Sunday, June 27, 2021



Promising the Spirit


Jesus continued to prepare his disciples for their life after his departure. He taught them what their relationship with him would be like after he was physically gone. 

First, he said they would keep his commandments if they loved him. Our love for Christ compels us to obey him. There are people who will claim they love Jesus, but it has no effect on their lives. 

For example, Jesus had previously told the disciples he was giving them a new commandment: to love each other as Jesus had loved them. (13:35) So, if we love Jesus, we will obey his command to love each other. If we do not love each other, it is difficult to say we love Jesus since we do not keep his commandment.

There are other commandments given by Jesus. And we will keep them, or obey them, if we love him. 

Second, Jesus said he will ask the Father, who would send them another helper to be with them forever. He called this helper “the Spirit of Truth”. This is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would be with them forever. This is true for all believers. The Holy Spirit comes to us when we come to faith in Jesus and he never leaves us. He dwells with us and is in us. 

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romas 8:9)

As Jesus is the truth, so the Holy Spirit is the Spirit if Truth. He will always point us to the truth of Jesus through the Bible and through conviction in our spirit.

In contrast, the world cannot receive, see, or know the Holy Spirit.(17) He only comes to those who follow Christ. 

Jesus With Us


Jesus said he would not leave the disciples as orphans. The use of the term “orphans” may seem odd, since he has spoke on them becoming children of God. However, Jesus perceived their sense of abandonment and anxiety as he told them of his departure. Who would lead them? Who would teach them? 

Jesus said his leaving would be for a little while, then he would come to them. (18) They would see him, although the world would not.

The question is “when would they see him?”, or “when will he come to them?”. 

There are three possibilities: (1) his resurrection and appearances; (2) the coming of the Holy Spirit; and (3) his return at the end to receive his saints. For example, the ESV Study Bible says it refers to his resurrection. The Reformation Study Bible says it refers to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The NIV Study Bible says it refers to the coming of the Spirit, but mentions the other two comings. 

Jesus’ appearing to the disciples seems the most logical understanding. It happened “in a little while” after his departure and they saw him. The world did not see him because he only showed himself to believers. 

The coming of the Holy Spirit did not allow them to actually see Jesus; the disciples’ seeing would happen only metaphorically as they received the Spirit. The second coming does not seem likely for, although they will see him, it did not happen “in a little while” and would not counteract their feeling of abandonment as orphans.

Further, after the resurrection they will see that Jesus lives, as he says in verse 19. And because he lives, they will live. Jesus’ resurrection proves there is a resurrection unto eternal life. When they see Jesus, they will know that he lives eternally and they (and we) do also.  

Also in that day, the disciples will understand the relationship they have with Jesus and the relationship Jesus has with the Father. As Jesus is in the father, and the disciples in Jesus, Jesus will be in the disciples. Anyone who loves Jesus and keeps his word has the Father’s love in addition to the Son’s love. And both Father and Son dwell, or “make their home” with them. 

Additionally, as the Father showed the Son all things, the Son will show himself (“manifest”). 

The disciples did not understand how Jesus would manifest himself to the disciples but not to the world. (22) This is in context with the Jewish belief that Messiah would arrive in public splendor.

But we know that Jesus dwells only with believers just as the Holy Spirit does. Since the world does not know him or receive him, those of the world cannot experience this intimate relationship with Christ. And they do not want to. 

This relationship anticipates the relationship we will have with God in the new creation. Revelation 21:3 says “Behold the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God”. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021


A Place In Heaven 


After Judas left the supper, Jesus taught his disciples. This chapter continues to record the teaching he began in chapter 13. One of the things Jesus told them was that he was going away and they could not come with him or follow him where he was going. (13:33)

And so, the disciples were troubled. But, Jesus told them not to be troubled. Instead of being troubled, the were to believe. They were to believe in God (the Father) and they were to believe in Jesus. (1) 

Jesus said this as a command or instruction. This is what they were to do. The antidote for fear and anxiety is belief, or trust, in God. Belief includes trust. 

What were they to trust Jesus or believe God about? They were to trust that the Father and Son had a place for them in heaven that would be prepared by Jesus. And, in addition, although he would shortly leave them, he would return (come again) for them and bring them to himself in heaven, having prepared the way by his death and resurrection. Actually, his leaving would be to their advantage! 

Jesus used terms for the place in heaven that would be understandable for his disciples. He spoke of heaven as the Father’s house. The Father’s house has many rooms, or dwelling places, some of which Jesus would prepare for them. 

The King James Versions interpreted it as mansions rather than rooms, which caused many songs to be written and sermons preached on getting your mansion in glory. But the point is that Jesus would come get them and take them to heaven where he lived with the Father, and there would be a permanent place for them there. 

The Old Testament points us to this truth. 

First, the creation story shows God preparing a place for the man and woman to live in his presence. Genesis 2:6 says “And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.”

Second, when God led the Israelites to Canaan, the “Promised Land”, he told them that he would give them cities they did not build, with houses full of good things they did not fill, cisterns they did not dig, and vineyards they did not plant. (Deuteronomy 6:10-11)

The concept of Canaan as the land God prepared for them and where God’s people would dwell in his presence led many hymn writers to use Canaan as a metaphor for heaven. For example, “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks” has these lyrics:

On Jordans stormy banks I stand,

And cast a wishful eye

To Canaans fair and happy land,

Where my possessions lie.

All oer those wide extended plains,

Shines one eternal day;

There God the Son forever reigns,

And scatters night away.

I am bound for promised land.

Jesus The Way To The Father


Next, Jesus told the disciples they knew the way to where Jesus was going. But, Thomas certainly did not understand. Sadly, Thomas was thinking on a low and natural level. It was as if he wanted Jesus to say he was going to a certain city and taking a certain road. He did not grasp Jesus’ saying he was going to the Father in heaven and preparing a place for the disciples. He said, not only did they not know the way to where Jesus was going, they did not know where he was going.

Jesus responded that he is the way. In other words, you do know the way because you know me and I am the way. (6)

Jesus is also the truth. He is the truth because he is the supreme revelation of the Father. As John said in the prologue, “No one has ever seen God (the Father); the only God who is at the Father’s side (the Son), he has made him known”. (John 1:18) 

Jesus is also the truth because he said and did only and exactly what the Father told him to say and to do. (5:19) He said the words of the Father and did the work of the Father, all of which must be true because of who the Father is.

Finally, Jesus is the life. He has life in himself. (5:26) He is the resurrection and the life. (11:25) He has the authority to give eternal life to all those the Father gives him.

If you know Jesus, Jesus is the way and the only way to the Father, eternal life and heaven. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus. (6) 

Although many characters on television make statements that all religions lead to heaven and to God, that is not the teaching of the Bible. Jesus is the exclusive way.

God has always declared his exclusivity. He forbade the Israelites from worshipping other gods or making idols. He also provided a specific and exclusive way for the Israelites to come into his presence. Only the high priest was allowed into the Most Holy Place where God’s presence dwelled. 

Certainly God has the authority to provide the way to salvation. He is just and must punish sins. If all he did was punish sin, he would still be just. But he is also merciful. In love, he provided a way for us to receive eternal life in spite of our sin. John 3:16 speaks of that.  God loved the world by giving his Son so that those who believe in him would not perish but would have eternal life. It is the only way he provided. Jesus was teaching his disciples this exact truth.

Jesus concludes his teaching of being the way by saying “if you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him”. Again, Jesus was saying he is the one who reveals the Father. His complete obedience to the Father in word, deed, and character means we know the Father when we know the Son.

The disciples did know Jesus, although they did not understand everything. Since they knew Jesus, they knew the Father, whether they realized it or not. So Jesus could say now that you understand this, you do know him and have seen him. (7)

Jesus Teaches Philip


 It is difficult to understand Philip’s request in light of what Jesus said. He seems to have missed the point entirely. He asked Jesus to show them the Father and said that would be enough for us. 

It was an audacious request. Moses and Elijah were allowed to see God’s glory pass by. Philip, though, seems to ask Jesus to pull back the veil and let them see the Father on his throne in heaven. Show me that, Philip said, and it will be enough. 

In response, Jesus restated his teaching, but also rebuked Philip, saying “Have I been with you so long and you still do not know me, Philip?” (9) And then he said, “how can you say “show us the Father?”. 

Jesus had taught this truth of revealing the Father many times. He also demonstrated it many times by the miracles, or works, he did. Yet, Philip, and maybe all the disciples, has not yet understood that God the Father has made himself known through Jesus the Son. 

So, Jesus told Philip again who ever has seen him has seen the Father.  He also said he is in the Father and the Father is in him. (10)  There is complete unity between Father and Son. Jesus spoke on the Father ’s authority. He did everything the Father told him to do and the Father did his works, or miracles, through Jesus. 

Jesus gave Philip the same instruction he gave the Jewish crowds “believe what  I say or at least believe the works”. (11) The works testify to the truth of Jesus’ words.

Greater Works


Jesus intended that the disciples would continue to do his works after he was gone. Here he says believers will do the works Jesus does. Not only that, believers will do greater works because Jesus is going to the Father. Whatever believers ask in Jesus’ name, Jesus will do. He will do this so the Father is glorified in the Son. (13)

Over the centuries since Jesus’ resurrection, believers have done this. The gospel has been preached all over the world. Hospitals have been built for healing. Orphanages set up to provide care to helpless children. Schools have been built, food and clothing provided. All these things were done by believers who asked Jesus to do these things through them.

This promise still stands. We should be continually asking Jesus to save people, build his church, and turn back evil. If we believe, we can ask Jesus to act and he will. And God will be glorified in it all. 


Sunday, June 13, 2021




Jesus & His Betrayer

After saying these things, Jesus was troubled. “These things” would primarily be his teaching that one of them was not clean and would lift up his heal against him. (18) Jesus knew he would be betrayed and by whom. In 6:70, he told the disciples one of them was a devil. The synoptic gospels record several times Jesus indicated his betrayal.

Yet, Jesus was troubled in spirit. This shows us he was fully human as well as fully divine. He was tempted in all of the things we are  (Hebrews 4:15). It was not a sin to be tempted. Hebrews 4:15 also says he was without sin.


Despite the sting of betrayal that troubled him, Jesus did not let his emotions deter him from God’s will. He continued upon the path to his crucifixion and prepared his disciples for his absence. 

Surely the disciples would be able to see he was in agony. And in that agony of spirit, he said “one of you will betray me”. (21) He invoked the double amen (truly, truly) to emphasize the truthfulness of his situation. 

The disciples looked around the room. They did not know who the betrayer would be, but it had to be unsettling to hear this. Having one of this close knit group betray its leader and master was unfathomable. In that society, betraying someone you had eaten with was itself a horrific action. 

The seating arrangements here are key to understanding the scene. The men are reclining at table, leaning of their left elbows with their feet stretched out behind them. They were eating with their right hands. 

Peter, although often the leader, was not positioned next to Jesus. John was on Jesus’ right side. Therefore, when Peter motioned for John to ask Jesus to identify the betrayer, John could turn to his right and be face to face with Jesus and ask him quietly. 

Jesus answered, not with a name, but by giving a sign. It would be the one to whom Jesus gave a morsel of bread after dipping it. It seems like Jesus had the bread in his hand already. He would have reached onto the table with his right hand and dipped it into whatever sauce they were using. 

Then Jesus gave it to Judas, meaning Judas was sitting close to Jesus, maybe even on his left, a position of honor. Judas took the bread and Satan entered into him. Jesus told him to go and complete his betrayal quickly.

The other disciples did not hear Jesus identify his betrayer and did not know why Jesus told him to go quickly. (28) Some thought Jesus was telling him to buy food for the feast, meaning the week long Feast of Unleavened Bread, or that he was to give money to the poor, another tradition of Passover. 

Judas left the room and John wrote “it was night”. This is beautifully written. John uses the contrast of light and dark repeatedly in his gospel. When Judas left the presence of Jesus, the light of the world, he fully surrendered himself to Satan (whether he knew this or not) and spiritual darkness. 

The place of eternal punishment is sometimes described as “outer darkness”. (Matthew 8:12) Judas was headed there, from light to outer darkness. 

Jesus was also about to experience darkness, not for judgment of sin, but because he would surrender himself to the powers of darkness. Jesus told the crowd that came to arrest him that “this is your hour, and the power of darkness”. (Luke 22:53)

The New Commandment


After Judas left the room, Jesus began to teach the remaining 11 disciples. Since his death was imminent, Jesus said now he is glorified.  (31) He tied his glorification to his death. In his perfect obedience to the Father’s will in going to the cross, Jesus glorified the Father. The Father will then glorify him. 

Jesus referred to himself here as the Son of Man, not Lord or Teacher. He did this to evoke Daniel 7, where Daniel’s vision shows the Son of Man coming to the Ancient of Days, who gives him glory, dominion and a kingdom that is everlasting. (Daniel 7:13-14) Although the demons saw defeat and the crowds saw humiliation and shame, heaven saw glory and we now see it too.

Having set the wheels in motion for his departure from the disciples, Jesus turned to teaching them so that he could prepare them to carry on in his absence because they cannot go where he was going. (33) This being true, he gave them a commandment to obey while he was gone.

That commandment was that they love one another as Jesus loved them. (34) That is the way people would know they were Jesus’ disciples, that they loved one another. This commandment would be a recognized trait of the early church as Christians loved each other and lived in unity.

The love of Christians for each other testified to the love of the Father for the Son, and their love for those who loved them. This love was expressed in compassion as well as evangelism. 

Paul picked up this theme, telling us that love is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and showing us what love looks like. (1 Corinthians 13) It is a daunting picture in many ways. 

Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast. Love is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way (even in the style of music used in worship). Love is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice in wrong doing. It does rejoice with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.

John, who heard Jesus say this commandment in person, later wrote:

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does no know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)  

Our love for each other testifies to our conversion and to God’s love. 

This commandment deserves revived attention in the church. The power struggles, personal ambition, and personal attacks have not only brought criticism on the church. It shows we have lost the concept that our love for each other testifies of the love of God for us. And thus we have largely lost that testimony.

So, this week, let us reflect on this commandment given to us by our Savior and Lord. Let us love each other and show our love in acts of service and living according to 1 Corinthians 13. Let us recapture this witness so people will know that we are Jesus’ disciples because of our love. 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

 Anything that one imagines of God apart from Christ in only useless thinking and vain idolatry.

Martin Luther

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

 The Bible is full of encouraging verses, but they are just platitudes unless your eyes are fixed on Jesus. And your cannot fix your eyes on Jesus unless you have a relationship with him. 

Sunday, June 06, 2021




Jesus Washed the Disciples’ Feet

Much has been written in an argument over whether John contradicts the timing of the Passover that is presented in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). I am not going into all of that. But, I am assuming there is not contradiction. 

This event occurs before the Passover meal. The NIV says “it was just before the Passover Feast”. The ESV says “before the Feast of the Passover”. (1) This is an introduction to the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. It is the context time wise, but it is also the context theologically. The Passover theme is important to the story and, indeed, the whole book. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, John the Baptist called him the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. (1:29)

Paul would later write: “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed”. (1 Corinthians 5:7)

At the beginning of Passover, unblemished lambs were killed as a remembrance of the first Passover, when the angel of death passed over the homes of the Israelites whose doorways had been painted with the blood of the lamb. (Exodus 12) 

The blood spilled atoned for the sins of God’s people and they were saved from the wrath of God which was suffered by the pagan Egyptians.

Jesus knew the time of his death (“his hour”) was soon. (1)And, Jesus loved “his own who were in the world” to the end. The NIV says he showed the full extent of his love”. (1) 

We have seen that Jesus’ public ministry has ended and his remaining time will be spent with his disciples. They are the ones John calls “his own”. (1) So, we can see that Jesus washes the disciples’ feet out of love and to demonstrate love. This humble love points forward to the humble love Jesus will demonstrate on the cross. 

John also tells us that one of these disciples, Judas Iscariot, had already been prepared by the devil to betray Jesus. The plot to kill Jesus was Satanic. So, Jesus knew who Judas was. He was his Betrayer. (2) John is foreshadowing the betrayal of Jesus that leads to his arrest and crucifixion. 

But Jesus also knew who he was. John tells us Jesus knew the Father had given all things into his hands. Jesus had authority over all things as the Son of God. Matthew 28:18 records Jesus telling the disciples “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”. Jesus had authority over Satan and over Judas, yet submitted himself to the cross in obedience to the will of the Father.

Jesus also knew he had come from the Father. (3) We have seen him say repeatedly that the Father sent him. Jesus also knew he was returning to the Father. He would be glorified and exalted. 

Yet, knowing he was the divine Son of God and that he was about to be raised to heaven and seated at the right hand of the Father, he engaged in an act of great humility.

Jesus got up from the supper table, took off his outer garments, and tied a towel around his waist in preparation for washing the disciples’ feet. In other words, he took on the appearance of a servant. 

Paul understood this, as he wrote about Jesus that “he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant”. (Philippians 2:6-7) Jesus did not lay aside his deity, but he did say aside his dignity.

Coupled with Jesus’ riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, we see that he is modeling humility for the disciples even before he takes on the ultimate act of humility, his crucifixion.

Having taken on the appearance of a servant, Jesus took on the role of a servant. He poured water into a basin and washed the disciples’ feet. They would have been reclining at the table with their feet stretched out into the room. Jesus would go around the table wash each man’s feet. 

It was customary at this time for the host to provide a basin of water and a towel so that his guests could wash their feet. Since they wore sandals, their feet got dirty as they walked about on dirt roads and paths.

But the host did not wash the feet of his guests. That would be been too much of a humiliation. Even his Jewish servants could not be compelled to wash feet. Even though disciples were obligated to serve their teacher, they also did not wash his feet. 

Jesus pointed out to the disciples that he did this as an example for them. (15) If he, as their Lord and Teacher, washed their feet, they should also wash each other’s feet. (14) Notice that none of the disciples had volunteered to wash feet. 

Jesus was not instituting an ordinance for the church here. He was not saying we should have a time during our worship service that we wash feet, although there are people who do so.

Rather, he was teaching his disciples, and all subsequent disciples, that humility toward our fellow believers and service to them are what disciples do. We live to serve, not to be served.

When we are tempted to be prideful, we can remember that Jesus said the servant is not greater than his master, nor the messenger greater than the one who sent him. If Jesus, our Lord, could humbly serve others, we have no right to think we are greater than he and too good to serve.

This is very counter cultural. Most people look for a church where they will be served in some way. Few come saying they want to serve others.

There is another level of meaning, another lesson that is taught in this section, though. It occurs during Jesus’ encounter with Peter. When Jesus came to wash Peter’s feet, Peter was incredulous. He said “Lord, do you wash my feet?” (6) 

Peter acknowledged the impropriety of Jesus’ actions in their culture. The lord or master did not wash feet at all, much less of his disciples. 

Jesus told him that he knew Peter did not understand what Jesus was doing, but would understand “afterward”, meaning after Jesus’ death and the coming of the Holy Spirit. (6) “What I am doing” may mean, not only the washing of feet, but also of going voluntarily to his death.

But Peter insisted that Jesus would never wash his feet, demonstrating the truth of Jesus’ statement that Peter did not understand. Peter was actually being humble within the context of his culture. He just could not let his Lord wash his feet. He was unworthy of that. And so he said “you shall never wash my feet”. (8) 

With his response, Jesus opened up another level of meaning. He told Peter “if I do not wash you, you have no share (or part) with me”. (8) Jesus meant unless you have received the one time cleansing from sin that Jesus provides to all who believe and receive him, you cannot have a relationship to him that includes eternal life. 

It is doubtful that Peter understood this, but he did want to have a part with Jesus. So, he, in typical Peter exuberance, says for Jesus not to wash his feet only, but also his head and hands. (9)

So, Jesus explained that one who has had a bath does not need to wash all over. He just needs his feet cleaned. This was true on a physical level. If you took a bath before going to a friends house for dinner, you only needed to wash the dirt off your feet. You did not need another bath.

It is also true theologically and symbolically. Once we have come to Christ in faith, we are cleansed of our sin. We are forgiven. We have received atonement for our sins. We are justified in Christ before the Father. 

That is a one time thing. You received complete and total forgiveness in Christ when you came to him by faith. Ephesians 1:7 says “In hm we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…”. 

After we have been saved, though, we will sin. Although we do not lose our salvation because we sinned, we still need cleansing of that sin to maintain our close relationship with God. John later wrote “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. (1 John 1:9) 

Jesus affirmed this by saying “you” (plural) are clean. Peter and 10 of the other disciples believed in Jesus and were cleansed of sin. But one of them was not. Judas was the exception. He was not clean. (11) 

If you have come to Jesus in faith and committed your life to him, you are clean of sin. No one can take that away from you.

If you have not come to Jesus in faith, like Judas you are not clean and are accountable for your sins to God. 

If that is the case, you need to come to Jesus today and receive salvation.