If you love me ...

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. -John 14:15-17 NRSV

Do you find it interesting that Jesus says keep 'my' commandments? Not the Hebrews scriptures. Not Mosaic Law. His commands would be kept if one loved him. In these few words he seems to acknowledge his divinity. And when I think of his commandments, I think of how he commands a love that denies our way, picks up our cross and follows Jesus.

Knowing the Holy Spirit changes a person's life. In this passage Jesus tells his followers that they already knew the Holy Spirit but would soon know him differently. On the Day of Pentecost the disciples would know the Holy Spirit in a powerful way. This knowing would change the disciples from weak followers to passionate and empowered leaders.

Come Holy Spirit. Fall on me afresh that I might know you more. Love Jesus deeper. And glorify the Father in all that I do.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

I will do whatever you ask in my name ...

I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. -John 14:13-16 NRSV

What does it mean to pray in Jesus' name? Is it simply a matter of adding "in Jesus' name" to the end of our prayers? Or is it something more substantial? Interesting how the context in this passage seems to be glorifying God, loving him, keeping his commandments and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps these are the true elements of prayer?

Jesus teaching seems to present prayer as a package and not the simplistic utterance of our wants and needs. The inspiration of prayer being the Holy Spirit. The motivation: loving obedience. The authority: the name of Jesus. The goal: the glory of God. This sort of prayer speaks to me about how prayer is all about our relationship with God.

Teach us to pray Lord. Help us to see prayer the way that you see it.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? -John 14:8-9 NRSV

Thomas had just asked Jesus to show him the way. Now Philip wants him to show him the Father. Jesus reaction is telling. After being with him for three years these disciples seemed clueless about who Jesus was. These men, stuck in an earthly image of Messiah, did not understand that Jesus had been showing them the Way and the Father all along.

People today are still locked into an earthly image of Jesus. Folks still refer to him as a great teacher or powerful prophet and totally miss the point. Jesus came to not only teach us about God but to show us what God is actually like. His life is still teaching me about what the goodness and love of God looks like. I want to be like him.

Empower me today Lord to be like you. Help me to deny myself, pick up my cross and follow you.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

If you know me ...

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” -John 14:5-7 NRSV

I think that many of us often quote the part of this passage about Jesus being the way and do not stop to consider that Jesus speaks about knowing him. In essence the way to the Father is knowing the Son. To be sure, I am not speaking about knowing about Jesus. I am talking about experientially knowing him through a spiritual birth.

Reminds me of a song that I often sing in my alone times: "Knowing you Jesus. Knowing you. There is no greater thing." Apart from knowing God I do not think that I could make through the heartaches and trials. Knowing Jesus made the difference when my wife died. Knowing him gives me strength to overcome in hard times. There is no greater joy.

You are my all. You are the best. My joy. My righteousness. And I love you Lord.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

My Father’s House

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. -John 14:1-3 NRSV

Ever think of Heaven as God's house? The imagery is a bit limiting as an earthly house has a finite number of rooms. Even so, when I think of the word house I see it as a place where a family lives. It is a communal setting where life is lived by people who belong to each other. Perhaps this sense of familial connection is why Jesus calls Heaven a house?

I love how Jesus wants believers to be with him. This desire touches me so deeply. Knowing that Jesus has gone to Heaven before me and desires me to be with him calms my troubled heart in trying times. Understanding that I will one day be with family again encourages me so deeply. It is why I long for my Father's house. My home in heaven.

Help me Lord to live a life that understands that heaven is my home.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

Will you lay down your life for me?

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “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? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times. -John 13:36-38 NRSV

Such a sobering passage. After three years of walking at the side of the Son of God, Peter was still looking for an earthly kingdom. One that would overthrow the Romans and declare Jesus king. This is the Messiah that Peter would lay his life down for. Peter was not ready for what would happen in just a few hours. None of the disciples were.

Have you ever denied Jesus? I have. Maybe not in the way that Peter did but by my actions I surely have. I have heard that cock crow and wept tears of repentance. In times like these it is good to remember that Peter would be restored and used mightily by God. But before that happened the cock had to crow and Peter had to die to himself.

Help us Lord. It is only by grace that we stand. Teach us to walk in humility and reject proud assertations.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

I give you a new commandment ...

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

Ever wonder why Jesus called this a new commandment? Surely Mosaic Law commanded them to love each other as they loved themselves. And perhaps many of them loved in this way? So how was the love that Christ commanded different? Was it just a matter of love being sacrificial and unconditional? Could not Mosaic love be that kind of love?

For sure the love of Christ that his disciples saw, and would see, embraced sacrifice and was without conditions. Yet I wonder if loving like Jesus is not about those things but about selfless love? What if humility was at the core of our loving? What if we all loved and did not care about who knew it? That would be different. That might change the world.

Help me Lord to love in such a way that my ego is not stroked. Teach me to love in a selfless way.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

One of you is going to betray me.

“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture:
‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” -John 13:18,19,21 NRSV

Jesus had just washed the feet of Judas. The feet of the one who would turn against him. The enemy who he loved. Amazing. He could have waited until his betrayer left the room and then washed his friends' feet. I wonder what it was like for Jesus? I wonder if being troubled in spirit meant that he wept over Judas? This is such a gut wrenching moment.

But it is an encouraging moment for anyone who has ever been betrayed. It is a freeing to know that even the One who never sinned had an enemy. To understand that even divine love is sometimes not enough to prevent betrayal. This frees us from guilt over broken relationships and lost friendships. Sometimes we can do everything right and still lose a friend.

Heal our hearts today Lord. Help us as we grieve over lost friendships and broken relationships.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.