A Month with Jesus
A Chapter of Promises - John 16
Chapter 16 contains some of the final conversations and teachings between Jesus and his apostles. When you read it, you can feel the emotion coming from Jesus, how he is trying to encourage them knowing the challenge that is quickly coming for them. Jesus is about to be betrayed, wrung through a kangaroo court, and executed, and His apostles are going to flee initially, then watch from the sidelines. It is going to be a time of confusion and chaos.
They declare to Him in vs. 30 that they know he speaks true things and is from God. They know He is a good man, guilty of nothing save for healing and helping the world. But Jesus tells them over and over again He is going to be separated from them for a time (His death), BUT this is not the end for them. He has promised He will return to them shortly but only for a brief period vs. 28
“I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.”
and that is not everything earlier in the chapter Jesus promises them that they will not be abandoned and forgotten. When Jesus goes to be with the Father, the Spirit is going to come to help guide and inform the apostles in all things.
This is a promise that radiates to us even today. We too have the same promise, instead of direct revelation as the apostles had we now have the recordings from them, their letters, instructions, and guidance. We have the Bible, a compilation of stories, history, poems, prophecy, instruction, and most importantly hope.
Hope for a beautiful eternity. A hope that if we live according to His way, we will have a place laid up for us with the Son of Man. He who had to endure so much to grant us this hope. That is what He tried to leave his apostles within these last few precious hours, and what He had recorded for us to grant us hope through time eternal.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the promise of hope. That when things look dark and hopeless, you will return to us, to give us hope and peace for greater things to come.
Abiding In Jesus - John 15
Notice, when Jesus Christ wanted to give a message it is, “If you don’t stay in Jesus Christ you can’t have a great life.” He didn’t tell the unbelievers. He told people who are Christians. Because the temptation of this life is to come to church, be religious, think you’re doing everything right and still not really be plugged into the life of Jesus Christ.
The only thing that has changed is the names, but the message is the same. Instead of saying this to Peter and to James and John, He’s saying it to us. We’ve got to plug in to the life of Jesus Christ. If we do that, fruit is not just a possibility, it’s a certainty. But, if we don’t do that, all else we might pursue in the world is not going to make our life great.
The first question I want to ask is, “What is this fruit that Jesus is saying should be the certain product of our connection with Him?”
Bearing of fruit should be a continual process for the disciple. It’s not like there’s one day in our life where we bore some fruit. If we are part of the vine then we’re bearing fruit every season. In fact, isn’t that why vines are planted? We don’t plant vines so much for ornamentation. They are not like flowers or shrubs. We plant vines to bear fruit. That’s why Jesus Christ has planted you. He did not plant us so He could look down and say, “Oh, aren’t those Christians pretty down there?” He has planted us so we can bear fruit.
Now, what kind of fruit does He want us to bear? Well, what usually happens at this point in this text, becomes a passage on soul-winning. Usually it is said, “If we’re not out there winning souls, converting souls, baptizing people, we’re going to get cut off and burned.” But, when we go to the Bible we don’t read into the Scripture what we want it to say. We let the Bible interpret itself. Every time the illustration of the vine is used, it’s interesting that the fruit of the vine had nothing to do with converts.
Let me give an illustration. For example, in Isaiah, God said, “The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of His delight. And He looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress” (Isa. 5:7). When God went to His vine what did He look for? He looked for the moral attributes of His own nature manifesting themselves in His people.
The purpose of “abiding” is so that the character traits of Jesus Christ can start to develop in our lives. Discipleship is a developing way of life. It’s not a static way of life. That’s why we must stay in the vine. Fruit is not just good deeds. We can do good deeds and not be in the vine. We can help people. We can share our food. We can share your money. We can even tell people about “religion.” But the real question is, “Are we becoming more like the Lord Jesus Christ?” You see, that’s the work of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Those are the attributes of the character of Jesus Christ (Gal. 5:22-23).
Doing good deeds is important. Helping the poor is important. Telling people about Jesus Christ and winning souls is important. But we cannot do what we were called to do, unless we are being what we are called to be. So, when we are plugged into the vine we are connected to the life of Christ and we can develop into the kind of person God wants us to be. A person who has the fruit of the Spirit is developing, becoming more loving, more joyful and becoming more patient. He’s learning what peace is about.
Bearing fruit is not so much about numbers or how many people we’ve talked to this week. It is, are we becoming more loving? Are we becoming more patient? Do we see the character of Jesus Christ developing in our lives? Because that’s what is going to happen to the disciple that truly abides in the vine.
Prayer: Father, we want to abide in You. We want to bear fruit. We want to be who You called us to be. We pray that as we abide in You we may bear fruit that looks like You.
The Helper - John 14
The disciples are bothered by something Jesus said. They’ve left their homes, their families, their jobs, their whole old way of life behind to follow Jesus. He told them in John 13:33, 36 that He was leaving. What does this mean? Is it all over? Will the kingdom then be here? But what is a kingdom without its king? Where is he going, and why can’t they go along too?
What follows in John 14-16 is a long message to the Apostles meant to help explain, comfort, and encourage them about His departure. Chapter 14 gives us two thoughts of comfort: Jesus will return (v. 1-6), and they will not be alone (v. 16-31).
When Jesus leaves, He will send to them His Spirit. This is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit has always existed. We see Him on the first page of the Bible (Gen. 1:2). Here Jesus is describing the special role/function the Spirit will take once Jesus ascends back to Heaven. Much of this chapter’s application regarding the Spirit is directed specifically to the Apostles. For instance, v. 26 was for the apostles, not us. We learn God’s will through reading and studying the Scriptures (Eph. 3:1-5). The Apostles didn’t have the written word, thus the Spirit would miraculously give them the knowledge of what Jesus taught.
Though the specific application of the Spirit’s work may not apply to us today, that doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit is irrelevant to us. Much of the Spirit’s work is related to revealing the Will of God to us (1 Cor. 2:10-13). We have the Spirit to thank for the Bible we have today (2 Pet. 1:20-21).
Romans 8 is a rich text regarding the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul teaches that He dwells in us (v.9), leads us (v. 14), and helps us with our prayers (v. 26). No, He’s not giving us truth apart from the Scripture. No, He’s not prompting us through our emotions and feelings. No, He’s not helping us find parking spots or making sure the traffic lights turn green. But He is active today. He is working through the words He revealed to shape our hearts, and help guide us on our path home. It’s comforting to know how active God is on our behalf.
Almighty Father, today I praise You for Your Spirit. He works in ways beyond my understanding. I am amazed how He worked through the men of old, the prophets, the preachers – in revealing Your message. I know and trust that He is active today, and it is a comfort to know it. Help me to bear His fruit, to show that I am listening and following Your words.
A Servants Heart - John 13
Chapter 13 begins Jesus’s final 24 hours before his death. He has gathered his closest disciples and sat them down together to partake of one final Passover feast. He then begins the meal by doing something very strange according to the Jewish customs.
At this time, it was the responsibility of the host of a feast to wash the feet of his guests, but it was never directly the master who would have done so. That task was delegated to a servant. This was not an easy or desired job. As the footwear of the day would have been open-toed, lace-on sandals, people’s feet quickly became dirty, grimy, stinky, and just overall unpleasant to touch. But for our Lord, it was an opportunity to teach a valuable lesson to his most trusted disciples.
He stoops down and proceeds to clean their feet; it is not until he gets to Peter that any resistance is shown. Peter refuses to allow Jesus to clean his feet. “How could the man who has performed such powerful and mighty miracles stoop himself so low as to clean my feet? It shall not be!"
Jesus’ reply is rather straightforward, “if you do not allow for me to do this you will have no part in me!” He says you will have missed the whole point of what I am trying to teach you, how you will need to act towards one another and the world after I am gone.
"13You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.
He is trying to teach them and us that in the Kingdom we will need to serve each other. These men who were chosen by Jesus would be given a great honor, to teach the gospel story to the world. But there would be a temptation to rise above the rest, to allow for pride to swallow them up and make them desire to place themselves in high places above others.
Instead of rising up to power, these men needed to stoop low and become servants to the world and the Kingdom.
It is easy in a world full of sin to see ourselves as holier and more righteous than the people around us. We can begin to see ourselves as better because of that. But the example that Jesus shows His disciples in all centuries is that we are called to be servants to all of our fellow man. Jesus was the most righteous man ever to live and yet He spent His life being a servant and sacrificing all for those who are without a doubt His servants. Because we are servants of Jesus Christ, we are to be servants to each other.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for being both Master and Servant, for showing us what it means to truly love our fellow man and how we can better our walk in You.
Serve Like Andrew - John 12
This is a busy chapter. Jesus has come to Jerusalem. His hour has almost come. There are so many notable thoughts through this text: Mary’s example, the triumphal entry, the mixed response of the crowd.
There’s one detail I especially like from John 12. It’s about an Apostle that doesn’t get a lot of attention. When we think of the Apostles we think of Peter – bold, brash, powerful in words (sometimes to a fault). We think of Paul – the writer, the preacher, the incredible disciple of Christ. Here in John 12:20-26 we read about Andrew. There are some Greeks who want to see Jesus, and they are brought to Andrew, who will introduce them to Jesus.
What do we know about Andrew? He was brothers with Peter. He was a fisherman. He was an Apostle. And… that’s about it. Now his brother – no problem. We could go on and on about Peter. He’s a bold preacher. We have many of his sermons. He performed many miracles. He was an elder in the church. He wrote two letters.
Well what about Andrew? What letters did he write? None that we know of. What about the sermons he preached? We don’t have those either. Well what about his work in the kingdom? Hmm…
What did Andrew do? Well, he brought Peter to Jesus (Jn 1:40-41). And he found the boy with the bread and fish and brought him to Jesus (Jn 6:8-9). And here in John 12 Andrew helped some Greeks who wanted to see Jesus. No, we don’t have any recorded sermons from Andrew. He is known for bringing people to Jesus.
Now ask the question – Peter and Andrew – which one was faithful in their service to Christ? They both were. Which one was more important? They both were. They both served Christ in their own way.
Here’s the thing – you may never preach a sermon. You may never teach a class. You may never write an article, bulletin, or blog for others to read. But you may be one who brings one to Christ. You may be one who introduces a friend to Jesus. You may be the one who invites a neighbor to a study. And that is very important. The one who invites is just as important as the one who teaches. The one who brings a person to Jesus is just as important as the one who helps him learn about Jesus.
We all can serve Christ in different ways. Don’t feel bad if you can’t serve Christ like another brother. Serve Jesus to the best of your ability. Be an Andrew – be known for bringing someone to Christ!
Gracious God, You know all things. What wisdom you had in choosing the men you did for your service, for your apostles. You can use men from different backgrounds, with different talents, and use them to accomplish great things in Your service. I know it is the same today Lord. While our efforts today may seem small to us, you can use our efforts to do great things in the lives of others, and in your Kingdom. Help me to see the value in small acts of service. Help me to do what I can with what I’ve been given to Your glory.