I’m always amazed how kind and gentle Jesus is to his friends on this particular morning — the same friends who fell asleep, cowered, ran away, denied him in his darkest hour. These men, like me, were weak and unworthy disciples.
But Jesus doesn’t scold them, guilt them, or abandon them, although their sins and failures were fresh. Instead, he speaks words of peace, works a miracle, makes them breakfast, and gives them the chance to profess their love for him again. He’s calm, loving, and forgiving in response to their weakness — a beautiful picture of how Jesus deals with us each and every day.
Then he said, “Follow me.”
This is the kind of Friend I want to follow always. This is Jesus, to whom I sing: “O make me thine forever, and should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to thee.”
It’s always painful to read the story of Pilate, who knows and publicly proclaims Christ’s innocence, and still approves of him being flogged and crucified. Yet this is exactly what we believe as Christians: that he who knew no sin was punished on our behalf. Pilate’s motives were evil and cowardly; but “God the just” knew exactly what he was doing in providing this perfect sacrifice so that we can have eternal fellowship with God and his saints forever. We can only ponder and praise his mysterious ways.
In this passage, I’m in awe of how Scripture is revealed to us, straight from the Spirit, to give a full account of these words that Jesus spoke to the Father. Only God himself could give us access to this moment in history. He didn’t have to, but he did. And to know that Jesus, just hours away from death, took time to pray for me — that’s incredibly humbling and profoundly encouraging. I’m grateful that God pulled back the curtain here to give a glimpse into the prayer life of the Mediator himself. He prayed for me then, and I can rest assured that he prays for me now. What a glorious thought!
“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (v. 33)
I love how forthright Christ is when he promises trouble. Ease will be the exception. Peace, an anomaly. But then, there’s a glorious juxtaposition: he has overcome it. In fact, Jesus experienced it firsthand, as God in the flesh, which is why we can trust his claim that he has truly conquered it.
I remember taking comfort in this verse following my “coming out” online, when unbelievers unleashed their opinions on my faith and my commitment to honor God by remaining single. During that time, I could imagine — almost hear — Jesus speaking these words to me. And many, many times since.
Yes, the world has trouble, and it can feel unpredictable and chaotic. But at least Jesus told us up front, and gave us hope for those moments when we feel it most.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” (v. 9)
Wow! This has got to be one of the most shocking verses in the Bible. One of those things you wouldn’t believe if it weren’t right there in front of you. But Jesus said it and he cannot lie: he loves his disciples as the Father loves him.
I can’t begin to understand or imagine the depth of that love. But I know it’s not a surface, fickle love — the kind that can be tossed aside when I sin or stumble or wander off. The Father’s love for the Son is constant, eternal, unchanging, immovable, unshakable. It’s the kind of love God can have for fallen men ONLY when they’re hidden in Christ, clothed in his righteousness, cleansed by his blood. We’re invited into this vine and we’re mere branches, grafted in: “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” I believe it.
Lord, may I ever abide in your love.
With everything that’s about to happen — betrayal, abandonment, torture, crucifixion, coming face to face with wrath — Jesus doesn’t for a moment cease to love and serve his friends. He doesn’t take “me time” to rest and prepare for the trials (literally) to come. Instead, he strips down, humbles himself, and washes the grimy feet of his disciples. It’s a story I’ve read so many times, it’s easy to gloss over, but today I’m in wonder at what patience and grace it took to wash their feet. So thoroughly and thoughtfully, knowing his time had come, knowing what was in store. It wasn’t hurried or halfhearted. He wasn’t distracted or dejected. He was present, still teaching them the lessons they would need when he was gone, including the “new commandment” to love one another, just as he loved them. What a savior! What a friend!
Jesus calls himself the good shepherd, who not only leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one lost sheep, as we learn about elsewhere, but also lays down his life for the sheep. There’s no way to truly plumb the depths of this great metaphor. Today especially, I just want to rest in the truth that he’s GOOD. He leads. He knows me, and I know his voice, too. Sometimes I stray, like a wandering sheep, but “in tenderness” he brings me back to his fold again, as one of my favorite hymns says. This is what shepherds do, and he’s the greatest of them, perfectly suited for sinners.
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Whenever I consider the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, I often focus on my own strength, my holding fast to Jesus. And there’s truth to that. But here, thankfully, I’m reminded of the reverse — that Jesus holds me fast. He’s not letting go, even when I stumble. He will always bring me back to the fold. Thank you, Lord.
The story of the man born blind has always been comforting to me, because I also have an “abnormality” — in my sexuality — that I can’t necessarily attribute to any cause. Like the man’s blindness, same-sex attraction seems to have been with me since I was born. I didn’t ask for it, I don’t want it, and I know it’s not God’s original or ultimate intent for his creation. But it exists and persists in the “already/not yet,” even in the life of believers.
So, I was encouraged when I learned that C.S. Lewis, citing this very text, made the same connection between the blind man and the “homosexual” (to use his term). Jesus doesn’t explain to his disciples why the man was born blind, neither does God tell us why same-sex attraction might exist in the life of a Christian, but we can be sure of the end result — “that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v. 3).
The works of God. Displayed in him.
Those continue to be encouraging words, even though sometimes that glorious end feels far away. In the meantime, my work is to believe, casting my cares on Christ, eagerly awaiting the day when the works of God are finally and fully displayed — even in me.