:This is true in so many ways. God is always with you. Even when Jesus went to be with the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit so that we would have a comforter, a counselor, our ever present help in time of need. As a great friend and the guy who helped me become a published co-author with him said today:
REMEMBER the counselor that was given us in the Holy Spirit!! Right in our hearts!! We don’t need to find it, call it, email it, text it…. The Holy Spirit is with us all day everyday!! We don’t have to worry, be bitter, be discouraged, be anxious, be aggravated, be irritated, be proud…
We just have to breathe and remind ourselves that we are made in the likeness of Jesus!! We need to be humble servants.
And remember, Jesus washed the feet of the disciples!! Even Judas!! Knowing what he was about to do!! WOW!!!!
How powerful can our message to others be if we live in that light? We can be the light of Jesus in the darkest places because of that great gift!!”
And in God’s Word we continue to hear and read the words “One another” because we aren’t supposed to do it alone. So not only aren’t we alone, we aren’t supposed to be alone. God even noticed that with Adam back when it all began:
18 Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him. – Genesis 2:18
which is why God created Eve. So as we start this day, we need to consider how we can stay connected and in alignment with God’s will and plans for our lives.
This morning’s reading (John 16-18, Psalm 114) opens with Jesus sharing with His disciples as He is preparing for His ultimate sacrifice and preparing them for what is ahead. He expresses how he isn’t going to leave them alone, but will send the Holy Spirit:
4-7“I didn’t tell you this earlier because I was with you every day. But now I am on my way to the One who sent me. Not one of you has asked, ‘Where are you going?’ Instead, the longer I’ve talked, the sadder you’ve become. So let me say it again, this truth: It’s better for you that I leave. If I don’t leave, the Friend won’t come. But if I go, I’ll send him to you.8-11“When he comes, he’ll expose the error of the godless world’s view of sin, righteousness, and judgment: He’ll show them that their refusal to believe in me is their basic sin; that righteousness comes from above, where I am with the Father, out of their sight and control; that judgment takes place as the ruler of this godless world is brought to trial and convicted.12-15“I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t handle them now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. Everything the Father has is also mine. That is why I’ve said, ‘He takes from me and delivers to you.’16“In a day or so you’re not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me.” — John 16
Hearing someone say they are leaving, but that they will be sending someone else who will be your helper, your comforter, your friend, can bring some relief but will generate a bunch of questions too. It’s a good thing because even more is able to be revealed, but what about all the time that was spent and invested?
17-18That stirred up a hornet’s nest of questions among the disciples: “What’s he talking about: ‘In a day or so you’re not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me’? And, ‘Because I’m on my way to the Father’? What is this ‘day or so’? We don’t know what he’s talking about.”19-20Jesus knew they were dying to ask him what he meant, so he said, “Are you trying to figure out among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘In a day or so you’re not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me’? Then fix this firmly in your minds: You’re going to be in deep mourning while the godless world throws a party. You’ll be sad, very sad, but your sadness will develop into gladness.21-23“When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You’ll no longer be so full of questions.23-24“This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he’ll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!25-28“I’ve used figures of speech in telling you these things. Soon I’ll drop the figures and tell you about the Father in plain language. Then you can make your requests directly to him in relation to this life I’ve revealed to you. I won’t continue making requests of the Father on your behalf. I won’t need to. Because you’ve gone out on a limb, committed yourselves to love and trust in me, believing I came directly from the Father, the Father loves you directly. First, I left the Father and arrived in the world; now I leave the world and travel to the Father.”29-30His disciples said, “Finally! You’re giving it to us straight, in plain talk—no more figures of speech. Now we know that you know everything—it all comes together in you. You won’t have to put up with our questions anymore. We’re convinced you came from God.”31-33Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” — John 16
We don’t have to be afraid! God has a plan and it is good. His plans are greater and better than our ways and our plans. We make plans, but He guides our steps. We aren’t alone, for He is with us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. That’s right, when we are adopted into God’s family, we aren’t abandoned, but we are adopted and part of God’s s family forever!
Are you following after Jesus? Are you a follower? Check out this prayer He spoke over you and for you:
1-5Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said:Father, it’s time.Display the bright splendor of your SonSo the Son in turn may show your bright splendor.You put him in charge of everything humanSo he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge.And this is the real and eternal life:That they know you,The one and only true God,And Jesus Christ, whom you sent.I glorified you on earthBy completing down to the last detailWhat you assigned me to do.And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendor,The very splendor I had in your presenceBefore there was a world.6-12I spelled out your character in detailTo the men and women you gave me.They were yours in the first place;Then you gave them to me,And they have now done what you said.They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt,That everything you gave me is firsthand from you,For the message you gave me, I gave them;And they took it, and were convincedThat I came from you.They believed that you sent me.I pray for them.I’m not praying for the God-rejecting worldBut for those you gave me,For they are yours by right.Everything mine is yours, and yours mine,And my life is on display in them.For I’m no longer going to be visible in the world;They’ll continue in the worldWhile I return to you.Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this lifeThat you conferred as a gift through me,So they can be one heart and mindAs we are one heart and mind.As long as I was with them, I guarded themIn the pursuit of the life you gave through me;I even posted a night watch.And not one of them got away,Except for the rebel bent on destruction(the exception that proved the rule of Scripture).13-19Now I’m returning to you.I’m saying these things in the world’s hearingSo my people can experienceMy joy completed in them.I gave them your word;The godless world hated them because of it,Because they didn’t join the world’s ways,Just as I didn’t join the world’s ways.I’m not asking that you take them out of the worldBut that you guard them from the Evil One.They are no more defined by the worldThan I am defined by the world.Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth;Your word is consecrating truth.In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world,I give them a mission in the world.I’m consecrating myself for their sakesSo they’ll be truth-consecrated in their mission.20-23I’m praying not only for themBut also for those who will believe in meBecause of them and their witness about me.The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,So they might be one heart and mind with us.Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.The same glory you gave me, I gave them,So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—I in them and you in me.Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,And give the godless world evidenceThat you’ve sent me and loved themIn the same way you’ve loved me.24-26Father, I want those you gave meTo be with me, right where I am,So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,Having loved meLong before there ever was a world.Righteous Father, the world has never known you,But I have known you, and these disciples knowThat you sent me on this mission.I have made your very being known to them—Who you are and what you do—And continue to make it known,So that your love for meMight be in themExactly as I am in them.– John 17
We weren’t left to be alone, but unified. We weren’t left to be divisive, but unified. So let’s come together and allow God’s hand to work in and through us that others may come to know the truth, the hope, the love, and the glory of God. It’s not too late! As long as we have breath in our lungs there is time to get the Word out.
God doesn’t get surprised! Jesus knew what was going down even before it happened! Even in the garden! He knew His time was coming and He was sharing the truth of the situation with His disciples. He wanted us to be able to know why He gave His all for us – that we could and can be reconciled to God! He also wanted us to know that He was bigger and stronger than death by conquering it and overcoming the things of the world that would try to hold us back. He wanted to make sure we knew how much we are loved by telling us in advance what would happen and His plans so that we can look for it and be able to affirm it and hold onto it as we walk forward.
Seized in the Garden at Night1Jesus, having prayed this prayer, left with his disciples and crossed over the brook Kidron at a place where there was a garden. He and his disciples entered it.2-4Judas, his betrayer, knew the place because Jesus and his disciples went there often. So Judas led the way to the garden, and the Roman soldiers and police sent by the high priests and Pharisees followed. They arrived there with lanterns and torches and swords. Jesus, knowing by now everything that was coming down on him, went out and met them. He said, “Who are you after?”They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.”5-6He said, “That’s me.” The soldiers recoiled, totally taken aback. Judas, his betrayer, stood out like a sore thumb.7Jesus asked again, “Who are you after?”They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.”8-9“I told you,” said Jesus, “that’s me. I’m the one. So if it’s me you’re after, let these others go.” (This validated the words in his prayer, “I didn’t lose one of those you gave.”)10Just then Simon Peter, who was carrying a sword, pulled it from its sheath and struck the Chief Priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. Malchus was the servant’s name.11Jesus ordered Peter, “Put back your sword. Do you think for a minute I’m not going to drink this cup the Father gave me?”12-14Then the Roman soldiers under their commander, joined by the Jewish police, seized Jesus and tied him up. They took him first to Annas, father-in-law of Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the Chief Priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people.15-16Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. That other disciple was known to the Chief Priest, and so he went in with Jesus to the Chief Priest’s courtyard. Peter had to stay outside. Then the other disciple went out, spoke to the doorkeeper, and got Peter in.17The young woman who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, “Aren’t you one of this man’s disciples?”He said, “No, I’m not.”18The servants and police had made a fire because of the cold and were huddled there warming themselves. Peter stood with them, trying to get warm. — John 18
It is interesting how various translations and view points capture various parts of the event. The one that caught my eye was the ear for Jesus put it back on. God’s plan was bigger than the disciples could have known. Jesus wasn’t going to let anything stop Him from accomplishing and completing the plans He had come to accomplish. He was to be the ultimate sacrifice for ever. We couldn’t do it on our own. We can’t do it on our own. We weren’t supposed to be alone! Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, He is the way for us to make it into Heaven. And until our time has come, He sent the Holy Spirit to be our guide, our counselor, and our friend.
Jesus knows what will happen. Jesus even foretold what would happen. He loves us just the way we are but too much to leave us there. Don’t give up hope or faith because you slip up. Don’t give up! Don’t walk away because you made a mistake, ask God for forgiveness and He will forgive you. He is the God of the second, third, … chances. We see what pressure can do to great men of the Bible, but we also see how God’s love is so much bigger and embraces them back. Be it with Jesus and His disciples or even the story of the lost son.
19-21Annas interrogated Jesus regarding his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered, “I’ve spoken openly in public. I’ve taught regularly in meeting places and the Temple, where the Jews all come together. Everything has been out in the open. I’ve said nothing in secret. So why are you treating me like a conspirator? Question those who have been listening to me. They know well what I have said. My teachings have all been aboveboard.”22When he said this, one of the policemen standing there slapped Jesus across the face, saying, “How dare you speak to the Chief Priest like that!”23Jesus replied, “If I’ve said something wrong, prove it. But if I’ve spoken the plain truth, why this slapping around?”24Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to the Chief Priest Caiaphas.25Meanwhile, Simon Peter was back at the fire, still trying to get warm. The others there said to him, “Aren’t you one of his disciples?”He denied it, “Not me.”26One of the Chief Priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?”27Again, Peter denied it. Just then a rooster crowed. — John 18
Jesus was walking right into the ultimate situation. The place He could give His all for us to be able to be reconciled to the Father. The Law shows us how much we need a savior. Jesus shows us there is a way because He has come to save us!
28-29They led Jesus then from Caiaphas to the Roman governor’s palace. It was early morning. They themselves didn’t enter the palace because they didn’t want to be disqualified from eating the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and spoke. “What charge do you bring against this man?”30They said, “If he hadn’t been doing something evil, do you think we’d be here bothering you?”31-32Pilate said, “You take him. Judge him by your law.”The Jews said, “We’re not allowed to kill anyone.” (This would confirm Jesus’ word indicating the way he would die.)33Pilate went back into the palace and called for Jesus. He said, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you this about me?”35Pilate said, “Do I look like a Jew? Your people and your high priests turned you over to me. What did you do?”36“My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.”37Then Pilate said, “So, are you a king or not?”Jesus answered, “You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice.”38-39Pilate said, “What is truth?”Then he went back out to the Jews and told them, “I find nothing wrong in this man. It’s your custom that I pardon one prisoner at Passover. Do you want me to pardon the ‘King of the Jews’?”40They shouted back, “Not this one, but Barabbas!” Barabbas was a Jewish freedom fighter. — John 18
We are heading into Easter weekend. The timing of this reading and the passion week always amazes me because God knows exactly what I need and where I am at. So today, let’s continue to press forward and walk in His ways. Let’s hold onto His truth, looking to walk in the miraculous, walking in unity, walking with God because WE ARE NOT ALONE!