Tag Archives: Holy Week

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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 13a – “The Master Servant and Servants’ Master.”

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

At this Last Supper, Jesus shows the “full extent of His love” and demonstrates the non-negotiables of what it means to be His follower.

3-crosses-at-left-2

READ JOHN 13:1-17
The 3 main characters at the table in this scene: Jesus, Judas and Peter. There are also 3 main objectives with motives: redemption motivated by love; betrayal motivated by disappointment and greed; control motivated by pride. The first is in opposition to the last two because they come from hearts not authorized with an eternal perspective and divine devotion. The latter 2 cost nothing. The first will cost everything.

At this Last Supper, Jesus shows the “full extent of His love” and demonstrates the non-negotiables of what it means to be His follower and what it means to represent Him as a servant in His name. Ironic that while in the mode of a servant, Jesus leads the way of how His disciples should live.

He displays both natures as Master and Servant without sacrificing the character of either. For Jesus, both are displayed seamlessly and interchangeably. He never became something He wasn’t. He was and will always be the Master, but there will also always be an aspect of His serving them, the absence of which will make it impossible for them to serve to His satisfaction. Essentially we find our greatest fellowship with Christ when we let Him be who He is and let Him have His way without resistance and without aid.

Jesus must serve those who follow Him: Peter’s resistance to letting Christ have His way is met with the gentle rebuke and ultimatum: “Peter if you get your way, You will not share in mine!”

A choice must be made: either to press for autonomy and insist on our way of doing things, countermanding the direction of Christ, or to submit with humility to whatever Christ deems is necessary for us. This is the mode of submission that begins with the defeat of pride, ego, self-rule.

Jesus is clear: to share companionship with Him, we must be clean and He must do the cleaning. Sidestepping that will actually put us at odds with God and in danger of furthering an agenda that conflicts with His. The tragic results will be a lot of work with no or negative eternal rewards, and worse, no fellowship with Christ. Christ will always stand in vehement opposition to what opposes His perfect will…even that opposition is with one who walks with Him! This is the main goal of life: to be with Christ, to share life and purpose with Him. If that is the heart’s true intent, Jesus the Master must be also Jesus, the Servant.

We must let Him do what only He can do. Peter came to that reality reluctantly and still held on to his own way. That proved fatal to his desire and ability to truly serve Christ since he would do so only on His terms.

Those who follow Christ must serve each other. Christ was also clear on the application: those who are cleansed by Christ and now share life and purpose with Him, must show this by serving fellow followers. Jesus absolutely expects His followers to love and serve each other as He loved them. (John 13:34-35).

In the subsequent chapters the theme of loving one another will be dominant. Jesus gives an example and expects it to be emulated. We are to do for each other what He did and does for us. He verifies His identity as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’ but also clarifies His example as the standard operating procedure for those who are His. Our mode is servanthood. Our immediate beneficiaries: fellow followers. It is obedience to Jesus’ example, the humble serving of one another, that truly honors the presence and purpose of Christ and guarantees His promised blessings.

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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.

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John 12b – “The Procession of Joy”

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

Jesus knew the nature of the crowd. This was the same kind of crowd that witnessed His miracles at the beginning of His ministry 3 years prior in Jerusalem.

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READ JOHN 12:12-19

Jesus knew the nature of the crowd. This was the same kind of crowd that witnessed His miracles at the beginning of His ministry 3 years prior in Jerusalem (John 2:23-25). In those 3 years, those people hadn’t changed but, thank God, neither had Christ. He knew what they were capable of for He knew their (our/my) nature. And yet…He still came. He knew within 4-5 days, this warm, hospitable crowd would become an angry, condemning mob. And yet…He still came. He knew that though He was now being led in praise and honor into Jerusalem, carried on a donkey, hailed as the instrument of blessing, that by the end of the week he would be dragged out of Jerusalem as “the goat”, forced to carry the instrument of His own death…and yet, He still came. He looked into their eyes and saw wonder, joy, curiosity knowing that by the end of the week those eyes would project hatred, hostility and condemnation…and yet He still came.

And…He still comes! Because His love for us is based on His nature to love and His perfect submission to the perfect will of a God who loves us enough…to still come! As the song says, “He looked beyond my fault and saw my need”. Praise be to God!

Vs. 19 “Every party loves a pooper” and there they are, in the background, the Party Poopers, the Frozen Chosen, the Elder Brothers, the Prefects of Piety, the Holy Critics – The Pharisees! They were indignant to people going to Jesus, they were hostile to Jesus coming to them. It is amazing and alarming how resistance to God can come from the people of God and for such “good” reasons. We must ever be vigilant as to how we judge people’s fervor and passion for Christ on the basis of our preferred methods and slanted expectations. We will find ourselves not merely in opposition to pure devotion to Christ in others but also to Christ, Himself.

In the background of devotion to Christ, many times, can also be found contempt for Him as well. The miracle is how God uses the contempt of hostile humanity as a canvas to display the magnificence of His grace and truth without compromising His commitment to be Himself or our “freedom” to be ourselves.

Praise God that in spite of an unwilling, inhospitable, hostile, resistant humanity, this God still comes!

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John 12a – “The Anointing”

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

In a sense, Mary was doing for Jesus what God would be doing with Jesus.

3-crosses-at-left-2READ JOHN 12:1-11

What loomed on the horizon was the ultimate pouring out of one’s life, the supreme demonstration of selfless love that would bring peace to the world, healing to the nations, Spirit life to mankind. It would also be to God a sweet smelling, perfect, approved, sufficient, sacrifice. In a sense, Mary was doing FOR Jesus what God would be doing WITH Jesus. She anointed Him with perfume, “liquid love”, the fluid of her devotion. God would do the same in “anointing” the world with the blood of His Son. She poured out all her precious perfume – God would completely pour out His Son, Jesus. It is so fitting that such an expression and experience of unhindered, extravagant love would be used by God as a powerful symbol to prepare Christ for His passion, and to also inspire our passion for Christ.

The ugly “other side”, which always seems to dwell alongside evil, is that in the same moment that extravagant love is being expressed, the polar opposite and demonic perversion of love: miserly, self-centered, murderous, hostility to God which would, by necessity and nature, scheme to rob, malign, corrupt, murder and eliminate that love. The love of Judas and the chief priests stands in stark contrast to the love of Mary and Jesus. Where Mary and Jesus sought to demonstrate love and life, their counterparts sought to destroy it and replace it with death disguised as religion.

And this is how the week begins!