pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Do It Quickly

Reading: John 13: 21-32

Verse 21: “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me”.

At the start of John 13, Jesus has just washed the disciples’ feet. He has “set you an example” and encouraged them to do as He has done. Next Jesus goes on to predict that one of His own disciples will betray Him. In verse 21 we read, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me”. The disciples react as we all would in Jesus’ presence – at a loss. They each think in their own hearts – surely not I! They are all curious and Peter prompts John to ask. By sharing the bread with him, Jesus reveals it is Judas Iscariot. Jesus directs Judas to “do quickly” what he will do. At this, Judas slips off into the night.

Reading the story, we think poorly of Judas. Yes, it had to be done to fulfill the scriptures. But we still dislike him because he betrayed Jesus, the one whom he had spent the last three years with. It feels like a worse betrayal than if it had been one of the Pharisees or a stranger. It could have been Matthew or John or James or Bartholomew or Thaddeus or even Peter, the one who most seemed like a leader. In the next section, Jesus predicts Peter’s denial. It could have been any of the twelve.

It is Judas Iscariot that slips off into the night to betray Jesus. John tells us “it is night”. Night and darkness symbolize evil and Satan. By contrast, day and light represent God, Jesus… Because Judas does not question or linger, but acts, we can infer that he has been wrestling with this. He has been brought to the decision point this night: light or dark? Good or evil? When he takes the bread, we read “Satan entered into him”. On this night, the darkness won. The scale tipped in favor of evil.

We are all in this place often. The Spirit works to keep us walking in the light and the evil one tempts us to step off the narrow road and off into the darkness. The temptation may be to gossip or to tell a little white lie. It may be to steal that set of headphones that is just lying there or to cheat on that big test. Maybe it is to turn in a false tax report or to click that pop-up that is so enticing. Perhaps it is to falsely accuse another to paint a better picture of ourselves or it is finally consummating that affair. The degree of sin matters not to God. Yes, the human or earthly impacts and affects will be greater for one scenario versus another. But to God, all temptation that leads to sin is the same. We are choosing dark over light, evil over good, Satan over God. Each week, each day, each hour, we face temptation. May we each turn to God and may we do it quickly. May we allow the light to chase away the darkness. May we strive to walk in the light.

Prayer: Lord, the battle is hard. Satan is ever at work. So I pray that the voice of the Holy Spirit is loud and strong in me today. Quiet the call of the earthly and fleshy desires within me. When they rise up, remind me quickly of your will and your way and your word. Strengthen me, O God. Amen.

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Amazing Love

Reading: Matthew 26: 14-16 and 31-56

Verse 35b – And all the other disciples said the same.

Sandwiched in between Judas’ betrayal and the Garden scene in today’s reading is the institution of the Lord’s Supper.  In that upper room Jesus tells the disciples that one will betray Him.  It has already been arranged but all twelve still say, “Surely not I, Lord”.  Jesus goes on to take the bread and the cup, knowing that all twelve will betray Him.  Yes, knowing that all twelve, who have been with Him for three intimate and powerful years, would soon betray Him over and over, He still is willing to offer up His body and blood as a sacrifice for those twelve and for all of us.  What love Jesus had for these disciples and what love He had for you and I.  It is an amazing love.

In verse 31, Jesus again tells them that they all will fall away that very night.  Jesus quotes from the book of Zechariah, telling them that the sheep will scatter as the shepherd is struck down.  Peter responds that he will never fall away.  After Jesus lets him know that he will deny Jesus three times that very night, Peter declares that he will die with Jesus before he disowns Him.  All the others make the same vow.  In verse 35 we read, “And all the other disciples said the same”.

Jesus then takes the disciples with Him to the Garden of Gethsamane​ and asks them to pray with Him.  He takes the inner three a little farther in and asks them to keep watch because He is overwhelmed with sorrow.  As Jesus prays we see His humanity as He prays, “If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me”.  We also see His obedience to God as He prays, “Yet not as I will, but as You will”.  As Jesus wrestles with the emotions roiling inside of Him, He finds the disciples asleep again and again.  In their weakness, they are already betraying Him.

Jesus does not scold or rebuke or cast them aside.  He invites them to come along, for the hour is at hand.  He is arrested and indeed the disciples scatter like lost sheep.  Yet Jesus will continue to walk this path, beginning the journey to the cross.  He walks it for the twelve.  Yes, He walks it even for Judas, the one who betrayed Him to the authorities.  He walks it for each of us too.  What amazing love.


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Wouldn’t We?

Reading: John 13: 21-33

“One of you will betray me”.  That must have been quite the bombshell.  These twelve men have  invested three years of their lives in following Jesus.  They have stuck with Him, certainly at a personal cost to their families and other relationships.  It has been a sacrifice in other ways as well.  Yet at twelve have remained with Jesus to this point.

In our hearts and minds, we each think we are devout to Jesus.  Until we are not.  How often our faith life is moving along solidly and in an instant we have said or thought something that brought instant conviction?  Surely not I, Lord.  As life is cruising along well and we feel connected to the Son, we do something and the remorse and guilt come flooding in.  Surely not I, Jesus.

In most cases when we have been tempted or stumble into sin, we recognize it quickly.  When we are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we realize our sin quickly and repent and seek forgiveness and restoration.  Then and there we are brought back into a right relationship with God.

We all are never really far from, “One of you will…”. And like the disciples we can also get lost in our own worlds.  When we ourselves are wrestling with temptation or sin or when we have sinned and are struggling with the guilt or our own inability to forgive ourselves, we can be like the eleven – so lost in the ” Is it I?” question that we do not notice the evil around us.  The eleven were so inwardly focused that they did not notice Judas leaving.

If we were there we would have noticed and gone after him.  Wouldn’t have we?  Wouldn’t we?  Maybe.  It is too easy to think of someone who used to come to church.  In our own struggles may we realize that all struggle.  In this realization, may we become more aware of our brothers and sisters in Christ, being vigilant to love and care for one another.  May we each seek out and help the lost or wandering sheep back into the flock.


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Counted?

At the end of a log day Jesus and the disciples are gathered around the table for a meal.  The evening had begun with Jesus, their teacher and leader, washing their feet.  He set for them the example of how to follow.  In this humble gesture, He illustrated that being a follower of Christ must include a willingness to serve.

As they are relaxing and taking this teaching in, Jesus announces that one of them reclining there at the table will betray Him.  Can you hear the awkward silence fall over the group?  I imagine some looking down and inwardly questioning if it will be them.  They honestly face their doubts.  Others at the table would be quick to dismiss such a thought and would begin looking around the table, wondering who else it could be, sure of themselves that it would not be they who betrays Christ.

Jesus quickly identifies Judas Iscariot and he slips off into the night to do the deed.  But the conversation quickly turns to Peter – the bold one, the one willing to step out on the water, one of the inner three.  Jesus tells Peter that soon even he will deny Christ – not once but three times!  At this all of their minds must have been swimming.  All must have questioned themselves and their faith in this Jesus if Peter, the rock-solid one, would deny Jesus.

On this day of betrayal and denial, may we too honestly look within and examine the strength of our own faith.  Each of us will probably have an opportunity today to identify ourselves publicly with Christ.  Will we boldly stand for Him or will we let the opportunity quietly slip by?  If not today, then surely tomorrow.  May we be prepared to stand and be counted as one ready to bring glory to our Lord and Savior.

Scripture reference: John 12: 21-32