Friday, November 13, 2009

So they can see my glory


24 -26 "Father,
I want those you gave me
To be with me, right where I am,
So they can see my glory,
the splendor you gave me."
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Jesus spends a lot of time teaching the disciples just before the crucifixtion. John writes it down in detail. It goes on for 5 chapters.
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This is the big message. The ultimate plan. He lays it out...

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24 -26Father, I want those you gave me
To be with me, right where I am,
So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,
Having loved me
Long before there ever was a world.
Righteous Father, the world has never known you,
But I have known you, and these disciples know
That you sent me on this mission."
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Jesus came to earth God as man, to show us the Father.

"I have made your very being known to them—
Who you are and what you do—
And continue to make it known,
So that your love for me
Might be in them"
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Glory. Joy. Love.
This is the power of the Gospel...

"Exactly as I am in them."

When nothing goes like you thought it would


We all have a dream - an ideal - an expected path our life will take.

What happens when that falls apart? The young beautiful bride, a dancer, gets a debilitating disease that renders her immobile, AND in severe pain? The young couple, dreaming of kids and the "white picket fence" who can't have kids? The years go by. The tears. The pleadings. But nothing changes. The businessman - smart, debonair, skilled - whose business crumbles and 11 years go down the drain?

The disciples had an expectation. They had found the Messiah. The miracles. The teachings. He was going to deliver Israel from the cruel Roman occupation.

Then the wheels fell off the wagon.

41 -44 "He pulled away from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?" At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.
45 -46He got up from prayer, went back to the disciples and found them asleep, drugged by grief. He said, "What business do you have sleeping? Get up. Pray so you won't give in to temptation."
47 -48No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a crowd showed up, Judas, the one from the Twelve, in the lead. He came right up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said, "Judas, you would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?"

No! No! No! This can't be happening. Peter grabs the sword they had brought and takes a swing at the head of the first guy he can see. The guy pulls his head to one side - but still loses an ear.

49 -50 "When those with him saw what was happening, they said, "Master, shall we fight?" One of them took a swing at the Chief Priest's servant and cut off his right ear.
51Jesus said, "Let them be. Even in this." Then, touching the servant's ear, he healed him.
52 -53Jesus spoke to those who had come—high priests, Temple police, religion leaders: "What is this, jumping me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day I've been with you in the Temple and you've not so much as lifted a hand against me. But do it your way—it's a dark night, a dark hour."

54 -56Arresting Jesus, they marched him off and took him into the house of the Chief Priest. Peter followed, but at a safe distance."

Can you imagine the horror? The confusion? I think Peter had enough faith to believe that Jesus would do something spectacular to defend himself. But it never happened...

"In the middle of the courtyard some people had started a fire and were sitting around it, trying to keep warm. One of the serving maids sitting at the fire noticed him, then took a second look and said, "This man was with him!"
57He denied it, "Woman, I don't even know him."
58A short time later, someone else noticed him and said, "You're one of them."
But Peter denied it: "Man, I am not."
59About an hour later, someone else spoke up, really adamant: "He's got to have been with him! He's got 'Galilean' written all over him."
60 -62Peter said, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about." At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." He went out and cried and cried and cried."

Betrayal. Confusion. Horror. Now he himself had denied the Lord.

The lowest point of Peter's life!

Was it all over for Peter? He thought so. Remember that, next time you are in the depths of the situation where nothing goes like you thought it would.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Does crime pay?


I like to watch true life mysteries. My wife thinks I am sick, because so many of them involve murders of one spouse to the other. Remember Laci Peterson?
Almost always, the folks get caught. Especially if they are successful the first time, and the second time. They usually try it again, and usually someone catches on, and puts them away after the third time.

They say crime never pays.

What did Judas get for this crime he perpetuated?

1 -2 In the first light of dawn, all the high priests and religious leaders met and put the finishing touches on their plot to kill Jesus. Then they tied him up and paraded him to Pilate, the governor."

Judas had betrayed Jesus and was paid 30 silver pieces. So he got money...

3 -4 "Judas, the one who betrayed him, realized that Jesus was doomed. Overcome with remorse, he gave back the thirty silver coins to the high priests, saying, "I've sinned. I've betrayed an innocent man."

Somehow, he felt badly. Did he think Jesus was going to call down the angels? Then Judas could keep the money, but Jesus would be fine? Who knows??

"They said, "What do we care? That's your problem!"
5Judas threw the silver coins into the Temple and left. Then he went out and hung himself."

Oh Oh! Now he doesn't keep the money. His conscience kicks in. And he kills himself. I don't think that was the result he had in mind when he conspired with the religious heirarchy!

6 -10 "The high priests picked up the silver pieces, but then didn't know what to do with them. "It wouldn't be right to give this—a payment for murder!—as an offering in the Temple." They decided to get rid of it by buying the "Potter's Field" and use it as a burial place for the homeless. That's how the field got called "Murder Meadow," a name that has stuck to this day."

This is almost funny, if it wasn't so tragic. The priests had no problem taking temple money to pay for murder. Remember, this was offerings from the people for God's work.

What Jesus always blasted was their strict religiosity, but lack of understanding of walking with God. So now that the money has come back, their strict religious morality finally kicks in. They label it correctly. It is blood money. Murder for hire. Can't put that back into the Temple treasury (where it came from)

"Then Jeremiah's words became history:
They took the thirty silver pieces,
The price of the one priced by some sons of Israel,
And they purchased the potter's field.
And so they unwittingly followed the divine instructions to the letter."

Dead religion is capable of the most heinous acts.

And Judas? No money. Bad conscience. Killed himself. And remembered as the worst villain in history.

No - crime did not pay for Judas.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Testing!


We wish life were easy.
It is not.

There are good times and bad times. There are seasons of comfort. And seasons of testing.

The disciples are entering a time of testing...

24 -26Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest. But Jesus intervened: "Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It's not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant."

After this disgraceful display of how worldly and immature the disciples were, Jesus singles out Simon Peter.

31 -32"Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I've prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start."

Peter. Passionate. Impetuous. Highly social, highly verbal.

33Peter said, "Master, I'm ready for anything with you. I'd go to jail for you. I'd die for you!"

This now famous response applies to so many of us. In the ideal world we would face the lions for our faith. We would take on the world. Then we go home and someone is sick, and we are called on to clean up the vomit. And our grandiose declarations meet the reality of our sinful, weak spiritual reality...

34Jesus said, "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, Peter, but before the rooster crows you will have three times denied that you know me."

It was about 8 hours later that Jesus' prophecy actually occurred.

Each day. Each difficulty. Each tough season of life is a test.

Not pass fail.

The test to see if you go on to the next level of difficuly or if you fall back one level.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thanksgiving Meal - circa 33 ad


This is probably the most famous meal ever eaten, in the history of the world. Of course, they didn't know it at the time...
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7 -8 The Day of Unleavened Bread came, the day the Passover lamb was butchered. Jesus sent Peter and John off, saying, "Go prepare the Passover for us so we can eat it together."
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A meal for 13 guys is a big undertaking. Especially a ceremonial meal, with carefully selected ingredients.
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Add to that the fact that all of these guys were away from their home towns, and apparently slept out in the fields a lot of the time. There was a group of women who would make food for them, but all of those would be at their own homes preparing their own "Thanksgiving Meals". It wasn't Thanksgiving, it was Passover, but had similarities in that it was a big event in each family.

9They said, "Where do you want us to do this?"
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Seems like a simple question. In fact, it was a big deal.
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10 -12He said, "Keep your eyes open as you enter the city. A man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him home. Then speak with the owner of the house: The Teacher wants to know, 'Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?' He will show you a spacious second-story room, swept and ready. Prepare the meal there."
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Was all this miraculous? Could be. Could be that Jesus Deity and foreknowledge were at play, and he foretold a series of events that he had no way of knowing other than divine insight. It doesn't say.
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It could also be all prearranged, and Jesus was just telling the two guys the plan that had been worked out. The text doesn't say and we really don't know. We do know that the folks had to be rich, to have a huge room upstairs that they were not using, and that would hold 13 guys at a meal. It could have been the family's "formal dining room" like so many large houses have today...

13"They left, found everything just as he told them, and prepared the Passover meal.
14 -16When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, "You've no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It's the last one I'll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God."
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Of course, the point of the story is that Jesus took a customary ceremonial meal and changed the meaning entirely. In effect, he said, "This custom that you have had since you were born, points to me. I am the Lamb of God. It is my life that is to be laid down for your sins." It truly changed history...

17 -18 "Taking the cup, he blessed it, then said, "Take this and pass it among you. As for me, I'll not drink wine again until the kingdom of God arrives."
19Taking bread, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, given for you. Eat it in my memory."
20He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you."
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They must have been bewildered, but no one said a word. They just took it in. Only later would they understand the impact of what he was saying.

21 -22"Do you realize that the hand of the one who is betraying me is at this moment on this table? It's true that the Son of Man is going down a path already marked out—no surprises there. But for the one who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man, this is doomsday."
23They immediately became suspicious of each other and began quizzing one another, wondering who might be about to do this."
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This was language they could understand. They were a band. They might actually be in the presence of the Messiah. He was going to free Israel from the Romans. Any disloyalty could not be tolerated.
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So they argued.
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And missed the point.
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We do this very often today...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Blazing in beauty and all his angels with him

This is what is coming.
At that point we will not be aware of the world economic meltdown, or the pain of disease, or financial distress. This will trump everything...

31 -33"When he finally arrives,
blazing in beauty and all his angels with him,
the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne."

"Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
34 -36"Then the King will say to those on his right,
'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father!
Take what's coming to you in this kingdom.
It's been ready for you since the world's foundation.
And here's why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.'

37 -40"Then those 'sheep' are going to say,
'Master, what are you talking about?
When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?'
Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth:
Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'

41 -43"Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say,
'Get out, worthless goats!
You're good for nothing but the fires of hell.
And why? Because—
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'

44"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'
45"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'

46"Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."
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