HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, February 27, 2022
Youtube link... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uGKwqvfXFA
Teaching Series - “Doing Life with Jesus"
Weekly Topic - “Jesus & the Sabbath”
Texts – Exodus 20, Colossians 2:16-17, Romans 14:4-6, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Matthew 12:1-8, Luke 13:10-21, Luke 6:6-11
I must confess at the outset, as I once again found myself in the office finishing my preparations for Sunday on my day off, that my observance of ‘Sabbath’ needs some work. However, before any of us can improve in this area, I would like to challenge us today to consider afresh what ‘Sabbath’ is and what it is not, what it was meant for and examine from Jesus’ life how to observe and experience Sabbath in our own.
Weekly Devotional – Wednesday, February 23, 2022
‘Then Jesus said to the religious leaders, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”’ (Mark 2:23-24, NLT)
The religious leaders were so sure they were right—their understanding of the proper way to honour the Sabbath was correct—that they dismissed Jesus’ miracles performed on the Sabbath out of hand. Rather than seeing the evidence that the miracles provided—that standing before them was the Messiah, God himself—they worked overtime in their attempts to discredit Jesus and even made plans to silence him…once and for all. They were willfully blind. They were adamant; they could not possibly be wrong. Their traditions were time tested, handed down by Moses himself. This young upstart, who chose to work on the Sabbath, was dishonouring the Law, God and their very way of life! And who did he think he was to try to correct them? He had to be stopped.
Looking from our historical perspective, it is hard not to shake our heads and wonder, “How could they have been so blind?” But the fact of the matter is that none of us likes to be told we’re wrong. And while some have a degree of graciousness when confronted with errors, many become defensive, “Who are you to tell me that I’m wrong?” But what if our refusing to consider the possibility that we are mistaken, prevents us from experiencing some truth that God has for us? The Pharisees missed the Messiah—the very one they had been waiting for; their pride and their security in their traditions blinded them.
There is a reason that God commends those who are humble—humility gives us permission to admit our failures; pride rejects all appearances of ‘weakness.’ None of us is perfect. We won’t always get it right. How much better to remain honest with ourselves, accept correction when it is needed and make necessary course corrections, rather than adamantly taking a path that takes us off course. Pray that God will help you accept that you are not always right. Ask him to send people your way who can help you better understand what is truth. Don’t be like the religious leaders who rejected Jesus out of hand…and missed seeing the very One they were looking for.
HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, February 20, 202
Youtube link... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGqOH4xjelY
Teaching Series - “Doing Life with Jesus"
Weekly Topic - “Counterculture”
Texts – Mark 10:13-16, Luke 10:38-42, Luke 5:12-14, Luke 19:1-10, Romans 1:28-2:11
Last week we considered Jesus’ response to rejection. Though he knew everything that was about to transpire even before it happened, he kneeled before the betrayer and showed his incredible love by washing Judas’ feet. He continued to show his love as he washed the feet of Peter, who would deny even knowing him. In fact, he loved them all to the end, washing each one’s feet in turn, knowing that all would abandon him before the night was out. He set an example for the twelve, and for all those who would call him Lord in the years since, that would not be easy to follow.
Today, we examine Jesus’ response to people who found themselves on the receiving end of rejection. He did not concern himself with what other people thought, with societal stereotypes or even about keeping a good reputation. He loved on people…all people! No one was excluded. So this morning, let’s dive right in to discover just how very counterculture Jesus’ treatment of others really was.
Mark 10:13-16 – “13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. 14 When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.”
What was happening? [parents were bringing their children to Jesus for a blessing]
Why did the disciples ‘scold’ the parents? [they thought Jesus was too busy to be bothered; he had more important things to do than spend time with kids]
How does Jesus react? [He’s angry with his disciples. How dare they prevent anyone from coming to him?]
We should not be too quick to judge the disciples; try putting yourselves in a similar situation. An important guest has been invited to speak and when you attempt to talk to this person, a bunch of kids are milling around making lots of noise. How do you respond? What thoughts are going through your head? Just as in Jesus’ day, children are sometimes viewed as an inconvenience and even a nuisance in some circumstances. Most of us claim to love children, but not their noise or their mess. And let’s be honest, sometimes just their presence in the same room causes us to wish they weren’t…like a little one having a temper tantrum at the mall in the next aisle…
Just so in Jesus’ day. Children were considered of little to no consequence by the majority of adults. It was important to have a boy to pass on the family name and property; it was important to have children to help ease the workload of daily living. However, that does not mean that they held any particular worth in the eyes of their elders beyond that. For many, the desire and/or regard for children, did not match the need for children given the stated reasons. In the minds of many adults, they were to be seen and not heard, tolerated until they were old enough to be of use; they were certainly nothing more than an unwelcome distraction when the big people were talking.
But how does Jesus respond to the presence of the children? He invites them over, embraces them, blesses them and points to them as an example of what is required to enter the kingdom of heaven. In essence he was telling his audience, including the disciples, “Think you’re better than a child? Think again!”
No one was unimportant to Jesus, especially not children.
Luke 10:38-42 – “As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
There are many stories of Jesus treating women with greater regard than society did, but few show the depth to which Jesus advocated for women’s rights and abilities like the one we just read. Let’s take a closer look.
An important guest, Jesus, is visiting the home of two sisters, Mary and Martha, and their brother, Lazarus. When it came to playing host, how would the expectations on the men and the women have differed? [the women were to prepare the meal and wait on the men; the men would talk, often in a separate room]
Which of the siblings is not living up to expectations? [Mary, who has chosen to join the men and listen to Jesus as he teaches]
Martha is attempting to be the responsible female and calls on Jesus to back her up by telling Mary to join her in the kitchen. But what does Jesus say? [Mary has chosen the better thing and it will not be taken from her] Can’t you just see Martha’s shock, matched only by some of the disciples who may have been questioning Mary’s presence as well? Jesus dismissed the gendered expectations and refused to deny this opportunity to Mary, who many would have judged as shirking her womanly responsibility.
Was Jesus being unsympathetic to Martha’s workload? No, I don’t think so. I think that Jesus was actually inviting Martha to set aside the things she thought were required of her and come join the group too…she was missing out! What would have happened if she had stopped? The meal might have been served later, but no one would have gone hungry. Mary and probably Jesus, himself, would have pitched in to help in the preparation of the meal after the discussion. Martha was being invited to sit at the Teacher’s feet as his student…with the men.
That may not seem like much of a big deal for us here today, but it wasn’t so very long ago that women were not permitted to attend university. We still have countries around this world where girls are not allowed to attend school past grade eight, if at all. In Jesus’ day, girls were not educated in the same way that the boys were. Boys were permitted to engage in higher learning—reading, writing, arithmetic, religious studies and philosophy—while the instruction of girls focused on domestic skills like cooking, sewing, basket weaving, child-rearing and the like.
The view of women in Jesus’ day was dismally low. Many viewed a girl’s education in areas outside of keeping a home and raising children to be a waste of time and resources…if she was capable of learning at all. A woman who burnt the morning toast could find herself served with divorce papers before the day was out. The prayer of blessing, as part of the halakha, has taught Orthodox Jewish men to thank God each morning, “Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has not made me a woman.”
Jesus dismissed this patriarchal view that put women in an inferior position to men. He not only tolerated Mary in the room, he commended her for her choice and refused to allow anyone to take this right from her. “Mary has chosen the better thing and it will not be taken from her.” After that, who would dare protest her choice? She had received Jesus’ approval…and backing!
No one was unteachable to Jesus, not even women.
Luke 5:12-14– “In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”
13 Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. 14 Then Jesus instructed him not to tell anyone what had happened. He said, “Go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”
Leprosy, now known as Hansen’s Disease, is the result of a slow growing bacteria that affects the nerves, eyes and skin. It is no longer thought to be as contagious as it once was and effective treatments exist, but if left untreated, the nerve damage can result in crippling of hands and feet, paralysis, and blindness. Luke tells us that Jesus is met by a man with an advanced case of leprosy. He could not hide his condition, even if he had wanted to.
In the first century, there was much fear surrounding the condition. Some were forced from their homes, shunned by family members and anyone with leprosy was considered ‘unclean’ so could not enter the Temple to worship God.
After the man begs Jesus to heal him, how does Jesus respond? [he touches him…affirms his willingness…heals him…instructs him to go to the priest to receive his clean bill of health] He has literally given this man his life back.
It has always struck me as significant that Jesus ‘touched’ the man. The Law of Moses stipulated that anyone who touched someone who was unclean would remain unclean themselves until evening or longer, depending on the source of the uncleanness. Jesus, therefore, willingly became ‘unclean’ by touching this man and would himself have been unable to enter the Temple court which was set aside for worship of God by men.
No one was untouchable to Jesus, not even the contagious.
Luke 19:1-10 – “Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2 There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. 3 He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”
6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. 8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” 9 Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
How much do you think Zachaeus was hated? Before his encounter with Jesus, Zachaeus had been a greedy, selfish traitor of his people. He had become exceedingly wealthy by overcharging on taxes and defrauding those who didn’t have the power to resist without fear of the Romans for non-compliance.
The reaction of the people, who treated Zacchaeus the way his notoriety deserved, did nothing to change his despicable behaviour. No one wanted anything to do with this little man, protected by Rome, who had become rich off his dishonest practices as a tax collector. But just one afternoon with Jesus and he is a radically changed man. What happened?
He had climbed a tree just to see Jesus. When Jesus reaches the spot, he invites himself to Zacchaeus’ home for a meal. He is overjoyed…and the crowd is visibly upset.
Can you think of anyone…a politician maybe…who you regard with the same disdain as the crowd felt for Zacchaeus? What if you had been in the crowd eager to talk with Jesus and it was with this individual that Jesus chose to spend time? How would you react? [Why would he do that? Well, at least I hope Jesus lets them have it!]
You might wish that Jesus had a not-so-nice surprise in store for this sinner, but not so. In fact, Zacchaeus is so grateful for this honour that Jesus bestows on him that he becomes an entirely changed man. He promises to give half his wealth away to the poor and to pay back four times as much to anyone he has cheated, which he would have known because part of his job was to keep detailed records. This man, who many had condemned and had remained unchanged, became a new man after his brief encounter with the kindness of Jesus.
No one was unworthy to Jesus, not even sinners.
But what about us…are there some people we consider unimportant, unteachable, untouchable or unworthy?
“THERE IS NO ‘THEM’”
Romans 1:28-2:11 – “Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.
You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. 2 And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. 3 Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things? 4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will judge everyone according to what they have done. 7 He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. 8 But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. 9 There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 10 But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.”
Who is Paul writing this warning to? [the believing church in Rome]
Is it enough to ‘know’ God? [No, because even in the face of ‘knowing’ we can still choose to ignore him.]
What ensures that we will experience God’s glory and honour and peace in our lives? [Obedience to Him.]
Is it reassuring or alarming to you that God doesn’t play favourites? [That all depends on who is really in charge of your life—you or God.]
God looks at us as one human race…equally sinful…equally loved! There is no ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ from God’s perspective; so, when we think that way, we are not living with the mind of Christ. If we live and talk as though we are different from ‘them’ or ‘those people,’ we are doing what comes naturally for us as sinful humanity--pitting ourselves against one another and choosing sides. No matter how others are responding to situations we experience, we are to remain firmly on God’s side.
We are called to advocate for the powerless. We are to stand up for justice. But in so doing, our words and actions should never bring shame to Jesus. Name calling, slander, shouting matches, angry diatribes, belittling others or ‘hitting someone over the head with the truth’ bring dishonour to the One we claim to follow. We are not to blend in or mirror the attitudes and behaviours of those who have never experienced God’s grace and forgiveness firsthand. We are called to stand out, to live life counterculturally just as Jesus did.
If we don’t, are we really his? The proof that we are Jesus’ disciples is demonstrated in our following his example. Do we, like Jesus, permit others to ‘inconvenience’ us or do we dismiss them? Do we graciously listen to and engage others who might have different opinions, or do we denigrate them, applying one of many nasty labels? Do we allow the messiness of another’s life to cause us to be compassionate or do we push back in fear? Do we offer life-changing kindness as Jesus did, or further malign and add our voices to the vitriol being flung at someone for their poor choices? Too often, rather than obeying Jesus to ‘love our enemies’ and ‘pray for those who persecute us,’ we fall into the traps of mischaracterizing those we disagree with and dehumanizing them in order that we can ‘justifiably’ disregard them altogether.
We must stop taking our cues from the world. We may need to take a sabbatical from Facebook or an extended hiatus from all news media. If what you are listening to is causing you increasing anxiety, causing your blood to boil and producing hatred in your heart, then it is time to recalibrate…turn off the noise…get alone with God…and listen for him to speak anew.
Jesus has given us a commission, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). And he’s given us a new commandment, “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35).
God loves our ‘us’ and ‘them’ equally. Praise him for his incredible kindness, tolerance and patience despite our willful disobedience, belligerence and the shame we often bring to his name. But don’t be mislead…a time is coming when Jesus will pronounce his judgements on all. Let’s be diligent in doing life with Jesus…living our lives on his terms!
References and for further study / inspiration…
“Should I Thank God for Not Making Me a Woman” Rabbi Ari Hart https://www.huffpost.com/entry/should-i-thank-god-for-not-making-me-a-woman_b_3197422#:~:text=As%20a%20committed%20Orthodox%20Jew,to%20say%20that%20each%20morning.&text=%22Blessed%20are%20you%2C%20Lord%20our,12.
Sunday, February 27, 2022 – 2022 Theme - “Doing Life with Jesus – Jesus & the Sabbath” – In-person and Online
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
Daily Devotional – Wednesday, February 16, 2022
“If this man, Jesus, were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!” (Luke 7:39 NLT)
Jesus wasn’t afraid to hang out with the wrong crowd, to have women among his disciples, to appoint a tax collector as an apostle, to embrace those with leprosy or even to allow a woman with a bad reputation to show her devotion. And every time he did so, someone was in the background *tsk, tsking*. Many in the crowds that followed Jesus were not accepted into nice society. His followers included people whom other religious teachers would have rejected.
Jesus didn’t have any such boundaries. He saw all people as being in need of God, his forgiveness and love. Reading the stories of Jesus found in the Bible, we can lose sight of the boldness of Jesus to live in a manner that would have made him equally culpable as those he loved…at least in the eyes of many who saw themselves as ‘good’ or at the very least, better than ‘those people.’
Sometimes I think we’re too quick to skim over these stories and we fail to put ourselves in the narrative. Oh, sure, it’s easy to think of ourselves being embraced by Jesus even though rejected by others. The real challenge is to recognize our own lists of ‘those people’ as being equally loved by God. Who’s on your list? No point denying it, we all have one. The sex worker? The religious extremist? The white supremist? The immigrant? Or maybe it’s your inconsiderate neighbour, disagreeable family member or just the rude individual who cut you off in traffic. How does Jesus’ acceptance of these individuals sit with you?
Not only that, but what does it mean for us who Jesus commands to, ‘love your enemy,’ ‘bless those who curse you,’ ‘don’t retaliate.’ When the Bible tells us that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), no one is left out of the equation; and, unlike us, God doesn’t use a gradient scale when it comes to measuring disobedience. Jesus’ love for others was bold…ignoring the gossip and forgiving freely. For those of us attempting to become like the One we follow, doing life with Jesus every day, we too should be boldly going where the self-righteous never would…boldly loving all people.
HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, February 13, 202
Youtube link... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMTogw1STn4
Teaching Series - “Doing Life with Jesus"
Weekly Topic - “Rejection, Betrayal, Denial & Abandonment”
Texts – John 13:1-38, 16:28-32; John 17; John 15:18-16:4
Life is filled with rejection and Jesus was not immune to it…in fact, he probably faced more than most! Today, we’re going to examine an eight-hour period of Jesus’ life—starting with his final meal with the disciples to just prior to his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is clear that Jesus was fully aware of everything that was about to take place and how each of twelve would respond. He knew all about their coming rejection, betrayal, denials and abandonment…yet loved them to the very end.
“REJECTION, BETRAYAL, DENIAL, ABANDONMENT”
John 13 – “Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. 2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. 6 When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” 8 “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”
What was Peter’s issue? Foot washing was a regular practice and a common courtesy, which had somehow been neglected in preparation for this final meal. It was common for a bowl of water to be provided, especially before guests sat down to eat around low tables to dine together, where everyone would be exposed to the condition of one another’s feet.
If the foot washing was an assigned duty, it was typically done by a slave, though there is evidence that a Jewish servant was not to be required to perform it. It was therefore, left to the lowest slave to do, most often a female. In households, however, it was often performed by the wife for her husband, due to its intimate nature, and a host might perform it for a highly regarded guest as a sign of honour. Students could also be expected to perform foot washing for their teacher. But the master wash the feet of his servants and/or students? Never! Until Jesus that is….
While the disciples sit around arguing about who will get the most prestigious positions in the coming kingdom, Jesus does the unthinkable. He takes off his outer clothes, dons a towel, then proceeds to wash each of their feet. This would have been humiliating for the disciples on a couple of accounts—both having their teacher wash their feet and having neglected to show the proper respect by not having washed his.
Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
9 Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.”
What was the bottom-line message Jesus was trying to shock into their realities? Doing life with Jesus isn’t about being served, but about serving others. This action on Jesus’ part was meant to set an example…the Master had performed a most humiliating task on their behalf…none of them was to consider themselves too good to do likewise.
Notice, too, that Jesus didn’t leave anyone out of this act of service—not even the one he knew was going to betray him! What does this mean for us as Jesus’ disciples today? Our love and care of others should be extended equally to all.
18 “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me.’ 19 I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I am the Messiah. 20 I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me.”
21 Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!” 22 The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean. 23 The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. 24 Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s he talking about?” 25 So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. 27 When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” 28 None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. 29 Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. 30 So Judas left at once, going out into the night.
Jesus was not emotionally impervious to what was about to happen…nor was he unaware by whose hands the coming events would be facilitated. How did he appear to the disciples? He was troubled; however, I do not believe it was just Judas’ coming betrayal that had him disturbed.
31 As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. 32 And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will give his own glory to the Son, and he will do so at once. 33 Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
What did Jesus say is the proof that we are his followers? As he looked around the room, he saw a lack of love for one another in evidence. Instead of supporting one another, they saw themselves as competing for his favour and prestige. What does love for each other look like? Do Christians today possess that kind of love for one another? What does the world see?
36 Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?”
And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.”
37 “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.”
38 Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.
Jesus was troubled not simply by the continued lack of understanding that the twelve had concerning his mission and Judas’ betrayal. What does he tell Peter? By this point, Peter has become one of the leading members of the disciples, the first to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah, one of his inner circle with James and John. Peter is certain that he is ready to die for Jesus, but Jesus matter-of-factly states that Peter will not even admit to knowing him, three times no less, before morning.
But it will not be just Peter…
John 16:28-32 – “Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.” 29 Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. 30 Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? 32 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. “
Yes, Peter will deny Jesus in his attempt to remain safe while still being present, but what does Jesus say of all of them? They will all abandon him…and very soon. We shouldn’t judge these men harshly. Jesus didn’t. He knew what was coming and was simply warning each of how they would respond. Staying with Jesus would have most certainly meant their imprisonment and brutalizing, if not the religious leaders’ attempting to have them all join Jesus on crosses of their own. Jesus knew it wasn’t their time…but they didn’t. Rather than condemning them, he simply offers his knowing reality check…and then prays specifically for them and for all who would follow as his disciples.
“JESUS PRAYS FOR HIS DISCIPLES”
John 17– “After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.
6 “I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.
9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. 10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. 12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.
13 “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
Before Jesus died, he didn’t just pray for the twelve, he prayed for all his disciples—all of whom he knew would come to believe in him and become his disciple. That includes each and everyone of us. His prayer is for all who would choose to follow him as their Master and Teacher. What does it say to you that Jesus not only knew you, he also prayed for you? What did he pray?
He prayed that God would protect us from the evil one for as long as we live on this planet.
He prayed that God would make us holy—teaching us his truth.
He prayed that we would be unified—together with one another and with God himself—as further proof of God having sent Jesus into the world.
22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. 26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”
We are to be the very embodiment of the love of God. Not just telling people about God, but showing others what he is like by literally becoming mirror images of the character of God—filled with love, compassion, grace, forgiveness, humility and generosity. How are we as the Church doing? How does the world see us? We have work to do! Too often we reflect the angry, demanding, selfish world we live in, rather than standing out…and we are called to stand out and be different!
Jesus has forewarned us that the life of a disciple wouldn’t be easy.
“JESUS HAS FOREWARNED US”
John 15:18-16:4 – “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. 21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. 22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. 24 If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. 25 This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’
26 “But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. 27 And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.
16 “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. 2 For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. 3 This is because they have never known the Father or me. 4 Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer.”
Something to consider. Loving others does not mean you won’t face rejection, betrayal, denials and abandonment. Jesus loved the twelve right to the very end, doing all he could to tangibly show them the example they were to follow. As he bent over the feet of Judas, Jesus’ love remained unwavering…and Judas’ determination to betray him, unchanged. Jesus insisted on washing Peter’s feet despite his resistance, knowing that Peter was going to need this teachable moment as he took on the leadership of the new Church after Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus washed all their feet, recognizing that they still didn’t fully comprehend the nature of his mission, but also knowing that this too would someday make sense to them and the full meaning of what he was doing would be revealed to them.
Love is not something to be withheld until it is earned. We are to love. Period. Just as Jesus did. Sacrificially. Desiring the best for another. Demanding nothing in return. WOW! Can we really do that? Love the way that Jesus did, all the while knowing what was about to take place? Only with God’s help.
References and for further study / inspiration…
“What’s the Deal with Foot Washing” Mike Cosper - https://www.crossway.org/articles/whats-the-deal-with-footwashing/
Sunday, February 20, 2022 – 2022 Theme - “Doing Life with Jesus – Counterculture” – In-person and Online
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
Daily Devotional – Wednesday, February 9, 2022
“He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.” (Isaiah 53:3, NLT)
Dealing with rejection can leave us feeling dejected. But before you go down that path again (for some more travelled than for others) ask yourself this question, “Why am I allowing this person/situation to have power over me?” Is it possible to positively deal with others’ rejection?
Jesus faced more rejection than most, but you will never find him beating himself up over someone else’s response to him. When the people of his hometown rejected him, even attempting to push him over the cliff on which Nazareth was built, he simply walked through the crowd and went onto the next town (Luke 4:28-30).
When members of Jesus’ family determined that he must be crazy and had to be taken in hand by force, he refused to meet with them. He simply told the gathered crowd that those who obeyed the will of the Father were his family (Mark 3:21-32).
When a crowd wanted to force him to become king, after the miracle of feeding 5,000 with a boy’s lunch, he explained his purpose to them. He hadn’t come to be a king over the Jewish nation only; he was there to provide a way for all people to be restored to God the Father. Many of his disciples deserted him because he wasn’t living up to their expectations. So, he continued his mission with those who stayed (John 6:60-66).
And the religious leaders, so consumed by their jealousy, simply wanted him dead. He had done nothing deserving death, they simply chose to reject him out of hand. But Jesus knew that this too was all part of God’s plan (Luke 22:2).
No matter how people responded to him, Jesus remained constant—obedient to God, assured of his call, providing correction as needed, but always motivated by his love for God and people. Jesus knew that his relationship with God, and fulfilling the purpose for which he came, was of paramount importance. He would not be popular with some, but that was immaterial. God’s response was the only one worth considering. I am certain that he had bad days, but he never allowed people’s rejection of him to determine his self-worth or to cause him to become dejected. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us follow Jesus’ example!
HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, February 6, 2022
Youtube link... https://youtu.be/O1SCSceqjjo
Teaching Series - “Doing Life with Jesus"
Weekly Topic - “Jesus’ First Miracles”
Texts – John 2:1-12; Luke 5:1-11
When it comes to putting Jesus’ miracles into any sort of chronological order, I confess to some confusion. Each of the gospel writers provides a number of accounts of Jesus doing miracles but they are not consistent. In fact, the only miracle that is recorded by all four—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—is the feeding of the 5,000 men plus women and children. Why? Because each writer had different purposes for recording his account.
Matthew wants to convince the Jewish people that the Messiah has arrived so includes many prophetic quotations and stories that demonstrate that Jesus is the long-ago promised Rescuer. Mark wants to demonstrate that Jesus is the Kingdom of God come…a new era has begun—his death was not a regrettable event, but was the fulfillment of God’s plan. Luke’s writings are his attempt to provide an historically accurate story detailing the life and teachings of Jesus and of the early church for ‘Theophilus.’ John on the other hand wanted people to know that Jesus was the Son of God and eternal life was available to any who would believe.
Each of the gospel writers provide a unique picture of Jesus and so it should not surprise us that the events they record can be a little difficult to put into a timeline…it was not their intent to provide a day-by-day journal entry like one might in a diary. However, there are clues. Today, we’re going to examine two of Jesus’ earliest miracles. Let’s begin with the miracle that John identifies as the first of Jesus’ miracles.
John 2:1-12 – “The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. 3 The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”
4 “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” 5 But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, 8 he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions.
9 When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. 10 “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!”
11 This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him. 12 After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.”
Jesus performed his first miracle as the result of a request. Would it have been the end of the world if the party had run out of wine? No, but it would have resulted in considerable embarrassment for the friends of Jesus who were hosting the wedding. Did it matter that it was his mother doing the asking? I don’t think so, though I do wonder, as this is his first public miracle, if her asking wasn’t God’s way of telling him it was time. We don’t know for certain, because the Bible does not tell us implicitly, but there was a reason for Jesus’ change of mind. He went from telling his mother that his ‘time had not yet come’ to accommodating her request. What happened in between? We don’t know exactly; however, we do know that Jesus never did anything outside the will of God the Father, so it was about more than simply giving his mother what she asked for.
Sitting nearby are six 20-30 gallon jars and Jesus instructs the servants to fill them with water. Now in case you aren’t familiar, twenty gallons is 70 litres and thirty is 136 litres. That means that Jesus produced a minimum of 420 litres of the best wine that the Master of Ceremonies had ever tasted. So, Jesus gifted the wedding party with over 560 standard (750mL) bottles of wine…they went from having none to having an abundance!
Now I have heard, especially in my growing-up years from those who believed that the consumption of any alcohol as a rule was wrong, that what Jesus converted the water into was grape juice…or at the very least a less potent wine. I don’t buy that. The Master of Ceremonies knew the difference between wine and juice and comments that the wine that is served later in the night is usually of a poorer quality, because by that point everyone has had enough to drink and they can no longer tell the difference. So, yes, Jesus did change water to wine…and it was the ‘good stuff.’
What warning can we take from this? One thing I have learned from this miracle is that we should never try to force our understanding of the Bible into our preferred ideas and convictions. For many years, the Christian Church in some areas of the world condemned all consumption of alcohol and attempted to use the Bible as its proof text; but in so doing committed injury to our understanding of Scripture. They were right to teach individuals to be careful of their consumption of alcohol, but they had to change the Bible to support their demands for prohibition. Their attempt to enforce abstinence from all alcoholic beverages on society as a whole, rather than dealing with some of the underlying attitudes and societal problems that encouraged alcoholism, caused them to teach a water downed and inaccurate version of this miracle.
We may shake our heads in smug superiority…such silly old-fashioned notions…but, we would do well to pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal to us any ways that we do similar injury to the biblical texts on different topics. Just because it doesn’t say what we want it to, doesn’t mean we have any right to change it. Who are we to discard any portion of Scripture just because we don’t like it or change with a flick of a pen parts that we deem need revising? Something to consider…
But back to the miracle itself. It is interesting to note the location of this miracle. Jesus changed the water to wine in a backroom and so the miracle would have been observed by few but the servants. So, was it just to help out and give his mother what she asked for? In part, yes, but not entirely. It also had the effect of causing a deepening of belief in Jesus’ disciples, which brings us to Jesus’ next set of miracles.
At the end of Luke chapter four, Jesus is traveling in the area of Capernaum. After healing a demon possessed man at the synagogue, he goes to Simon’s home for the day. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever and at the request of her family members, Jesus heals her. This is followed by an evening filled with people being brought to Jesus from all around at sunset after the Sabbath day had officially ended.
You might think that this would be enough to convince Simon of who Jesus was, but Jesus has one more surprise for him.
“CATCH OF FISH”
Luke 5:1-11– “One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”
If when reading this story you have thought that Jesus just got into some random stranger’s boat, you are mistaken. It might sound like it, but only if you read chapter five on its own; by reading the previous chapters, you realize this was just one of a set of events meant to convince Simon, who became Peter, that he should follow Jesus as his disciple. After all, Simon Peter couldn’t just leave everything behind…he was a married man with obligations to his family; but Jesus wanted Peter. Luke tells us that Simon had already witnessed a miracle—the healing of his mother-in-law (Luke 4:38-39) followed by an evening of healings in the town.
Now on this new day, the fishermen had spent a depressing night fishing and had caught nothing. As they cleaned their nets on shore, I’m sure that they were more than just a little eager for a good sleep. But it is in this moment that Jesus interrupts their plans. While they work, he taught the people on shore from the boat…everyone was eager to have a front row seat and this was a great solution to provide Jesus with a little needed room.
I am sure that Simon was willing to extend this favour to Jesus…after all, he had witnessed Jesus heal his mother-in-law not so very long before…he owed him one. But Jesus’ next suggestion was a bit harder to swallow, ‘Put your boat out into deeper water for a catch.” Simon does comply after an initial protest, because he has come to respect Jesus on a certain level. Why else would a seasoned fisherman deign to take the advice of a fishing nube when he already knew better? So he humours him.
What happens next can only be explained as a miracle…so many fish fill the net that it begins to break. Simon may be stubborn, but he knows the impossible when he sees it. He has worked these waters all his life…the only explanation for what has just happened is a miracle! He knows there is more to this man Jesus than he had earlier presumed and cowers before this One who has command over the fish of the sea. Jesus tells Simon not to fear, that he has a new job for him to do. Jesus provided this miracle simply to convince Simon once and for all to come and follow. And he did. The miraculous catch of fish is left on shore for someone else to deal with as not only Simon, but Andrew, James and John leave their boats behind to become full-time disciples of Jesus.
Now, before we move on, I have a question for us to contemplate. What would have happened if Simon had refused to follow Jesus’ instructions? And if he had, who would have blamed him? Who was the fisherman in this story? Who had spent the frustrating night on the lake? Who had just finished cleaning the nets for the next night’s work? Who had been up all night and was now just looking forward to a good sleep? What would have happened if Simon had responded, ‘Not now Jesus.’ He would have missed out! The Church could have potentially missed out.
Do we ever tell Jesus, ‘Not now!’ Oh, I’m sure we’ve got good reasons…we know best, right? ‘We’ve already tried that. We’re tired. We’ve got other things to do. That plan makes no sense. It’s impossible.’ But what if by saying ‘no,’ we are shutting ourselves off from a miracle that God wants to perform in our lives or through us for another? Will we agree to allow our Master to interrupt our plans? If we refuse, we may never know his purpose for our lives. And make no mistake; there is always a purpose for everything that God does.
So, what was the purpose of Jesus’ miracles?
“PURPOSE OF JESUS’ MIRACLES”
John 20:30-31 – “The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 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.”
John tells us that one of the main purposes for Jesus to perform miracles was to authenticate who he was and to cause others to recognize who he was—the promised Messiah, sent from God. The catch of fish certainly proved once and for all to Peter who it was he should follow and how he should be spending his time. No ordinary man could do the things that Jesus did. He was fully man, but he was also fully God.
We also saw Jesus perform his very first miracle in response to a need of friends and a request made by his mother. If she hadn’t asked, I don’t know that a miracle would have happened that day. The same is true for us. We should not be afraid to ask God to miraculously intervene in our lives or in the life of another. Our request may be the very thing that causes God to act.
When it comes to the purpose of Jesus’ miracles, another thought comes from Greg Robbins, pastor of Heath Church of Christ. He quotes author Tim Keller before adding his own comments, ‘“We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order. The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it. Jesus has come to redeem where it is wrong and heal the world where it is broken. His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.”
The miracles of Jesus serve as a glimpse and foretaste of what God will accomplish on a grand, universal scale when Jesus comes to establish the New Heaven and the New Earth. The miracles of Jesus offer a preview of that glorious day. The miracles offer a glimpse of Heaven on earth.” 1
Does God still do miracles today? Of course he does! What miracles have you seen and/or experienced in your life?
God still does miracles. The real question is whether or not we will obey his instructions so that his miraculous work will become manifest? And, when we do witness a miracle, how will we respond? Like Simon or like those who refused to believe even in the face of his irrefutable proof?
References and for further study / inspiration…
1https://www.newarkadvocate.com/story/life/2017/02/11/jesus-perform-miracles-earth/97665618/ Retrieved Friday, February 4, 2022
Sunday, February 13, 2022 – 2022 Theme - “Doing Life with Jesus – Rejection” – In-person and Online
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
Daily Devotional – Wednesday, February 2, 2022
‘Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:23-26, NLT)
The work of salvation in a person’s life is a miracle. It cannot be earned…or bought…and there is only one way to acquire it—through belief in Jesus and the work he did to pay the price required on our behalf. But the ‘miracle’ of salvation is one that is often overlooked and undervalued by the very ones who have experienced it firsthand. Not true? Consider this…
Too many Christians treat their faith as a private affair. Once we have experienced the miracle of salvation, we often revert to seeking miracles for the physical realm only—for healing from illness, reversal of financial misfortune, the cessation of conflict or some other personally felt need. It’s not that we shouldn’t pray for these things, but we should not become so focused on life this side of the grave that we forget to pray for the greatest miracle a person can experience—of being included in God’s family. When once we have experienced this miracle for ourselves, we are obliged to pray the same for our family members, friends, neighbours and the global community. Their eternal souls depend on it!
We cannot save anyone…there is no forcing anyone into making a commitment for God that they do not make of their own freewill. But God is the God of miracles, and we can pray for this spiritual miracle for them on their behalf. Not to pray is equivalent to watching as someone steps out in front of a speeding train…and doing nothing to stop it. We may not be able to prevent a person’s choice to reject God, but that does not mean we aren’t responsible to pray that they experience the miracle of submitting their lives to God. Who would God have you pray this spiritual miracle for?
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!