Expressions of love…

John 21:15-25

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

 Expressions of love; do you love me, yes I do, feed my sheep, follow me.  Jesus was denied three times.  Three times Peter said he was not a follower of Jesus.  Now three times Jesus asks, not ‘are you my follower?’ but ‘do you love me?’.  Three times Peter affirms his love.  Each time he affirms that Jesus knows this and he acknowledges hurt by the third question.  Three times Jesus gives a responsibility finally stating, ‘follow me.’  It is not enough to acknowledge him, to express a love for him, Jesus requires a responsibility and gives a command; “Follow me.”  We express our love for him; do we also accept the responsibility he gives and do we follow?  Follow  implies we need to know where he leads, what he wants.  When we play ‘Follow the leader’ as children, we mimic the leader.  We go where he or she goes and do exactly as they do.  Follow me indicates we will know Him, mimic Him that is, do as he does, and go where he goes.  Feed my sheep…Jesus said he was the Good Shepherd.  As we follow Him, we do the task of the shepherd, care for the sheep, feed the sheep and lambs.  Take them to pasture, to still waters, give them rest, all  to be found in Christ. Pray for them, feed them from the Word of God, lead them to the Bread of Life.  Share what we receive from the Lord and those He knows will recognize His voice and come.

A servant’s heart…

John 21: 1-14

After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”

They answered Him, “No.”

And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea.  But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish.  Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”

Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

 “I am going fishing.”   A return to the old, familiar way.  We get tired of waiting for what we don’t know and we return to the old ways.  Then Jesus appears…  after a  night of nothing…  and he directs them to plenty.  The point is taken, without him we can do nothing.  With him, following his direction, we receive blessing.  “No one dared ask ‘who are you'” implies it was not obviously apparent who he was but for the miracle of the catch; they knew it was the Lord.  And once again he serves them…

Do we possess the servant’s heart or do we seek a ‘fix-it’ God?  When do we turn to the Lord, seek him?  When we are in distress, or have a need, or for someone else’s need?  Do we seek His will to know what He desires or to seek only a personal knowledge?  The servant with a servant’s heart, desires what the Lord desires.  They move as one.  We wish to know the will of God for more than how we should live…it is to know how we should serve.  What is his desire?  The question highlights a subtle difference between what is your will and what is your desire?  Let us move as one with Him.  What is His desire?

Believe…have life…

John 20:24-31

Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”  Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;  but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

 Have life…”Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  Seeing with your eyes, seeing with your mind, seeing with your understanding, seeing with your inner self in totality, believing without seeing.  Believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and in that belief we have life in his name.  It isn’t because we ‘see’ that we have life; it is because we believe.  And the journey to allow faith in something not seen with our own eyes begins.  The same faith that brought healing to those who did see him can be ours.  Belief and faith, hand in hand, bring us back to a personal relationship with a living God.  And we continue through this life to and through eternity walking with Him.  Those who saw Jesus, had fellowship with Him were blessed and we who have not had the privilege of that experience have the Word of God and have fellowship with Him also.  Peace to you…do not be unbelieving, but believing.  Believe what he says, who he is…not just believe in…believe him when he says : “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”  Say with Thomas, “My Lord and my God!”

Peace…Go…Forgive…

John 20:19-23

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled,  for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”  And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

 Forgiveness, forgiving,  to forgive all these are much talked about in today’s world.  Peace is granted twice in this passage.  What is being presented here?  Can we possess peace of any kind if we possess anger, pain, bitterness or a grudging spirit?  The doors were locked for fear; peace does not imply fear.  What was comfortable, renewing, familiar, their relationship with Jesus was, in their minds, wrenched from them and they were filled with fear that the same actions taken against Jesus would spread to them and theirs.  At the root of this were also the seeds of bitterness, anger and pain for what had been done.  Reacting in that way to events like these in our lives would not separate us from the rest of humanity, it would be an expected reaction  The believer has more to draw from.  The believer has the Holy Spirit given to us to bring peace and the ability to forgive, to see beyond the circumstances.  In the middle of our pain and anger we need the power of God granted through the Holy Spirit; a spirit of peace and  forgiveness, not a spirit of fear, anger, pain and bitterness.  In the middle of our pain and anger we need brothers and sisters in Christ to ‘circle the wagons’; to pray, to intercede for us, listen to our pain, share healing scriptures from God’s Word.  We need to come together, not fall apart.  We need to defeat the attempts of the enemy to destroy what God has built.  “Our Father, who art in heaven, ….forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us…”  Mat 6:14   “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Jesus

“Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Two worlds…two views…hope or no hope?

John 20:11-18

But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

 Two very different worlds meet.  “Why are you crying?”…   One world looks at the missing body and finds cause to rejoice.  They have information and understanding the other does not.  Mary’s world grieves for it does not yet realize the implications of the missing body.  We gain knowledge and understanding from our exposure to the Word of God and our relationship with him which allows the Holy Spirit to bring remembrance and understanding to us.  It changes our view and we find ourselves rejoicing when others find cause to weep.  No hope gives cause to weep.  We have hope…

Hope arises!!

John 20:1-10

Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.

 A picture rises up out of this passage illustrating God’s order.  The linen cloths lying there and the head-piece is folded and lying in a place by itself.  The cloths could represent the followers of Christ, they are lying about, no sense of order is given in their arrangement and they are separated from their Lord.  The head-piece is Jesus, head of the church comprised of his believers and followers.  It is separate from the rest and lies folded in a place of its own.  Folded – orderly and a sense of peace; Separate – leadership and lordship.  The disciples and family are scattered as he said they would be, back to their homes.  They are exhibiting fear, confusion and grief.  This passage indicates the beginning seeds of hope sprouting out of the dark soil filled with the decay of broken dreams and aspirations.  What motivates the race to the tomb?  Hope.  On entering, John states “he saw and believed.”  That simply.  At that point all he knew fell into place like pieces of a puzzle and now he saw the picture that had been fractured and replaced piece by piece.  God’s gift to humanity given twice.  Life at creation, new life returned to the believer at Christ’s resurrection.  We believe and we receive.  So much!!!

How real is your faith?

John 19:38-42

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby

 Two from the Jewish leadership responsible for Jesus’ shameful death and treatment now come to care for the body of Jesus following the traditions and customs of the Jews.  Joseph, Luke tells us is a member of the council, one of those looking for the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus is the ruler who came to Jesus by night seeking answers.  They, Joseph and Nicodemus,  looked for the kingdom of God. They were willing to give all for it.  Nicodemus received personal revelation  of what was to come.  The Christian call to the unbeliever, John 3:16, comes during Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in answer to his questions about the new birth in Christ.  Jesus told him he, Jesus, must be lifted up as the serpents were by Moses.  Jesus told him why he came and what to expect.

These two, with much to lose, come to take the body of Jesus and prepare it for burial.  Where are the disciples, those who spent time with him daily being taught and loved?  Where are the ones we would consider the close friends and family?  There is no mention of family here.  Significant perhaps is the fact that two prepare the body and place it in the tomb, with no other body there.  A witness of two that he is deceased and in a tomb with no other so there can be no confusion.  For the demonstration of power that is to follow in the resurrection these are significant facts. 

Note also, the power of God to reach beyond death to touch the lives of two men and their response; they put their position in the community on the line and the ability to participate in an important religious feast is jeopardized by touching a dead body. Can we learn to trust God beyond our traditions, our obligations to religion, beyond living in a hostile environment?  For God so loved the world…his creation…he gave…  Lets do likewise and give…