An Answer to Two Questions

In John 14:1-11 Jesus gives an answer to two questions (really a question and a request). The questions flow out of troubled hearts. The disciples had reason to be troubled. They had left their previous occupations and had become followers of Jesus. Now they had heard him talking about leaving, and their not being able to follow, at least not right away. They had heard Jesus speak of being betrayed, and that Peter would deny him. The comforting admonition to let not your hearts be troubled is a command to stop being troubled, not simply a suggestion to calm people not to start worrying.

You face your own questions growing out of the troubles in your life. Jesus’ words are addressed to you and to me. The comfort he provides lies in his instruction to believe (or trust) in God and to trust in him. Notice that the imperative has an ongoing force, keep on trusting. The emphasis on believing continues to run through the answers to the questions as well as Continue reading “An Answer to Two Questions”

How Does the World Recognize You?

Is there something that we as a small congregation can do to make an impact on our community? How can we reach out effectively? Jesus, as recorded in John 13:31-38, gives you a simple yet powerful way of letting people know that you are his disciples. He commands you to love one another.

This is an old commandment, but it is also new. Leviticus 19:18 instructs you to love your neighbor as yourself, a commandment that Jesus repeated as part of the summary of the Law of God. Yet, what he commands his disciples and you is new. The standard is new. The measure is not just love as you love yourself, but love as Christ loved you. Further, in sending his Son, God enables you to obey. “The ‘newness’ in the commandment lies fundamentally in the new possibility that the commandment has acquired because God has, as it were, set the sending of his Son behind the commandment, thus making it fulfillable, as Paul puts it in Ro. 8:3ff.” (Herman Ridderbos, The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary, p. 477).

Not only is Christ’s love the measure for the love you are to show, but your ability to love grows out of his work. Continue reading “How Does the World Recognize You?”

Betrayal!

As you trace the journey of Dante, the great Italian poet, in the Inferno, the first book of his trilogy, you find him, led by Virgil, descending deeper and deeper into hell. At the lowest point, at the very center of hell, being eternally consumed by a three-headed Satan, you find Judas, together with Brutus and Cassius, the betrayers and murderers of Julius Caesar. The Apostle John (John 13:18-30) cannot mention Judas without describing him as the one who betrayed Jesus. Is the sin of Judas simply treachery, which would make him parallel to other betrayers? What if there is something unique Continue reading “Betrayal!”

The Order of the Towel

What is real, genuine love? If you want to know, look at Jesus as he picks up a towel, recorded in John 13:1-17. I wish I could claim originality for the title, but remember that Jesus, in taking the towel himself, summons you to join the order of the towel.

Jesus shows the full extent of his love–by taking up a towel. Washing his disciples’ feet showed that his time had come to leave the world and return to his Father. He is showing them the path that will lead to his glory. His going to the Father includes taking off his outer garments, wrapping on a towel, and humbly washing feet–just as it will involve being beaten, crucified, and mocked. Going to his Father means doing his Father’s will–and so he does it, doing the humble work of a slave, the task that not one of the disciples had been willing to lower himself to undertake.

Self-conscious of who he is and of his role, he loves his disciples to the end. The term reflects the extent of his love and has a temporal Continue reading “The Order of the Towel”