Revelation 2: “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'”

In 1965 the Righteous Brothers released their iconic song, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” Years later, in 1986, this song would be immortalized by a couple of characters names Mavic and Goose in the hit movie, “Top Gun!” Wikipedia indicates, “In December 1999, the performing rights organization Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) ranked the song as the most-played song on American radio and television in the 20th century, having accumulated more than 8 million airplays by 1999,[5] and nearly 15 million by 2011.[6]” It just so happens that this song is my mom’s favorite song as well.

The opening verse of the song tells the tale:

“You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips
And there’s no tenderness like before in your fingertips
You’re trying hard not to show it, (baby)
But baby, baby I know it

Although the reference is between two people, the impact is the same, there once was love, but now there’s not.

Similarly, in the opening of his letter, John records the words of Jesus to the church in Ephesus. Revelation 2:4-5 (NLT) “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! 

Jesus is saying to the church in Ephesus, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin;” and if you’re not careful it will be “gone…gone…gone…woah.”

Now in Chapter 2 we see the initial list of four churches out of seven that John references. It’s important to remember that Jesus is speaking of, and John is writing to, real churches in real cities. We can look at these churches from three perspectives:

  1. Prophetically
  2. Practically
  3. Personally

Prophetically, these churches seem to represent different stages of the church over the last 2,000 years.  If this is true, then the church at Ephesus represents the time period between the Day of Pentecost and 100 AD.  This was a time of great expansion for the early church.  But, it was also a time when some began to lose their zeal and fervency.

Practically, these letters were sent to literal, real congregations that were functioning at the close of the First Century.  While they were written to real churches existing in that day, they still speak to every church in existence today.  God has a word for your Church in these verses!

Personally, these letters speak to congregations, but we should also be mindful that the Lord has a word for the individual in these letters as well.  He has something to say to you and me about our relationship with Him.

So we understand that the church in Ephesus lost their love and feelin,’ but we also need to look at the remedy proposed by Jesus.

Revelation 2:4b-6 (NLT) Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.

Steps to Rekindling the Fire of your Faith

When referencing the church in Ephesus, Jesus indicates through John that he has both good things and bad things for the church. He encourages them with the things they’re doing well, but he also encourages them to work on the things that aren’t going well. The “work on” part is the part I want to end on.

It’s not uncommon for the flame of our faith to wax and wane. I don’t recommend that your faith remains in the embers, but Jesus does give instructions on how to fan it back into flame.

Step #1  Turn back to Jesus (Repent)
Step #2  Do the works you did at first
Step #3  Hate the evil deeds of the people distracting from Jesus
Step #4  Listen to the Spirit

Each of us has an opportunity to learn from the situation of the Ephesians. Talk to God today and allow him to challenge your heart.

 

 

Revelation 1: “Introduction”

Welcome to Revelation!

Our long awaited journey through the New Testament has arrived at its final book! And boy what a book it is. The Book of Revelation is steeped in mystery and confusion for years. Is it a book covering the past, the present, or the future? The simple answer is, yes! The complex answer to this question will play out in the pages ahead. Buckle your seatbelts, cause here we go!

Orienting Data for the Revelation

Content: a Christian prophecy cast in apocalyptic style and imagery and finally put in letter form, dealing primarily with tribulation (suffering) and salvation for God’s people and God’s wrath (judgment) on the Roman Empire.

Author: a man named John (1:1, 4, 9), well known to the recipients, traditionally identified as the apostle, the son of Zebedee (Matt 10:2).

Date: ca. a.d. 95 (according to Irenaeus [ca. 180])

Recipients: churches in the Roman province of Asia, who show a mix of fidelity and internal weaknesses.

Occasion: the early Christians’ refusal to participate in the cult of the emperor (who was acclaimed “lord” and “savior”) was putting them on a collision course with the state; John saw prophetically that it would get worse before it got better and that the churches were poorly prepared for what was about to take place, so he writes both to warn and encourage them and to announce God’s judgments against Rome.

Emphases: despite appearances to the contrary, God is in absolute control of history; although God’s people are destined for suffering in the present, God’s sure salvation belongs to them; God’s judgment will come on those responsible for the church’s suffering; in the end (Rev 21–22) God will restore what was lost or distorted at the beginning (Gen 1–3).


Overview of the Revelation

The cult of the emperor flourished in the province of Asia more than elsewhere in the empire; the result was that by the end of the first Christian century, the church in all its weaknesses was headed for a showdown with the state in all its splendor and might. By the Spirit, John sees that the martyrdom of Antipas (2:13) and John’s own exile (1:9) are but a small foretaste of the great havoc that the state will wreak on the church before it is all over (see 1:9;2:10; 3:10; 6:9–11; 7:14; 12:11, 17).

As a Christian prophet, John also sees this conflict in the larger context of the holy war—the ultimate cosmic conflict between God (and his Christ) and Satan (see 12:1–9)—in which God wins eternal salvation for his people. The people’s present role is to “triumph over [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, … not lov[ing] their lives so much as to shrink from death” (12:11). As God has already defeated the dragon through the death and resurrection of Christ (the Messiah is caught up to heaven, 12:5), so he will judge the state for her crimes against his people.


Specific Advice for Reading the Revelation

You may easily find yourself in the company of most contemporary Christians, for whom the Revelation is difficult to read, mostly because we are so unfamiliar with John’s medium of communication—apocalyptic literature with its bizarre imagery. Thus, along with knowing about the historical context and the way John works out his overall design (noted above), two other items will greatly aid your reading of this marvelous book—(1) to take seriously John’s own designation of his book as “the words of this prophecy” (1:3) and (2) to have some sense of how apocalyptic imagery works, even if many of the details remain a bit obscure.

By calling his work “the words of this prophecy,” John is deliberately following in the train of the great prophets of the Old Testament, in several ways: (1) He speaks as one who knows himself to be under the inspiration of the Spirit (1:10; 2:7; etc.). (2) He positions himself between some recent past events and what is about to happen in the near future. (3) He sets all forms of earthly salvation and judgment against the backdrop of God’s final end-time judgments so that the fall of Rome is to be seen not as the end itself but against the backdrop of the final events of the end.

3 John: “Information”

Orienting Data for 3 John

Date: Most scholars agree that 1, 2, and 3 John were written at the same time as the Gospel of John, from AD 85 to 95. The late date is based on evidence from early church witnesses (Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria), and the early stage of the Gnostic heresy.

Author: The author of 1, 2, and 3 John, is John the son of Zebedee. John was an apostle, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, and the author of the Gospel of John and Revelation. John was one of three disciples in Jesus’ inner circle, and was called the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13: 23). In 2 and 3 John, he calls himself “the elder” (2 John 1: 1; 3 John 1). Although some scholars think the name refers to a different John, the title of “elder” was common in the early church, even for the apostles (see 1 Peter 5: 1 “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder”).

Recipients: John’s third letter was addressed to “Gaius,” a Christian in one of the churches in Asia Minor. Gaius was a common Roman name at the time so it is difficult to identify who he was.

Overview of 3 John

This is the shortest letter in the New Testament and thus the shortest book in the Bible (it is twenty-five Greek words shorter than 2 John). Along with Philemon, it is a personal letter; unlike Philemon, it is a private letter as well.

At issue is Christian hospitality, as evidence that one is “walking in the truth.” The recipient, Gaius, perhaps a convert of John (v. 4), is a dear friend (vv. 1, 2, 5, 11; “dear friend” translates the Greek word agapētos, “beloved”). Along with the truth of the gospel (vv. 3–4), Gaius and the elder share the practice of Christian hospitality toward approved itinerants (vv. 5–8, 11–12).

Sandwiched between Gaius’s two responses of hospitality toward strangers is the opposite example of Diotrephes, who has a twofold problem: (1) He is self-assertive in terms of leadership in the church (KJV, “he loveth to have the preeminence”!), and (2) his way of asserting himself is to reject both a letter from the elder and the approved itinerants who were being commended to the church in that letter. In light of 1 and 2 John, one is tempted to see Diotrephes as also on the false teachers’ side of things, although doctrinal issues as such are not mentioned in this case. But in light of 2 John 10–11, hospitality toward strangers is not automatic; they must be approved as those who walk in the truth.

Specific Advice for Reading 3 John

This letter may seem strange to a North American culture, where itinerant ministers are usually invited to the church and put up in motels or hotels. But in some ways you might find the original recipients’ culture more to your liking. In the first century, hospitality toward strangers was considered a virtue, and accommodations were often linked to a temple or synagogue. This practice became heart and soul for the earliest Christians. Thus if you were on the move, you could expect to receive hospitality within a local church community anywhere in the known world, a fact that runs throughout the New Testament. We find it in Jesus’ sending out the twelve and the seventy-two (Luke 9:4–5; 10:5–8); it is mentioned by Paul as an expression of love (Rom 12:13) and is urged as a form of Christian conduct in Hebrews 13:2. By the very nature of things, such hospitality was usually expected of a householder, who was also the leader of the church (1 Tim 3:2), but it could also be the responsibility of any others who had sizable households (1 Tim 5:10).

Together 2 and 3 John help us see how closely connected a householder, hospitality in her or his house, and the church that meets in the house were in the first-century church. Strangers who claimed to be bearers of the good news about Jesus Christ needed to have letters of commendation (such as 3 John is for Demetrius) in order to be given Christian hospitality in the home that housed a church community. But even when the itinerants were well known (e.g., Titus in 2 Cor 8:16–24), they often carried a letter of commendation from a leader known to the community to which they were going (see Acts 15:23–29; Rom 16:1–2; cf. 2 Cor 3:1–3, where Paul is miffed at the idea that he needed such a letter in Corinth).

This cultural phenomenon is crucial to your understanding of 3 John, as well as of 2 John 10–11. In the present case, such a letter from the elder had accompanied some whom he had sent to a church; but Diotrephes had rejected it, refused hospitality, and disfellowshipped those who would like to have shown it—exactly the position the elder himself took in 2 John 10–11, indicating that the touchstone of everything is the gospel of Christ.

2 John: “Information”

I’m not sure if you know this or not, but 1, 2, and 3 John are the least read books of the entire bible! Here’s the thing; there in the book for a reason, so rather than do what everyone else does with these books, let’s take a deeper dive into what exactly is going on in these letters.

Orienting Data for 2 John

Content: “the elder” warns against false teachers who deny the incarnation of Christ

Author: The author of 1, 2, and 3 John, is John the son of Zebedee. John was an apostle, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, and the author of the Gospel of John and Revelation. John was one of three disciples in Jesus’ inner circle, and was called the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13: 23). In 2 and 3 John, he calls himself “the elder” (2 John 1: 1; 3 John 1). Although some scholars think the name refers to a different John, the title of “elder” was common in the early church, even for the apostles (see 1 Peter 5: 1 “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder”).

Date: Most scholars agree that 1, 2, and 3 John were written at the same time as the Gospel of John, from AD 85 to 95. The late date is based on evidence from early church witnesses (Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria), and the early stage of the Gnostic heresy.

Recipients: the “lady chosen by God”

The following information is from the book “Bible Overview” by Rose Publishing. 

Overview of 2 John

2 John: Since false teachers were corrupting the gospel, John warned believers to use discernment when welcoming teachers into their homes. John also encouraged believers to seek love, hospitality, unity, and recognize the truth that Jesus came “in the flesh” (1: 7).

The following information is from the book “How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth” by Fee and Stuart.

Specific Advice for Reading 2 John

Second and 3 John are both the size of ordinary letters in the Greco-Roman world, written on a single sheet of papyrus. Note how both letters close with a notice about John’s wanting to talk with the recipients “face to face” (which probably indicates that he was running out of space on his piece of paper).

Given its brevity, you should especially note significant repeated words, both where they occur and how often. In fact, you may wish to do this for yourself before you read further, using different colored pens for the different words.

Did you note in verses 1–6 the repetition of truth (5x), its companion walk (3x), the associated word love (5x), and love’s companion command (ment) (4x)? In verses 7–11, “the truth” is now the teaching (3x), which has to do with “Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” and thus with his being the true Son of the Father. Several words refer to those who reject this teaching:deceivers (2x), antichrist, anyone, them, etc. This exercise pretty well tells the story about this letter.

1 John 2: “Jesus Our Advocate”

I don’t know about you, but I hate jury duty. I’m not sure I’ve never met someone who said they love jury duty. I’m sure those people are out there; I just haven’t met any of them. There was a time a few years ago that I was selected to sit on a Grand Jury for a federal case regarding the distribution possession of child pornography. I tried multiple times, and multiple ways, to get thrown off the case, but each time the judge would find a reason I had to stay. I can remember hearing the judge say that the “burden of proof is on the prosecution.” Meaning the prosecution has to “prove” beyond a reasonable doubt that the “defendant” is guilty of the crimes committed. This system helps reinforce the judicial tenant in America; “innocent until proven guilty.” But what about God’s judicial system?

God’s Judicial System

Just like most courts of law around the world, God’s judicial system is set up in a similar fashion. We learn through Hebrews 12 that God is the Righteous Judge over all things. It’s in Revelation 12:10 that we learn there is an accuser, and they stand before God day and night accusing our brothers and sisters in Christ. But what we also learn from our reading today that in God’s judicial system, there’s also an advocate.

1 John 2:1-2 (NLT) My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

In the American judicial system, you are “innocent until proven guilty.” However, in God’s judicial system you’re guilty regardless of how innocent you think you are. Because of sin, you’ve been pronounced with the penalty of death (Romans 6:23), but because of Christ’s love, we’ve been pardoned of our sin. Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

When we go back and read from the beginning of God’s Word, for forgiveness to be experienced in a person’s life, something has to die. In the case of 1 John 2:1-2, what we find is Jesus advocating on our behalf that He indeed died for the crime that we committed. It reminds me of the powerful scene from the movie, “Brokedown Palace.”

Brokedown Palace

Alice (Claire Danes) and her friend Darlene (Kate Beckinsale) go to Bangkok to celebrate their high school graduation. In the middle of the trip, an attractive Australian man befriends them and convinces the two girls to go with him to Hong Kong. Just when they’re about to board the plane, the two girls are arrested for drug smuggling and sentenced to 33 years in a terrible prison known as Brokedown Palace.

What you need to know before watching this clip is that the two girls were setup and are completely innocent.

Like Jesus, Alice made the ultimate sacrifice for her friend. I can’t help but picture Jesus advocating with his Father over the sentence of guilty that we rightly deserve!

Here’s the most important piece of information for you to consider today: Yes, Jesus advocates for us; even for the sins of the entire world (2:2), but forgiveness will only be for those who “know” him.

1 John 2:3-6 (NLT) And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him.Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

 

 

1 John 1: “Introduction”

Welcome to 1 John!

Below is helpful information I found in Fee and Stuarts Book, “How to Read the Bible Book by Book:“

Orienting Data for 1 John

Content: a treatise that offers assurance to some specific believers, encouraging their loyalty to Christian faith and practice—in response to some false prophets who have left the community.

Author: the same author who wrote 2 and 3 John, who there calls himself “the elder”; a solid historical tradition equated him with the apostle John.

Date: unknown; probably toward the end of the first Christian century (the late 80s, early 90s).

Recipients: a Christian community (or communities) well known to the author (whom he calls “dear children” and “dear friends”; the false prophets defected “from us,” 2:19); it has traditionally been thought to be located in or around Ephesus.

Occasion: the defection of the false prophets and their followers, who have called into question the orthodoxy—both teaching and practice—of those who have remained loyal to what goes back to “the beginning.”

Emphases: that Jesus who came in the flesh is the Son of God; that Jesus showed God’s love for us through his incarnation and crucifixion; that true believers love one another as God loved them in Christ; that God’s children do not habitually sin, but when we do sin, we receive forgiveness; that believers can have full confidence in the God who loves them; that by trusting in Christ we now have eternal life.


Overview

You can experience some real ambivalence in reading 1 John. On the one hand, John’s writing style is very simple, with a very limited and basic vocabulary (so much so that this is usually the first book beginning Greek students learn to read). It also has a large number of memorable—as well as some profound—moments. On the other hand, you may experience real difficulty trying to follow John’s train of thought. Not only is it hard at times to see how some ideas connect with others, but certain, obviously significant, themes are repeated several times along the way.

Although, like most of Paul’s letters, the aim of 1 John is to persuade, it nonetheless does not come in the form of a letter (notice that there is no salutation or final greeting). Most likely this is because John is writing to communities where he has direct oversight. What he writes includes teaching that “you have heard from the beginning” (2:24) about “the Word of life” who “was from the beginning” (1:1; cf. 2:13).

The primary concerns are three: the Incarnation; love for the brothers and sisters, especially those in need; and the relationship between sin and being God’s children. The first two of these are the more urgent and are expressed together in 3:23: “This is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another.”


Specific Advice for Reading 1 John

As you read, be especially on the lookout for what John says about the false prophets, since they are the key to everything. Note that they have recently left the community (2:19), but only after trying to lead the whole church astray (2:26; 3:7; 4:1). These prophets apparently considered their teaching to come from the Spirit (cf. 4:1), which is why John urges that the believers’ own anointing of the Spirit is sufficient for them (2:20, 27; 3:24). Indeed, in a marvelous wordplay on the language of “anointing” (chrisma), he calls the false prophets “antichrists” (anti-christos = against the Anointed One). There has been much speculation about who these false prophets are, or what heresy they represent, but in the end, these things cannot be known for certain, except that they deny the Incarnation, fail to love those in need, and (perhaps) argue that they are sinless.

 

John 21: “Restorer of the Repentant.”

 One of the most compelling portraits in John’s gallery has to be the last one on the wall. Just as you’re about to leave the gallery you’re met with an image of forgiveness that just simply blows you away! Jesus didn’t just restore Peter, He gave Peter the opportunity to repent!

After Jesus’ resurrection, there were a lot of stories going around about the tomb being empty. The two Mary’s saw it, and Peter, knowing he had messed up, was really interested to see if it was true. Well, Peter saw the empty tomb but was still upset that Jesus was gone and that he never did get a chance to say he was sorry for denying him three times. In our reading today we find a bunch of disciples together sitting on the beach just hanging out talking about their experience with Jesus. Fed up with reliving the past Peter looked at them says, “I’m going fishing.” The rest of them sitting there were like, “well, were going with you.” If you’re going with me, he says, then you better get going…come on!

In our reading today we find a bunch of disciples together sitting on the beach just hanging out talking about their experience with Jesus. Fed up with reliving the past Peter looked at them says, “I’m going fishing.” The rest of them sitting there were like, “well, were going with you.” If you’re going with me, he says, then you better get going…come on!

I believe Peter was both scared and lost at this moment. He knew that when he denied Christ that he crossed lines he shouldn’t have crossed. In fact, I think when Peter thinks back to the denial, he would say that there was so much going on that he really didn’t deny Christ, he was just tired and under pressure.

Not sure if Jesus was really going to come back, Peter must have been thinking, you know what, just leave me down here on my own, but I’ll wait for it.

At this point, while Peter is trying to get life back to normal and cover up how he feels, his heart is screaming inside saying, please, please, please, come back and sing to me. Sing to me Lord, the song of your life.

All the activity on the boat couldn’t stop Peter from stopping what he was doing and looking out over the water, with tears in his eyes he realizes how bad he wants it. He realizes all that he denied. He wants it now, now, to me, he thinks as he pounds his fist on the railing of the boat. To me…Then it hits him!

Coldplay – In My Place

In fact, it hits him so hard, he falls to his knees. It was in my place, in my place, were lines that I couldn’t change…I was lost, I was lost. So Peter now turns to us and asks: How long must you wait for it? How long must you pay for it?

This is Peter’s song, but not just Peter’s song, it’s our song! It’s the song that we sing when we realize that we too have denied Christ.

John 20:1-20 (NLT)

What an incredible image! What an incredible promise! Peter was given his second chance and there was no way he was going to mess this up. Can you image the way Peter felt before this day? He knew he messed up; he knew he failed his Rabbi, and he wasn’t sure he was going to get an opportunity to make it right.

Jesus restored Peter and he desires to restore you today, but that will only happen of your heart is repentant.

John 15: “True Vine”

Wisteria, it’s a beautiful plant, and when in full bloom it can almost look magical, but this viney, creepy, goes wherever it wants vine, has a dark side.

 

I can remember the day when working for a lawn company in Cape May, NJ; we pulled up to a little white Cape Cod style house, only to find a little Wisteria was staging a coup in the backyard!

Some of the vines on this wisteria were 5” around! The metal trellis installed in 1982 was 8” off the ground! The wisteria literally over time had picked up this heavy metal trellis and was starting to carry it away! Here’s the kicker! We couldn’t just hack the thing to the ground because she still wanted to see the beautiful blooms of the wisteria, so we had to be more skillful.

It was an incredibly painful process, but the results were amazing. Instead of waiting for the next 15 years to trim back all the overgrowth, there’s now a regular schedule of pruning that helps make the wisteria bloom to its fullest potential.

Boy, that sounds like a sermon doesn’t it? Think about it with me for a second.

Our lives are like that wisteria. Isn’t it true that without a regular schedule of pruning and shaping, our lives can quickly get out of control? The pruning process is painful but necessary.

John 15:1-8 (NLT)

From the beginning, there’s a startling revelation that I have missed before. Jesus in (v.1) says, “I am the True Vine or True Grapevine.” What does this lead us to believe? There’s a False Grapevine. Jesus is saying to his disciples; there have been many that came before me and many after, claiming, “I’m the Messiah,” but he says to them, don’t put your trust in Israel or other teachers, I’m the only one you should be concerned with. I am the true vine.

Seems like in (v. 2) there’s a conflict in language. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. Cuts off…Prunes… to our English ear, that sounds the same, but it’s actually not. The truth is, the word for prune in the ancient Greek could mean “pruning,” or “cleaning.” It was common for a vinedresser to pick up the branches that have produced fruit, clean them off, and place them in a place where they can get more sun to grow stronger and more productive.

But in the process of cleaning or “pruning” the branches, he also cuts off the diseased parts of the branches and leaves. It’s painful but productive.

Challenge for Today

What does he need to prune from you? Arrogance, Vanity, Anger, Lust, Pride, Bad Relationships, Selfishness.

But truthfully, as powerful as this imagery is for us, I don’t think it’s the main point of the message. As I was preparing and talking to Jesus about the message, I asked Jesus, “what do you want the main point to be?” He said, “I want people to remain in me.” Then Jesus said, “We spend so much time talking about fruit, but the truth is, if you don’t remain in me, I can’t produce fruit in you.”

So I went and started looking at the passage and do you know what God revealed to me? The passage isn’t about bearing fruit. In fact, nowhere in the passage does Jesus command his disciples to bear fruit. Look at it! It’s not there; you’re not going to find a command from Jesus to bear fruit.

The truth of the scripture is, without Jesus, you can do nothing! Meaning: without remaining in Jesus, you can try all you want, but you will not produce fruit!

Can you imagine a tiny little branch trying to willfully create a cluster of grapes without the help of the vine?

Jesus at no point demands the disciples to bear fruit; instead his challenge time and time again is, “Remain in me.” If we remain in Jesus today; we’ll have no choice but to bear fruit.

John 14: “Consoler”

When my son was younger, he used to love jumping off things, which forced me to catch him. It was a bit of game at times, but one that was quite scary for me!

Once when I was walking down the steps with Parker behind me, he yelled out, “Hey Dad! Catch me!” I turned around to see Parker mid-flight hurdling towards me off the steps. I immediately channeled my inner circus clown and caught him just before we both crashed to the ground. While he was laughing, and I was both scared and angry, I asked him, “Parker, what in the world were you thinking?” He said, “you’re my dad, I knew you’d catch me!” Although I appreciated his level of trust in me, we needed to have a conversation about safety.

In my experience, trust isn’t only given; it’s earned. In fact, there are many times throughout our day that we are left with the choice to either trust or not trust. Think about how much trust you put in the person who’s driving in the opposite lane on a two lane highway?

In John 14, John paints the portrait of Jesus as, “the Consoler.” It’s here we find Jesus meeting with his disciples in the upper room after the Last Supper. He’s explaining to them what’s about to happen, and how ultimately they need to trust him. The words are simple, but complex all at the same time.

John 14:1 (NLT) “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.

There’s an indication from John that our hearts are troubled on account that we don’t trust God. If you think about it, there’s a lot of truth to that understanding. I believe the more we trust God, the less our heart will be troubled. I pray that for you today as well!

 

John 13: “Servent Savior”

John 13:1-10 (NLT)

Before we begin to unpack the implications found in the scripture passage, let me set the scene for you.

It was customary that the lowest servant of the house would wash the feet of the guests as they came into the house, especially for formal meals like this. We’re not sure why, but for some reason, there was no one available to wash the disciples feet as they came in.

This would have been a formal meal around a common U-shaped table called a “triclinium.” The disciples would have been reclining on mats at the table. The table was so low to the ground, the disciples wouldn’t have sat on chairs, in fact, if they were sitting in chairs, it wouldn’t have been a big deal if their feet were dirty. But instead, they reclined at the table, which meant that dirty feet would have made the meal pretty awkward and uncomfortable.

As I read this passage one of the questions I have is, “why didn’t the disciples wash each other’s feet?” In fact, why didn’t they take the initiative and wash Jesus’ feet?

Maybe the conversation they had during the meal can educate us on the reason this didn’t happen.

Before we look at that conversation and Jesus’ response, you have to remember in the disciple’s minds; Jesus was still speaking in code about going away and establishing his kingdom.

So Luke 22 reveals the conversation and makes sense why they didn’t serve each other.

Luke 22:24-27 (NLT)

Jesus taught the disciples some radical concepts while he was with them, but this one was as a radical as they get. But the beautiful picture is Jesus didn’t just teach His disciples how to be servants; He showed them how to be servants.

John 13:4-5 (NLT) So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

If Jesus wanted just to display the “image” of a servant, he would have had a servant or even of the disciples do all the prep work. He would have quickly wiped a damp cloth on a couple of dirty feet and consider the job done. That would have given the “image” of servanthood and loving leadership, but Jesus gave himself completely to the work of getting everything setup and prepared to wash the disciples feet.

Jesus washing the disciples feet was a powerful moment and experience for the disciples. In fact, the foot washing was so shocking; Peter initially refused to allow Jesus to wash his feet at all. But again, Jesus wasn’t just teaching them a lesson; He was showing them the lesson. He showed it in a way that illustrated what His life was all about.

Not only was the foot washing a powerful lesson; it was a powerful parable: Think about the connection between heaven and earth at this moment:

  • Jesus got up from his earthly table, a place of comfort and rest
  • Jesus got up from his throne in heaven, a place of comfort and rest
  • Jesus took off his earthly robe, removing his outer covering
  • Jesus laid aside His glory, taking off his heavenly covering
  • Jesus took an earthly towel and wrapped it around his waist ready to work
  • Jesus took the very form of a servant and stepped down from heaven ready to work
  • Jesus poured water into an earthly basin, ready to clean
  • Jesus poured out his blood to cleans us of our sin
  • Jesus after washing their feet sat down
  • Jesus sat down at the right hand of the father after cleansing us on the cross.

Servant leadership can’t be just something we say, it has to become something we do or even someone we are. We have a model for us in the person of Jesus Christ. I challenge you today to get up, take the towel of the servant, wrap it around your waist, and start washing feet.