Scripture reading for May 25th: John 14:15-31
Jesus, knowing that a short time remained with the eleven remaining disciples, began to teach them about the Gift of the Father. He told them He would ask the Father to give them another Counselor like Him who would be with them forever. (John 14:16-17) This Counselor would be known as the Spirit of Truth who would live in them and those who would believe on account of their witness. Those in the world would not have this Gift or understand anything about Him.
This Counselor was not just a vague spirit, but a true person. This third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, was a special gift to Jesus’ disciples. He would be sent by the Father at Jesus’ request. He would help them by reminding them of everything that Jesus had taught them and then would teach them all things. These things Jesus instructed the disciples about so that they would have peace through the coming storm of events.
Jesus was prophesied to be the “Prince of Peace” and “Wonderful Counselor” by Isaiah. (Isaiah 9:6) Jesus’ teachings were marked by unusual wisdom and people everywhere marveled at His ability to speak like no one else. When Jesus had asked these disciples if they wanted to leave Him, Peter had spoken up that Jesus had words of eternal life and there was no one else like Him. (John 6:68)
As Jesus prepared to leave these men, He granted them His peace. This peace was beyond anything the world could offer. It was a supernatural peace granted by the only One who can give sinful humans peace with God through forgiveness of sins. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) He and they would soon face tremendous spiritual conflict with the ‘prince of this world’, Satan. Jesus assured them that this prince had no hold on Him. He was going to fully obey the Father and demonstrate that obedience to the world.
Do you live in this supernatural peace given by Jesus Christ? It is available today to those who follow Him and put their trust in His word. This peace comes with Jesus’ perfect love that drives out all fear and is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit!
Scripture reading for May 24th: John 13:31-14:14
“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for Me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.” ”A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:33-35)
Jesus knew that after Judas left to betray Him, the final hours had come. He reaffirmed to these faithful men that He was going away and that where He was going, they could not come now. He would be going to the cross, and willingly laying down His life. They had other things to do before they would also give their lives for the Gospel!
Jesus was emphatic about a new commandment that He was giving to them. The act of keeping this commandment would particularly mark them as Jesus’ disciples. It was not an optional requirement, but something that they must do as His disciples. This command was all about showing love for one another. Love is the fulfillment of God’s laws. Jesus was setting an example for them in showing love by laying His life down for them as well as for the sins of the whole world. He commanded them to learn to give this kind of self-sacrificing love to each other.
When we love someone with God’s love, we desire the very best for them. We consider them better than ourselves and act for their highest good. We speak truth to them and would never steal from them or lie to them. We would never stay angry with them without resolving the differences. We would never covet their property, power, or position, but would rejoice with them in the good things God had done for them. We would seek to bless them and encourage them to be all that God wants them to be and help them with needs. We would not compete with them, but would seek to help them be the best.
This kind of love marked Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It is the Father’s heart that His children have this love for each other. Do all men know that you are Jesus’ disciple because of your extravagant love?
Scripture reading for May 23rd: John 13:1-30
Sometimes it is hard to understand how God can love us who are such a mess. Jesus had quite an ordinary bunch of disciples that He had to love as well. They were competitive, impulsive, one betrayed Him, all would deny Him, and most of them struggled with understanding and believing what Jesus was teaching them. On the night He was betrayed, John records that Jesus revealed the full extent of His love to them.
“The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciple’s feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.” (John 13:2-5) Jesus, God in human form, humbly took the place of the lowest slave and knelt before each of those He had chosen. He gently washed their feet and carefully dried each one.
As Jesus came to Peter, Peter objected! Jesus told him that he would not understand what He was doing now, but later he would. Peter finally agreed and asked Jesus to wash all of him. Jesus finished washing all the feet and then put His robe back on and addressed the disciples.
“Do you understand what I have done for you?”, He asked them. “You call Me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, not is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:12-17)
Jesus was loving these disciples fully by showing them His heart and an example that would help them win the world. We who follow Jesus today are the result of their obedient service! Show someone the full extent of Christ’s love today by serving them!
Scripture reading for May 22nd: John 12:20-50
Jesus was in an intense spiritual battle with the prince of darkness as He approached the final days on earth. Many people had welcomed Him into Jerusalem crying “Hosanna” and great crowds looked for Him and many followed Him. The religious leaders were plotting His death and one of His own disciples was preparing to betray Him. He knew from His Father that He was to willingly lay down His life for His people and for the whole world.
A group of Greeks came to the disciples and wanted to see Jesus. “Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves Me.” (John 12:23-26) Jesus was saying that His time to die was near. Anyone wanting to follow Jesus, must be willing to follow Him, even to the point of giving up their life. Curiosity and commitment are two different things. The Father would honor commitment.
“Now My heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your Name!” As Jesus prayed, suddenly a voice from heaven spoke, ”I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (John 12:27-28) The Father had spoken to encourage those who were listening to His Son.
“Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:31-32) As Jesus was encouraged by His future glorification, He explained the purpose and manner of His death. He would be nailed to the cross and lay His life down while bearing man’s sins. Judgment would come on the world and the prince of this world, Satan, would be driven out! Death would be defeated and all men would be drawn to Jesus Christ!
Scripture reading for May 21st: John 11:54-12:19
Jesus’ miracle of raising Lazarus caused quite a stir! Many Jews who had come to comfort Mary and Martha believed in Jesus as the Christ. Others went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. The Sanhedrin was convened to discuss what to do with Jesus. These religious leaders were jealous and concerned that all the people would believe in Jesus and that this would stir up the Romans who would destroy their Temple and nation.
During the discussion, Caiaphas, the high priest spoke to the group. “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” (John 11:50) John recorded that this statement was a prophetic word that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation and for the other scattered children of God. This is how they came to the conclusion that they would seek to kill Jesus. (John 11:51-53)
It is interesting that Jesus’ greatest miracle brought the religious leaders together to kill Him. Caiaphas spoke prophetically, guided by God, to tell the plan of God for the Jewish nation and the world. Even though these men did not believe that Jesus was the Christ, God used their positions and authority to promote His plan of redemption!
Jesus again returned to Bethany six days before Passover and went to Lazarus’ home and ate with the family at a banquet in His honor. (John 12:1-2) Here He was anointed by Mary with expensive perfume. Jesus knew and stated that Mary did this to prepare Him for burial. A large crowd had come to see Jesus and Lazarus. This caused the chief priests to make plans to kill Lazarus too. They were worried about the many who were putting faith in Jesus and Lazarus’ miracle was drawing them!
Jesus’ entered Jerusalem the next day as the crowds welcomed Him with “Hosanna!”, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” and “Blessed is the King of Israel!” (John 12:13) John recorded that Jesus fulfilled Zechariah 9:9: “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” It is interesting that the religious leaders were oblivious to prophetic fulfillment, and worried, “Look how the whole world has gone after Him.” That was God’s plan from the beginning!
Scripture reading for May 20th: John 11:1-53
Death is something that we will all face, unless the Lord returns before we go through that experience. Death has swallowed nearly 100 percent of all human beings. The Bible records two in the Old Testament that did not see death: Enoch and Elijah. Several were raised from the dead in both the Old Testament and New Testament. One of the most notable is found in today’s reading in John Chapter 11: Lazarus!
Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha. Jesus often stayed at their house in Bethany, just a short walk from Jerusalem. Lazarus became sick and the family sent for Jesus to come. Jesus purposely waited two days before traveling to see him. Jesus had escaped stoning in that area right before this and the disciples were concerned about returning. Jesus told them that Lazarus had fallen asleep and that He was going to wake him up. The disciples did not understand that Lazarus had died so Jesus told them plainly. He would raise him up so that they would believe! (John 11:11-14)
When Jesus and the disciples arrived in Bethany, they found that Lazarus had been dead for four days. Mary and Martha and the community were grieving. Both Mary and Martha told Jesus that they knew that if He had been there, their brother would not have died. Jesus saw their grief and was deeply moved with compassion and troubled in His spirit. (John 11:33) Jesus began to weep Himself. Comments were made by many of the mourners concerning Jesus’ show of emotion. “See how He loved him!” and ”Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”(John 11:36-37)
As Jesus, deeply moved, came to the tomb, He commanded the stone be taken away from the entrance. Martha was concerned that there would be a bad odor from the decaying body. Jesus spoke: “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40) Jesus thanked the Father for hearing His petition, and then called out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11:43) Lazarus appeared, wrapped in grave clothes and strips of linen! What a sight to behold and what joy for those grieving! Jesus held power over death and still does! Be sure your name is in the Book of Life for a “wake-up” call!
Scripture reading for May 19th: John 10:22-42
Jesus had an ongoing debate with the Jews in religious leadership. There were some who believed in Him and there were others who wanted to kill Him. One of the main reasons that they wanted to kill Him was that they believed that He claimed to be God. Any man claiming to be God was blaspheming God in their eyes. The only one who wouldn’t, would actually be God!
“Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews gathered around Him, saying, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in My Father’s name speak for Me, but you do not believe because you are not My sheep. My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow Me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand. . . I and the Father are One.” (John 10:24-28,30)
Jesus had told them plainly on several occasions that He was one with the Father and that the miracles He did were from the Father. Here Jesus tells them to believe Him because of the miracles. Miracles were prophetically a mark of the Messiah, especially opening of blind eyes! (Isaiah 35:3-6) Jesus had just healed a man blind from birth. This had caused a great stir because He did this miracle on the Sabbath, violating the rules of the religious leaders. Their pride in their religious rules had kept them blind to Jesus as the Messiah!
Jesus returned to the sheep and shepherd illustration. He told these Jews that they did not listen to Him because they were not His sheep. His sheep would hear His voice and Jesus would give them eternal life. As a good Shepherd, no one would snatch them out of His hand. He was able to keep them from all harm! The reason was that Jesus and the Father were one! This sent these leaders into a rage and they picked up stones to stone Him. (John 10:31-32) Have you decided who Jesus is yet? Jesus has plainly spoken and the miracles He did are true. Will you worship Him or stone Him?
Scripture reading for May 18th: John 10:1-21
Jesus taught using illustrations that were familiar to the people of that day and time. One of the teachings recorded by John was that of the shepherd, sheep, and gate. Jesus used this illustration to help those understand that were teachable and to confound those who were convinced that He was demon possessed.
“The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” (John 10:2-5) Jesus told this story about the sheep and the shepherd to illustrate how a good shepherd and his flock relate to each other. The good shepherd of the sheep knows each one by name. He leads his sheep, he doesn’t drive them. They follow him because they know his voice and it is comforting to them. They run away from a stranger because the voice is not familiar.
“Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.” (John 10:7) The good shepherd, after gathering his sheep for the night, placed them inside a pen with one opening. This opening was the “gate” into the pen and the shepherd then laid down in the opening, becoming the gate or door to give access to the sheep. Jesus went on to tell them that only by entering through Him could they be saved. (John 10:9) Through Him they could go in and out and find safe pasture.
“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” …”I am the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me–just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father–and I lay down My life for the sheep.” Jesus further identified Himself as the Good Shepherd who would lay down His life to save and protect His sheep! Jesus would willingly do this because He loved the Father. Have you entered by the Gate who is the Good Shepherd? Jesus Christ is His Name!
Scripture reading for May 17th: John 9:1-41
The entire ninth chapter of John’s Gospel is dedicated to the story of a man blind from birth who was healed by Jesus. This man’s condition initially brought a question from the disciples, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:2-5)
Jesus said that in this instance, that the sins of this man and the parents did not enter into the cause of his condition. The common thinking of that day was that deformity or disability was caused by sin somehow and that God was punishing that person through that infirmity. Jesus simply stated that this condition was not to be judged, but that it was an opportunity to display God’s work of healing and restoration in his life. Every day we have here on earth should be an opportunity to glorify Jesus and do the work of reaching hurting people before darkness stops the work!
Jesus proceeded to spit on the ground and made some mud and put it on the man’s eyes. Some feel that this was a creative miracle in that Jesus here modeled the creation account. (Genesis 2:7) The man was told to go and wash in the pool of Siloam and he came back seeing!
This miracle caused much discussion in the community and the Temple with the religious leaders. They couldn’t believe that this was the man who sat and begged for years. The man recounted how Jesus did the miracle but the religious leaders were upset because it was a Sabbath when the healing took place. They insisted that Jesus could not be from God because of this! (John 9:16) Still others insisted that this Jesus must be a prophet, because no sinner could do these miracles.
Reasoning and argument will not solve the dilemma! “One thing I do know, I was blind but now I see.” (John 9:25) This man quit arguing and placed his trust in Jesus! (John 9:38) Isn’t it time for you to do the same?
Scripture reading for May 16th: John 8:31-59
“To the Jews who had believed in Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32-33) This simple statement by Jesus brought the discussion of who He was and who they were to a new level. To truly be a disciple of Jesus, each follower must hold to Jesus’ teaching. This teaching is ultimate truth that frees a person from sin and false religion. Every man is bound in his soul by lies and Jesus understood what was needed to be truly free. These Jews would need to face their own condition and come to grips with who they were really following.
The Jews who believed were offended that Jesus told them that they were slaves of sin. (John 8:34-35) They had believed that with Abraham as their father, they had an “in” with God. Jesus told them that their slavery to sin would keep them out of God’s family. It was only through a relationship with the Son that they could have adoption into God’s family. Jesus pointed out that they were trying to kill Him, something Abraham would never do. (John 8:37,40, 59)
“Why is My language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:43-44) Jesus plainly told them the truth about their inability to hear and their desire to kill Him. They were acting under the influence of the devil, who was their father!
This startling statement caused them to accuse Jesus of being demon possessed. Jesus told them He was not under the influence of a demon, but spoke truth to them that if they believed they would never die. (John 8:51) This again brought the crowd to the place where they wanted to stone Jesus. Jesus slipped away for it was not yet His time. Take a moment and examine your own heart. Are you believing in Jesus? It’s the only way to eternal life!