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April Newsletter-John 13:14

John 13:36 Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, where goest thou? Jesus answered, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shall follow afterwards.
John 13:37 Peter said to him, Lord, why cannot I follow you even now? I will lay down my life for you.
John 13:38 Jesus answered, Will you lay down thy life for me? Verily, verily, I say to you, The cock shall not crow, till you have denied me three times.

Chapter 14
John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me.
John 14:2 In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
John 14:4 And whither I go, ye know the way.

If you remember, the Jewish leaders marveled at Jesus as a young boy when he entered into the sanctuary and quoted scripture and said mysteries to them. Those present were well versed in the Torah and Prophets of old. Some of them could probably be characterized like the description given Nicodemus: a teacher or rabbi, an overseer of the Jewish Faith, the learned, masters, and the elite. Yet Jesus amazed them. I think the Biblical word used was ‘astonished’ and described as filled with Wisdom and Grace. (Luke 2: 41-52) I’ve heard people ask, ‘Do you think Jesus always knew he was Messiah or just discovered that at 30 years old?’ After this temple incident, when he was 12 years old, Jesus responded that he was ‘about His Father’s business’; he knew. The reason for the 30 year mark in Jesus ministry is that in the Jewish tradition, priests could not perform their religious duties until their 30th birthday, therefore Jesus was simply fulfilling that Jewish Law.

The words Wisdom and Grace are to be noticed in their response. Both those characteristics are evident in the exchange between Peter and Jesus found in the Scripture at the top of this letter. Jesus was wise in seeing Peter’s fleshly characteristics and he was gracious even when identifying and raising that issue to Peter. The context of John’s text is amazing and it’s one of the characteristics of God that I ‘hang my hat on.’ Jesus and the disciples were in a meeting. Judas leaves. Peter was a very enthusiastic disciple, very aggressive, and even in the conversation saying he would lay down his life for Jesus. Jesus’ response was that, in spite of all the enthusiasm, all the things Peter had seen and heard from Jesus, Peter would deny Jesus three times. You can imagine Peter’s thoughts at hearing those words. What’s interesting, and this is the Grace part, Jesus’ next words to Peter were: ‘Let not your heart be troubled…’ We know context of that moment because, without moving away, without identifying a different day or any such thing, Jesus turns to Thomas and addresses that disciple. The ‘Chapter 14’ break was added much later by the King James folks. Chapter breaks are not in the original text. Jesus’ statement to Peter was immediately followed by Jesus’ statement of Grace and encouragement. Imagine how Peter must have felt after Jesus told him that he would deny Jesus three times. Imagine also how Peter must have felt when Jesus simply said not to let his heart be troubled. I’ve often told people in many discussions that one of my favorite expressions seen in the Biblical Text is Jesus’ statement after his resurrection. Included in Jesus’ first words following being raised from the dead, he told those present to go tell the disciples and Peter, Peter mentioned by name. Why? I believe Jesus was aware of the devastation that Peter must be experiencing having denied him those three times and having heard of Jesus’ death and burial. Even the disciples not present at the crucifixion (only one was), those seemingly having abandoned the Lord at that crucial hour, were subject to the thoughtfulness of the risen Jesus. That’s the God I trust, the One I believe, the Heart of God that I embrace.

To many leaders of that day, Jesus was demon possessed, he was a rebel, a crazy person, an illegitimate baby born to a young Jewish girl, a law breaker, an associate of prostitutes, tax collectors, and the unclean. I’ve often expressed that the origins of most of the war about our Faith begins between our ears. As believers, it’s critical to establish who Christ is in our hearts before we experience him in our heads. Our brains are a bit like our eyesight, they need prescription glasses to focus and see Christ for who He really is. Our thoughts need to be renewed, transformed (Romans 12:2: transformed literally meaning ‘metamorphose’ changed like a butterfly). Brain washed I suppose is okay to use for illustration, washed by the Word. I’ve expressed this in letters for 33 years: Adam and Eve didn’t fall away from God by the apple eating, they fell because they were deceived, they were thinking incorrectly, they were simply following the whisper to eat and suffered the consequences of that mental decision prior to the first bite.

Remember how Satan accomplished that? Being the angel of light, according to scripture, Satan was more subtle than any other creation in the field. He didn’t raise cain with Adam and Eve, he raised doubt. He misquoted scripture to deceive, asking Eve ‘Has God said you shall not eat of every tree in the garden?’ That was the first recorded lie in history. Eve corrected it by saying that they could eat the fruit of all the trees but the tree of good and evil. Satan whispers again but if you eat of that tree you will be as gods, knowing good and evil. That’s still the Anti-Christ M. O. (modus operandi) today. The temptation was: we can determine good and evil, not God. We can be god over ourselves. We can become our own master and create our own pride of life. Sound familiar? So much of today is about culture determining its own definition of good and evil, it’s ours to decide, it’s eating off that same old tree of Adam and Eve’s. Eve’s description of that event discloses her thinking about that fruit tree: good for food, pleasant to the eyes and made them wise. (Gen. 3:6) That was Moses writing some 6000 years ago, and still today the world pretty much offers the same temptations to us. Satan didn’t physically make Adam and Eve eat-he simply put the idea into their minds. He did the same thing to Jesus, tempted him by the same things in the same way. Matthew 4:1 expresses it: food, eyes, and pride. Adam and Eve failed, Jesus did not. (1John 2:15-16)

It’s important that Christians be aware of the heart of God in order to experience the intent and blessings of God. Important that we not fall for the same, original suggestion and sin expressed in the Garden of Eden. Eve was persuaded to believe that God was holding out on her and Adam; Truth is God was sharing Wisdom.

God does not play hide and seek, Jesus came to be seen and heard. He did not simply come to teach but also to be present, then and now. Jesus revealing the Father’s heart was central to His coming. But after His sacrifice, after the Cross, after the resurrection, Jesus was raised again to a New Life and one that is here, right now, and present within us. Ephesians 1:13-14 whispers the Gospel to us, making three distinctions: Hear the Word for salvation, believe and be sealed, the Spirit delivers that promise.

We’re living in tough times. Stress seems to be spoken in the days of most the people I know. In the DVD The Chosen there’s a line where Jesus says that he was doing God’s Will but that didn’t make life easy. Today the same opposition exists that existed back then. Traditional writings indicate that all Christ’s disciples were killed except John. Why were 11 of those Apostles killed? Why was Jesus killed? It was not because he or they were preaching traditional Jewish Law. Their offense, offense taken by the Jewish elite and the Roman rulers, was in preaching about a New Life, about liberty, peace and joy in Jesus Christ. That message is still offensive today.

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters

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