The Way: Persecution & Help

 

Jesus taught his friends a little about how he would help them in the midst of persecution (216).

“When the world hates you, remember that the world hated me first. If you belonged to the world, then the world would love you. But I’ve called you to love God & to be separate from this world; that’s why the world hates you.

“Remember that I told you: ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ So if the world persecutes me, the world will definitely persecute you, too.

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“But, if people do the things I’ve taught, then people will do the things you teach, too, because you are connected to me!  They may not have known God, but through me they can know God, and through you they can know me.

“The people of this world would never have understood that they are guilty of their sins before God – unless I had taught them this, and unless I had done miracles among them.  But now, the people of this world can no longer plead innocence of their guilt before God.

“Nevertheless, many people will still choose to love themselves & hate me.  And anyone who hates me hates God also! This simply fulfills what was written in the inspired scriptures: ‘They hated me for no reason at all.’

“But in the midst of all this persecution, the Holy Spirit will help you bear fruit for God.  I will send the Spirit to you from God.  He will continue to teach you about me, so you can continue to teach others about me.  I chose you from the very beginning for this very purpose – to be my witnesses.

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“I have told you many things about God & his plan for you.   Remember everything I’ve taught you, and hold on to your faith in me — even though people of the world will persecute you because of your faith in me!

“They will expel you from the synagogues, and they will even kill you, thinking they are serving God! They’ll think that way because they do not really know God & they do not really know me.”

Jesus, please help us to love sharing in Your suffering.

(216) John 15:18-16:3

The Way: How To Be Joyful

 

In the gardens on the Mount of Olives, Jesus continued teaching the eleven chosen witnesses (214).

“I am the true vine, the real vine, and God is the gardener. God breaks off every branch of mine that does not bear fruit.  And God trims every branch of mine that does bear fruit, so that it will be able to bear even more fruit. Now, you have been trimmed already by the things I have taught you, so you are definitely ready to bear much fruit.

“Stay connected to me, and I will stay connected to you. This is very important, because you know a branch can’t bear fruit by itself; it can only bear fruit if it stays connected to the vine. In the same way, you can’t bear fruit unless you stay connected to me. As long as we stay connected, you will be able to bear much fruit.

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“But anyone who doesn’t stay connected to me will wither & die.  When that happens to branches, they are gathered up and thrown into the fire.

“If you stay connected to me & if you remember all that I’ve taught you, then you will receive whatever you ask for. God’s glory is revealed when you bear much fruit, so God will give you whatever will help you do that.

“I love you completely, the same way that God loves me.  I’m telling you this because I want you to experience the same joy in my love that I experience in God’s love.

“The way you stay connected to my love & experience this joy is by doing the things I’ve told you. That’s exactly how I stay connected to God – by doing the things he has told me.”

Jesus, please help us to love the joy that comes from obeying You.

(214) John 15:1-11

The Way: The Only Way

 

Then Jesus asked his chosen witnesses a question (211).  “When I sent you out that time without money or clothes, did you lack anything?” “Not a thing,” they answered.

“But now the situation is different,” Jesus said. “Any of you who has money must take it.  And you should also take a sword this time. The inspired scriptures, which say, ‘He shared the fate of criminals,’ will now come true about me.” Some of the witnesses said, “Here are two swords, Master.” “Your obedience is sufficient,” Jesus replied.

“I don’t want you to worry about any of the coming challenges. Just keep believing in God & in me.  In God’s house there are many rooms; I’m going there to prepare a place for you. You know I wouldn’t tell you this, if it wasn’t true.

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“After all is prepared, I’ll come back for you.  Then I’ll take you with me & we’ll be together again. You already know the narrow way that leads to where I’m going.”

Thomas said to him, “Master, we don’t know where you’re going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus chided him gently, “After all this time, don’t you get it, Thomas?  I am the way, the truth, and the life; the only way to God is with me. Because you know me, you know God.”

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But Philip still didn’t quite get it, so he asked, “Master, won’t you please show God to us?” Jesus simply replied, “I am in God and God is in me, so if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen God!”

LORD, please help us to love following Jesus to You, forever.

(211) Luke 22:35-38, John 14:1-14

Faith Will Sometimes Fail

 

Then Jesus changed the mood (210).  “Tonight, all of you will desert me; as the inspired scriptures say, ‘God will kill the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

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“But, after I am raised to life, I will meet you in Galilee.”

Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “I will never desert you, even if all the rest do!”

Jesus replied, “Listen, Satan will test all of you.  And before the rooster crows tomorrow, you, Peter, will deny knowing me  — three times!

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“But” Jesus continued, “I have prayed for you — that your faith will not fail completely. And when you return to me, strengthen your brothers.”

Peter again insisted, “But Master, I am ready to go to prison with you. I will never desert you, even if I have to die with you!”

And all the other chosen witnesses said the same thing.

Jesus, please help us to love returning to You, whenever our faith fails.

(210) Matthew 26:31-35, Mark 14:27-31, Luke 22:31-34, John 13:36-38

The Way: Lead By Serving

 

Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and return to God (207). But it was hard, because he dearly loved the chosen witnesses who had stayed with him for three years.

Jesus rose from the table, took a towel, and poured some water into a basin.  Then he began to wash the feet of his students.

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Peter was surprised & asked Jesus, “Are you going to wash my feet, Master?” Jesus replied, “I know you don’t understand what I’m doing now, but you will understand soon.”

Peter declared, “But it’s not right for you to wash my feet!” “If you won’t learn this lesson,” Jesus said, “you will no longer be my student.”

Peter immediately changed his tune: “Master, don’t just wash my feet! Wash my hands & head, too!” But Jesus replied, “No, it’s only necessary that your feet be washed.”

After Jesus had washed their feet, he returned to his place at the table. “Do you understand what I have just done to you? You call me teacher & master, and that is what I am.

“So if I, your teacher & master, have washed your feet, then you must be willing to wash one another’s feet. I have set an example for you; you must serve others as I have served you.

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“No slave is greater than his master, and no messenger is greater than the one who sent him.

“Now that you have been taught this, you must put this into practice.  You must serve others as I have served you.”

Jesus, please help us to love serving other people.

(207) John 13:1-17

The Way: How Far Must Love Go?

 

The day came for his last Passover meal, so Jesus sent Peter & John to make the necessary preparations (206).

“Where do you want us to get it ready?” they asked him. Jesus answered, “As you go into the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him home & say to the owner of that house: ‘The teacher has asked you to show us the room where he & his students may eat the Passover meal.’ That man will then show you a large furnished room upstairs – which is where you must make everything ready.”

So Peter & John went & found everything just as Jesus had told them, and they made the necessary preparations for the Passover meal.

At the set hour that evening, Jesus took his place at the table with his chosen witnesses. He said to them, “I am glad to share this Passover meal with you, before I suffer. But I will not eat this meal until we are together in heaven.”

Then Jesus took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, and gave it to the witnesses, saying, “This bread is my body, which I sacrifice for you. Whenever you eat, remember that God wants your life to be sacrificed in love for other people, just as mine has been for you.”

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Then Jesus took a cup, gave thanks to God, and said, “Take this and share it among you. This cup is my blood, which I pour out for you.  Whenever you drink, remember that God wants your life to be poured out in love for other people, just as mine has been for you.”

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Jesus, please help us to love sacrificing our lives for others, as You sacrificed Your life for us.

(206) Matthew 26:17-20 & 26-29, Mark 14:12-17 & 22-25, Luke 22:7-20

The Plot Thickens

 

Later that evening, Jesus again told his chosen witnesses (203), “In two days, during the Passover Festival, I will be arrested & sentenced to be crucified.”

At the same time, the chief priests & the elders met together in the palace of Caiaphas, the High Priest; they plotted to arrest Jesus & arrange for his execution. “We must not do it during the Passover Festival,” they said, “or the people will riot.”

Satan had begun to control the thoughts & feelings & actions of Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve chosen witnesses.

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So Judas offered to betray Jesus to the chief priests & the officers of their temple guard. They were very pleased, so they agreed to pay Judas thirty silver coins.

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The agreement was made, and Judas started looking for an opportunity for the officials to arrest Jesus, without the people knowing about it.

LORD, please help us to love relying on Your Spirit to overcome our sin.

(203) Matthew 26:1-5 & 14-16, Mark 14:1-2 & 10-11, Luke 22:1-6