John 18

John 18 has Jesus in the garden with His disciples about to be betrayed.  He knows what is coming.  He could have chosen a different path but was obedient to God’s plan even though it would cause suffering and pain and cost Him His life.  Judas Iscariot who betrays Him, approaches with a group of soldiers and religious leaders. His disciples, at least one of them, fights back. “Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear”.  But Jesus tells him to put the sword away because His time has come and He knows He must go to the cross.

They drag him before Caiaphas who was the high priest.  He questions Jesus as Peter looks on from a distance, not wanting to be seen or identified as a Christ Follower.  Jesus tells Caiaphas “I have spoken openly  to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together.  I have said nothing in secret”.  Jesus has nothing to hide – no secret agenda or words spoken in private.  He has taught and shared openly in the synagogue and never had any problems.  Yet now, they are accusing Him of many things.

Peter has been staying a bit away, but has been questioned three times about whether or not he was one of the disciples.  “He denied it and said, “I am not….Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed”.  Jesus had told Peter that before the rooster crowed, he would deny Jesus three times.  That is in fact what happened.  Peter tried his best to stay far enough away to not be associated but close enough to know what was going on.  In the end, three people recognized and questioned him and each time he denied Jesus.  What will you do if someone accuses you of being a Christ Follower?  Will you own it and testify to His faithfulness, or run from it and deny you know Him?

Caiaphas doesn’t have any way to really deal with Jesus so he sends Him on to Pilate who is the political leader of the city.  Pilate questions Jesus but finds no fault.  He asks Him directly “Are you the King of the Jews?”  Jesus doesn’t deny it but that isn’t enough for Pilate to convict Him.  Jesus does say “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth  listens to my voice”.  Jesus was truth, and those who wanted truth found it in Him.  That’s still true today.  We get truth from studying God’s Word which contains the teaching of Christ and gives us the path to truth!

John 17

John 17 has Jesus praying for His disciples and the rest of us who will follow Him.  He knows the end is near, and He wants to prepare those who have walked with Him the past three years for what is to come.  “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him”.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  He has authority over all things, yet He is under the authority of the Father.  He’s cared well for those who have followed Him, and now He is praying for God to take care of them as He leaves this earth.

He goes on to explain the foundation of eternal life for all.  “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”.  Salvation is about a relationship.  That’s how we receive the gift of eternal life.  It isn’t gained by what we do.  It isn’t about us at all.  It is about knowing Jesus Christ and receiving Him crucified – faith in the gift of grace God offers freely to all who will turn from their sin and receive it.  That’s why Jesus came.  He had to be the sacrificial Lamb that would take the sins of the world to the cross so we could have the possibility of eternal life.  Left to our own righteousness, we’re going to fall short.

Jesus has spent three years teaching the Twelve to know Him and God’s truth.  “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”.  The Disciples have walked with Him and know that He is from God and came to take away the sin of the world.  Even so, they are at risk because the world and our spiritual enemy wants to destroy us.  So Jesus asks that they be protected.  “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”.

Jesus makes a simple request of the Father.  “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”.  God’s desired outcome for each of us is to be sanctified.  First we are saved through faith, but then He begins the sanctification process which is when we start the path to becoming holy and set apart.  To do that, we have to know and choose to obey God’s truth, which comes from His Word.  We have to know and live scripture in our life.  Jesus ends with the truth that He’s prepared His followers.  “O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 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”.

John 16

John 16 has Jesus talking with His disciples as He prepares to pass the torch and head to the Cross.  “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”.  Jesus warns that being a Christ Follower will come with some sacrifice – people aren’t going to love believers.  We’ve seen that over the centuries since His death, and it appears to be increasing today.  We have to be ready – prepared and willing to stand for our faith – because the enemy will come against us.

Jesus doesn’t leave us to face the persecution alone though.  “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”.  The Holy Spirit was sent to be with us after Christ was crucified and ascended to heaven.  “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin,  because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world  is judged”.  The Triune God didn’t leave us alone when Christ made the ultimate sacrifice.  God sent the Holy Spirit to be with us.

“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”.  On our journey toward sanctification, the Spirit plays a vital role of helping us understand the truth of God’s Word so we can choose to live in obedience to it.  Jesus had to go in order for the next phase of God’s plan for humanity to take place.  “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me”.  We’ll see Jesus again some day when we get to heaven, but He fulfilled God’s plan for Him on earth and went to the cross to finish it.

Jesus reminds us of the power of prayer.  “Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you….Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full”.  Where we too often fail is at the very beginning – we fail to ask God.  We try and deal with all the struggles and challenges in our own strength rather than lean on the power of God.  Jesus ends by warning us that difficult times will come, but He never leaves us.  “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. 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”.

John 15

John 15 begins with Jesus telling us that He is the true vine which is a very familiar symbol in scripture.  We have to be rooted in Him to bear fruit for God.  And bearing fruit is expected – a branch that doesn’t bear fruit was never properly abiding in the vine.  “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”.  God is the vinedresser and has one thing in mind – to have his Vine (Jesus) and branches (us) bear fruit.  A branch left to itself will produce lots of growth but not necessarily a lot of fruit.  That’s why pruning is so important, not only to clearn up the dead wood which can lead to disease and decay, but to get the branch focused on producing fruit which is the point of its existence.

Jesus tells us that our walk with Him is a mutual relationship.  Not only are we to abide in Him as Christ Followers and disciples; we also must allow Him to abide in us.  “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”.  Abiding is a key discipline that we have to learn if we’re going to bear fruit as God has designed us.  Abiding means we align our will, choices and decisions with Christ.  He sets the agenda.  We walk with Him in obedience. “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”.

The purpose of the branch is to bear fruit.  If we abide, we will bear fruit.  The quality and quantity may differ, but fruit will happen if we abide.  People don’t grow grapes for the leaves.  Fruit is required to meet the expectation of the vinedresser. “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”.  A branch only has life as it is connected to the vine; a disciple only spiritually lives as they are connected to the Master. A fruitless branch bears no fruit and even its wood is good for nothing but burning. That won’t happen if we abide in the vine, but only if we choose not to abide.

Not only will we bear fruit when we abide, but Jesus promises that “If  you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”.  If we are faithful to have Christ’s words in us, and we seek an answer to prayer, we have unlimited power.  Abiding is about obedience and prayer, and the result is God’s glory.  “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples”.  The mark of a disciple is bearing fruit.  That happens through obedience and abiding.  “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”.  It isn’t rocket science – to abide we must obey!

Jesus gives one more commandment to us.  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends”  God is love and He gives us the directive to go and love others the same way as Christ has loved us – complete and sacrificial love.  It’s part of abiding. It’s part of living as a Christ Follower. “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”.  It is what turns on the power of God in our life as we abide in the vine and experience God’s majesty!

John 14

John 14 has Jesus talking with His disciples as He goes to His final day.  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 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”.  Here’s Jesus’ game plan.  He came to earth so He could provide a way for us to be set free from our sin, and then went to prepare a place for us as we receive His grace.

Jesus makes it very clear how we can receive eternal life – it’s Him.  And Him only.  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.  This is the problem for many – they want to find eternal life through some other way.  But Jesus is clear – it is Him and Him alone.  There is no plan B.  It is Jesus or nothing.  We have to deal with the reality that eternity will be based on what we do with Jesus.  We’ll stand before God and have to answer to that truth.  Are you ready for that conversation with God?  If not, now is the time to discover Jesus!

Faith in Christ will do more in our life than prepare us for eternity.  “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”.  Being a Christ Follower means we’ll walk in obedience to God’s Word.  Christ will guide our life.  And when He does, we have access to amazing promises and power.  “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it”.  Ever wonder what power there is in prayer – Jesus makes it clear.  It’s a promise we should hang on to tightly!

But beyond that, Jesus says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments…. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me….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. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words”.  Obedience is the outcome of a relationship with Jesus.  Being a Christ Follower means we no longer live as we wish, but we live as He wishes.  Jesus is our guide.  He sets our course.  Jesus is Lord which means we walk in obedience with Him!

John 13

John 13 has Jesus with His disciples right before He would be crucified.  They are reclined at the Passover table.  “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”.  These disciples and all disciples were and are really His own, belonging to Jesus.  Guzik reminds us:

  • They were His own because He chose them
  • They were His own because He gave Himself to them
  • They were His own because His Father gave them to Him
  • They were His own because He would soon purchase them
  • They were His own because He conquered them

They are gathered for the Last Supper and “During supper….Jesus….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”.  This was a curveball that was unexpected.  John described the remarkable thing Jesus did on that unforgettable night. At this moment of deep meaning, Jesus did something that must have almost seemed crazy. He began to do the job of the lowest servant in the household. He began to wash the disciples’ feet.

He had plenty of other things on His mind.  He was hours from being betrayed and going to the cross, yet He chooses to use the precious time with His disciples to set an example of what it means to be a servant leader.  “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you”. What Jesus did was not about cleaning the disciple’s feet, but setting the standard for what it means to be a servant leader.  This was an extreme act of servanthood. It was absolutely unthinkable that the Master would wash His disciple’s feet.

Jesus gives the disciples a new charge that night.  “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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”. The command to love wasn’t new; but the extent of love just displayed by Jesus was new, as would be the display of the cross. Love was newly defined from His example. This love isn’t convenient or easy – it is complete and sacrificial.  Jesus sets a new bar for how we are to love those in our patch!

John 12

John 12 has Jesus going to Jerusalem for the coming Passover.  He’s just off raising Lazarus from the dead.  “When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus”. This is a big problem for the religious leaders.  They see their control and power slipping away and want to figure out how to stop Him.

But Jesus is not going to be stopped.  He is moving toward the Cross and knows that His time is short. He tells those who are following that “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”.  We are called to hate our life not in the sense that we disregard it, but in the sense that we freely give it up for God. Our life is precious to us, especially because it is something we can give to Jesus.  We have to put life in its rightful place in comparison to eternal life.  That has far more value.

If we want to be a Christ Follower, we must act.  “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.  If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him”.  Being a Christ Follower is not about sitting in the pew on Sunday morning.  It’s about following the Savior.  It doesn’t mean that you stop working your job or caring for your family or studying at school. It means you do all that as a servant of Jesus, a follower of Jesus.  Life is not about me.  It’s about following Jesus and loving those in my patch.  It’s about being a servant and living out servant leadership.

Jesus makes it clear as to why He came to earth.  “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness”.  Faith in Christ is the way we can get out of darkness into the light.  It’s how we can move from being lost, to having the promise of eternal life.  We have a choice to make – what will we do with Jesus.  That choice determines our eternity.  “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day”.  We’ll stand before God someday.  Jesus is our ticket for entry into eternal life!

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