Give Us Barabbas

John 18:38-40

Pilate… …told them, “I find no case against him.  But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?”  They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.

I’ve been thinking about these verses a lot for the last few days.  Wednesdays I teach a small group of 5th through 7th graders at our church.  They’re a motley crew and I love them.  Lately, we’ve been reading through the last chapters in John.  We began in chapter 13 and last Wednesday we covered chapter 18.

These poor kids.  They range in age from 11 to 14 and every Wednesday for an hour they sit in a small, poorly ventilated room listening to me prattle on over my thoughts on the Bible.  I pity them.

But it’s pretty fun for me.  I enjoy discovering new perspectives I haven’t seen before while I’m studying the Word in order to prepare the lesson for the week.  I’ve probably read these chapters in John more than I’ve read any other part of the Bible simply because I’ve taught on it so many times now.  And it seems like each time I read them and teach on them I learn something new, see things in a new light.

This week it’s these last few verses in John 18.  “Give us Barabbas!”  I’ve stumbled onto something I hadn’t thought of before and I can’t seem to get my mind off of it.  If you decide to continue reading, you might find that my “revelation” is something you’ve always known and it’s no news to you.  You might become bored by my ramblings and need to yawn, causing you to stretch and uncontrollably smack your Great-Aunt Gertie in the kisser, dislodging her dentures and sending them flying across the room into the enormous cake your mother just so happens to be carrying at that precise moment, ruining Great-Uncle Bertie’s 92nd birthday.  Please know that if this happens, I apologize profusely and will reimburse your mom the cost of the cake.

Fingers crossed for no denture-cake disasters because I am about to proceed on my ramble and reveal to you my thoughts on John 18:38-40.

Ok.  Here goes:

Barabbas.  Verse 40 calls Barabbas a bandit in the New Revised Standard Version.  Others versions and verses call him a thief, a robber, a murderer.  In other words, scum.scum and villainy

Did the crowd outside Pilate’s headquarters really want Barabbas released to them?

I’m not gonna answer that question.  I’m gonna let you think about it while I ramble on some more and ask even more questions.

John 11:47-50

The chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, “What are we to do? This man is performing many signs.  If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.”  But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all!  You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.”

These verses from John 11 are now inextricably linked to John 18:38-40 in my mind.  I see the Pharisees in an entirely new light.  I’m gonna try to connect all the dots for you now, in a way that makes some sense, bear with me.bear with me

The hierarchy of the time was complex.  The Roman government had conquered Israel and though they ruled over them, they had not wiped out their culture.  In fact, the Jewish people were allowed to continue to carryout their customs and to worship in the temple.

Understanding this helps us get into the minds of the Pharisees and priests a little.

Going way back to the OT, we find that when God freed Israel from the rule of Pharaoh, he set up a form of government called a theocracy. God was Israel’s ruler. He chose a series of judges to be his voice to the people, judges like Moses, Joshua, Deborah and Samuel. Underneath them were the priests.

This system didn’t last though. All the neighboring nations had human kings as their ruler. And like any snot-nosed kid, Israel wanted what the other kids had, a human king. “But all the other kids have one!”

God warned the Israelites (1 Samuel 8) that they would regret having a king to rule over them, but what child listens to their father the first time? Samuel, God’s chosen judge, anointed Saul the first king of Israel.  And things went as expected.

Now, God was still sovereign but the people were led by the king.  If the king loved God, he followed his precepts and listened to his prophets and the nation prospered.  But many of the kings did not follow God.  They became envious of their neighbors and adopted their ways and followed their gods.  They lost God’s favor and protection.

Israel, once undefeated and mighty, was now brutally conquered and overthrown.  Carried off by their conquerors and living in foreign lands, they once again turned to God.  Eventually, they returned to the lands of Israel but nothing was ever the same again.

Now, in the time of Jesus they live under Roman rule.  Herod is the puppet “king”, born from the royal line but working for the Roman government.  Caesar is, of course, king of all Roman lands and has governors appointed to different parts of the land of Israel.  Pilate governs Jerusalem.

Underneath all that are the priests of the temple, the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  Herod may be “king” but he is little more than another Roman governor and lives a life of indulgence.  The priests are now the voice of God to the people of Israel.  Gone are the judges and prophets of old.  Now the people must rely on the Pharisees and Sadducees to interpret scripture and instruct.

And the Roman government relies on the priests to keep the people docile.  The priests are the mediators between the Roman government and the people.  They keep the peace.

And that leads us back to John 11…

John 11:47-50

The chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, “What are we to do? This man is performing many signs.  If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.”  But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all!  You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.”

The fear.  Who is this Jesus?

Rich Mullins said it best in a song (lyrics) he wrote just before his death:

Who is this guy?  He is disturbing the peace.

That’s the key, right there, you guys.  The fear.

They were afraid of what might happen.  They didn’t want to kill Jesus because they believed he was a fraud.  I’m not even sure some of them cared about that.  They wanted him dead because of what might happen.

In John chapter 3, Nicodemus, a Pharisee, comes to Jesus to have a talk.  He tells Jesus that the Pharisees know he is a teacher come from God.  Read that again.  They KNEW he was sent by God.  But what was he sent to do?  They didn’t know.  But they believed he was going to lead a revolt against the Romans and they could not allow that to happen.

Why???

I’ve read that the Pharisees made a handsome living keeping the peace between Rome and Israel.  So maybe they did not want to see the loss of income.  And that probably did play some part in it.

But I can’t escape something else.  This one thing: the fear.

What happened to their faith in Almighty God?  Israel had once been the mightiest nation on earth.  That certainly wasn’t due to Israel’s own strength or prowess.  God protected them in battle and made them victorious.  It was their own wanton ways that led to their defeat and capture in later years.  If they were really serving God as they claimed to be, wouldn’t God make them victorious in battle once again?  Where was their faith?

What if God had been calling Jesus to lead a revolt against the Romans?  If their faith was really in God, they would have been by Jesus’ side, ready to fight.  Isn’t that what they had been waiting for all of those centuries?  A messiah to save them from their captivity?  A new Moses to lead them out of a metaphorical Egypt?

“Surely this man Jesus is the prophesied messiah,” many would say.  But not the Pharisees.  They could not say it because of their fear.  They had lost faith in God to save them.

Which leads us to Barabbas and why I can’t stop thinking about him.

They chose Barabbas, a bandit, thief, robber, murderer, over Jesus because of fear.  And it is still happening today.

If you’re given the choice between Barabbas and Jesus and you choose Jesus, it changes everything.

Everything.

I don’t feel like I can stress enough that it changes everything.

Pilate, the Roman governor, will forever be asking everyone for all of time until the Lord Jesus returns to choose Jesus or Barabbas.

John 18:38-40

Pilate… …told them, “I find no case against him.  But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?”  They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.

He says, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?”  If we say yes, we are acknowledging that Jesus is, in fact, King of the Jews.  We are acknowledging more than that.  We acknowledging that Jesus was innocent the charges laid against him.  We are acknowledging that we believe the words Jesus spoke of himself.  We are putting our faith in Jesus.

Because that is what the Pharisees could not do.  Their fear overrode their faith.  They were too afraid to put their faith in Jesus and they were so afraid his teachings and miracles would lead to revolt that they needed him to die so they could alleviate their fears.

“Give us Barabbas!”  We would rather celebrate a murderer than put our faith in Jesus.  Faith in Jesus means real life change.  I meant a real life change for the Pharisees and it means a real life change today.  Faith in Jesus is dangerous because there is no way to know where it will lead.  Once we put our faith in him, we lose control.  And control is precious to us.

The Pharisees didn’t want to lose control and we don’t want to lose control.  We would rather crucify Jesus, or invalidate him, mythologize him, and destroy his reputation, than lose our control, our power over our own lives.

We live in absolute fear.

No one calls it fear.  No one will ever admit they are afraid.  But we are.  We are afraid of Jesus and his power.  And we must destroy that which we fear.

“Give us Barabbas!” is the cry of our modern society.  I see it everywhere.  But it is a cry that has rung out through the centuries, echoing in every culture since it was first uttered at the feet of Pilate.  And the Pilates of our modern society continue to acquiesce.  “I will give you Barabbas, a murderer and thief, because that is what you want and I will crucify Jesus because that is what you want.”

Society continues to this day to cry out, “Do not give us Jesus!  We do not want to submit to him.  We do not want to put our faith in God.  We want to be in control!  We want to be our own gods.  We want Barabbas because in him we see beauty.  In Barabbas we see a man who does what he wants and makes a name for himself and that is praiseworthy to us.  Fame, power, control, narcissism – these are the traits we respect, give us these!  But do not give us Jesus because he requires too much.  Kill him, slander him, make him of no repute.  If he is a liar, we don’t have to give account for ourselves.  So make him a liar.  And give us Barabbas.”

barabbas-lestai

John 17

Wednesday nights my husband Nick and I teach the youth group at our church.  He takes the older kids, 8th grade through 12th, and I take the younger ones, 5th through 7th.  The group is called Journey Youth.  It’s lit, fam.  (Youth culture forever!)

Anywho, I’ve been taking my kids through the last chapters in the book of John.  We started in John 13.  Tonight I taught on John 17.  This is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  Jesus, with full knowledge that he is about to be arrested and executed for crimes he did not commit, does something extraordinary and beautiful.

He prays.

That’s not the extraordinary part.  Praying is common.  Praying is something everyone has done.  What is extraordinary is WHAT he prays.

Because he doesn’t spend his time praying for help or bargaining with God.  Instead, he prays for his disciples and… he prays for us.

I submit to you now, my notes from tonight’s lesson.  Maybe you’ll see what I see in this beautiful prayer.  Maybe it will change your life like it did mine so many years ago.  Maybe you’ll see the God of mercy and love that I see.  Maybe.  I pray.

jesus-praying-10-7-13

So, without further ado, John Chapter Seventeen:

John 17

1 After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,

The hour has come… Jesus knows it is time for him to go to the cross.

Glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you… How will God glorify Jesus?  And how will it glorify God?  God glorifies Jesus by sending him to the cross.  This doesn’t sound very glorifying.  This sounds humiliating.  This sounds painful.  When we think of glory, a painful, humiliating death does not sound like glory.  But remember what Jesus says in John 12.

John 12:32 – And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

Jesus knew that even though his death would be painful and humiliating, ultimately it would draw people to him.  So even though a death such as the one Jesus had does not sound glorifying, Jesus knew that the results would bear much fruit.  And when people were drawn to Jesus they would see the truth of who and what God is and he would be glorified as well.

1 John 4:8 – Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.

John, the same John who wrote the book of John, also wrote 3 letters in the New Testament called First John, Second John and Third John.  Here we see in 1 John evidence of how Jesus’ death glorified God.  We see this new understanding of God, that God is love.  No longer is God viewed as a wrathful judge, but now a God of mercy and love.  Jesus’ death and resurrection revealed God’s plan for humanity and we could finally understand just how much he loves us.

So here in John 17:1 we see Jesus acknowledging that it is time to fulfill his mission and reveal to the world God’s plan of redemption and love:  “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you.”

2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 

 You have given him authority over all people… God has given Jesus authority over everyone.

To give eternal life to all whom you have given him… Jesus was given the authority to give eternal life to all the people given to him by God.

So the important question is, “Am I one of those people?  Have I been given to Jesus by God?  Have I been given eternal life?”

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

 The word “believes” here isn’t the same kind of believes like “I believed in fairies when I was a kid” or like “I believe that Russia exists because I’ve seen pictures”.

 It’s the greek word “pisteuo” (pist-yoo-o) And it means you put your faith in, entrust yourself to, commit yourself to…

We could then rephrase John 3:16 to say:  For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who commits themselves to him may not perish but may have eternal life.

How do we know if we are one of Jesus’ people and have eternal life?  The answer is found in this question: have you put your faith in him, entrusted yourself to him, and committed yourself to him?  If the answer is yes, then you have eternal life.

So what is eternal life?  This question used to keep me up at night.  I used to really suffer and worry over the question: Why were we created and what does eternal life look like? But then one day I discovered John 17:3 and it completely changed my outlook on Christianity and what it means to be alive.

3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 

IT’S SO SIMPLE!  Eternal life is knowing God and Jesus.  We were made to know him and we will spend eternity coming to know all about him.  That is eternal life!  It’s not sitting on a fluffy white cloud playing a harp.  It’s not running around heaven trying to find all our ancestors who died before us.  It’s having a real relationship with God and finding out everything about him.

And this verse proves something really important guys!

God wants to be known!

We spend our time saying things like, “God works in mysterious ways.”  Or “God is unknowable, his ways are too great for me.” Or “God is a mystery.”  But the truth is, God doesn’t want to stay hidden.  He wants to be known.  It’s part of the plan.  All those pesky questions you have about life and why things are the way they are, God wants you to have your answers.  He wants you to understand him. He wants to be known.

When we commit ourselves to Jesus, like it says in John 3:16, we begin the adventure of discovering God and knowing him.  Eternal life doesn’t start when you die.  It started the nanosecond you committed yourself to knowing Jesus as your savior.

If we are doing this thing called Christianity “right” then we are spending our time seeking God and trying to know him, just as Jesus said in John 17:3.  Eternal life is knowing God.  And it begins now.

 4 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5 So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do… Jesus glorified God by doing his work on earth and becoming the sacrificial lamb that would save us from our sins.

So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed…  Soon after Jesus’ resurrection he ascends into heaven where he will sit at the right hand of God and await his triumphant return to earth, he’ll once again be a king and retain the position he had before the world was created.

That’s one possible interpretation of those words.

 Here’s another:

Revelation 13:8 calls Jesus:  “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”  So “the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed” could be referring to this truth, that Jesus was chosen to be slain before God and Jesus ever created the earth.

Either way, Jesus is telling God that he is ready to die.  He is ready to be the lamb.  He is ready to pay for our sins.

It was time for the plan of God for love and redemption carefully crafted before the earth was created to be realized.

6 “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world… Jesus preached the truth about God to the disciples (which God gave to him).

They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word… The disciples that followed Jesus have kept God’s word.

Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me… Jesus taught the disciples only the words that God gave him and the disciples had received them completely and believed that Jesus came from God.

There were more than 12 people who followed Jesus during his 3 years of ministry.  The Bible says that multitudes followed him to hear him preach and to see him perform miracles.

There were more than 12 disciples too.  Luke 10 tells us that at one point Jesus sent out 70 disciples to preach and pray for people.

So what made those 12 11, that Jesus is praying for, so special?

Jesus said it in those verses: they REALLY believed.  They weren’t just followers or fans or curious.  They were DISCIPLES.  Students who wanted to become like their teacher.  And these disciples were the ones who really believed that Jesus really was the Son of God.

Really.

9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.

I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me… Jesus isn’t just praying a blanket prayer to cover everyone “just in case”.  He is specifically praying for the ones that God gave him, those who really believe in him.

And this is what he is praying for them:

 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 

He is praying for their protection.  He asks God to protect them for a specific reason, though.  That we may be one as God and Jesus are one.

So what does it mean to “be one”?  Unity.  Love.  Grace.

Chew on this:

Ephesians 4:1-6

1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

This is what it means to “be one”.  It means unity, love, patience, gentleness, humility, etc.

Does “being one” mean you always agree?  No.  But it means when there are disagreements among believers, they are handled with care, love and empathy.  It means putting others first.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Serve.

Human nature is selfish, prideful and unkind.  And Jesus knew this.  He knew that we’d struggle to be in unity with other believers.  But he prayed that we would “be one” because he knew that when we committed ourselves to him, it was possible to change us into selfless, humble, kind people who put others first.

 12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

Why did he say “do not belong to the world”?  Who or what do they belong to then?  They belong to God.

He said the world hated them because they do not belong to the world.  Is it any wonder that our current society tends to despise Christians?

 1 Corinthians 1:18 

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

It is foolishness to them.  We seem like idiots to the world.  Backwards, superstitious, ignorant and foolish.  They don’t even understand what they hate about us either.  And unless God reveals himself to them, our clever arguments will not work.  If you can talk someone into belief in God then someone else can talk them out of it.  They have to have an encounter with God for themselves.  And until they do, they will hate us and never know why.

 15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

 Again, Jesus asks his Father to protect us from the evil one.  Does that mean that if something bad happens in your life that God has let you down and is no longer protecting you from the evil one?

Think about this:

 Matthew 9:1-8

1 So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. 2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”  3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?  5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 7 And he arose and departed to his house.  8 Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.

 What do we see in this story?  A heartless Jesus who doesn’t heal the poor guy until everyone freaks out?  Or a loving Lord who knows that the condition of our hearts is exceedingly more important than the condition of our bodies?

Bad stuff happens, guys.  It always has and it always will until Jesus returns.  How we deal with it is what matters.  Jesus was praying that God would protect his disciples’ hearts from the evil one, not necessarily their lives.  After all, most of the disciples died in the name of Jesus, being killed for what they preached.

 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

 Sanctify them in the truth… What does that even mean????  What does sanctify mean?!?!?!?!?

Sanctify means to make holy, purify, consecrate.

 Hebrews 10:10 – …We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

 Jesus death on the cross is what sanctifies us or “makes us holy, purifying us”.

Does that mean when we become Christians that God taps us on the head with a magic wand saying, “Poof, now you’re holy” and you never sin again? No.

In Romans 7, Paul the apostle talks about an inner conflict that believers go through.  He says in verse 15, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

Paul clearly expresses in Romans 7 the struggle that believers go through, trying to follow God’s Spirit but getting tripped up by our human nature to sin.

Sanctification doesn’t mean “I’m holy now so if I commit a sin that must mean I don’t really love God.”

Jesus said, “Sanctify them in your truth, your word is truth.”  That means he is using his word and his spirit to make us holy.  It’s going to take time.  We’re going to mess up.  But… It. Is. A. Process.  It’s not going to happen overnight.

God gives us grace.  Does that give us a free pass to Sin Town, USA?  Nah, bro.  It means were incredibly loved.  And we need to get right back up on that horse and try again.

Jesus asked God to sanctify us in God’s truth which is his word.  We should expect that if we are committed to Jesus, our desires will change over time.  Maybe not all at once.  But as we grow in the Lord and as we embrace his word, it will change us, making us more holy.

Because of Jesus death, we are already holy in the sight of God but the process of getting us to match up with what God sees will be something we experience our whole lives.

Imagine you’re looking at an old photo of yourself.  You no longer look that way.  Time has changed you, aged you, helped you grow.  But the process of going from young you to older you took time, pain, hard work, life.  It’s the same for sanctification.  As you grow in Christ, you will change and you won’t look the same from year to year.

 20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word,

 This is us.  This is the verse where we find out that Jesus hasn’t just been praying for those 12 disciples this whole time.  But he’s been praying for all believers.  Those who will believe in me through their word

If you believe in Jesus because of the word that the disciples preached then this verse is talking about you.  And now you can point to this verse, John 17:20, and tell everyone that you are in the Bible.

 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 

So that the world may believe that you have sent me… How is Jesus revealed to the world?  How will people know who he really is?

That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us… Jesus is revealed to the world when WE ARE ONE.

Remember this?

 Ephesians 4:1-6

1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

It is through love, patience, kindness, humility, etc. that Jesus is revealed to the world.  Not through our perfectly crafted arguments and speeches.  Not through viral videos or powerful songs.  These things can point to Jesus but they don’t reveal him.  He is only revealed to the world when we ARE CHANGED BY HIM.

That change reveals the power of God because if God could change a sinner like you, there must be more going on than I realize.

This is why we must begin seeking for God to change us and seeking to walk in the kind of love and unity that Jesus is praying about here.

 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one… We are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus dwells in our hearts right now.  And his greatest desire is for us to “be one” with each other and with God.  He is drawing us into himself so that we may be sanctified (made holy) and through that we will become one (united, loving, humble).

This is how God is revealed to the world.

 24 Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am… Where is Jesus?  Current location: God’s throne room.

There are many layers of meaning to that phrase “with me where I am” but we’re only going to talk about one layer, the one that matters to us right now, at this very moment: Jesus wants to be one with us.  He wants that unity, love and relationship.  That is the layer we need to focus on.

The other layers of meaning laced in this phrase?  When is Jesus returning?  Who is sitting with him in God’s throne room right now?  Who stayed with him when he went to the cross? These are not the questions we need to worry about right now.  Only this: are we seeking unity with Jesus?  Do we want to be one?

So that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them… Jesus’ greatest desire, that we know God and his love.  That we may be one.

Take this with you:

Accept that God loves you and wants to be known by you.  This is eternal life and it began when you committed yourself to Jesus.

So did sanctification, the process of being made holy.  God is sanctifying you by his truth, which is his word.

And when that love changes you and you walk in oneness with God and other believers, Jesus is revealed to the world.

~~~~~

Okay, that’s it.  All my notes from our lesson.  I hope you got something out of it.

 

 

 

Yeastie Beasties and Love Babies! Skadoosh!

Jesus said to them, “Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
– Matthew 16:6

I think there are probably a lot of unhealthy teachings out there that would pass for the yeast of the P’s and S’s. Not too long before Jesus gave this warning to the disciples he said this to the Pharisees and scribes:

You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.'”
– Matthew 15:7-9

queen-elizabeth-horrified-2Are we teaching our human precepts as doctrine?!?!? I’m horrified *whisper voice* because I think we are.

I’m not gonna really go into what I think these “human-precepts-come-doctrines” are because that would just be me turning my ideas into doctrine and the vicious cycle would continue.

But Jesus said something else to the P’s and S’s, said it more than once even, that I feel is a pretty good gauge for measuring our “awesome” doctrines against.

Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
– Matthew 9:13

But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.
– Matthew 12:7

Everyone knows what Matthew 22:36-40 says… (but just in case you don’t or you forgot, here it is)

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
– Matthew 22:36-40

So it’s pretty obvious that love is really important to God. It’s kind of the point, I guess. So, maybe, remembering that God desires for us to show one another mercy even more than he desires a sacrifice, is important too.

Love and mercy should be our yardstick. We’re supposed to love one another.

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
– John 13:34-35

And if we need a refresher course on what love is (in case we start thinking that our horrid behavior is actually just ‘tough love’), it’s right here in 1 Corinthians 13:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Here’s a little ditty I wrote that I like to call “The Love Chapter“.

 

You can find it here too: Kachow!

20140806-131456-47696018.jpgMy daughters and I memorized those verses together and we say them every night as a prayer at bedtime.  And when they are fighting I totally hold those verses over them.  (Cause that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Lol.)  Really, I just remind them what the verses say and ask them if they were being very loving towards their sister or their friends.  Guess what?  It works every time.

I think we all need a DAILY reminder of what love is and that God desires mercy from us.  So let’s be merciful.  Let’s measure our awesome doctrines against love and mercy and see if they measure up.  If they don’t, they might just be yeastie beasties and not love babies.

 

I love You, Jesus.

The point of all creation, life, existence, etc. is this: to know God and be known by Him.  It is why you and I were created, why the earth was formed, why the wind blows and the sun rises.

It is too easy as a “Christian” to forget this (or not even really know it to begin with).  I can say from personal experience that I was a Christian long before I understand this foundational truth.  I believed in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  I believed in His love for me and that my sins were paid for on Calvary.  But I was constantly puzzling over why people were created in the first place.  For a very long time all of my bible studies revolved around this one unanswered question.  It was years before I discovered the verse that forever changed my life and understanding of my relationship with Abba Father.

And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent

– John 17:3

In Strong’s Greek Lexicon this word know is actually “ginóskó”.  It means to know, especially through personal experience (first-hand acquaintance).  Another place it can be found in Luke 1:34:

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

That’s some serious intimacy right there.  We’re not just talking about having some information about God or being buddies.  We’re talking about a deep, abiding friendship that will last for eternity.  I don’t know about you but I’ve never had a friendship last for all eternity.

Some days the beauty of what God has done overwhelms me so much that I cannot read a single word from the bible without crying.  Other days, of course, I’m a mere mortal and forget to read my bible all day long.  But my favorite thing right now is that this reality of why we were created has been rocking my soul lately.  I can’t let it go.

I’ve believed a lot of things over the years.  I’ve said A LOT of stuuuuupid things over the years.  I’ve been prideful, arrogant, misguided.  I’ve jumped the gun, spoken out of turn and put my foot in my mouth like it was a gourmet meal.  But if I can just lay hold of this TRUTH: Father God wants me to know His heart and for me to share my heart fully with Him…  If I can really and truly walk in this, seeking and desiring His presence above all things it will change my life.

This is the word for my life today:

20140210-231019.jpg

I want to set my spirit on seeking His presence daily, set my mind on His Kingdom and begin to treat my body as the gift that it is.  Some of this is going to be easy.  A lot of it is going to be hard.  I make no promises, swear no oaths and make no vows.  I just want to love my Father more every day and to hear Him speak to me in my heart.

I love You, Jesus.