Jesus IS the WAY

Eyewitness: pp. 224,225
Eyewitness Stories: John 13:33-14:11
New Living Translation: John 13:33-14:11
In Your Bible: John 13:33-14:11

The time had come, Jesus told the disciples he was leaving and wouldn’t be with them much longer. He gave the disciples a new commandment – love one another. When two disciples, Peter and Philip, questioned Jesus pointedly about his going away, he answered in-directly and then directly. Jesus IS the WAY.

Going to Leave Them

For about three years Jesus taught and worked with the disciples he chose. Yet they were still unsure of who he was. During the last days before his crucifixion he had to reassure what they did know about him. “My students,” Jesus said “I cannot be with you much longer” (John 13:33a Eyewitness Stories).

Then the robust disciple Peter, asked “Sir where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I go you cannot follow. But you will later” (John 13:36,37 Eyewitness Stories).

Know Me

Jesus tries to quell their disappointment by saying he’d already prepared a place for them, and they knew the way. But Thomas boldly admitted his feelings. “No we don’t,” Thomas said. “Sir, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way”? (John 14:5 Eyewitness Stories).

Jesus told them, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you really have known me, you will know who my Father is. From now on you know him and have seen him” (John 14:6,7 New Living Translation). No argument about it, Jesus IS the WAY.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your Son who leads us into your loving hands.

Questions: When did you stop questioning that Jesus is the ONLY WAY to the Father? How did that understanding strengthen your faith and your witness?

A Farewell Command From Jesus

Eyewitness: p. 224
Eyewitness Stories: John 13: 33, 35
NIV: John 13:33-35
In Your Bible: John 13: 33-35

After eating the Passover Supper, Jesus told his disciples he was going away. This was a tender time and a confusing time for the disciples. It included a farewell command from Jesus.

How Jesus Loved

Jesus was about to enter a journey alone, and it grieved his heart. He wanted to impart his love to the disciples in way they could show the world.

Jesus loved his disciples:

  • Selflessly – His desire was to give of himself and all he had to those he loved
  • Sacrificially – There was no limit to what his love would give
  • Understandingly – He knew their weaknesses and he still loved them
  • Forgivingly – They had no failures that he would not forgive

Show Your Love

Jesus stated clearly the priority of this command. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (NIV John 13: 34,35).

This new command

  • It is from the Master – and a fundamental command of the Kingdom of God
  • It tells his disciples to love as Christ loved
  • It is the reputation of a follower of Jesus – noted love for one another

These verses in John Chapter 13 are heady ones. Many of the verses require meditation and contemplation to reveal their impact. Yes, the farewell command from Jesus shows his love.

Prayer: Father, thank you for loving me so much. Help me love others as you love me.

Questions: How does this command make a difference in how we think, speak, and respond in daily life? When we respond to situations by following Jesus’ final command to love one another, the results may astound us. Compare those results to times you felt the command was too difficult.

God’s Way

Eyewitness: pp. 215,216
Eyewitness Stories Matt 25:45,46
New Living Translation (NLT): Matt 25:37-39
New international Version (NIV) Matt 25:34
In Your Bible: Matt 25:31-46

Of the many parables Jesus told, this one about the sheep and the goats is considered the most vivid.* It speaks of end times happenings and rewards for those righteous who submitted to and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord. It’s a guide on how to lead a Christ-like life. Simply stated, it is God’s way to meet man’s needs.

Son of Man Returns

The parable starts with when the Son of Man’s return to earth – truly a key event. He will separate people from one another – good (believers) from bad (non-believers). The shepherd separates sheep from the goats.

The parable divulges why they were separated. Speaking to the sheep:

  • I was hungry – You fed me
  • I was thirsty – You gave me a drink
  • I was homeless – You took me in
  • I had no clothes – You gave me clothes
  • I was sick or in prison -You cared for or visited me

“The righteous ones [sheep] will reply, ‘Lord when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing. When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’” (Matthew 25:37b-39 NLT).

Listen to your Heart – Help

The answer to the question means a lot, especially when you see the simplicity of it . . .[the Lord says,} “I assure you, when whenever you helped one of my needy people, you did it for me” (Matthew 25:40 Eyewitness Stories).

How do we do this? We help those in need. God wants believers to serve out of love not self-expectation. The Lord was direct when he spoke about this. We need to listen to our heart and respond as Jesus would!

Inheritance from the Time of Creation

The parable explains the believer’s reward for doing these simple things for the right reason** . . . Come [sheep], you who are blessed of my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world (Matthew 25:34b NIV).

That’s an amazing revelation about what was prepared ahead for those who believe and follow Jesus’ commands and teaching! It shows God’s way to meet man’s needs.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your far reaching plan. Help me see the needs of those I can touch for you.

Questions: How do you think God shows you ways you can help others needs? Does it happen immediately as you see it or does it become clear later?

* The Daily Bible Series, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, William Barclay, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, p. 327.

** Matthew Henry’s Commentary in One Volume, Regency Reference Library, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1960, pp1336-1338.

Be Prepared

Eyewitness: pp. 212,213
Eyewitness Stories: Matthew 25:1-13
NLT: Matthew 25:1-13
In Your Bible: Matthew 25: 1-13; Ephesians 5:18

The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids (five wise and five foolish) tells us to be ready to greet the bridegroom. Jesus warns us, “ . . . you should always be prepared, because you do not know the day or hour of my return” (Matthew 25:13 Eyewitness Stories). Yes, be prepared for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Old Jewish Custom

Bible commentators* explain this wedding custom. Days before the marriage, friends and family gathered at the bride’s home waiting with anticipation the groom’s arrival. The bridesmaids would even go into the streets, waiting. At night they would need oil lamps.

When the groom did arrive, it was often late at night. He would send a messenger to announce his coming. Then only the bridesmaids who prepared extra oil to refill their lamps could go into the dark to meet the bridegroom.

Oil of the Believer

The bridesmaids heard a shout at midnight, “Look the bridegroom is coming! Come out and welcome him” (Matthew 25:6 NLT). Jesus praises the wisdom of the five bridesmaids who had extra oil to refill their lamps – they were ready.

This parable refers to the believers’ readiness – constantly being filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Be wise and let the Holy Spirit guide you, as you anticipate his coming. Yes, be prepared for the Kingdom of Heaven.

* The Daily Study Bible, The Gospel of Matthew Vol 2, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1958, Wm Barclay pp. 319-321.

Prayer: Father, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit. Remind me to always be prepared for Jesus’ return.

Questions: What are you doing to prepare yourself for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you anticipate his return? Are you ready?

Conversion of the Heart

Eyewitness: pp. 184
Eyewitness Stories: Luke 19:1-10
New Living Translation: Luke 19: 1-10
In Your Bible: Luke 19:1-10

Jesus’ encounter with the wee little man, Zacchaeus, was extraordinary. He heard that Jesus welcomed tax collectors and sinners. * So he risked a chance to see Jesus as he walked through Jericho, on the road to Jerusalem. Truly, Zacchaeus had a conversion of the heart.

Up a Tree

We know Zacchaeus was so short, he needed to climb a sycamore-fig tree in order to see Jesus. He’d probably never seen him before. ** When Jesus saw him, he knew who Zacchaeus was and what he did. Jesus said, Zacchaeus, hurry down from there, for I must be a guest at your house today” (Eyewitness Luke 19:5b). One commentator says ** that Jesus even stayed overnight! Strange indeed. Outraged, the crowd grumbled because they knew Zacchaeus was a sinner.

Salvation

We know little of what happened at his home, but Zacchaeus, the despised man, found a friend in Jesus. Merely meeting Jesus and talking with him changed Zacchaeus’ heart. Later Zacchaeus stood before Jesus. “Sir, I will give half my wealth to the poor. If I have defrauded anyone, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8 Eyewitness Stories). This was beyond what the law required (see Lev 6:5 and Num 5:7).

Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:9,10 NLT). On commentator * says, in the New Testament “lost” means a man who has wondered away from God (not damned or doomed). Zacchaeus truly had a conversion of the heart.

Prayer: Father, thank you for seeing my heart, knowing my feelings, and being a comforter of my soul. I need you. Selah.

Questions: What first comes to your mind when you recall the song starting with the phrase, Zacchaeus was a wee little man? This encounter seems to be one of the few stating Jesus stayed overnight in a person’s home? How does this add to the striking conversion Zacchaeus had? When was the first time Jesus had an impact on your heart?

* The Gospel of Luke, Daily Study Bible, William Barclay, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1956, p 244, 245.

** Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown, Luke 19:1-10, ewordtoday.com

Seek God With Your Whole Heart

Eyewitness: pp. 179, 180
Amplified Bible: Matthew 19:16-16
In Your Bible: Matthew 19:16-26

This encounter with Jesus and the rich young man shows great detail of the man’s background, his intentions, desires, and feelings. God searches the state of man’s heart, and chooses by character and motive. Seek God with your whole heart.

The Question

A rich man (possibly a religious leader) came to Jesus to ask, “Teacher, what [essentially] good thing shall I do to obtain eternal life ” (Matthew 19:16a Amplified Bible)?

Jesus said, “Keep the Commandments” (Matthew 19:17b Amplified Bible). Of course the man wondered which ones are the qualifiers for eternal life. He said he had done these since he was young . . . what more should he do?

Be My Disciple

Jesus answered him, “If you wish to be perfect [that is, have the spiritual maturity that accompanies godly character with no moral or ethical deficiencies], go and sell what you have and give [the money] to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk]” (Matthew 19:21 Amplified Bible).

Yes, the Amplified Bible gives us a better picture than “keep the Commandments.” Jesus understood this man was only looking for a simple answer. But he needed to be a disciple of Jesus. Then learn real treasure, to understand eternal life, and to receive eternal life.

It’s Relationship with God

But when the young man heard this, he went away sad (grieved and in much distress), for he had great possessions (Matthew 19:22 Amplified Bible).

All Things Are Possible

When the disciples heard this they were utterly puzzled (astonished, bewildered) saying, “Then who can be saved [from eternal death]?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:25,26 Amplified Bible).

Heavenly inheritance is not given as earthly ones are given, but according to God’s pleasure. * Seek God with your whole heart.

Prayer: Father, help me seek you with my whole heart. Selah.

Questions: When you think about this rich young man, what possessions, habits, anything else hold you back from seeking God with your whole heart?

*Matthew Henry, ewordtodayChristianity.com

God’s Perspective on How to Live

Eyewitness: pp. 152,153
NASB Luke 12: 16-32
The Message: Luke 12: 16-32
Amplified Bible: Luke 12: 22-34
In Your Bible: Luke 12: 16-32

Jesus spoke to the Twelve and possibly the Seventy, yet still in hearing range of the multitudes around him. He cautioned them about greed and worldly entanglements. They also learned about success and the best way to embrace it. Jesus shows us God’s perspective on how to live.

Parable of a Successful Farmer

Jesus told them this parable, “The land of a rich man was very productive” (Luke 12: 16 NASB). The farmer decided building more barns to keep this crop and have a party was best and obvious choice of what to do. But this Jesus told them was the wrong choice.

Jesus disclosed the key to the mistake in the first few words. “The land of the rich man was productive.” The farmer failed to embrace the increased produce as a gift from God also failed to give God the glory for it. In his mind, the farmer could do whatever he pleased with (his) resources.

God’ Focus

Next, Jesus focused on what success all about. In today’s terms, we keep our focus on God and his righteousness, do our best, and give him the glory. Be benevolent – help others. Our treasures come from God and we acknowledge him for it.

Steep Yourself in God’s Perspective

Jesus said pointedly, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot” (Luke 12:15 The Message).

Jesus said, “What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People, who don’t know God and the way he works, fuss over these things. But you know God, and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions . . .The Father wants to give you the very Kingdom itself” (Luke 12:29-32 The Message).

Jesus then warned them, “Watch out and guard yourselves against every form of greed; for not even when one has an overflowing abundance does his life consist of nor is it derived from his possessions” . . .For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Luke 12: 15 and 34 Amplified Bible). He shows us God’s perspective on how to live.

Prayer: Father, thank you for being the source of all things, being the giver of all things, and the meaning of all things.

Questions: Why is it hard when you work on a project or task to give God credit for working with you to achieve it? What would you add to the note below?

Note: This is a life-long process:

  1. Keep God first, love the Lord with all your heart, listen to him, read his Word, and seek what he wants to be done,
  2. Sell or give away possessions you no longer needed
  3. Give to charity, give to those in need
  4. Protect your assets with living wills, trusts, etc.
  5. Yes, keep God first, seek him, and he will look after you