The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Help for Troubled Hearts

Let not your heart be troubled – John 14:1a


Is your heart troubled? Are you upset and broken because someone is leaving? Is there something else which has put your life in turmoil? Jesus has exactly what, no Who you need in times of trouble. On the night Jesus was to be arrested and He was to depart for the cross, His disciples were very troubled. The One who had been their Master, Provider, Protector, Instructor, and their loving Leader in life was now leaving. Greater separation anxiety and grief could never be known. Jesus knew the trial His leaving would create for His followers. So He shared with them that the help they needed to weather this storm was on the way.

The Christian life cannot be lived by mere human strength or resource. We need a Helper; the Holy Spirit. This is why Jesus told the religious leader Nicodemus that “You must be born again” or be spiritually birthed by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5 and 7). Jesus explained to this very religious man, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Being a Christian and especially a disciple of Jesus is much more than religious ceremony or ritual. Eternal life is spiritual life and that life is found in and through Jesus (e.g. John 3:16).

Trials are frequently the means by which we learn eternal truths. God often uses difficulties that lead us to the end of ourselves to pass the baton of understanding and spiritual growth to Him. That is what happens here. Jesus has just told His disciples that He is going away (John 13:33 and 36). This naturally raises the eyebrows of His disciples. They have relied on Him for over three years now. They have grown to worship and adore Him. He is their “Lord.” To hear Jesus say He is going away and that where He is going is a place they cannot come was disheartening and very troubling. So Jesus uses this trial of separation anxiety to comfort and teach His disciples. Trials are a little more bearable if we learn something from them; answer the “Why?” question.

Jesus offers help for troubled hearts. John 14 begins Jesus’ most detailed and thorough teaching on the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is introduced by Jesus as “the Helper.” The first “help” we see the Holy spirit provide is help for troubled hearts.  The Holy Spirit is the Helper who helps us live Jesus’ abundant life. The Holy Spirit is the One who helps us live the abundant life through times of want and despair. Let’s look at this encouraging chapter in Jesus’ ministry to the disciples. There is much to learn and apply that will help the troubled heart.

“Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14:1a). Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t mean you won’t be troubled. The disciples were “troubled” (Greek tarasso); stirred up and agitated. There are many causes of a troubled heart in this life. Here the disciples were experiencing inner turmoil when Jesus said He was leaving them. It’s never easy to hear that loved ones are leaving temporarily or permanently from this life to the next. Even in the best of circumstances it is difficult to handle. Parents grieve the departure of their children. Children grieve the departure of their parents. Loved ones are grieved when they have to be separated due to business or calling.  Death is the great separator: “We finish our years like a sigh. . . . So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:9 and 12). “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Death disturbs our heart. It’s troubling to people when they are separated from their loved ones. That is what the disciples were feeling now and that is what Jesus is going to comfort them about.

Jesus continued, “you believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1b).  Trust Jesus when you’re troubled. The first thing Jesus says to those troubled by separation anxiety is to believe in Him. Jesus instructs His disciples to move beyond their generic belief in “God” to believe In Him. This shows Jesus equates Himself with God. But it also shows He wants His disciples to have a personal faith relationship with Him.

Are you experiencing a troubled heart or inner turmoil due to separation from a loved one? The first thing to do is turn to Jesus and trust Him. “Believe” (Greek pisteou) is a verb which means to have faith in, to entrust, and to commit to, to put trust in. A verb is a word of action. Jesus uses this word to tell His disciples to entrust their troubles to Him. That is what we need to do as well. When you are troubled by any situation the first thing is to bring it to Jesus and entrust it to Him.

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2).  When troubled understand Jesus has a plan. Jesus was leaving but He was leaving for a purpose. Jesus had a plan. And that plan involved returning. Whenever we are troubled we should take comfort in knowing that God has a plan He is working out.

Jesus eases the troubled hearts of His disciples by pointing them to heaven. That is a good path for us to follow too. Whenever this temporal world gets us down, we need to remember this place is not our home. We have a wonderful eternal place called heaven that awaits us (cf. 1 Cor. 15:19; Colossians 3:1 ff.).  

Heaven is a place where we will have all the time in the world to enjoy all God has put in our heart to enjoy, because there is no time there. Heaven is a place that is “for you.” It has eternal enjoyments tailored to every “you” or individual. We will worship and be with the Lord, but we will also enjoy with Him our unique interests.

Heaven is a place where work will cease to be labor but will be reset to something humanity enjoys to partake in (Genesis 3; Psalm 73). Heaven is a place and existence where everything is just right and perfect. We will have eternal bodies and be perfectly suited in every way for eternity with the Lord. Heaven is a place where we won’t have time restrictions to cause us to rush; there won’t be time!

Jesus speaks of His Father’s “house” (Greek oikia), a building, abode or house. This can also mean an estate (Greek oikos which in Koine Greek became interchangeable with oikia). Jesus says in His Father’s house are “many” (Greek pollai) “mansions” (Greek monai) or places to stay, abiding places. “Many” means more than one or numerous but with no specific number in mind. The meaning of “mansions” here carries with it the idea of a prolonged stay or permanent place. Life on this earth is temporary. Life with Jesus in His Father’s house is permanent (John 14:2a).

Some have speculated that the “mansions” Jesus speaks about could be our glorified bodies necessary to live eternally with God. That is possible. Paul referred to the human body as a “house” (2 Cor. 5:1). But the words Jesus uses here seem to convey the idea of a place in the presence of His Father. It is a place where people live in close proximity to the Father. It is Jesus’ Father’s house so Jesus will be there too. It is more likely that Jesus is referring to what John describes in the book of Revelation as “a new heaven and a new earth” which make up God’s estate (cf. Revelation 21).

If this wasn’t the case Jesus said “I would have told you” (John 14:2b). This is therefore something we can count on. We can trust Jesus. If on the Father’s estate there wasn’t a place for Jesus disciples to stay Jesus would have told us that. But we can look forward to being with Jesus on His Father’s estate. And what an estate it must be!

The purpose of Jesus’ departure is to prepare “a place” for His disciples (John 14:2c).  “Place” (Greek topos) can be defined as a place, a location, an area, a region or a room. Jesus is preparing a place “for you” or that is particularly personally suited for the disciples.

There may also be a connection with wedding imagery here. In the Kedushan wedding ritual, in preparation for the wedding the groom would go and prepare an addition to His father’s house for him and his bride to live in. When the addition was completed the groom would then come for his bride, and take her to his father’s house, have the wedding, and then have a one week honeymoon in their newly built addition to his father’s house and then live their lives there.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).  When troubled understand Jesus has a purpose. Jesus comforts His disciples with the assurance that His departure is for a purpose that will benefit them and that His separation from them is not permanent but temporary. That must have been a huge comfort to the disciples.

Jesus’ return is as certain and reliable as Jesus Himself. He said he would rise from the dead and He did. He said He will return to take us where He is going and He will. You can trust Jesus.

Jesus will return for His disciples. He would see them again after the resurrection. Then He ascended to heaven. But even at His ascension angels informed the disciples that He would “come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11). Jesus is coming back! He will return for His saints at the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 5:10) and He will return with His saints at the 2nd Coming (Revelation 19). For us we echo the words of Peter who said, “Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9). We wait joyfully for the return of our Savior.

“And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (John 14:4). When troubled rely on what Jesus has already revealed to you. When we’re troubled we often are looking for what we don’t know or understand. Instead of searching for what we don’t know we need to first remember what Jesus has already revealed to us (in His word).

Jesus has been referring to His heavenly destination throughout His ministry (John 6:62; 7:36; 13:33, 36). He has just told them He is going to His Father’s house. The disciples have overlooked or not paid close enough attention to what Jesus has been saying and teaching them. They are troubled in part because they are in a state of denial or ignorance due to negligence and inattentiveness. God always prepares us and He uses His word to do it.

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Thomas the inquisitor needs more information and clarification from Jesus. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions. That’s how we learn. If it weren’t for Thomas’ question we might not have had one of the greatest gospel truth statements of the Bible.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). When troubled turn to Jesus to find the way, the truth and the life of your situation. Jesus answers with another “I am” statement. Jesus is “the way” in that He is the road one travels in order to get to the Father’s house. Jesus is like a bridge that enables us to span the chasm caused by sin that separates us from the Father. Jesus is “the truth” in that He lights the way with His truth so that we know to stay on the road to heaven (John 8:12). His truth exposes darkness of sin and helps us stay on His path of eternal life. Jesus is “the life” in that He is the way of life to be imitated (John 13:15; 1 John 2:6). He is also “the life” as the means the energy and power by which we can experience abundant eternal life that culminates in eternal life.


“No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus is the exclusive way, truth and life that lead to the Father. There are not many roads that lead to the same destination. There is only one exclusive way, truth and life and that is bound up in Jesus alone. You have to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord if you want to reside with His Father. There are no alternatives or detours; only Jesus.


“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:7-9). When troubled consider whether or not you “know” Jesus. If you don’t know Jesus and a trial hits that troubles you, your problem will be compounded by groping for answers because you don’t know the One with the answers. Sometimes God will use a trial or trouble to draw you to know Him. The best preparation for the inevitable troubles of life is to have a saving personal relationship with Jesus in place when they come.

It is the final night before Jesus goes to the cross and He wants to make sure His disciples, who have shown a certain spiritual dullness, understand who He is. Jesus shares how knowing Him leads to knowing the Father. “Known” (Greek ginosko) means to become aware, perceive, understand, and be conscious of. Jesus has performed signs, taught with power and authority, He allowed them to see His prayer life, and brought the disciples to live with Him for three years of ministry. Jesus is leaving no room for speculation. He is clearly stating He is the way to know the Father.


These words of Jesus to Philip show a degree of disappointment at his dullness to grasp after over three years of ministry just who Jesus was. Jesus doesn’t harshly rebuke the disciple. He demonstrates some of His love in longsuffering and lifting up to understanding (cf. John 13 notes and 1 Corinthians 13:4a). And Jesus would soon teach them of a Helper who would assist their understanding (John 14:26; cf. also 1 Cor. 2:9-14).


Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves” (John 14:10-11).  When troubled go to Jesus understanding He is God. When Jesus says, “I am in the Father, and the Father in Me” He is speaking of His part in the Triune Godhead. God is eternally one God in three Persons – Father, Son Jesus, and Holy Spirit. Not three gods but One God in Three Persons. Jesus therefore is the exact representation of God (Hebrews 1). When you see Jesus you see God in the flesh; He makes His abode or tabernacles with us (John 1:1, 14 and 18; cf. also John 10:30; 12:45; col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3).


Jesus words that “the Father is in Me” also have great significance. They mean incredibly that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19). Salvation is totally a work of God and His grace. His Triune nature makes such a redemptive plan possible.


This is something Jesus says we should believe based on His words as well as His works. John used the record of Jesus’ sign/miracles the way he did because Jesus said they confirmed who He was.


“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father” (John 14:12). When troubled understand that through faith in Christ you have what you need to get through your trials. This is an incredible statement and promise by Jesus. He speaks of doing “greater works” than what He did. In what sense would His followers do greater works than Him? The book of Acts is filled with accounts of miracles but none are greater than the ones Jesus did. Therefore, when Jesus says “greater” He is not speaking about greater in quality but doing greater works in terms of quantity. His followers have done a greater quantity of works than Jesus since His ascension.


But note the qualifier to doing greater works. “He who believes in Me” is the prerequisite for doing such “greater works.” “Believes” (Greek pisteou) is in the present tense and conveys the idea of an ongoing continual growing belief in Jesus. You can’t just cite His name and poof, a miracle happens. These “greater things” flow out of a living vital saved faith relationship with Jesus.


The words and works of Jesus were done in conjunction with the Father in Jesus (John 14:10b). The works Jesus did were in accord with the Father’s will. Therefore when Jesus speaks of His disciples doing “greater works than these” it includes that those greater works are part of the Father’s plan and will.


And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it(John 14:13-14). When troubled pray. It isn’t as though Jesus is uninvolved in the subsequent works of His church. Miracles and ministry are done in His name and by the Spirit’s empowerment and gifting. We are co-laborers with Christ (1 Cor. 3:9-11). We plant and water the seed of His word. The increase comes from Him (1 Cor. 3:7-8; cf. also Mark 4:26-29). That done in Jesus name means to be done like Jesus would do it. That done in Jesus’ name, the way he would do it, is what brings glory to God.


“If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). When troubled consider if you have a genuine love for Jesus. Jesus states the fruit of true genuine love of Him is obedience. His commandments are summed up in loving like Him (John 13:34-35). If you say you love Jesus, you’ll love others like He would love them. When a person claims to love Jesus but lives in a hateful sinful way, it exposes a false “faith” and hypocrisy.


And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (John 4:16). When troubled seek the Helper – the Holy Spirit. Jesus responds to genuine love with a prayerful request to the Father. Jesus is interceding for us right now (Hebrews 7:25). And what He prays for is that the Father would “give you another Helper.” “Another” (Greek allon) means another of the same kind. “Helper” (Greek Paraclete) means helper, one who comes alongside to help or one called alongside to assist. The Spirit therefore is by nature a Servant, like Jesus. The Spirit comes alongside us to help us in our walk with Jesus.


The Holy Spirit is the Third person of the Triune Godhead. He is separate and distinct from Jesus. But He is just like Jesus. And therefore, when the Holy Spirit comes and indwells a person it is just like the presence of Jesus with you FOREVER. Jesus is saying that through the ministry of the Holy Spirit His disciples would never be separated from Him. Their hearts must have rejoiced at that.


Jesus continued,the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:17).  When troubled the Spirit will speak through the truth of His word; the Bible. The Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of truth.” The Holy Spirit is not the author of lies, Satan is (John 8:44). The Holy Spirit inspired God’s word the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Jesus said God’s word is “truth” (John 17:17). How do we discern the voice of the Spirit from the voice of another? We simply hold up to the template of God’s word anything we hear. If it is within the parameters of God’s word then we can be assured it is from the Spirit of truth.


When troubled understand where you stand with the Helper/the Holy Spirit. The world can’t receive the Spirit of truth because it belongs to their father the devil (John 8:44). The god of this world Satan has blinded the sinner (2 Cor. 4:4). It is only by the grace of God and the Spirit’s convicting the world of their need of a Savior Jesus that anyone could or would be saved (cf. Acts 26:18; Ephesians 2:1ff.). The person who lives without Jesus is spiritually dead. They must be born again of the Spirit to know the Spirit.


Jesus said the disciples “know Him” the Holy Spirit. They may not have been aware of the Holy Spirit but Jesus said the Spirit of truth had been working with them all along. The Holy Spirit works in anonymity. We will see that the Spirit points people to Jesus.


Jesus used prepositions to describe the relationship the disciples had and would have with Him. Jesus said, “for He dwells with you and will be in you.” Jesus said the Helper Holy Spirit “dwells” with the disciples. “Dwells” (Greek meno ) means stays with, stand fast, dwells, abide, continues with, waits, endures, or be permanent with.


Jesus said that at that moment the Spirit dwelt with the disciples. They had yet to be indwelt by the Spirit. At that moment the Spirit was with them. The Holy Spirit is with a person prior to conversion. The Spirit convicts the sinner of their sin and need of a Savior. The Holy Spirit draws sinful people to consider and accept Jesus as Savior.


Jesus said the Holy Spirit “will be in you.” It is apparent by these words that the disciples had not yet been born again of the Spirit. We will see evidence of this happening later in John (cf. John 20:22). Jesus speaks prophetically that the Holy Spirit would indeed indwell these disciples. But it is clear too that at this point that had not occurred. These disciples were not yet born again and indwelled by the Holy Spirit.


By the beginning of the book of Acts Jesus’ disciples had been born again. But Jesus instructed them to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them before they launched out to fulfill the Great Commission. Jesus referred to this as the Promise of the Father (Acts 1:4-5) and being baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).


There is a third preposition “upon” used in the Bible to describe our relationship with the Holy Spirit. This third preposition describes a totally surrendered heart of a person and a total trust in the Holy Spirit to empower them for service (Acts 1:8). At Pentecost the followers of Jesus who had been praying (Acts 1) were all empowered by the Holy Spirit coming upon them (Acts 2).  (The generic phrase “filled with” can also be used to refer to this experience.) When the Spirit came upon the disciples they were transformed from fearful hiding disciples to bold witnessing and serving disciples. The book of Acts is an account of the effects of the Holy Spirit on the lives of Jesus’ followers.


The nature of the power of the Spirit is a compelling driving love for Jesus and love of Jesus for others (Romans 5:5; 2 Cor. 5:14-21). The disciples, baptized with the Spirit, were so in love with Jesus that they would give their lives in ministry for Him and wanted the world to know and worship their Lord of love.


I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).  When troubled understand Jesus is with you by the Holy Spirit. Jesus brings His conversation full circle. They were concerned with His departure. Jesus is telling them that while he may be leaving them physically, He would always, through the Helper Holy Spirit, be with them eternally. That must have been an incredible blessing.


“A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19). When troubled hope in the risen Lord Jesus. In a few short hours Jesus would go to the cross and give His life a ransom for many. They would see Him no more as he was put in the tomb. But three days later they would indeed see Him as He would rise from the dead. For 40 days he would appear to them and then he would ascend to heaven. His resurrection from the dead meant others would rise from the dead too. But Jesus is not in a stone cold tomb, Jesus has risen; HE IS ALIVE TODAY; NOW; RIGHT NOW! And through the Holy Spirit He is reaching out to you. He is knocking on the door of your heart waiting for you to open and invite Him in to fellowship (cf. Rev. 3:20). Will you answer His knock? Will you open and invite Him in ?


At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20). When troubled understand whether or not Jesus dwells in you by the Spirit. The resurrection will be pivotal in the understanding of the disciples. The resurrection is the Father’s imprimatur on all that Jesus said and did. The resurrection proves Jesus and the Father are One; united in relationship; Triune in nature. And “at that day” when Jesus has risen from the dead and the disciples see Him, they will know that He is the way, the truth and the life and they will fully trust Him. They will be born again of the Spirit entering into that eternal relationship of “you in Me, and I in you.”


This doesn’t mean the disciples will become part of the Godhead. It means they will know Jesus in a saving way and have a personal relationship with Him by the indwelling Holy Spirit. It means Jesus indwelling us by the Holy Spirit is our hope of glory (Col. 1:27).


He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21). When troubled don’t obey as a bargaining chip with Jesus, obey out of love for Jesus. This relationship between the disciples Jesus and the Father is one held together by the love of Jesus. We demonstrate our love for Jesus by keeping or obeying His commandments. Jesus and the Father love those who show their love to Them in this way. Jesus asks us to obey Him out of love for Him not out of fear of Him. Religion uses fear and guilt. The religious person obeys as a bargaining chip with God; to earn favor with God in hopes that He will meet our demands or requests, e.g. “If I go to church You have to fix my relationship,” Or, “I will go to church and You do this for me.” Without love people relay on coercion, manipulation, extortion with others and with God. That is not the way of Jesus. Religion relies on works; relationship with Jesus receives the work of the cross Jesus offers in love. Jesus is not about religion, He is about relationship.


Jesus relies on love to motivate His followers to obey. He loves us as much as He can already. Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:31-39).  His love for us is established on the cross. We don’t earn His love; His love is a gift of His grace. When we realize that truth, it fills our heart with a love that motivates us to want to please Jesus and bless Him with our obedience. When we realize how much the One who resides in us loves us, it makes us want to live our lives as a love offering to Him (e.g. 2 Cor. 5:14-21).

Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” (John 14:22). This Judas is not Judas Iscariot who betrays Jesus. He is also known as Thaddeus (Mat. 10:3). This is the only words attributed to him in the Bible.

Judas might have been fishing to see if Jesus would establish His kingdom on earth at this time. This would have been on the minds of those waiting for Messiah. How and why would Jesus manifest Himself to the disciples and not the world if as Messiah he would establish a Kingdom?

“Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” (John 14:24).  When troubled live a genuine love that obeys Jesus; obedient love is an invitation for Jesus to take up residence in and with you. Jesus doesn’t respond to the short sighted query. Instead He speaks of love evidenced in obedience. Disobedience is equated with not loving Jesus. And not loving Jesus is equated with not loving God as a whole.


Jesus speaks of the indwelling presence of God in the disciple’s lives. “We will come to him and make Our home with him” speaks of the experience of the indwelling of God in the believer. Imagine, God in us. Incredible! Do you understand that as a Christian God dwells in you? And if God dwells in you, can you imagine the unloving disrespect and offense it is to parade sinful things before Him in your house? God in Christ is in the house. Love Him. Show your love by obedience.


“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:25-26).  When troubled and searching for answers and solutions rely on the Holy Spirit to teach you. The Holy Spirit is our Helper. He “will teach you all things.” The Holy Spirit helps us understand God’s word. So go to the word of God and prayerfully seek the Holy Spirit’s illumination and insight of God’s truth. When you study the word of God do so prayerfully asking the Holy Spirit to help you understand.


The Holy Spirit will help “and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” the Holy Spirit will even help our memories! That is a wonderful promise especially as we get older.


What more could we want to live victoriously than to understand Jesus’ words and help to remember them?


Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). When troubled seek the peace of Jesus. “Peace” (Greek eirene) means peace, harmony, tranquility, health. Jesus peace is distinct from anything the world offers. We have peace with God through faith in Jesus (Romans 5). And through the prayer of faith we can experience the peace of God that settles us in times of trial and anxiety (Philippians 4:6-9).


But there is a part we play in receiving this peace. Jesus exhorts His disciples to “Let not your heart be troubled” (Greek me – not; tassestho – Present/Middle/Imperative – troubled, stirred up). “Neither let it be afraid” (Greek mede – not; deiliato be cowardly, timid, or fearful). Jesus exhorts, “Don’t let your heart get stirred up or troubled, don’t be cowardly and fearful.” This is a call to act in faith. Jesus has taught them about His presence in the Spirit. They need to take what He has said to heart and live it by faith.  Resist fear by faith in Jesus.


There is very practical truth for us to apply here. When we are tempted to be troubled in heart and afraid in some way, we need to step out in faith and trust in Jesus. He is there with us in the Spirit. We need to rest in His presence. That’s something the world just can’t offer or understand.  


You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). When troubled remember that Jesus is coming back. Here Jesus speaks of the other orientation of His love. Jesus is telling His disciples to stop merely thinking of themselves and think about the bigger picture of what Jesus was doing.


When Jesus says, “For My Father is greater than I” He isn’t saying He is less in quality or nature than the Father as though He weren’t God or part of the Triune Godhead. Jesus set aside His position of authority to come to be incarnated with humanity. When He refers to the Father as “greater than I” He is saying the Father is in a “greater” position of authority than He was while incarnated on earth. Jesus and the Father are of equal quality and nature but as the plan of the Triune God is being carried out and Jesus is Man, He is in a position of submission to the Father like any other man. That is what Jesus is saying.


We might understand this in terms of us and the president of the United States. The president is greater than us in authority and position but that does not necessarily make him a better human being. We actually may be more moral and have more integrity than the president of the United States. But he is in a position of superiority as president. Once his term is over he will have as much power as a non-officed citizen.


“And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.  I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.  But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here” (John 14:29-31).  Jesus has prepared them for what is to come. Jesus gives us His word to prepare us for what is coming so that we will be able to believe in what He is doing. Satan has plans but they have nothing to do with Jesus. Plans made without consulting Jesus in prayer are more likely to be influenced by the devil. The purpose of what Jesus will do on the cross is “that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do.” That commandment is love. Jesus is doing what He is doing to show the love of God.


There is help for the troubled heart. Jesus has laid it out for you in John 14. The help we need is from the Helper the Holy Spirit. I encourage you to turn your life and life situation over to Jesus by faith. Admit your sin to Him. Ask His forgiveness based on the belief that Jesus paid your sin-penalty of death on the cross. Receive His forgiveness by faith and be indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Do that, and whatever trouble you’re in, you will be helped.



Monday, April 27, 2015

The Philistine Cart

“So they set the ark of God on a new cart” - 2 Samuel 6:3

Why is it that Christians think that living like the world is acceptable to God? The church at large blatantly ministers in worldly ways.  Throughout the Bible God repeatedly expressed His desire that His people would be distinct from the world. God’s people are to be holy. Why is this so critical to God? It’s important to God because His children are living epistles, a letter for the lost of the world to read and see Christ (2 Cor. 3:2-4). Before unsaved people read God’s Word, they usually read His people. The unsaved are drawn by what they see or read in God’s people. God uses the beauty of holiness to attract the lost (Ps. 29:2; 96:9).

When I speak of “holiness,” I’m not talking about maintaining a set of rules. Holiness is loving the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving your neighbor as you already love yourself (Mark 12:29-31). Holiness is a way of life; it is life lived for the Lord in His love. Such love is the product of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). Remember, the fruit of the Spirit is love. There is a beauty to that love that attracts the lost. The beauty of holiness in a child of God communicates otherworldliness. It manifests love’s joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It proclaims liberation to the one shackled in the sins of this world.

When a Christian or the church lives or ministers in a worldly way, it’s like spray-painting graffiti on a Picasso. You can’t love the world’s system and love God at the same time. Loving the things of the world is diametrically opposed to the love of God (1 John 2:15-17). The worldlier you are the less in love with Jesus you are. Even the unsaved sense the contradiction between Christianity and worldliness. Worldly ways are unacceptable to God.  

The answer to all these questions is illustrated in the Old Testament history of a Philistine cart. One of the lowest points in the history of Israel occurred when Eli was the high priest. He served in the tabernacle of God with his two sons Hophni and Phinehas. So low had the nation sunk spiritually that the sons of Eli were openly pilfering the sacrifices of God and having sex with women at the threshold of the tabernacle. When all of this was happening Eli offered only a weak rebuke to his sons (1 Sam. 2:12-26). Because of these conditions God raised up the judge, priest and prophet named Samuel. Samuel was born in answer to his mother Hannah’s prayers (1 Samuel 1). She promised that if God would answer her prayer for a son that she would dedicate the child to God for the rest of his life. God answered Hannah’s prayer, and Samuel was born. The anointing of God was on Samuel. From a young age he ministered before the Lord with a heart wholly dedicated to God (1 Sam. 2:18-21; 3).

Before Samuel could succeed Eli and his two sons God brought judgment on the corrupt priestly family. The perennial opponents of Israel were the Philistines. Toward the end of Eli’s life Israel went out and fought against the Philistines. The Philistines soundly defeated Israel. When the people returned the elders asked, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines?” (1 Sam. 4:3). Without praying for an answer they simply presumed the reason for their defeat. They believed it was because they hadn’t brought the Ark of the Covenant with them into battle. Nothing good ever comes from proceeding without prayer.

The Ark of the Covenant was a rectangular gold-plated box that contained holy artifacts from God’s miraculous works of the past (Heb. 9:4).  It was more than just a pretty piece of furniture. The Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of God among His people. That’s a good thing. And because it was associated with God’s presence it was also associated with God’s power. But the prayerlessness of the people demonstrated they had come to see the ark as something magical rather than something holy. To the people the Ark was merely a religious formula for success. Bring the ark into battle and you will be victorious. They weren’t thinking about the presence of the Lord at all. If they had been thinking of the presence of the LORD they would have sought His direction in prayer. They were only interested in the bottom line—winning.

We do the same thing today. We are consumed with a lust to succeed. And that success is usually defined and pursued from a worldly perspective. We proceed prayerlessly. We try to formulate victory. But you can’t reduce ministry and life as a Christian to religious formulas. A life pleasing to God flows out of our relationship with Him and by walking in the Spirit. The Bible teaches us that God works in various ways that are higher than ours (Isa. 55:9-11). His work can’t be accomplished by humanly deduced formulations. Humanly deduced formulations don’t work.

We haven’t gotten to the Philistine cart yet but we need to drive home a point before we do. Observing the church today it’s pretty easy to deduce that the church is on the ropes. We have our own modern versions of Eli and his two sons. There are some deep troubles and divisions in the church today. Prayer meetings, if even held, are sparsely attended. The church is not reaching out to the lost as it should. The church is not building up believers into disciples. Souls aren’t being saved, and disciples aren’t being made. We’re off track.

The same is true of the individual in the church. Christian lifestyles aren’t very different from that of the unsaved in the world. In fact, Christians are looking more and more to the world for answers! Most Christians rarely if ever share their faith. Even when they do they are generally ineffective. This is because they really aren’t interested in doing so. This is appalling when one takes into account the eternal destiny of the unsaved. They are rationalizing and excusing sin instead of killing it off on the cross of Christ. There is little or no victorious Christian living. (Do we even know what “victorious Christian life” is anymore?) You may object to these assertions, but they’re true. Christians starving for victory and blessing in their lives are lowering God’s scriptural standards. They then glory in a diminished definition of what victory in Jesus really is.

The Bible has been cast aside by much of the church. This discard of God’s Word came gradually. It began with laziness. We casually trusted in the preachers without confirming what they were saying. We neglected our responsibility to be Bereans (Acts 17:10-11). This disconnect from God’s Word increased as commentaries became a substitute for the direct personal study of God’s Word. (Commentaries can be a valuable tool, but they are no substitute for your own study of God’s Word.) Slowly but surely our focus shifted from personal study to relying on the words of “Christian celebrities.” Soon a weakened church didn’t have the heart or time to sit and take in a balanced meal of God’s Word. We were drawn away from the table of the Lord to live on quick TV-sermonette dinners, Christian-lite cotton candy and junk-food religion. Christians living on this unhealthy spiritual diet became confused with what true Christianity really is. They began looking outside the church for answers. Eventually the church opened its doors to all kinds of practices. These methods of “ministry” were not based on prayerful processing or scriptural assessment but on fleshly profits. This set the stage for the introduction and reliance upon what I refer to as The Philistine Cart.

Things are not always what they appear to be on the surface. Sometimes what seems alive and powerful is dead within. There are times when Christians are deceived by smoke and mirrors. Right now much of the church is all about style and woefully lacking in spiritual substance. That is why the church mimics the world and its ways. Its methods and styles are eagerly welcomed and adopted. This is a serious problem because it exposes a lack of spiritual depth. The closer a person or church is to the world the farther away they are from God and His love (cf. 1 John 2:15-17).

The ark was brought from the tabernacle and into the camp and we are told, “Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook” (1 Sam. 4:5).  It was pretty impressive. The Philistines thought so. The Philistines thought “God has come into the camp! . . . Woe is us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods?” (1 Sam. 4:7-8). Reading the passage it looks as though the Philistines were resigned to defeat. But if they were going to die they would die “like men.” They would go down fighting (1 Sam. 4:9). Even those in the world can have honorable attitudes.

Well, the Philistines didn’t die. In fact when they went out to battle the Israelites (who had the ark of God) they won again, and the soldiers of Israel fled away (1 Sam. 4:10). The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died in the battle. Some may have interpreted that as good. But something unprecedented and devastating happened in this battle. The ark was captured by the Philistines (1 Sam. 4:11). This had a devastating impact on God’s people.

Hearing of the loss of her unfaithful husband was bad enough, but when Phinehas’s pregnant wife heard the ark was captured, she gave birth prematurely. And then she named her son Ichabod. Ichabod means “the glory has departed.

Eli’s heart had trembled in fear for the ark of God when it was taken into battle (1 Sam. 4:13). Even he saw that actions based on prayerless impulse never bring good outcomes. Eli withstood news of the death of his two sons. But when old Eli heard that the ark was lost in the battle he fell over backward, broke his neck, and died (1 Sam. 4:18).

The consequence of prayerless actions is always death even if we have the best of intentions. When we act separately from God and His Word we are acting on our own; in our own strength. That is a dangerous thing to do. We may be able to fight off a foe or have a measure of victory in our own strength, but it won’t last for long. And God will actually allow us to experience defeat to teach us our need to depend on Him. 

The ark eventually was returned to Israel. God brought plagues upon the pagan Philistines because they had His ark (1 Samuel 5 and 6). They decided it wasn’t worth it or safe to have God’s ark in their possession. But here we have an important part in the account. We need to take note of how the Philistines returned the ark. The way they sent the ark back left a lasting impression on God’s people. They made a “new cart” to transport the ark back to Israel (1 Sam. 6:7). It must have been an impressive new cart. You’ll see why this is important as we continue.

The joy of the ark’s return was short-lived. There needs to be reverence in worshipful celebration to the LORD. The men of Beth Shemesh treated the ark without the holy respect and reverence an object belonging to God deserves. God struck down around fifty thousand men as a consequence. This led the survivors of Beth Shemesh to respond, “Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God” (1 Sam. 6:20). They sought for someone to take the ark off their hands. The word went out, and the people of Kirjath Jearim welcomed the ark.

When the ark returned the people in Kirjath Jearim were moved by the holiness of God. They repented and a revival broke out under the leadership of Samuel. When the Philistines came up against Israel again Israel turned to the LORD for help. This is what they should have done in the first place. This time the LORD fought for Israel and defeated the Philistines. Samuel then set up a rock between Mizpah and Shen and called it “Ebenezer,” meaning the stone of help. They remembered the source of their help and victory. From that point on the people of Israel regained the land previously lost to the Philistines and “the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel” (1 Samuel 7).

True revival comes when His people sense the holiness of God. That sense of God’s holines moves His people to repent. That is the true and substantial basis for revival. The closer we come to God the more clearly we see our sin (cf. Isaiah 6). Coming close to God shatters our pride and humbles us. And while God opposes the proud, He gives grace to the humble (1 Pet. 5:5-6). If you want power over sin and victory in your life you have to come closer to the Lord (1 John 3:6). That can be convicting, challenging, even painful. It definitely will be humbling. But it is the only way to experience true revival.

Where is the awareness of God’s holiness today? Do we see it in the church? Do we see it in the Christian? Is it in the chaos of the flesh and worldliness we see in counterfeit revivals today? Look at what is masquerading as revival. Ask yourself, Is this the holiness of God? Does this humble me? Does this bring me to my knees in repentance? Does it lead to real and lasting life changes? Does it lead to holy living? We have settled for bells and whistles when we should be seeking the humbling presence of God. We need to return to our own Kirjath Jearim and discover the holy presence of God. We need to get back on course; the course of the true gospel of God that is based on the sound doctrine of His Word.

When genuine revivals occur future generations may misinterpret them. Those who look back at revivals of the past sometimes draw wrong conclusions about what caused the revival. That is what happened with David. He looked back at the revival of holiness at Kirjath Jearim and associated it more with the ark of God than the impact of the holiness of God on His people. This led to some serious problems for the nation.

About fifty years after the revival at Kirjath Jearim (1 Samuel 7) the great psalmist David became king of Israel. Sometime after King David ascended to the throne he was moved to bring the Ark of the Covenant to the City of David (2 Sam. 6:1-11; 1 Chron. 13:1-4). He was chosen by God because he was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:13-14). But David was going to learn a terrible lesson. How God’s work is done is just as important to God as the end result. You can’t compromise in the way you do something just to get it done. For God the ends do not necessarily justify the means. To God the means are just as important as the end itself. David had it in his heart to bring up the ark of God to Jerusalem. The ark represented the holy presence of God among His people (Exod. 25:21-22). David wanted to be close to God. He wanted the symbol of that close presence of God with him. This was right and good. This idea came from the outflow of the close relationship between God and David. But David went about this in the wrong way; a worldly way.

The account of David’s unsuccessful attempt to bring the Ark of the Covenant to the city is given in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13. Both accounts mention a “new cart”: “So they set the ark of God on a new cart” (2 Sam. 6:3) and “so they carried the ark of God on a new cart” (1 Chron. 13:7). David used the “new cart” way of the pagan Philistines to transport God’s Holy Ark. What’s the big deal about that? Why is that significant at all? In Deuteronomy 17:18-20 God gave the requirements for the king of Israel. He was to write his own copy of God’s law. He was to keep it with him. He was to read it all the days of his life so that he would honor and obey God. David, therefore, was without excuse. He had either overlooked, forgotten, or disregarded the clearly prescribed instructions God had given about how His holy ark was to be transported. The ark was not merely a piece of common furniture to be carried about in any old or “new” way. No, God’s instructions were precise. The ark should be handled with reverence (Num. 4:1-15). But David shortsightedly settled for the “new” secular, worldly way of the Philistines.

Like David we are without excuse when we overlook, forget, or disregard the clearly prescribed instructions available to us in God’s inspired Word. Today God’s Word is available to us in unprecedented ways. God’s written Word is printed and available to more people than ever before in history. Through technology we can hear it on radio, IPhones and IPads, memory sticks and CDs, we can watch it on TV and DVD, we can hear and watch it on the Internet, we can  search and study it on computer in incredible ways. We have the ability to get the Word from almost any place on the planet by way of satellite. We’ve sent God’s Word into outer space. We can put the entire Bible on the head of a pin! God has increased human knowledge in these last days (Daniel 12:4). He has increased the capabilities of humanity in exponential ways. Humanity doesn’t always choose to use that increased knowledge in a righteous way; but the potential is there. God has spoken and He wants us to hear Him. God has made His Word available to just about everyone on planet earth. Yet too often the inspired revelation of God’s Word is set aside and even willfully excluded from our lives. The results have been spiritually catastrophic.

It was the Philistines who introduced the “new cart” pulled by oxen as a means of transporting the ark (1 Sam. 6:7-8). The Philistines were pagan worldlings. Worldly ways are not appropriate for those seeking to live worshipfully before God. Worldliness puts us out of sync with God. David tried to create a time of holy worship with abundant music around the “new cart.” The oxen stumbled. The cart tilted. And a man named Uzza reached out and touched the ark in an attempt to steady it and keep it from falling. The consequence was death.  The Bible says, “The anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzza, and He struck him because he put his hand to the ark; and he died there before God” (1 Chron. 13:10). The LORD is holy. There is none like Him. We need to approach Him in accordance with who He is, not in haphazard common ways.

David had lost sight of the holiness of God. How did he respond to what happened to Uzza? He reacted with anger and then fear; twin killers of spirituality. His proud heart was angry because his way of doing things was disrupted. But then he felt fear because he recognized his way was not acceptable to God. David felt distant from the LORD as evidenced by his saying, “How can I bring the ark of God to me?” (1 Chron. 13:12). Instead, he put the ark aside, in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.

It is unacceptable to the LORD to live or minister in ways not prescribed by Him. David had gotten off the course ordained by God. David’s actions showed spiritual shallowness. He didn’t care to seek guidance in God’s Word. His flesh, his sinful nature, was exposed when his parade was brought to a sudden halt. It was exposed by his angry reaction. The fear David felt was not reverential fear. He was “afraid of God” (1 Chron. 13:12). He was afraid of further consequences from God. This fear built up a wall between David and God. Failing to serve the LORD in ways the LORD had instructed led to a distancing of David from God. This is illustrated in the distance he kept the ark from his city. When you attempt to do things for God in worldly ways the result is a host of spiritually deadening effects.

Do you see any parallels between this account and what is going on in the church and many Christian lives today? The church is using all kinds of worldly methods in an attempt to do the work of God. The church is off the course ordained by God in His Word. We have become so seeker friendly that unsaved “seekers” are ruling the church! The answer to what plagues the church is not more demographic studies, marketing research, surveys, etc.; it is, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2). How many church leaders and Christians will read that verse and pooh-pooh it away as the ranting of a “narrow-minded” writer? Well, before they make light of that verse, they should remember that those words are inspired by God. They were delivered to us through one of the greatest men of all times, the apostle Paul. And those words still apply today. The Holy Bible is still holy. There is no other book like it. The Bible is not out of date or out of touch. The Bible is God’s Word for today. That is true every day in history as long as God permits us time to share it. The answer to our ills is God’s true gospel, not the “gospel” “according to man” (Gal. 1:11).

Christian, shut off Dr. Phil and Oprah. Turn off Judge Hatchet and Judge Judy. Lay down the newest self-help book. Cast aside the latest cotton-candy fluff book from those who shy away from anything that might offend anyone. Our standard should be the whole truth of God and nothing but the whole truth of God. Unhook your Philistine cart and stop wandering aimlessly. Go directly to God’s Word; do not stop. Follow His road map to life for life. God’s Word brings us to Jesus. It is only there at His feet that you will find what you are looking for. You need the true gospel based on the sound doctrine of God’s Word. We need God ordained experiences with Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

Today we are pulling a host of Philistine carts. Whenever we compromise and adopt worldly ways into our lives and ministries we are pulling a Philistine cart. The deadly results will be same for us as they were with David. As we seek to fit in with the world and do things like the world, using worldly ways, human ways, we distance ourselves from God. Holiness is defined as separate, distinct, and unique. Holiness is to be separated to God, or unto God, in order to be used by Him. The power of God will never be released in and through us until we set aside the ways of the world. We must turn to Him and His Word. It was the worldly Philistines who lived by chance and relegated themselves to die. It was the Philistines who thought up the “new cart” way to transport the ark of God. It was easier, and safer to put the ark on a cart and send it off pulled by cattle. But these “new” ways were no good as far as God was concerned. They were unholy and common. They had not been ordained by Him.

The point here is not to equate anything new with worldliness. Technology is new, but it is not necessarily worldly.  The Philistine cart was not a bad idea because it was a piece of modern technology in that day. There is nothing biblically wrong with using technology to spread the Word of God. In fact, modern technology can be a great asset to ministry. (You’re reading this computer generated teaching online!) Then what was the sin of David?  

David’s sin began when he failed to respect God by not consulting His Word. It was irreverence. In this particular case God’s Word had very specific instructions on how the ark was to be transported. David did not obey. He neglected God’s Word. He disregarded it. God’s holy Word should have been the first place he looked for instruction. In 1 Chronicles 13:1, “David consulted with . . . every leader” before he moved the ark. It seems the entire nation was ignorant concerning this issue or at least did not speak out. In planning the “parade,” David and his leaders apparently were more concerned with the music than God’s Word. Isn’t that like the church today? Music is important in worshipping God but it should never take priority over the Word of God.

David treated the ark of God in a common, secular way instead of a holy way.  He settled for the secular when he should have sought out the holy. At this point in time God’s Word was apparently not a priority in David’s life. That was sinful. That is exactly what Christians and much of the church is doing today. When we neglect to check God’s Word and proceed in our own wisdom, understanding, and worldly ways, we pull a Philistine cart.

Today it’s becoming harder and harder to distinguish Christians and the church from the world. Christians are in a frenzy to keep up with the fads and trends of the day. The church is carnal to its core. The fellowship of believers is so very fleshly. Churches package their messages in sharp-looking promotions based more on marketing than the holy manuscripts of God. We are so caught up in the package that we are forgetting the gift inside. Ministry has become more profane and common in its communication. We justify coarse language and methods that border on irreverence by saying we are just seeking to be relevant. But are we faithful to God and His Word? If we are living epistles what is the world reading in us and hearing from us? Do they see anything substantially different, distinct, and holy? Or do they simply see something that can’t be distinguished from the world? People in the world can smell a lukewarm Laodicean a mile away. When they look at you, are they seeing part of a parade line of Philistine carts?

The New Testament tells us that when we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord we are bought by God. We become “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). So let me ask you, what are you doing at the threshold of your temple? Are you following in the footsteps of Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas and committing spiritual adultery with the world at the door of your temple? When the world reads your life, is it cheap, common graffiti tattooed on the temple of the Holy Spirit? Or does the world see the Word of God lived out in your life? Have you given any thought or prayer to how the lost will read you? Have you gone to God’s Word for direction? Are you too weak to say or do anything? What about the Philistine carts in your life and in the lives of those around you? Have you superficially settled for the ways of this world? When was the last time you ministered with just a Bible in your hand? Are you casually pulling a Philistine cart? If so, death is working in you.

The account of the Philistine cart should cause us to consider our ways. Are you moving forward or backward in your relationship with the LORD?  Are you moving closer or farther away from the LORD? Are you on or off course with the LORD? How do you tell which way you are moving? If you are moving closer to the world you are moving away from the LORD. If you are more concerned with the things of the world than the things of God you are moving away from the LORD. If you settle for using the ways of the world without consulting the LORD and His Word you are moving away from the LORD. If you are moving away from the LORD you are backsliding. But if you are moving away from the world and care more about the way God has instructed us to do things, then you are moving forward. You are moving onward and upward. You are moving closer to the LORD. Which way are you going? Are you pulling a Philistine cart?

If you want to move in the right direction, you’ll have to take some decisive action. The remedy for Philistine carts in our lives is to bust them up, burn them up, and don’t build them up again (1 Sam. 6:14; 2 Sam. 6:3). The remedy is to get back on course and stay the course of God’s true gospel based on His Word. Go back and study the passages mentioned above. Study them prayerfully. Study them in context. Then ask the Spirit to search out any Philistine carts in your life. Ask God to apply His Word to your life.

David didn’t give up on bringing the ark of God to the City of David. He learned the hard lesson of trying to do the right thing for God but in the wrong way. David built up his city and “prepared a place for the ark of God” (1 Chron. 15:1). But this time He would stay on course. This time the Levites would carry the ark. David told the priests, “Sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it” (1 Chron. 15:12). Why this change in how the ark would be transported? David explains, “For because you did not do it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order” (1 Chron. 15:13). David went back to God’s Word, “and the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD” (1 Chron. 15:15). The key here is the phrase, “according to the word of the LORD.” Like David, we have to get back to God’s Word as our first and only guide for our lives and ministries.

Why is it that Christians and the church at large so casually think that living or doing ministry in worldly ways is acceptable to God? It is because they are pulling Philistine carts. And that is wrong. So what should you do? Get before the Lord and ask Him to search your heart and help you identify any Philistine carts in your life. Then ask Him to help you bust them up and burn them up and purpose to never build them up again. Get before the LORD and humbly ask Him to show you when and where you have gotten off course with Him and His Word. Then repent and make a personal commitment to stay the course and stick with the true gospel in the power of His Spirit. God help us in this task. 


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Judas Left, Jesus Loved.

“So, when he had gone out. . . .” – John 13:31a

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35


What are you living for? What is your life purpose? Can you narrow it down to a single thing? Are you living aimlessly? Or do you have a target, an objective that drives and directs you each day? Is it the right objective? Are you accomplishing that objective? If you do reach your objective do you receive a sense of accomplishment when you do or is there emptiness? If you do feel a sense of accomplishment does it last?

What is your desired heritage? What do you want to leave behind? When you die and people are parading past your open casket what will you want them to think of you? When you’re eulogized what will you want people to remember most about you? What will your legacy be? Will it be something like the following?

  • “They were good at making money”  
  • “They could really make a sale”
  • “They built a company”
  • “They were a hard worker; faithful in attendance; trustworthy on the job”
  • “They were brilliant”
  • “They could really argue their point”
  • “They furthered their cause”
  • “They were the best in their field”
  • “They built a mega church” 
  • “They wrote books”
  • “They were a great preacher; a great teacher”
  • “They could really add those souls-saved-notches to their belt”
  • “They were faithful”
  • “They gave everything away to the poor”
  • “They died a martyr’s death”
  • “They built a family”
  • “They put their kids through college”
  • “They overcame so many trials in life”
  • “They fought to the end”

I could go on and on. People are remembered for a lot of things. At funerals even scoundrels are presented in a favorable light (usually). But what would Jesus have us be remembered for? What does He care most about? In the end, when we stand before Jesus, what will He be looking for most in us? That is what I would like to consider in this teaching.

The last night Jesus would share with His disciples before he went to the cross He shared His heart with them. The last words of a dying man are packed with meaning. Whether their words are few or many, they contain profound messages. Last words voice the most important points the dying wish to make. Last words are a punctuation and often an exclamation to the life of the departing. John gives us the most details about Jesus’ last words to His disciples.

So, when he had gone out, . . .” (John 13:31a). Final words are sacred. Final words are usually made to a chosen few. Not everyone is privileged to be present when final words are uttered. Final words are for those most valued, most loved. Sometimes people choose to disregard or remove themselves from the privileged position of hearing one’s last words. To do that is the highest of slights. It is a statement that the one uttering the final words is not worth listening to. It is the ultimate disrespect. That is what Judas chose to do.

Judas departed to betray the love of his Master Jesus. Judas acted in the most unloving way. Judas left in His mastered hour of greatest need. But Jesus stays and begins to explain His greatest message. Jesus could have left the disciples. He could have run from the scene. He could have fled the cross. He could have run away. He had every reason to leave a group of people who persistently didn’t get His message or understand His mission. But Jesus stayed and loved. This final night began with the comment, “having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1). In thought, word and deed Jesus loved to the very end. Many times love is determined by whether or not we leave or stay. Love is quenched when a person leaves or betrays in some way. Judas left, Jesus loved, Judas betrayed, Jesus stayed.

“Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately.” (John 13:31b-32).  While Judas embarks on his devilish work, Jesus declares the glory of God in all of it. Satan thinks he is defeating Jesus. But in truth Satan is serving God’s purposes and ultimately will be used by God to work His greatest victory. For Jesus, the most important thing was not that He was betrayed or even that He would die, but that God would be glorified. Is that our greatest ambition and concern; that God would be glorified? It should be. But how do we glorify God? Jesus “is glorified, and God is glorified in Him” as He teaches and ultimately demonstrates His love.  

 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you.” (John 13:33). Jesus speaks to His disciples as spiritual children. There was an immaturity about them. They were missing something. They have reached their limit to follow Him as presently spiritually constituted. What were they missing? What were they lacking?

Jesus is going to the cross. The cross is the height of spiritual perfection. The cross of Christ is humanities’ basis for eternal life. The cross of Christ is the greatest demonstration and fulfillment of the love of God. And Jesus will now explain the purpose of what He is about to do at the cross. Jesus is going in a sense where no one else can go; the cross. But Jesus is also going in a sense where anyone who wants to experience His abundant life must go; the cross. But what is the cross all about? The disciples don’t yet get Jesus purpose. They need to understand the “why” of what Jesus is doing.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35). As Jesus prepares to go to the cross He expresses the motivation behind all that He is submitting Himself to go through. The pinnacle of Jesus last words to His disciples is “a new commandment I give you, that you love one another.” This new commandment is about love. But this wasn’t anything new. The Old Testament taught about love. Deuteronomy is an Old Testament book filled with exhortations to love God and love others (e.g. Deuteronomy 6:5; 11:1, 13; 13:3; 19:9; 30:6, 16, and 20). The Old Testament provides Gods’ instruction to love our neighbor (Leviticus 19:18). Song of Solomon and Hosea are love stories about God and His people. So in what way is Jesus teaching on love a new commandment?

This is a new commandment from Jesus in “that you love one another; as I have loved you.” Jesus was not talking about a stone cold law. Jesus was not talking about a touchy feely secular worldly love. Jesus lived a life that exemplified a costly self-giving, self-sacrificing love. He calls His disciples to love and He does not leave the nature of such love up to speculation. Jesus says, “as I have loved you.” The love we are to show others is the love of Jesus. And if we aren’t loving or willing to love like Jesus then we can’t progress in our spiritual maturing. Whenever we don’t love we stall and stand still in our walk with the Lord. Lack of love is what makes us spiritually childish.

If we want to look at the nature and definition of the love with which we, as Jesus’ disciples, are to love, we have to look at Jesus. How do we love like Jesus? When we look at the Gospel of John we see the love of Jesus in the following summary:

  1. Jesus demonstrated His love by leaving everything to reach those He loved – John 1:1-18
  2. Jesus demonstrated His love by inviting people to be His disciples and learn from Him by being with Him – John 1:35-42
  3. Jesus demonstrated His love by taking time to explain things to them – John 1:43-51
  4. Jesus demonstrated His love by attending events like weddings with people  - John 2
  5. Jesus demonstrated His love by meeting privately with people and sharing the gospel with them – John 3
  6. Jesus demonstrated His love by making time for sinners and talking with outcasts – John 4
  7. Jesus demonstrated His love by taking time to heal people – John 4:46-54; 5:1-15; 9:1-41
  8. Jesus demonstrated His love by feeding people physically – John 6
  9. Jesus demonstrated His love by teaching truth at the risk of being rejected – John 6
  10. Jesus demonstrated His love by pressing on in ministry even though family members opposed Him – John 7:1-36
  11. Jesus demonstrated His love by offering them refreshing in the Holy Spirit – John 7:37-39
  12. Jesus demonstrated His love with grace for those caught red handed in sin – John 8
  13. Jesus demonstrated His love by being a Good Shepherd to people – John 10
  14. Jesus demonstrated His love by weeping for them – John 11 (11:35)
  15. Jesus demonstrated His love by His willingness to accept a mission that required He die for them – John 12:27-36
  16. Jesus demonstrated His love by serving people in the lowliest of ways – John 13
  17. Jesus demonstrated His love by patiently teaching and preparing His disciples for His departure (with details on the Holy Spirit’s ministry -  John 14-16
  18. Jesus demonstrated His love by praying for people – John 17
  19. Jesus demonstrated His love by submitting to injustices and going to the cross – John 18-19
  20. Jesus demonstrated His love by receiving back those who had forsaken and betrayed Him – John 20-21

Looking at Jesus is the best way to understand what true love is all about.

Love is a willingness to die for those you love. Jesus’ love is a willingness to die for the object of your love. How is such love practically experienced? We may not ever have to actually give our lives in love. But to love like Jesus loved we do need to die to pride, die to complaints, die to ambition, and die to selfishness. To love like Jesus loved is to love in full surrender to the will of the Father. To love like Jesus is to pick up your cross and follow Him. To love like Jesus is to take everything you see as having worth and profit and value and nailing it to the cross for the sake of Jesus; and do it in love. The cross is a place of total trust. The cross is the place where we learn true love. There’s a reason why love-hearts are portrayed in blood red.  To love is to go to the cross.

There is another portion of scripture valuable to understanding Christ-like love. The apostle Paul describes Christ-like love when he writes his first letter to the church in Corinth. The Corinthian church had a big problem with their selfishness (i.e. the flesh). They were very gifted but also very immature in their walk with the Lord. “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal [i.e. fleshly; self-centered], as to babes in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1ff.).

The antidote to the flesh is the love the Spirit provides. When we look at the context of Paul’s great 1 Corinthian 13 chapter on love it is smack dab in the middle of his discussion of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12 and 14). The Corinthians were excited about spiritual gifts but they were missing the more important spiritual maturity depth and empowerment of the Spirit’s love. Therefore Paul addresses their immaturity. In chapter 13 of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians the Spirit directs him to write:

  • 1 Corinthians 13 (NKJV) - Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.


Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.


11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.


13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

When we look at this definition of love we notice that it is defined by what it “does” or “does not” do; love is an action. The greatest expression of such love is found in the supreme act of Jesus going to the cross. Love is a moving picture of Jesus. 

[Jesus] suffers long and is kind; [Jesus] does not envy; [Jesus] does not parade [Himself], is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek [His] own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [Jesus]  never fails.

Those words are a fifth gospel, a living testimony and biography of Jesus and His love. We learn what love is by looking to Jesus. He suffered long to lift us out of sin. There wasn’t an envious bone in His body. He told people to not tell others about His miraculous works. He was humble and couldn’t be provoked to think evil thoughts even by His coarsest enemies. He never ever did or ever would rejoice in evil but only rejoiced in the truth of God’s word. He bore all our sins on the cross. He believed in the redemptive mission of His Father. He believed and preached hope in the cross. He endured false accusations, lies, slaps, beatings, scourging, a crown of thorns, mocking, spit, and a long walk with the cross to crucifixion. He did that in love for love. He succeeded in paying the penalty and just requirements of God’s law in love on the cross. His greatest expression of that love is on the cross. Look to the cross if you want to know what His love is all about (e.g. Romans 5:8).

Love is the value of everything. Love is the essential ingredient to give earthly efforts an eternal value and worth. If there is something you should be willing to live for and die for and spend your life mastering, it is love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Love gives eternal worth to whatever it does. If you wash the floor with loveless resentment, the work loses all its potential eternal value. But if you wash the floor in love for the Lord and others, it takes on eternal worth. If you give your life in hate it’s meaningless. But if you give your life in love for the Lord and others, it is given eternal worth.  Love gives value to everything. Love is the value of everything.

Love patiently helps to bring others along. Christ-like love “suffers long and is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4a). “Suffers long” (Greek makrothymeo) means literally to be long-spirited. And it is paired with the word “kind” (Greek christeuomai) which means to show oneself useful or act benevolently to help. To be “kind” is to be like “Christ.” In the word “kind” Paul is literally saying love is being like Jesus!

The conjunction “and” between “long suffering and kind” is inserted by translators. In the original Greek it reads literally suffers-long-kind. Love starts with a spirit or attitude that is committed for the long haul with people. That’s important because the lessons of love and growing in love take a long time. It takes a lifetime to learn Christ-like love. Therefore, this love begins with awareness that to love involves time. This love starts with a commitment that will involve patiently coming alongside others and helping them along.  Such love was an essential ingredient in Jesus discipleship of His followers. In love Jesus patiently waited for His disciples to grow in their faith and preparation to lead.

This first ingredient of love is a priority because it establishes love with staying power. It takes time for people to grow in their faith. The patient staying persistent continued ongoing love of Jesus is what keeps people together to grow in His love. When you love like Jesus you work through problems you don’t give up or run away from them. Remember, Judas left and betrayed, Jesus stayed and loved.

Love helps others along and waits for them to catch up. Love not only waits for others to catch up, it grabs hold of them and helps them along. Practically this love is what holds a marriage together as both spouses grow together. This love is the love that enables the parent to wait for the child to grow and learn their life lessons. This love is what enables pastors to disciple their congregations and help them along to spiritual maturity. This love is what enables teachers to tutor their students to learn their lessons. Love is why Jesus waits for us to grow in our faith. Thank God for His patient love.

When you love like Jesus you care enough to sacrifice and endure and work, really work to be one with others. There would be fewer divorces in our world if spouses really took their vows to heart and truly loved each other. There would be a lot fewer church splits and people leaving churches if the love of the Spirit was truly experienced and lived out. This suffer-long-kind patient loving kindness aspect of love is where love begins. You really can’t experience and build with what follows until by faith you commit to this first prime foundational part of love. Love starts with total commitment to “strengthen the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees,” to leave no person behind. Love begins with a spirit of love to, “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Hebrews 12:12; Gal. 6:2). This is the beginning of love. When was the last time you actually helped someone rather than simply criticize them?

Love is not materially oriented. Christ-like love doesn’t envy (1 Corinthians 13:4b). The person who loves like Jesus doesn’t look at others and wish it had what they have. When you love like Jesus you are satisfied with what God gives you. Christ-like love isn’t possession or materially oriented. It doesn’t measure love or communicate love with things but with relationship. When was the last time you complimented someone about a blessing they received?

Love is genuine. Christ-like love doesn’t parade itself or present a puffed up image of itself (1 Corinthians 13:4c). Love isn’t about presenting yourself to others in a way that draws attention to you. When you love like Jesus loves you don’t put on a show or see loving as merely acting a certain way. Christ-like love is something you are not only something you do. It’s genuine and flows from the heart; from inside. When was the last time you determined to do something in the background and not maneuver to be in the spotlight?

Love values others. Christ-like love isn’t rude (1 Corinthians 13:5a). Love respects others and speaks to them in a way that shows others are valued. Love doesn’t treat other people as tools to be used or a means to an end. When you love like Jesus you put your arm around people and join them to you and bring them along, you don’t step through them or push them out of the way to get where you want to go. When was the last time you caught and stopped yourself from making a sarcastic remark and instead interjected a word that built up someone? When was the last time you were purposefully polite? 

Love isn’t selfish, it’s selfless. Christ-like love doesn’t seek its own (1 Corinthians 13:5b). Love seeks the best for others even at the expense of its own desires. When you love like Jesus you don’t use people to get what you want. When you love like Jesus you sacrifice yourself so others can attain their best. Christ-like love is others oriented. Jesus went to the cross for you and for me. When was the last time you did something that benefited you in no way?

Love is humble enough to receive correction. Christ-like love isn’t provoked (1 Corinthians 13:5c). Love is humble and doesn’t proudly take criticism as a personal attack. When you love like Jesus you welcome correction and are teachable. Your top priority is identifying anything in you that may be a detriment to His love fully being in you. Therefore you welcome counsel and teaching and see it as a great benefit to helping you learn to love more. When was the last time you took criticism without defending yourself?

Love thinks healthy loving not rotten unloving thoughts.  Christ-like love doesn’t think in evil ways (1 Corinthians 13:5d). Love guards the mind from sinful thoughts that are contrary to the way Jesus would have you think. “Evil” (Greek kakos) means literally depraved, rotten, bad, harmful, ill, wicked. When you love like Jesus you don’t settle for doing things in unloving ways. When you love like Jesus you are spiritual healthy because your thought-life is governed by Jesus and His love. When was the last time you replaced a rotten unloving thought with a creative thought of how to express your love to someone?  

Love enjoys truth. Christ-like love doesn’t take joy in sin but takes joy in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). Love speaks and lives by truth (Ephesians 4:15). A person who loves you will love you enough to share the truth with you even if it may hurt you. But they will be grieved at your hurt. And if you truly love like Jesus you will receive loving correction. When you love like Jesus you don’t get your happiness (“rejoice” – Greek chairo a calm sense of well-being; cheerfulness; happiness) from sinful things but from things that are truthful according to God’s word (compare John 17:17). When was the last time you actually rejoiced in a truth of God’s word?

Love covers faults. Love is willing to overlook or patiently work through faults (their own faults or the faults of others). Christ-like love bears all things (1 Corinthians 13:7a). To “bear” (Greek stego) means to roof over, cover, endure patiently in silence. In other words, when you love like Jesus you aren’t preoccupied with pointing out every fault of every person. A friend who loves you will have your back even when you mess up. When you love like Jesus you are willing to put up with the faults of others as they grow in their faith. When was the last time you actually protected someone from an embarrassing misstep instead of self-righteously calling them on it?

It says bears “all things.” When you love like Jesus you aren’t a chronic complainer. Loving like Jesus silently bears hardship. That doesn’t mean you never address problems. It does mean you are more apt to silently entrust your circumstances to the Lord than always rise up to defend yourself. To love means you will put up with the trials of life for the sake of Christ. To love means you will press on even when injustices are inflicted on you. When you love like Jesus you press on even when you don’t understand why certain things are being allowed by God. Our love for Jesus and the love of Jesus gets us through the dark times, the times of unknowing, the wildernesses of life.

Love is faithful. Christ-like love believes all things (1 Corinthians 13:7b). When you love like Jesus you love in faith. When you love with Jesus’ love you trust every situation and every person to Him. When you love like Jesus with his love you give people the benefit of the doubt. Love doesn’t assume the worst it assumes the best about people. Love trusts that Jesus is working in people. When was the last time you believed in someone or something?

Love is hopeful. Christ-like love hopes all things (1 Corinthians 13:7c). Love is always hopeful that God is working out His plans and that it will come to pass. When you love like Jesus your focus is on His promises and you trust in Jesus to fulfill them. When was the last time you hoped in Jesus and His love in a situation?

Love is willing to take risks. Christ-like love endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7d). Living with a Christ-like love puts you in a vulnerable position. To love is risky. When you love this way the risk is that people will not love you back or they will take advantage of you. When you love selflessly like this there is a risk of being hurt or broken by others who abuse your love. People may look down on you because of your love, manipulate your love, or crucify you because of your love. But if you are seeking to love like Jesus you will love even when it involves risk. When was the last time your love took a risk?

Love is triumphant. Christ-like love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8a). This love is worth the risk. This love is our purpose in life. This love of Christ must compel us (2 Corinthians 5:14-16). This love is what Jesus wants for us. This love is what He uses the ingredients of our life to create in us. This love is what makes us ready for heaven. When was the last time you loved through to victory?

Love is the mark of success. This love transcends the worth of all other spiritual gifting (1 Corinthians 13:8b). Anything and everything we do in our lives for Jesus must be done with this kind of love. Whatever we do apart from His love will fail as far as He is concerned. We may build big churches and argue people into praying a prayer of salvation or agreeing with our doctrine, but if it isn’t according to the love of Christ it is worthless. If you were to measure who you are and what you do by love, how much of who you are or what you do would be of eternal worth?

Love is the measure of spiritual maturity. This love is the sign of spiritual maturity (1 Corinthians 13:9-12). Without Christ’s love we are incomplete Christians. Love is the essential “part” of who we are and what we do. Love is the measure of spiritual maturity; it perfects us. Love is the difference between a spiritual child and being a spiritual adult. It isn’t until we love that we see clearly. How spiritually mature are you based on the amount of love in your life?

This love is the greatest! (1 Corinthians 13:13). There’s nothing more important than love. Love is what Jesus wants us to learn above everything else. Love is the greatest quality. Love is the greatest commodity. Get love! It’s the greatest! Are you living your life for what is greatest in God’s eyes; love?

This love is from the Spirit. Jesus’ kind of love is not easy to live by. That kind of love will be opposed at every step by our flesh, the world and the devil. That is why Jesus follows this call to love like Him in John 13 with His primary teaching on the Holy Spirit in John 14, 15, and 16. The Holy Spirit pours God’s love into our heart (Romans 5:5). The Holy Spirit bears the fruit of Jesus’ love in us (Galatians 5:22-24). Therefore Jesus is really preparing and calling His disciples to an abundant life of love in the Spirit.

Love is the mark of Jesus. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Jesus doesn’t say you will be known as His disciples by the size of your bank account, the size of your house, the size of your family or the size of your church. The church is not a corporation it is a manifestation of His love. It is love, the particular love of Jesus that His disciples will be known by. If there is one thing, one message, one way of life, one memorial, one legacy to leave behind, if there is one thing to have people remember you by, it should be LOVE; the love of Christ. This should be our goal, our purpose, our reason for being and living. To be known as Jesus disciples by the love you show for one another is the ultimate goal of a disciple of Jesus. Truly “His banner over me” needs to be “love” (Song of Solomon 2:4). Are you known by Jesus’ mark of love? Is “love” the first thing people think of when they think of you?

Love people into the kingdom of God. We need to love people into the kingdom of God. We need to love sinners and saints. We have to stop kicking people to the curb and start picking them up and helping them along, We need to help people to Jesus in love. We need to help people see Jesus and have a deeper and more enduring walk with Jesus in love. Love must permeate everything we do and everything we are known by. Truly a disciple of Jesus should love like Jesus loved. The love of Jesus in a disciple should be a fragrant aroma, sensed by all, wherever they are. A disciple of Jesus who loves like Jesus is accessible like Jesus, tirelessly and selflessly serving like Jesus and willing to wash feet and go to the cross like Jesus. Look at Jesus in the gospels and love like that. Be known as Jesus disciple by the love of Jesus. When was the last time you loved someone into the kingdom of God?

I want to finish with a final word of caution and challenge. We can learn what something is by seeing the contrast of it. Judas is a contrast to Jesus. We need to see that. Too often there is a spirit of Judas in us. We need to identify and forsake that evil loveless spirit. Jesus taught his disciples about His new commandment of Christ-like love on the heels of Judas’ departure to betray Him. Jesus was fully aware of what Judas had left to do. When people examine Judas they sometimes see him in a sympathetic light. They speculate he was only trying to force Jesus’ hand to confront the Romans and Jewish leadership in order to defeat them and establish His kingdom. People look at Judas and assume his intentions were good; it was his method that was sinful. I contend that Judas willfully opened his heart to the devil. He is culpable for what he did. Judas left before Jesus’ teaching on His new commandment of love and the role of the Holy Spirit because he wasn’t interested in that teaching. Judas left, Jesus loved, Judas betrayed, Jesus stayed.

Judas betrayed Jesus because of pride. Why wasn’t Judas interested in Jesus’ teaching? Because at some point Judas came to thinking he knew better than Jesus. Pride was involved (and pride goes before destruction – Proverbs 16:18). At some point the student thought he knew more than the Teacher. Pride is presumptuous. Pride is always at the root of betrayal. Pride is especially at the root of betraying authority or leaders. But there is something more sinister, more devilish, and more demonic at the root of Judas’ betraying treacherous act.  

Judas stopped loving Jesus. Judas actions indicate a decision to reject Jesus’ love. We don’t know if Judas ever did love Jesus. But his actions betray the fact that Judas rejected Jesus love personally and in principle. Judas was unwilling to take up his cross. Judas wanted nothing to do with the cross of Christ. He didn’t think about patiently waiting for Jesus’ plan to pan out. Instead Judas was impatient about the plan and mission of Jesus (and that’s being generous). It’s likely Judas envied Jesus popularity just like the religious leaders did. Judas paraded and puffed up himself when he presented himself as knowing better than Jesus. He certainly did not value Jesus as a Person. He certainly sought his own profit in selling Jesus out for money. In his pride the mission plan of Jesus provoked him. To allow Satan to enter you is the height of thinking evil. His act was the height of sin and at some point he chose to rejoice in his decision not the truth of Jesus. He refused to bear what Jesus taught. He stopped believing in Jesus. He gave up hoping in Jesus. He wasn’t willing to endure and follow through on Jesus call and mission plan. His love failed. Judas’ never matured spiritually because he discarded the love Jesus offered. Judas refused to believe that the love of Jesus is the greatest (compare to 1 Corinthians 13). Judas left, Jesus loved, Judas betrayed, Jesus stayed. At the heart of Judas’ betrayal is lovelessness.

Beware a spirit of Judas. Whenever we act in unloving ways we are acting more like Judas than Jesus. Life is filled with choices about whether or not to love. Life if filled with forks in the road. We can take the path of Judas and leave and betray or we can take the path of Jesus and love and stay on His way. The choice is before you. What will you live for? What will you die for? What legacy will you leave behind? Judas left, Jesus loved. What will you do? Me? I’m opting for staying and loving. When I pass from this realm to the next, I want people to remember me for the love of Jesus. I hope and pray you too choose to live a life of love “as I have loved you.”