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Jesus Wants You to Know That Powerful is Normal

John 14:7–14 (NASB95) — 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, 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 the Father. 13 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

 

I am a proud graduate of the University of Memphis. I began attending shortly after its name was changed from Memphis State University. Founded in 1912, the university was first called West Tennessee Normal School. A Normal School is a Teacher’s college. These schools trained future teachers according to specific norms and standards.

We understand norms and standards. No one would use a doctor who didn’t attend and graduate from medical school. Many professions require certification and testing to work in that field. These expectations ought to lead us, as believers, to ask a few questions.

What is standard for our relationship with Christ? What is normal Christianity?

As He spoke to His disciples on the night of His arrest, Jesus described Christianity as knowing God (John 14:7). He told His disciples that “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.” Prompted by this statement, Philip asked Jesus to reveal the Father. In response, Jesus described His unity with the Father. Jesus, God the Son, didn’t do works according to His own initiative. Rather, the Father, who abided in Him, did the works.

Jesus continued in 14:12, “Truly, truly, 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 the Father.” How could that be possible? Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and calmed the storm. He spoke with a supernatural authority. What did He mean?

Jesus spoke about a post-Pentecost world. He was telling the disciples, and all believers, that their Christian lives should be powerful. For example, the largest number of Christians the Bible mentions before Pentecost is just over 500 (1 Corinthians 15:6). Yet, in Acts 2:41, Luke tells us that three thousand people responded in faith to a single sermon. By Acts 4:4, the number of Christian men increased to about five thousand. Greater works indeed.

Are you living with power? Do you experience the greater works? Most of us would say no. While we love Jesus, we rarely see genuinely powerful experiences such as Pentecost. Why is that? The answer is simple—we are not living according to God’s will.

Jesus explained the origin of power in the Christian life. He said in John 14:13-14, “Whatever you ask in my name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in My name, I will do it.” Praying in Jesus’ name provides spiritual power. His name represents His character, His nature, and His will. In 1 John 5:13-15, John put it this way, “13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

If we aren’t living according to Jesus’ will, then we won’t experience God’s power. Power, which should be our norm or standard, will be absent from our lives. This absence requires us to repent of those sins that sap the supernatural power we should experience.

If your prayer life is dry, then it might be that you are living outside of God’s will. If you’ve failed to see non-Christians become Christians, perhaps personal rebellion has impacted your witness. We desire to see prayers answered and people saved. If we aren’t seeing those things, then we need to look at ourselves.

Since God doesn’t change, then we should be experiencing His power like Jesus’ early followers. We may not see thousands come to Christ in a single sermon, but we ought to see God working. If He isn’t, then it’s on us, not God. Our lack of submission to God’s will has short-circuited our spiritual power.

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Jesus Wants You to Know That Heaven is Waiting

John 13:31–14:6 (NASB95) — 31 Therefore when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; 32 if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately. 33 “Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” 36 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.” 37 Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times. 1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “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. 4 “And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Christians love to sing, talk, and think about Heaven. During my first pastorate, we would occasionally have a favorite hymn service. We were a small congregation, so members would call out what hymn they wanted to sing. Most of those songs were about Heaven. We find comfort in eternity, but we must wait for it. How do we wait for Heaven? What do we do while we wait? How do we prepare?

After Judas left the Last Supper, Jesus began an important conversation with the remaining eleven disciples. These men would change the world within the next sixty years, but in that moment they needed to hear from their Lord to prepare for the future.

The moment for His glorification had arrived. After three years of ministry, the time for His death, burial, and resurrection had come. Within hours, He would suffer and three days later be raised.

Jesus told His disciples they would look for, but not find Him. He was going to a place they couldn’t. These words confused the eleven, but before they could ask His meaning, Jesus gave a new command. The disciples were to love one another as Jesus loved them.

This command may sound strange to us. After all, doesn’t the Old Testament also speak about loving others? Why would Jesus say this command was new? The key phrase is “even as I have loved you (v. 34).” Jesus told His men that they were to love one another sacrificially. Within hours, Jesus would lay down His life for the world. He challenged the disciples to love one another this completely.

God still commands us to love one another with a Christ-like love. This love sacrifices self for the sake of others, specifically other believers. While we are certainly called to love the world, Jesus gave this command to a Christian group. Fortunately, when we love one another sacrificially, the world notices. Jesus said in verse 35, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The disciples didn’t understand Jesus. They focused on His departure. Peter and Thomas asked about Jesus’ destination. Peter wanted to go. Thomas wanted to know the way.

When Peter claimed to want to go with Jesus, he said he would lay down his life for the Lord. Jesus informed Peter of his impending failure. Peter would not obey the new command. Instead, He would deny Jesus three times.

Jesus didn’t let those weighty words remain in the air for long. He immediately began to speak about the comfort of His destination. John 14:1-3 has encouraged many grieving families, but in context these words were given to distraught disciples. Eventually, the disciples would go where Jesus was going, but He had to go first to prepare.

Thomas asked one of the most important questions in the Bible. He wanted to know about the place Jesus was preparing. In response, Jesus pronounced His uniqueness: He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the only way to Heaven. The truth about Christ is the only saving truth. Only the eternal can live in Heaven. Salvation through Christ exclusively grants eternality.

Christians typically use John 14:1-6 for comfort during loss. However, when seen in the larger context of John 13:31-14:6, the main idea is love. Of course, Heaven encourages Christians. Yet, while we wait to see Jesus face to face, He has commanded us to love one another sacrificially.

Jesus Wants You To Know That Evil Destroys

John 13:18–30 (NASB95) — 18 “I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘HE WHO EATS MY BREAD HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME.’ 19 “From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He. 20 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” 21 When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.” 22 The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking. 23 There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 So Simon Peter gestured to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.” 25 He, leaning back thus on Jesus’ bosom, said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus then answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him. 29 For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast”; or else, that he should give something to the poor. 30 So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night.

 

Tragic characters dominate literature and popular culture. From Hamlet to Anakin Skywalker to Gollum, we understand that not all famous stories end well. The Bible contains several tragic figures. Lot, Moses, Samson, and Gideon stumbled. Sadly, one person stands out—Judas Iscariot.

We don’t know much about Judas. The Bible doesn’t tell us about his call to follow Jesus. There are different opinions about his name’s meaning. We first learn about him in Matthew 10:4. Whatever his background and calling, Scripture consistently mentions Judas’ betrayal of Christ.

Judas was present for the entirety of Jesus’ ministry. In Acts 1:21-22, Peter gives the requirements for Judas’ replacement. The new apostle had to be someone who “accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us—beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us.” Judas saw Jesus’ miracles, heard his sermons, and lived daily with the Savior. He saw Lazarus raised. He heard the Sermon on the Mount. He experienced the calming of the storm. Yet, he betrayed Christ. A tragic tale indeed.

After Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, He explained that they should also serve one another humbly. Immediately after that explanation, Jesus pointed out that one of them would betray Him. Peter, ever the alpha male, motioned to John to ask Jesus the betrayer’s identity. Jesus identified Judas with a piece of food. Tragically, Satan then entered Judas. Jesus told him to follow through with his plan. Judas left, with the others not knowing why.

Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Judas felt remorse after betraying Jesus. In his guilt, he hanged himself. According to Acts 1:18-19, his body decayed, fell from the rope, and burst open. In a culture emphasizing proper burial, Judas’ body was desecrated.

We can take three lessons from Judas’ sad life.

First, we must not continually rebel against God’s Word. Judas spent over three years with Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God and His words are the Words of God. Judas heard these words every day. He heard the sermons and the parables. He heard the authority in Jesus’ voice when casting out demons or calming the storm. He was there when Jesus instructed the disciples not to take their money bags when preaching to the nation of Israel. Yet, Judas betrayed Jesus.

Second, we must stop any secret sin. John 12:6 tells us that Judas stole from the money box during Jesus’ ministry. The disciples only discovered this after his betrayal. On the outside, everything appeared normal. Yet, his secret actions telegraphed his later behavior.

Third, we must not pretend to be something we are not. The other disciples did not suspect Judas at all. He acted just as they did. Nothing appeared to be wrong. To play at being a follower of Christ is to defy the very God we claim to follow.

Judas chose to betray Christ. After years of being daily by the Lord’s side, his choices made him a tool of Satan. What a tragedy.