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Apr 30 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 28, 2019


Luke 10:21-24; 22:31-32 and John 17:1-9

Intro: Today it will feel like we’re moving backwards in time

Last week we jumped to the end of John’s gospel, because it was Easter Sunday
– today we return to night of Jesus’ arrest prior to his crucifixion
• think of what we are doing this way:
◦ some films include flashbacks to events that occurred prior to the current period
◦ flashbacks supply explanations or fill in important details
• so this week and next, will be like flashbacks for us
◦ scenes of events leading up to Jesus’ resurrection
– the “Church Calendar” is an ancient tradition
• it divides the year into seasons attached to specific events
◦ it also provides daily scripture reading to keep those events in mind
• according to the Church Calendar Easter is not a day but a season
◦ it goes from Easter Sunday up to Pentecost Sunday
◦ so it is fitting to return to the cross and resurrection during this “season”

Jesus and his disciples are on their way out of Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives
– they have not yet crossed the valley that separates the two mounts
• Jesus has said all he had to say to them
• now he concludes his final teaching with a prayer
– there is too much to his prayer to go over in detail this morning
• it is like the entire gospel has been compressed into one chapter
• find a time when you can come back to it and read it slowly

There is nothing like this prayer in the Synoptic gospels

We know Jesus prayed – and he prayed a lot (especially in Luke’s gospel)
– he sometimes prayed for his disciples
• as when he chose the twelve to be his apostles (Lk. 6:12-13)
• he also prayed specifically for Peter (Lk. 22:31-32)
– but except for once when he praised God and then in Gethsemane,
• the Synoptic gospels did not record the contents of his prayer
• even though he taught the the disciples to pray,
◦ and even told them what to request,
◦ the words of his prayers are not reported in Matthew, Mark, or Luke

John takes us into this particular prayer of Jesus
– and doing so, he takes us deep into the heart of Jesus
• he allows us to eavesdrop
• to hear what were Jesus’ concerns in this last hour with the disciples

Key themes from the story of Jesus appear in this prayer

For example:
Jesus frequently addresses God as “Father”
(also, “Holy Father” in verse 11 and “Righteous Father” in verse 25)
Jesus again refers to his “hour”
– this first instance was to his mother, My hour has not yet come (Jn. 2:4)
– but now his the hour has come (Jn. 17:1)
Related to his hour is glory
(and that he glorified the Father and the Father glorifies him)
– from beginning of John, God’s glory has to do with his self-revelation
◦ this is how God had manifested himself to Moses (Ex. 33:18; 34:5-7)
◦ and his presence to Israel (Ex. 16:6-10)
– in John, this is how God manifests himself to the world through Jesus
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14)
– in regard to Jesus’ glory, John sees through the Synoptic vision of cross
– he sees the suffering and shame, but he also sees beyond that
Andreas Kostenberger tells us that in Mark’s gospel “the cross is . . . a place of shame, humiliation, and suffering for Jesus”
◦ the soldiers mocked him, the priests mocked him,
◦ bystanders mocked him, even the thieves next to Jesus mocked him
Kostenberger says, however, that in John, “the cross is . . . the place where Jesus will be glorified,” and he explains that “John enlists Isaiah to show that, contrary to the world’s perspective, the cross was not in fact a place of dishonor, humiliation, and shame, but instead constituted the location where Jesus was exalted for his willingness to die for the sins of the world as the lamb of God and obedient Son of the Father.”
Eternal life
Believing and knowing (Jn. 17:8, 21 and 23)
The world
– as a force of resistance and persecution
– in verse 9, Jesus said his prayer was not for the world
◦ at least not at this point
◦ however, he does not exclude the world from his prayer
◦ reaching it is his end goal
The oneness of all his followers
– a oneness he shares with his Father and with us (Jn. 17:21-23)

Jesus also covers:
The past:
I have manifested your name
I have given them the words
I have guarded them
I have sent them into the world
The present:
I am praying for them
I am no longer in the world
I am coming to you
I am not of the world
The future:
keep them in your name
keep them from the evil one
sanctify them
– that his followers will be with him
– and he prays for those who in the future will come to believe in him

A chain is formed from these themes in Jesus’ prayer

For example, his glory
– verses 1-5, the Father shares it with his Son, Jesus
– verse 22, Jesus shares it with his disciples
– verse 23, the disciples reflect it to the world
God the Father to Jesus — Jesus to his apostles — the apostles to the world
– the same chain is formed with:
• the Father’s name (v. 11), and words (v. 8)
• the Father sending Jesus into world (v. 18)
– Jesus includes in his prayer, every link in the chain
• through the centuries, all the way down to us

Now that we’ve seen some features of prayer, I have a confession

Reading through this prayer has always been confusing for me
– I quickly lose Jesus’ train of thought
• the prayer jumps around from one subject to another
◦ it jumps ahead, and then it jumps back, and then repeats itself
• I have trouble seeing the logical connections between his thoughts
◦ and I feel like I have to hold onto too many ideas at once
◦ I have not been able to find a structure to Jesus’ prayer
– it’s like reading the mumbo jumbo in a legal document
• perhaps we don’t have to hang on to all the pieces,
◦ or carefully track all of its twists and turns
• if not, then how else could we read it?

Technically, Jesus was not talking to his disciples
– this was not another discourse or lecture – it was a prayer
• Jesus was talking to his Father – and at a very stressful time
◦ he opened his soul and poured out what was in it
• the prayer did not have to be organized and neat
◦ its style was not logical, but emotional
◦ and that, I believe, is what we are supposed to feel
– if you spend enough time with this prayer,
• you will feel its depth and beauty
• and the you will find the depth and beauty of the one who prayed it
◦ the strong emotion of Jesus prayer leaves its impression on us
◦ this is what we are to receive from this prayer — its impression
◦ so that our inner lives are shaped by it
– these are all the things Jesus wants for us
• but it is important to feel the intensity of his desire (e.g., v. 24)
• that is what will move us to align our wills with his prayer

Just to be clear, although this is a prayer, Jesus was still teaching
– as before, he was teaching by example
• and his example was that they were to keep their eyes on the goal
◦ keep themselves close to God and all his resources
• they were never lose sight of the big picture
◦ and the picture in Jesus’ prayer is very big
◦ the scope of his concern is worldwide

Conclusion: Before praying, Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven

Turning our heads and line of sight is how we orient ourselves,
– and how we move, how we turn our whole bodies
• that John takes note of our Lord’s gesture is significant
◦ we do not pray with our bodies,
◦ but we cannot pray without them
• posture makes a difference
◦ to pray with our whole person is to present our bodies to God

What drives us? Sometimes we don’t even know
– perhaps you hate losing your temper,
• promise yourself you never will again — and then you do
– I think we’re drawn by desire, but driven by something else
• if we drop our guard and let what’s deep inside come up,
• I think we will discover a great emptiness
◦ even Christians feel it –a longing for something that isn’t there
◦ a need that’s never been met
• it’s there, but we don’t want to face it
Anthony de Mello was right when he said, “And when the emptiness surfaces, what do you do? You run away, turn on the television, turn on the radio, read a book, search for human company, seek entertainment, seek distraction. Everybody does that. It’s big business nowadays, an organized industry to distract us and entertain us.”

The more distractions, the more blockages we create
– preventing the light of God’s glory from reaching that deep emptiness

Jesus prayed for us
He is still praying for us,
that God’s glory will reach us,
reveal God to us
and that he is with us here and now.
He prays for us to be healed
and to be filled–with his joy (v. 13)
and with his love (v. 26)
and that every day we will
reflect his glory to the world

Apr 22 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 21, 2019


Luke 24:1-12 and John 21:1-12

Intro: Since the first Sunday of the year, we’ve been looking at the Gospel of John in relation to the Synoptic Gospels

Here in the last chapter of John, we find an interesting correlation
– in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, at beginning of Jesus’ ministry,
• he encounters four fishermen whom he calls to follow him
◦ Andrew and Peter are casting their net into the water
◦ James and John are in their boat mending their nets
• the Gospel of Luke tells us Jesus saw two empty boats by the shore
◦ he explains that the fishermen were washing their nets
▫ Jesus stepped into a boat that happened to belong to Peter
▫ from there he taught the people crowded on the shore
◦ after dismissing the crowd, Jesus said to Peter, “Let’s fish!”
And Simon answered him, Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! (Lk. 5:4-5)
▫ but at Jesus’ word, he went back out into deep water and dropped his nets
▫ soon his nets so full they were breaking
▫ Peter called to his partners for help
▫ soon their boats were so full, they began to sink
• that’s when Peter’s eyes were open
◦ he fell at Jesus’ knees and said,
Depart from me, for I am a sinful man
◦ Jesus answered,
Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching men
– so in the Synoptic Gospels, the story of Jesus first disciples is about fishermen and their nets

At the end of the Gospel of John we are taken back to Sea of Galilee
– here we find the disciples last encounter with Jesus (that John records)
• again, Peter, James and John have fished all night and caught nothing
• again, Jesus instructs them to do something that makes no sense
◦ and again, their net fills so that they cannot haul it into the boat
– So John brings first disciples full circle
• they’re back to where they began with Jesus in the Synoptic gospels
◦ John adds a footnote in verse 11
And although there so many [fish], the net was not torn
• Why did John bother with this detail? were nets flimsy and prone to tear?
◦ I wonder if John saw another significance in this fact
◦ not long after, Peter would preach his first sermon’s first sermon,
▫ and 3,000 people would be added to their spiritual community
▫ a couple of chapters later, another ; 2,000 had been added
they would be able to handle these large numbers
and their net would not tear

It may be helpful to pay attention to the grammar in verse 1

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way.

The verb tense of “revealed” is active indicative
indicative means this was an actual event, not merely a possibility
active means Jesus was taking the initiative, the action was intentional
– when we look at the people to whom Jesus revealed himself after his resurrection
• it seems he was rather selective
◦ the women who came to the empty tomb; then then disciples
◦ then individuals: Mary, Thomas, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus
◦ now, in this instance, it is Peter
• it seems Jesus had a specific purpose in each encounter

John says Jesus revealed himself to the disciples,
– but the story features one particular disciple – “Simon Peter”
• Jesus definitely has Peter in his cross hairs
• Jesus chose Galilee for the conversation he wanted to have with him
– John opens this scene, and the first disciple mentioned is “Simon Peter”
• the first one to speak was “Simon Peter,” I am going fishing
(there may be layers of meaning beneath that statement)
• the first disciple to recognize Jesus was one whom Jesus loved,
◦ and he identified him to “Peter”
• so it was “Simon Peter” who jumped into water
(this wasn’t the only time he was the first out of the boat)
◦ he could not wait for the boat that had to drag the net full of fish
• when Jesus spoke to one specific disciple, was “Simon Peter”

John has carried us this far, mostly using Peter’s two names

The name he was born with and the name Jesus had given him
– Simon was how people knew him before Jesus
– Peter was the name Jesus gave him

But when Jesus began this conversation, he addressed him as
Simon son of John
– this entire name was Peter’s old identity, before he met Jesus
• and it was exactly how Jesus addressed Peter the first time they met
. . . one of the two [disciples of John the Baptist] who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” …. He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter) (Jn. 1:40-42)
• I think this was Jesus’ first deep cut
◦ it may have sounded to Peter like Jesus was disowning him
◦ or that after all these years he had not made any progress
do you love me more than these? – here is that famous Greek word
• in John, agape refers to a love of deep devotion and affection
◦ it was if Jesus asked, Do you love me as I have loved you
• Peter answered, Yes, Lord; you know I love you as a friend
◦ it seems Peter could not bring himself to use agape so he substituted phileo
◦ Jesus instructed him, Feed my lambs
– Jesus again asked the same question
◦ I think this was the second deep cut
◦ Peter gave the same answer
◦ and the instruction of the Lord, Tend my sheep
– a third time Jesus asked the same question
• only he changed it, from his word to Peter’s word
Do you love me as your friend?
◦ and I imagine this was the third and most painful deep cut
Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you

What is happening here? Why is Jesus doing this to Peter?

Jesus’ intention was not to condemn or shame Peter, but to restore him
Daniel Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine is especially interested in the neurobiology of interpersonal relationships. He explains that every relationship, no matter how close, experiences rupture–things break, people disappoint, misunderstandings occur. If the rupture is not repaired, distance can grow between the people in the relationship, whether couples, friends, parents, children, etc.
– to hold a relationship together does not mean there’s never a rupture
• but that the rupture is followed by an effort to repair the relationship
• this isn’t easy – we have to let ourselves become vulnerable
◦ we have to face the part we played in causing the rupture
◦ we also have to discover our own deep needs and hurts

From the start, Jesus knew the work he could do through Peter
– Peter also had glimpses of it – flashes of brilliance
• but before Simon could become Peter,
◦ he had to get out of his own way
◦ he had to fail–like Moses, and like Paul later on
Daniel Siegel, “The key [to repair] is to embrace the humility of our humanity …”
– in scripture, the fundamental rupture is in our rel with God
• the fundamental repair is reconciliation
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18)
For in [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Col. 1:19-20)
• both rupture and reconciliation affect human physiology
◦ Jesus is concerned with healing the whole person
Daniel Siegel, “The great news is that the inner sanctuary from which repair can be initiated is always available to be nurtured and can bring important reconnections in our relationships.

Jesus did not ease into this conversation with Peter
– he went straight to the heart
• Peter was right, Jesus does know all things
◦ he knew that Peter loved him,
◦ he also knew that Peter had to say it to be healed
• and Jesus opened that door for him
– this is how Jesus took a fisherman and turned him into a shepherd

We’re coming to the good part – but first the dark before the dawn

Not everyone in Jesus’ culture loved being out on the lake
(lonely deserts, mountain tops, lakes and oceans represented danger and chaos)
– even in the gospels, the Sea of Galilee can represent futility
• they toiled all night and took nothingthat night they caught nothing – nada!
◦ also, storms on the sea prevented them from making headway
◦ returning to the sea was a regression into a fruitless and futile life
– it may be significant also that they had been fishing at night
• in John, night and darkness have negative connotations
1. Inability to get work done (Jn. 9:4)
2. Tripping, stumbling around, and falling (Jn. 11:9-10)
3. Ignorance of not being able to see what’s right there (Jn. 12:35)
4. Crimes hidden by cover of night (Jn. 3:19-20)
• and John remembered a detail from that last meal, when Judas got up and walked out: And it was night (Jn. 13:30)

Life gets difficult, complicated – it can be painful – overwhelming
– temptation can come at us fast and forcefully
• we fall and perhaps wonder, “Am I really cut out for this?”
• then what?
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore

Conclusion: This is why Easter has always been a big deal

Every sunrise is resurrection – and we share it with Jesus
– we’re no longer stumbling in futility, no longer distant from God
• perhaps I cannot tell Jesus, “Lord, I love you as you love me”
• maybe I cannot even say, “Lord, you know I love you as a friend”
◦ I can at least say, “Lord, I want to love you as you love me”
◦ and that is enough

Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee can be spectacular
Most mornings, ripples sing quietly on the shore
The sun rises over the mountain range that separates Israel from Syria
Its light streams to the western shore before reaching the water
And as the day breaks,
the world comes back to life
Just as the day was breaking . . .
the light from the western horizon fell on Jesus
He is risen!
And with him, we rise
into light, into love, and into hope everlasting

Apr 17 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 14, 2019


Mark 14:26-31; Luke 22:35-38 and John 15:1-11

Intro: Did you know Gospel of Mark does not have proper ending?

Women came to Jesus’ tomb, the body was gone, but an angel met them there and instructed them to go tell his disciples that he had risen. Then the last words of Mark’s gospel are:
they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid (Mk. 16:8)
– Christian scribes must have found this disturbing, so they made up endings
• it’s odd that Mark would leave his story hanging that way,
• because his gospel really is a masterpiece
◦ in way he used literary tools that were available to him
◦ in fact, Matthew and Luke borrowed Mark’s basic outline
▫ and retold some of his stories exactly as Mark had written them
– perhaps the abrupt ending is evidence of his genius
• the story of Jesus does not end with his resurrection
◦ it goes on – and will go on forever
◦ that’s similar to way John ends his gospel
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written (Jn. 21:25)
• Mark may be saying, “You are writing the next chapter with your life”

There is another possibility–but it’s rather subtle
– maybe Mark wrote the end of story before he got to the end
• while in the temple, Jesus told a parable about a vineyard
◦ the owner left it in care of tenants, who took it over and killed the owner’s son
◦ Jesus asked a question and answered it himself,
What will the owner do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others (Mk. 12:9)
• all three Synoptic gospels include this parable, because it defines Jesus life and ministry
◦ specifically, in relation to God and religious system of the temple
◦ the end of the parable is the end of Mark’s gospel
– of course, John was familiar with this parable
• is it possible that he offered another story regarding the vineyard?
◦ another analogy– but not parable
◦ only in this one defines his relation to God and his new community
• this is the vineyard taken from the priests, scribes, elders
◦ the vineyard that was given to others
◦ the ideal vineyard – the true vine – where God is in charge
◦ this is one way of reading John 15

In John 15-16 we have Jesus’ last teaching while on earth

This passage contains some of Jesus’ most memorable sayings
– sayings we will be meditate on for the rest of our lives
• Jesus and his disciples are somewhere between the upper room and the Mount of Olives
◦ perhaps when passing the temple he pauses and says,
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser
• this was a familiar image in the Hebrew Scriptures
◦ Isaiah painted a picture of Israel as God’s vineyard, whose fruit was disappointing
◦ God wanted justice and righteousness; got bloodshed and cry of oppression (Isa. 5:1-7)
– in Jesus’ story, the branches are not Israel, but the disciples
• and the fruit God looks for is love (the ultimate source of justice & righteousness)
• but something Isaiah doesn’t even hint at and we do not find stated clearly in the Synoptic gospels:
◦ the success of vineyard depends on an organic and vital relationship with Jesus
◦ not a mechanical duty or legal agreement
▫ but life flowing into life
Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me (Jn. 15:4)

The key word in this analogy is “abide” – remain, stay, dwell
– Jesus uses it repeatedly–for example:
abide in me and my words abide in you (v. 7)
abide in my love (v. 9)
• in the letters of Paul, one of his favorite expressions: in Christ
• in some way, Christians are wrapped in the Person of Jesus
◦ sheltered, nurtured, sustained – both intimate and constant
◦ the air they breathe, the space they inhabit
– I tried to think of way of defining this or explaining “abide”
• but I couldn’t reduce it to a simple formula or its ingredients
• I’m pretty sure you have to experience it to know what it is
◦ if you can say, “Abiding feels like …” or “Abiding like …”
◦ and finish sentence, then that is where you want to be; always

There was a moment in the evening that seems like a graduation of sorts
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you (v. 15)
– this is a promotion, from servants to friends
• this moment is enveloped by a commandment
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you (v. 12)
These things I command you, so that you will love one another (v. 17)
• if we had to identify a specific way to keep ourselves in Christ,
◦ it would be love – the greatest commandment (cf. Jude 20-21)
◦ it boggles the mind how many Christians fail to see or to live this

This chapter pivots on verse 17 and then tips over

Jesus tells his disciples, “Love is the key, the command, the way to be in me”
– then he makes this sharp turn and says,
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you (v. 18)
• he jumps from the love that holds them to himself,
◦ to the hate that separates them from the world
• these two forces will be shaping their progress — love and hate
– the world will persecute them, but won’t stop God’s work
• that’s because the Spirit of truth will be working alongside them
◦ a few specific details of his work appear in the next chapter (vv. 7-11)
• he is ultimately responsible for the success of God’s mission
◦ the Spirit seems like a silent partner (the only person of the Triune God unnamed)
◦ so much so, that we seldom rely on him as much as we could

Chapter 16 is Jesus’ explanation for the purpose of this conversation

Several times Jesus begins with the statement
I have said these things to you
– this provides an outline for this part of the conversation
First: (v. 1) I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away
• they would suffer for their devotion to Jesus
• so he is preparing them to accept and endure suffering
Second: (v. 4) I have said these things to you that when the hour comes you may remember that I told them to you
• so they wouldn’t be taken by surprise
• or assume that they had failed their mission
Third: (v. 4) I did not say these things to your from the beginning, because I was with you
• they didn’t need to be scared off before starting out
• but the time had come for them to hear it – and prepare themselves
◦ he had told them only what they needed at the time
Fourth: (v. 12) I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now
• this is one of the central ideas behind John’s Gospel
• when Jesus was crucified, the disciples’ education was still unfinished
◦ think of the two disciples Jesus met on road to Emmaus (Lk. 24:13-35)
• the Spirit would take over their education (Jn. 16:13-15)
◦ in this way, John’s gospel is more complete than Synoptic
Fifth: (v. 25) I have said these things to you in figures of speech
• this also is like a graduation or promotion
◦ and relates to their progress from servants to friends
◦ they have advanced from “figures…” to “plain” speech
• Jesus had asked Nicodemus,
If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things (Jn. 3:12)
• Jesus had been gradually preparing the disciples to receive more
◦ Paul and the letter to the Hebrews refer to our ongoing education
◦ it includes a maturation – from drinking milk to digesting meat
Sixth: (v. 33) I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace
I can imagine the disciples exclaiming, “Peace! You’ve told us you’re going away, that we’ll lose sight of you, that the world will hate us and we’ll be scattered. How do you think these things are going to bring us peace?”
• they would not find peace in their circumstances or the world
◦ rather, In the world you will have tribulation
• the source of their peace would be Jesus himself
◦ they would have to keep returning to his abiding presence

Conclusion: There is one more instance of Jesus saying
I have said these things . . .

It is back in chapter 15: These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full
– we do not know what Jesus means by his joy
• I am tempted to think it is something divine and transcendent
• a powerful energy, like an ocean wave
◦ but that is merely me letting my imagination go where it will
– I have not fully grown into this yet – others have
• I have tasted it, but I do not live there

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples (Jn. 15:8)
For the past couple of months, off and on, my son Michael has helped me do some demolition, clean up, and repair of a slump stone wall and road in our small neighborhood. I found that I really enjoyed having him work with me. Not only because he is a hard worker with remarkable artistic skill, but sharing his company made the tedious tasks lighter and easier.
– I thought of that when meditating on God and his vineyard
• it occurred to me what a joy it is to work with my heavenly Father
• and to work with Jesus and the Spirit, knowing that our work is good

We can expect hardships
but we can also expect compensation
and the compensation is infinitely greater than the hardship
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time
are not worth comparing with the glory
that is to be revealed to us
(Ro. 8:18)
For this light momentary affliction
is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory
beyond all comparison
(2 Cor. 4:17)

If the hardships begin to feel overwhelming
remember Jesus with his disciples
and how he closed his last teaching to them:
But take heart; for I have overcome the world

Apr 10 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 7, 2019

Luke 22:22-27 and John 13:1-2

Intro: G. C. Morgan was a well-known preacher in the early 20th century

He was one of my dad’s favorites – in his commentary on John, Morgan wrote:
“The key phrase to this section is ‘His own.’ The thirteenth chapter begins, ‘Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end.’ His public ministry completed, our Lord devoted Himself for a brief period of a few hours to the inner circle of his apostles, those who were designated ‘His own’ . . . .”
– we will soon see how true this is
• the crowds were fickle, but these men truly belonged to Jesus

The setting is upper room where they shared their last supper together
– chapters 13 and 14 consist of Jesus’ “Table Talk”
• he engaged his disciples in an evening of interactive teaching
– it began with a surprise–more than surprise, something of a shock
• Jesus washed his disciples’ feet
◦ when he finished, Jesus asked them,
“Do you understand what I have done to you?”
◦ Peter already proved that he did not
What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand
• there is another “not now, but afterward” statement
Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward (v. 36)
◦ this is the advantage of John’s gospel
▫ the Synoptic gospels tell the story in real time–as it happened
▫ John writes from both real-time, but also a “fulfillment time” later on
◦ we’ve been tracking the deeper meaning John perceived in Jesus’ life and teaching

The Synoptic gospels report the Communion words that Jesus spoke

John does not include what Jesus said over the bread and the cup
– Christians had been celebrating Lord’s supper for decades
(cf. 1 Cor. 11:23-26)
• John did not need to report these well known words
• but what he does report was what his experience that evening
◦ he saw more and felt more than the bare words
◦ he felt a fullness in what Jesus was passing on to them
– Luke tells us, after Jesus announced betrayer, first the disciples
began to question…, which of them it could be who was going to do this
• but immediately after that,
a dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest (Lk. 22:23-27)
◦ Jesus outlined the hierarchy (authority structures) of this world
◦ then he explained how hierarchy for them was the exact opposite
Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves
(Matthew and Mark also record this teaching, but occurring at a different time in Jesus’ ministry)
• in John, Jesus gives them a picture of this inverted hierarchy that they would never forget
◦ I don’t think they’d ever forgot the feeling of his touch
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet, For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you (Jn. 13:14-15)

Another instance in which John says more than Synoptic gospels

This comes in chapter 14

Matthew, Mark and Luke have little to say about the ongoing ministry of Holy Spirit in the lives of the apostles
– only Luke says God will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him (Lk. 11:13)
• in all three, Jesus tells the disciples they do need to plan their defense, because the Spirit will speak through them
◦ Luke reports Jesus as saying,
for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say (Lk. 12:12)
• John also records Jesus saying the Spirit will teach you
◦ John, however, adds much more!
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you (Jn. 14:26)
◦ John unlocks more regarding their relation to God’s Spirit
◦ he would be “another” Helper
(the Greek word allos means “another of the same kind,” that is, the same kind of helper, encouragement, comforter as Jesus had been to them)
• regarding the Spirit, Jesus tells his disciples,
You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you (Jn. 14:17)

John also remembers Jesus comforting them that evening

Let not your hearts be troubled
– to appreciate impact of these words, let’s follow the conversation
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you. the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.
Let not your hearts be troubled . . .” (Jn. 13:36-14:1)
John remembers Jesus encouraging them to trust him
Believe in God; believe also in me (Jn. 14:1)
◦ he was not going away so much as going ahead
◦ their separation would not be forever,
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (Jn. 14:3)
◦ he was not abandoning them,
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you (Jn. 14:18)
John remembered Jesus promising them his peace
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (Jn. 14:27)
John remembers Jesus reminding them what they know
◦ they know the Father, because they know Jesus (14:7)
◦ they know the Spirit, because he dwells with them (14:17)
◦ they know the way to where he was going (14:3 & 6)
– this statement created a complication for them
• Thomas was right when he said,
Lord, we do not know where you are going (14:5)
◦ Jesus had been rather vague about the “where”
◦ so vague, that he had the crowds making wild guesses
Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? (Jn. 7:35)
Will he kill himself, since he says, “Where I am going, you cannot come?” (Jn. 8:22)
• but twice in this conversation he will say,
I am going to the Father (Jn. 14:12 & 28)
◦ they knew the way, because they knew the Father
◦ and they knew the Father, because they knew Jesus

All this John remembered
– and disciples were not the only ones who needed to hear it
• John was telling Jesus’ story for second and third generation Christians
◦ they needed this understanding
◦ they needed to know this kind of experience for themselves
• we need to hear this too!
◦ we need to know that we have not been abandoned
◦ and all that John tells us in these two chapters is made present to us in the bread and the cup of the Lord’s Supper

I believe that John gives us the most intimate portrait of Jesus

After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot (Jn. 13:21-26)

When John was leaning back against Jesus, his head was in Jesus’ chest
– that is, the area from neck to waist; where parents holds their child
• the place we go to each other for closeness, for comfort
– also, John identifies himself as a disciple whom Jesus loved
• he is showing us that Jesus is God’s Son
• who loves his followers and desires their love
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another (Jn. 13:35)
If you love me, you will keep my commandments (Jn. 14:15)
There’s no greater intimacy than Jesus describes:
In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you (Jn. 14:20)
Listen for the word “love” in what Jesus says here:
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (14:21-23)
– we don’t serve each other because this is what we’re told to do
• or to qualify ourselves as saints
• we serve one another, because we love

Through most of chapter 14, Jesus is soothing his disciples’ fears
– that’s what love does

So John tells us that Jesus washed his disciples’ feet
After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me” (Jn. 13:21)
– how did John know Jesus was troubled in his spirit?
• well, he had said as much earlier (Jn. 12:27)
◦ and he either revealed this later or it was apparent in his body language
• Jesus opened his soul to his disciples, he gave them access to what he felt
– this is how we come to know another person intimately
• they give us access to their deepest feelings
◦ this is how we come to know Jesus, intimately
◦ we hear it from John, because it’s meant for us too
• the flip-side to what Jesus reveals to us,
◦ is revealing ourselves to him
◦ and that is where we run into difficulty

Conclusion: Only John mentions that Judas was the son of Simon Iscariot

He adds this note three times in his gospel and two of those times are here in chapter 13
– and I’m not sure why–unless it’s possibly linked to Simon Peter
(which John uses four times in this same chapter)
• John may have been deliberate in how he referred to Peter
• Peter was a person who struggled with two selves
◦ Simon and Peter were conflicted at times and fused at other times
◦ he could be both well-meaning and wrong-headed at once
– this is easy to illustrate in both instances that he speaks in chapter 13
You shall never wash my feet
I will lay down my life for you
• you see? well-meaning, but wrong-headed

This is the dark side of contemplative prayer
– the self awareness that is sometimes given to us
• I sit in silence, open and receptive to God,
◦ and suddenly this ugly truth about myself rises to the surface
◦ stuff I’ve unconsciously suppressed – the sad truth about myself
– the old self is not so easy to get rid of
• it isn’t like a used shirt we can fold up and give to a thrift store
• it’s wired into our brains
◦ I can piously renounce it, quote scriptures about it being dead
◦ but I have to admit, my old self is me
◦ I am still sometimes Peter, sometimes Simon
– it is in getting to know Jesus that we come to know ourselves

Years after this incredible night with Jesus,
I can imagine the disciples getting together and saying,
“Oh, that’s what he was trying to tell us”

Jesus was a mystery, kept secret for long ages,
waiting to be revealed (Ro. 16:25-27)
I am also a mystery waiting to be revealed–
and so are you
For the creation waits with eager longing
for the revealing of the sons of God (Ro. 8:19)
Beloved, we are God’s children now,
and what we will be has not yet appeared;
but we know that when he appears we shall be like him,
because we shall see him as he is (1 Jn. 3:2)
Again, that is how it works:
discovering who Jesus is, I discover who I am,
and also the person that he is making me to be

What John makes clear in these chapters
is that Jesus wants us to know a love
that makes us better people

Mar 25 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Be Loved, Do Love, See Glory


Luke 10:38-42 and John 11:1-7; 12:1-3

Intro: John will bring Jesus’ public ministry to a close in chapter 12

But just before reaching the end, there is this amazing crescendo!
– Jesus goes to the grave of a dead man and calls him back to life
– this is one of those points where John’s story differs from the Synoptic gospels
• Matthew, Mark and Luke say nothing about Lazarus’ resurrection
• in Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus’ ministry comes to an end
◦ but in John’s gospel, it is only Jesus’ public ministry that comes to an end
◦ he still has a lot more to give his disciples before leaving them (chs. 13-17)

In spite of the different direction John goes,
– the way his story overlaps with the Synoptic gospels is recognizable
• for example:
◦ Martha and Mary, whom we met in Luke, enter the story
◦ the story of a woman who poured perfume on Jesus occurs here
(as we find in Matthew and Mark)
◦ John also records Jesus grand entrance into Jerusalem
◦ Jesus quotes Isaiah 6:9-10, as he did in Matthew
(and partially in Mark and Luke)

In Luke, Martha and Mary are one-dimensional characters

Martha is a doer and Mary is a romantic
– Luke presents them this way to make a particular point
• nor do they break character in John’s gospel
• yet in John, both women have more depth and color

The first thing about the sisters that we learn from John:
– there was a special quality to their relationship with Jesus
Lord, he whom you love is ill (Jn. 11:3)
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus (Jn. 11:6)
[Bystanders at Lazarus’ grave] See how he loved him! (Jn. 11:36)
• this makes Jesus’ immediate response hard to understand
• their message was urgent, he loved them, but he delayed
◦ that is not what we would expect from a loved-one
– this is why, from the start Jesus had to define the course of the illness
• it was not about death, but glory – God’s and his own
• the theme of glory persists through this chapter and the next
◦ 12:23-24, my hour has come – strangely, it includes a death
◦ 12:27-28, how Jesus felt about what his coming hour:
▫ what he wanted to pray, but did not, Father, save me from this hour
▫ what he did pray, Father, glorify your name
▫ God answered, I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again
◦ what would happen at Lazarus’ grave side was a prelude
▫ to an even greater event and a greater glory


I want to go a level deeper into this

We return to Martha and Mary
– too late to heal Lazarus, Martha heard Jesus was coming
• true to form, she jumped up and went out to meet him
◦ but not Mary – John says she remained seated in the house
• Martha’s complaint, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died
◦ after saying this, Jesus and Martha have a conversation about Lazarus, death and life
◦ John does not report all of it, but he gives us enough
– I find it heartwarming that Jesus spent more time in conversation with Martha
(than he did with Mary, his disciples, or anyone else in this chapter)
• we could get the impression Mary was the more receptive sister
◦ so Jesus would have more to say to her
◦ but Mary got what she needed from Jesus’ teaching
• Jesus knew that Martha was also a good listener,
◦ that he could be straight with her,
◦ and that she would trust what he told her, because she knew he loved her

Martha’s first words, Lord, if you had been here . . . – then she added,
But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you (v. 22)
– I don’t think she meant, “Even now, you can bring him back”
• as the story goes on, we’ll see that idea never crossed her mind
• rather, she was saying, “I still believe that if you had come in time, he would not have died”
◦ she had lost her brother, but not her faith in Jesus
– at some point in their conversation Jesus told her,
If you believe, you will see the glory of God
• Martha knew Jesus could have healed Lazarus
◦ even her friends and neighbors assumed he could do that (v. 37)
◦ but no one knew Jesus could raise Lazarus from the dead!
• had Jesus healed Lazarus, it would have been a miracle, but with less impact
◦ raising Lazarus intensified the revelation of God’s glory

When Jesus delayed coming to Lazarus’ rescue,
– it was not that he was too busy or did not really care
• it was a matter of timing
– when the disciples objected to returning to Judea, Jesus said,
Are there not twelve hours in the day?
• that doesn’t make much sense at first
• but what it tells us, is Jesus was alert to the timing of his next move
◦ his timing was not off – it was perfect (it always is!)

We’re not yet through with Martha and Mary

But first, one more word about “glory”
In Matthew and Mark, Jesus had to explain to his disciples why he taught in parables
– the reason, he said, was so that,
they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven
(Mk. 4:12)
• this is a quotation from the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 6:9-10)
◦ John includes the same quote in chapter 12
• but instead of applying it to parables, he applies it to Jesus’ entire ministry
◦ the inability of people to see, hear and understand explained the Lord’s limited success
◦ John adds that Isaiah was given this prophecy when he saw his [meaning Jesus’] glory and spoke of him
– there was another reason why some leaders did not confess their faith
(yes, some of them did believe in Jesus)
Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God (Jn.12:42-43)
• this is painful, but all too common
• we compromise our faith,
◦ because we are overly concerned about how we appear to others
◦ for some religious leaders, public opinion is everything
(drawing attention to their accomplishments is more important than serving for God’s glory alone)

Jesus’ conversation with Martha was about faith

Jesus had explained to his disciples that although Lazarus had died,
– they still had good reason for going to him
Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe (Jn. 11:14)
• then, when Jesus told Martha Lazarus would rise, she said,
I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day (Jn. 11:24)
• Jesus responded with perhaps his most brilliant “I am” statement in John’s gospel
I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? (Jn. 11:25-26)
◦ he begins with a universal possibility: whoever and everyone
◦ but then narrows it down to this one person: Do you believe this?
– Martha reached as far as her faith could take her
Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world (v. 27)
• that’s actually pretty far–almost exactly what Peter said in his great confession
You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mt. 16:16)
• but Jesus wanted to expand her knowledge and faith beyond that statement
◦ he was more than enlightenment and healing
◦ he was resurrection and life

Mary had waited for a call or invitation to go to Jesus

True to form, she fell at Jesus’ feet
– every time we see Mary with Jesus, she is at his feet (Lk. 10:39; Jn. 12:3)
• but, surprisingly, she says the same thing her sister said
◦ we could expect something more characteristic of each sister
• but grief has a way of sucking the same desperate feelings out of all of us
– after this brief encounter, Mary quickly fades into background
• they do not have a conversation like the Lord did with Martha
• but Mary reappears in the next chapter
◦ Jesus is again in the sisters’ home and
they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served [of course!], and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from [an aromatic plant], and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume (Jn. 12:2)

Matthew and Mark also tell this story (Mark also mentions that it took place in Bethany)
– but only John identifies the woman who anointed Jesus and the disciple who complained
• the most beautiful statement in story is followed by the ugliest statement
The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume
But Judas Iscariot…said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”
– Judas immediately poisoned the atmosphere
• no one had opportunity to savor Mary’s extravagant love
• her lavish devotion to Jesus was reduced to dollars and cents
◦ in Matthew’s gospel, the question began, Why this waste? (Mt. 26:8)
◦ as if anything given to Jesus could be considered a waste!
– Jesus once again came to Mary’s defense as he had in Luke’s story of the two sisters
• John has painted a vivid contrast between these two followers of Jesus:
◦ one a lover and the other a traitor
◦ one a giver and the other a thief

Conclusion: Martha and Mary do not represent a Christianity divided between doers and dreamers

St. Augustine and St. Aquinas saw in Martha and Mary the distinction between
The Active life and the Contemplative life
– but they saw these as two practices of every Christian
• the active life has its arena where it is most effective, but also has its limitations
• the same is true of the contemplative life
◦ Martha, as we see, was also able to contemplate and reflect
◦ Mary, as we see, could also get up and do something for Jesus
(something that he appreciated and in which he saw a hidden meaning)
Thomas Aquinas wrote, “under the active and the contemplative lives is comprised that kind of life which is made up of both. But just as in every mixture one of the simple elements predominates, so in this mixed kind of life now the contemplative and now the active predominates.”
– and so with us, now Martha and now Mary

The point is that we exercise both of these spiritual muscles
That in contemplation we stretch our faith,
staying alert, open and receptive to God’s grace,
and in service we do what we can to bless the lives of others
bringing to them the love and goodness of Jesus the Christ,
the Son of God

Mar 20 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Thieves and Robbers


Matthew 9:35-36; Luke 15:3-7 and John 10:1-4, 11-15

Intro: Perhaps you’ve heard of the catacombs in Rome

I have taken tours through one or two of them
– they are underground burial sites
• a labyrinth of tunnels in and around ancient Rome
◦ hallways with rooms off to the sides and some open spaces
◦ niches dug in the walls where bodies or bones were placed
• paintings and engravings decorate some of the walls
– some of the earliest Christian symbols appear near where believers were laid to rest
• the fish, an anchor, the dove
• also, the good shepherd, with a sheep slung over his shoulders

The shepherd image had been branded into Israel’s imagination
– most famously, Psalm 23, which begins:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want

• the image appears several more times in the Psalms

Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture
(Ps. 100:3)

• also, in the prophet Isaiah

He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young
(Isa. 40:11)

– the image is also passed from God to Israel’s leaders

He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheepfolds;
from following the nursing ewes he brought him
to shepherd Jacob his people,
Israel his inheritance
With upright heart he shepherded them
and guided them with his skillful hand
(Ps. 78:70-72)

• in the prophets the image also depicts the failure of Israel’s leaders

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! (Jer. 23:1ff)
. . . prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? (Eze. 34:2ff)

We miss a lot in John chapter 10

That’s because we don’t know much about shepherding in Israel at the time of Jesus
– it was not the industry that it is in our country today
• here, sheep are mostly bred for food – back then, it was for wool
• there’s a story in 2 Samuel where a sheep is like was a household pet
– for example we don’t understand what Jesus meant by,

I am the door of the sheep

• in the open countryside, shepherds would build a makeshift pen
◦ not having a gate, the shepherd would place his rod over the opening
◦ the sheep would enter one or two at a time
◦ that allowed the shepherd to count and inspect them

I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. . . . I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant (Eze. 20:35-37)

• at night, the shepherd would lie down in the opening
◦ so the sheep would have to step over shepherd to get out
◦ also, any predator would have to go through him to get to the sheep

Years ago, Philip Keller published A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23
– it’s schmaltzy (for my taste), but lots of Christians found it helpful
– the point is, there’s a more to the shepherd image than what we see on the surface

It is no surprise to find the shepherd image in the Synoptic gospels

When the crowds seemed to Jesus to be like sheep with out shepherd,
– he was looking at them through eyes of a shepherd
• again in Matthew (where Jesus lumped several animal metaphors together):

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Mt. 10:16)

– in Luke 15 we find three parables of something lost and then found
• the lost coin is the most impersonal item that was lost
◦ what touches us personally is the widow’s desperation
◦ but one coin could replace another
• it’s different in the parable of shepherd when he hoists his sheep on his shoulders
◦ the personal dynamic is most intense with son who was lost
◦ but that was exactly what Jesus wanted to emphasize

John remembered Jesus saying more about shepherds than Matthew, Mark or Luke
– whereas the Synoptic gospels see the first disciples as fishers of men and women
◦ for John, it was shepherding that defined the disciples’ calling
◦ as he told Peter in chapter 21:

Feed my lambs . . . Tend my sheep . . . Feed my sheep (Jn. 21:15-17)

– Matthew and Luke both tell of a shepherd carrying a sheep on shoulders
• but in John 10, the shepherd image is much more intimate

There is an important verse here we don’t want to miss

This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying (Jn. 10:6)

Initially, no one understood what Jesus was communicating
– his statements were common knowledge
• their first thought would be, “Everyone knows that. So what?”
• it would be like me saying, “Some people ride bus to work”
– the reason this is important is because John illustrates what he is doing
• he presents a statement, much like the Synoptic gospels would
◦ only they do not always provide an explanation
• John indicates the depth of meaning that was missing prior to Jesus’ resurrection
– so by pointing out that the people did not understand him at first,
• draws attention to the next stage of Jesus’ teaching
◦ the stage when he takes them below the surface

We only have enough time to explore two statements

The first is in verse 8

All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them

– in the Synoptics, Jesus clears out temple near end of his ministry
• later, the priests and elders challenged his actions

By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them? (Mk. 11:28)

• he saw the trap the set for him and dodged the question
◦ but immediately afterward he told a parable
◦ and in the parable was the answer to their question
– a man planted a vineyard, put some people in charge of it, and went to another country
• from there, he sent messenger to collect the proceeds from the crop
◦ the renters refused to pay, abused his messengers, and sent them back empty-handed
• finally the owner sent his son, whom the renters killed
◦ this answered the question of Jesus’ authority
◦ vineyard was God’s temple and Jesus was God’s Son
• after hearing the parable, the priests and elders

were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them (Mk. 12:12)

Thieves and robbers is not a reference to the Old Testament’s law-giver
– nor to the psalmists, prophets, or sages who wrote The Proverbs
• they were the recognized authorities who managed the temple
◦ they had taken it over and treated it as if it belonged to them
◦ remember what Jesus said when he cleared it out?

Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”? But you have made it a den of robbers (Mk. 11:17)

• it was the priests and elders who usurped authority over the temple
– many religious institutions today are run by thieves and robbers
• there are more than a few pastors who treat church finances as their personal bank account
• or board members who are given contracts without taking outside bids (not just unethical, but illegal according to IRS law)
◦ in other words, people in leadership for themselves, not others
◦ manipulating, exploiting, spiritually and psychologically abusing people
◦ using their position to enrich themselves, meet their ego needs,
◦ or have victims on whom they can vent their anger each Sunday
• Paul made it clear that he was nothing like this type of preacher

For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ (2 Cor. 2:17)

our authority, which the Lord gave [is] for building you up and not for destroying you (2 Cor. 10:8; 13:10)

The second statement we’ll explore is in verses 11-13

The hired hand is in a category similar to that of the thieves and robbers
– in fact, the hired hand is an accomplice – he abandons sheep to them
• he cares nothing for the sheep
• we’ve seen this as we’ve followed Jesus around Jerusalem
◦ the crippled man that the religious leaders cared nothing for
◦ and with the blind man, they couldn’t care less that he was healed
– Jesus defined the good shepherd as one who lays down his life
• I’ve always assumed this was specifically a reference to his death
◦ that, of course, is included,
◦ but laying down one’s life is not a one-time event
◦ it is a lifestyle of taking care of others
◦ it is an ongoing commitment to others

The hired hand performs his service for money
– the good shepherd performs his service for love

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you (Jn. 15:13-14)

– we lay down our lives every time
◦ we leave what we want to be doing to meet another person’s need

Conclusion: I know that Jesus is still laying down his life for me

There is no other way to explain why he puts up with me

If this story is meant to wake us up to anything
it is to awaken us to how near Jesus is
and how much he cares
and to the fact that it is possible to know his voice,
to know him and to follow him—
today, and always

Mar 12 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 10, 2019 – Mark 8:16-26 and John 9:1-7


Intro: Let’s review important terms Jesus has used

– first, there is the living water
• he offered it to the Samaritan woman (Jn. 4:10)
• he also offered it to everyone in the temple (Jn. 7:37-38)
– next, Jesus said, I am the bread of life (Jn. 6:35)
– more recently he said, I am the light of the world
• and he promised to those who followed him the light of life (Jn. 8:12)

Notice how these same themes appear in Psalm 36
How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light
(vv. 7-9)
This is not only metaphorical poetry
– it is mystical verse
– it describes seeing light within light

Last week we learned about a light, invisible to human eyes
– a light that shines in darkness as well as in light–e.g., Ps. 139:11-12
• God lights things up for us
• the various TV crime series programs have made much of forensic light
◦ with it, investigators can locate finger prints and traces of blood and other evidence not visible to normal sight
◦ God’s light enables us to see what is invisible
– that is the sort of light John brings to the Synoptic gospels
(Matthew, Mark and Luke)
• it reveals things that were hidden from the disciples
◦ but even when that light is shining, there’s another problem
◦ we can be blind to the spiritual light of Christ
• John wants us to be able to see in God’s light
◦ and he provides important instructions in this chapter

John chapter 9 begins with a blind man

Jesus healed him, but because it was the Sabbath, the healing created complications
– first there was a stir among the crowd in temple (vv. 8-12)
• then the man was interrogated by a council of Pharisees (vv. 13-17)
• next, his parents were brought in and interrogated (vv. 18-23)
• then the man was once again interrogated (vv. 24-34)
– we’ve seen that John does not include any of the parables found in the Synoptic gospels
• but at the same time, John saw certain events in the light of Jesus that for him were revelations of truth deeper than the words and actions
• for him, the story of the blind beggar became a real-life parable

There were only three times in the four gospels Jesus used spit to heal

Two of those instances were in Mark’s gospel–the third instance is here
– in Mark 7:33, Jesus used saliva to a man who was deaf and mute
• then in Mark 8:23, it was a blind man who was healed
• and spitting was not the only similarity unique to these two stories
◦ with both men, Jesus first separated them from the crowd (Mk. 7:33; 8:23)
◦ with both men, his touch was specific
he touched the first man’s ears and tongue (Mk. 7:33)
he spit in the eyes of the second man and laid his hands on him (Mk. 8:23)
◦ when healed, the first man spoke plainly and the second saw . . . clearly
– these two stories frame an episode that took place between Jesus and his disciples (Mk. 8:14-21)
• the deaf man came before this episode and the blind man came after
◦ what Jesus said to disciples in between these healing miracles was

Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?
• literal blindness and deafness are also metaphorical and spiritual

When, in John’s gospel, we come to this only other place where Jesus used spit
– and where he applied it directly to the man’s eyes,
• it would be difficult to not see a connection with these events from Mark’s gospel
◦ not with the historical details–person, place, or timing
• but the disabilities and their implied meaning
◦ also, the fact that Jesus heals these disabilities

There is one other interesting detail re: blind man in Mark
– Mark 8:23-25 is the only place where a healing took place in stages
– in John 9, the spiritual enlightenment of the blind man also occurred in stages
◦ he first referred to Jesus as the man called Jesus (v. 11)
◦ later he referred to him as a prophet (v. 17)
◦ then, he decided Jesus was from God, (v. 33)
◦ and finally he cam to believe in Jesus, the Son of Man (35-38)

The whole ruckus in this chapter began with a question

Jesus saw the blind man, and it seems the disciples followed his gaze
– perhaps they felt powerless to do anything for him
• they could not heal him, they could only speculate
◦ so they asked Jesus a question about guilt and blame

Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?

• it’s easy to see how this could be a problem
◦ if the parents’ sin, then the punishment was unfair for him
◦ if he sinned, was it prior to birth – or retroactive?
– what they were doing was shooting in the dark
• the question reveals their own blindness
◦ that there had to be someone to blame
◦ and they were unable to determine where to place the blame
• this was also a blindness that was endemic to their culture
◦ they applied a rule of cause and effect to sin and suffering

I want to pause here to ask,
Whose voice from the Old Testament does Jesus’ voice most resemble?
– not Abraham–he was righteous and enjoyed material prosperity
• not Moses–he gave Israel two choices: obey and prosper or disobey and suffer
• not the voice of the sages in the Book of Proverbs
– here Job is the person whom Jesus sounds like the most
• Job had once lived and thrived in the blindness of his culture
◦ until everything fell apart for him
◦ that was his eye-opener
• he became a spokesperson for everyone who suffers
◦ for sure, sin has consequences
– but those are more like running a red light and getting ticket
– there’s no guess-work of guilt or blame like we see here
◦ the disciples needed to be less concerned about cause
◦ and more interested in cure

For the rest of this chapter, it seems that blindness is contagious

First, the crowd was not seeing so well
– “Isn’t his the blind beggar?” – “No, but he is like him” (v. 9)
• they couldn’t trust their eyes
– then there was the blindness of the Pharisees
• regarding Jesus they declared, This man is not from God (v. 16)
◦ everything pointed to a miracle and the uniqueness of Jesus
◦ yet they persist in their blindness
◦ throughout the interrogation, they were groping for answers
– the man’s parents were blind too
• “We don’t know how he got his sight”

The only one who is beginning to see the light of Jesus
– was the man who had been physically blind
• and he comes so far that he even sounds like Jesus (cf. v. 32-33 & Jn. 5:19 & 30)

After the ruckus, the blind man has a second encounter with Jesus

This to me is the beauty of Jesus
– he heard that the man he healed had been tossed out of the synagogue
• being blind, he had lived on outskirts of society
◦ now that he had the opportunity to join in, he was kicked to the curb
◦ that is what he got for his integrity – he could not deny his experience

Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see (v. 25)

• Jesus went looking for him, found him somewhere outside the temple
◦ Jesus wanted to complete his healing — his enlightenment

Some of the Pharisees overheard what Jesus had to say to the blind man
– they asked Jesus,

“Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt, but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains” (vv. 40-41)

• when or how did they say, “We see”?
◦ in verse 24 when they said, We know that this man is a sinner
◦ and in verse 28 when they said, We know that God has spoken to Moses
• that’s the danger of trusting too much in your religious dogma
◦ thinking you know, you reject evidence that is right in front of you

Conclusion: In Luke chapter 11, Jesus said,

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light (vv. 34-36)

eye refers to sight and body refers to the whole person
• what we typically mean by “healthy” sight is clarity
◦ but Jesus was referring to where we direct our attention
◦ for example, the psalmist wrote,

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things (Ps. 119:37)

◦ that is, Direct my attention away from empty images and pursuits
• to what do I give the majority of my attention?
◦ what do I allow to enter my eyes, my mind, my heart, my body?
– the Pharisees remind us that blindness can be willful
• but we also learn here that sight can be improved
◦ I recently learned about vision exercises
◦ we need exercises to improve our spiritual sightedness

For the time being, we would do well to follow the advice of Abbot John Chapman, who wrote, “God is taking you in hand and teaching you. Be courageous. Let Him work. You can help by not interfering—that is, by not worrying or complaining, but trying to be peaceful and confident and content.”

Mar 6 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

The Uncreated Light


March 3, 2019 – Mark 8:27-30 and John 8:25-30

Intro: John chapter 8 begins with one of most beautiful stories of Jesus

It’s the kind of story we enjoy reading again and again
(If you don’t remember well the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery who was brought before Jesus in an attempt to ambush him, grab your Bible and read John 8:1-11)
– there’s just one problem with this story
• biblical scholars agree that it John did not place it here
◦ it is not found in the majority and most ancient Greek manuscripts
• some copies of Luke’s gospel contain it,
◦ and in some copies of John it appears in different places
– what we can surmise is that it was a well-known and much loved story
• too important to lose – so it had to be preserved and put somewhere

To me, this seems to be the perfect place for this story
– certain themes in this story are expanded and played out in the chapter:
The temple — the story begins with Jesus entering the temple
◦ and the chapter ends with him leaving it (an “envelope structure”)
Sin — no one present who accused the woman was without sin (v. 7)
◦ later, Jesus said those in the crowd would die in their sin (vv. 23-24)
◦ whoever practices sin is a slave to sin (v. 34)
◦ no one in the temple could convict Jesus of sin (v. 46)
(he was the one person without sin)
Condemn or judge — in Greek, katakrinos and krinos
◦ none of the accusers stayed to condemn the woman
◦ and Jesus, who could have condemned her, did not (v. 11)
◦ later Jesus said, I judge no one (v. 15, as he just demonstrated)
• Central to woman’s story is stoning
◦ and that’s how Jesus’ story ends the chapter
So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple (v. 59)
– so the story fits the chapter

Following this story, Jesus made an announcement

Pharisees who heard him reacted immediately
– from that point on, Jesus is answering objections
• the crowd misunderstand and underestimated him
• so he walked them through the maze of their wrong thinking
– in three instances, I see him revealing truths that were hidden in the Synoptic gospels

First, his announcement: I am the light of the world

In the Sermon On the Mount, Jesus said, You are the light of the world
– how did the disciples (and crowd) become the light of the world?
• we could say, “By living the beatitudes”
◦ but it is doubtful that they had mastered them already
◦ Jesus went on to say that people do not

light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand (Mt. 5:15)

• I wonder if Jesus is explaining where they got their light
◦ that he is the one who lit their lamps
◦ here he says,

Who ever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life(they “have” it by receiving it from Jesus)

◦ in next chapter Jesus will say:
As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world (Jn. 9:5)

– John emphasizes light and sight all through his gospel
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world (Jn. 1:9)
. . . and we have seen his glory (Jn. 1:14)
what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? (Jn. 6:30)
Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails…I will never believe (Jn. 20:25)
– but “seeing” is not how we know God or walk with him

as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18)
for we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7)

• rather than helping us to know God, sight can get in way
◦ after all, why did Jesus have to blind Paul to save him? (Acts 9:3-9)

Jesus is light, but not the kind we see with our eyes
– we make distinctions between natural light and artificial light
• but there is another light and it is visible only to the spirit
◦ “uncreated” – not like when God said, Let there be light
◦ but the light of God himself, God is light (1 Jn. 1:5)
• uncreated light is a cornerstone of Orthodox spirituality
(the light revealed to the disciples in his “transfiguration”)

Gregory Palamas (14th century mystic), “This mysterious light, inaccessible, immaterial, uncreated, deifying, eternal, this radiance of the Divine Nature, this glory of the divinity, this beauty of the heavenly kingdom, is at once accessible to sense perception and yet transcends it.” [Quoting St. Basil,] “. . . it is visible to the eyes of the heart”

The light shines in the darkness (Jn. 1:5)
• for a long time I assumed this meant the light shined like a beacon or lighthouse
◦ but now I realize that the darkness is still dark,
◦ but it is illuminated with a light invisible to human eyes

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you
(Psalm 139:11-12)

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Cor. 4:3-4)

• Jesus also spoke of spiritual blindness

(of the Pharisees) Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit (Mt. 15:14)

◦ when it comes to having life in God, follow One with the light
◦ Jesus is the light! – And this brings us to the next question

Verse 25, So they said to him, “Who are you?”

Later they ask, Are you greater than our father Abraham? (v. 53)
Do you remember the Samaritan woman asking Jesus,

Are you greater than our father Jacob? (Jn. 4:12)

– they asked, because they sensed a challenge to their heroes
• in Matthew 12, Jesus referred to someone and something

greater than the temple, greater than Jonah, and greater than Solomon

◦ but Jesus left it there without explicitly pointing to himself
◦ nor did he suggest how he was greater
– but here, John allows us to hear Jesus speak in a clear voice (vv. 14, 19)

Let’s back up – in Mark chapter 3, two stories are “sandwiched”
– this means the two stories are told together, one inside the other
• each one illuminating the other
– the outside (slices) tell of Jesus’ family; the inside tell of the scribes
• both were trying to make sense of his actions
◦ his family thought he had lost his senses
◦ the scribes said, He has an unclean spirit (demon)
• John takes us deeper into both stories
◦ in John 7, we see that his family’s actions resulted from unbelief
◦ in John 8, the religious leaders were openly hostile

“Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I don not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me.” (Jn. 8:48-49)

John brings all of this to the central question, Who is Jesus?
– it’s a question Jesus himself raised in all three Synoptic gospels (e.g., Mt. 16:13-15)
• John shows us that Jesus dropped plenty of clues:
◦ God is his Father–to know Jesus is to know God (v. 19)
◦ They’re from below and of the world; he’s from above and not of the world (v. 23)
◦ he has the truth that sets people free from sin (vv. 31-36)
◦ he came to them from God (v. 42)
• some of these statements are ambiguous
◦ but there is no ambiguity in verse 58

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I day to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

◦ his meaning was clear to them; they picked up rocks to stone him

A third truth hidden in the Synoptic Gospels

Verses 27 and 43 specifically address why the people did not understand
– the reason in verse 27, It is because you cannot bear to hear my word
• it clashed too much with their cherished beliefs, prejudices and paradigms
a second reason they did not understand (v. 47, & I emphasize “of God”)

Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.

• they were religious, but they were not of God
a third reason they did not understand Jesus was,

because my word finds no place in you (v. 37)

• he had told them,

If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples (v. 31)

• do you remember how Jesus redefined family in Mk. 3:35?

And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.

• the problem here, is that his word could not find a place in them
◦ this is like the parable of the seed and the soil (Mt. 13:1-23)
◦ Jesus’ words need a special environment to flourish

Conclusion: I will finish with this thought

When we read Jesus’ teaching, his word searches for a place in us
– one that is open, receptive and responsive
• willing to hear the truth, whether pleasant or unpleasant
• the place in us that wants to know God
– God searches for the place in me that is searching for him
• they had no place for Jesus – in their theology, thinking, or lives
◦ his word was rendered ineffective – powerless to generate life

At the end of his ministry, Jesus said,
I go to prepare a place for you
I have to ask myself,
What place have I prepared for him?

Mar 1 / Chuck Smith, Jr.



February 24, 2019 – Mark 7:14-23 John 7:37-39

Intro: It is not easy to follow the thread of John chapter 7

So I will begin with a quick synopsis of what is here:
– in Galilee, Jesus’ brothers told him he should “make an appearance” in Judea
• if he wanted public recognition, he should show himself to the world
◦ apparently they assumed that he wanted a measure of fame
• this was not friendly advice, For not even his brothers believed in him
◦ Jesus answered, it was not his time
kairos — the right moment (appointed time)
– later, Jesus went to Judea, not publicly but in private
– before showing up in the temple, people were already talking about him
– half-way through the feast, Jesus went into temple and began teaching
• as always, the impression he made was uncanny
◦ some in the crowd wanted to know how he knew so much
(not being “lettered”–i.e., not having a formal education)
◦ Jesus’ answer was that the teaching wasn’t his – he had been sent
– verse 19 is where it becomes tricky–Jesus starts talking about Moses

Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?

• their religious life was defined by the law Moses had given them
◦ but seeking to kill Jesus was contrary to the commandments
• the crowd answered, You have a demon! (You’re crazy)
Who is seeking to kill you?
◦ Jesus didn’t answer, but instead, he spoke of circumcision

Here is the point Jesus was making. According to God’s covenant with Abraham, every male baby of his descendants was to circumcised on the eighth day. Even if the eighth day was a Sabbath, the circumcision would still be performed–although non-life threatening medical procedures were forbidden according to the current interpretation of the law. So to keep the commandment regarding circumcision, certain details of the Sabbath law were suspended. Jesus’ logic is simple: If it is justifiable to perform a circumcision on the Sabbath day, it was also justifiable for Jesus to make a man’s whole body well.

• Jesus then challenged them,
Do not judge by appearances but judge with right judgment
– next, John takes us back into the gossip mill – the Christ?
• the problem was they knew where Jesus was from (they thought)
◦ Jesus seems to agree, but that’s not the point
◦ the point is who it was that sent Jesus – they don’t know him
– the Pharisees heard about the crowd’s speculations
• and they sent officers to arrest him
◦ meanwhile, Jesus resumed his teaching
• if before, the issue was where he was from,
◦ now it was where he was going
◦ this left the crowd confused
– now John jumps to the last day of feast

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (Jn. 6:37-39)

• this is the heart of the chapter
• everything else points to this and circles down to it
◦ Jesus, who was sent from God and speaks for God,
◦ has life to give to anyone who comes to him
– the crowd is now clearly divided over Jesus
– while they’re arguing, the officers return to the Pharisees
• when asked why they did not have Jesus in custody, they said,
No one ever spoke like this man!
• John leaves no doubt regarding the Pharisees’ opinions:
◦ people who followed Jesus were being deceived
◦ no other authorities or Pharisees believed in Jesus
◦ the crowd, not educated in the law, was cursed
• Nicodemus tried to defend Jesus, but was quickly shut down

We have been investigating what makes John’s gospel unique

First, he did not have to say what had already been said
Second, there are gaps in the Synoptic gospels
(for example, in the disciples’ understanding)
• a good example is here in v. 39, where John has to explain about the living water
• he wrote years after this event, and with greater insight
John’s gospel is like a spiritual commentary on the other gospels
– he uncovers a deeper level of meaning in Jesus’ teaching

In the Synoptics, Jesus had a lot to say about the heart
Blessed are the pure in heart
• where your treasure is, there your heart will be also
out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks
this people’s heart has grown dull
• love God with all your heart
are your hearts hardened?
– what the Synoptics don’t tell us is what we can do about our hearts
• how can I become a person who is pure in heart?
• how is the heart repaired–or better, “redeemed”?
– John grabs onto something Jesus said in the temple
• it was an invitation to anyone who was thirsty
◦ by now we know this thirst is more than a physical drive
◦ it may be an inner void or emptiness
◦ or a yearning for something more
• Jesus gives the person who comes to him living water
◦ in fact, it will flow from that person’s heart like a river
◦ only, Jesus didn’t say “heart”

The Bible has a variety of visceral words
– this reminds us how difficult it can be to describe our deepest feelings
• the word Jesus used can refer to the entire abdomen
◦ in the gospels, it is especially the stomach and female womb
◦ Luke (the physician?) uses it more than twice as many times as the other gospels
• this inner part of a person would include the heart
◦ but it may also refer to an even deeper place
– in time, John came to realize Jesus was talking about the Spirit
• what comes out of my heart isn’t always so lovely or nice
• but Jesus brings something else to my inner self
◦ the very Spirit of God
◦ and everything he inspires is good, true and beautiful
• Paul expands on this work of the Spirit in greater detail
(especially in Romans ch. 8)

I want to point out something else

In verse 36 the people ask,

What does he mean by saying, “You will seek me and you will not find me?

– I believe Jesus was intentionally cryptic
• everyone in this chapter had formed opinions about Jesus
◦ beginning with his brothers
◦ then the crowd–who thought they knew him
◦ at the end, the Pharisees–who were certain they knew him
• Jesus said something about himself they could not understand
◦ if they continued listening to him,
◦ they would have to do it with fresh ears, an open mind
– we cannot listen to Jesus the way they did and understand him
• they heard him as if listening to someone who was only human
◦ they listened to him and reacted to his words
◦ but they did not really hear Jesus
• we cannot know Jesus apart from Jesus
(that is to say, apart from an encounter with him, the person)
◦ we cannot know him by studying him (like bacteria in a lab)
◦ this is the reason the officers could not arrest Jesus
there was no one else like him

Jesus invites us to come to him – that’s only way we can know him
– the only way to receive what he has to give
The whole Gospel of John is built around this question

What does he mean?

– John provided his answers to the question of Jesus’ teaching meant,
but I believe he also demonstrated ways we can find answers

  1. The chapter begins and ends with disbelief (vv. 5 & 48)
    ◦ to get at what Jesus means, we have to trust him
    ◦ sent from God, there’s a deeper meaning, and it’s true
  2. Then, there is the clue that that Jesus gave in verse 17

If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority

◦ the person who wants to do God’s will hears authenticity
3. We have to hold lightly what we think we know
◦ they thought they knew where Jesus was from, vv. 41-42
◦ knowing the Synoptic gospels (as John and his readers did),
we already know Jesus was from Beth.
◦ there’s a limit to what knowing can do for us
4. We need to respond to Jesus invitation (cf. Mt. 11:28)
5. We need to take what Jesus offers us
◦ and he offers himself, his Spirit
◦ the Spirit unlocks the meaning within Jesus’ message

William Johnston has written, “I myself believe that within us are locked up torrents and torrents of joy that can be released by meditation–sometimes they will burst through with incredible force, flooding the personality with an extraordinary happiness that comes from, one knows not where.”

Conclusion: Let’s say that today we thirst for God

How can we drink come and drink that living water?
– perhaps our breath can be a way to drink Spirit
• breath is the core of our existence – our “self”
◦ it was when God breathed into matter, matter became a living person
• we know our psychological state affects our breathing
(when stressed or anxious we pant, hyperventilate, hold our breath)
◦ we can use our breath to work the other way around
◦ mindful breathing can calm us, focus our minds, return us to peace
• begin every prayer with a cleansing breath
(and perhaps cross every threshold with a cleansing breath)
• a cleansing breath is one we draw into the abdomen (the belly)
◦ do this in silence and it can open that deeper place in us
◦ our breathing is a very natural way to become aware of the Spirit
• the body is calibrated by rhythm – find the rhythm of your breath
◦ perhaps inhale: “Breath of heaven”
◦ and exhale: “fill my soul”

The best part of breathing is that we do it all the time
(See? You’re breathing right now)
And–we take our breath everywhere we go
So anytime and anywhere
we can awaken our soul to God
and return to the peace of his presence

Feb 19 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

February 17, 2019 – Luke 22:14-20 and John 5:35-3-63


True Food and True Drink

Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” John 6:5-9

Intro: This is the only miracle Jesus performed that is reported in all four gospels

In Matthew, Mark, and John this miracle is immediately followed by another–when Jesus walked on water
– Mark adds an intriguing footnote to that event regarding the disciples:

And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened (Mk. 6:51-52)

• he indicates that something was revealed in the miracle of the loaves and fish
◦ but the disciples missed it, and that was because their hearts were hardened
• in other words, their minds were set in mode of thinking
◦ and that meant the miracle could not penetrate their hearts
– this inability to understand is exactly what John addresses in his gospel
• therefore, the miracle of the loaves becomes an opportunity
◦ Jesus uses it for an extended session of interactive teaching
◦ as Jesus taught, the crowd became increasingly frustrated, until

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him (v. 66)

John adds another feature to the story–Jesus “tested” Philip
– after a quick calculation, Philip decided providing food for everyone could not be done
• they did not have the resources
– but Jesus not only tested Philip, he went on to test the crowd
• the whole chapter is one test after another
• Jesus used impossibilities to stretch them into faith

The first indication of a serious problem

Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself (v. 15)

The crowd could not see Jesus for who he was
– they saw him, instead, for what they wanted him to be (bread delivery)
• he withdrew – they could not have him that way
• the next day they chased him down
◦ perplexed – they wondered how he got to Capernaum without a boat (vv. 22-24)

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” (v. 25)

– Jesus did no give a direct answer
• instead of telling them when he got there, he told them why they came

Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves (v. 26)

◦ what did he mean? At first they followed him because they had seen the signs! (v. 2)
◦ but that wasn’t why they came this time
(if they had come because of signs, they would have been there for him. Remember? The signs point to Jesus!)
• what they god from the sign was a free lunch
◦ that was the kind of king the wanted
◦ a king who promised them “a chicken in every pot and two cars in every garage”

Jesus tried to turn them in a different direction

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal (v. 27)

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