He who rejects me, and doesn’t receive my sayings, has one who judges him. The word that I spoke, the same will judge him in the last day.  For I spoke not from myself, but the Father who sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.  I know that his commandment is eternal life. The things therefore which I speak, even as the Father has said to me, so I speak.”
Jesus is the exact expression of the Father. He is divine. He is also human. As a human, he did things from the weakened condition of having laid down his divinity. He laid down his life and took up a life as a human. It is not a small thing when the Lord tells us to lay down our lives. Jesus is calling us into the same behaviors that he demonstrated as he walked the earth.
If Jesus did it, so can we. If Jesus could hear and follow the Father’s commands, so can we. He was human as well as divine. Jesus was so assured that he was hearing from the Father that he claimed to speak the Father’s words. Jesus was anointed. He was righteous and holy. His behavior modeled the scriptures, and his attitudes modeled the scripture. These two things made him both righteous and holy.
Righteousness and holiness opened Jesus up for an enormous anointing. His anointing was so strong that it carried him to the cross. His anointing carried him to and through his divine purpose. This is something we can imitate. We can walk in outward righteousness of choice and behavior. We can also walk in the inner attitude of Godly motive; we can be holy. We can hear from the Father, and we can understand what he says.
Lord, thank you for becoming a human and showing me how to live. Help me, Lord, to equip an anointing through the righteousness of behavior and the holiness of motive. I want to fulfill my divine purpose as you fulfilled yours. Help me to serve you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.
 Now is the judgment of this world. Now the prince of this world will be cast out.  And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”  But he said this, signifying by what kind of death he should die.  The multitude answered him, “We have heard out of the law that the Christ remains forever. How do you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up?’ Who is this Son of Man?”
Jesus’ impending death was heavy on his mind. Jesus was addressing the crowd that was drawn through the mighty miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection. Ironically, the Father revealed that Jesus would die through the resurrection of Lazarus. God even went so far as to reveal how Jesus would die. He would be lifted up on a cross so that all people could receive eternal life.
With all they had seen, the crowd still could not understand a Messiah that died on a cross. That was because in Isaiah 9:7 the Bible says that there is no ending to the Lord’s rule. Also, the crowd believed Daniel 2:44 which says God’s kingdom shall never end. They had Jesus before them and yet could not see him. So, although Jesus was dealing with his own heartache, he continues to explain the kingdom and the Son of Man. With all the heightened experiences Jesus and the disciples had experienced they were almost surely ready for rest. Instead, Jesus keeps trying to make use of the current opportunity. His feet were prepared with the gospel of peace.
Jesus was the gospel of peace. His life story teaches us what peace looks like, strangely enough, Jesus’ story is full of chaotic moments. The water to wine in Cana, the scourging of the vendors in the temple complex, the feeding of the multitude, and the resurrection of Lazarus. Those situations were chaotic, and that chaos affected the disciples. However, Jesus remained unchanged. The chaos of the circumstances did not take Jesus’ peace. Jesus was fully confident in God’s goodness. So much that he obediently went to the cross to be lifted up.
Lord, please release a quality of peace that will allow me to stand steady amid chaos. Help me make use of opportunities to share the gospel. Please, Lord, take away the fear of rejection so I boldly and respectfully share the message of Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Jesus answered them, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Most certainly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.  He who loves his life will lose it. He who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life.  If anyone serves me, let him follow me. Where I am, there will my servant also be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
Jesus taught a mentality that modern science may have called suicidal. He calls for us to abhor our own lives in preference for a life in God. The Lord goes so far as to say, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:25). Everything we know about having a successful life is nothing in the light of the gospel. According to this passage we are to die. But if we are faithful to serve Jesus, the Father will honor us.
How does the Father honor a person he has told to lay down their life? Once we lay our lives down, he often gives us our lives back. Jesus is the only one who needed to die for the salvation of the world. However, working out our salvation some will be called to martyrdom. Most will not. Most people who commit their whole life to Jesus will prosper. It is impossible to stop wanting goodness and the fullness of life. But with God it is possible.
There are so many ways to lay down our lives. A stable, committed prayer life is a small death to self. Reading the Bible daily is another way to lay our lives down. The same can be said for tithing. It can also be said for going to church every week. Laying down our life could be following the Spirit to a new job. It may be when we humble ourselves to the ungodly for the sake of their salvation. We show others the way to salvation through our righteous behavior and our holy mindset. If we lay our lives down for the sake of obedience, it proves we serve and love Jesus.
Lord, teach me how to lay my life down for you. Teach me how to humble myself to you in obedience and righteousness. And teach me to lead others to you through love and holiness. I want to love you and others more than I love myself. All things are possible in you, Jesus. I trust you to teach me how to lay my life down. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.  When therefore he heard that he was sick, he stayed two days in the place where he was.  Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let’s go into Judea again.”
Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus so much that he decided to let Lazarus die. It was tough love. He knew the outcome was good, for the Father had shown him. So, for the sake of the blessing that was coming, he waited two days before going to Bethany. For two sisters saved from prostitution and dependent on their male relative to care for them, this was a scary situation. They were on the verge of losing their beloved brother and the life they knew. They lived in a time when women were treated as less valuable than men. There were approximately 100 rules in Judaism that constrained woman’s behavior. Losing Lazarus was going to destroy their lives.
But Jesus knew what he was going to do. Jesus always listened to his Father and did what he saw the Father doing. Thus, when he either heard or had a vision of Lazarus rising from the dead, he knew he needed to wait. The waiting was probably uncomfortable for Jesus. His love for this family is highlighted in Scripture. However, Jesus was so convinced of the Father’s good intentions that despite his great love for Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, Jesus waited. And in the waiting, the problem became more difficult to remedy.
Mary was upset with the Lord’s choice. When he finally arrives in Bethany, she does not go to meet him. Martha must coax Mary to come to see the Lord. It is then that Mary goes to Jesus. She wails her frustration in her small voice, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died (John 11:32).” That was Jesus’ limit. He asked where Lazarus had been laid to rest because Jesus was about to call Lazarus out of the grave.
Lord, increase my trust in you. I do not want to become afraid when trouble arises. Help me, Lord, to have real faith that inspires Godly patience and complete trust. Lead me into a full conviction of your goodness. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Jesus answered them, “Isn’t it written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods?’  If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture can’t be broken),  do you say of him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?’
That phrase, “and scripture can’t be broken,” is intriguing. Why did Jesus include this? He is talking to Pharisees, men who are experts in Scripture. But Pharisees were also experts in the Talmud. The Talmud was a book of approximately 400 rules which, at times, contradicted the Scripture. This is the error Jesus is addressing in these verses.
Including “and scripture can’t be broken” Is also interesting because Jesus does not appear concerned about modernizing the Scripture. He is Conservative. He takes the Scripture as fully divine and to be obeyed in heart first. This was a radical idea but with a very conservative approach on Jesus’ part. Jesus is speaking to the conservatives of the times, and yet, he had many rebukes for their wrong heart issues.
And there is a heart issue here. The Pharisees have grown cold towards God. They have become orthodox instead of conservative. They have come up with a book to explain the scripture. That book, the Talmud, was given greater authority by the Pharisees than they gave the Scripture. The Talmud was a cruel taskmaster. Worse, any Jewish person caught breaking the Talmud would be kicked out of the sanctuary. So, a scripture obeying Jew could be barred from the temple because of a contradiction in the Talmud.
Lord, help me discern false teachings. Help me always place the authority of the Bible above and help me live its message of love and obedience. In Jesus’ name, amen.
I and the Father are one.”  Therefore Jews took up stones again to stone him.  Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of those works do you stone me?”  The Jews answered him, “We don’t stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy: because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
This is one of Jesus’ most bold statements. He claimed to be equal to God. The Jews were outraged by Jesus’ statement that he was one with God. They became so upset they took up stones to kill Jesus. Jesus asked them, “for which work do you stone me?” Regardless of the miracles and wisdom Jesus demonstrated to the Jews, they would not believe he was from God. Instead, they were determined to destroy the works of God wrought through Jesus.
Why did the Jews want Jesus dead? In our day and age, many mentally ill people say they are God. We don’t persecute them, instead, we pity and dismiss them. It was likely the same in Jesus’ time. There were probably many people who thought they were from God or had a revelation from God. So, why did the Jewish leaders reject Jesus instead of just ignoring him? They rejected him because people were listening to him.
Not only were people listening to Jesus, but people were believing in his message. This was perceived to be a threat to the positions and status of the Jewish leaders. The leaders had their positions at the will of the Romans. They feared the Romans more than they feared God. More, Jesus was perceived to be a threat to their positions. In short, they were jealous. In their jealousy and self-preservation, they despised the goodness of God and rejected Jesus.
Lord, please forgive me for harming others because of jealousy. Reveal to me any jealousy that I do not recognize and lead me into repentance. Please give me a genuine love for all people so that I celebrate their successes instead of feeling threatened. In Jesus’ name, amen.
I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one shepherd.  Therefore the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.  No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down by myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. I received this commandment from my Father.”
Did you know, like Jesus, we have the power to lay our lives down and the power to pick our lives back up? On the cross, Jesus paid the full penalty for humanity’s sin. When the payment was complete, he gave up life and died. Ironically, Jesus had control over his journey to the cross. Jesus went to the cross fully capable of avoiding the horrific experience.
But he did not avoid the shame and suffering. He embraced it as God’s will. He gave his life up willingly (Heb 12:2). After his death, he took his life back up by the power of resurrection that dwelt in Him (John 11:25). The word says the spirit of resurrection that was in Christ raised him from the dead. Jesus laid his life down and he took his life back up. It was good for us that Jesus was able to take his life back, it meant victory for the whole world (John 19:30).
When we choose to lay our lives down, we are emulating Christ. We do not lay our lives down in vain, we lay our lives down for the good of those being saved (1 John 3:16). Likewise, after we have been humbled by the Lord, we can take our lives back up. The word says that if we seek after righteousness, we will have abundant blessings (Mat 6:33). We lay our lives down for and allow the Father to purify us. After this process has done its work, the Father lets us pick our lives back up. We are meant to love others more than ourselves and we are also meant to walk in victory (1 Cor 15:54-57).
Lord, I want to walk in holiness and righteousness so that I can be used by you. And after a season of being humbled, I know I will have the desires of my heart. Please do your work and take away my worldly appetites. Then, when the time is right, lead me into victory. In Jesus’ name, amen.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who doesn’t own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, and flees. The wolf snatches the sheep, and scatters them.  The hired hand flees because he is a hired hand, and doesn’t care for the sheep.  I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I’m known by my own;  even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep.
What makes Jesus a good shepherd? Is it because he is fast and strong and can defeat all our foes? Is it what he does for us that makes him a good shepherd? Or is it because of what he is doing inside of us that makes him the Good Shepherd? Do our victories prove to us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd? No, neither of these things make Jesus the Good Shepherd. We do not love him because he protects us and blesses us. Those are benefits of being in Christ, but they are not the fullness of Christ (John 1:16).
We love the blessings, but we must look further to see why Jesus is the Good Shepherd. In the text, it says Jesus lays his life down for the sheep. More, the hired hand does not care for the sheep. In other words, the hired hand does not love the sheep. Jesus loves the sheep. Jesus knows the Father and understands what being a shepherd entails. It is not always easy to be a good shepherd.
Being a good steward of God’s sheep means loving the sheep more than we love our own lives. Those preachers that only dwell on the promises but never teach the warnings and general exhortations do not love the sheep. They love attention and popularity. They love having a big ministry. But unless they will give up all that makes them beautiful in the world, they will never be good shepherds (Mat 6:24). They are the ones that preach to the lustful (2 Tim 4:2-5). Jesus calls those believers goats (Mat 25:46). The goats will not follow the Good Shepherd.
Lord, help me listen to those who teach me the entire Bible including the promises, the warnings, and the exhortations. I know you laid down your life for me because you love me. Help me love those around me by emulating you, Lord. Teach me to carry my cross and lay my life down for others. 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.
Then the Jews answered him, “Don’t we say well that you are a Samaritan, and have a demon?”  Jesus answered, “I don’t have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me.  But I don’t seek my own glory. There is one who seeks and judges.  Most certainly, I tell you, if a person keeps my word, he will never see death.”
This verse gives the secret to eternal life. Many would say the secret is to believe in Jesus. But Jesus testified that anyone who does the work of obeying his word is a believer. Jesus says those are his true disciples.
Modern-day discipleship looks very different. In Jesus’ day, a Rabbi was a teacher who had a small cadre of disciples. The Rabbi attempted to impart their beliefs and teachings to this small group. In Jesus’ day, his disciples would have stayed as close as possible. They would have tried not to be more than an arm’s length away from their Rabbi. In fact, that may be why Peter, James, and John were in Christ’s inner circle. They chose to stay as close as possible to their master.
In our modern era, we have discipleship declared by the disciple rather than the teacher. Each of us is to be a disciple of Christ. We are going to be called names and condescended to, that’s part of the disciple package. Remember, the world loves its own. If you try to follow Jesus perfectly you may be called a religious nut or demonized. They did that to Jesus.
Lord Jesus, please draw me close to you so that I may walk the way you walked. I want to be a disciple in deeds and not words only. Come and work with me Lord and help me grow in godliness. In Jesus’ name, amen.