Truly Understand Born Again

Moses-and-the-Origin-of-the-Medicine-SymbolWHO: To Nicodemus

WHY: to help him understand eternal life and how to have it.

3:3  Jesus replied to Nicodemus, I can guarantee this truth: No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.

WHO:   To Nicodemus

WHY: to help him understand the necessity of being born of the Spirit and what life is like after that new birth.

3:5  Jesus answered Nicodemus, I can guarantee this truth: No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh and blood give birth to flesh and blood, but the Spirit gives birth to things that are spiritual.  Dont be surprised when I tell you that all of you must be born from above.  The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound but you dont know where the wind comes from or where it is going. Thats the way it is with everyone born of the Spirit. 

WHO:   To Nicodemus

WHY: To teach a teacher to understand.

3:11-14  I can guarantee this truth: We know what were talking about, and we confirm what weve seen.  Yet, you dont accept our message.   If you dont believe me when I tell you about things on earth, how will you believe me when I tell you about things in heaven?  No one has gone to heaven except the Son of Man who came from heaven.

As Moses lifted up the snake (on a pole) in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.  Then everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.

This is interesting.  First Nicodemus is told ‘no one can see it’ then he is told ‘no one can enter it’ without first being born from above.  Jesus’s words get more specific as He goes on.  And these words are ones we can count on being true.  They divide believers and unbelievers.  You can’t even see it yet alone enter it, if you have not had this second spiritual birth.  First we are born of flesh and blood into this world, and then, by faith, based on the words of the Son of Man who came from heaven, we are born of the spirit- that which has a place in heaven.  A place that no one had gone to except the Son of Man when Jesus spoke this guarantee.  What is better than a lifetime warranty?    An eternal warranty!  The Son of Man, lifted up to heal His people from the consequence of sin (death) with the blessing of eternal life.  It’s not a warranty that comes when I purchase a product, no its not an add-on either.  It is a guarantee that is automatic when by faith I believe Jesus is who He said He is.

  • What goes on in one’s life between the time we are born and the time we die?
  • Am I living in such a way as to lead people to seek to see the kingdom of God?
  • Do I smell like the air of His kingdom or do my actions stink to  ‘high heavens’?
  • Do I sound like the sounds of His kingdom, drawing those created in His image to want to identify with their creator? Or am I more like the flames of gossip that terrorize and burn and speak no love and drive away?
  • What do I show?  What of the Kingdom of Heaven is visible in how I dress, in how I live, in what I watch on the screens, or games I play?

Lord, let me live today in a way that rejoices over the guarantee provided in the truth about You and Your kingdom.  I know I stumble on this side of eternity, along the path of this life, yet let me stumble and rise with praise on my lips for your mercy, gentleness, love, faithfulness (even in my faithless moments), joy, patience and ultimate goodness!

 

John: The “Truly Trulys” aka Guaranteed Truth

John selects for us to know certain things Jesus said with the “truly truly” preface which in the God’s Word translation comes out to “I can guarantee this truth:”  Jesus used this phrase selectively and John selects certain ones of these to make his point so that we might believe Jesus.  It is a personal and revealing review to read these and collect them together in one place.  I wish to end this time of musings in the book of John by looking at these specific guarantees straight out of the mouth of Jesus.  I shall look at these using script analysis, to understand the person of Jesus.   Who is he speaking to for what purpose?

WHO: To Nathanael

  • a friend of Philip’s brought to meet 2015-07-18 13.05.24Jesus
  • from Bethsaida and was following John the Baptist
  • questioned if anything good could come out of Nazareth (a popular attitude apparently)
  • yet was willing to ‘come and see’ so was seeking truth and Messiah
  • Jesus said he was ‘without guile”
  • recognized Jesus as Son of God and King of Israel
  • later referred to as Nathanael of Cana
  • a disciple some believe to be same person as Bartholomew
  • saw Jesus after resurrection at Sea of Tiberias

WHY: a personal promise as to what following Him will mean.

1:51   Jesus said to Nathanael, I can guarantee this truth: You will see the sky open and Gods angels going up and coming down to the Son of Man

Observational thoughts: For Jesus to say this to Nathanael, Jesus knew his heart.  One who was truly seeking and longing to know God.  He saw his hearts desire- and promised he would see the sky open and see angels and even better seeing them minister to the one and only Messiah.

How about you and I?  My desires no longer seem to run on the surface as they did when I was a child.  Now they run deep and are often hidden from my own daily awareness but yes, I too long to see my Messiah, and I rejoice in knowing that someday I shall.

  • What personal promise have I received from Jesus?
  • What does following Him mean?

When I turned my life over to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I asked Him to “please be gentle with me”.  Those were the words of my heart.  While I have experienced many changes typical to life, He has indeed been gentle through the hardest times.  I am so grateful for this.  Yet I wonder why I fear Him so?  Perhaps it is knowing that who He is, like with Abraham hidden in a cleft of the rock so the sight of the Father’s back would not destroy him, I still have a hard time comprehending the vastness and greatness of the Father encapsulated in the human body of the Lord Jesus Christ- for us humans.  A love so grand and fearsome and so gentle all at once!

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John 21 Because It Is True!

John ends what he chose to share by explaining about himself and with what authority he can write truthfully all that we have just read. He also informs us of how much he had to choose from in selecting these things to write.  These two last verses, 24-25 read like the promo on a book jacket and that is what they are in essence. They are on the last section of the scroll. This is the first part of what is seen before you roll the scroll to the beginning to read it from the start.

John observed for himself what he wrote.  He was an eyewitness to it all.  He shares it by  choice with us. He knows that everything Jesus said was true. He was there. John does not tell us all that he experienced and saw with Jesus because there are not enough scrolls to do that, not enough at hand nor in the world! He did not add more later on to this book.  The books he wrote later were encouragement to us in how to follow Jesus i.e., how to love.  John gives us great details about Jesus. There is more than enough in what we read in this first book from John to know Jesus and to follow Him.  It’s time to apply.

IMG_1831My Lord, my Savior, my only real Hope in a world gone mad without You, thank you for preserving through Your dear friend John, a record of how You loved, and how You taught.  Here I sit, several thousand of years later, learning about you from one who walked this earth closely with You.  I am able to learn of You through the eyes of one who loved You well.  I am learning to love you too.

Today, as I sit at Your feet, I choose to rest.  I choose to sit and soak up Your presence like the dry thirsting ground in the warm gently persistent rainfall. I accept Your love and gentle ways.  I choose to rest in You.  I accept with gladness and quietness all You have done for even me. I surrender my unworthiness to You.  I’m Yours.

 

John 21 Love Has A Plan For Me

Why does Peter turn around just as Jesus has told him to follow me, and ask about John? What kind of question was this? Was Peter still comparing himself with the others?  Was it a sincere question? Did he want to know who else was being told to do what?

Do I look around and compare myself with others, using that then to judge my situation or theirs? (Apparently it was OK to ask Jesus this, as it seems OK to ask anything as long as you accept the answers!)  Be ready to go it alone with Jesus.  Yet when we go with Jesus, we are never alone. He leads us individually and He is doing that for each person.  Each one of us is responsible to Jesus. He is never too busy to be with each one of us.

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A picture just came to my mind. I am like the thread and Jesus is like the eye of the needle.  God is the weaver, the one who sews and holds all things together.  He is the one who is threading me through life in the design and purpose of His planning. I don’t want to be a feisty and twisted thread!  But if so, I can trust Him to straighten me out!

As a parent, I cannot constantly be with each of my children at all times.  I remember with my first baby, home from the hospital, I needed to take a shower.  My husband was at work.  How could I leave my child’s side for that short time for a shower?  What if she needed me, or woke?   I worried and rushed through that first shower to be back to my baby’s side!  New mom syndrome!  I giggle over this memory of my own naivety, and I surmise most new moms would have a similar story.

Jesus, love incarnate, never leaves our side to take a shower!   He is there for each of us this way. We are His children.  He is Father and Son and Holy Spirit as our God is one.  As the air is ever present with us, so is my Lord.  God breathed his breath into Adam and Adam lived.  Jesus breathed on His disciples and said receive the Holy Spirit.  Time and space and multiple children do not limit God.  He is with each of us, always. …Closer than a brother. proverbs 18:24.  Stick close to Jesus.  It’s as ‘simple’ as opening our eyes and ears, open our mind to acknowledge His presence and avail ourselves of His love for us.  It is putting Him first.

  • Forgive me Lord for ignoring You and pretending You are not with me.
  • Forgive me Lord for the thoughtless things I say and do, speaking without thinking and without listening to Your counsel, and worse, not seeking it.
  • Forgive me for not walking in confidence in the path You have set before my feet. The truth is You ARE here, I am never alone and You love me in the past, now and in the future.  There is no place too far nor too low nor too high that Your love is not there. There is no sickness, no pain, no job, no loss, no grief, no joy, no sorrow, no hope, and no emotion at all, that is away from You.  You made each of us in Your image and You made us with emotions.  Even our deepest feelings reflect You.  You loved us so much that You lived a life in the body so that we would know that no matter what we go through, You too have gone through and experienced these emotions.  And in Your resurrection, we are redeemed.
  • As with Peter, we too are restored when we love You first. To love You first and foremost.  That was always the first commandment. You are The Lord my God, who brought me out of the body of slavery to death, I am to have no other gods before You.  (Paraphrase of Ex. 20:2-3)

Jesus’s answers are clear. Jesus has His own plans for each of us and it is going to be different from His plans for others. I do not need to fret nor compare. His plan for another might be the complete opposite of His plan for me.  Each of us have a different calling.  The point is to follow Jesus where He is leading me. The plan is not as important as the leader, Jesus.  The details of each life plan are different and as unique as we are. Crafted by the hand of a loving God.  The focus is not what but who. Not where but who, not when but who, not why but who. The how, is follow. Jesus says to each of us, what is that to you? You follow Me!

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John 21 Love Follows Jesus and Tends to His Sheep

The question is first do I love Jesus?  If so, the command comes to follow Him.  To love is to follow, to feed and to tend those who are His.

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For example, Jesus confronts Peter with restorative love, in the form of food.  He makes no reference and gives no condemnation for Peter’s past mistake.  (Romans 8:1) Rather, He gives opportunity to restate commitment by asking questions : do you love Me?

If we love Jesus, which is the bottom line question, then there is work to do with and for His flock.

To be like Jesus is to forgive in the same manner, with restorative food (is this the root idea of comfort food?) personal time in close communion, without the condemnation and the dredging up of the past, and the giving of an opportunity to recommit by asking the root question, do you love Jesus?

To be like Jesus is to know the physical need of the lambs and sheep, to meet that physical need and to meet the mental and emotional needs by asking the loving question, by loving  the lambs, loving the sheep.

Please note the difference between the open question “do you love Jesus” and ” if you love Jesus you will….for you should…or you – fill in the blank.  This latter type of question is manipulative to the core.

Jesus asks us to examine the question of our love for Him.  He told Peter to tend to His flock.  Jesus can tell me also when I ask that question when someone is in need of restoration.

  • Lord let me trust You to work in and through those who need restoration.
  • Help me to ask the honest question about loving You.
  • Do I love you so that I will forgive and restore in the same manner as You have forgiven and restored me?  By Your grace!
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LISTEN

  • L longingly love–With
  • I intentionally inspired insight—In
  • S surrendered stillness—With
  • T total trust—Being
  • E emotionally empty and expectant
  • N noticing

 FOLLOW

  • Have–F faithful focus
  • WithO objective obedience
  • And —L listening leadership
  • L loyally learning
  • O openly observing
  • W willingly wondering

HOW?

  • H holy hoping
  • O objective obedience—And
  • W wholly, willing and watching.
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Jesus’s proof, the final sign of His Lordship is in the resurrection and it filled all five senses. Sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. They saw, they heard, they touched, they tasted (ate) and smelled with the resurrected Jesus. He can be known in all these ways. What a gift!

 

Lord, help me know You in all Your ways, that I may live in Your example.

John 21 Love Endures

In the same breath that commanded Peter to feed His sheep, Jesus declares what the cost of loving Him will be.  He tells Peter how he will die and it is not a pretty sight. Peter had once promised Jesus I will lay my life down for You  (v 13:37) and now he is told he gets to keep that promise.  When you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go. Peter will suffer greatly and part of that suffering is to loose control over your life (as even old age will do).  

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Peter has a choice, ‘follow Me’.  Would he obey? Knowing that as he would have to walk his path of loving Jesus, a path to a painful and humiliating end, how and what prepared Peter to be able to do this? At this moment his humiliation has been restored by his commitment to love, feed and tend the sheep.  He was restored with the full knowledge of his own need to depend on Jesus, to love Jesus and that the love of Jesus would allow him to die a painful, yet glorifying to Jesus, death.

This, Lord, is a treasure that does not appeal to me.  I confess it. It is not mine, it was Peters and is a path You may also give to others.  Lord, may the words of this section bless those who face painful trials. I confess I resist pain.  Like Peter, I am guilty of capitulation within a circumstance of trial.

  • Lord give me strength to love You truly that I shall not give in under trials. Like John, let me love you obediently, let my actions, thoughts and judgments reflect my love and may my love for you grow and deepen daily.
  • Develop in me skills of listening that I may follow closely.
  • Forgive my inept and prideful stumblings of my mouth.
  • Guard my words and actions.
  • Fill my actions , my words, my teaching, with Your Holy Spirit.
  • Lord, help me to endure and live a life that ages gracefully, trusting You to control my life and give me strength to bear all consequences of the aging process including the possible loss of control over my life and my body.

John 21 Restoration

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In these same verses 15-17, I also surmise the job description for the pastors of our churches (and all the church members as well).  Here is the guide for those with the smaller flocks and even as parents of our own small flock.  And what is a healthy church based on these verses?

A healthy church must provide proper spiritual food, proper teaching for the young, and the immature in Christ.

A healthy church must take care of the broken, help the hurting and the troubled ones in the flock. Clearly this includes the widows, the abandoned ones, and ministry within the church to those broken by sin, by denial, for healing and growth.  And, that sometimes means my own person as well.  I too must accept help, even seek it, when I am in those places of brokenness.  And when I am not there, I must be ready to share what I can, when and where I can, as the Lord so leads me.  So I must take care of the broke, I must help the hurting and the troubled one’s that the Lord has put in my flock, whether my position is that of a leader, a pastor, a teacher, a parent or simply a neighbor or a customer.

A healthy church must feed its sheep, teach the mature ones as well.  No one has learned it all.  We must continue to grow and share. To love.

How am I doing in this? Am I an active part in my church in this process of love for Jesus’ sake?  We love, because He first loved us.   Peters restoration is our restoration that awaits us when we ask the one important question that overcomes our denial of Jesus.

    • Do you love Me?  (Do I love Jesus?)  
    • Then feed my lambs…take care of my sheep… feed my sheep
    • Lord, I love You.  Remind me this day to feed your lambs and care for your sheep and feed your sheep.  Let my eyes open to those You have placed me among that Your love will make my heart tender towards those You love.

 

 

John 21 Loving and Being Loved

NASB says tendshepherd…tend

GW says feed…take care…feed

It’s desert time for Peter!

IMG_1817He is traveling in the desert of restoration and challenge as he is forgiven and then commissioned for his life ahead.  I am struck by the significance of the underlying reason for all work that is to be done for Jesus. It is to be done because we love Jesus.  Because Peter loves Jesus, he is to tend to the lambs of the flock and feed the sheep.  The root is LOVE.

The question was the same each time.

  • Do you love me?
  • Love with reasoning, intentional love, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father?
  • What was the opposite of loving Jesus?  Denying Him.

John 18:17-18, 25-27 Peter had been asked three questions as well.  You are not also one of this mans disciples, are you? The first question was asked by the gatekeeper who knew apparently who John was, and yet Peter denied. As Jesus confronts Peter, who is Peter now?  You know that I love You, he tells Jesus. And Peter is told to feed the babies in the flock, the children, and the immature that belong to The Lord.

Second time in John 18 and Peter is asked if he loves Jesus, as again he had denied Him. The same question, now asked by the officers of the high priest who stood around the same warming fire, you are not also one of His disciples, are you?  This time, in response,  Jesus tells Peter to shepherd, to take care of His sheep- the grown ups, the sheep, to lead them, to heal their wounds, to guide them.

The third restoration from denial came in contrast to the question from the slave cousin of the one whom Peter had cut off the ear of (which Jesus had healed on the spot during His arrest.)  Did I not see you in the garden with Him?   An eye witness?  Peter lies again and denies it and hears the cock crow just as Jesus had warned.  Now, this third time that Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, Peter’s heart was racing and he was humbled to the core, grieving over his own failure under the pressure at the time.  How can Jesus trust him so after such a failure?  Yet he loves Jesus more than the others, he is consumed with love and frustrated in pain over his own failure to live up to his own love.  Embarrassment central!  So he admits his struggle, he declares his love and then, joy upon joy,  Jesus again tells him to feed His sheep -to provide healthy food and water, and to teach.

Forgiveness happened at the cross, restoration happens face to face with Jesus.

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Jesus Christ Life Size Sculpture Bust Shroud of Turin Gives inspiration to all http://www.ebay.com/usr/haveafriendinjesus?_trksid=p2047675.l2559
  • Who am I?
  • Do I love Jesus?
  • Am I also one of His disciples?
  • Have I been seen in the garden with Him?
  • Do I love Jesus?  Then am I feeding the lambs? Am I tending the sheep of His flock?
  • How do I love Jesus? By loving my fellow believers!
  • How was the early church known? By their love for one another.
  • Is my love for Jesus showing in my care for believers?  For lost sheep?  For neighboring sheep in His flock?
  • There are sheep in far away countries that struggle for food and water, safety and security, His flock, His persecuted.  How am I doing with my love for them?  Am I seeing to their food?
  • Do I love Jesus? Then I, if I follow the example set in Jesus command to Peter, am also charged with feeding the lamb and the sheep and tending to their needs.

Father, forgive me for my stingy choices and thank you for the reminder to love my sisters and brothers.  Guide me today to where and how I can share my time and share my resources with Your flock here in my neighborhood and around the world.

John 21 A Place at the Campfire

Jesus first asked Peter about comparative love.  He asked Peter to compare how much love he had for Him compared to the love the others had for him.  Imagine your dad or mom asking you if you loved him more than all your siblings.  Awkward! Peter had eagerly jumped from the boat to be the first to greet Jesus, leaving the others to deal with the work of that big fish haul. For Peter, it may have felt awkward at first.

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John’s first mention of Peter is when he is introduced to Jesus.  The first recorded thing John chooses to tell us about Peter is that Jesus changed his name from Simon to “Cephas”  translated to Peter.  The Aramaic word for stone, Peter being the Greek term.  Other translations add  Peter has a natural bent toward leadership. A strong leader often acts with confidence in his group to take care of the details.  In fact, per Luke’s version  (Chapter 5) of the first fishing instance with Jesus, Peter fell at Jesus’ feet proclaiming his utter sinfulness.  At this point in John, Peter’s love for Jesus is almost on autopilot.

Did he even think about anyone else when he got the message from John that that must be Jesus on shore? He did think about himself and facing Jesus!   Peter hurried to put on his tunic before he swam to face Jesus.  I guess he wanted to be fully covered before facing Jesus- and I wonder if he felt much the same way as he felt the first time, unworthy.  But this time, He had walked with Jesus and followed Him so He knew much more of His character.  So he prepared.  he covered himself then he dove in head first to meet him.

  • How well do I know Jesus?
  • What do I need to do to prepare before I rush to meet him?
  •  Is this even the message for me, how much like Peter am I?
  • Or am I to be one of the faithful followers, recognizing Peter’s need for one on one time with Jesus?
  • Recognizing the need to finish the job at hand and bring Jesus’ catch ashore? a
  • It is good to know, that whoever I am, Jesus has a place set for me too.
  • Is it enough to be eager?

Jesus had Peter go back and bring him the fish for their supper.  Peter was the one who picked the dinner fish out of the net he drew up on the land, he too had to finish the work.  Jesus asked Peter to compare. Do you love me more than these?


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Credit AP

Yes! Peter proclaimed with confidence, and promise. Peter had failed more than they and now he is determined to love more. So Jesus commands him to feed my lambs.   The word choice meant to provide food, to tend, the responsibility of a shepherd to lead the sheep to places where there is food and to meet their needs. Feed, tend, feed. Tend, shepherd, tend. Sounds like a mothering job to me.

Lord help me take my job seriously, as a work for You, no matter the size of my flock nor the location.

John 21 Manifested

lion fishAll through the meal, Peter had to have been on edge, waiting to be called out.  His remorse was powerful.  Was it this desperation that took him fishing? Why did the group of seven disciples leave Jerusalem? Why some and not all? That word manifested, …Jesus was manifested to the disciples…v14 means that Jesus showed Himself as if He is already there but that he somehow gathers himself together into his human form and reveals it, shows it, to them. Yes, we say He is always here, omnipresent God, God present in His creation as a reflection of His own character. He is present in each one who has received His Holy Spirit by faith. He is reflected in our actions of faith and ordeals of faith. He is present also in the face of humanity created in his image that seeks to do good and love each other, and as they seek truth, He reveals Himself.

Lord, bring salvation to Your lost sheep.  There are so many made in Your image who are walking lost in the valley of the shadow of death and they do not see nor hear You there.  You have opened the way and You have sent those who have put their faith in You…and You call for more of us to go, and more of us to support those who have gone.  Father, forgive me my selfishness and thoughts for my own comfort over those of Your lost sheep.  Forgive my self idolatry. Let me trust in Your plans for my future, not my own.