Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Home, yet? John 14:1-14?

Every Christian's story includes pain, grief, and death. The night before Jesus died he spoke words of comfort to his friends knowing pain would come soon for all of them. What Jesus said that night had such significance that it has been passed down from the apostles to us. These words hold a promises to us, we have a way home (John 14:1-4), a relationship with God the Father (John 14:5-8) and a promise of God's presence in all our days (John 14:9-14).

In Jesus we see our way to the future. In Jesus we see hope for the hour when we will be at home and at peace with God. Luther wisely wrote,

To be sure, this comfort did not help at the moment, nor was it effective until the appearance of the Holy Spirit. No, when Christ was gone, all was lost; they had no heart or courage, and not one of them could stand his ground against a frail maid. In that hour all Christ’s words and works fell by the wayside, and this comfort was entirely forgotten.
Thus Christ admonished and consoled His beloved disciples here as men who sorely needed consolation. But these words were recorded, not for their sakes, but for ours that we might also learn to apply this comfort to both present and future need. Luther's works, vol. 24 : Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 14-16 page 10
Don't be mistaken: Jesus words didn't negate the terrors his friends would soon experience. But looking back, after the resurrection, they remembered a promise worth passing on to future believers. They remembered Jesus' promise to guide them and all his people living in dark days. Jesus' words in John 14 were passed on to us because of the power Jesus' friends saw in them after His resurrection. When times are dark we need to know that same power of God. When things are going from bad to even worse we need to know that God is at work. No wonder so many hurting people find sustenance in these words of Jesus about knowing the way home to the father. Luther wrote,
Every Christian, when baptized and dedicated to Christ, may and must accept and expect encounters with terror and anxiety, which will make his heart afraid and dejected, whether these feelings arise from one or from many enemies and adversaries. For a Christian has an exceedingly large number of enemies if he wants to remain loyal to his Lord. The world and the devil daily lie in wait to deprive him of life and limb. Furthermore, his own flesh, reason, and conscience plague him constantly. As a result, his heart trembles with fear. Luther's works, vol. 24: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 14-16 p 10
Jesus words promise a forever place. This promise is given to us as church together today. We are not meant to not view this world as home. No we are meant to trust in Jesus' person and his promise: he is going to, "prepare a place for you."
Peace, and thanks for reading,

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Identity in John 10:1-10?

if Jesus = Good Shepherd then his followers (aka Christians) = Sheep
Jesus is every Christians' shepherd. In a world full of dangers that promise shines bright. Jesus watches over and protects every believer in the midst of this world's dangers. Jesus guides his followers into abundant life that starts in relationship with him (John 10:10). This promises more than a way to safety. Relationship with Jesus means full life that doesn't end in death. Thieves may come to steal and destroy (John 10:1) and Jesus is the way through all that to abundant everlasting life.  Jesus promise remains even after the world has done the worst to you.  Jesus, the gatekeeper, watches over protecting his own. His simple promise rings out--those who know him follow his voice and find abundant and everlasting life with him (John 10:2-6, John 10:10).

Jesus gives His followers abundant life in a dangerous world. Jesus' promise isn't a guarantee of wealth or comfort on earth.  I don't think Jesus made any promise of earthly prosperity.  Rather Jesus spoke of life that didn't end in this world's struggle.  He promised abundant life knowing the cost he would pay for his sheep (John 10:9, John 10:17).  Jesus offers us an abundant life-giving forever relationship starting now. The world's dangers remain, and so does God's promise. We remain in the Good Shepherd's care forever: and forever started some time ago.  The world's dangers are not eliminated--instead Jesus plants hope in his people to see abundant eternal life with God. Hope takes root in the promises Jesus makes. He will shepherd his followers in all situations even, as Psalm 23:4 says, the valley of shadow and death. Jesus identity as shepherd is his promise and our hope.

Peace, and thanks for reading.