29.5 John – John’s Big WHY

There are any number of business and self-help books and experts that discuss “knowing your why”. It is called many things. Defining your mission, vision and objectives. Setting goals and targets. Defining your motivation. Know your destination. Stay in your lane. Be the ball. (okay, maybe not be the ball, but I was on a roll).

But, like many of the things of scripture, John turns this whole notion on its head.

See, almost all of those other writings and talks and experts and consultants are focused on the WII-FM. “What is in it for me?” That is the motivator. What’s in it for you? What are you getting out of it? If you aren’t getting something out of it, why are you doing it?

But John closes the book of John with this. I am writing this not for me, but for you. Jesus did many other things, but I’m writing these down so that YOU MAY BELIEVE and that believing you too might be saved.

John is already saved at the time he is writing this. John is a follower of Jesus. John has already begun eternal life. John does not write the book for fame or fortune. He writes it for us. He didn’t write it as a WII-FM. He wrote it so that some person a couple of thousand years in the future in a land he didn’t even know existed might also become a brother or sister to Jesus Christ for all eternity.

It has challenged my thinking on why I write this blog. At first it was for me, to think in my writing and to shape my own thoughts. But, I also hope and pray that it may someday and somehow help one other person in their walk with our Lord. That is a “why” with eternal consequences.

My Answers:

12.

So that others may believe and in believing have life through Jesus – He is the way, the truth and the life.

 

13.

My faith has been deepened and filled.

 

Advertisements

29.4 John – First things First

It is so easy to get distracted. While we sing, turn your eyes upon Jesus, we look around to see who else is around and what they are doing and what is going on with them. When we drop to our knees to pray, and get quiet, our thoughts run the gamut from thing to thing to thing.

So, while it is easy to see the rebuke of Peter when he asks about John as a “mind your own business” comment. It is also good to see it as a reminder to “keep your eyes on the road” comment. Jesus reminds him “You must follow me.”

But why did Peter ask to begin with? Are we just curious? Nosey? Competitive? Yes, probably to all three. But we also are tempted to have a “scarcity mindset.” Because we start with the assumption that we can only give what we have received and once we give it we no longer have it to give to others, we project this onto Jesus. And, while that mindset may be accurate if we are talking about a savings account, it is not accurate if we are talking about the really important things, such as love and life and friendship and faith and caring and happiness and joy and peace. The Creator of the World does not live in a land of ‘scarcity’. He rules a kingdom of ‘abundance.’

Why do we compare ourselves to others and get curious about what others have and are getting, because of our scarcity mindset brought on by the wickedness and sin of the world. We are afraid we are getting less. We are afraid we are missing out. We are afraid we are getting short changed.

This isn’t living. What is any of it to you?

But, if you follow Jesus you receive eternal life. If you follow Jesus you receive the power of the Holy Spirit. If you follow Jesus you receive everlasting peace and joy.

My Answers:

9.

When you are old you will stretch out your hands and someone will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. He didn’t say what would happen to John, only that John’s future did not matter to Peter

 

10.

Each personally and uniquely. What He does for one He does for one and is not compelled to do for everyone. He is not looking to provide the minimum, he is looking to overflow in love and grace and mercy to each. Abundance, not scarcity.

 

11.

First things first – follow Jesus. Eyes on Jesus not on others and what they have or don’t have, do or don’t do.

 

29.3 John – I am Peter

In these last chapters of John, over and over again I have found myself identifying with Peter. Sometimes I slow and other people race ahead of me. Sometimes, when I start on a path, I have a hard time stopping and rush into places that other people pause to investigate first. Sometimes I jump right into a new direction leaving others to finish the work at hand. Sometimes I have to be told something three times to get. Sometimes when I warned about something by those who love me the most I argue with them instead of listening. Sometimes I have doubts and feel like I’m starting to sink.

But, also, like Peter, I have seen our Lord reach out a hand and save me over and over again in these circumstances.

So, for all the other Peters out there, I think it is particularly important to pay attention to these directions from Jesus to Peter. Feed my little lambs, shepherd my sheep, feed my sheep. I don’t know if any of you have raised livestock, but, if you haven’t… they eat every day! That may not seem like a revelation to you, but, is it how we exercise this instruction? For most of us we look at shepherding others as a sometimes thing, not a daily thing. We go on a missions trip. We serve in VBS or Sunday School. We donate to good causes. There is nothing wrong with those things, but, if that is our definition of feeding the sheep, it is like dumping a truck load of feed and leaving the sheep untended for a couple of weeks.

That isn’t the example that Jesus set for us. Give us this day our monthly bread is not how the prayer goes.

But doing daily life with sheep is messy. Other people have just as many problems as we do and, well, sometimes they are stinky, too. But it is being there for others even during the messy times that really demonstrates the love of Christ to them.

Having said all of this, it is also important to note that Jesus did not give the sheep to Peter, he only gave him one single job to do, feed them. He didn’t say, “feed your sheep”. Peter is not the master of the sheep, Jesus is. Peter is not the Shepherd of the sheep, He is a helpful neighbor and friend to the Shepherd. Peter is not in charge of all of the other things that go along with selecting the sheep, raising the sheep, providing pastures, providing shelter, providing safety, shearing, etc, etc, etc. He just needs to keep an eye on them and fill the feed trough with the food that the master provides.

Sometimes we hesitate to take on a job of helping others because we don’t want to be “in charge” of them. Jesus makes this clear to Peter: do your job, I’m still in charge, they are my sheep.

My Answers:

In these last chapters of John, over and over again I have found myself identifying with Peter. Sometimes I slow and other people race ahead of me. Sometimes, when I start on a path, I have a hard time stopping and rush into places that other people pause to investigate first. Sometimes I jump right into a new direction leaving others to finish the work at hand. Sometimes I have to be told something three times to get. Sometimes when I warned about something by those who love me the most I argue with them instead of listening. Sometimes I have doubts and feel like I’m starting to sink.

But, also, like Peter, I have seen our Lord reach out a hand and save me over and over again in these circumstances.

So, for all the other Peters out there, I think it is particularly important to pay attention to these directions from Jesus to Peter. Feed my little lambs, shepherd my sheep, feed my sheep. I don’t know if any of you have raised livestock, but, if you haven’t… they eat every day! That may not seem like a revelation to you, but, is it how we exercise this instruction? For most of us we look at shepherding others as a sometimes thing, not a daily thing. We go on a missions trip. We serve in VBS or Sunday School. We donate to good causes. There is nothing wrong with those things, but, if that is our definition of feeding the sheep, it is like dumping a truck load of feed and leaving the sheep untended for a couple of weeks.

That isn’t the example that Jesus set for us. Give us this day our monthly bread is not how the prayer goes.

But doing daily life with sheep is messy. Other people have just as many problems as we do and, well, sometimes they are stinky, too. But it is being there for others even during the messy times that really demonstrates the love of Christ to them.

Having said all of this, it is also important to note that Jesus did not give the sheep to Peter, he only gave him one single job to do, feed them. He didn’t say, “feed your sheep”. Peter is not the master of the sheep, Jesus is. Peter is not the Shepherd of the sheep, He is a helpful neighbor and friend to the Shepherd. Peter is not in charge of all of the other things that go along with selecting the sheep, raising the sheep, providing pastures, providing shelter, providing safety, shearing, etc, etc, etc. He just needs to keep an eye on them and fill the feed trough with the food that the master provides.

Sometimes we hesitate to take on a job of helping others because we don’t want to be “in charge” of them. Jesus makes this clear to Peter: do your job, I’m still in charge, they are my sheep.

My Answers:

6.

Redemption for Peter’s denial. Peter was a man of action, do you love me more than all this doing?

 

7.

He knows me as only an intimate Lord would and could. He provides and guides. He gives me meaningful work. He tests me but redeems me.

 

8.

All believers have failed. We all have someone we can care for, nourish, provide for. Life is too important to do it alone.

 

29.2 John – Work and Food

There are so many great lessons in the story of the fishing expedition found at the end of John and so many applications for life. I think this is one of those stories that every time you read it, as you continue your walk in faith, more is uncovered and revealed. I’m going to touch on just a few that were particularly meaningful to me.

To not be frustrated in the ministry field. If we are believers in Jesus Christ we are all also missionaries whether near or far. As missionaries, it is very easy to face times when, to use the analogy of our lesion, the fish just aren’t biting. We are praying earnestly for people, we are living among the people, we are talking and sharing and making community with them, and… they aren’t changing. I know missionaries in foreign lands who spend years and may not have a single person that they can point to who they have witnessed being saved. It is easy to say, this is a dry lake, there just aren’t any fish here. Maybe I should give up. Maybe I should just move on. But, from the lesson today we see it is not us, we aren’t doing anything wrong. It is not the lake. It is not the fish. It is not the location. It is not any of these things. The water on one side of the boat is not any different than the water on the other side of the boat in the middle of a lake. The fish will come when the fish come. The believers will be saved, when they will be saved. Think how it would have been if the fishermen on the boat said, “we’ve already fished in that spot over a hundred times, we’re tired and coming ashore.” Instead, they threw out the net one more time and the harvest was more abundant than they could have imagined, yet no wear and tear at all on the nets.

Don’t get so absorbed in work that you miss the Lord. When the nets filled, the men on the boat got to work. It is no easy or quick task to haul in the nets. Only John recognized that they friend on the shore was the Lord. How often do I go through my days focused on my to-do list and inbox? I get heads down, going from thing to thing, sometimes even praying in the midst of it as I bet the fisherman were, (thank you Lord for this abundance and please help us not tear the nets). But in the process of my business and busy-ness, I completely miss Jesus standing there talking to me and waiting for me.

The image of Jesus may not be what you expect. There is a part of this whole recognizing Jesus, but not wanting to ask Him if He was Jesus, part of the story that is a little bit strange and confusing, but I think there is also a message in it to me. The Lord and the people He may be sending to me and teach me and to have me feed may not look like what my expectation of them is. Who I am, where I live, what I do impacts my viewpoint of what Jesus is going to look like in my day. But, if we learn anything from the bible, our perspectives and God’s perspectives are not normally the same. Jesus to me this day may be a blind man, He may be a man from another country who does not speak my language. He may be a rich man. He may be a poor man. He may be a woman and not a man. Race, politics, power, wealth, privilege. Whatever the idea I may have in my head of how Jesus is going to show up today in my life to have communion and build the body of the church is probably dead wrong. So, what should I do? See everyone I encounter the way Jesus sees them.

Be feed then love then minister. The biggest insight for me was that Jesus was waiting, with a fire, with food, for the disciples at the side of the lake, but they had to come to Him. It makes me wonder how many mornings go by that Jesus us waiting for me, fire built, food ready for fellowship and to feed my soul, but I rush right past Him because of all of the “more important” things on my to-do list for the day.

My Answers:

3.

They disciples continued to hang out, Peter decided to go fishing and others followed. Fished all night but didn’t catch anything. Man calls from shore, they obey, John recognizes Jesus first, but Peter takes action first. Peter drags fish ashore (153). They eat together (still not really recognizing Jesus but having faith)

 

4.

Appeared, waited, called to them, guided, through His actions and words allowed himself to be recognized, prepared a fire and food, accepted their food, fed them

 

5.

Look for the Lord in my work, sit and eat with Him

 

28.5 John – Doubts

What a blessing Thomas is to the church, to all believers and to all who will become believers.  In some area of our life, we are all Thomas.

God, I know you are in charge, but please show me.  God, I know you are sovereign but things seem pretty messed up from my perspective.  God, I know you will not give me more than I can stand up under, but I’m past my limit.

Thomas did not deny Jesus.  He didn’t even deny the other disciples.  He just said, I need to see it.  And, on the first day of the next week, Jesus appears and lets him see.  Now, think about this, Jesus was under no obligation to show Thomas.  He was under no obligation to treat this man differently than any other man of any other time.  He didn’t owe Thomas.  But, He loved Thomas.  He knew Thomas and He wanted Thomas to believe.

Jesus knows us.  Jesus loves us.  Jesus wants us, too, to believe.  This story is so moving to us because we all can related to Thomas.  As the father said to Jesus in Mark 9:4, “Lord, I believe, help me overcome my unbelief!”.  We all have areas of doubt.  These aren’t even over Jesus or heaven, but doubts about how God can love us in the midst of our sin, how He can love His church in the midst of its brokenness, how He can use someone like me to witness to others much less to lead or teach.  We have doubts that don’t begin with who He is but begin with who we are.  So did Thomas.  I need to see.  I need to touch.  Then I will believe.

And, just like Thomas, Jesus comes to each of us as well.  Jesus is not the truth because we believe.  We believe because He is the truth.

What are the doubts that create shadows in your life?  The things that you hold back from God or putting fully in His hands?  The things that you want to trust, but you seem to not be able to let go.  The wrongs that have been done to you but you haven’t been able to forgive?

When you let go of you doubts, notice that isn’t overcome them, but let go of them and entrust them to Jesus, then your belief is made stronger and then you find peace.  Not only that but you receive a special blessing from Jesus.  Blessed are those who have not seen yet still believe.

A pastor once said he felt sorrow for the members of his church who did not attend service.  It wasn’t because of the songs and definitely not for the sermon, but to him, it was because they closed every service with a benediction, a blessing.  Blessings are really big deals in the bible.  Why would anyone purposefully miss out on receiving a blessing?  Don’t miss out on the one from Jesus because you want to hold on to doubt instead.

My Answers:

12.
S: Dedicated to Jesus (willing to die for Him) – W: very tied to the physical world, focus on life/death, physically knowing the way Jesus was going to the Father, need to see, hear and touch to believe.

I often don’t see the spiritual implications because of a focus on the physical

13.
Jesus knew what he had said and showed up to him (personally but with others present behind locked doors), told him to put your finger here, see my hands… stop doubting and believe – Thomas responded “My Lord and my God”

14.
Caused me to ask, what do I not believe?  How does doubt hinder my belief.  “help me overcome my unbelief.” Mark 9:4

28.4 John – Peace and Power

When Jesus arrives to the disciples on the first evening He presents them with two gifts and commands:  Peace and Power.

Let’s look at power first. The power, or authority, that He gave to them was to forgive sins.  Specifically, He said, “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  I think we miss just how big of a deal this is.  Looking back to Mark 5:17-26 we see Jesus’ first major confrontation with the Pharisees.  The point of conflict was over a paralyzed man.  Jesus was was teaching in a house, surrounded by a number of people including the Pharisees and teachers and “the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.”  Some men brought the paralyzed man and, finding no other way to get him to Jesus, lowered him on his mat through the tiles on the roof.  When Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralyzed man, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”  This immediately caused a divide with the Pharisees.  As they read Isaiah 43, this was blasphemy.  Only God can forgive sins.  Fast forward to this first night of the resurrection and we see Jesus empower the disciples with this exact same authority.

But are they, or better question, am I, prepared for the responsibility of forgiving sins or not forgiving sins?  Who am I to judge?  How can a sinner forgive another sinner?  How can a forgiver not forgive another sinner?  The very prayer that Jesus taught the disciples to pray says, forgive us as we forgive others.  I am not capable of this level of responsibility.

Which leads us to the second gift that Jesus gave first, the gift of peace.  Jesus didn’t just speak these words, but He breathed peace onto the assembled group in the form of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ words to them convey a much bigger meaning.  He is saying all that I have I not only make available, but I share with you as if it is yours.  All the provision, all the strength, all the power, all the glory, all the time and love and (keep going) that I have is yours.  Let’s take it to the extreme… you even have the power to forgive sin or not forgive sin.  That is what He is saying.  With the presence and peace of the Holy Spirit, we are united as one with Jesus and the Father.  This is what He spoke of at the last supper.  This is not a deputization of the apostles or a delegation to them, it is bigger and more personal  It is Jesus saying to them, even at the extreme of forgiving sins, we are now connected in peace in the Holy Spirit and we are one, brothers, family, saints, eternal.

My Answers:

9.
a.
He was patient with them and allowed them to see, hear, touch and be with him

b.
By being patient with me

10.
showed hands and feet, talked to them, Asked for food, ate with them in their presence, with them over a period of 40 days, appeared to all of them and to over 500 others, lots of eye witnesses

11.
Priv
They were the only ones to receive this gift directly from Jesus with His breath and His words

Auth
Only God has the authority to forgive sins, yet, He has authorized these disciples with this authority

Power
Power comes from Peace, the words of Jesus and the Holy Spirit

Message
Peace, as the Father sent Jesus, He sends the Disciples, receive the H/S.  Authority over the forgiveness of sin (both ways)

28.3 John – One of us so that we can be one with Him

I love that Jesus looked like a gardener to Mary Mag!  Whenever we picture seeing Jesus we tend to imagine the “blinding light”, “celestial singing”, “booming voice” encounter.  Jesus is God and those are all appropriate, but, it is not the way that He manifested Himself upon His resurrection.

I’m not contradicting that fact that God is God and we are not and that God is to be honored, revered and feared.  But, we can get so hung up on that image of God sometimes that it interferes with the relationship that God wants and expects.  We are His creation, made in His image.  Jesus came to earth and became a man, fully man, born of a woman and raised from an infant to a man.  While God is our King of King and Lord of Lords, He is, as Jesus said, also our Father.

Jesus comforted Mary and revealed Himself to her not with bolts of lightning, but by calling her by name, by being personal and real to and with her.  He didn’t tell her to go tell His servants or His subjects.  He told her to go to “my brothers.”  He spoke of His Father as “my Father and your Father, my God and your God.”

Jesus did not die and rise again from the grave so that He could be God.  He was already God!  He did it so that we could be fully brothers and sisters with Him, FAMILY.

We all long for family.  Many have very broken families on earth, partly because of the longing that we have for safety and love and support and the fact that our earthly families have not always fulfilled those things.  But, we also have a family with Jesus.  He wants to be, and is, the perfect brother to us – always there, always loving, always helping and healing.  Our Father wants to be, and is, the perfect Father, seeking only our best interests in love and provision.

There are so many rich and deep analogies of the image of Jesus as the gardener.  They fact that he tends to the garden of our heart, that He removes the weeds that hinder the growth of our faith, that He not only plants good seeds but that He himself became the seed that died to spring forth in new life.  In John 19 we saw the reminder that sin entered the world in a garden (of Eden) and left the world in a garden (the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea).  In John 20 we see that the Gardener that was there from the beginning is still alive and well and very much as welcoming to His creation as He was when He walked and talked with Adam and Eve.

My Answers:

6.
spoke her name.  I was called by name to be a follower of Jesus.  He, too, knows my name and has written in the book of life

7.
During the time post resurrection, Jesus appears and disappears all in bodily form.  He also physically ascends to Heaven.  He may have gone back and forth to heaven to appear in the presence of His Father numerous times during this period.  (see Jacob’s ladder for physical ascent to heaven, see ascension of Jesus, see John 21, appears to them in a locked room)

8.
Go to my brothers and tell them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”