Day 35 – Jesus is the Vine

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

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 32 – Jesus Gives a New Command

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 30 – Jesus Shows True Power

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 28 – Jesus Receives God’s Glor

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 26 – Jesus Anointed for Burial

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.”
John 12:1-8

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.

Day 25 – Jesus Most Wanted

Day 25 – Jesus Most Wanted. March 30, 2019

Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life. John 11:47-53

Jesus’ fate is sealed by this miracle. It scared the religious powers that be so greatly that they saw only one way to squash this story…kill Jesus. They could sweep it under the rug, and make it a tall tale that only a few nutters witnessed and believed in. Otherwise, everyone will believe in Him, and their system would be lost to the rulers of the Roman empire (amazing that the Jews were content with slavery once again, just like their days in Egypt). The rulers only thought this was their idea, however. In reality, this was the prophesied plan all along. Jesus was going to fulfill the prophecies made about Him in Scripture hundreds of years prior to this. Jesus suddenly became Jerusalem’s Most Wanted.

Lord Jesus, you became an outlaw, a wanted man, so that I could live. Your crime? Healing the sick, the lame, the blind, raising the dead, and revealing the truth of the Word of God to mankind. Thank You for being willing to suffer shame and reproach for my sake. Let me never fear the same labels that You were given. Let me not hesitate to love the way You did, and to evidence the power of God in any way You see fit. Lord Jesus, thank You for Your love for me. Amen.

Day 24 – Jesus Moves the Deep

Day 24 – Jesus Moves the Deep. March 29, 2019

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. John 11:41-46

Here is the moment that Jesus cannot walk away from. He is now revealing His power, in His time for all men to witness. No longer can He keep this under wraps, for the people saw Lazarus dead. They buried him in a tomb, they watched him walk out of that tomb alive at the sound of Jesus’ voice! “Lazarus, come out!” Many now believed in Him, for this act of power was undeniable. “But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.” Jesus had fully revealed Himself, and would they fail to believe in Him now that He had raised some one from the dead? Yes. Just as he had predicted. Jesus so deeply moved, moved the deep and pulled Lazarus from the clutches of death. There is no denying that Jesus is the Messiah!

Lord Jesus, You are God! You are powerful and mighty! You are holy and awesome! You are the Messiah, and You are my Lord! Thank You for moving the deep so that death can no longer hold us. I praise You for Your perfect timing in all things. Please remove the grave clothes so that I will no longer be reminded of my dead life…but only move forward in my new resurrection life! All praise to Jesus, the Name above all names! Amen.

Day 23 – Jesus Deeply Moved

Day 23 – Jesus Deeply Moved. March 28, 2019

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
John 11:32-40

Mary, far from stoic, says the same words to Jesus as Mary — “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” But unlike Martha, Mary weeps and falls at His feet in an almost irreverent display. Jesus is deeply moved by her display of emotion. So much so, that He weeps. He asks to see where Lazarus has been laid, and upon reaching the spot is once again deeply moved. He tells them to remove the stone, and Mary hesitates, warning the Master that the body has already begun to decay and, as the King James puts it, the body “stinketh.” Jesus sharply replies, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” When Jesus is moved, and He is moved by our pain, our anguish, our heartache, He is moved to action. And His glory is coming on the heels of our hurt. But we must believe.

Lord Jesus, thank You for feeling the same pain and hurt that I feel. Thank You for understanding and being ready to bring healing and restoration and Your glory. Help my unbelief. Don’t let me stagnate in unbelief and hurt, but rather lean in to Your presence and trust that You will move. I love You, and I am so glad that You understand. Amen.

Day 21 – Jesus Confronts Death

Day 21 – Jesus Confronts Death. March 26, 2019

After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” John 11:11-16

Jesus’ disciples are not happy to be returning to Jerusalem. They remind Jesus that He narrowly escaped death the last time He was there. They think Jesus is going to wake Lazarus from a restful sleep that will probably make him feel better. Jesus must then explain that He is going back to a Lazarus that is not sick, but dead. This makes even less sense to the disciples — just because Lazarus is dead, that’s no reason for all of us to be dead! But Jesus is going to confront death, so that the disciples may be assured that He is Lord over all things. Seeing Jesus’ resurrection power will help each of the disciples confront death after Jesus returns to the Father (for all of the disciples, except John were martyred). Jesus confronts death so that we too can look at death very differently than the rest of the world. Have you told Jesus, as Thomas did, “Let us also go, that we may die with him”?

Lord Jesus, I am ready to follow You, even if death is in store. For You are Lord over death, and You have resurrection power to defeat the power of the grave. Wherever You lead, I will go. Amen.