John 13:31-38; Mark 14:27-31; Matthew 26:31-35; Luke 22:31-38; John 14-15:17
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John: I love the dialogue today between Thomas and Jesus in John 14 verses 4 through 6! Somehow I didn't quite remember the context of Thomas' question setting up Jesus' profound statement in verse 6. Beautiful. Jesus starts us off in verse 4 - "And you know where I am going and how to get there."" "No, we don't know, Lord," Thomas said. "We haven't any idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." These last two sentences of Jesus' we've probably all heard many times. But how often have we asked Thomas' question either to ourselves or to God or to now one in particular - "how can I know the way?" Jesus answers this for us perfectly. Have you ever felt in your life that you didn't know the way? Do you believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life?
Verses 12 through 14 today are so convicting for me - because I really rarely follow this teaching (or fully believe in it?) of Jesus' - "The truth is, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father. Yes, ask anything in my name, and I will do it!" Do you believe that you can do the same works Jesus has done, and even greater works? I'll confess - I'm not so sure that I do. I mean, it's encouraging to think that I could, even if I don't fully believe it. And, yet, I believe most everything else Jesus teaches. Why would I doubt this teaching? Maybe it's because I have some sort of inferiority complex - or maybe I think it would be prideful to think this. But Jesus teaches it quite plainly! Or... maybe... I haven't really asked Jesus for the guidance and wisdom to believe this - and asked for even just this in his name.
Bible.org's commentary on our John readings today titled "Having a Friend in High Places" is at this link.
Wow. Today's John chapter 14 readings start off strong with a very short sentence of teaching from Jesus in verse 15 - "If you love me, obey my commandments." Not too complicated there, eh? :) Really... it's quite easy to understand. And believe. But to obey... hmmm... I've been thinking about that "obey" word quite a bit lately. In fact, it's a word that has been spray painted around my neighborhood lately - "obey" - I think for some political statement reasons. It's not really a popular word. But it's a pretty straightforward teaching from Jesus. Obey. Obey my commandments. "If you love me, obey my commandments." I really do believe that true freedom is found in this. When we are obedient to Jesus' teachings and God's will in our lives, we truly will be living "free" lives. I know it sounds like an oxymoron. But I believe it is true. The more we obey Jesus' teachings, the freer we truly become. Do you think this is true? Are you obeying Jesus' teachings in your life? Do you feel freer? And below is a little obedience humor for you based on verse 15 above... :)
Well, if we are wondering how on earth we can possibly obey Jesus' teachings, He graciously answers this for us in the next two verses in today's readings: "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world at large cannot receive him, because it isn't looking for him and doesn't recognize him. But you do, because he lives with you now and later will be in you." Basically, we cannot obey Jesus' teachings on our own. Using our own will power or smarts or strength, we will fail. We need the Holy Spirit, living with in us, to give us the grace and strength to obey Jesus' teachings. The Holy Spirit rounds out the Trinity and leads us and guides us. Are you looking for the Holy Spirit? Do you recognize the Holy Spirit living within you? Do you believe the Holy Spirit is leading you into all truth?
Verse 27 is a beautiful teaching from Jesus: ""I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." Have you received the gift of peace from Jesus? Do you have peace of mind and heart?
Today we begin reading one of my favorite chapters in the Bible - John 15. I cannot tell you how much this chapter means to me and I hope to you as well. John 15 takes place just after the Last Supper, the night before Jesus dies on the cross, so this is one of Jesus’ last teachings to the disciples – and to you and me. It is so beautiful. My quick personal story on this chapter is that I have only preached verbally once – and it was when I was in Bulgaria several years ago on a short-term mission trip. Our team ended up going to a small Roma church – and I mean small – in a village outside of the capital city of Sofia. As we drove up to the village where the church was located I saw rows and rows of grape vines in and around the village. I knew I would be preaching that evening – each person on our team took a turn every night. And initially I was planning to preach from a Psalm – but, when I saw the vineyards I quickly decided to preach from John 15, and it turned out to be so beautiful. I literally ended up outside of the church – all of us could not fit in the tiny 1 room church - under some grape vines preaching from John 15. God showed up. I cannot even remember what I said, but God moved. I pray that as you read John 15 today God moves for you as well. John 15 is something special. (John 16 & 17 are something special as well. . .)
Today in John 15 verses 12 & 13 we read these words of Jesus' - “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Why would Jesus give us such a command as this? Why would Jesus give this command the night before he died on the cross? How did Jesus show his love for us? Do you agree that there is no greater love than laying down one’s life for his friends? Did Jesus do this for you and me? If we are to love each other as Jesus loved us, how do we do this? When we look at Jesus’ life and how he lived it, what might we be able to model in our lives? When we look at Jesus laying down his life for us, how might we be able to “lay down our life” for our friends? Do you love others as Jesus loved you? Below is a moving painting by Spanish Baroque era painter Francisco de Zurbaran from the year 1635 titled "Agnus Dei":
Worship God: Today's readings in John reminded me of Delirious' song "What a Friend I've Found:"
Is Jesus your friend? Click here and meet your best friend forever!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on two verses of Scripture today: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35 TNIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you are loving everyone you come in contact with in your life. Pray that the world will see you are a disciple of Jesus, because of your love for others. Pray that you will love others like Jesus loves you.
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
p.s. Download our monthly Small Group study notes for our Chronological Bible readings at this link.
p.p.s. Download a schedule of our Chronological Bible readings for the year in PDF format at this link.
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