Posts Tagged ‘Obedience’

John 19:28-37

In John 19:28-37 has Jesus on the Cross fulfilling the last prophecies before He dies an earthly death.  The time has come, and Jesus is now going to give up His place as a man to take on the place of Savior and Lord. He tells the soldiers that He is thirsty. “Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfill the Scriptures said, “I’m thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so a sponge was soaked in it and put on a hyssop branch and held up to his lips.” Jesus didn’t accept a pain-numbing drink at the beginning of His ordeal (Mark 15:23), but now He accepts a taste of greatly diluted wine, to wet parched lips and a dry throat so He can make one final announcement to the world with a “great cry.”

Jesus makes the announcement that He has completed what God had sent Him to do. “When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished,” and bowed his head and dismissed his spirit.” Jesus’ final word is the cry of a winner. Jesus had finished the eternal purpose of the cross. It stands today as a finished work, the foundation of all Christian faith, as He paid in full the debt for our sin. No one took Jesus’ life from Him; He, in a manner unlike any man, gave up His spirit. Death had no righteous hold over the sinless Son of God. He stood in the place of sinners, but was never a sinner Himself. So He could not die unless He gave up His spirit.

It was the day before Sabbath, and the leaders didn’t want the three they had crucified hanging on the Cross for another day. “The Jewish leaders didn’t want the victims hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath at that, for it was the Passover), so they asked Pilate to order the legs of the men broken to hasten death; then their bodies could be taken down.” In order to cause death to come more quickly, they want to break legs and speed up the agony. They did exactly that with the other two men who were crucified on either side of Jesus, but when they came to Him, they saw there was no need as He was already dead having given up His spirit earlier.

This fulfilled a prophecy of His death in scripture as they didn’t do what was intended and did not break his legs. “So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus; but when they came to him, they saw that he was dead already, so they didn’t break his.” This was not how things normally went. But in doing this, the soldiers unknowingly fulfilled prophecy. “However, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and blood and water flowed out. I saw all this myself and have given an accurate report so that you also can believe.The soldiers did this in fulfillment of the Scripture that says, “Not one of his bones shall be broken,” and, “They shall look on him whom they pierced.”

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John 18:1-9

In John 18:1-9 Jesus enters His final night of freedom before being arrested and crucified.  He knew exactly what He was walking into as He moved into the night. “After saying these things Jesus crossed the Kidron ravine with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees.” It is important to note that Jesus willingly went forward with God’s plan for the redemption of mankind.  He wasn’t forced to go to the Cross.  He chose it.  The disciple who went off the rails and was going to be used of the enemy to kill Jesus was already there. “Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, for Jesus had gone there many times with his disciples.”

The religious leaders were waiting for their opportunity and Judas Iscariot led them directly to Jesus. “The chief priests and Pharisees had given Judas a squad of soldiers and police to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons they arrived at the olive grove.” They came in force, but Jesus wasn’t planning to resist as this was the plan He had signed up for. “Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him. Stepping forward to meet them he asked, “Whom are you looking for?” He in fact engages to move the process forward, knowing they are looking for Him.

Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said.” Jesus doesn’t resist, or try to escape, or hide or do anything other than say ‘here I am’.  He knows what is ahead, but because of His willingness to obey God’s plan for mankind, He is ready to suffer the price of carrying our sin on His shoulders as He goes to the Cross.  But it wasn’t without impact when Jesus tells the group (actually a pretty large bunch of folks) that He was who they were looking for. “And as he said it, they all fell backwards to the ground!” The power of Jesus was evident as the leaders attempted to arrest Him.  But Jesus didn’t use it to prevent their evil plan as it was aligned with God’s strategy for redemption.

Once more he asked them, “Whom are you searching for?” And again they replied, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  Jesus was not “arrested” at all; He willingly gave Himself up so He could protect His disciples. After all, He could have just kept saying I AM and walked way! “I told you I am he,” Jesus said; “and since I am the one you are after, let these others go.” Jesus wasn’t concerned for Himself, but for the disciples who had spent the last three years learning and traveling with Him.  He wants them to be protected. “He did this to carry out the prophecy he had just made, “I have not lost a single one of those you gave me.” Jesus loves all Christ Followers with this kind of self sacrificial love.  His focus was on keeping them safe.

John 17:9-14

In John 17:9-14 Jesus helps us understand His relationship with God the Father and those He has been leading.  “My plea is not for the world but for those you have given me because they belong to you.” He has a special request for the disciples, as He has invested three years into preparing them for the coming days, and He knows how difficult it will be after He is crucified. “And all of them, since they are mine, belong to you; and you have given them back to me with everything else of yours, and so they are my glory!” But He also knows that God is in control and will keep them in His hand.

Jesus is going home.  He’s been on earth for 33 years and has been preparing for the coming day where He will carry the sins of the world to the Cross in order to create victory for all mankind who receives the gift of grace His death created. “Now I am leaving the world, and leaving them behind, and coming to you.” It’s a bittersweet time, as Jesus leaves those He has poured Himself into in order to return to the Father.  He agonizes over their safety and asks God to protect them. “Holy Father, keep them in your own care—all those you have given me—so that they will be united just as we are, with none missing.”

Jesus has been the ultimate servant leader for the disciples the past three years.  He has poured His life into them, and led them well.  His protection has kept them safe, and all have remained with Him except Judas Iscariot, who fulfilled the prophecy of the Word.  “During my time here I have kept safe within your family all of these you gave me. I guarded them so that not one perished, except the son of hell, as the Scriptures foretold.” Judas was not a failure of Jesus’ leadership, but rather a fulfillment of God’s plan which required one to betray the Son and enable the crucifixion on the Cross.  It wasn’t a surprise, but rather God’s plan.

Jesus knows His time on earth is almost complete and He’ll be returning to His place at God’s right hand.  He is beaming with joy around the years He spent teaching and discipling them, and is content they are ready for what lies ahead. “And now I am coming to you. I have told them many things while I was with them so that they would be filled with my joy.” It won’t be an easy ride – the world will hate them and chase them and try to get rid of them. But Jesus has poured into them. “I have given them your commands. And the world hates them because they don’t fit in with it, just as I don’t.”  As Christ Followers we have to realize we won’t fit into the world either, and they will treat us in the same way.  But Jesus is with us just as He was with the disciples.

John 16:20-25

In John 16:20-25 Jesus continues the preparation of His disciples for what is rapidly coming.  “The world will greatly rejoice over what is going to happen to me, and you will weep. But your weeping shall suddenly be turned to wonderful joy when you see me again.”  Most of the world will be ecstatic with Jesus crucifixion, but Jesus knows His disciples will be sorrowful.  He encourages them to realize that the sorrow won’t be long lasting. Jesus knew they would be plunged into deep and dark sorrow in the next few hours. He also knew that God would, by His power and grace, turn their sorrow into joy.

In what ways will this sorrow stike?  Guzik writes the disciples were:

  • · Sorrowful at the loss of relationship
  • · Sorrowful at the humiliation of their Master and Messiah
  • · Sorrowful at the seeming victory of His enemies
  • · Sorrowful because all they hoped for was taken away

But Jesus tries to explain that it won’t be long lasting at all. “It will be the same joy as that of a woman in labor when her child is born—her anguish gives place to rapturous joy and the pain is forgotten.” The sorrow is extreme and intense for a short period, but then transforms to joy.

That’s the picture Jesus paints for His disciples. “You have sorrow now, but I will see you again and then you will rejoice; and no one can rob you of that joy.” Joy is something that we choose – no one can take it from us – not even the religious leaders who made the decision to crucify our Savior.  The disciples had no idea how Jesus’ death would impact them.  But Jesus gives them a promise – a direct line to God – for their needs. “At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything, for you can go directly to the Father and ask him, and he will give you what you ask for because you use my name.” When Jesus returned, the disciples would be so overjoyed the last thing they would be focused on was asking Him for things.

But Jesus promises answers to their prayers. “You haven’t tried this before, but begin now. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and your cup of joy will overflow.” Because of Jesus’ great work, the disciples have unlimited, undeniable access to God through Him. The disciples had yet to really pray in the name of Jesus, but He would teach them very soon how to do that. “I have spoken of these matters very guardedly, but the time will come when this will not be necessary and I will tell you plainly all about the Father.”  Jesus has been spoon feeding them to this point, but their eyes and ears will soon be opened to the truth of God’s Kingdom and plans for eternity.

John 16:13-19

In John 16:13-19 Jesus explains the role of the Holy Spirit to His disciples, and to you and me. “When the Holy Spirit, who is truth, comes, he shall guide you into all truth, for he will not be presenting his own ideas, but will be passing on to you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.” In one sense, this was fulfilled when the New Testament writings, divinely inspired by God, were completed. In another sense the Holy Spirit continues today to personally lead us into truth, but never in opposition to the Scripture, because God’s supreme authority is closed with the New Testament.  The Holy Spirit isn’t ‘making things up’ but rather teaching what God has already ordained as truth.

Jesus makes it clear that the Holy Spirit as part of the Trinity will glorify Him. “He shall praise me and bring me great honor by showing you my glory.” People may speak of dreams, visions, experiences, revelations and say they came from the Holy Spirit, but many of those supposed revelations of the Spirit say nothing or almost nothing about Jesus Himself.  That isn’t how the Trinity works.  God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are three, but they are first and foremost One.  “All the Father’s glory is mine; this is what I mean when I say that he will show you my glory.” Jesus isn’t showboating on His own, and neither will the Holy Spirit.

The time is quickly approaching when Jesus will be gone and go to the Cross.  The disciples don’t understand the path Jesus will take, but are now discovering that He’ll be coming back. “In just a little while I will be gone, and you will see me no more; but just a little while after that, and you will see me again!”  The disciples didn’t understand that the arrest of Jesus was only an hour or two away, and then His crucifixion would follow soon thereafter. Yet because He must go to the Father, they would see Him again as He rose from the dead.  They have no idea of what’s coming, but Jesus is giving them the details so they can look back and know it is as it was to be.

It is obvious they don’t comprehend His words.  “Whatever is he saying?” some of his disciples asked. “What is this about ‘going to the Father’? We don’t know what he means.”  The disciples were both troubled and confused. They probably thought Jesus spoke with unnecessary mystery about where He was going and what He would do. They didn’t understand what He meant about not seeing Him and then seeing Him. “Jesus realized they wanted to ask him so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I mean?” Jesus understood that the disciples wanted more clarity; but He also knew that they needed more than information. They needed their hearts and minds prepared to endure the coming crisis.  We have to be prepared for how the world treats us as Christ Followers as well.

John 16:1-7

In John 16:1-7 Jesus continues to school the disciples on what is coming.  “I have told you these things so that you won’t be staggered by all that lies ahead.” Jesus warned His disciples of coming opposition because He did not want them to be surprised and caught off guard by it. “For you will be excommunicated from the synagogues, and indeed the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing God a service.”

He also did not expect that His disciples would immediately leave the synagogues, or leave them by their own choice. They would be forced out of the synagogues for Jesus’ sake. So He wanted to give a heads up on that too, so they would be prepared.

Why will the religious leaders react that way?  “This is because they have never known the Father or me.” You would think that the religious folks would know God and the One He sent to save them.  But they weren’t looking or listening, and were focused on their own power.  So Jesus has to prepare His disciples for what is coming. “Yes, I’m telling you these things now so that when they happen you will remember I warned you. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer.”  He didn’t tell them at first, as there was no reason to do so, but now as His time is ending, He is in preparation mode to help them be ready for what lies ahead.

Jesus is leaving, and is somewhat amazed that the disciples aren’t trying to understand why. “But now I am going away to the one who sent me; and none of you seems interested in the purpose of my going; none wonders why.” Peter had asked this question earlier and Thomas asked a similar question as well. Therefore Jesus must mean not only the words of the question, but the heart of it.  The disciples are just focused on their loss, not the reason behind it. “Instead you are only filled with sorrow.”  But Jesus wants them to understand how important this is. “But the fact of the matter is that it is best for you that I go away, for if I don’t, the Comforter won’t come. If I do, he will—for I will send him to you.”

Guzik points out that while Jesus is making to case that it is to the advantage of the disciples that He go away, they likely don’t see it that way.  Was what was coming really to their advantage?  Put yourself in their shoes and ask if it was…..

  • To your advantage that Jesus is arrested?
  • To your advantage that Jesus’ ministry of teaching and miracles is stopped?
  • To your advantage that Jesus is beaten?
  • To your advantage that Jesus is mocked?
  • To your advantage that Jesus is sentenced for execution?
  • To your advantage that Jesus is nailed to a cross?
  • To your advantage that Jesus dies in the company of notorious criminals?
  • To your advantage that His lifeless body is laid in a cold grave?

There are some big things coming and Jesus is all about getting His disciples ready for what lies ahead!

John 15:5-11

In John 15:5-11 Jesus continues His teaching on abiding.  We have to abide in order to bear fruit.  It doesn’t happen any other way. “Yes, I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in me and I in him shall produce a large crop of fruit. For apart from me you can’t do a thing.” Real fruitfulness is only determined over an extended period of time.  Jesus tells us that not only will be bear fruit if we stay connected, but it will be a large crop.  If we don’t stay connected, we produce nothing.  It’s pretty clear and simple. “If anyone separates from me, he is thrown away like a useless branch, withers, and is gathered into a pile with all the others and burned.”

There is not much middle ground here.  There is an easy way to avoid being one of the cast out branches. They are the ones who do not abide in Me, said Jesus. If we abide in Jesus, we have full confidence and assurance, and we will bear fruit.  But what does that really look like?  In a word it is obedience. “But if you stay in me and obey my commands, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted!” And obedience provides a great outcome – answered prayer is a privilege of close abiding; we find our prayers in tune with Jesus’ will.  And when that happens, they are answered.  Prayer is not convincing Jesus to align with our requests.  Prayer is aligning our desires in obedience to His will.

If we are abiding, we’ll yield much. “My true disciples produce bountiful harvests. This brings great glory to my Father.” We must not lose sight of why it is so important to bear fruit. The purpose of fruit-bearing is to bring glory to God, not man, so not me. If people look at our live and praise us for the glorious fruit, something is wrong. The whole purpose is the glorify God.  The focus is not on us, but on God’s work in and through us.  Jesus provides the environment that makes it possible to bear fruit. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Live within my love.” He is the source of our ability to bear fruit, but only as we abide in His love.

It all boils down to obedience. “When you obey me you are living in my love, just as I obey my Father and live in his love.” We know that we abide in God’s love by obedience, not by our mystical experiences or miracles.  It happens when we obey.  When we fail to abide in Jesus’ love, and thereby fail to keep His commandments, then we do not have the fullness of joy He promises to those who do abide in His love and obedience. “I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your cup of joy will overflow!” The joy of Jesus is not the pleasure of a life of ease; it is the exhilaration of being right with God, and consciously walking in His love and care. We can have that joy, and have it as an abiding presence.

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