Category Archives: Pursuing Perspective with John

Our Emmanuel is Already Here

Read it! John 21

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

(vs4)

Think it through

Many of Jesus’s followers had a hard time recognizing him after the resurrection. Isn’t that weird?

Mary thought he was a gardener. The two disciples walking to Emmaus were kept from recognizing him until after he broke the bread. The seven disciples on the fishing boat didn’t know it was Him, even with his familiar request to throw their nets to the other side of the boat.

They couldn’t see that their Savior, Jesus, was right there with them!

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Perspective From the Cross

Read it! John 19

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

(vs26&27)

Think it through

I can’t read through the Gospel of John, thinking about perspectives, without pondering Jesus’ perspective from the cross.

He looked down. He saw his mother, his disciples, his friends, and his loved ones. He cared for them. He saw his killers, and he asked God for their forgiveness.

He looked to either side. He saw two criminals. He encouraged the one who would let him: “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

He looked up. He talked to His Father, who I believe heard and loved his son despite the separation brought on by burden of sin he bore.   Then he surrendered his spirit into the Father’s hands.

And through it all, he had the perspective of heaven. Even though he was experiencing things beyond my imagining, he knew the people perpetrating it had no power over him (verse 11). He knew that everything had now been finished so that the scriptures would be fulfilled (verse 28).

He knew that God would win in the end.

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Stop the Debate

Read it! John 18

Jesus answered, “…Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate.

(vs37&38)

Think it through

I imagine Pilate nearly snorting here—“Ha! What is truth?”—like it doesn’t exist… perhaps because I’ve heard that condescending tone before.

Perhaps you have, too.

When I’ve tried to discuss religion with a non-believer (in other words, when I try to share my joy in Christ with them), I’ve had people look me in the eye and tell me I’m elitist, close-minded, and conceited. How could I possibly think that Christians are right and everyone else is wrong? What is truth?

Here’s the thing: there is truth. The Earth and everything on it exists and came from somewhere. We are either here for a purpose, or we’re not. When we die, we either go somewhere, or we don’t. There is reality. There is truth.

Either one religion has it right and the rest are wrong, or we’re all wrong. Saying we could all be right isn’t a choice. You can’t have it more than one way. You can’t say everyone can believe what they want and still be right. That’s ludicrous.

I believe that God created everything, that He gave us purpose, and that if we embrace his son wholeheartedly we’ll live in heaven for eternity. Yes, that’s “just my perspective”—but I know it’s truth in every fiber of my being.

My pastor recently said that we’ll never debate anyone into a relationship with Jesus. What we can do is love people to the Lord. We can overwhelm them with a sacrificial love from a heart on fire for God.  We can show them unexplainable love that points to Jesus like a burning bush.

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Get Organized? Or Let Jesus Handle the Mess?

Read it! John 13

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

(vs7)

Think it through

I love Peter. Peter who walked on the water toward Jesus, told Jesus exactly what he was thinking, and jumped out of the fishing boat to swim to Jesus even faster. Poor Peter who’s frequently documented as getting it wrong.

Even after Jesus says, “You don’t understand what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later,” (that’s The Message version, very direct), Peter says, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!” Passionate Peter.

He meant well, but he wasn’t listening. He saw the Lord with a towel around his waist, kneeling at his feet, and closed his ears. He closed himself to the perspective Jesus was trying to give him, a perspective of trust in The Master.

So often I see the “messy” areas of my life and I think I know better. Like Peter, I’m passionate for the Lord, jumping into the deep water of this ministry and telling the Lord exactly what’s on my mind. But also like Peter, I get it wrong. I want things to move faster and go differently—it seems so obvious to me how things should be!

I imagine that Jesus is patiently saying, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

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Listening for the Voice in Your Head

Read it! John 12

The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

(vs29)

Think it through

In church, we’re often reminded about the words God spoke at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew and Mark both share their accounts of that holy moment with us.

But I’ve rarely, if ever, heard sermons on John’s account of another moment when God spoke aloud to the people in Jesus’ presence. How I would love to have been there, to have heard Jesus call out, “Father, glorify your name!” and to have heard the voice from heaven say, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” Amen, Amen! my heart cries. Glorify your name!

But would I have heard the voice of an angel, or just thunder?

Would we have had the right perspective?

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Why DID Jesus Cry?

Read it! John 11

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.

(vs33)

Think it through

At least that’s the version I’ve always read. As an old-school NIV girl, I’ve read over and over that Jesus was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled” and assumed it meant he was incredibly sad, grieved. The NKJV reads similarly: “…he groaned in the spirit and was troubled.”

But I was surprised to find that two of the other versions in my side-by-side Bible (the NLT and The Message) used different words: “a deep anger welled up within him.” Both versions describe him as angry when he arrived at Lazarus’s tomb, as well.

Angry.

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Throwing Off Our Chains

Read it! John 8

“…and the truth will set you free.”

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

(vs32&33)

Think it through

Viewing ourselves through the lens of truth is difficult.

Jesus told the Jews that his teachings, the truth, would set them free, but they just looked at one another and shrugged. They were living in a land where they were officially free—free to live and love and work and marry and worship their God. (Sound familiar?)

But Jesus explained that everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Not free, but bound by the habit of repeating our mistakes and the consequences of each choice. And we often miss this crucial perspective altogether.

Here’s some truth I frequently fail to see:

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The Inside Scoop!

Read it! John 4 

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could he be the Messiah?”

(vs29)

Think it through

John tells us that the woman at the well was there at noon. No one else was getting water when the day was at its hottest. John might as well have said, “This woman was a social outcast, shunned by her town.” And we find out in verse 18 that Jesus knew exactly why. He knew everything she ever did.

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Because Your Momma Said So!

Read it! John 2

“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

(vs4&5)

Think it through

I’ve always been a fascinated by this little exchange.

In modern times, for Jesus to start with “Woman!” seems a bit funny. And then Mary totally ignores his protests and assumes he’ll do it anyway, because she said so.

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Will You Seek Jesus?

Read it! John 1

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying and stayed the day with him.

(vs39)

Think it through

Sometimes I think the Gospel of John is hard to read.

When people first come to know Christ, Christian leaders often recommend that they start their Bible reading with the book of John. And I think, Why? John is hard.

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