Today’s reading is John 21.
John doesn’t include an account of Peter walking on water. John has a different story to tell. In fact, I wonder if John didn’t read Matthew’s account and, chuckling to himself, think, “You know, Peter didn’t always *walk* to
Jesus on the water.” I don’t know how far out they were when they caught their fish, but I imagine Peter swimming as hard as he can to get to shore with the 6 disciples patiently rowing behind him. Peter may have gotten there a long time before they did. But I wonder why, as usual, he was the only one who got out of the boat. Of course, this time there is no glory. They aren’t going to walk back up to the boat. Peter, soggy and tired, drags himself up on shore and toward Jesus’ fire. Some fish and bread are already cooking. Considering the weather, how long they had been fishing, and Peter’s most recent aquatic pursuits, I’m sure Peter didn’t mind sitting by the fire, eating the fish, or feeling his clothes dry. But those things aren’t why he is there. Christ had told them He would meet them in Galilee. And here He is. Peter has been waiting for Him. Peter swam to get there as fast as he could. So as soon as He can, Christ begins repairing their relationship. They can’t continue as they are. Because Peter didn’t always walk on water, but he did always move forward.
I want to thank you for reading through the book of John with me over the past three weeks. I have enjoyed your comments and suggestions. You can read all my summaries from the gospel of John on our website http://www.jtcoc.com
I’d like to encourage you, now that you have established the habit of
daily Bible reading, continue! Join us with the reading suggestions on the back of the bulletin, or simply start with the gospel of Luke and read Luke and Acts one chapter at a time. I’m always available to make suggestions for a reading plan that will take into account your knowledge base and reading speed.
Everyone can be a daily Bible reader! Make it your goal to continue all year!
Today’s reading is John 20.
“Was Thomas from Missouri? (The ‘Show Me’ State)”
As we pointed out so long ago, John seems to be specific in including only certain stories. He doesn’t tell us the stories others have told. There are only a few he apparently felt like he must put in that the others had also included. I imagine John, in chapter 20, wanting to help his readers understand that, even after Christ was risen, they still didn’t get it. They still didn’t understand. And so he tells us the story of “Doubting Thomas.” Of course, Thomas was one of the braver disciples. He was the one who offered to go die with Christ before Lazarus was raised. But the crucifixion was so brutal, so abrupt, and so decisive that no one expected the story to continue. It was over. We see that first in chapter 20. Lazarus has to see the same kind of evidence of Christ being alive as he did of Christ being dead. I think this says a lot to us. In many ways, I think we are far too quick to believe if it matches what we want to believe. Thomas was adamant that he needed to see before he believed, even if it was Christ being alive and not dead. A dead Jesus would mean that the last 3+ years of their lives were wasted. A dead Jesus would mean that they were still waiting on the Messiah. A dead Jesus would mean that all of the lessons they had learned were not God’s lessons – that they had been led astray. And yet all of those things were preferable to Thomas than believing a lie (again?). A living Jesus is much better for Thomas, but the evidence must be there. John shows us that for Thomas, and for us, the evidence is there. And we can trust their witness.
Today’s reading is John 19.
“From that time on”
John, from what we know, was the only disciple at the crucifixion. All of the others had run away. I think this was the reason John’s record of the crucifixion is remarkably short. Others might be interested in how it happened. John wasn’t. He was there and I imagine he saw enough the first time. Besides, I don’t think it was in John’s character to rub it in. So John goes out of his way at times to avoid putting himself in the spotlight or display his own strengths or abilities. But in John 19, we see Christ, moments before He dies, hand His mother over to John’s care. To me, that speaks volumes about John. I imagine John and Mary spent the next several years together. I have wondered before whether they sat around some days and discussed shared memories – or memories that were all Mary’s. To me, it brings to mind the very first conversation John and Christ ever had (Jesus asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi,” “where are you staying?”). Now he could ask Mary all of the things he had never asked Christ. John, who was one of the very first disciples to ever see Christ, would also be the last one to see Him alive.
Christ gave John a huge responsibility in Mary. Has He given us a greater responsibility?
Today’s reading is John 18.
“I was just wondering!”
It is amazing to me, whenever we read about Christ’s arrest and trial, what a large part Peter plays in events. He is the one who physically assaults a person when they try to arrest Christ. He is the one who follows the contingent of soldiers but is, literally and spiritually, left out in the cold. And as Christ is on trial, he is warming himself around the fire with many of the same people who were out arresting Him. Considering the time of night and the weather, I doubt anyone was there unless they had something to do with the case. Peter, it seems, was in very hostile territory. I can imagine Peter thinking about how every person there wanted to have him, personally, arrested. John even includes the fact that one of the people who questions Peter was a relative of poor old Malchus (who temporarily lost an ear). Maybe he was looking for revenge. And it’s that very person I want to focus on. Peter probably had many reasons to deny Christ, fear being first on the list. But one of the reasons to confess Christ is because of something Peter himself said back in John 6:68: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” I wonder if Malchus’ relative wasn’t looking for a disciple to talk to. Yes, Peter *had* cut off Malchus’ ear, but Christ had miraculously reattached it. What if this man was looking for the truth and Peter, through fear, had turned his back on him? Is it possible that we could do the same thing?
Today’s reading is John 17.
“An accessory to prayer”
John 17 is Jesus’ longest prayer – only Nehemiah 9 is longer. As beautiful and telling as it is, when I read it, I wonder if the disciples feel like I do: as an outsider. Here they are listening to Christ talk about the Comforter, the Father, the future, and all the rest. Christ had just told them He was not alone because the Father was with Him. Now, seemingly in the middle of a sentence, Christ is praying. The breadth and the depth Christ reaches in His prayer are so much more than what we are used to hearing. But maybe most odd for them is that, at the very beginning, Christ stops praying for Himself and started praying for His disciples instead – while they are listening. How would it have felt to be one of the disciples? You are standing, listening to Christ for one of the last times when, suddenly, you are the subject of the prayer! Realize that this is exactly what happens in verse 20 for us. Christ prays for us. He is keenly interested in the movement’s progress after He is gone. Almost two thousand years have come and gone. Christ’s words are still there – His prayer is still an example of His love for us.
How can Christ’s prayer help us to pray?
Today’s reading is John 16.
“All grown up”
There are a lot of disadvantages to growing up. You cook your own dinner, you drive your own car, you pick out your own clothes, and you pay for it all. In John 16, Christ is giving the disciples the “you’re a man now…” speech. Soon, they are going to suffer humiliation, fear, grief, pain, loneliness, and death. Soon, Christ is going to leave and be replaced by some “comforter,” whatever that means. As the disciples walk through the garden with Christ on His last day on earth, He tells them things that I think many Christians would benefit from hearing:
“You will be ready.” They have gone through a lot, and they would go through even more, but they would succeed in their task because their time with Christ would prepare them. Just like our time in His Word prepares us.
“You are not alone.” He tells them a few times that He was leaving and that, soon, *they* would leave *Him*, but He also tells them that they wouldn’t be alone. They would have the comforter. Now, I doubt that would mean much to them right then, but it would. We are certainly not alone, either.
“Your grief is temporary.” Christ meant this regarding His death and resurrection, but obviously, for them and for us, this comfort means that while we will all grow up, have responsibilities, and do a great deal, someone else really does pay for it all.
1) What do you think the disciples thought about “the comforter”?
2) This is the second time Christ has told them about them abandoning Him. How do you think His words could have affected the disciples?
3) John is probably writing after every apostle save him is dead. How would reading Christ’s words in verses 2 and following help Christians as they moved past the apostolic period in the church?
In preparing for my lesson this morning, I learned an oddity to the game of checkers. Continue reading “Black, White, and Red by James Mayo”