Tag Archives: Gospel of John

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John 14b – “The Home of God in Us”

Categories: Glimpses of Christ, Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Because of Christ and through the indwelling Spirit, the very presence of God, we get divine counsel/comfort, truth, recall of Jesus' teaching, the promise that we will never be abandoned.

3-crosses-at-left-2READ JOHN 14:15-31

The initial precept in Jesus’ teaching here in this passage is the close relationship between love and obedience. This must be recognized as an inescapable priority for us and an appropriate expectation from Christ. If we’re not careful, we can seem to think that Christ is calling for proof, advocating a legalistic, performance based structure to our relationship. It could easily smell like death if we only look at the words. This is why it is so important for us to make sure that the God-Man, Jesus, is the filter through which we interpret His Words. From studying His ministry, His relationships, and His message, it is difficult to understand how anyone could come to the conclusion that Jesus was demanding, “Prove your love to me – obey me!” in a near petulant, tyrannical tone. One needs to look no further than His love and affection for His disciples displayed on this ominous night. Knowing that they would betray, deny, abandon Him, He refuses to speak to them in derisive, judgmental tones. Christ would soon offer His life freely to sinners without first striking a deal with theme. He is the One who instructs us about the quality of our love being expressed out of the character of our obedience.  If He is our Lord, if we have been touched by His love and sacrifice, if we have Him residing in us, then our love will be shown through a lifestyle where obedience is the characteristic mode of our life as an expression of trust and love.

Before one complains at what we have to do, inventory this passage for what we get. Because of Christ and through the indwelling Spirit, the very presence of God, we get divine counsel/comfort, truth, recall of Jesus’ teaching, the promise that we will never be abandoned. This passage implies Trinitarian Residence: because of Christ, the whole divine family, Father, Son, and Spirit move in to take up residence in us. Here is where the amazing grace shows up.

I think of the plight of the Dalits of India who are considered sub-human by caste and therefore not worth the investment of any of the dignities customary to human beings. In their culture, the gods won’t waste time and energy on them, they are disqualified from public worship in customary temples because they are so far beneath that their worship is ignored. Indeed, they are capable of worshiping the gods. But the Christian God in Christ comes to them and through Christ they are told that not only does God love them but that He, the perfect righteous God of the universe, the God of all gods, desires to reside within them. Thus, in this new relationship, they no longer have to go to temples to worship God, they have become temples of God. Wow! The fact that the Triune God dwells within me says something about this God  I worship and it says something about my value to Him. I am temple of God. The Spirit of God dwells in me. That establishes a new order in me and calls me to a new lifestyle all because of who has made His home in me.

But there is a necessity to clarify the environment. The essence of residence, as Jesus points out, is peace: peace with God and the peace of God, the sense of well-being grounded in our being unconditionally forgiven and loved by God as His beloved children. This peace, with divine grace as its source and energy, is maintained through our submission to His presence. More simply, it is the natural byproduct of life lived in loving obedience to a God of grace and love. The question for the believer, for me, is not did God take up residence in me, but is He at home in me and I in Him? Is there His peace in my/His house? If there isn’t, that may be evidence that something else is interfering with His reign…something has diluted my love for Him and diverted my obedience to Him.

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John 14a – “Trusting Heart or Troubled Heart”

Categories: Glimpses of Christ, Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The disciples are not really even aware of what they are troubled about other than they have just been told by Jesus that this night is going to be a difficult one and that their devotion to Christ will fail…miserably.

3-crosses-at-left-2READ JOHN 14:1-14

What brings us comfort and encouragement in the midst of troubling times? Something of a picture of what is to come, the better preferred future that encourages perseverance of the present trials. In this passage the disciples are not really even aware of what they are troubled about other than they have just been told by Jesus that this night is going to be a difficult one and that their devotion to Christ will fail…miserably. Yet the gracious Lord offers them comfort in powerful ways, offering pictures of the future to come that could ignite their trust in Him.

The Ultimate Future: An eternal reunion. Jesus describes the setup of eternity for He and His disciple. In my opinion, the focus of this passage in traditional Christianity over the decades has been on the individual acquisition of eternal real estate, the “mansion just over the hilltop”, my place, my property. This is an unfortunate projection of Western ideologies into the eternal. The dominant feature of this passage is not property but Person, not where we will live but Who we will live with. Look at the dominant action verbs of Christ: I am going to prepare a place for you. I will come back. I will take you to be with me! Why? So that where He is, we will be with Him also and always. The encouragement: no matter what is about to happen, it is a small interruption in contrast to the true and everlasting reality of our co-dwelling with Christ in His Father’s Kingdom, not in this one.

The Road to that Future: The Supreme and Exclusive Christ. Jesus will not merely show us the way, or tell us the truth, or give us the life. He is all these things. Our entrance into the new kingdom is Christ, not a secret password, nor some esoteric disclosure, nor monumental personal achievements. What is more, Jesus teaches that He is not only the way to the eternal future but the way to the reality of God. He is not merely the “representative” of God but the “representation” of God and an exact representation at that (Heb. 1:3). It’s obvious the disciples didn’t see this, partially due to the immediate distractions of pressing circumstances. Unfortunately, I find myself in their seat much of the time, hearing the same words,

“Jonathan, how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me?”

In this eternal future we will experience Christ as God and God as Christ. The perfect union and harmony of Father and Son. In the immediate future, Jesus clarifies, that trusting One is to trust the other. There is no distinction between the character of the Son from the character of the Father. This can be a great source of encouragement.

The Immediate Future: Demonstrate the Presence and Power of Christ. For the disciples the day would come when Jesus’ presence would be recognized through them and the miracles they would do in His name. Jesus’ desire is for the Father to be glorified. This is the ultimate purpose of prayer and the end to which we must pray if we are to be in harmony with Christ. But the divine expectation is that our lives would harness and release greater miracles through the indwelling Christ than by the incarnate Christ on earth. In this sense, Jesus is truly not gone, but with us in a way that He could not be in His physical form. We have one who is passionate about us and passionate about His Father. He is the best Mediator to stand in for us before the God who is also passionate about us. His prayers for us will never get answered in the negative for He will never pray for us apart from what the Father wants for us. What an encouragement to pursue Christ and persevere for Christ as He labors for and through His own!

The bottom line is that our hope and trust is to be lifted from our efforts in encountering with our circumstances and placed firmly and finally in the Christ who is in perfect with the Father, who has promised us eternity with Him and the means of living in stunning victory here as we live with faith in Christ alone.

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John 13c – “Love vs. Pride”

Categories: Glimpses of Christ, Tags: , , , , ,

In this final moment with His men, before Christ offers Himself to the darkness in order to liberate mankind from it, His motive of love is the same expectation He lays before His disciples.

3-crosses-at-left-2READ JOHN 13:31-38

The Priority of Love: In this final moment with His men, before Christ offers Himself to the darkness in order to liberate mankind from it, His motive of love is the same expectation He lays before His disciples. He qualifies it in 3 ways:

1. It is a new command, a divine decree that must be obeyed; an edict that given the right moment and opposing forces will go against our natural instinct. It is one we must die to in contrast to preserving our own rights and fallible sense of justice (which usually involves something murderous and destructive). The Commander in Chief issues the order that His army operate in this with right hearts and right responses to each other.

2. It must emulate the quality of Christ’s love. The love expressed between disciples must reflect the purity and power of love Christ offered to them. They would gain a firsthand, front row seat to the depth of that love beginning with the Garden and all the way to Golgotha. That kind of love must leave us all with the sense of futility. You can’t just say “Yes Sir!” to loving like Jesus loves! It takes much more than sinful, fickle, fallible humanity to engender that kind of love. We need not only a divine example, but also divine power to do so, to counteract our natural instinct for self-survival against the supreme example in Christ of self-denying, self-sacrificing love. The Holy Spirit would become absolutely necessary in empowering us to obey this impossible command apart from divine enablement.

3. It reveals our devotion to Christ. This kind of love will be the proof to the world of the reality and supremacy of Christ as our Master and Lord. It may not draw everyone to Christ, but it will declare to the world that we are His disciples and that even the most vitriolic, intractable atheist cannot deny. Our Christ-like love for each other, love that mirrors the beauty of divinity within the horror of hostility, will offer the world an up close and personal revelation of the reality of the living Christ. It will reveal to the world that Jesus, fictional or historical, is alive in those who profess devotion to Him. And this may cause at least the question if not stimulate the personal hunger to be known to and by such a God. The qualifying mark and priority of the disciple of Christ: Christ-like love.

The Fallibility of Pride: We have such good intentions, don’t we? We want to be seen as noble, and upright, and dependable. We fail to realize that unless we are willing to take the deep look into our own caverns, we may miss the fact that we are aiding and abetting the Criminal that will rise to bring us down and bring harm to those we love the most. Such was the case with Peter. I believe he believed what he was saying, but we know he didn’t realize what he was saying.

Ironic, that the gospel writer records Peter referring to Christ as “Lord” in this. Peter basically tells the Lord…that He is wrong! (Luke 22:31-33; Mark 14:27-31; Matthew 26:31-35) This is the evidence of the presence of the Criminal who operates like a computer virus attaching itself to normal functions but corrupting processes while masquerading as native, innate elements. Allowed to exist, it spreads its corruption until the host is completely compromised and the system operates more like the virus in opposition to its original design.

Peter has continued to give room and board to his pride. By not taking Jesus as seriously as he should have, in presenting himself as utterly dependable and unflagging in loyalty rather than asking for help and strength, he made the mistake so many of us do: to believe more in ourselves than in Christ. This is where Christ is betrayed, disowned, and abandoned. This fallibility of pride leaves us vulnerable to our own destruction and the exposure of our true character in stark contrast to the character of Christ.

Tragically, the persistence of pride will find us always in opposition to Jesus and unable to carry out His commands, even the command to love as He did. What is demanded and required is the crucifixion of pride and the necessary reesurrection of His divine life within us. Apart from Him, the moment will inevitably come where we will disclose our true allegiance to our true master: ourselves. Apart from Christ, Peter did. Apart from Christ, so do we!

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John 13b – “Dining with Darkness and Light”

Categories: Glimpses of Christ, Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sitting at the table with love and light incarnate was darkness in conflict. Judas had already been prompted to betray the Lord.

3-crosses-at-left-2

READ JOHN 13:18-30

The Darkness: Sitting at the table with love and light incarnate was darkness in conflict. Judas had already been prompted to betray the Lord. (I say “the” Lord because Judas could never claim Christ as “his” Lord personally based on what Christ knew of him as quoted in John 6:64, 70; 13:10-11) Judas had tasted the fruits of fellowship with Christ (Hebrews 6:4-6) but had not given himself to Christ. This is not the condition of a free agent but of prey. A man can never exist apart from allegiance to either Christ or the anti-Christ in whatever form that takes.

Judas had occupied the seat of honor at the table, on the left hand of Christ, had his belly full of the ancient Passover meal and the new Passover communion, his feet washed by the Servant Master, Jesus, and yet he remained unswayed to abandon his destructive course of action. It is when Christ offers the bread to Judas that there is clarity and his journey to the dark side was complete: the darkness had finally moved in to where it was already welcome.

Oh to have a special prescription of glasses with the ability to view spiritual and non-spiritual activity simultaneously – to be able to see Jesus extend grace in this choice morsel of bread, watch Judas extend his hand to accept the bread but not the grace; and then to watch in the moment the transfer of food occurs to see satan or his minions enter into Judas and fully establish their fortress from which they could operate with no more conflict! I remember watching the demons drag of Carl in the movie “Ghost” and see a similar scene here except here, Judas opens the door and welcomes them in.

Then when Judas goes out, John adds, “…and it was night” Judas is in His natural element for that supernatural element is now personified in Judas…as natural. His going out is also his walking away from Christ and running to his true master with conviction and loyalty.

The Light: Look again at Jesus in 13:21. He is troubled in spirit. No doubt this is due to what He must face, the agony of body and soul. But do you suppose that part of His anguish here deals with what He knows will happen to Judas? Throughout this entire meal the Light never flickers, never wanes, but burns steady and bright – so bright against the backdrop of demonic treachery from a “friend” of Christ.

Who in their right mind would not choose to consider their life under the control of One who, as God, would still hold out an invitation to a child of satan to come in from the darkness? Who would not desire to consider the transfer of allegiance from satan to a Savior of such love and grace as to offer hope at the same moment that a demonic partnership was being struck?

Jesus’ persistence with love and light gives hope to us all that there is no sin too bad or strong that will cause the divine light of grace to ever be extinguished (John 1:5). The door will never be closed to the Father’s home in this age of grace. We must deliberately, defiantly, walk away from His grace and in this our destiny is sealed. Yet none can accuse Jesus of withdrawal. That Light, so committed to the perfect will of God enough to tell Judas, “What you are about to do, do quickly”, is the same Light so perfect in love that it would offer grace at the last moment. As the light fades from Judas’ life, like the light of a candle that one blows on to extinguish, in contrast, the Light of Christ burns brightly and reminds us that there is a God greater than the darkness around and within us. There is a God who still offers the most heinous of sinners the way home.

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John 12d – “Shades of Darkness”

Categories: Glimpses of Christ, Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

This is how bad darkness is: to hate the truth and light so much that when it becomes more fully disclosed, the hatred increases all the more.

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READ JOHN 12:37-50

The Power and Poison of Darkness: When a person has all the evidence, even standing right there in front of them, along with miraculous signs and historical texts to back it up and yet they refuse to believe – darkness has truly taken over! For such a person, there is nothing they can do to change their deplorable condition. It is in need of divine intervention even more than ever! These Jews had already made their minds up about Christ and in that state it isn’t too difficult to see how every word Jesus would speak or miracle He would perform would only fuel their indignation and hostility and inflame their commitment to eradicate Him. This is how bad darkness is: to hate the truth and light so much that when it becomes more fully disclosed, the hatred increases all the more.

The Prospects and Possibilities in Darkness. Then there are the holdouts, the fenceriders – impacted by Truth but too afraid to let go of the opposing traditions. What a torment: to know that what you are about is wrong but to be too afraid of what you’ll lose to consider what you will gain. The forces of darkness do their best work to keep humankind chained up by fear refusing to allow any motivation and inspiration of what is always greater. The aim is to legislate life through fear than allow faith to liberate it through love.

The Problem and Paralysis in Darkness: Here, the Jewish leaders subscribed to the cold grip of fear and rejected the warm embrace of faith. As long as there is the compulsion to “pay the piper” or pander to the oppressive forces against divine authority, truth will always be irrelevant and never worth losing one’s life over. The Pharisees exerted a power of which they were only pawns and not at all the source of. The power of darkness is to keep people ignorant of the long term benefit of true freedom while enslaving them to short term priorities and luxuries that actually disqualify from eternal gain.  Here these “leaders” were afraid to follow their true “Leader” and thus became complicit in the conspiracy against Him.

A Key to the Prison: The fact that “belief” is mentioned 7 times in this passage underscores its significance as an expectation of God and a qualification to the life of faith in opposition to a life lived in fear. Jesus makes it clear that to side with Him, to believe Him, to fix one’s devotion on Him is to affirm the will and wonder of God. No one can say they follow or love God if they do not follow or love the Son. This is not so much an presentation of our power and character of belief but the clarification of the harmony and unity between Father and Son. All that Jesus said and did, and the way He said and did it, was a perfect expression and extension of the Father. Is it correct to say, that The Father could not have done it any better since He was completely at work in His fullness in His son? This is the consummate example of how our Christian lives should be lived: giving proof to the work and presence of the Father by what He wanted, the way He wanted it. The “way” may be the clear defining distinction in the works of God being performed by His servants.

In coming to Earth, Jesus didn’t have His eyes on the task of judgment but on salvation. He didn’t come to punish but to liberate people already in darkness. His goal: to offer a divine opportunity for those who walk in darkness to no longer stay there. When you think about it, in reflection of His years of ministry – the healings, exoricisms, the feedings, teachings, resurrections, etc. – that is precisely what He did: bringing people out of darkness into His glorious light!

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John 12c – “Preparing for the Darkness”

Categories: Glimpses of Christ, Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Yet even in the midst of the inquiry by Gentiles and the anguish that is now laying siege to Jesus' soul, His prayer and desire: “Father, glorify Your name!”

3-crosses-at-left-2READ JOHN 12:20-36

The Greeks that came to Jesus here represent the eventual scope of Jesus’ redemptive mission. Their search for Christ may have been out of curiosity but at this juncture in the life of Jesus it is not insignificant. Commentators describe these Greeks as part of Gentile groups in pursuit of truth and enlightenment and would thus frequent Jewish festivals and feasts. Obviously hearing about Jesus from others, they wanted to see firsthand that which would enhance their pursuit. It seems that the reputation of Jesus is what draws them gravitationally toward Christ – His teachings, actions, and character.  Now, through the Church, the same must be allowed to hold true.

Jesus recognizes that His hour is at hand. He remains so very clear on His mission’s purpose (12:27). Yet even in the midst of this inquiry by Gentiles, the anguish that is now laying siege to His soul, His prayer and desire: “Father, glorify Your name!”  The aim of the follower of Christ is to mimic Him and the way He reacts to situations by always keeping the Father first and foremost. Had this focus not been there, the trial ahead of Him could have overwhelmed Him to death or cowardice, to self-preservation instead of self-sacrifice. Keeping the Father first and foremost in our mind and heart affects the way we live and the way we face death—with the dignity of soul and purity of heart essential for the Father to glorify Himself in ways that will raise an abundance of true faith in the harvest of true Christ followers.

Jesus admonition to His followers in order to prepare for the coming darkness: Walk in the Light! That is not something we adopt as a practice right before the light is gone – indeed that is almost too late. We must live in proper relationship to the Light while we have it, and live in a way that takes advantage of its illumination showing us the way things are and must be.

Jesus goes one step further: don’t just walk by the Light. Put Your Trust in the Light. This is the best way to consistently walk by it and in fellowship with Christ. Trust lies at the heart of true faith. I believe there are many who walk by the Light but only until it delivers them to their desired destinations, their objectives, their goals. Then they abandon it proving that though they walked by it, their trust remained in themselves while using the Light to advance their agenda with little or no thought to the divine agenda.

Jesus goes further: the rhythm of “walking by” and “trusting in” the Light reveals and verifies one as an offspring of Light, they have “become” children of Light. Good definition of a Christian: one who walks by and trusts in the Light as a Child of that Light. Such a person has an identity and perspective that exists in diametrical opposition to the natire and impact of Darkness. Such a person is a true follower of Christ.