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!

John 11

John 11 is about the death of Lazarus. Jesus finds out that he is ill and tells his disciples that “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it”.  So while the appearance is that Lazarus was sick and on the verge of death, it wasn’t really about that at all.  It was about the opportunity for God to be glorified.  Jesus was close to this family.  In fact, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus”.  He was a close family friend but “when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was”.

Why didn’t he respond more quickly?  You’d think that Jesus would have rushed to Lazarus’ side.  But it was part of allowing God to be glorified.  “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him”.  The disciples don’t understand, taking Jesus literally that Lazarus was asleep.  But in fact, Jesus was trying to tell them a very different thing.  “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe”.  This is a teachable moment for Jesus and His disciples.  By waiting a couple days, there will be no question that Jesus is the Son of God.

Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days”.  Remember that Jesus waited two days before he began to move toward Bethany.  This was about making sure Lazarus would be good and dead before He got there.  Martha hears Jesus is coming and runs to meet Him.  She says “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died”.  She knew Jesus could have healed him.  But now that he’s dead, it’s a different thing.  Martha still believes and says “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you”.  Real faith in Jesus and His ability to bring her brother back.

Jesus then tells us a promise that we can all cling to.  “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”.  There is the promise of eternity.  We see the humanity of Jesus as both Martha and Mary talk about knowing that had Jesus been there, Lazarus would not have died.  “Jesus wept”.  There is the shortest verse in the Bible.  Jesus loved this family, and it moved Him deeply.   Then we see the power of Jesus in full view.  “Lazarus, come out”.  And that’s exactly what happened, four days after he was buried. Jesus is the Son of God who has the power to do whatever God’s plan is!

John 10

John 10 has Jesus teaching us about the relationship with Him that leads to eternal life.  “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice”.  The shepherd calls the sheep by name, showing that the shepherd has a personal connection with the sheep. The shepherd leads them, providing direction and leadership – without driving the sheep.  It’s about becoming a Christ Follower – one who knows Him and follows His leading.

Jesus goes on to talk about how it this relationship happens.  “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and  find pasture”.  Jesus used another picture from sheep farming in His time. Pens were made with only one entrance. The door for those sheep pens was the shepherd himself. He laid his body across the entrance, to keep the sheep in and to keep out the wolves. The shepherd was in fact the door.  Jesus is the door to eternal life. He alone is the remedy for sin in our lives which will keep us from eternal life with God if we don’t address it.  We have to enter into His pen and be protected by His love.

The gospel can be explained in verses 10 and 11 of John 10.  First, Jesus tells us what the enemy plans for us.  “The thief comes only to steal and  kill and destroy”.  This is pretty clear – Satan wants to destroy us.  Not merely take us off course.  Not must mess up our life.  He wants to destroy us.  Jesus has a different mission. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly”.  What a difference.  What a promise.  Jesus came to give us abundant life – not just life – but in abundance.  Those are the two choices we have in front of us.  Allow the enemy to have his way with us and face utter destruction and eternity without God, or follow Jesus and experience abundant life and eternity with God.  Seems like an easy choice to me.

Jesus goes on to say “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep”.  There is the explanation of the Cross.  Jesus is our shepherd and gave His life for us.  The question is: ‘what will we do with Jesus’?  We have to make a decision of whether we’ll follow Him or not.  “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand’.  There is the promise of eternity. Jesus went to the cross to give us the opportunity to follow Him and have eternal life.  But the decision is in our hand.  We have to make a choice!

John 9

John 9 tells the story of the young man who was blind from birth.  He had lived as a beggar, sitting and asking those who passed by to give him money to live on.  One day, his lucky day, Jesus happened to come by.  Jesus asks if he wants to see, which got a big response yes, and Jesus spits on some earth and puts the mud onto this guys eyes telling him to go to the pool of Siloam and wash it off.  When he did, all of a sudden he had sight.  The young man had no idea who Jesus was, but he trusted and obeyed what Jesus said.  As he did, he was healed.

The religious leaders were all bent out of shape.  “Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes”.  They were completely focused on following the rules and laws they had put in place, and doing anything on the Sabbath was sinful in their eyes, even if it was doing good.  They went on the attack to try and discredit Jesus, asking all about what happened and who Jesus was.  The young man who now can see doesn’t have a lot of details, but says this powerfully: “One thing I do know, that though I  was blind, now I see”.

They keep probing and trying to trip him up.  He gets irritated and answers “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples”?  Of course, that really gets them riled up and they seek to discredit Jesus and what He had done.  Of course no one of God would do anything like this on the Sabbath, at least according to their perspective.  And this young man who now sees, he was a sinner or he wouldn’t have been blind in the first place.  So he too can’t be listened to or trusted.  They even brought his parents in to make sure he was their boy that had been blind from birth, which they validated, but were also dismissed.

Jesus doesn’t really care about the religious leaders.  He cares about the young man He had healed.  He asked him what he thought of Jesus. The youngster said “Lord, I believe, and he worshiped him”.  Following Jesus isn’t complicated.  It requires that we get to know who Jesus is, and then just believe.  There were no classes, no training, no other requirements to be met.  What has to happen is that we meet Jesus, we believe in Him and receive the grace that comes through that relationship.  When we do, it will spring into worship just like it did in this case.  Do you believe?

John 8

John 8 has Jesus continuing to get under the skin of the Jews. He was risking His life, but He continues to teach. “Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them”. The common people listened and believed.  It was the religious leaders who could not deal with what Jesus said and taught because it was upsetting the applecart of how they had lived.  So they try to trap Him.  They bring in a woman caught in the act of adultery. They said “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women”.

They wanted Jesus to tell them what to do.  “Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground”.  This was a careful and deliberate response from Jesus. Instead of making an immediate verbal response He stooped down. There have been lots of speculations made about what Jesus wrote that day.  Guzik gives us quite a list of possibilities:

  • Some think that Jesus simply doodled in the dirt. The verb translated wrote could also mean, “to draw.” (Morris)
  • Some think Jesus simply stalled for time.
  • Some think that Jesus wrote the passage in the law that condemned the adulterous woman.
  • Some think Jesus wrote out a passage like Exodus 23:1: Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.
  • Some think that Jesus wrote the names of the accusers.
  • Some think that Jesus the sins of the accusers.
  • Some think that Jesus followed Roman judicial practice and wrote out His sentence before He said it.

We’ll not know for sure until we can ask Him someday in heaven.  But what He did say, when He spoke, was powerful and stopped the religious leaders in tracks.  “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her”.  He doesn’t fall for their trap.  He turns the question back upon them.  Then he writes a bit more on the ground before he asks the woman a question. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you”?  Jesus knows they have all left, but He turns the focus on her and says “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more”.

Jesus then promises that if we follow, we’ll have life fully.  “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”. Jesus is the source of life.  He reminds everyone that sin has a consequence.  “I told you that you would die in your sins, for  unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins”.  There is only one antidote to sin in our life – Jesus.  He goes on to describe what it means to believe and follow Him.  “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”.  We learn how to follow Jesus by knowing the Word.  We have to get into that Book and know Jesus.

Sin is a real problem.  It will destroy us eternally.  “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin”.  As long as we have sin in our life, we’ll be a slave to it.  Jesus makes it clear that there is a difference between the slave, and the Son.  “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever”.  Jesus is the answer to our sin.  We have to confess, repent and believe.  It’s not rocket science.  It’s a matter of giving up on ourself as the source of victory, and receiving God’s gift of grace to set us free.  “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”.  The promise has been given.  We merely need to receive it!

John 7

John 7 has Jesus doing his public ministry, but the response was very mixed to the point that “not even his brothers believed in him”.  He’s done some miracles and gotten attention, but people are confused and “there was much muttering about him among the people”.  They don’t know what to do with Jesus.  That’s pretty much the same state that the world is in today.  Many have heard about the claims of Christ and have heard Christ Followers share the power He has had in their lives, but they struggle to know how to react.

Some claimed then, as they do now, that Jesus was just a man who caused trouble.  Jesus replies that “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority”.  We know Jesus is God’s Son by believing and experiencing the power He has in our life.  Being a Christ Follower is about faith and believing that Jesus is who He said He is.  The offer of grace to pay the penalty of our sin comes through a relationship with Him.  No one can challenge the life experiences we have as Christ Followers.  He is alive, and impacts our life when we believe.

In that day, the religious leaders were ready to get rid of Him as Jesus was messing up their plan.  People were following Him and the frustration was causing them to want Him dead.  “They were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come”.  Yet in God’s plan, which is the plan that happens in the world we live in, it wasn’t time for His sacrifice.  So He continued to teach and move freely among the people, even though those in power wanted to grab Him.

The message was simple, and still applies today: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”.  Jesus is the true source of life.  In other places He said that He came to give life abundantly.  That is the result of a faith relationship with Jesus.  He gives us life in a very different way, filled with all that He is.  It is a life based on an eternal future with God, one that is filled with His power and might if we’ll only latch on and walk in obedience with Him day by day.  It doesn’t mean easy, or without any struggles, but it does mean you’re never alone and have His power in your life.  Don’t mutter about Jesus – believe and receive His promise of life!

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