WHO: Some Greeks had come to Passover and had gone to Philip because he was from Bethsaida in Galilee and asked him for an introduction to Jesus. Philip passed that on to Andrew and together they told Jesus. Jesus seems to be speaking to Philip and Andrew, not the Greeks.
WHY: Jesus starts by speaking about timing and is saying the time has come for his glorification. Then He speaks of His death and the purpose of that death. He speaks that as a shepherd leading His flock, those who serve Him must follow Him through a death of self love which will guard them for life eternal. Honorable service to Jesus would be: following Jesus, going where He goes, being with Jesus where Jesus is, regardless of how it affects human life and comfort. This was not easy for Jesus. He had the human emotions that struggled to surrender to His Father’s will. Yes, he chose to obey, suffer and give glory to the Father- which was to fulfill the purpose for which he was incarnated.
12:24-28“I can guarantee this truth: A single grain of wheat doesn’t produce anything unless it is planted in the ground and dies. IF it dies, it will produce a lot of grain. Those who love their lives will destroy them, and those who hate their lives in this world will guard them for everlasting life. Those who serve Me must follow Me. My servants will be with Me wherever I will be. If people serve Me, the Father will honor them. I am too deeply troubled now to know how to express my feelings. Should I say, ‘Father, save Me from this time (of suffering)?’ No! I came for this time of suffering. Father give glory to Your name.”
In the images above, note what happens to the seed shell.
What introduction does Jesus offer to those who wish to know Him?
What shell am I living in?
What am I holding onto that will only ultimately die?
WHO: Jesus speaking to those Jews who believed in Him.
WHY: To encourage them to live by what He is saying and be true disciples, knowing the truth and set free. He then explains what they are being set free from as they had not seen themselves as slaves (slaves to sin).
8:34 “I can guarantee this truth: Whoever lives a sinful life is a slave to sin. A slave doesn’t live in the home forever, but a son does. So if the Son sets you free, you will be absolutely free. I know that you’re Abraham’s descendants. However, you want to kill me because you don’t like what I’m saying. What I’m saying is what I have seen in my Father’s presence. But you do what you‘ve heard from your father.”
‘Who’s your daddy?’
What pulls my strings? Are my strings cut? Am I set free?
Who’s Spirit do I live by?
How do I respond to people I don’t agree with? What does that say about me?
Lord, let me live through and by Your Holy Spirit and not my own passions and desires. Give me the desires of Your heart, that I might be free indeed!
WHO: The same Jews as above and those who do not believe who have just accused Him of being possessed by a demon.
WHY: To discern for them who their father really is, (not Abraham) and if they are a slave to sin. If they don’t understand, they don’t believe and belong to God. Also Jesus said this to clarify that He is not possessed and honors His Father. Glory and honor are to the judge. God the Father wants Jesus to have glory, not Jesus. God is judge. Then Jesus makes this promise. He is dividing the hearers every time He makes another statement. Shortly after this He makes it perfectly clear “Before Abraham was ever born, I am.” Over this, they now attempt to stone Him for what their unbelief perceives as blasphemy.
8:51“I can guarantee this truth: Whoever obeys what I say will never see death.”
Whom do I obey?
What do my actions reveal about me?
What do my words reveal about me?
Will I see death or life eternal?
WHO: The Jews who were being divided over believing or not believing in Jesus. Some believe, some do not. Division increases.
WHY: To answer the very direct question, “Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophet have also died. Who do you think you are”? The Jews revered the prophets and they revere their ancestor Abraham. Jesus had just spoken about believers not dying. Yet those they revered and knew to be faithful Jews and believers in God the Father (the only one they knew about) are now, to their ears, being put lower as Jesus speaks with an authority they are questioning. “Just who does he think he is? “ They clearly wonder. So He tells them who HE IS! They understand the use of the great “I AM” as His claim to be God. Their actions attest to how clearly they understood that, as the biblical command for those that falsely claim to be God, is stoning. So “some of them” pick up stones to throw at Jesus, but Jesus, being God, is able to be “concealed” and somehow walked right past them all- without them finding their target.
8:58 Jesus told them, “I can guarantee this truth: Before Abraham was ever born, I am.”
Who does Jesus claim to be?
Who do I say Jesus is?
What do my actions say I believe about Jesus to be true?
How does Jesus respond to unbelievers?
How does Jesus respond to those that want to stone Him?
How do I respond to those who hate and want to harm me?
WHO: Jesus is talking to the people. The text implies a continuation of the previous group. This includes some Pharisees who were with Jesus who had been asking him questions in regard to the man born blind whom Jesus had recently healed and sought out after learning the Jews had kicked him out of the synagogue.
WHY: He has just told this group of religious leaders that they are blind themselves if they claim to see, when in fact, they do not see the truth, thus they become liars and thus they are sinners- sinners who claim to be right in their actions. This sheep pen and shepherd description shows how to discern who people believe by watching who they follow. It will show to whom they belong. To recognize those who are in the ‘flock of Jesus’ is to see who is following Him. However, it is also interesting to note that in the process of leaving the pen, each sheep must leave by one gate and on the other side is a time of mingling around waiting for the rest of the sheep to leave the fold and be ready to follow the shepherd when He is done calling out His sheep and then step to the front and lead them. I think this is a good analogy to the time we are in and have been in since the resurrection. Jesus is calling out His sheep. A time shall come, when all His sheep have been called out and when He shall step to the front of the flock and lead us.
10:1-5“I can guarantee this truth: The person who doesn’t enter the sheep pen through the gate but climbs in somewhere else is a thief or a robber. But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep respond to his voice. He calls his sheep by name and leads them out of the pen. After he has brought out all his sheep, he walks ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. They won’t follow a stranger. Instead, they will run away from a stranger because they don’t recognize his voice.”
Who and what am I listening to? and watching?
Where are my leaders from?
How have my leaders come to be my leader?
Who am I following and who are they following?
Do I follow Jesus or some strange ‘sheep’?
Lord, help me to focus my ears on your voice alone, so that i recognize truth when I hear it and discern falsehood when it cries out to me.
WHO: Jesus is speaking to the same group of ‘sheep’ i.e. the Jews including Pharisees some who are and some who are not believing, above. The people he is continuing to talk to and in this section.
WHY: To emphasize His point. So that truly get the message. He is the only way. He is the gate. There is only ONE passage, one gate, one name, one shepherd that can call the sheep out into the pastures, the feeding ground of eternal life. He also explains He must give His life and take it back up again in obedience to His Father.
10:7-18 Jesus emphasized, “I can guarantee this truth: I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before I did were thieves or robbers. However, the sheep didn’t respond to them. I am the gate. Those who enter the sheep pen through Me will be saved. They will go in and out of the sheep pen and find food. A thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. But I came so that My sheep will have life and so that they will have everything they need.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. A hired hand isn’t a shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep. When he sees a wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and quickly runs away. So the wolf drags the sheep away and scatters the flock. The hired hand is concerned about what he’s going to get paid and not about the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd. I know My sheep as the Father knows Me. My sheep know me as I know the Father. So I give My life for My sheep. I also have other sheep that are not from this pen. I must lead them. They, too, will respond to My voice. So they will be one flock with one shepherd. The Father loves me because I give My life in order to take it back again. No one takes My life from Me. I give My life of My own free will. I have the authority to give My life , and I have the authority to take My life back again. This is what My Father ordered Me to do.”
Check out my gate! Through what am I going in and out, or through whom?
What voice calls me that my heart responds to?
Lord! Let me hear only your voice and may my heart leap with joy when you call!
Lord, let me wait patiently, fully satisfied, as you gather all Your sheep.
WHO: The crowd of people who had just been fed on the mountain and went searching for Jesus in Capernaum- a distance that required either boat or a long walk , at the Capernaum synagogue
WHY: To address the desire for a “free lunch”. They had to “work” to get to find him in hopes for more, but Jesus addresses the need we all have to be productive, to do work and define what the really satisfying work is. If we are willing to go so far, to put that much into the attaining of a meal, to work to meet that temporary need that will only hunger again tomorrow, how much better to work for that which satisfies eternally!
6:26 Jesus replied to them, “I can guarantee this truth: You’re not looking for me because you saw miracles. You are looking for Me because you ate as much of those loaves as you wanted. Don’t work for food that spoils,. Instead, work for the food that lasts into eternal life. This is the food the Son of Man will give you After all the Father has placed His seal of approval on Him.”
How far am I willing to go to be truly satisfied?
Is that far really so very far away? Or is it right in front of me, waiting for me to trust in His promised provision?
What ‘work’ will satisfy eternally?
WHO: To the same recently fed crowd who now asks Jesus what God wants them to do? Isn’t that a question we often ask God? Jesus had told them to believe in Him, whom God has sent, yet they asked now for a miracle of manna- bread from heaven- like Moses did.
WHY: To lead them to the understanding of who He is, Jesus IS the bread of life. Jesus is the bread from heaven. Jesus is true food. Jesus is the source of life eternal and physical. All this is said so that they might believe in Him.
6:32-33 Jesus said to them “I can guarantee this truth: Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. God’s bread is the man who comes from heaven and gives life to the world.”
What is food, but that which brings nourishment to our body? We cannot sustain functioning without food, and good health requires good food. For our spiritual body we need spiritual food and that food is found in Jesus Christ. Thus we circle back to the first chapter of John, and who Jesus is. The Word, made flesh. Eat and drink deeply of Jesus. Take communion with a heart that seeks true food.
Lord, remind me at communion what I am eating and drinking
Lord, remind me as I study your Word, that I am being fully nourished and let me not gulp my meal or swallow without chewing.
Lord, may I taste and see that You are GOOD!
WHO: To the same crowd that is now understanding that Jesus is claiming to be Messiah and they don’t see how that can be because they understand him to be the son of Joseph and Mary and that he comes from Nazareth so how can he be Him? They are criticizing Jesus because they don’t understand.
WHY: So that they learn to seek the truth by going to the Father and come to understand that Jesus is from the Father and so come to Jesus. He wants them to believe. He chooses not to address how he came to be in Nazareth and speak on the physical part of His being. Rather He goes to the key parts of believing, the benefits. It is not about proving Himself to them, rather His focus is on what they must believe. Jesus is living bread from heaven that those who consume His flesh won’t die but provide eternal life. To believe Jesus is to “eat this bread” and what is the bread, it is His flesh- because Jesus gives to the world, at the cross, the flesh that He took on.
6:47-51“I can guarantee this truth: Every believer has eternal life.
“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert and died. This is the bread that comes from heaven so that whoever eats it won’t die. I am the living bread that came from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. The bread I will give to bring life to the world is my flesh.”
Lord, help me understand!
Lord, help me persist as I seek to understand and walk with You in Your ways.
Lord, help me to trust through the process of learning to understand.
So, as a believer, even though this physical body is dying daily, I am eternally already alive in Jesus! Hallelujah!
WHO: The crowd was very charged by this information and began to quarrel and argue with one another. Some were understanding others were plain angry at the thought of “eating his flesh”. They think of it as physical food they must eat.
WHY: To push the point further- and drink His blood. It’s a new food, it is not meant for the physical body but a food for the spiritual body to provide for eternal life. Jesus is specific in trying to get them to understand His message is for eternal life not for temporary life. They had only been seeking to fill physical hunger. Jesus had the food that meets the need of spiritual hunger.
6:53-58 Jesus told them, “I can guarantee this truth: If you don’t eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you don’t have the source of life in you.
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will bring them back to life on the last day. My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Those who eat My flesh and drink my blood live in Me and I live in them. The Father who has life sent Me, and I live because of the Father. So those who feed on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread that came from heaven. It is not like the bread your ancestors ate. They eventually died. Those who eat this bread will live forever.”
Jesus challenged this hungry crowd to seek after true food and drink, one that would last to eternity. This point He made several times and this section is a lot of repeated guarantees (truly- trulys) for one group of people. They were in great need of understanding and knowing the hard truth and this one was hard. Is it still hard today? What do I learn about Jesus and the way He would interact with people from this repetition? I’m a mom, I know toddlers and children and teens and honestly, adults too. We all need repetition. We begin to believe when we are told something over and over again. But we really understand when we start doing.
So, do I only believe in Jesus? Or do I dine with Him?
Angry crowds. Ever have a group of people angry at you? Ever see an angry crowd in action? Think politics and religion if you are having trouble imagining this. People hold their beliefs very dear and if they feel they are threatened by another point of view, often they will get angry and the crowd effect is easily manipulated by despots. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler are all well acknowledged examples. But what about more on the personal level, perhaps in one’s own family or in one’s workplace. Have you ever observed a group gang up upon another? Or perhaps for most women, all we have to do is remember seventh grade when our ‘horror-moans’ took over our brains for a good solid year. How does one respond to an angry group of people? How did Jesus do this?
WHO: To an angry Jewish crowd who thinks Jesus is breaking Sabbath laws (by healing) and blaspheming by identifying Himself with God. They want to kill Him, which is the punishment for blasphemy
WHY: To show He has authority and is not breaking the law.
5:19-23 Jesus said “I can guarantee this truth: The Son cannot do anything on his own. He can do only what He sees the Father doing. Indeed, the Son does exactly what the Father does. The Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He is doing. The Father will show Him even greater things to do than these things so that you will be amazed. In the same way that the Father brings back the dead and gives them life, the Son gives life to anyone he chooses.
“The Father doesn’t judge anyone. He has entrusted judgment entirely to the son so that everyone will honor the Son as they honor the Father. Whosoever doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent Him.”
This group does not understand who Jesus is, and are more in love with their rules and regulations then they are with truth. So they are judging Jesus based on their own limited knowledge of the context of the given law. They have lost perspective so Jesus gives them that perspective.
Let me seek the Lord’s perspective and share it when I am caught up in angry mob (or what may feel like that).
Let me speak truth courageously.
WHO: To that same angry crowd
WHY: To offer forgiveness for their current misjudgment and offer opportunity to honor Jesus and thus honor the Father and have eternal life.
5:24“I can guarantee this truth: Those who listen to what I say and believe in the one who sent me will have eternal life. They won’t be judged because they have already passed from death to life.”
Jesus has given the perspective and if someone has the heart for truth and is willing to accept what He is saying, they most likely will feel guilt for their wrongdoing. Jesus knows this and adds another guarantee of forgiveness.
Let me always be forgiving and gracious when after truth is understood by someone who was falsely angry at me.
WHO: To that same angry crowd
WHY: To speak about timing, and the urgency of the time for hearing from God in Jesus and accepting eternal life by hearing truth from Jesus and again to establish and convict about His Authority
In this section He goes on to respond to those who might be surprised at what He is saying and He says more on what is soon to come. (the dead will rise and be judged).
He explains how his judgments are accurate because of His relationship with the Father. “because I don’t try to do what I want but what the One who sent Me wants”
He gives additional witness to His authority by referring to John the Baptist’s testimony and the testimony of the miraculous works He is doing. These two witnesses meet the requirement of the law and prove He is sent by the Father.
He calls them out for their hypocrisy of searching scripture for eternal life by not applying it when it is fulfilled in front of them. They have no love for God.
Lesson: LOVE is a witness to one’s faith. Where one seeks praise from, tells where one’s heart is and who/what they love.
5:25-26“I can guarantee this truth: A time is coming (and is now here) when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who respond to it will live. The Father is the source of life, and He has enabled the Son to be the source of life too.”
“He has also given the Son authority to pass judgment because He is the Son of Man.”
Not everyone who is in the angry crowd will be accepting of truth, nor want peace. So Jesus, after calling out the truth, after giving new perspective, after guaranteeing forgiveness, now boldly says something to hold those who refuse truth accountable. This actually meets the need for justice, the ‘but that is not fair’ attitude embedded by our creator in each and every human being. Every child knows that things ‘ought to be fair’. So if the whole perspective is given, then there is no excuse.
Life may not seem fair many times, but don’t worry, eternity is.
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. Don’t be surprised when I tell you that all of you must be born from above. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear it’s sound but you don’t know where the wind comes from or where it is going. That’s 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 we’re talking about, and we confirm what we’ve seen. Yet, you don’t accept our message. If you don’t 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 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 Jesus
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.
1:51Jesus said to Nathanael, “I can guarantee this truth: You will see the sky open and God’s 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!
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.
My 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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
L longingly love–With
I intentionally inspired insight—In
S surrendered stillness—With
T total trust—Being
E emotionally empty and expectant
Have–F faithful focus
With—O objective obedience
And —L listening leadership
L loyally learning
O openly observing
W willingly wondering
H holy hoping
O objective obedience—And
W wholly, willing and watching.
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.
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).
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.