Genesis 1 God first“God is the subject of life. God is the foundation for living. If we don’t have a sense of the primacy of God, we will never get it right, get life right, get our lives right. Not God at the margins; not God as an option; not God on the weekends. God at center and circumference; God first and last; God, God, God.”  –Eugene Peterson
It is January of 2020. Sixty plus years ago, that seemed so very far away from my then present reality. But here we are, still alive, still in love with God, our Father who created all and is in all who believe and desire a relationship with God.
We finished the gospels yesterday. I prayed and thought about where to go next in reading, writing in my journal, praying and meditating about the Center of my life. Why not begin at the beginning?
genesis-1-1.jpg“Genesis gets us off on the right foot. Genesis pulls us into a sense of reality that is God-shaped and God-filled. It gives us a vocabulary for speaking accurately and comprehensively about our lives, where we come from and where we are going, what we think and what we do, the people we live with and how to get along with them, the troubles we find ourselves in and the blessings that keep arriving.” —Peterson
Genesis uses words to make a foundation that is solid and true. Everything we think and do and feel is material in a building operation in which we are engaged all our life long. There is immense significance in everything that we do. Our speech an dour actions and our prayers are all, every detail of them, involved in this vast building operation comprehensively known as the Kingdom of God.
Genesis God firstBUT we don’t build the foundation. The foundation is given. The foundation is firmly in place.
Jesus concluded his most famous teaching by telling us that there are two ways to go about our lives, we can build on sand or we can build on rock. No matter how wonderfully we build, if we build on sand it will fall to pieces like a house of cards. We build on what is already there, on the rock.
Genesis is a verbal witness to that rock: God’s creative acts, God’s intervening and gracious judgements, God’s call to a life of faith, God’s making covenant with us.
genesis-1-god-is.jpgBut Genesis presents non of this to us as an abstract, bloodless “truth” or “principle.” We are given a succession of stories with named people, people who loved and quarreled, believed and doubted, had children and married, experienced sin and grace. If we pay attention, we find that we ourselves are living variations on these very stories. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and his sons, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, Joseph and his brothers. The stories show clearly that we are never outsiders or spectators to anything in “heaven and earth.”
God doesn’t work impersonally from space, He works with us where we are, as He finds us. No matter what we do, whether good or bad, we continue to be part of everything that God is doing. Nobody can drop out–there’s no place to drop out to. So we may as well get started and take our place in the story–at the beginning.
goingdeeper.jpgWe will be using Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, written carefully and concisely in a language we can understand. Peterson is not only a notable, trusted theologian, he was a caring pastor who wanted his congregants to know God and His Son’s story of redemption.
We will also be using Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby as a backdrop for understanding more about who God is and what He desires from us as He continues to grow us through the process of prayer, study and storytelling.
Are you ready? I’m excited for what God, our Father will teach us!
Genesis – First, God
Genesis 1 and God saidGenesis 1
1-2 First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.
3-5 God spoke: “Light!”
And light appeared.
God saw that light was good
and separated light from dark.
God named the light Day,
he named the dark Night.
It was evening, it was morning—
Day One.
Dear Heavenly Father, Creator, Lord and Savior,
Thank you for Light.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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John – God Speaks!
John 12 victoriousLet’s try to put ourselves in that place and time and imagine the grief, anxiety, fear and wondering of the first disciples and followers of Jesus in the first few hours after his death. What just happened?, they must be thinking and saying to each other.
Crowds gathered around, throwing their palms and garments on the ground, with singing songs of praise as Jesus came into Jerusalem just days before. Then, what only seemed like hours later, their Master Teacher was arrested, beaten down, mocked in humiliating ways and then nailed to a cross. What just happened?! Their minds are reeling, their stomachs are turning over, and fear sets in. Irrational thoughts creep in.
John 19 bearing the cross
The disciples and followers “circle the wagons” and hide out in a locked upper room. That’s what we humans do in crisis. We gather and cling to each other when we don’t know what is going to happen next. Our bodies default to a condition of shock and disbelief that what happened really did happen.
Did anyone in the locked room think about what Jesus had taught them? Did anyone say, “Wait, let’s go back over what He said to us as we shared Passover meal one last time.” “What did He say…exactly?” Peter is still regrettably thinking about that look Jesus gave him after Peter shouted his third denial that he even knew Him.
John 20 the tombThen there were the women, Mary Magdalene, in particular who had to get up and DO what was expected when someone dies…take care of the body. She got up before everyone else and probably walked mournfully slow to the tomb. She thought about the horrific cruelty that her Lord had gone through. She must be still in shock because when the Lord appears to her, she does not recognize Him…until He speaks.
Can you imagine the shock Mary is still in, the deep sorrow in losing the one she loved with all her heart, while uncontrollable tears of mourning flow from her face? So many tears. Mary, eyes swollen, is crying so much that she cannot see Jesus right in front of her. She can only think fo the task she must do.
john-20-mary-weeping.jpgTwice Mary was asked why she is crying. She is probably thinking why wouldn’t I, I just lost my best Friend, Teacher and Lord! But being in mournful shock she can only think of why she came…to care for the body of Christ. Her only thought in the moment is where is He?
Where is Jesus, indeed? He has risen just as he said! He is standing right in front of Mary, calling her name. The eyes of her mind and soul finally focus through her tears upon Jesus Christ, Son of God, her Teacher and now her Savior!
John 20 go and tell“Teacher” she breathlessly, affectionately and reverently says to Him. She must have run to Him, as anyone would who sees their loved one come through a horrible trauma, throwing herself at Him, with wrapping her arms around Him. But wait, I saw you die on the cross and be place in the tomb, her practical mind must be shouting inside her confused thoughts. But here You are, three days later…just as you said.
Her task to care for a deceased body has changed to “Go and tell” by her Lord.
The first gospel message was blurted out, “I have seen the Lord!”
John 20, New Living Translation
Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 2 She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
John 20 Peter and John3 Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. 4 They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, 7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. 8 Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— 9 for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
John 20 Mary turns11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.
“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
John 20 Mary hugs Him14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
16 “Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).
17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
John 20 Mary knew him.png18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Jesus Appears to Thomas
24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”
26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.
29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
Purpose of the Book
30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.
John 20 I have seenHOLY PAUSE
Jesus is alive today! He is standing there wanting for us to acknowledge Him. Through our tears, He is calling our name just as lovingly as He called Mary’s name.
I have seen the Lord’s glory and power in my life. I have said yes to Jesus, Lord and Savior. I believe that He died on a cross for my sin, defeated death by going to hell and back for me and all who believe in Him. I believe Jesus rose again with the same Power that held him to the cross.
God was/is/and will forever be at work and in control of all because He created all. I believe God sent His Son to save us and reconcile our relationship with Him. I believe that His Holy Spirit is a gift from God to help us stay focused on Him and all the goodness He has to offer us. We pray. God works. He is God and we are not. But we now have the privilege to know God because of his Son, Jesus Christ.
I have seen the Lord! He is always with me.
To God be the glory!
AND I believe He is coming back! I must also go and tell.
In Jesus Name and by His power to rise from death, I believe.
And I’m singing…Because He Lives…
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John – God Speaks!
John 19 relentless love
John carefully writes what he saw Jesus go through to save us from our sins. John, self described as “the disciple He loved”, tells us his view of how Jesus was crucified vividly, in detail, because John is there…at the cross!
John 19 believeYou don’t forget the details when you live it and go through it with someone you love with all your heart, mind and soul. You tell it, pointing out that what happened was all according to what was predicted by the prophets of God many centuries preceding this horrific event to save us.
John writes his gospel with this intent:
“This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also may continue to believe.”
John wrote for those who saw and believed then and for us now…so that in reading we may continue to believe. I’m not sure how anyone can read the following and not believe in our God, who sent His One and Only Son to earth to sacrifice Himself for all our sin.
John 19, New Living Translation
The Crucifixion
John 19 bearing the cross.jpgSo they took Jesus away. 17 Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). 18 There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 And Pilate posted a sign on the cross that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it.
21 Then the leading priests objected and said to Pilate, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’”
22 Pilate replied, “No, what I have written, I have written.”
23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes among the four of them. They also took his robe, but it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24 So they said, “Rather than tearing it apart, let’s throw dice for it.” This fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They divided my garments among themselves and threw dice for my clothing.” So that is what they did.
John 19 cross
25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” 27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.
WHAT happened is important; WHY it happened is also important, if you hope to go to heaven.
John 19 changes
Today, we think of the cross as a symbol of glory and victory, but in Pilate’s day, the cross stood for the basest kind of rejection, shame, and suffering. It was Jesus who made the difference.
It was customary for the criminal to carry his cross, or at least the crossbeam, from the hall of judgment to the place of execution. Jesus began the mile-long walk carrying His cross, but He was relieved by Simon of Cyrene, whom the Roman soldiers “drafted” to do the job. We do not know why Jesus was relieved of this burden; the Scriptures are silent. One thing is sure: the bearing of the cross was a mark of guilt, and Jesus was not guilty (see Mark 15:20–21; Rom. 16:13).
It was also required that the criminal wear a placard announcing his crime. The only announcement recorded in the Gospels is the one that Pilate wrote: “This is Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.” The chief priests protested the title, but Pilate refused to change it. It was his final thrust against the Jewish religious establishment. He knew that the priests and elders envied Jesus and wanted to destroy Him (Matt. 27:18). A shrewd politician like Pilate well understood the workings of the Jewish religious establishment. He knew that his placard would insult and embarrass them, and that is exactly what he wanted.
The fact that this title was written in Hebrew (Aramaic), Greek, and Latin is significant. For one thing, it shows that our Lord was crucified in a place where many peoples and nations met, a cosmopolitan place. Hebrew is the language of religion, Greek of philosophy, and Latin of law, and all three combined to crucify the Son of God. But what He did on the cross, He did for the whole world!
John 19 crownThat Jesus was crucified with two notorious thieves only added to the shame. But it also fulfilled Isaiah 53:12: “He was numbered with the transgressors.” He was treated like a common criminal!
Modern executions are usually carried out in almost clinical privacy, but Jesus was nailed to a cross and hung up for everyone to see. It was Passover season and there were thousands of visitors in the city.The place of execution was outside the city where many people would pass. Jesus was a well-known figure, so His arrest and condemnation would be topics for discussion. It was natural for people to gather and watch the grim scene.
It was the privilege of the soldiers to share whatever personal belongings the victims had, so they divided up all that Jesus owned—His personal clothing. He would have had a turban, a pair of sandals, an undergarment (the seamless robe), an outer garment, and a girdle. The four men each took a piece of clothing, and then they gambled for the seamless robe. This fulfilled Psalm 22:18.
John 19 motherJohn specifies four women: Mary, the mother of Jesus; His mother’s sister, Salome, the mother of James and John; Mary, the wife of Clopas (Cleophas); and Mary Magdalene. It took courage to stand there in the midst of such hatred and ridicule, but their being there must have encouraged our Lord.
Jesus assured her of His love, and He gave His choicest disciple, who rested on His bosom, to be her adopted son and to care for her. Whether that moment John took Mary away from the scene and took her home, we do not know. We do know that he cared for her and that she was among the believers in the Upper Room as they awaited Pentecost (Acts 1:14). Even while He was performing the great work of redemption, Jesus was faithful to His responsibilities as a son. What an honor it was for John to take his Lord’s place in Mary’s life!
The Death of Jesus
John 19 son of God28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
31 It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was Passover week). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. 33 But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. 34 One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. 35 (This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also may continue to believe.) 36 These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and “They will look on the one they pierced.”
John 19 thirstOur Lord knew what was going on; He was fully in control as He obeyed the Father’s will. He had refused to drink the pain-deadening wine that was always offered to those about to be crucified (Matt. 27:34). In order to fulfill the Scriptures (Ps. 69:21), He said, “I thirst.” He was enduring real physical suffering, for He had a real human body. He had just emerged from three hours of darkness when He felt the wrath of God and separation from God (Matt. 27:45–49). When you combine darkness, thirst, and isolation, you have—hell!
There were physical reasons for His thirst (Ps. 22:15), but there were also spiritual reasons (Ps. 42:1–2).
John 19 last wordsOur Lord made seven statements while He was on the cross; they are known as “the seven words from the cross.” First, He thought of others: those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34), the believing thief (Luke 23:39–43), and His mother (John 19:25–27). The central word had to do with His relationship to the Father (Matt. 27:45–49), and the last three statements focused on Himself: His body (John 19:28–29), His soul (John 19:30; and see Isa. 53:10), and His spirit (Luke 23:46).
The drink of vinegar did not fully quench His thirst, but it did enable Him to utter that shout of triumph, in a loud voice, “It is finished!” In the Greek text, it is tetelestai,and it means, “It is finished, it stands finished, and it always will be finished!” While it is true that our Lord’s sufferings were now finished, there is much more included in this dramatic word. Many of the Old Testament types and prophecies were now fulfilled, and the once-for-all sacrifice for sin had now been completed.
John 19 finished
The word tetelestai is unfamiliar to us, but it was used by various people in everyday life in those days. A servant would use it when reporting to his or her master, “I have completed the work assigned to me” (see John 17:4).
When a priest examined an animal sacrifice and found it faultless, this word would apply. Jesus, of course, is the perfect Lamb of God, without spot or blemish. When an artist completed a picture, or a writer a manuscript, he or she might say, “It is finished!” The death of Jesus on the cross “completes the picture” that God had been painting, the story that He had been writing, for centuries. Because of the cross, we understand the ceremonies and prophecies in the Old Testament.
Perhaps the most meaningful sense of tetelestai was that used by the merchants: “The debt is paid in full!” When He gave Himself on the cross, Jesus fully met the righteous demands of a holy law; He paid our debt in full. None of the Old Testament sacrifices could take away sins; their blood only covered sin. But the Lamb of God shed His blood, and that blood can take away the sins of the world (John 1:29; Heb. 9:24–28).
John make it clear that Jesus’ death was not an accident; it was a divine appointment. He was not murdered in the strictest sense: He willingly gave His life for us. His death was an atonement, not just an example. He actually accomplished the work of redemption on the cross.
His death was voluntary: He willingly dismissed His spirit (John 19:30; and note 10:17–18). He “gave himself” (Gal. 2:20). He offered Himself as a ransom (Mark 10:45), as a sacrifice to God (Eph. 5:2), and as a propitiation for sin (1 John 2:2). In Luke 9:31, His death is called a “decease,” which in the Greek is “exodus,” suggesting the Passover lamb and the deliverance from bondage. It will take eternity to reveal all that happened when Jesus Christ died on the cross.
If we believe…we will not perish but have everlasting life!
John 19 JosephThe Burial of Jesus
38 Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. 39 With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. 40 Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth. 41 The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before. 42 And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
It is remarkable that the Roman soldiers did not do what they were commanded to do—break the victims’ legs—but they did do what they were not supposed to do—pierce the Savior’s side! In both matters, they fulfilled the very Word of God! The bones of the Passover lamb were not to be broken (Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12; and note Ps. 34:20), so our Lord’s bones were protected by the Lord. His side was to be pierced (Zech. 12:10; Rev. 1:7), so that was done by one of the soldiers.
John saw a special significance to the blood and water that came from the wound in the side. For one thing, it proved that Jesus had a real body (see 1 John 1:1–4) and experienced a real death.
John 19 scriptureIt seems evident that Joseph and Nicodemus carefully planned their activities at Calvary. They certainly could not secure a tomb at the last minute, nor would they be able to purchase sixty-five pounds of costly spices so quickly during the Passover, when many merchants would not be doing business. No sooner had Jesus died than Joseph went to Pilate and received permission to take the body. Nicodemus stayed at the cross to make sure nothing happened to his Lord’s body. The two men might even have been waiting in the new tomb, with the spices and wrappings, ready for the moment when the Savior would lay down His life.
Haste was important, and the men worked quickly. They could not give Jesus’ body the full ministry of washing and anointing that was traditional, but they did the best they could. It was important to get the body safely away from the Romans and the Jewish leaders. Of course, Mary of Bethany had already anointed His body for burial (Mark 14:8; John 12:1–8). Some of the other women watched the two men minister to Jesus, and they witnessed His burial (Matt. 27:61; Mark 15:47). They planned to return after the Sabbath and complete the burial procedures (Luke 23:55—24:1).
At the critical council meeting recorded in John 7:45–53, Nicodemus boldly stood up and defended the Savior! His associates ridiculed him for thinking that a prophet could come out of Galilee! “Search, and look!” they said—and that is exactly what Nicodemus did. It is likely that Joseph quietly joined him and revealed the fact that he too was more and more convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed Israel’s Messiah, the Son of God.
John 19 behold
As Nicodemus and Joseph searched the Old Testament, they would find the messianic prophecies and discover that many of them had been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Certainly they would see Him as the “Lamb of God” and conclude that He would be sacrificed at Passover. Jesus had already told Nicodemus that He would be “lifted up” (John 3:14), and this meant crucifixion. Since the Passover lambs were slain about 3 p.m., the two men could know almost the exact time when God’s Lamb would die on the cross! Surely they would read Isaiah 53 and notice verse 9— “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death.” Jesus would be buried in a rich man’s tomb!
Joseph arranged to have the tomb hewn out, and the men assembled the cloths and spices needed for the burial. They may have been hiding in the tomb all during the six hours of our Lord’s agony on the cross. When they heard, “It is finished! Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit!” they knew that He was dead, and they went to work. They boldly identified with Jesus Christ at a time when He seemed like a failure and His cause hopelessly defeated. As far as we know, of all the disciples, only John was with them at the cross. The Sabbath was about to dawn. Jesus had finished the work of the “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17), and now He would rest.
The best is yet to come!
Dear Heavenly Father,
You have given much to think about as we take a closer look at all you arranged for our salvation. You were always in control! The Plan we set in place from the beginning of time! Nothing was going to get in the way of The Way, Truth and Life. Wow. Your love is overwhelming me at this moment. All I can say is I believe and will never stop believing. I love you, Lord with all that is in me. To you be all glory!
In Jesus Name, Amen
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John – God Speaks!
John 19 God's work His challenges
Joining God in HIS work of saving the world from sin, first of all, is HIS work, not ours. When we say yes to God we must remember that doing what HE wants will often (always) be in competition with what the world expects from us. The mission He gives us will involve consistent change in our heart, mind and soul to keep us close to Him as well as in those He seeks to grow because of the mission He has invited us to be a part of in HIS work.
His Truth, not ours, will be tested and tried at every turn. We must, like Jesus who is the Person of God’s unchanging Truth, stick to Truth when following Him in His work.
Jesus tells us, “I only do what the Father tells me to do…” “I see what the Father is doing and I do that”. How many of us can attest to this Truth? Are we doing exactly what the Father has asked us to do? Are we adding our own twist to what He simply tells to be and do?
After soul searching, and found not guilty, are we sometimes sentenced to mockery, gossip, and whatever else others put upon us that is unpleasant in our walk? Do we make it unpleasant for others? Who is worthy to judge us?
Only Jesus. Jesus is perfect. We are not. We are perfectly forgiven, however. Jesus is the only One who is worthy to judge us yet He shows mercy by saving us with His own life. Can we show a bit more mercy as with work with each other in HIS work to help people find, follow and serve Him?
We will find as we follow and meditate on the gospel of John over the next few days that Jesus, sent by God, will go to hell and back for us in order to save all who believe in Him from eternal death for our sins. OUR sins.
john-18-behold.jpg“Look, here is the man!”, says Pilate who doesn’t know what to do with Jesus. “I find him not guilty.” But that doesn’t matter. Jesus must do what He was sent to do.
We have learned from John’s gospel, “In this world you will have troubles…but I have overcome the world.” This promise from Jesus to his disciples then and now, along with His ACTION to willingly lay down His life to save us, has to give us hope, peace, joy, knowing that when we are attacked as we do His work, it will end perfectly well because God is with us. God is in control at all times.
Jesus overcame the enemy of this world. “In just a little while, I will come back”, is another promise of Jesus. Jesus is Truth. Why not believe? “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” –Jesus (John 11)
TRUTH: Even though Jesus is sentenced to death, He knows His Father is in control of the situation. Jesus also knows what will happen on the other side of this present cruel punishment for our sins. He predicted what would happen and why it is necessary, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (John 12)
John 19 resurrectionMORE TRUTH: Jesus also assured His disciples, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” –Jesus (John 11)
As we read, even though our hearts and souls cringe at what our Lord will go through for us, may we stay focused on how all of this ends…Jesus defeats the death and with power from God rises from the dead to prove the claim for which He was sentenced…He is the Son of God! God who loved us first.
John 3 the worldGREATEST TRUTH: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
John 19 always
So whatever you are going through today, Jesus has already been there and completely understands. Go to Him and tell Him all your troubles. He knows how it will all turn out and will remind you, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Paul to the Roman believers, 8:28, NLT)
John 19, New Living Translation
Jesus Sentenced to Death
19 Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. 2 The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. 3 “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.
John 19 angels4 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.” 5 Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!”
6 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.”
7 The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever. 9 He took Jesus back into the headquarters 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.’ 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, “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.
John 19 share inHOLY PAUSE:
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11, NLT
Do we?
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
My words are not enough to express my gratitude to what you did for me. I can only say, I believe that you did. Thank you for loving me that way you do. Help me to love like that.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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John – God Speaks!
john-18-mobs.pngWhat happens to a crowd when prodded to escalate in riotous ways, demanding from those in charge that it must be their way or the highway? We see it in strikes of workers against companies, riots against the established rules, and in countries with citizens protesting ideas that will no longer be tolerated.
There is a mob mentality that forms from a few revolutionists shouting irrational statements that seem to sway people from “the cause” to right wrongs to pure hate, from the goal to change for the better to merely the right to fight. What might have begun as a peaceful way to express injustice soon turns ugly. Truth is no longer sought after and a reasonable settlement is gone with the wind. The crowd wants what the crowd wants. The mob wants and will get their own way at all costs.
John 18 trialAfter Jesus’ “trial” by the religious elite, he was passed on to the Roman government for punishment. They knew the Romans would kill him, if convicted, the cruel Roman way on a cross just outside the city for all to see. They wanted “blood” and they soon would get what they asked for…(all according to Scripture!) Jesus told the Truth. Jesus was the Truth. It was going to be tough to convict Him.
They needed help. They incited a crowd to gather and shout their false accusations about Jesus so all the city could hear and take notice. Pilate noticed. So he took Jesus out to the crowd for judgement.
When you suddenly give an oppressed people a choice, they don’t think twice about using this new right to judge. Incited by Jewish religious leaders sent among the crowd, the mob mentality took over and the choice was made.
“Do you want me to release ‘King of the Jews’, Pilate shouted to the crowd. (The custom was to release one Jewish prisoner during the Passover.)
The mob of rebellion shouted back, “NO, Not this man!”
They said and resounding NO to Jesus, Son of God. Isn’t that just like the world?
John 18, New Living Translation
Jesus’ Trial before Pilate
Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas ended in the early hours of the morning. Then he was taken to the headquarters of the Roman governor. His accusers didn’t go inside because it would defile them, and they wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Passover. 29 So Pilate, the governor, went out to them and asked, “What is your charge against this man?”
30 “We wouldn’t have handed him over to you if he weren’t a criminal!” they retorted.
31 “Then take him away and judge him by your own law,” Pilate told them.
“Only the Romans are permitted to execute someone,” the Jewish leaders replied. 32 (This fulfilled Jesus’ prediction about the way he would die.)
33 Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him.
John 18 not of this world34 Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?”
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?”
36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
37 Pilate said, “So you are a king?”
Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”
John 18 who do you choose38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime. 39 But you have a custom of asking me to release one prisoner each year at Passover. Would you like me to release this ‘King of the Jews’?”
40 But they shouted back, “No! Not this man. We want Barabbas!” (Barabbas was a revolutionary.)
John 18 choose this day.jpg
How many times do we go along with the crowd mentality and slink back from Truth in the Person of Jesus?
When giving the chance to choose…Who do we choose?
Are we crowd influencers or inciters?
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” –Jesus
john-18-37.pngWho leads us, seriously? The world or Jesus? Lies or Truth?
Dear Heavenly Father,
I want to be led by Truth, by YOU. Open our eyes to see you clearly. Open our ears to hear the slightest whisper of your voice. Open our minds to understand Truth. Open our hearts and souls to be filled with You alone. Cleanse every dark corner and fill us with Your Holy Spirit. I choose You because You chose me.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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John – God Speaks!
John 18 noWhen trouble comes, who wants to remain as the one holding the bat after you hear the sickening sound of glass breaking?
Who is left behind when all others slink away in a discussion about what is right and wrong?
Who is the one who denies you were ever part of the group of “religious fanatics” who simply believe in Christ?
Who watches how the conversation is going but does not speak up for what Jesus says is right and good?
Depending on the situation, we have all been faced with choices to speak up, walk away, run before it gets heated, deny and/or be silent when it comes to our faith in Jesus.
The question remains “Don’t you belong to Him?”
John 18 Peter watchesWe have all denied Christ when pushed into a corner, or faced with a problem we tried to handle all alone. “I can fix it” is our mantra before turning it all over to God. Could this be a form of denial? “I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings” is another excuse. “If I speak up they won’t like me then I won’t be able to be heard at all.” Our actions will always speak louder than our words. They already know.
So…let’s not be too hard on Peter. He acted before he thought and cut off an ear of one of Jesus’ attackers. So there’s that. That proved his loyalty but not his wisdom in following God’s will.
Imagine how Peter feels as he warms himself by the fire just outside the building where his Master is being accused. He can’t stay away from the discussion but he is not going to leave Jesus either. He belongs to Him.
John 18, New Living Translation
Peter’s First Denial
John 18, Peter questionedSimon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus. 16 Peter had to stay outside the gate. Then the disciple who knew the high priest spoke to the woman watching at the gate, and she let Peter in. 17 The woman asked Peter, “You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?”
“No,” he said, “I am not.”
18 Because it was cold, the household servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire. They stood around it, warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself.
The High Priest Questions Jesus
19 Inside, the high priest began asking Jesus about his followers and what he had been teaching them. 20 Jesus replied, “Everyone knows what I teach. I have preached regularly in the synagogues and the Temple, where the people gather. I have not spoken in secret. 21 Why are you asking me this question? Ask those who heard me. They know what I said.”
22 Then one of the Temple guards standing nearby slapped Jesus across the face. “Is that the way to answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 Jesus replied, “If I said anything wrong, you must prove it. But if I’m speaking the truth, why are you beating me?”
24 Then Annas bound Jesus and sent him to Caiaphas, the high priest.
John 18 deny
Peter’s Second and Third Denials
25 Meanwhile, as Simon Peter was standing by the fire warming himself, they asked him again, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?”
He denied it, saying, “No, I am not.”
26 But one of the household slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Didn’t I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?” 27 Again Peter denied it. And immediately a rooster crowed.
(With the help of Warren Wiersbe, Commentator)
The third question came from one of Malchus’s relatives! The Greek construction indicates that he expected an affirmative answer: “I saw you in the garden with Jesus, didn’t I? Yes, I did!” After all, this man had gotten a good look at Peter because he was probably standing with Malchus when Jesus was arrested. Some of the bystanders took up the discussion so that Peter may have been surrounded by challengers.
At that point, Peter’s resistance broke down completely. He began to “curse and swear” (Matt. 26:74). This does not mean that Peter let loose a volley of blasphemies, but rather that he put himself under a curse in order to emphasize his statement. He was on trial, so he put himself under an oath to convince his accusers that he was telling the truth.
It was at that point that the cock began to crow (John 18:27) just as Jesus had predicted (Matt. 26:34). There were four “watches”: evening (6–9 p.m.), midnight (9–12), cockcrowing (12 midnight to 3 a.m.), and morning (3–6 a.m.) (see Mark 13:35). The crowing of the cock reminded Peter of the Lord’s words, and he went out and wept bitterly.
John 18 mercy
The crowing of the cock was assurance to Peter that Jesus was totally in control of the situation, even though He was bound and being harassed by the authorities. By controlling one bird, Jesus affirmed His sovereignty. According to Genesis 1:26, God gave man authority over the fish, the fowl, and the animals. Peter had seen Jesus exercise authority over the fish (Matt. 17:24–27; Luke 5:1–11) and the animals (Matt. 21:1–11), but now he recognized His authority over the birds.
John 18 Jesus looks at PeterBut the cockcrowing was also an invitation to repentance. Luke tells us that Jesus turned and looked at Peter (Luke 22:61), and this look of love broke Peter’s heart. Peter had been a witness of Christ’s sufferings (1 Peter 5:1), and by his own denials he added to those sufferings.
Keep in mind that the crowing of the cock was the announcement of the dawning of a new day! “Weeping may endure for a right, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5). It is worthwhile to contrast Peter and Judas. Peter wept over his sins and repented, while Judas admitted his sins but never really repented.
Judas experienced remorse, not repentance. When Judas went out from the Upper Room, “it was night” (John 13:30), but when Peter went out to weep bitterly, there was the dawning of a new day. It is the contrast between godly sorrow that leads to true repentance, and the sorrow of the world (regret and remorse) that leads to death (2 Cor. 7:9–10). We will discover that Jesus restored Peter (John 21) and enabled him to serve with great power and blessing.
In the garden that night, you would find both guilt and grace. Peter was guilty of resisting God’s will. Judas was guilty of the basest kind of treachery. The mob was guilty of rejecting the Son of God and treating Him as though He were the lowest kind of criminal.
But Jesus was gracious! Like King David, He crossed the Kidron, fully conscious that Judas was betraying Him. He went into the garden of Gethsemane surrendered to the Father’s will. He healed Malchus’s ear. He protected His disciples. He yielded Himself into the hands of sinners that He might suffer and die for us.
And THAT’S why we sing Reckless Love as it captures our hearts at the core…
john-18-hope.pngOh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah
When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me…
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for reminding us that we are, like Peter, standing in need of forgiveness for going our own way, failing to do your perfect will. Thank you for loving us the way you do. Thank you for sending Your Son to die for our sin. Thank you for restoring our souls then inviting us to Your work! Your love is amazing. We are such a work in progress…but you know that and never leave us. Thank you, Lord.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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John – God Speaks!
RECAP: Jesus’ “I AM” statements would have particular significance to the first-century Jewish listener. God had revealed Himself to Moses with a resounding “I AM” (Ex. 3:14). Jesus used the same words to describe Himself.
Throughout the gospel written by John, “the beloved disciple”, we learn several I AM statements by Jesus:
John 18 Jesus is I AM.jpg“I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35, 41, 48, 51) As bread sustains physical life, so Christ offers and sustains spiritual life.
“I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12) To a world lost in darkness, Christ offers Himself as a guide.
“I am the door of the sheep.” (John 10:7,9) Jesus protects His followers as shepherds protect their flocks from predators.
“I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25) Death is not the final word for those in Christ.
“I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11, 14) Jesus is committed to caring and watching over those who are His.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) Jesus is the source of all truth and knowledge about God.
“I am the true vine.” (John 15:1, 5) By attaching ourselves to Christ, we enable His life to flow in and through us. Then we cannot help but bear fruit that will honor the Father.
John 18 6
Now, Jesus will complete the mission God sent Him to do. The final details of the mission begins with a betrayal kiss from Judas. What stands out to me today is how John records Jesus’ response to his attackers as they arrest Him in the garden. “I am he.” As Jesus said these words, “they all fell back, to the ground”.
Why did the arresting soldiers draw back and fall to the ground when Jesus told them, “I am he”? The Jews present would be struck by His “I am” statement, an affirmation of deity. The Romans, who were in the majority, would be struck by His bearing, for it was obvious that He was in command. It was an emotionally charged situation, and we do not know what Judas had told them about Jesus to help prepare them for this confrontation. The Jewish leaders had tried to have Jesus arrested before and always without success. The band was prepared for conflict, and when they met with surrender and calm, they were overwhelmed.
Jesus is I AM. Jesus is the Son of God. I AM will be and is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Hold this thought as we finish and meditate on the final pages of John’s writings. John writes with an abundance of symbolism, don’t miss it!
John 18, New Living Translation
Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested
After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. 2 Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. 3 The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
4 Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
John 18 I am he5 “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) 6 As Jesus said “I am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! 7 Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?”
And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” 9 He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”
10 Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. 11 But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”
Jesus at the High Priest’s House
12 So the soldiers, their commanding officer, and the Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up. 13 First they took him to Annas, since he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest at that time. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had told the other Jewish leaders, “It’s better that one man should die for the people.”
–Jesus is I AM, God in human form. He steps forward to complete what God assigned Him to do.
John 18 betrayedTHE KISS: Disciples greeted a rabbi by kissing him; it was a sign of devotion and obedience. But Judas was not truly a disciple of Jesus Christ, though he belonged to the disciple band. In the garden, Judas stood with the enemy, not with Jesus’ friends!
When people today pretend to know and love the Lord, they are committing the sin of Judas. It is bad enough to betray Christ, but to do it with a kiss, a sign of affection, is the basest treachery of all. It was born in the pit of hell.
john-18-the-cup.jpgTHE SWORD: Peter’s sword symbolizes rebellion against the will of God. Peter should have known that Jesus would be arrested and that He would willingly surrender to His enemies (Matt. 16:21; 17:22–23; 20:17–19). Peter made every mistake possible! He fought the wrong enemy, used the wrong weapon, had the wrong motive, and accomplished the wrong result!
Keep in mind that this miracle reveals His grace toward us. If Jesus had the power to stun an armed mob and heal a severed ear, He could have saved Himself from arrest, trial, and death. But He willingly submitted! And He did it for us!
It is a sad thing when well-meaning but ignorant Christians take up the sword to “defend” the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter hurt Malchus, something no believer should do. Peter hurt the testimony of Christ and gave the false impression that His disciples hate their enemies and try to destroy them. (Note our Lord’s reply to Pilate in John 18:36.)
THE CUP: Peter had a sword in his hand, but our Lord had a cup in His hand. Peter was resisting God’s will but the Savior was accepting God’s will. “I am he.”
John 18 cupThe cup represented the suffering He would endure and the separation from the Father that He would experience on the cross. His holy soul must have been stirred to the depths when He contemplated being made sin!
To “drink the cup” means to go through with a difficult experience, and “not my cup of tea” means saying no to a certain course of action. The fact that some trophies are designed like cups suggests that winners have been through demanding experiences and had to “swallow a lot.”
Jesus was able to accept the cup because it was mixed by the Father and given to Him from the Father’s hand. He did not resist the Father’s will, because He came to do the Father’s will and finish the work the Father gave Him to do.
This is a good lesson to us: we need never fear the cups that the Father hands to us. To begin with, our Savior has already drunk the cup before us, and we are only following in His steps.
We need never fear what is in the cup because the Father has prepared it for us in love. If we ask for bread, He will never give us a stone, and the cup He prepares will never contain anything that will harm us. We may suffer pain and heartbreak, but He will eventually transform that suffering into glory.
I AM saved all who believe in Him. What a blessed thought that I AM is with us today. I AM is still our Bread of life, Light in the darkness, Protector, Provider, the Way, and the Truth that guides us to Life eternal with Him!
No, death is not the final word for those in Christ!
John 18 I am
What do we do what we do?
Are we tenaciously attached to I AM?
Do we humbly ask what God wants daily? Then obey?
Am I with I AM?
Dear Heavenly Father,
There is so much to learn and grow on today. Thank you for continually opening up our eyes and ears to see and hear you, to fall down before you when we realize we are talking to the great I AM! thank you for saving my soul. Thank you for consistent transformation of heart and mind. What do you want from me today? Where can I join you in Your work? Reveal yourself to me today. Help me to know that I AM, YOU, are always with me.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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