Archive for September, 2013

Peter’s Swordfight

Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear.  The servant’s name was Malchus.  Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink of it?  Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him…

John 18:10-12

When the group of priests, Pharisees, and officers (led by Judas) came to arrest Jesus, we find this interesting exchange.  Peter, being as bold as ever, took a swipe at one of the men with his sword and cut his ear off.  In Luke 22:51, we find out that Jesus “…touched his ear, and healed him.”  This was the second miracle this band of men saw Jesus perform in a matter of minutes, yet still they did not believe.  But today we will look at Peter’s action and Jesus’ response to it.

Peter was a fisherman by trade.  He was not a soldier, nor (apparently) was he a skilled swordsman.  Yet he was willing to take on this entire band of men by himself.  He was willing to die for his Lord.  He truly loved Jesus and was ready to defend Him to the death.  His attempt was misguided and not warranted, as Jesus told him in the next verse: “Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”

It is interesting to note that Jesus did not get angry with Peter, nor did He offer a stinging rebuke as He did when He told Peter to “Get thee behind me, Satan.”  He simply told him he didn’t need to do that.

The lesson for us is that when someone is doing their best to serve the Lord, we need to be tolerant of some of their overzealous mistakes.  The mistakes still need to be corrected, but we need to be tolerant of people who are doing the best they know to do.

They Still Didn’t Believe

Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.  Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?  They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus saith unto them, I am he.  And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.  As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.

John 18:3-6

We have all read of the betrayal of the Lord Jesus by Judas Iscariot.  But this is an aspect of it that is not often mentioned.  When they said that they were seeking Jesus of Nazareth, and He said “I am he,” “they went backward, and fell to the ground.”

Now, one would think that if you and a group of other people went out to arrest a man who claimed to be God and when you found Him, His voice saying something as simple as “I am he” knocked you flat on your back, you might have second thoughts about arresting him.  You might even stop for a minute to think that maybe what he is saying is true.  At least I would think that it would, at the very least, cause you to hesitate in your actions.  But this small miracle did not stop Judas and his band of men.  They picked themselves up and went right on arresting Jesus.

It is sad that these men were so blind that even a little miracle like this one did not cause them believe.  It didn’t even cause them to hesitate.  They hated the Lord Jesus and were willing to go to any lengths to get rid of Him.  They had already made their minds up and hardened their hearts.  The sad reality is that many today are the same way.  They have rejected Jesus and hardened their hearts against Him.  Let us never be found among them!

O Happy Day (Hymn)

O Happy Day
Philip Doddridge (1755)

O happy day, that fixed my choice
On Thee, my Savior and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
And tell its raptures all abroad.

Refrain
Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away!
He taught me how to watch and pray, and live rejoicing every day
Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away.

O happy bond, that seals my vows
To Him Who merits all my love!
Let cheerful anthems fill His house,
While to that sacred shrine I move.

Refrain

‘Tis done: the great transaction’s done!
I am the Lord’s and He is mine;
He drew me, and I followed on;
Charmed to confess the voice divine.

Refrain

Now rest, my long divided heart,
Fixed on this blissful center, rest.
Here have I found a nobler part;
Here heavenly pleasures fill my breast.

Refrain

High heaven, that heard the solemn vow,
That vow renewed shall daily hear,
Till in life’s latest hour I bow
And bless in death a bond so dear.

Refrain

It truly was a happy day when Jesus washed our sins away.  If we will “watch and pray” as He has taught us to do, we will be able to “live rejoicing every day.”  I enjoy hymns like this because they encourage us in the Lord and they remind us of all that He has done for us.

Through the Word

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

John 17:14-18

In this passage, Jesus is praying to God the Father.  He is speaking here of His disciples – those who had heard Him and believed on Him.  He asks God to help them and “keep them from the evil.”  Then He makes the statement “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

To sanctify something means to set it apart for a purpose.  Jesus wanted God to sanctify His disciples through His truth.  And His truth is identified here as His Word: “thy word is truth.”  They would be set apart through the Word of God.

It is the same with us.  We are set apart through the Word of God.  We hear the teaching and preaching of the Word of God and, if taken to heart, helps us walk closer to the Lord and farther from the world.  We read and study the Word of God ourselves and it has the same effect.  It changes us.  It purifies us.  It helps to set us apart for the Master’s use.

In order for God’s Word to sanctify us and bring us closer to Him, we need to do two things.  First, we need to find out what it says.  We can’t obey it if we have no idea what it says.  We need to read it, and hear it preached and taught.  Second, we need to obey it.  Knowledge of the truth doesn’t help us if we won’t obey it.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of the Bible in our Christian lives.  What is our attitude toward the Word of God in our lives today?

Magnifying His Name

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.  And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.  I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

John 17:4-6

In His prayer to the Father, Jesus says that “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me…”  In the previous verse, He said that “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”  Part of that work was manifesting His name unto men.  Manifesting just means showing or making known.  Part of the work that He did was proclaiming the name of the Lord wherever He went.

If we would be like Jesus (which we should all be striving to do), we need to do this also.  We need to manifest the name of the Lord.  We should be showing and making known His name among the people that we know.  We should be proclaiming His name among the people that we know.  As Christians, we should be exemplifying His name among all of the people we come in contact with.

Are we really manifesting the name of Jesus in our daily lives today, or are we just going through the motions of a Christian life?  Do we really show forth and proclaim His name to people, or are we “closet Christians?”  If we are truly Christians, we should be acting like Christians, and part of that is showing forth His name among the people.  How are we doing today?

Finishing the Work

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

John 17:4

In His prayer to the Father, Jesus makes this statement: “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”  That is a great statement and it was uttered by the one person in the history of the world who could say it with complete honesty.  Many people have done great works for the Lord.  He has given many people things to do and, with His help, they have done them.  But only Jesus was perfect.  Still, what a wonderful goal for each of us.

Think about what a wonderful thing it would be to come to the end of our lives and be able to honestly say “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”

We have all been given something to do.  We have all been given something unique to do.  I cannot do the thing that you have been given to do and you cannot do the things I have been given to do.  It is our job to figure out what it is that we have been given to do.  And then, with the Lord’s help, it is our job to do what we have been given to do.  It is our job to “finish the work.”

The sad thing is that if we do not do the work we have been given to do, it is not likely going to get done.  It would be sad to come to the end of our lives with things undone.

In light of these things, it is important that we continue to work hard in the work that He has given us.  How are we working today?

The Prayer of Jesus

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:  As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

John 17:1-3

John chapter 17 is a prayer that Jesus prays to God the Father.  We will spend a few days looking at some of the things for which He prayed.

The first three verses let us know that Jesus knows that His “hour is come.”  He knew that He was soon going to be betrayed and crucified.  He knew what He was facing and He prayed.  That is an important lesson for us right at the beginning.  Jesus knew what was coming and prayed.  We usually don’t have any idea what is coming.  How much more do we need prayer?

The next thing He asks is that the Father “glorify the Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.”  He asked the Father to glorify Him, but not for His own sake.  He asked that the Father glorify Him so that He could, in turn, glorify the Father.  That is something that is important for us to remember.  Everything we do should ultimately be about glorifying the Lord.  Living with that in mind will help us to “take the high road” in questionable matters.  If we will truly seek for the things that “glorify the Father,” we will be much better Christians.

We end these three verses seeing that, even in His prayer, the Lord Jesus gives us the way to eternal life: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true od, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.  Know Him and glorify Him.  That is the purpose of our lives.

Do You Believe?

His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.  Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.  Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?

John 16:29-31

The disciples told Jesus that “we believe that thou camest forth from God.”  They confessed that they believe in God.  But Jesus asked them in verse 31, “Do ye now believe?”

That is a question for the ages.  Do ye now believe?  That question is just as pointed and powerful now as it was nearly two thousand years ago when Jesus first asked it.

Every man and woman born into this world will have to answer that question at one point or another.  Do ye now believe?  The choice is ours.  We are not forced to believe in Him and we are not forced to not believe in Him.  Every one of us has to decide.  Do ye now believe?

We cannot make this decision for others.  It would be nice if we could believe for our friends and family members, but we cannot.  Each person has to make the decision for themselves.  It is not a group decision; it is a personal decision.

We need to examine our own hearts and ask ourselves what decision have we made?  If the Lord Jesus were to stand before us today and ask us this question, what would be our honest response?  Life and death are in the answer to this question.  Eternity literally hangs in the balance.

Do ye now believe?  What is our answer today?

The Tables Will Be Turned

Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.  A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.  And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

John 16:20-22

In this passage, Jesus gives His disciples another one of the paradoxes of the Christian life.  He told them that they were going to weep and lament while the world rejoiced.  But soon, the tables would be turned.  Their sorrow would turn into joy.  They were going to see Him betrayed and crucified, and they were going to have great sorrow.  But soon, that sorrow would be turned into rejoicing and they would forget their short season of sorrow.

When Jesus was crucified, His disciples did indeed have great sorrow.  They were nervous and afraid.  They were confused.  The world that hated Him was rejoicing.  It seemed as if the devil and his forces had won.

But then, three days later, the tables were turned.  Jesus rose from the dead, came to and comforted the disciples.  The disciples are still today (nearly 2,000 years later) rejoicing with Him in Heaven.  They went through a few dark hours, but have had the victory ever since.  On the other hand, those who condemned Him to die felt like they had won in those few hours.  But they have been suffering ever since.  The tables were definitely turned.

We need to remember these things when we get discouraged or sorrowful.  God has promised us the victory.  We need to remember to look at the end of the thing!

Nearer, My God to Thee (Hymn)

Nearer, My God to Thee
Sarah F. Adams (1841)

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.

Refrain
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!

Thought like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone.
Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God to Thee.

Refrain

There let the way appear, steps unto Heav’n;
All that Thou sendest me, in mercy given;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee.

Refrain

Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefts Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee.

Refrain

Or, if on joyful wing cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I’ll fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.

Refrain

There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Savior’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee.

Refrain

“Nearer, my God, to Thee.”  That’s what we want our Christian lives to be all about.  Every day and in every way, we want that to be true – “Nearer, my God, to Thee.”  All of the things that God brings into our lives, He brings for the purpose of bringing us nearer to Himself.  Eventually, He will bring us to Heaven, to be very near to Him.  That is an encouragement!