Join us for a six-week worship series on the Gospel of John entitled "The WORD: A Journey Through John."

Accompanying the sermon series, we'll provide a Monday through Friday daily devotion, each one on a selected theme or passage from John's Gospel. We pray that we'll all participate in this series together, not just in worship but in our devotion time, our group Bible studies, and our family devotions. We pray that the Gospel of John becomes our New McKendree Church family devotion focus for six weeks.

The Word: A Journey through John - Day 21

Read John 21

“After breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’”

As John ends his Gospel, we’re allowed to listen in on a conversation between Jesus, our resurrected Savior, and Simon Peter. Jesus asks Peter repeatedly, “Simon, Son of John, do you love me?” (vs. 15-17). Each time Simon Peter affirms his love for Jesus. But after the third time, John records that “Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time” and responds to Jesus saying, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” (vs. 17). 

For centuries, Christians have wondered and speculated as to why Jesus asked Peter this question three times. While the text doesn’t give us much insight into his motive for his repeated questioning of Peter, it could be Jesus’ way of helping Peter to reflect on his love for him and prepare him for the challenges he will soon face. Jesus gives Peter the task of feeding his sheep and tells him that one day his commitment to Jesus will cost him his very life. Peter deflects Jesus’ challenging words by asking him about John’s mission and destiny. Having none of it, Jesus redirects Peter’s focus to his situation. God’s plans will certainly come to pass in the life of each of Jesus’ disciples, even though those plans will not be the same for each of them. Peter’s focus should not be on others. His focus should be on Jesus and obedience to the task Jesus had called him to serve…no matter the cost.

The same is true for us today. Jesus asks each of us, “Do you love me?” If we answer this question in the affirmative, like Peter, we must be ready to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus wherever he leads. Being a disciple of Jesus will not always be easy. At times, the cost of discipleship will be exceedingly high. But we must remember that following Jesus is the only life worth living. Only as we submit our will to Jesus’ will and walk in obedience will we experience the abundant life that Jesus offered us.

Thanks to all who participated in this 21-day “Journey through the Word” devotional. I pray that you’ve been blessed through your efforts and that each of us will use our blessing to bless others in Christ’s name.

Reflect: What is God saying to me?

Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Before you get started…

    In biblical times, a disciple followed a teacher or rabbi, not simply to gain knowledge or glean information, but to fully be immersed in the rabbi's life, to learn his ways so that they might reflect the rabbi’s ways into the world around them. As Christians, we are called to be Jesus’ disciples…to immerse ourselves in his ways, and grow to be the reflectors of his light and love in our families, community, and world.

    The Apostle John described it this way: “But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:5-6

    John makes it clear that to call ourselves disciples of Jesus, our life’s goal should be to walk daily in the ways of Jesus, our rabbi. That means loving as Jesus loved and serving as Jesus served. Or, as we say at New McKendree, to love God, love God’s people, and serve God’s people.

    Through the Gospels, we see Rabbi Jesus modeling three interconnected relationships: UP with his Father, IN with his chosen disciples, and OUT with the broken, hurting world around him.

    Jesus taught and modeled to his disciples how to live into each of these areas of life.


    Jesus frequently went off to spend “alone time” with the Father (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, Matthew 26:39). Jesus taught his disciples the significance of prayer and gave instructions on how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13). On the night he was arrested, Jesus modeled prayer, allowing them to eavesdrop on a prayerful conversation with his Father (John 17).


    Jesus invested in personal relationships with his disciples. When he went to meet his Father on the Mount of Transfiguration, he took three of his closest followers with him (Luke 9:28). When his disciples’ pride and insecurities presented themselves, Jesus used the occasion to teach them about humility and service (Mark 9:33-37, Matthew 18:1-5). Jesus taught and modeled the rhythms of rest (Mark 6:31) and the significance of the Sabbath. Jesus’ daily life demonstrated the power of generosity and sacrificial love (John 13:1-17).


    Jesus personally engaged with the crowds and the broken world around him. He healed the sick (Luke 5:12-14), fed the hungry (Mark 6:30-44), and cast out demons (Matthew 8:28-34). And to those closest to him, he challenged them to do the same (Mark 6:37). When his disciples obediently attempted to model his teachings, Jesus coached them with honest feedback and encouragement (Luke 9:49-50, 10:17-20).

    As we journey through our 21-day Gospel of John devotional, I encourage you to engage intentionally and prayerfully in these three ways — UP, IN, and OUT.

    How to get started…


    Before beginning your daily devotional, invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Although the Bible is the written Word of God (Logos), it becomes the living Word of God (Rhema) as the Holy Spirit speaks God’s Word directly into your life. You become God’s living Word!


    Discipleship is not an event but rather a lifelong journey. Commit to the journey! Commit to journeying with God daily (UP). Commit to sharing what you’re learning with others and encouraging others in what God is revealing (IN). Commit to reflecting into the world the truths God has revealed to you (OUT).

    Reflect & Respond

    As you spend your daily personal time with God, I encourage you to ask yourself the following two questions: 1) “What is God saying to me?” and 2) “What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 1

    “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning.” (Jn 1:1-2)

    John can never be accused of beating around the bush.  Right out of the gate, he reveals the objective of his 21-chapter Gospel message.  Inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit, John proclaims that Jesus is none other than God’s creative, life-giving, and light-giving Word.  While Matthew and Luke begin their Gospels with Jesus’ entrance into creation through human birth, John takes it back to before the beginning.  Jesus is the power of God that created creation and the wisdom of God that sustains creation who, in time, entered creation in human, bodily form. 

    It’s no coincidence that John’s Gospel and the first book of the Bible, Genesis, begin with the identical three words, “In the beginning.”  That’s John’s way of telling us that “the Word” (Jesus) is not part of the creation which came into being in time. Instead, the Word is part of eternity and was with God before time began.  In theological circles, this doctrinal concept is referred to as “the pre-existence of Christ.”  What that means is that Jesus has never not existed.  (Let that sink in for a minute!) 

    If attempting to get your head around this out-of-this-world, spiritual reality has given you a twinge of a headache, don’t worry.  It’s complicated stuff, and I’m right there with you.  That said, there is one aspect of this that is simple, practical, and readily accessible: If the Word (meaning Jesus) was with God before time began, and if Jesus is part of the eternal scheme of things, then it must follow that God was always like Jesus.  Thus, Jesus’ statement in John 10:30, “The Father and I are one.”

    Some, perhaps many, tend to think of God as being a harsh, judgmental, avenging Father.  But then “New Testament Jesus” comes along and alters God’s attitude toward us; changes his anger into love.  In reality, the Bible says no such thing.  The New Testament, especially the first words of John’s Gospel, tells us that God has always been like Jesus.  What Jesus did was to open a window in time so that we might experience firsthand the eternal and unchanging love of God.  Or, as John puts it, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). 

    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 2

    Back in 1st Century Palestine, weddings were a big deal. There would be a big pre-wedding feast, followed by the wedding ceremony, followed by a post-wedding parade through town.  And then, rather than going on a honeymoon, the newlyweds were the guests of honor at a week-long open house/party hosted by the groom’s parents. 

    Let it never be said that the Jewish culture wasn’t a partying culture!  Because this was such a big deal, showing over-the-top hospitality to the wedding guests was imperative.  Many people were poor during this time and in this area (Cana in Galilee).  Therefore, for many, attending a big wedding was perhaps the event of a lifetime. And, what made the party a party was the wine.  In the Jewish culture, wine was a symbol of joy (Psalm 104:15; Isaiah 55:1).  So, running out of wine was a major cultural faux pas and a potential permanent scar on the host’s reputation and standing within the community. 

    Jesus, his disciples, and his mother were all present at this wedding, which probably meant that it was a family member or close friend who had gotten married.  Jesus’ mother, out of concern for the host, brings the “out of wine emergency” to Jesus’ attention, knowing that he could rectify the situation.

    Given the wedding environment, Jesus’ response is packed with theological meaning. Saying that “My hour has not yet come” is a reference to Jesus’ wedding feast (Revelation 19).  In that culture, the groom was responsible for the wedding.  Jesus is saying, in effect, that this wedding isn’t his responsibility, but his time is coming!

    But despite it not yet being his time, Jesus responds nonetheless.  And, in doing so, he reveals his great compassion for some common people who’d found themselves neck-deep in one of life’s common calamities.  Although Jesus’ first miracle, there was nothing too grandiose about it.  Restocking an embarrassed groom’s wine supply is hardly worth mentioning when compared with feeding thousands of people from a kid’s lunchbox or raising someone from the dead.  After all, it was only witnessed by a few partying wedding-goers.  And yet, Jesus’ first miracle was a big deal to the wedding party host.  Granted, nobody was dying (other than from embarrassment), but because it was a big deal to the host, it was a big deal to Jesus.  While it’s true that there’s no problem too big for God, it’s evidently just as true that there’s no problem too small for God! 

    This miracle, a quiet act of compassion that brought joy to a few people, was the first time Jesus publicly “manifested his glory.”  Maybe this was the first because it displays the first thing that Jesus wanted us to know about him.  Namely, he loves us and is concerned about the things that concern us, even the small stuff.   

    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 3

    “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)

    Many of us have our favorite “go-to” Bible verses.  But as varied as our lists of favorites may be, chances are good that John 3:16 is the one verse we all share.  And for a good reason.  In this single sentence resides the very heart of the Gospel message.  While our ability to spout off this verse verbatim is a good thing, there is a danger of it becoming a bit too familiar to us.  With that in mind, let’s reacquaint ourselves with it as if hearing it for the first time.    

    First, this verse tells us that God and God alone is the initiator of our salvation.  As mentioned on Day 1’s devotion, we often think that, as a result of our sin, God had to be pacified…that he had to be persuaded to forgive us.  We envision an Old Testament angry God whose mind was changed by a gentle, loving, and forgiving New Testament Jesus.  But this one-sentence Gospel message tells us that God’s eternal love started it all.  God sent his Son because he loves us with infinite love.  In love, God acted on our behalf because God is love. 

    Secondly, in light of our disobedient, rebellious ways, we assume that God sits on high, thinking, “I’ll break them.  I’ll discipline them and punish them until they have no choice but to return to me.”  Or, perhaps, we assume God needs our allegiance to satisfy his desire for power.  But this verse and the balance of Scripture tell us that God is not acting for his sake but ours.  He didn’t send his Son to whip his creation into submission but rather to satisfy his love.  God isn’t an ogre king seeking to reduce his subjects to robot-like obedience.  God is a Father who cannot be happy until his wandering children have come home to his love.  As Jesus told Nicodemus, “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” 

    Finally, this “Gospel-in-a-verse” reveals the infinite breadth of God’s love.  It doesn’t say, “God so loved the Nation of Israel,” “God so loves ‘good people,’” or “God so loves only those people who surrender to him.”  It says, “God loved the world.”  That means God loves the loveable and the not-so-loveable alike.  God loves those who are lonely and have no one to love them.  God loves the person who shuns him no less than the person who loves him back.  No one exists outside the vast umbrella of God’s love.  In the words of Saint Augustine, “God loves each of us as if there was only one of us to love.”  

    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 4

    “Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.’”  John 4:13-14

    John 4 offers us a glimpse into the abundant grace God’s Son offers to all sinners. In chapter 3, having just spent time with Nicodemus, a Pharisee, in chapter 4, Jesus now turns his attention to a Samaritan woman and allows us to eavesdrop on a conversation that foreshadows the great harvest of Gentile sinners who are soon to be saved as a result of his death, and resurrection. As you read through Jesus’ pursuit of the Samaritan woman at the well, reflect on how Jesus is at once the source of both pleasure and purpose. He truly is the “living water” fountain of every good thing!

    Although easy to overlook, one of the most amazing things about this event was that Jesus, a Jew, would even step foot in Samaria in the first place. Jesus and his disciples had been ministering in Judea (the area surrounding Jerusalem) but were now traveling north to their “home base” in Galilee. Back then, there were three routes Jewish travelers could take between Galilee and Jerusalem: the western route along the Mediterranean coast, the eastern route through the Jordan River valley, or the route that proceeded directly north along the central ridge road. While this third route was the fastest and most direct, it required passing straight through the heart of Samaria. If you’re a 1st Century Palestinian Jew, Samaria was the last place you wanted to be. The Jew considered Samaritans to be undesirable half-breeds. What’s more, the Samaritans had a similar opinion of the Jews. Suffice it to say; Jews and Samaritans didn’t like each other very much. 

    But according to John 4:4, Jesus “had to go through Samaria” on the way to Galilee. Was Jesus in a hurry, or did he have a divine appointment with a woman at a well on the outskirts of Sychar? You don’t have to be a theologian to know it was the latter. Unbeknownst to the Samaritan woman, she and Jesus had an appointment! And, his “in” with the Samaritans was going to be a woman that not even her fellow Samaritans wanted anything to do with.  In other words, from the Jews’ perspective, she was an outcast even among her nation of outcasts. And yet, knowing that the Samaritans would never come to him, Jesus took it upon himself to go to them.

    I wonder if this is a lesson for us 21st-century, church-going Christians. Too often, we operate under the misperception that those who don’t know Christ should come to us. But Jesus never once told his followers to wait around for the lost to show up. Jesus said, “Go” … “Go and make disciples of all the nations….” Jesus didn’t wait for the Samaritans to come to him. Jesus went to them. And then notice what happened: the first thing the Samaritan woman does is “Go” to tell her hometown folk about Jesus.

    And therein lies the challenge: to whom can you “Go” today with Jesus’ lifesaving message? Before answering, thank God for relentlessly pursuing you with his love. And then, go. Gratefully respond by taking the love you’ve received to someone else. And while you’re at it, do it as Jesus did: one person at a time. 

    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 5

    “One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, ‘Would you like to get well?’”  (John 5:5-6)

    Healing pools and shrines were common in 1st Century Middle Eastern cultures. People frequented healing pools in pre-scientific Greek and Hebrew cultures to cure what ailed them, much like you and I frequent a pharmacy. Some were natural hot springs, and others incorporated manmade shrines to one of the many pagan gods. To the lame man whom Jesus found camped out by the healing pool of Bethesda, Jesus offered an alternative; himself. 

    Notice that the man John introduces us to in verses 1-15 had been an invalid for 38 years. For 38 years, this poor man had been camped out by the pool of Bethesda. His place by the pool had become his permanent address, and the healing waters that awaited only a few feet from him had become a cruel, unfulfilled dream. 

    And yet, Jesus approaches him and asks, “Would you like to get well?” At first glance, this question seems like a strange, borderline rude thing to ask. The man had been laying by the famous healing pool for almost 40 years. Wasn’t it apparent that he was there to be healed? Furthermore, Jesus knew he had been there long before he posed the question. 

    Given that reality, perhaps Jesus’ question was a valid one. After all, Jesus could fix this man’s physical ailment with one hand tied behind his back. Therefore, our Savior’s question must have been aimed at something more profound than his outward physical ailments. Perhaps the “would you like to get well?” question was Jesus’ way of saying that healing for this man would require a complete life change. His victim status had become his way of life, and begging had become his means of survival. Once Jesus healed him, the man who had been an invalid for 38 years would have to become responsible for himself. He would have to find productive work. By asking, “would you like to get well?” Jesus was looking beyond the man’s paralyzed limbs and into his heart.

    Jesus asks us the same thing. That positive change you say you want…the desired change you lift up in prayer…do you really want it? It’s a valid question because Jesus wants you to know that nothing will ever be the same once you accept him into your life. So, he asks, “would you like to get well?”

    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 6

    “Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, ‘Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?’”

    Did you know that Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels? Given that all four Gospel writers were inspired to report on this event, the truth it conveys about the power and breadth of Jesus’ compassion is beyond significant. But, unique to John’s record of this event is the insight we’re given into not just Jesus’ character but the faith and character of his closest followers and the mob in general. In other words, John tells us as much about ourselves in this account as he tells us about Jesus. 

    Jesus and the twelve were ministering in Galilee. John 6:2 points out that “a huge crowd kept following him wherever he went because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick.” So enamored by Jesus, the crowd had made no provisions for their sustenance. They just kept coming, even at the risk of starving themselves!

    Against that backdrop, Jesus asked Philip, “where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” John points out that Jesus was testing Philip. Philip replies, “even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” Wrong answer! But then Andrew steps in with the correct answer. More specifically, Andrew introduces Jesus to a little boy whose lunch box contained the raw materials of a miracle; five barley loaves and two fish (AKA two sardines).  

    Practically speaking, Philip’s response was 100% true. Catering a meal in the middle of nowhere for 5,000+ hungry people would cost a fortune and pose a logistical nightmare. So, what made Philip’s pragmatically correct response the wrong response? It was wrong because it focused on scarcity rather than focusing on Jesus. Even though the solution (Jesus) was right before him, Philip couldn’t see beyond the problem.

    But before we come down too hard on poor Philip, how often do we fall into the same scarcity mindset in our walk with Christ? God calls each of us to participate in his God-sized miracles by giving him our gifts and resources, as meager as they may be so that he can multiply them and magnify them for his purposes. Our job is to submit and surrender. God takes care of the rest. 

    And then there’s the “well-fed” crowd’s response. John reports in verse 15 that “when Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.” Doesn’t this kind of flip the notion of what a king is on its head? A king is supposed to be the one in charge, not the people. Yet these people try to force Jesus to do what they want him to do.

    Based on what Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the 5,000+ says about us followers, consider the following: how often do I fear Jesus will not be able to use my resources? Do I ever try to manipulate Jesus into doing what I want, or do I come to him as a willing subject? Finally, ask God to help you surrender your gifts, talents, resources, and your need to control him. After all, through Jesus, “God can do anything . . . far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” (Ephesians 3:20, The Message)

    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 7

    “There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, ‘He’s a good man,’ but others said, ‘He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.’” (John 7:12)

    The Gospel of John is arguably the most chronological of the four Gospels. John structures his account along a straight path that starts with the “Word became human and made his home among us” (John 1:14) and finds its climax in a conversation with Mary Magdalene outside his empty tomb (John 20). Between those two points in time, Jesus travels through distinct phases of ministry; his public ministry (John 1:19-12:50), his private ministry (John 13-17), his suffering and death (John 18-19), and his victory over death (John 20-21).

    Here in chapter 7, we find Jesus deep amid his public ministry. He’s well known throughout Galilee, Judea, and, as a result of his fruitful conversation with the woman at the well, is even known among the Samaritans (see John 4). By this point in his ministry, he’s so well known that people of all stripes are beginning to stop and ask themselves, “who is this guy, anyway?”

    Who is Jesus? That’s the question that takes center stage here in John 7. It’s safe to say that many people featured in this chapter don’t understand who Jesus is. Jesus’ family doesn’t believe that he’s the Christ. The religious leaders are offended by Jesus’ humble origins and failure to fulfill their Messianic expectations. As a result, they conclude that he’s nothing more than a false teacher intent on leading people astray. Although each faction reacts differently, the consensus of people mentioned in John 7 doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Christ. However, some see him from a different perspective. They marvel at Jesus’ authoritative teaching, are amazed at his miracles, and believe that Jesus has been sent from God. Some even accept Jesus as their Messiah.

    What’s remarkable is that it seems that John chapter 7 is still taking place today. It’s still confronting us with the “who is Jesus?” question and our responses are just as varied and confused today as they were back then. With that in mind, how do you respond to the “who is Jesus?” question? Do you believe that Jesus is whom he says he is, “the Messiah” (see John 4:26)? More specifically, do you believe that Jesus is your Messiah? As we journey through the Gospel of John, prayerfully ask God to deepen your understanding of Jesus’ identity. I’m pretty sure that that’s a prayerful request that God will gladly fulfill!

    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 8

    “Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.’” (John 8:12)

    “I am the light of the world.” This is the third of Jesus’ eight “I Am” statements found exclusively in John’s Gospel. Each statement reveals a unique insight into Jesus’ identity and the role he came to fulfill in the lives of those who believe in him. And, in each case, Jesus’ statement comes on the heels of a specific human need. In chapter 8, Jesus announces himself as the “light of the world” against the backdrop of a woman who’d been caught in the act of adultery. She’d been caught red-handed violating Commandment #7…the one that says, “You must not commit adultery” (pretty straightforward!). And the penalty for such an offense was death, death by stoning.

    Although the Pharisees had all the authority they needed to deal with the situation, they brought her to Jesus to be judged. Why they did so, while less than honorable, is for another day’s discussion; for now, let’s focus on the woman.

    So, what do we know about this woman? She was probably a prostitute whose life was undoubtedly caught up in an endless cycle of sin. Additionally, it’s safe to assume that this probably wasn’t the lifestyle she aspired to. When asked as a little girl, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I can’t imagine that she would have responded, “When I grow up, I’m going to be an adulteress...maybe even a prostitute.” Our experience tells us that that’s not how a life of sin is built. The insidious trap of sin starts with a single indiscretion, followed by another and another until the sin grows to become a cruel slave master who, over time, becomes a way of life.

    Can anybody relate? Anyone who’s ever been addicted to alcohol or drugs might know what I’m talking about. What started with a single drink or a single hit grows into a life of shame and deceit. It ultimately becomes a dark life that demands to be lived in darkness.

    That’s how I picture this woman’s life before her run-in with Jesus, “the light of the world.” In the presence of Jesus, the darkness of her life was suddenly not so that she could be condemned, but rather exposed so that she could see her situation for what it was...a life of slavery to her sin. That’s what Jesus’ light shines into the darkness of our sin to expose our sinfulness.

    But that’s not all Jesus’ light does. At the end of the story, as the exposed adulterous is standing alone with Jesus, he asks her, “Woman, where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

    “No, Lord,” she said.

    And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

    And then what’s the very next thing Jesus says? “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness because you will have the light that leads to life.” Jesus, “the light of the world,” shines light into the darkness of our sin not to condemn us but to restore light our path out of our sin’s darkness.


    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 9

    “‘Yes, Lord, I believe!’ the man said. And he worshiped Jesus.” (John 9:38)

    John 9 kicks off with Jesus healing a man who was born blind. Although a strange thought, there’s nothing too surprising about Jesus miraculously making the lame walk, the deaf to hear, or in this case, the blind to see. After all, the four Gospel writers record Jesus performing no less than 35 miracles during his three-year ministry. And those are just the recorded ones we know about. For Matthew, Mark, and Luke, miracles were regarded as a demonstration of Jesus’ compassion. John, though, records only seven miracles and his focus isn’t on Jesus’ compassion toward hurting people per se but on God's glory and power. Of course, both perspectives are valid. God reveals the fullest extent of his power and glory through his compassion for his children.

    Unlike the other three Gospels, with each miraculous sign Jesus performs, John meticulously follows the event up with a discussion regarding what the miracle reveals about who Jesus is and, in the case of this John 9 miracle, the people’s subsequent reaction to Jesus. Here, we’re confronted with responses to Jesus that are not too different from people’s reactions today. The formally blind man’s neighbors respond with surprise and skepticism, the Pharisees offer only their typical disbelief and prejudice, and the man’s parents believed, but out of fear, kept their belief to themselves. Only the healed blind man responded with an open, growing, confident faith.

    With that in mind, let’s zero in on the only reaction worthy of imitation; the healed blind man’s reaction. Throughout this chapter’s 41 verses, there’s a progression in the healed man’s understanding of who Jesus is. In verse 11, he refers to Jesus as a man; “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes . . .” The man who’d been blind from birth had never met anyone who could do what Jesus did for him. Therefore, he understandably began his journey by thinking of Jesus as a supreme man among men. While his initial reaction is true, it’s not yet the whole truth.

    As the story progresses, the healed man presents Jesus as a prophet. Verse 17 says that “the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, ‘What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?’ The man replied, ‘I think he must be a prophet.’” Here we see the man courageously remaining faithful to Jesus, even in the face of the Pharisees’ interrogation. While such loyalty may result in persecution, its reward is a closer walk with Christ and an increasing knowledge of his glory.

    Finally, the man’s faith grows to the point that he realizes human descriptions—a wonderful man among men and prophet—are inadequate and, in verses 35-38, confesses that Jesus is the Son of God and offers his worship.

    Isn’t it amazing to think that the more we come to know about Jesus, the greater he becomes? The trouble with human relationships is that, more often than not, the better we know a person, the more we come to know their weaknesses and shortcomings. But the more we know Jesus, the greater the wonder becomes. Not only is that true in our here-and-now daily walk with Christ, but it’s a truth that God invites each of us, one person at a time, to spend eternity living into!

    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 10

    “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10b)

    The first half of John 10 continues a conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees that began in chapter 9. In the middle of Jesus’ passionate discussion with the religious leaders, he employs the imagery of a shepherd and his sheep to teach them the characteristics of Godly, sacrificial leadership. As if Jesus publicly schooling the elites wasn’t bad enough, his use of shepherds in his analogy would’ve sent them over the top. Pharisees considered shepherds socially unclean and unworthy to enter the temple. And yet, Jesus uses shepherds to convict the religious leaders and instruct them on sacrificial leadership.

    In verse 10, Jesus contrasts the purposes of those who pose as good leaders with his purpose in coming as our Good Shepherd. He says the posers are thieves who’ve come to steal, kill, and destroy. “I came,” Jesus says, “that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

    To have life and have it abundantly. What does that mean for you? And, at present, in what ways is your life less than abundant? Keep in mind that “abundance” is not something to be acquired. Jesus’ abundant life isn’t about a quantity of stuff, wealth, success, popularity, security, or any other abundance we all work so hard to acquire for ourselves. It can’t be because how many times have you gotten what you wanted, been what others said you should be, achieved what you set out to achieve only to discover it wasn’t enough? The abundance you’d worked so hard for turned out to be not so abundant.

    The abundant life Jesus offers rises above all that. Jesus invites us to abundantly live our here-and-now life in a way that touches the divine life. It’s a life of meaning, integrity, purpose, creativity, relationship, and wholeness that reflects Jesus’ life. It’s a contagious life that touches others with Christ’s abundance. It’s love that encourages others to love. Jesus offers each of us a way of life that abundantly reflects our Good Shepherd's sacrificial love into others' lives.


    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 11

    “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21b, 32b)

    Chapter 11 revolves around the seventh and final “miraculous sign” recorded in John’s Gospel; raising Lazarus from the dead. While miracles in the other three Gospels are intended to illustrate Jesus’ mercy and compassion, in John’s Gospel, their sole purpose is to show who Jesus is and why Jesus came to us. Here, Jesus displays that he is the Son of God, who has power over the dominion of death. 

    While this passage illustrates that Jesus is the Son of God, it also gives us insight into how the Son of God relates to each of us individually. Look again at verses 21 and 32. Notice that both of Lazarus’ grieving sisters, Mary and Martha, greet Jesus with the exact words, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” And then, notice that Jesus responds to each sister very differently.   

    What little we know about Mary and Martha comes from Luke 10:38-42 and the accounts of Mary anointing Jesus with expensive perfume at Simon the leper’s home in Matthew 26:6-13. Based on those accounts, it’s evident that Martha is the more practical of the two sisters, while Mary is more sensitive and contemplative. In a nutshell, Martha is the “thinker,” and Mary is the “feeler.” Therefore, Jesus responds to them accordingly. When Martha confronts Jesus, he tells her plainly, “Your brother will rise again” (v. 23). Because Martha is the “thinker” of the two, his response launches her into a theological discussion about the resurrection of the body.

    Although Martha declares her faith in Jesus, she doubts his ability to act in her present situation. Jesus asks her to have faith in the present moment, too, because he is “the resurrection and the life” and “the one who believes in him will live, even though they die” (v. 25).

    Now, notice how Jesus responds to Mary, the “feeler.” When Mary confronts Jesus with the same statement, she weeps. And, in response, John says that Jesus was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (v. 33). He asks, “Where have you laid him?” and then Jesus weeps as well (Vs. 34-35).   Martha, the “thinker,” needed answers, while Mary, the “feeler,” needed someone to come alongside her in her grief.  

    Isn’t it amazing that Jesus gave each sister precisely what she needed? God does the same for you and me. Every one of us is a unique masterpiece hand-crafted by God. That means God knows you inside and out and loves you exactly as you were individually created to be loved. He has never had another relationship with any other human being like his individually tailored relationship with you. As a community of believers, we can share in a corporate experience of God and encourage each other by sharing what God does in our lives. However, our individual experiences with God are personal, unique, and no less sacred than the corporate life we share. As you prayerfully reflect on Jesus’ interaction with Lazarus’ two grieving sisters, think about the ways God individually relates to you. Consider how he has come to you in times of grief and joy, and thank him for the custom-made relationship you share.

    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 12

    “Jesus replied, ‘Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial.’” (John 12:7)

    Jesus’ public ministry, which began with his chapter 1 baptism in the Jordan River, ends in chapter 12 with a pre-Passover donkey ride through the streets of Jerusalem. But the day before he rides into Jerusalem, John records Jesus attending a dinner party at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Yesterday’s chapter 11 devotion contrasts Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ two grieving sisters. Today, John contrasts the hearts of Mary and Judas Iscariot.

    Proverbs 10:7 tells us, “The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot.” Ecclesiastes 7:1 points out that “A good name is better than a good ointment.” Based on Mary’s over-the-top expression of love for Jesus, she had both; a good name and great ointment. As for Judas, he had neither. Case in point: how many people do you know named their sons after Judas? Probably not too many. But we all know parents who proudly named their daughters Mary. Why? Because Mary’s name was made good by her actions.

    Sparing no expense, Mary anointed Jesus’ head with the finest fragrance money could buy. Her extravagance filled the entire house with its pleasant odor. Scholars say that nard was red in color, and its scent resembled the sweet aroma of gladiolas. Jesus no doubt carried this sweet smell with him for the rest of the week. The fragrance of Mary’s devotion remained with him as he agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane and filled his lungs as he breathed his last breath on Calvary’s Cross.

    What makes Mary’s devotion so extraordinary is her timing. Mark’s Gospel says that a group of women went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body after his death. Interestingly, Mary of Bethany wasn’t among them. She had already anointed his body. She had shown her devotion to Jesus before it was too late.

    That’s the lesson of Mary of Bethany’s legacy. We need to offer our devotion before it is too late. Like Mary, we need to worship Jesus with extravagance and pure motives. After all, our Savoir is worthy. Just as the fragrance of the nard could only fill the room when it was broken and poured out, the sweet blessings of salvation could only fill the earth when Jesus was crucified, and his blood poured out for our sins. What a Savior we have!


    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 13

    “Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!’” (John 13:21)

    The transition from John chapter 12 to chapter 13 marks the end of Jesus’ public ministry and the beginning of a private conversation with his disciples that, at the beginning of chapter 18, abruptly ends when he is finally taken into custody by a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards. Knowing the heartbreak his disciples were about to face, beginning in verse 21, John records Jesus preparing them for what was to come. He knows his death will shake their faith. After all, no one expected the Messiah to die, so Jesus wants his disciples to remember that he knew from the beginning what was about to happen and how it would happen.

    Perhaps so that he would have one last chance to repent, Jesus openly names Judas as his betrayer. Nonetheless, Judas leaves on his traitorous errand. Verse 27 says, “Satan entered into Judas” as soon as he took the bread Jesus offered. It’s important to understand that Satan did not cause Judas to betray Jesus. Judas had free will, just like the rest of us.

    On top of that, it’s evident that Judas had plans to betray Jesus to the Sanhedrin even before “Satan entered into him.” Satan can only tighten his hold on those who have already hardened their hearts and turned their backs on Jesus. Put differently, Satan’s only power is the power we give to him.

    So, why did Judas do it? Scripture isn’t clear. Maybe he was greedy…30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15) was a hefty sum of money! Perhaps Judas felt Jesus was moving too slow, so he took matters into his own hands to push Jesus to ascend the Messiah’s throne and save Israel. The latter seems most likely because when Jesus is condemned to death, Judas is overcome by guilt, attempts to return his bribe money, and ultimately takes his own life. Either way, Judas had been a follower of Jesus. Therefore, his tragic fate serves as a wake-up call for all who follow Jesus. We all have the potential to get greedy with God’s blessing, and who among us has acted in our own lives as if we know better than God? 

    Based on what the disciples knew of prophecy, none of them expected the Messiah to die. That’s why Jesus prepared them. And that’s why Jesus prepares us. Have you ever thought God would do something, only to find that the opposite happened? Did it shake your faith? Have you ever tried to make things happen as you thought they should?  Have you ever gotten impatient with God’s will, taken matters into your own hands, and paid the consequences? Ask God for the ability to continue to look for him amid confusing or tragic circumstances. Ask him to help you maintain your faith when things don’t seem to work out how you believed they should. And, as you’ll read in tomorrow’s reading, you can be confident that your prayerful request has already been answered with a heaven-sent gift; “peace of mind and heart…so don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27) 

    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 14

    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”  (John 14:1)

    I’ve always been intrigued by the way John Chapter 14 begins. With just a few words, Jesus offers his disciples a realistic assessment of the troubles they are about to face and the means to get through those troubles. Put differently, the “Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14b) truthfully names what lies ahead — trouble — and gracefully offers the way to navigate through it; believe. 

    Jesus said, “You believe in God; believe also in me.” There’s more to believing in God and his Son than just believing in their existence. Believing in God also includes believing in what God says to us through his written Word and the life, death, and resurrection of his Son. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” If that’s true, then it’s equally true that God so loves you that he gave his one and only Son so that you may believe and have eternal life. Believe it! God loves you infinitely more than you love yourself. He chooses better for you than you would choose for yourself. And yet, if we’re honest with ourselves, that’s a reality that most of us have had to learn the hard way. Think about it: how many times have you attempted to play the role of God in your own life? How’d that work out?  Chances are good that your efforts resulted in the very thing Jesus warns us about; a troubled heart. 

    But Jesus knows that about us, loves us anyway, and offers us a way out of life’s inevitable troubles. Our God, who turned the chaos of the unformed world into the beauty of creation, can do the same with the chaotic mess that tends to swirl about in our lives. God knows our troubles because, through his Son, who became flesh and made his dwelling among us, he’s experienced the troubled chaos of this world firsthand. But God’s Son was not overcome, defined, or limited to this world’s troubles. The good news is that if you believe, the world’s troubles won’t overwhelm you, either. The cure for a troubled heart is to believe…to give your heart…to the One who overcame the world.

    Granted, that’s much harder to do than it sounds. But what if not letting our hearts be troubled begins with looking into our hearts and seeing and naming what troubles us? As the saying goes, step one to solving a problem is to name it. And then, look beyond our heart’s troubles and into the heart of Jesus, God’s Son, who was sent to overcome our world’s troubles.

    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 15

    “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

    In the first eight verses of chapter 15, Jesus paints for us a word picture. Jesus describes himself as the Vine, and God is the Gardner who plants and cares for the branches with one purpose in mind: that they may bear fruit.

    As I pondered Jesus’ words, a borderline ridiculous question crept into my mind. Hypothetically speaking, if I were a tree branch, what kind of branch would I want to be; a branch at the top or one of the branches somewhere toward the bottom of the tree? If you think about it, they both have their distinct advantages. The view from the top of the tree beats the bottom branch’s view, hands down. On the other hand, a hefty lower-echelon branch's stable and secure life is not without its perks.

    But then I considered my somewhat ridiculous hypothetical dilemma in the context of Jesus’ mandate to bear fruit. With that in mind, have you ever noticed that the branch at the top never has any fruit on it? As I mentioned, being at the top of the tree certainly has its advantages; it has easy access to the stars in the heavens; it sees daily the breaking of dawn, and the branch at the top never misses the setting sun’s orangey sky. Unlike its larger relatives below, the branch at the top is free to wave and dance in the breeze without a care in the world.

    Nonetheless, if I were a branch, I think I’d rather be a branch near the bottom of the tree. As a branch near the bottom, I’d never be alone. Like my brother at the top, I, too, would see the heavenly stars and experience the coolness of dusk daily and the rising sun's warmth; it’s just that I’d witness the beauty of creation not by reaching up but by reaching out. As a bottom branch, I’d experience the blessings of my existence in the company of my companions. While my sibling at the top is teetering haplessly in the breeze, my companions and I down below would quietly sway in harmony with our surroundings forever and firmly attached to the Tree that gives us our life. So, if I had my druthers, at the bottom is where I’d be.

    And to be honest, I think I’d feel kind of sorry for the branch at the top. Its life on high offers no shade and receives none in return. What’s more, it’s too weak to provide a home for birds or bear fruit for the Gardener. Far from its life-giving roots, the branch at the top only knows itself and exists only for itself. Worse yet, the branch at the top thinks it is the tree!

    That poor top branch. Too bad he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) hear Jesus when he said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). So there you have it. If asked what kind of branch I’d want to be, it’d be a no-brainer; I’d opt for a safe, stable, and secure place among the fruit bearers at the bottom. How about you?


    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 16

    “In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.”  (John 16:16)

    As Christians who know how the story ends, it’s tough to imagine the sorrow and confusion the disciples must’ve felt as they lived through their final evening with Jesus in real-time. Jesus tells his disciples that “in a little while,” they will no longer see him, and after another “little while,” they will see him again. Can you blame them for not understanding what he’s talking about or what he means when he says he’s going to the Father? Keep in mind that Jesus’ disciples weren’t educated men; they were simple fishermen for the most part. This was a lot to take in! 

    Jesus goes on to explain that, pretty soon, they will “weep and mourn” his death while the world “rejoices” his death (vs. 20). But in the same breath, Jesus says that their grief won’t last…that it will “suddenly turn to wonderful joy.” They will be like a woman giving birth. Once her baby is born, she forgets the excruciating labor pain. Even though the disciples, nor any man for that matter, can truly appreciate the roller coaster of pain followed by joy that a new mom experiences, Jesus’ “pain to life” analogy nonetheless makes perfect sense. Because we know the rest of the story, we know that the disciples’ grief does end this way. What’s more, Jesus promises that the joy they’ll experience after their time of trial will be theirs to keep (vs. 22)!

    While sorrow was undoubtedly a significant part of what Jesus’ disciples felt, perhaps the most prominent emotion was the fear of not understanding what was happening and why. But Jesus promises that after their grief passes, they will no longer be filled with fear and uncertainty (as they are now). Instead, they will receive whatever they ask from the Father in Jesus’ name.

    While the same promise extends to us, note that whenever the Bible talks about receiving whatever we ask for “in Jesus’ name,” it does not mean God is a vending machine that responds to the right words. Asking “in Jesus’ name” means we’ve come to know who Jesus is; therefore, our hearts have come to desire what he desires. Thus, we ask for things that align with his character with complete confidence in his love, mercy, and power.

    After the Resurrection, the disciples experienced firsthand Jesus’ character and power. They undoubtedly had a deep joy and felt a closeness to him that enabled their hearts to beat in time with his in such a way that their desires and prayers reflected his will. God always answers these kinds of prayers. His will is for us to experience the joy and satisfaction of an ever-deepening relationship with him (see vs. 24).

    As you consider today’s chapter and devotional reading, prayerfully ask yourself, “Am I continually growing closer to Christ so that his desires for others and myself are becoming are shaping my desires? Do I long to grow closer to Jesus so that my joy no longer depends on my circumstances or the world around me but instead depends solely on his love?” Talk to God about your honest answers to those questions. Ask Him to align your heart and its desires with his. Thank God that this is possible because of what Jesus did for you.

    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 17

    “After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you.’”  (John 17:1)

    We often refer to the prayer Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 6 and Luke 11 as “The Lord’s Prayer.” When Jesus gave us this beautiful prayer, his intent in doing so wasn’t so much about teaching a prayer per se. His objective was to teach us a pattern of worshipful prayer. But here in chapter 17, we have the actual Lord’s Prayer. Over the centuries, theologians have labeled this chapter of John’s Gospel as the “high priestly prayer of Jesus.” For us, it’s an opportunity to eavesdrop on the sacred conversation of two members of the Divine Trinity. Put differently, it’s an opportunity for us to enter the “Holy of Holies” and witness firsthand the relationship between the Father and the Son.

    Throughout chapters 13 through 16, Jesus consoled, encouraged, and prepared his disciples for what was to come. Jesus made it very clear that he was going away, and they could not follow him now but would follow Him later. But because Jesus had promised not to leave them as orphans, he gave them the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

    Before Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, we overhear him making three requests of the Father on the disciple’s behalf. He wants to fill them with his joy (vs. 13). He wants them to become lovers of one another, “Even as you have loved me” (vs. 23). And at the end of chapter 16, Jesus says, “Peace I give you,” not the kind of peace that the world offers, but a peace that transcends the world. It’s no accident that the love, joy, and peace Jesus offers us are the first three “Fruits of the Spirit” that Paul mentions (Galatians 5:22-23). Love, joy, and peace are the fruits Jesus offers us so that we can, in turn, share them with others in his name.

    Amid whatever you’re going through…amid all the world’s confusing chaos that may be surrounding you…isn’t it comforting to know that, at this very instant, Jesus is interceding for you? Jesus, who is at once perfectly in tune with your needs and in total harmony with God’s will, desires you to be united with him in his Father’s love. 

    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 18

    “‘I told you that I am he,’ Jesus said. ‘And since I am the one you want, let these others go.’ He did this to fulfill his own statement: ‘I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.’”  (John 18:8-9)

    Before we launch into today’s Scripture reading and devotion, let’s first get our bearings. The beginning of Chapter 18 marks another major turning point in John’s Gospel. We move from Jesus’ private conversation with his disciples to the very public drama of our redemption. The five chapters of Jesus’ private ministry (chapters 13 through 17) slowed the clock to a single Thursday evening. Chapters 18 and 19 cover the next day’s events; our Savior’s arrest, trials, and crucifixion. Here in chapter 18, amid a grove of olive trees, we experience the light of God’s best penetrating the darkness of humanity at its worst. 

    We see God’s power over a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards who’d been sent to arrest the Son of God (vs. 5-6). We witness Jesus overcoming Peter’s violent outburst with grace, mercy, and a last-minute lesson on obedience (vs. 11). As Jesus’ disciples abandon him, even deny knowing him (vs. 15-18, 25-27), we witness Jesus remaining faithful to his Father’s will; even to the point his impending death on Calvary’s Cross. When the Jews chose to free Barabbas, a murderous revolutionary, and execute sinless Jesus, he remained silent in keeping with Isaiah’s prophecy; “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Those are just a sample of the “humanity at its worst versus God’s best” examples in this pivotal chapter. 

    That God would come and die for us is amazing. But that he would choose to do it this way, enduring such humiliation, scorn, and pain, is beyond words and moves our hearts to worship. Praise God that Jesus drank the cup given to him so you can receive forgiveness! Praise God that Jesus lived a perfect life and remained faithful unto death so that you might reap the benefit of a restored relationship with God and can claim his righteous record as our own! Praise God that he came and died for you and, as a result, freed you to live for him!

    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 19

    “When Jesus had tasted it, he said, ‘It is finished!’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30)

    John’s Gospel follows a straight, uninterrupted line from “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14) to “‘It is finished!’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30).  Even if you’re reading John’s Gospel for the first time, the events recorded in chapter 19 should be no surprise. Jesus knew his destiny from the beginning and, during his ministry, foreshadowed it many times and in many ways. 

    In chapter 1, Jesus is recognized by John the Baptist as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus alludes to his impending death and resurrection in the next chapter when he cleared the Temple (John 2:19-22). He points Nicodemus toward his sacrifice on the cross in his Old Testament reference to Moses lifting the serpent with his staff (John 3:14-15). In Chapter 10, Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd . . . I sacrifice my life for my sheep” (John 10:14-15). And toward the end of his public ministry, referring to himself and his mission, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives” (John 12:24).

    Jesus’ death was no accident nor the result of the enemy’s diabolical plan. Jesus’ death on our cross was his Divine appointment that had been set before the beginning of time. Therefore, it can never be said that Jesus was a victim or that his death was something inflicted upon him. Jesus’ death was voluntary. He wore our cross in the line of duty. Jesus willingly “gave up his spirit” (vs. 30). We know this is true because Jesus plainly tells us, “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded” (John 10:17-18). 

    All this is to say that Jesus came to die on the cross to save you from your sin. When he breathed his last, he lovingly had you in mind.  God, as he planned to do before the world began, willingly paid for your forgiveness and mine with the life of his Son, the Lamb of God. 

    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

  • Read John 20

    “‘Mary!’ Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, ‘Rabboni!’” (John 20:16)

    Chapter 19 ended just as the Prophet Isaiah prophesied it would, with the Lamb of God’s beaten body lying in the borrowed tomb of a rich man (Isaiah 53:9). To all who’d witnessed his death, it was clear that Jesus’ ministry had ended. Death had gotten the last word. All was lost. But as Mary was about to learn, God had other plans.

    At the beginning of chapter 20, we join Mary Magdalene at the break of dawn as she makes her way to the tomb. Expecting only to find the battered body of her defeated Rabbi and wondering how things could get any worse, she’s greeted by an empty tomb. Jesus’ body is missing. In its place, only the linen cloths they’d hastily wrapped him in on the Friday of his death. Mary assumed that someone had taken Jesus’ body. Although Jesus had told them that his death wouldn’t be the end…that he’d rise on the third day…she nor his disciples understood. Who would?

    It’s not until she encounters the risen Christ in the garden that it finally becomes clear. At first, she doesn’t recognize him. It’s only when she hears Jesus call her name that she understands what has happened. Jesus has defeated death! The grave couldn’t hold him! He has risen!

    This account, the resurrection account, is the very heart Christian faith. Apart from the resurrection, we have no reason to believe that our sins have been forgiven or that we will be raised from the dead. As the Apostle Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless, and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19). But Christ rose from the dead, and because the resurrection happened, we have a reason for hope even in the face of death.

    Moreover, the resurrection is an important reminder that Christianity is not primarily a system of morality. Yes, the Bible is filled with commands we should follow out of love, gratitude, and obedience to God. However, our faith is not based on our ability to comply or our feeble attempts at being good people. The heart of our faith is God’s decisive act of raising Jesus from the dead, and through him, we are resurrected to new life in his name. We worship and serve a God of life, not death!

    Rejoice in the resurrection. Make a conscious effort to remember that your hope and security in this life and in the life to come are firmly rooted in what God has done has already done for you. Your sins’ death died on Christ’s Cross, and with him, you’re resurrected to new, eternal life. Thanks be to God!


    Reflect: What is God saying to me?

    Respond: What am I going to do about it?

Introduction to the gospel of john


Although each of the four Gospels points to Jesus as the Messiah promised in the Old Testament, each one was written with a different audience in mind and, therefore, a different emphasis. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are commonly referred to as the Synoptic Gospels, meaning “similar,” because they mirror each other in the account of Jesus’ life and teachings. Matthew, writing to Jews, focuses on Jesus as the promised Jewish Messiah. Mark wrote his Gospel to a Gentile/Roman audience. He used a storyteller’s approach to reveal Jesus as God’s servant who backed up his words with actions. Luke was a Greek who penned his Gospel with the Greeks in mind. As a physician turned historian, Luke’s detailed account reveals Jesus’ compassion for the marginalized outsiders. The most remarkable common thread running through the three synoptic Gospels is that they tell the story of Jesus from an earth upward perspective. The Gospel of John offers an entirely different perspective. John tells the story of Jesus from heaven downward. From the first verse on, John emphasizes that Jesus was sent from God. Writing to Christians worldwide, John’s objective was to reveal that Jesus is the eternal Son of God and that only those who believe in him will be saved.


As its name implies, the author of this Gospel account is the Apostle John, the son of Zebedee. John, along with Simon Peter, and James, was a member of Jesus’ “inner circle” and therefore would have been an eyewitness to the events that took place within his Gospel account, thus giving him the authority to write.


The Gospel of John was most likely the last written of the four Gospels. While the Synoptic Gospels were all written between AD 55 and 60 (less than a generation after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension), the Gospel of John was penned in Ephesus between AD 85 and 90.

The Purpose of John’s Gospels

John leaves us no doubt about the intention of his Holy Spirit-inspired writing. In the pages of his Gospel, he plainly states his purpose, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.