And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;  Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
Jesus cares for the disciples. It is almost time for Jesus to depart and his care is for those who will be left behind. Jesus promises to pray for another comforter. He is addressing their abandonment issues when he says this comforter will stay forever. In everything Jesus says, he is tending to the hearts of his men.
Jesus was not only Lord to these men, but he was also a friend and a brother. He loved them as we love our family. The world would soon seem to be on their shoulders and Jesus promises to help. He promises this comforter will be the Spirit of Truth. He assures them this is not available to people outside of Christ. This is a special endowment for the church.
And like the early church fathers, there is an endowment for us today as well. The Spirit of Truth lives inside us. Jesus wanted to reassure his disciples he would be with them again. He identifies himself as the Spirit of Truth that brings comfort in the last line of the text, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
Lord, please bring your truth and your comfort to my life. Thank you for dwelling in me and giving me an inheritance with the saints. I receive your comfort and rejoice that you are so near. In Jesus’ name, amen.
But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they didn’t believe in him,  that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, “Lord, who has believed our report? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”  For this cause they couldn’t believe, for Isaiah said again,  “He has blinded their eyes and he hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and would turn, and I would heal them.”
How can we be responsible for God blinding our eyes and hardening our hearts? This is the very thing Paul addressed in chapter 7 of Romans. It brings new meaning to the idea of being saved by grace. We are saved by grace but are rewarded for our choices. Those who seek the Lord with humility will find him. The Word says that the one who has some will be given more and the one who has little will lose even what they have (Mat 25:15-28). This gives us insight into how to respond to this passage.
If we seek God, he will soften our hearts and open our eyes to be able to see him. Seeking God is easy. It is reading the Bible, praying, and attending public worship. We can also seek God with our behavior. On the other hand, we can also push God away with our behaviors. If we deliberately sin God will harden our hearts so that we continue to sin. Of course, if we deliberately walk in righteousness the Lord will soften our hearts so we walk in more righteousness.
The Lord is righteous. He does not cast anyone away from himself who walks in righteousness and holiness. The Word says those he foreknew he predestined to be sons of God (Rom 8:29). It is not that God is fickle. It is that God knows the future. God knows who will choose him and who will not. Of those that choose him, he creates opportunities for success. For those who are never going to choose him, he gives over to sin and unrighteousness. The primary thing we can do to ensure that God continues to open our eyes is to seek God and walk in righteousness.
Lord, please open my eyes so I can see you and understand your will. Soften my heart so I recognize sin in myself and give me the chance to repent. I long to be both saved and to have a vibrant relationship with you, Father. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Mary, therefore, took a pound of ointment of pure nard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.  Then Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, one of his disciples, who would betray him, said,  “Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and given to the poor?”  Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and having the money box, used to steal what was put into it.  But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She has kept this for the day of my burial.  For you always have the poor with you, but you don’t always have me.”
Jesus lived a life full of contradictions. He had 12 apostles and he knew one was going to betray him. Judas of all the people present had the vulgarity to despise openly the ministry of Mary to the Lord. While Jesus was having a moment, Judas was having a fit. He was a thief of an abundant money bag. So abundant he could steal from the money bag and the others did not realize he was stealing. But then he opened his mouth and everyone in the room could see his foul character.
He did not feel the awe and wonder others in the room surely felt. They watched as Mary pour out the valuable perfume. So precious it was worth a year’s wages. The gift is even more precious when you realize it probably represented her life savings. Mary and her brother Lazarus and sister Martha were most likely wealthy. They had a beautiful home that was suitable for large gatherings. The perfume Mary poured out was not something every woman had. They may have had a perfume box they wore around their necks, but they would not have that amount of perfume.
It is strange to think that Mary could have used a little of the ointment to minister to Jesus’ feet. What was astonishing is that she poured out the entire contents of the box. She held nothing back. And Judas could not stand it. From the abundance of his heart comes the accusation that the money should have gone to the poor. But Judas did not care about the poor, or Jesus, or his fellow apostles. Judas cared about Judas.
Lord, please give me the wisdom to pour out my prayer and worship to you. Help me balance giving to various ministries and outreaches. Show me how to lavish love on you without being foolish. Be with me to guide me in the offering. Help me love you more than I love myself. In Jesus’ name, amen.
If I don’t do the works of my Father, don’t believe me.  But if I do them, though you don’t believe me, believe the works; that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”  They sought again to seize him, and he went out of their hand.  He went away again beyond the Jordan into the place where John was baptizing at first, and there he stayed.  Many came to him. They said, “John indeed did no sign, but everything that John said about this man is true.”  Many believed in him there.
Jealousy is surely the ugliest emotion. Not the loving jealousy which produces a willingness to care for and protect another. No, I am referring to the ugly, vicious jealousy towards someone who is more successful than another. In the church, we talk about people’s anointing as an object of jealousy. This is exactly what is being described in the above passage. The Pharisees refused to believe in Jesus even though he performed signs or miracles.
John did no miracles. John did not go to the temple to preach as Jesus did. John was less anointed than Jesus and therefore less of a threat to the leaders of the Jewish people. John prophesied and his prophetic voice was acknowledged by the people, so much the Pharisees did not speak against him. Yet they did not believe his message. More important, they did not feel threatened by John.
How many anointed preachers get passed over for someone less threatening in the modern church? Many Christians love worldly success. Even ministers of the Gospel get caught in this trap. Once their ministry starts to grow, they begin protecting the ministry. Which is good until it causes a minister to thwart God’s plan. Jesus wants willing vessels. It’s easy to believe God is all-powerful and can put anyone anywhere he wants them. And, while this is true, most often God works through willing people. As Jesus said in the above passage, look at their works. Check the fruit of a ministry before you whole-heartedly start trusting what they are preaching. That was Jesus’ advice.
Lord, give me insight and wisdom to understand the motivation and intent of those who lead me in the church. Help me both honor and righteously judge those who ascend to leadership positions. Save me from a cult-like following that can lead to deception. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Therefore they asked the blind man again, “What do you say about him, because he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”  The Jews therefore did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and had received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight,  and asked them, “Is this your son, whom you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”  His parents answered them, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind;  but how he now sees, we don’t know; or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. He is of age. Ask him. He will speak for himself.”  His parents said these things because they feared the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if any man would confess him as Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue.
Do you know what “being churched” means? It is modern-day teaching that if someone is stuck in sin they cannot overcome, they must be excommunicated from the body of Christ (I Cor 5:5). This is meant to lead people to repentance and it does, often. God knows how to save a sinner. The blind man was considered a sinner and he was afraid. He feared the repercussions from religious leaders if he said Jesus was God.
His parents were also afraid of the Pharisees. In Jesus’ day, the lives of Jewish people revolved around the synagogue. It would be traumatic for someone to be put out of the synagogue. To be put out of the synagogue was a tragedy. Of course, it was not really a tragedy. The Pharisees did it on purpose and with intent. The blind beggar and his parents were acutely aware their lives were going to be destroyed if they confessed Christ.
Did Jesus know the blind beggar was going to betray him soon? The Father certainly did. That is significant because Jesus was doing what he saw the Father doing. In other words, the Father knew the blind beggar was going to betray Jesus. And still, he healed him. Jesus did not push him away for his blindness. The Father did not push them away for their disbelief. The blind man and his parents were about to make a huge mistake and the Father knew how much they were going to need him.
Thank you, Father, for not rejecting me when I make mistakes. Thank you for accepting me and saving me. I trust you to keep me safe in your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.
All those whom the Father gives me will come to me. He who comes to me I will in no way throw out.  For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.  This is the will of my Father who sent me, that of all he has given to me I should lose nothing, but should raise him up at the last day.  This is the will of the one who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes in him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
It’s touching that Jesus is purposed not to lose anyone who believes in him. Can you imagine if we viewed all believers, from the greatest to the least, as too valuable to lose? That type of love would bring the lowly to the church. The pews would be filled.
The coffers would be empty. Because in churches where the poor are truly welcomed, the wealthy tend to leave. Without the tithes of the middle class most churches cannot survive. In fact, most churches have multiple people on the payroll, grounds to maintain, buildings to maintain, not to mention utilities, and other costs associated with property ownership.
In short, churches have bills. Additionally, is the benevolence cost associated with serving the poor. So, when churches are purposed not to lose anyone the Father brings them, they must overcome these difficult challenges. Sadly, many churches continue to cater to the wealthy.
Lord Jesus, please help me recognize the worth of all people. Help me love all those I encounter. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.