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Posted By Nan

John 13:21-38
When I read this I imagined what it must have been like for the disciples. These verses are so alive with the disciples’ confusion.
They are happily sitting at a table at what must seem like the culmination of an amazing week. Last Sunday Jesus rode on a donkey through a large crowd of people praising Him. It seemed things were finally moving. Okay, so the foot washing at the start of the meal was a little disconcerting, but Jesus gave such an amazing instruction about serving others. Great stuff! So things started to become a little unsettling when Jesus announced someone was going to betray Him. However He followed this with some rousing words about whoever accepts anyone He sends accepts Him and, by accepting Him, accepts God. Amazing! It feels like History is being made at this meal.
So then Jesus had to remind them that someone in the room was going to betray Him. No! It can’t be!
The disciples ask John to find out who it is, after all Jesus won’t refuse him. Jesus doesn’t disappoint. He tells John it will be the one he gives the dipped bread to. So Judas receives the bread and leaves the room. No! It can’t be! Judas is in charge of the money. Jesus must be sending him on an errand.
Suddenly the wonderful meal is becoming extremely unsettling.
However, Judas has gone and Jesus gets back to the good bits. He is telling the disciples that the Son of Man is now glorified and God is glorified in Him. Wow! This is what they have been waiting to hear!
Jesus continues to tell them that He will be with them only a little while longer and they will not be able to find Him, despite looking for Him. They cannot come where He is going.
This is still on the right track, but there is more. Now Jesus gives them a new command to love one another as He has loved them. This is how people will know they are His disciples. Things can’t get much better surely.
Then Peter asks Jesus: “Where are you going?”
Jesus tells Peter that he will be able to follow Jesus there later, but not now.
Peter replies: “Why can’t I? I would lay down my life for you?”
Things are getting serious, and very unsettling. But it gets worse.
Jesus replies to Peter that before the rooster crows he will disown Jesus three times.
The euphoria of the evening is now gone. Peter is distressed, the rest of the disciples are distressed.
Jesus is not finished yet. In the next blog I will continue to relate what happened that night as recorded by John.
Reading this I thought about the times in my life when everything seems to be going right. I have it all worked out in my mind and I am already there putting my feet up at the place I have decided my current story is leading. But that is not always where I end up. So often I rush ahead to complete the story before it has played out. We all do it. We raise our hopes on things we believe are going to happen and then feel crushed when they don’t happen. We get upset with God and demand to know why He let us down. The truth is He hasn’t let us down. We let ourselves down by rushing ahead to finish the story in the way we think it should finish. The trouble is, God had a different ending for the story. Just like the disciples, we can raise our hopes and see them dashed. In truth we are just like Peter. He was so keen to support Jesus, but the truth was that he had written the ending of the story in his way, not God’s way, and he ended up betraying Jesus three times before He understood not to rush ahead of God.

 
Posted By Nan

John 13:21

I am looking at this verse today from the perspective of the statement that Jesus was “troubled in spirit”. This verse is very significant, and I have spent some time over the past few weeks meditating on it and considering its meaning. For me reading it, this is significant. Jesus was facing a terrible week, more terrible than most of us will ever be forced to experience. He had always known about this and often spoken of it, but I imagine seeing the reality so close (by this stage it was the next day) would have been troubling. He was still flesh and blood. He would still suffer unendurable pain and humiliation. But another thing He would suffer would be betrayal. I wonder if that was more troubling than the pain and humiliation? Certainly, the fact that Jesus was troubled in spirit was tied to the statement that one of them would betray Him. How many of you have been betrayed by someone? How many of you have been betrayed by someone you trusted? It is bad enough being betrayed by another person, but when that person is someone you trust, it is terrible. Although Jesus was aware of the fact that Judas would do this, that did not reduce the feeling of betrayal and hurt He would have been feeling. I also think He would have been feeling sadness for what Judas would suffer as a consequence of betraying Jesus. After all, Jesus came to die for all mankind, not just those who would believe in Him. Just as God loves us all, so Jesus loves all. Every person who dies unsaved is a tragedy for God, and His son Jesus.

 
Posted By Nan

John 13:20
Jesus continued:
“Whoever accepts anyone I send” He told them, “accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me”.
That is pretty straightforward. Jesus sends people and we should accept them. If we reject them, we reject Jesus. If we accept Jesus, we accept God and if we reject Jesus, we reject God.

There are many times when I have given a message from God and it has been rejected. On those occasions my Heavenly Father has reminded me that, in rejecting the message He directed me to give, they have rejected Him and it is God they will have to answer to.
Running throughout the Bible, including the Old Testament, are instances where prophets sent by God were rejected. 1 Kings 19, 22:1-28, Jeremiah 36-38 are some examples of how the prophets of God were treated. Of course the gospels all end with the rejection of Jesus. Further in the New Testament we see evidence of the persecution of the Apostles and others of faith. However, before you think that it was only the Jews of the Bible who persecuted God’s messengers, look to the history of the Christian Church. Persecution of God’s messengers has continued throughout history and continues today.
Are we any different when we reject the person who gives us a message from God, be it personal or in a church? We should react to the message by seeking God in prayer to authenticate the message. If we deny the genuine messages from God who are we rejecting? We deny the messages we don’t like and accept the ones we want. Usually the ones we want are the ones that are from other men, not from God.
Another thing this verse indicates to the disciples, and to those of us who are disciples today, is that we are to be God’s messengers to the world. So there are two things we need to be mindful of. The first is that we need to be careful to not reject God’s messages. The second is that we need to be ready to give God’s messages to whomever He directs.
So be like Jeremiah, fearless in giving God’s message no matter the cost, and not like his persecutors, who rejected God’s message and paid the price.

 
Posted By Nan

John 13:19
The Passover feast is still going and Jesus is teaching His disciples some final things. In verse 19 He tells His disciples that He is telling them what is to come so that when it does happen they will believe that He is who He says He is.
What struck me reading this today was the lengths Jesus went to to communicate with His disciples. He didn’t just leave them to guess or try to work it out. He kept them fully informed. They did not necessarily understand everything He said, but it would have been a challenge for anyone to understand what Jesus was about to do. For us, with all the knowledge we have, it seems easy. But for the disciples who did not have the benefit of foreknowledge, it was confusing. To the best of their ability they sought to understand Jesus’ words.
The word that struck me as I read this, and considered what God was revealing, was “communication”. It is important we communicate with others. The gospels are full of Jesus’ open and honest communication. Often that communication fell on unlistening ears, or was not understood by those listening. But He still communicated.
God gives us the responsibility to communicate with one another. We have the responsibility to give the communication; the one we communicate with has the responsibility to listen. When we are meant to be the listener, the responsibility for listening falls on us. So much conflict exists in this world because of poor communication. This should not be a hallmark of Christians. Our communication should be open, honest and transparent. We should not be keeping “secrets”, or using knowledge to exert power over others. We should freely and openly communicate. This is particularly pertinent when sharing knowledge about Jesus. Jesus came to earth and spoke freely to all who would listen. Sometimes, particularly in His early ministry when He was training His disciples for service, He would explain things more fully to them. However, even those words became readily available when the gospels were written.
When Christians come together to worship there should be no secrets. There should be no secret rituals; no hidden knowledge only accessed by a chosen few. Jesus came to earth to make the truth about Himself available to all. It is our responsibility as Christians to ensure that truth is never hidden from anyone.

 
Posted By Nan

Psalm 22
I am pausing in my study of John to consider an important point. As Christians we are often admonished to be happy. There is the implication that if we are not always happy, then we are not believing in Jesus enough. Yet the gospels are full of times when Jesus was not happy. There are references to Jesus crying, as when Lazarus died (John 11:35), and Him being “troubled in spirit (Luke 22:42-25, Mark 14:32-36). The Psalms are excellent examples of people being far from happy. David was considered so righteous that God set David’s throne as the eternal throne and sent His son to earth to be of David’s line. Yet the Psalms are full of David feeling despair and unhappiness. God did not chastise him for this. He listened.
Where people get confused is that they believe being in God’s rest and peace means they will always be happy, yet peace does not automatically mean happiness. Paul is one who was often in terrible situations, yet he was not always happy, but he did make the correct response to God. He gave thanks in all situations (1 Thessalonians 5:18). If you read the Psalms, you will see that no matter how great David’s despair, he always praised God for who He was. He did that, not because God had delivered him from his troubles, but because of who God was. It helped him to know that peace that God gives, but it did not make him happy.
Life is about the highs and the lows and the extremes of emotion. Jesus certainly demonstrated those during his time on earth. None was so great as during the final hours as he prayed in Gethsemane, was beaten horribly, and died on the cross. He frequently suffered from the anguish of the knowledge of what He must go through once His time had come. He dealt with this by acknowledging that He was troubled and spending time with God in prayer.
If we are not honest about our feelings, and do not allow ourselves to experience all the extremes of human existence, how will be ever experience the joy of God? Do not allow yourself to be told by the ignorant that a Christian is a failure if they experience sadness, despair, depression, and other extremes of sorrow. If you do not experience the sadness, you will never experience the joy, elation, extreme happiness of existence either.
God gave you the extremes of emotion. So welcome them, experience them, use them to grow you in your faith and as a person and remember. In all circumstances give thanks. So the next time you feel really said, acknowledge you are feeling that way, praise God for His greatness and experience the emotion.

 


 
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Nan
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