Flawed Participants at the First Lord’s Supper- John Chapter 13

Coming to communion to remember the death of Jesus on our behalf is special and serious observance. We are instructed in 1 Corinthians 11 to examine ourselves before partaking of the bread and wine or grape juice.

 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup

In 2 Corinthians 13 Paul again instructs to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith.

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This can lead to us feeling we need to come to communion having been nearly perfect before we can partake of the elements. However, when I reflect on who was at the first Lord’s Supper, it sheds some light on who can come into his presence during communion.

There was a former tax collector, rugged fishermen, and among them was one who would betray Jesus and one who would deny Jesus.

Judas was there. We read in John 13:

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus

Judas would go on to betray Jesus with a kiss as Judas led the soldiers and religious leaders to the garden where Jesus was arrested.

Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray him.

Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 

Jesus also knew that Peter would deny him three times and told Peter it would happen.

Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

So what is the difference between Judas and Peter? They were both sinful and flawed. One betrayed Jesus and the other denied Jesus out of fear. The difference was in how the two responded after they sinned.

Judas only felt remorse and hanged himself but his remorse did not lead to repentance.

In contrast, Peter felt regret and guilt when the rooster crowed. His regret led to repentance. He came into the presence of Jesus after his resurrection even though it meant at least one awkward moment when Jesus asked Peter three times in front of the other disciples if Peter loved him.

King David expressed something in Psalm 51.

My sacrifice, O God, is  a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

and in Psalm 34

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Peter was broken in his spirit. He knew his need for Jesus’s forgiveness and grace. He came to Jesus seeking that. Judas never did.

We are all flawed. No one is perfect. No one comes into the presence of Jesus, whether in prayer, reading the bible, or during communion, with a spotless record.

When I partake of communion, before partaking of the elements, I come to Jesus in prayer. He knows all about me, so there is nothing to hide. He knows all about us and loves us even though we have sin in our lives. What he is looking for is a broken spirit and a contrite heart.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Spoke Publicly He Was There to Die- John 12

Jesus knew why he had ridden into Jerusalem. He knew he was there to die for us to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus knew the plan all along and long before he rode into Jerusalem. Jesus speaking of the time has not come or the hour has not come is a theme thread in John. After Jesus rode into Jerusalem, he proclaimed.

The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified

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We explored that last week in- What Do We Choose Regarding Jesus?

Jesus did not relish going to the cross, the torture he would endure. In Hebrews 12 we see how Jesus felt.

Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus went to the cross because of his immense love for us, but he despised the shame and did not look forward to the pain and torture. It is so understandable that he would look to God the Father which we see in John 12.

“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.”

Then something happened that got the attention of everyone there. God the Father spoke.

Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

The reaction of those around?

Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.”

The purpose of the voice from heaven was to confirm who Jesus is which Jesus spoke to.

This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake

Jesus spoke of two results of his crucifixion. Satan would be judged and stripped of authority in this world and Jesus would draw people to himself.

 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am  lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.

The people needed no explanation for what lifted up meant. They had seen people crucified and left on crosses. It was a practice of the Romans to intimidate people by leaving bodies on crosses to cause fear. The people were confused. They thought perhaps Jesus was the Messiah and there is a promise about the Messiah being on David’s throne forever. But they did not consider Isaiah 53 and the suffering servant.

He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;

In response to the people openly wondering about why Jesus would say he would be lifted up, Jesus exhorted them

You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may

He was calling them to make a choice. We also need to make a choice regarding Jesus. Will we believe in him, ask him for forgiveness and follow him or will we reject him?

What does it mean to you that even though Jesus despised the shame of the cross, he went there because the joy set before him was anyone who believes in him having eternal life?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

What Do We Choose Regarding Jesus? John Chapter 12

Jesus rode into Jerusalem knowing he was riding in to be crucified, to die, for us, so we could be forgiven and and eternal receive relationship with God. He knew it was his time. This is something I wrote about in Jesus Knew His Mission All Along.

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After riding into Jerusalem, some Greeks wanted to meet Jesus. They approached Philip who in turn talked to Andrew. The two disciples, followers of Jesus, talked to Jesus. Jesus’ response did not address the request. Jesus replied by speaking of his impending death. Jesus spoke of it days before he died for us. His reply began with:

“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.”

Jesus shared the analogy of a seed. Seeds have one purpose to contain what is needed for a plant to grow and produce more seeds.

 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain”. 

By Jesus dying for us, countless numbers of people over the centuries since have come to know Jesus. There is a choice to make. Do we want to follow Jesus or reject Jesus. If we choose to follow Jesus, God the Father will bless us with eternal life. If we reject Jesus, we lose the opportunity for eternal life.

:“He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

“If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”

Each person on earth today has that choice to make. Do we choose to believe in Jesus as our Savior and follow him or de we reject Jesus.?

What will you choose?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

My New Short Story-Terminal Patient Meets A Man Who Died Twice — Encounters with the Ancients

“I am sorry to inform you that all of the treatments we have tried have failed. Your cancer is spreading. It is time to talk about end of life care for you.” Words that no patient ever wants to hear had just been spoken in warm sympathetic tones. “End of life? How long do I […]

Terminal Patient Meets A Man Who Died Twice — Encounters with the Ancients

A Woman in Danger Meets Jesus- John 8

So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27

It may seem odd to begin a study of John 8 with a quote from Genesis about God creating mankind. However, something important to note is that God created mankind in his image- male and female. Women are equally image bearers of God with men.

In John there are three salient accounts Jesus interacting with women in ways that ran counter to the culture of the time. In all three accounts we find Jesus caring for them as the Creator/Savior reaching out with grace for them. We saw the first account several weeks ago in A Troubled Woman Meets Her Savior.

Today we look at a woman in danger meets Jesus. In John 8 we find the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, religious leaders, brought a woman who was caught in the act of adultery in front of Jesus and the people around him. Interesting that the woman was brought before Jesus but the man was not perhaps underscoring that women were second class citizens compared to men at that time.

Trying to trap Jesus they stated the law said she should be stoned to death and asked what he had to say.

Jesus’ response was to ignore them and bend down and write in the dirt. It is quite possible the woman was on the ground and could see what Jesus was writing.

They persisted, so Jesus stood up and said:

Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

He bent down and wrote in the dirt again. The accusers and the people around left one by one.

Jesus stood up and asked he where her accusers were. He asked her:

Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

When she replied no one, Jesus told her:

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The woman was literally in danger of being stoned to death. She could have been only moments away from death when they brought her before Jesus. Instead she experienced the grace of Jesus.

Jesus did not tell her it is okay. He told her he did not condemn her and also to leave her life of sin. When we come to Jesus, we are no longer under condemnation, but he does work to change us and our lives.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:1

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- How Can It Be by Lauren Daigle

We are all guilty before God but because of Jesus dying on the cross and taking the judgement upon himself that we deserve, we can be freed from sin and judgement. Because of Jesus, we can receive the gift of relationship with God and eternal life.

That is what this week is all about as we remember Jesus being tortured and crucified and then defeating death for us. Because of Jesus, we can be forgiven by God.

I love this song by Lauren Daigle. It expresses so well the experience of being amazed by what Jesus did for us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus the Bread of Heaven- John 6

In the first verses of John 6, John makes note of the fact that the Passover was near. During the Passover observance, Jews partake of elements to remind them of aspects of the first Passover. The first Passover, God told the Israelites to smear the blood of a lamb on their window frames and doorposts so the angel of death would pass over their homes and not enter during the last plague God sent to force Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free.

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Two aspects of the Passover celebration are the unleavened bread and four cups of wine. The unleavened bread is symbolic of the bread the Israelites took with them as the left Egypt. The four cups of wine represents deliverance, the blood of the lamb, that forced Pharaoh to let them go free.

When Jesus shared what we call the last supper with the disciples, he broke the bread saying this is my body and shared the wine saying this is my blood. His disciples would have understood there was symbolism connected to the Passover but not fully yet at that time.

Jesus taught them how it is that one can have eternal life in verse 40.

“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

Jesus is the source of eternal life, He is the source of forgiveness from God. He is the source of deliverance.

When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming, he said:

“behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

When Jesus held up the cup of wine representing deliverance during the ‘last supper’, he said this is my blood shed for you. That cup of wine was symbolic of the blood of the lambs smeared on the doorways and window of the homes of the Israelites. When Jesus died for us, his blood was poured out for our deliverance from sin and judgement. so when Jesus said of the cup during the last supper, “this is my blood”, he was referring to the symbolism the wine had for his blood being shed for us.

When Jesus told the crowds that whoever eats of his flesh and drinks of his blood abides in him, the crowds left finding it offensive. The disciples stayed saying to Jesus, “you have the words of eternal life.”

The pivotal difference between “Protestants” and Catholics is the view of communion. Do the bread and wine, grape juice in some churches, spiritually become the body and blood of Jesus or are they symbols in a ceremony of rememberance.

The fact that John makes note of the Passover being near in the same chapter sheds light on context. In John’s mind there is a connection from the beginning of the chapter mentioning the Passover is near, the feeding of thousands with a few fish and a few loaves of bread, and Jesus saying he is the bread of heaven. The physical bread Jesus fed them with was a symbol of the spiritual bread Jesus spoke of when he said, I am the bread of heaven.

The question is whether we have looked to Jesus?

Have we trusted in Jesus?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Alabaster Box by CeCe Winans

In honor of Black History Month, I want to share a beautiful song by Ce Ce Winans. Our black brothers and sisters in Christ have contributed so much to our Christian faith over the years. I think of preachers like Tony Evans one of my favorites.

Musically Andrea Crouch paved the way for many contemporary Christian musicians. He was one of the pioneers in Christian music that today’s artists owe a debt of gratitude to.

Ce Ce Winans has such a beautiful voice and her song Alabaster Box poignantly shares the experience every Christian must go through which is to experience the forgiveness and love of our Savior Jesus. The song focuses on the Mary who poured out her expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus and wiped them with her hair out of appreciation for his forgiveness and love.

I hope this song blesses you as much or more than it did me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- O Come to The Altar- Performed by Alisa Turner

I love the song O Come to the Altar and how it starts out- Are you hurting and broken within. Jesus is calling.

Jesus is calling all to come to him for healing, restoration, forgiveness, and relationship.

When our lives are a mess- Jesus is calling.

When we are filled with doubt and confusion- Jesus is calling.

When we are overwhelmed in life- Jesus is calling.

I love this video with Alisa Turner singing O Come to the Altar. I hope it blesses you today.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Troubled Woman Meets Her Savior Jesus- John Chapter 4

John chapter 3 ends with proclaiming Jesus is the Son of God and has all authority. The first three chapters of John show us that Jesus is the creator, is God the Son, is eternal, and that he came for us.

In chapter 4 we see the first account by John of Jesus interacting with someone desperately in need of God- a Samaritan woman.

Samaria was an area that no self respecting Jew would walk through. Jews thought of Samaritans as being unclean half breeds and Samaria as being a place one would be defiled just walking through. Serious Jews would walk around Samaria to avoid it.

The closest we come to it in the USA would be the days of whites only and colored sections in restaurants. The division between Jews and Samaritans ran so deep.

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So what did Jesus do? He went into Samaria one day and sat down next to a well waiting for the person he knew was coming, a Samaritan woman with a dismal track record with men and relationships.

She came to the well and Jesus spoke to her:

“Will you give me a drink?” 

This simple request sent shock waves through the woman. She knew Jesus was a Jewish man and she knew her “place” in life. She knew Jews did not interact with Samaritans and she knew women were not valued. She replied:

“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”

Jesus steered the conversation to the reason he was waiting for her- to offer her forgiveness and relationship with God. He used the physical water to begin to speak of spiritual matters:

“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

Living water, the Holy Spirit living within us because of knowing Jesus is what he is beginning to offer her, but she did not understand yet was trying to grasp it:

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?

Jesus shared with her that he was speaking of spiritual water and eternal life:

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

She asked Jesus for the water he was speaking of but first Jesus let her know that he knew about her life saying:

“Go, call your husband and come back.”

After she replied that she did not have a husband, Jesus let her know:

“You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

Jesus knew this fallen woman had a series of broken relationships with men. We do not know if some died or if they left her. We do not know if she left them. We only know she had a string of husbands and was then living with a man not married. And yet Jesus spoke with her offering her eternal life.

She tried to change to subject by talking about where to worship. Jesus corrected her thinking about worship by saying:

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

The woman began to understand something about Jesus saying:

“I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

She wondered if he was the long awaited promised one from God- The Messiah.

Jesus confirmed it for her:

“I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

The woman became the first Samaritan to share with others about Jesus when she ran back to the village saying:

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 

No matter how far we have fallen in life, no matter what others think of us, Jesus loves us and will come to us just as he did the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus will give us relationship with him and eternal life if we will believe in him. We cannot earn it just as the Samaritan woman could not.

Not only that, Jesus will do his work through us just as he did with the Samaritan woman.