John 1-2 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He became human and dwelt with us, revealing Himself to us

My mom was a personal soul winner like no one else I’ve ever known.  Although she was somewhat shy by nature, when it came to sharing her love for Jesus with others, she was fearless!  Her favorite tool was a small booklet of the Book of John, and I can’t even begin to number how many she gave out to those she had led to Lord.

Sometimes she would run out of her copies of John, but I can still hear her telling the new ones in the Lord, “Just read the Book of John! Read the Book of John because it will tell you all about Jesus.”  Mom loved this book because as a new Christian, before she found a church home or Christian friends, God directed her to read it.  Within the pages of John, she fell in love with her Savior, discovered her Shepherd and met the Great Physician.  Needless to say, the Book of John is a favorite of mine, too.

While the other gospels include wonderful, anointed biographies of the life and times of Jesus on earth, John’s approach in writing was different, more thematic.  Just as a lawyer systematically presents his argument to a jury, John gave a deliberate and methodical case for the deity and power of Jesus.  His closing argument, if you will, is found nearly at the end of John in chapter 20:30-31, “The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have life by the power of His name.”   Persuaded by the powerful words of John and our own undeniable experience, my mom and I accept the verdict – Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God!

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (1:1)  In our language of today, the term Word is an unusual way to begin a case for the deity of Christ, but in John’s day, it was a term familiar to Jew and Greek alike.  To the Jew it was a term used for God; and to the Greek, Word was a term used to represent the current philosophy or reason of an expressed thought.  During the troubled times of persecution after the fall of Jerusalem, John was able to capture the attention of both the Jew and the Greek.

Similar to the Greeks, today much of the world’s thinking about God and His Son is ruled by philosophy and reason without faith – He was simply a good man or possibly a prophet. Just as my mom had discovered, the words of John along with the testimony of our personal acceptance of Him are powerful tools to convince the world that Jesus is the Son of God.

I love the unforgettable words from John – “Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29), “For God so loved the world that He gave” (3:16), “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd sacrifices His life for the sheep” (10:11), “Now you are my friends (15:15), and so much more.  Just read the Book of John!  Read the Book of John because it will tell you all about Jesus. And we will read it.

Moving Forward:  I’m convinced, and willing to share with anyone who will listen, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Word, the Good Shepherd, the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, the Mighty Counselor, the Healer…and my friend. 

Tomorrow @ 2 Thessalonians

Mark 15-16 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: In silence, He went to the cross as a sacrifice for our sins

What is it that causes politicians and just about everyone elected or appointed to positions of power or responsibility to suffer from amnesia. I’m baffled by this.  Perhaps the new mantle has hit them on the head and caused them to forget the values and beliefs they held for decades.  I’m not sure.  Some have suggested that once the new position is attained, these leaders will do anything to stay in power.  Our reading today is not only about the crucifixion of our precious Lord, but also about a politician whose political ambitions played right into the hands of the mob. 

@Mark 15
Pilate was a politician.  Some would say he could not help himself in the decision he made to crucify Jesus – how would a riot look on his record?  Governor of this dusty little community on the other side of the Mediterranean from glorious Rome was definitely not his dream job, but more than likely he considered it a stepping stone to bigger and better things.  Complaints and riots regarding his handling of this little Jesus incident, as he saw it, would not look good on his record, so he caved.

Pilate asked, “What crime has He committed?’ But the mob roared even louder, ‘Crucify him!’  So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them.  He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.” (14-15) And politicians have been caving ever since, failing to stand for truth because of how it might affect their poll numbers and their vote at the ballot box.  But for the record, neither Pilate nor the mob, not even the religious leaders, took the life of Jesus.  “He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.” (I Timothy 2:6)  The leaders on that day only thought they were in charge, and this is true today as well.

There is another leader mentioned in Chapter 15 who handled the crucifixion of Jesus in an honorable way.  Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Jewish high council, the ruling body of the Jews.  “Joseph took a risk and went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body… bought a long sheet of linen cloth.  Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it…laid it in a tomb.”(43-46)  In doing this, Joseph took a stand against his peers, the very men who crucified Jesus. Apparently, showing proper respect and honor to the Son of God was more important to him than his reputation, or for all he knew, even his life!

I want to be like Joseph, not Pilate.  I want to honor Him and stand for Him regardless of what my neighbors and fellow employees may think, regardless of what persecution may come in the future and regardless of the cost.  I want to be willing to take a risk to give honor to the Lord. I don’t want to cave. 

Moving Forward: Today I will honor the Lord before others, regardless…. 

Tomorrow @ 2 Corinthians 6-8