The View From Here

Last Words

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John 13:1-7

Before leaving earth, Jesus gave his disciples one of the most important lessons of his teaching career.  He did not use words.  He washed their feet.  Why did he do this?  Why did God have John record this in the Bible for us?

He shocked his disciples.  When he got to Peter, Peter said what anyone of us might think, “What are you doing?”  Jesus, their Rabbi, our Savior and King, had taken the place of the lowest servant.  They didn’t know what Jesus was doing, but Jesus did. 

John describes how Jesus knew that “his hour had come” (John 13:1), meaning he knew it was time to die.  He also knew who he was, the powerful and eternal Son of God (John 13:3).  John 13:1 says Jesus loved them completely, to the end.

Today is Good Friday.  This is the day we remember what happened when the most powerful being is combined with the most powerful love.  It can be hard to grasp, especially when you realize that you are the object—the target of that powerful being and that powerful love.  What do you do?  Peter squirmed. 

But gentle Jesus knew he didn’t get it yet.  Jesus said, “What I’m doing you don’t understand now, but afterward you will know” (John 13:7). 

You and I live afterward, almost 2,000 years later.  On this Good Friday, take a moment to understand what Jesus was doing.  First, the King of the Universe became the lowest servant.  He did the job no one wanted to do.  And he went lower, to the place of a criminal on a cross.  That place is mine and yours.  We deserve death.

Second, Jesus became a living parable.  In Luke 22, at the Last Supper, the disciples argued which of them would be greatest in the kingdom.  2,000 years later, are we much different?  The church still has disciples wanting their voice to be heard, who compete for attention, who want to be accepted.  We are no different.

“…but afterward you will know" (John 13:7).  Jesus is still gentle today.  We live in that “afterward” time, after the cross and resurrection.  While we have been growing in the knowledge of Jesus, let us also grow in his grace (2 Peter. 3:18).  The humility of Jesus was rooted in his relationship with his Father.  He became the lowest servant because his heart said, “your will be done, not mine.”  This is the battle each of us face.

Humility grows only out of your relationship with the Father.  That relationship begins with Jesus.  And what is humility?  It has often been said humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is not thinking of yourself at all.  This statement explodes in my mind and raises the bar to where Jesus puts it. Philippians 2:3 rephrases this for us: “me last, others first.” Jesus has opened the way to humility for us.  He is both the example of humility, and the one who washes away the stain of my selfishness and pride. 

“Lord, I have sinned against you.  I keep making my days about me.  Thank you, Jesus, for taking my cross, for taking my sin and shame.  You have washed my sins away.  Now help me, I pray, to walk in your footsteps.  Help me to say, your will be done, not mine.  Thank you for loving us, Lord, and help me to love you more.  Amen.”


Stay the Course

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Staying put is not easy.  Not all of us are stuck at home.   Some have “essential jobs” and are busier than ever. Either way, we all live with the tension that has our entire country—our world—holding its breath.

The word from the Lord today is, “stay the course.”  It is not easy.  You might be feeling stuck or out of control.  Some are lonely.  Many are on the front lines, giving their all, while others don’t know what to do.  Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, listen to God’s call.  Stay the course.  There are times when God calls you to go, and there are times he calls you to be still.  Trusting God with where he has you is not always easy.  There will be good times and bad, but you can trust God with both. 

Abraham trusted God.  God said go, and he went, not knowing where he was going.  The only map he had was the promises God gave him to bless him.  He believed God was good. 

Abraham arrived.  God said this is it.  He stayed the course until his faith was replaced by fear. Read about this in Genesis 12:7-20.

Where does anxiety come from?  It comes from a frustrated desire to get your own way. There’s nothing wrong in getting what you want, but how do you respond when that freedom is removed, when security evaporates?

Abraham had God’s roadmap, which was a promise that God would bless and protect Abraham.  When a famine came, He did not stay the course.  Rather than wait on God, he headed out on his own.  He went to Egypt.

How did that end up for Abraham and for his family?  It was a mess.  The drip-drip of fear and anxiety turned into a flood.  His decisions after that were driven by self-preservation and fear.  He nearly lost his wife, and could have lost his life.

But God is so good.  Even when our faith fails, God remains faithful.  God protected Abraham, causing the Egyptians to deport him—back to the promised land!  In Genesis 12, Abraham learns that God can be trusted, and that God doesn’t give up on us. 

The word from the Lord for us today and this week is, “Stay the course!”  The novelty is wearing off.  For some, cabin fever has set in.  Exhaustion is plaguing others.  Now more than ever, you will be tempted to lash out, to find your own course, to withdraw.  Now more than ever you need to cast your care on God, believing that he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).  You need stop reading the incessant headlines about the coronavirus and the economy and start reading your Bible.  You need to stop complaining about your circumstances, and start praying.

Trust that God has you right where you are at for a purpose.  He might be preparing you for something yet to come.  Whether you are shut up at home, driving truck long distance, working in a warehouse, stuck with kids who would rather be with friends or at school, trying to do your job from home or with new limitations—trust that God sees the bigger picture.  He’s got this.  He’s got you.  Stay the course, whether you’re moving a million miles an hour or having to be still.  Stay the course, trust in God.

“Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).

 The nearness of God is my good (Ps. 73:28).


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