Day 35 – Jesus is the Vine. April 9, 2019
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:1-8
Jesus points out to His disciples a few natural truths: if a branch does not bear fruit, it is not connected to the vine; if a branch is withered and dead, it is not connected to the vine; a branch connected to the vine cannot help but be fruitful; a branch that bears fruit must be pruned, in order to be more fruitful. Remaining in Jesus, abiding in Him is crucial in the life of a disciple of Jesus. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. Apart from Him, we wither and die. In Him, we have life. In Him, we produce fruit — much fruit, and fruit that will last! In Him, we accomplish the purposes for which we were created. When we produce fruit, just like a natural branch we get heavy and hang low. God the Father, the vine dresser — the Gardener, trims or prunes all who are fruitful. Not to cause them pain or discomfort, but rather to make us even more fruitful! He not only removes fruit, but He also trims away things that hinder growth. Dead branches cannot stay attached to the vine because they do not share the nourishment and the sap that the vine provides. They fall away from the vine because they are dead, they are gathered together, thrown into the fire and burned. Not a pretty picture. Remaining in Jesus means showing the fruit of obedience. So, how fruity are you?
Lord Jesus, I want to remain in You. Help me to practice obedience and produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Help me to abide in Your presence and continually be nourished by Your Word and Your Holy Spirit. Lord, trim away the things in my life that hinder my fruitfulness and stunt my growth. Thank You for the promises You give and Your faithfulness to remain in me if I remain in You. I love You, Lord. Amen.
Day 34 – Jesus Gives the Promise of the Holy Spirit. April 8, 2019
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:12-21
Jesus took the Journey to the Cross with His friends, but ultimately walks the last portion alone. How good to know that we do not have to walk the Journey of the Cross alone. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit — another counsellor, guide, and friend — will be with us, and will live in us. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to keep Jesus’ commands. He leads us into all truth, and helps us love the way that Jesus loves. The Journey to the Cross can be lonely, but in truth, we are never alone.
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your promise of the Holy Spirit. Walking the way of the Cross does seem lonely, and often times we can be misunderstood or even hated for taking this journey. But Your Holy Spirit brings a presence and comfort, He brings wisdom and peace, He brings understanding and help when we need it most. Thank You for the promise and the presence of Your Holy Spirit! Amen.
Day 33 – Jesus the Way, Truth, and Life. April 7, 2019
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:1-7
Jesus tells the disciples that He is going to prepare a place for them, and that they “know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas’ response, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus very plainly tells Thomas that He is the Way. The Way to Jesus is to follow what He did! We don’t have to move to the Middle East and walk exactly where He did — He laid out a pattern for us to follow in the way we walk through life. Jesus also tells Thomas that He is the Truth. If we want to know Truth, we must know Jesus. What He says is true, what He does is true, He is Truth. Lastly, Jesus tells Thomas that He is the Life. In Jesus we find a life that is more fulfilling, more beautiful, more real, more purposeful…this is not just ordinary life, this is extraordinary life!
Lord Jesus, thank You for showing me the Way, the Truth and the Life. You have shown me the pattern, help me to follow it. You have shown me the Truth, help me live in it. You have shown me Life, help me live it to the fullest and fill out this life with the same passion and love that You filled it with. I want to come to You, Lord…help me stay the course and know the way. Amen.
Day 32 – Jesus Gives a New Command. April 6, 2019
When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! John 13:31-38
Jesus has just been betrayed by one of His close friends. And He warns Peter, one of His closest friends, that he too will betray Jesus not once, but three times. In the midst of all this betrayal, Jesus gives His disciples a new command — “Love one another.” This would be the sign that all men would know that one is a follower, a disciple, of Jesus — by the way we love one another. We are to love each other, not only as we love ourselves, but as Jesus has loved us. This type of higher love will be the evidence of our walk with Jesus. All men, everyone, will know that we belong to Him, that we know Him. There will be no mistake. The way of the Cross, the journey to the Cross is characterized by loving others.
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your love for me. Help me to love others the same way. Forgive me when I fail. Remind me that Your love went further than I think possible. Remind me that Your love laid down everything, Your very life, for me. My love seems so shallow in comparison sometimes…Lord, help me to love with the same depth and breadth that You have loved me. Change me into a Lover like You! Amen.
Day 31 – Jesus Confronts Satan. April 5, 2019
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.” His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” John 13:21-27
Jesus was betrayed by one of His own disciples. This man had witnessed the miracles, heard the teachings, walked many a mile, shared food and life with Jesus. Even those we may have trusted most in life can disappoint us, perhaps even betray us. Only five days ago, we read that Judas chastised Mary for pouring out a year’s worth of wages upon Jesus, as John points out, “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” Judas had been around the things of faith, the miracles, around Jesus Himself…but slowly he had become hardened, calloused to his Master’s voice. I find it interesting that we see the very moment when Judas makes the decision to carry out his betrayal, and at that moment — Satan enters him. He became available for possession, by his decision to give away his passion for Jesus. So Jesus is no longer speaking to Judas, His disciple, but rather He is confronting Satan himself when He says, “What you are about to do, do quickly.”
Lord Jesus, thank You for confronting Satan himself and disarming him of his ability to hold on to us through sin and death. Please help me to never harden my heart to Your teaching, never deafen my ears to Your Word. May I always be ready to respond to Your command and never be carried off with the promise of wealth or what the world may promise in return for my betrayal. May I never be overcome by evil, but always ready to overcome evil with good. May I only and always be filled by the Holy Spirit, so that there is never any availability to Satan’s control or possession. Amen.
Day 30 – Jesus Shows True Power. April 4, 2019
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:3-17
Jesus is preparing His disciples for His death. He will not always be present in human form to teach them and watch over them. Knowing this, he also “knew that the Father had put all things under his power.” God put all things under His Power. So to display His power He took a towel, wrapped it around His waist and washed the disciples’ feet. Not typically what we would think of as a great display of power. But Jesus shows His disciples true power is in serving one another. Washing another’s feet is the ultimate show of humility and lowering oneself in service to others. Jesus reminds them that no servant is greater than their master, and if the Master is willing to serve His creation, His own servants…then we should do likewise.
Lord Jesus, thank You for modeling servant leadership and true power. Help me to serve others with the same humility. Help me to be willing to offer myself as a servant and to do things that others are unwilling to do. Keep me from missing opportunities to be a servant, no matter the cost. Thank You, for being willing to show me how to do this. You are an amazing God, and a true Master. Amen
Day 29 – Jesus Source of Faith and Fear. April 3, 2019
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God. Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. John 12:42-46
Jesus was a source of faith and fear. Sometimes we miss that there were some leaders and Pharisees that actually became believers in Jesus Christ. But their faith in Jesus was full of fear. Many people were being put out of the synagogue because of their faith in Jesus. But one of their fears was losing human praise. When we value human praise and validation more than we value God’s praise and validation — we have lost touch with true faith in Jesus. Jesus said “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” Fear keeps us in darkness, it keeps us enslaved to the whims of men. Faith moves us into the light and we no longer fear what men may say or do to us. Does your walk with Jesus inspire faith or fear in you?
Lord Jesus, there have been many times when I have been afraid of what faith in You has called me to step into. Forgive me for my lack of trust and faith. Help me to be strengthened in my Spirit and stand firm in the faith, no matter what others may say. Thank You for the strength You provide when I am at my weakest. I praise You for Your power and might, and Your compassion to me. Amen.
Day 28 – Jesus Receives God’s Glory. April 2, 2019
Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” John 12:20-28
Finally, a confirming voice from God the Father decrying Christ’s glorification. The voices of men, fickle and untrue, would give way to the voice of the One that truly mattered. The Father’s approval rang down upon Him that others might hear that Jesus was confirmed my God Himself. Jesus was troubled by the closeness of the crucifixion, but he could not deny that it was for this very purpose that He had come. Jesus explained that a seed must die in order for many seeds to be produced. Surrender of life is the way to keep it, and the only way to serve Jesus is to follow Him. Are you ready to become a seed that produces fruit that will last?
Father God, thank You for glorifying Your Son, Jesus. Thank You for letting us see His example. Help me to follow Him in all things, being willing to die in order that many more sons and daughters would come to know You. Let me not fear any sacrifice, but willingly submit to Your purposes in all things, giving thanks and praising God for His great mercy and lovingkindness. Amen.
Day 27- Jesus Hailed as King. April 1, 2019
The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” John 12:12-19
Jesus enters Jerusalem to the royal fanfare of praise from the people of God. “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” It seemed to the Pharisees and to all in Jerusalem that truly, “the whole world has gone after him!” Perhaps it is fitting that today’s devotional entry falls on April 1…for the praises would quickly turn to jeers, mocking, and slander. Shouts that hailed Him as King, soon turned to shouts for Him to be crucified. Truly Jesus was despised and rejected by men. No more cruel joke could be played than to decry Him King, and then murder Him as a criminal. Alas, as John depicts — “At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.” It was planned this way from the beginning, and men played their part perfectly.
Lord Jesus, forgive me for my part in Your rejection. I may not have been in the crowd that day, nor in the garden with Adam and Eve…but my spirit and the spirit of all mankind rose up together in united rebellion. We are all guilty of Your blood. But thank You that Your blood is what cleanses me from all my sin. It frees me from my debt, and has completely taken away my sin. I praise You God for Your marvelous plan…my grief remains over the fact that Your Son had to pay my penalty. I am so very grateful. Thank You, Lord. Amen.
Day 26 – Jesus Anointed for Burial. March 31, 2019
Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
Mary takes a jar of pure nard, worth a year’s wages, and pours out the whole bottle upon her Lord, Jesus’ feet. This extravagant display of worship earned her no praise from the disciples, but instead rebuke. Now it may have been the traitor, Judas, who voiced it, but it is certain a few of the others were similarly concerned about the financial viability of this transaction. It didn’t make sense in financial terms to do this. But it made all the sense in the world to anoint Jesus for burial, since those burying Him would be so rushed after His crucifixion that no time was left for proper burial preparation (see Luke 23:55-24:1). But the disciples still did not understand the end game. That Jesus was going to die. If they had known, would they have also worshiped as extravagantly as Mary?
Lord Jesus, You are worth more than any wages I could ever earn. I know that I am often concerned with the practical dollars and cents of life. But I am reminded by Mary’s worship of You that no cost is too high, no sacrifice to big to offer to You for all You have done for me. Forgive me for my stingy worship, my meager offerings…remind me that I am to worship You extravagantly and unabashedly! Amen.