August 31: Remain. Abide. Know Jesus.

Read John 15:1-16:6

The nation of Israel had been represented as a vine in the Old Testament, so Jesus’ reference to it would have made sense to the disciples when He said,

I am the true vine . . . (15:1)

With that statement, He invited His followers to remain steadfast to Him, the only way to the Father. Jesus reminded them of the truth: the only way to do what Almighty God wanted was through Him.

Remain. Abide. Don’t forget the truth of Whose you are. The truth to which you were called.

Jesus laid out several promises for not only the remaining eleven disciples, but He also gave them to us, His followers today.

▪       If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit (v5).

▪       If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you (v7).

▪       This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples (v8).

▪       If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love (v10).

All of them good and perfect promises. Each one a reason to abide in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Then the promises took a turn and got difficult, at best.

▪       If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also (v20).

▪       They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God (16:2).

And suddenly, we get a pretty clear picture of why it’s so important to remain in Jesus’ love, to hang in there with Him and endure.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete (15:11).

The joy that Jesus knew included full disclosure on His untimely death and shameful suffering. His was a joy different from any we might otherwise never know. But Jesus wanted us to know it. He wanted you and me to have His joy, unedited. Completely. So He told us how to get it.

Remain. Follow His ways. Know Him. Trust Him — His timing, His words, His ways. Wait on Him. Bring Him glory.

See, Jesus knew that His disciples, and we, would one day be persecuted because we followed Him. He also knew real joy, real life. He knew that following His ways and acting in His name, letting Him change us and use us for His glory, was real joy. The kind of joy that fills life. A fuller joy than any earthly approval would ever bring.

Here we are again, faced with the truth of the kind of life He came to give. The life that only comes through Jesus Christ.


Posted in John, Real Life...His and Yours

August 30: Seven Words

Read John 14

Jesus’ spirit had been troubled as He finished up dinner with His twelve closest friends. He knew Judas, whom He loved so deeply and had shared life with for the past three years was on his way to hang Him out to dry and forsake all that Jesus had shown him of real life and real love. He also knew his best friend Peter would deny even knowing Him even as He approached the intense suffering and pain that lay just around the corner at the top of a hill with three crosses and the weight of the world. If you ask me, Jesus had every reason for a troubled spirit.

Perhaps that was why He spoke those seven words not once but twice. In fact, they envelop the whole passage we just read.

Do not let your hearts be troubled (vv1,27).

Jesus knew Who He was — the Son of God, the only way to the Father. He knew the plan — the torture He’d be suffering just hours from the time He spoke these words. And still He knew there was no reason for troubled hearts or anxious thoughts.

Jesus was on a mission to free captives and heal broken. Now the mission was closing in, so He prepared His disciples with seven words.

He spoke of His Father and of home (13:36). He spoke of the many rooms there and of the place He would prepare for them. But Thomas needed more details.

Lord, we dont know where you are going, so how can we know the way (v5)?

What peace and fulfillment is there in not knowing where you’re going?

But Jesus answered with clear direction.

I am the way . . . No one comes to the Father except through me (v6).

They were going to the Father by way of Jesus Christ the Son.

He had equipped the Twelve for the journey and would not stop doing so. For the journey entailed following His ways, glorifying the Father, doing His work, obeying His commands. So Jesus promised to send help. And He told them to not let their hearts be troubled.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever the Spirit of truth (vv16,17).

They knew the Way to God, Jesus Christ Himself. It was time to trust Him.

Believe in God; believe also in Me (v1).

The direction is just as clear for us today. Like the disciples, we can trust that He’s got the entire journey taken care of, if we will just follow Him. We have those same seven words and the same Jesus Christ Who promised them. The only question is: will we follow His Way? Will we follow Jesus Christ?


Posted in John, Real Life...His and Yours

August 29: Dear Judas

Read John 13

Dear Judas,

I just read the account of your last meal with Jesus, and I am struck with wonder at how you did what you did. So I have a few questions for you. I hope you’re all right with my candor.

When God washed your dirty, stinky feet all covered in dust and sweat and grime, did you realize the irony? I mean, you left that place and walked those clean feet straight to the Pharisees and turned Him in.

When Jesus bent over to wash your feet and wipe them clean, did it make you feel physically ill? Did you have any sense of remorse or second-thoughts? Or did it strengthen your resolve and stoke the fire of hate inside your belly? Was there even a twinge of sincerity in your deepest gut? I imagine that whole thing about showing you guys the full extent of His love was completely lost on you, huh?

When Jesus handed you that piece of bread and said, What you are about to do, do quickly (v27), did your face go flush? You know, the wash of terror that floods your veins when you’re found out. Did you wonder how He knew? Did you run out because you made yourself sick? Or were you just so focused on the money that you couldn’t wait to get it?

Did you have a plan for all that cash? I wonder what you were going to do with it. Buy yourself a new pair of shoes?

I guess part of me gets where you were coming from. There have been times in my life when I’ve been so focused on what I want that I’m willing to do almost anything to get it. I also know how it feels to not want to hear what Jesus has to say, to not let His love touch anything but the tough skin on my feet.

It’s hard to write this letter without some bitterness pulsing through my veins. I mean, your very name creates animosity even now, 2,000 years later. But today, I read the story of how Jesus washed your feet, and something struck me like never before. Verse 1 says, Having loved his own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.

He called you His own. And loving you, washing your feet, well, I believe that took every ounce of every bit of love Jesus had to give. He knew you’d go dirty up those clean feet just minutes after He washed them. But He cleaned them anyway.

He loved you fully. Without reserve.

I am humbled in my deepest of deeps. Because that’s how He rolls. That’s how loves.

Even you, Judas. Even me.


Posted in John, Real Life...His and Yours

August 28: Jesus is Troubled

Read John 12:12-50

When the people welcomed Jesus like a king into Jerusalem with palm branches and “Hosannas,” He knew His time was near. The time when He would climb up on a cross and die a sinner’s death.

Even the long-ago prophets had written about this, the culmination of His purpose on this earth.

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified (v23).

Jesus’ enemies were closing in, His followers were multiplying, and His ministry was intensifying. He knew what that meant.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed (v24).

He’d moved to earth so He could die. It was the only way we could live.

But if (the kernel of wheat) dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life (vv24b-25).

The time had come for the Father to glorify His name through the Son. It was time for the many seeds to multiply and lead to eternal life.

Still, Jesus’ heart was troubled. The very purpose for which He came to earth approached its culmination, yet Jesus, very God and very man, was troubled.

Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”?  No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour (v27).

Somehow, I find comfort in this. How many times has my troubled heart desperately wanted to hold onto what I have now? To avoid the discomfort of venturing into what God has waiting for me around the corner? Jesus knew that feeling well.

Yet He never wavered.

Father, glorify your name (v28)!

His purpose was set. God Himself came to earth to be lifted up and to draw all men to Himself (v32). The Light had entered darkness, and now it was time to show even more of the Father’s glory. Time to show men real and eternal life (v50).

The Light of the world was about to die so all mankind could know the only way to really live.

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be (v26).

But dying is hard. Dying to what I want and what I think I need. Jesus knew this too. And He did it anyway.

So now, I will follow. Will you?


Posted in John, Real Life...His and Yours

August 27: What Mary Poured Out

Read John 12:1-11

We’ve met Mary before — Lazarus’ and Martha’s sister who lived in Bethany. Remember her at her brother’s tomb? She was the one who fell at Jesus’ feet the minute she got to Him, wondering why He hadn’t come to save Lazarus’ life. (See Jn 11:20.)

Some time before that, this Mary and her sister Martha hosted a dinner party for Jesus in their house. Maybe you’ve heard the story. Martha, the ever-gracious hostess, ran around getting everything ready for the dinner while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and hung out with Him. (See Luke 10:38-42.)

When we find her here, then, it should be no surprise where she is.

Mary . . . took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair (v3).

They were hosting a party to celebrate Jesus who’d given their brother back to them when he’d given life back to their brother. So Mary walked in at found her way to Jesus’ feet.

Every time we read about her, we find her at Jesus’ feet.

Martha was, of course, busy taking care of all the dinner details. Surely, there was a lot to be done. Lazarus was sitting at the table with Jesus and the other guests.

And then there was Mary.

Picture it with me. The house is full of men, Jesus’ 12 disciples are among them. I wonder if Martha is okay with the fact that Mary’s not serving this time. I wonder if Lazarus feels embarrassed when his sister walks in with a perfume bottle that would be the equivalent of about a $47,000 in today’s world.

All eyes on her, Mary takes the extravagance and pours it out on Jesus’ feet. She takes $47,000 worth of perfume and pours it like water over Jesus’ dirty, calloused feet. Then, as if that’s not enough, she bends down to the feet that have walked into more mud and shame than we will ever know, and she wipes Jesus’ feet. With her hair.

It’s the biggest, most significant act of worship I believe I have ever heard. Mary of Bethany took the most expensive thing she could find, along with every ounce of dignity she could muster, and she poured it out for Jesus’ sake.

I have to ask myself if I would do the same? I have to ask — would you? Would we be willing to offer everything to Jesus out of sheer adoration for who He is? He was worth it then. He is worth it now.


Posted in John, Real Life...His and Yours

August 26: Life Right Now

Read John 11:1-57

Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died (vv. 21, 32).

When Jesus said, Your brother will rise again (v23), Martha thought He was talking about the other side of eternity. Lazarus’ sisters knew Jesus would have had the authority to prevent their brother’s death. But they didn’t know why He’d chosen not to show up with it just days earlier. Before their brother stopped living.

But Jesus wasn’t finished revealing His power.

We read that Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and troubled (v33).

I wonder what moved Him so deeply. Was He sorry His loved ones had to know such loss? Did He cry for the darkness that would soon take Him to the cross? The darkness He would crush.

Even though Martha and Mary believed Him, they didn’t understand the intricacies of that five-word promise. Your brother will rise again. Although they believed the hope He gave, they didn’t know the details.

They didn’t realize that in a few minutes their dead brother would walk out of the tomb in his grave clothes. They wouldn’t understand the glimpse it would give them of Jesus’ full-fledged power — the power that would defeat death forever. Lazarus’ sisters had yet to get through the moments before the hope turned into the now.

Jesus came to give life, but the details of living were still hard. Grief remained. Devastating loss still showed up. Confusion still existed, even in the midst of everyday life.

But the Light of the World took death by the shoulders and spoke life into a tomb. It was time to reveal that this life is for now. Time to show His life was meant for more than just someday.

Lazarus, come out (v43)!

And the dead man came out. The. dead. man. came. out.

The dead man lived because Jesus holds power over death. Lazarus took off his grave clothes and went. Newly alive!

You and I can have that too. We can know new life right now just like Lazarus did. Jesus conquered death so we could live in eternity, but He did it so we could know life right now too.

I have come so that they might have life and have it to the full (Jn. 10:10)

Have you laid hold of that life yet? What’s keeping you from it? It’s time to take off your grave clothes and go!


Posted in John, Real Life...His and Yours

August 25: Believe it or Not

Read John 10:22-42

They did not hear what He said or see what He did. The Pharisees wore blinders made out of their own pride and expectations that prevented them from it. Faith could have taken them off and let them see Him for who He was, but their religiosity and pious holier-than-thou attitudes kept their faith at bay.

John’s witness had told them exactly who Jesus was. He had the witness of His Father as well.  And His miraculous work spoke clearly and loudly the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  Still they refused to realize the truth.

How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly (v24).

Even the blind man could see what they could not. Jesus had healed a man’s eyes and showed Him real life. The blind man found life, but the Pharisees couldn’t see it. Though the eyes on their faces functioned, they could not see.

How frustrating it must have been to face it, day after day after day. The same questions. The same doubts. Truth was – truth is – the Pharisees simply would not believe. He had shown them plainly Who He was, yet they couldn’t see beyond the wall of pride standing staunchly before the eyes of their hearts.

They refused to give up their pride and really look. Therefore, the Pharisees simply could not see.

Truth is, pride can blind people like you and me even now. It’s not blind faith that allows us to believe. It’s pride-blindness that keeps us from believing and holds us back from true life. From the true God Himself — Jesus Christ, the only Way to real life.

When we started this study in John, I hope you got excited about seeing God for Who He really is. Because you and I can know this real life Jesus came to give.

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (Jn 20:31).

Do you want to really live? I do. I want to live fully, wholly. The truth is, Jesus has shown that us the only way to get it is through faith in who He really is. Now it’s up to us, just like it was up to the Pharisees, to believe it or not.


Posted in John, Real Life...His and Yours