Gone Fishing–John 21 Cont’d

Jesus wanted to leave the disciples ready to build a world changing life redeeming Church. He knew they had to be ready to share his resurrection no matter how outlandish it would sound. So when he appeared the next time, he did so over breakfast. He also led them to the biggest catch they could imagine—just as he did when they were first called to join him. Jesus loved these guys and wanted to join them where they were at, no prerequisites or lists that were checked off.

In addition, he wanted them to remain themselves—Thomas the doubter, Peter the Bull in a china closet and John his devoted friend and leader. They were not going to become new religious leaders, they were to become warriors, servants and men that faced death all day long in the name of their Lord and master.

Nothing has changed, Jesus is still calling us to be ourselves and to be warrior, servants. He does not want a particular flavor or brand. He just wants us to be us for him. This kind of life is very low pressure and high reward. Mostly though, Jesus wants us to want to follow him. Following him out of love not out of obligation. He will provide and he will guide us just as he did that morning on the beach—all the fish and where to fish. Thast is our Lord.

God Bless You

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him for he had taken it off and jumped into the water.

When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”

Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.

This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

I’m Here, Never Fear–John 20 Part 2

Jesus not only left the tomb empty, but he then appeared to his people several times to build their faith and end their fear and doubt. He never judged them, he simply reassured them that he was alive and real. 

The disciples were afraid. The group stayed together, behind locked doors,  literally fearing they would be next to die. In the midst of that Jesus’ appearance and encouragement started to galvanize them in preparation of their mission. 

His appearances also prepares us. We have the gift of various reports from various sources to affirm that Jesus was who he claimed to be. In I Corinthians 15, it said that Jesus appeared to more than 500 people–many that were still alive at the time he wrote the letter.  Jesus resurrection was no secret, nor was it contrived. Still, we have to trust him and follow him even though we were not there. He told his guys, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Be blessed–have faith and follow him. 

God Bless You

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” which means “Teacher”.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

He is Risen–John 20 Part 1

Sunday morning was quiet and peaceful as Mary walked to Jesus tomb. Then, in a blink of an eye–Mary saw an open tomb and an empty grave. Soon Peter and John came and inspected the grave that had the grave clothes but no body.  

Just as he said, Jesus rose on third day. He did not summon a choir, cast lightning bolts or even call a press conference–he simply rose from death to life.  

That simple act is what sets him apart. Our God lives and reigns. It overwhelmed the disciples, but, it thrills us. The good guys win! They continue to win every day–because Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection seals the covenant of eternal life for all who believe.  

We can walk with confidence toward the eternal life we receive. We live according to his plan and know he will never leave or forsake us. What a gift, what a Savior. 

 God Bless You. 

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.

So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.

Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.

He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.

Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there,

as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen.

Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.

They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.

Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Burying God –John 19 Final

What would it be like to bury God?  The two men that buried Jesus felt a mixture of grief and defeat. The bad guys had won, or so they thought, but, such a great one must be paid the honor and respect the ministry he built deserved. Nicodemus must have felt guilty for not standing up to the council . Joseph was glad to offer a resting place for this great leader. 

At that point, everyone was at a loss. Everyone but the author and creator. The next couple of days were a roller coaster like none other. 

We have the luxury of reading ahead. We know the outcome. Burying God is no big deal. But,like the disciples, we have to trust his truth about returning. Then and now, the world is seemingly out of control and the price to follow God is growing. We, as his disciples, must cling to the hope he has provided. Then and now we have to see the world from God’s eternal perspective. When we do, we can not only survive the chaos, but, we can provide hope and direction to any that are willing to join us on our amazing journey. The great news then and now is—When you bury God, even with the best of intentions, he simply will not stay buried!

God Bless You

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.

He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.

Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.

At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.

Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there

It is Finished–John 19 Final

It is amazing what remains important. With all that Jesus suffered in preparation and then the actual crucifixion, Jesus makes sure his mom is cared for before he dies. He now made sure the world was redeemed, but he also made sure the details were covered. John’s account was not as detailed as others, but was told from the perspective of a dear friend. He wanted the World to realize this Savior was the one and cared for the greatest and the least with equal fervor. 

That message rings equally true in our time. With the world literally coming apart at the seams, Jesus still is as concerned for each life great and small. Of course the events of the day are significant, but, so are the tears of a mother and the sickness of a child. When Jesus died, he literally changed the world. But, that was not the end of the work. One musician said it best–it was the end of the beginning. Jesus is as involved in the lives of his chosen today as he was with John 2000 years ago. Trust him, follow him and see if he does not care for you as he did his mom on the day it was finished!

God Bless You

 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,”

and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”

A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.

The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.

But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.

Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.

These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”

and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”

 

Crucified Part 1–John 19 Part 2

All that was left was to die. Jesus had come to earth, lived a perfect life, conveyed the Father’s message and started building a force to carry the message after he was gone. 

Still, dying after being immortal since before time was even created was no small task. For Jesus, it was not the physical abuse that was a concern, it was the separation from the father, the taking on of sin and actual death that was his sacrifice. He had always been alive–but, now he would not. 

Thankfully, he thought we were worth it. This sacrifice, as great as it was, was deemed worthy in God’s eyes to redeem us from being separated for eternity. That, more than any other thing should convey how much we are loved and valued by our Heavenly Father. All he asks for, in return, is that we accept this amazing gift and allow him to restore what sin once destroyed. 

It is an extremely fair trade!!!

God Bless You

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.

Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.

There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews.

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,“They divided my clothes among themand cast lots for my garment.”So this is what the soldiers did.

 

We Have No King But Caesar–John 19 Part 1

When the truth was finally laid out, three facts remained—Jesus was innocent, the crucifixion was a farce and the Jewish leaders would denounce all things dear to complete their political plan. The longer Pilate listened, the more he knew Jesus was not a criminal—especially one deserving to die. He tried every loophole to avoid pronouncing judgment. Sadly, however—he was matching wits with the Jewish leaders—the masters of loopholes. In the end, he had no personal interest or desire to cause an uprising—so he gave in.

The Jewish leaders, however, were willing to break every rule and do anything necessary to rid themselves of Jesus. The ultimate test and proof was the call of allegiance—We have no King but Caesar. These men, the “men of God” easily changed their tone and publicly bowed to their earthly king, simply because it was politically expedient. What they REALLY meant was “We have no king but our own self-interest.”

In today’s culture, men are faced with the same choice—who will they serve. And while the names vary—God, money, beauty, entertainment, power and so many more; the ultimate choice is either God or Self. As with the Jewish leaders, the proof lies in what we are willing to do for our king. If we serve God, we must be willing to humble ourselves and follow his lead. If we do, our thoughts and actions push toward honoring and becoming like the Lord. Conversely, if we choose self, our actions, words and thoughts ultimately support our personal agenda and our personal gain—it is inevitable. But, in the end, following Christ means freedom, and following self interest means slavery and chaos.

Bob Dylan said it best—“You gotta serve somebody. It may be the Devil or it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody!”(Bob Dylan—Long Train Coming) In the book of Joshua, Joshua tells the people of Israel that each must make a similar choice—God or self. I join in his choice—“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” (Joshua 24:15)

God Bless You

 

Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.

Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.” Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!”

When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

“Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”

The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”

When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever. He took Jesus back into the headquarters[a] again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. 10 “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”

11 Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”

12 Then Pilate tried to release him, but the Jewish leaders shouted, “If you release this man, you are no ‘friend of Caesar.’[b] Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar.”

13 When they said this, Pilate brought Jesus out to them again. Then Pilate sat down on the judgment seat on the platform that is called the Stone Pavement (in Hebrew, Gabbatha). 14 It was now about noon on the day of preparation for the Passover. And Pilate said to the people,[c] “Look, here is your king!”

15 “Away with him,” they yelled. “Away with him! Crucify him!”

“What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

“We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back.

16 Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified.

So, Are You a King or Not?”–John 18 Final

From a legal standpoint, the Jews did everything possibly that they could wrong! They had no charge, no authority and no real reason to arrest, prosecute or kill Jesus. They performed their own hearing to no avail, they took him to the Governor, Pilate—who had no desire to appease or involve himself with this religious fight, none the less Jesus was completing his mission– so he withstood the ridiculous farce and simply spoke truth. Each time he did—it left his opponents in a bind.

We can look at the quiet sacrifice Jesus made and at every juncture, see his authority. Whether he was speaking to the guard or the Governor, Jesus was confident and truly in control. He was perfect, He was complete and He was God. Had he grown tired of the charade, he could have called a legion of angels to rescue him and wipe out the opposition.

Fear not, Jesus would die, as prophecy said he would. But, God, the father, had to make clear the fact that no one took the Savior’s life, he gave it willingly. That is how it had to be. We are without hope outside of Christ’s sacrifice. This circus was a great illustration of the entire point—men cannot save themselves.

Their best efforts are a car wreck. The only way any man will ever be truly free—is to submit to God’s authority and accept his very obvious and gracious gift of salvation. Pilate asked—What is truth? The truth is that we are loved and redeemed by a wonderful, wise and risen Savior and King. Thank You, Lord, that you put up with men’s inadequacy to give them eternal life.

God Bless You

Annas interrogated Jesus regarding his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered, “I’ve spoken openly in public. I’ve taught regularly in meeting places and the Temple, where the Jews all come together. Everything has been out in the open. I’ve said nothing in secret. So why are you treating me like a conspirator? Question those who have been listening to me. They know well what I have said. My teachings have all been aboveboard.”

22 When he said this, one of the policemen standing there slapped Jesus across the face, saying, “How dare you speak to the Chief Priest like that!”

23 Jesus replied, “If I’ve said something wrong, prove it. But if I’ve spoken the plain truth, why this slapping around?”

24 Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to the Chief Priest Caiaphas….Ciaphas sent Jesus to Pilate… Pilate went back into the palace and called for Jesus. He said, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”

34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you this about me?”

35 Pilate said, “Do I look like a Jew? Your people and your high priests turned you over to me. What did you do?”

36 “My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.”

37 Then Pilate said, “So, are you a king or not?”

Jesus answered, “You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice.”

38-39 Pilate said, “What is truth?”

Then he went back out to the Jews and told them, “I find nothing wrong in this man. It’s your custom that I pardon one prisoner at Passover. Do you want me to pardon the ‘King of the Jews’?”

Denial–John 18 Part 2

The greatest folk have made grave mistakes in times of fear for their lives. Poor Peter—He was the disciple that often stepped out first and then put that foot in his mouth. He was a man with heart, courage and loyalty, yet, when the time came as Jesus was taken away, Peter was deeply shaken. No doubt he cared—He cut the ear of Caiaphas’ servant. But as Jesus was led away, there were strong doubts turning the disciples upside down.

While Peter’s denial was highlighted—the followers all became scarce. None rose to testify on Jesus behalf, none stormed the chamber—they were all afraid and completely devastated by the capture of the Lord. Such a turn of events seemingly destroyed the movement that had grown that so quickly over the last few years. It was the start of a difficult few days!

Life gets turned upside down—We get our foundations rocked by circumstances all the time—health, jobs, conflict and family crisis always drill straight to our spiritual core. Those that can cling to their faith and survive the crushing waves can rebuild their faith and weather those storms. Few of us has escaped a dramatic fall. I have failed so much that I have lost count. The great news is that God’s grace allows us to recover and still be used despite our frailty and fear. The falling and failures are not what defines us, it is the dusting off, standing up and pressing ahead that makes us the followers we are called to be. Jesus said it best, “In this world you will have trouble—but take heart, I have overcome the world!”

God Bless You

Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.

17 “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.

He replied, “I am not.”

18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.

25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”

He denied it, saying, “I am not.”

26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow

True Courage–John 18 Part 1

It was time to complete the mission. Make no mistake, Jesus did not take his sacrifice lightly, but, he knew this was his reason for coming. He had given the world a true picture of God and his response to sin, religious pride and life’s day to day struggles. He performed miracles to a point that no one truly could question his power was not his own. He taught the people that followed him the truth about His Father and how to live in this world—But now, he had to show the world the measure of his love for men and the courage to complete the mission.

Jesus was courageous from the start. He gave up everything and became nothing, so that we could be redeemed. When we study his life, it is important to remember that the courage he showed that Passover week was the same courage he showed all through his ministry. Courage is often highlighted in an event, but it is built in a lifetime. Jesus showed us that he was courageous all through his walk on earth—it just became apparent as he turned himself over to the guards.

In our lives, we have the ability to trust him and show the same courage. It is often highlighted in crisis, but it happens each day as we face the world and walk humbly in his shadow. Generosity, kindness, honor and tenacity are all signs of courage. We are called to be strong and courageous—and, in these times, we will be given opportunity to show our willingness to follow the call. For today, pray, follow him and trust him to do all he has for you. Show true courage, just as he did

God Bless You

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they said. Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”