing voices that are lying to them. So lift the fog for anyone right now in this situation. Speak truth to them. and help them build a temple that will bring you glory.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Mark 14:50

Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away.
Mark 14:50

Dear God, I wonder how this would have played out if any of them had stayed and taken with him. Would we have a whole new respect for someone like Thomas? Would that person have been crucified too or just tortured?

I guess I like to look at a lot of what ifs, but it’s because, in a case like this, I’m curious to see a colossal failure by the disciples and understand what would have happened if at least some of them hadn’t failed. What would have changed for Jesus if he had seen one of his disciples beaten while he was going through his own trial, beating, and crucifixion?

Father, at the end of the day, I suppose stories like this encourage me because they intimate that your plan is John-proof. My failings have already been worked into your plan. That doesn’t guarantee me anything, but in the grand scheme of what you have for the world there is a certain amount of relief for me that my shortcomings, while certainly material, won’t keep you from accomplishing what you want to accomplish. You need me to work. You need me to pray. You need my whole heart, mind, and strength, but for the occasional moment that I scatter with the disciples, there is grave for that too. Thank you for everything.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Mark 14:27-31

On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same.
Mark 14:27-31

Dear God, I’ve talked before about Peter and his moment here, but I guess what I’m thinking about now is the last verse listed here: And all the others vowed the same.

Did they, or was that Peter’s perception? Did some of them stand there quietly and secretly wish they had already left? I think that would have been me. When Jesus said that all of them would abandon him, I’ll bet there were at least a couple who were relieved that 1.) they would get a chance to get out of there and 2.) they weren’t alone.

While I know I can relate to all of this, I’m sitting here now trying to think of how I can use it in my daily life. What lesson can I learn? Frankly, I think I can take from it that I need to remember that there are probably others feeling the same way I am in a group, even if their thoughts at the time are like mine and unspoken. Instead of just putting up a brave front, bluffing, and saying, “Yeah, me too,” I need to think through my truth, figure out if I should screw up my courage or follow my feelings and retreat, and then help others around me who might be feeling the same.

Father, help me in this. I’m back at work today after being gone for two weeks. Encourage others through me. Lead them through me. Break this all down so that I will be the man you need me to be for everyone around me.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Mark 14:17-19

In the evening Jesus arrived with the Twelve. As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.” Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?”
Mark 14:17-19

Dear God, I can relate to having no confidence in myself. These poor guys had no idea what was going on around them. They were in the “fog of war” as much as anyone has ever been. Of course, Jesus left the type of betrayal pretty vague so maybe some of them had considered doing things like just leaving. Especially after it had been such a crazy week. Maybe some of them had talked among themselves or with others outside of the group, questioning Jesus in some way. I can see where I might have done any of these things as one of these 12. I don’t think I ever would have sold him out, but abandonment in the midst of scary would certainly have crossed my mind.

Are there ways that I betray you now? Sure, I know there are ways in which I let you down and miss opportunities to do your will. I know that I sin and make mistakes. But do I betray you? Do I think about leaving my faith for a more self-indulgent life? Do I consider complaining about you and your plans to others? Do I simply forsake spending time with you in deference to doing what I want to do with my time?

Father, “am I the one?” I confess to you that I recognize my own potential to betray you on many levels. I am sorry. I’m sorry I’m so weak and flawed. I’m sorry I can be so selfish and insecure. Help me to recognize these moments in myself and become one step closer to being the man you want me to be.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Mark 10:32-34

They were now on the way up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with awe, and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear. Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus once more began to describe everything that was about to happen to him. “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. They will mock him, spit on him, flog him with a whip, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again.
Mark 10:32-34

Dear God, I wish I understood the picture of what it looked like for Jesus to move around. There is this idea that there were a lot of hangers on, and then there were the 12 core. And then there were the three (Peter, James and John) who seemed to go even closer than the 12.

What’s interesting about this story is as much what Jesus is saying, but how each group is reacting. The hangers on were afraid and the 12 were in awe. As is evidenced by what John and James are about to ask Jesus in the next passage, it didn’t matter how many times Jesus told them what was about to happen in Jerusalem, they didn’t quite get it. Frankly, they should probably have been more afraid like the general followers as opposed to being in awe.

I’m in the middle of a two-week vacation right now, and I have to confess that the last few months seem to have brought me relentlessly good news. In a lot of areas of my life, things have been going well. Now, the thought keeps crossing my mind that I wonder if this vacation is preparing me for something hard that is coming around the corner. I guess I can liken it to the fear that the followers were feeling. What is next?

But you don’t call me to live in fear. You don’t call me to seek or even hope for comfort. You call me to engage with you in this moment. Then I am supposed to keep doing that until at some point I look back and can see what you did and how you did it.

Father, I’ve said to people before that, when it comes to the future, you keep me on a need-to-know basis, and I very rarely need to know. C.S. Lewis, through the voice of the demon Screwtape, said that the present is the one point in time that interfaces with you. Help me to stay in this moment and get everything from you that you have for me in this moment. Keep my head out of yesterday’s successes and tomorrow’s fears. Help me to stay in this moment, walking with Jesus down the road. If Jerusalem in in the future, it will come soon enough. I don’t want to miss what you have for me here and now.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Mark 10:17-31

As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said. “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”
Mark 10:17-31
Dear God, there is something in our nature that wants to “inherit eternal life.” There are some revealing things in this passage about the disciples’ thinking about things. Perhaps they reveal something about our own thinking.
  • It seems like we are always worried about what is next as opposed to worrying about what’s now. Wouldn’t a better question for this young man to ask have been, “Good teacher, what must I do to be in complete relationship with God now?” Ironically, Jesus’ answer would probably have been the same. I saw a billboard yesterday on the Interstate that said, “When you die you WILL meet God.” Yes, that’s true, and that’s an interesting threat to give someone while they are driving at 75 mph. And maybe that works on some people. I would prefer to think about being at peace with the God of the universe now and then think about meeting you later.
  • The disciples were still in the mindset that everything is easier when you have plenty of money. Now for some things that is definitely true. I am the director of a nonprofit and I always joke that the board meetings are a lot easier when there is plenty of money. But the money only goes so far. My wife and I were talking the other day about a friend who has made plenty of money, but he just uses it to continue to buy toys, vacations, and comfort. The phrase we used (which I learned from a Sesame Street/Cookie Monster sketch when I was little) is that he is looking for “everlasting joy and happiness.” He won’t find it doing what he’s doing. The other thing I’ve learned about giving is that if we don’t do it when we have a little, it is likely that we won’t do it when we have more. It’s an attitude of sacrifice that is learned, and it can be hard for a person who has never done it to give at a significant level when they have more.
    Peter exhibits that insecure five-year-old that is inside all of us. Can’t you just hear a parent being critical of a child for not making their bed or cleaning up after themselves and their little brother comes in and says, “I made my bed this morning! I’m good, right?” That’s Peter here, and that insecure child is in all of us.
Father, help me to simply rest in you. I’m in the middle of an extended vacation and I don’t have much practice at this. I don’t feel like I do it very well. But I know that I want to get out of this time what you have for me. So please make me very present in this moment. Help me to rest. Help me to love my wife. Help me to receive love from her. And help me to not miss the opportunities that you put in front of me.
In Jesus’ name I pray,
Amen
 
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Posted by on October 8, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Mark 10:13-16

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.
Mark 10:13-16
Dear God, thinking about this story from the perspectives of the disciples (and presumably both Peter and John), I wonder how hard it was for them to do crowd control for Jesus. Were they used to scolding everyone who tried to encroach on Jesus’ space and time, or did they specifically see the children as insignificant? And what motivated the parents to bring their children? What was the result for which they were hoping?
What we often forget about children is that they are tomorrow’s adults. The seeds we plant into them now are what we will reap as a society for the next 50-70 years. The problem that you showed me 15 years ago is that there is a large chunk of our society’s children growing up traumatized and impacted by multigenerational poverty.
Our own town has a children crisis on a couple of levels. The most obvious one is that there is almost no childcare for young children birth to four. Parents trying to support themselves can’t find a safe place for their children. And then there are so many who are growing up in hellacious environments, carrying what they are learning into adulthood.
Father, help me to know what you would have me to do about this problem. You have given me specific experiences and sets of knowledge in this area. Show me what you want me to do with it and bless whatever the work is.
In Jesus’ name I pray,
Amen
 
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Posted by on October 7, 2018 in Mark, Peter and John

 

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