Category Archives: Biblical

The Father’s Chief Servant

(from John 13.1-17)

Jesus and His followers have survived a week of conflict; a week which built the antagonism of His enemies to the brink of boiling over into the anger and violence of His arrest. Now come brief moments of strengthening calm before the raging eruption of an evil that will end with Jesus’ death by crucifixion.

Those disciples have traveled every day, listened to His passionate teachings but without any realization they, too, will face that boiling over—and face it soon. They’re tired, they’re dirty, they’re befuddled and cranky and clueless.

But the Christ knows the full impact of what they face; the Messiah knows what must be done; Jesus knows what these men will need for them to survive the coming onslaught. So, as the Father’s Chief Servant, He fills a basin with water, straps a towel round his waist, and fills the role of a house slave. Jesus washes the dirt from their tired feet, massaging them dry with a towel, and restoring a measure of relaxation, of calm, probably praying for each man as He worked, knowing what each one—including Judas—would face in the coming days, how he would respond, what Satan wanted in his life, the decisions he would make, who he would turn to for comfort, how quickly he would believe Jesus was alive again, and what his influence would be after he realized Jesus truly was Master of all, including death and life. So Jesus prayed. Their Messiah mediated with the Father on their behalf, then He challenged them to do the same for each other.

Restoring the weary, challenging the complacent, bringing peace to the befuddled, interceding for those in the midst of the battle and for those facing antagonism, oppression, fear, and decision. By His actions, the Chief Servant instructed those in the house [of the body] what it means to serve each other, to be a true slave of their divine Master.

Fool Me the Second Time, p3 of 3

Familiar chatter invited me to settle into their midst as though no angry words or time had passed between us. John grinned at me and passed bread across the table, then he winked at his brother, James, and said, “Think he’s ready?” Left me a little wary, ya know.

The meal over, the storytelling started. Men and women, alike, were scattered here and there around the room, wherever they could find a seat. We listened to James and John or John and Peter argue over the telling of one story then another, always ending with laughs.

I felt it at first—a chill in the air that made the chatter fade. Simone straightened. Mary glanced toward the door. Andrew’s laughter receded and, as I glanced toward him, a presence stood in front of me—brighter than a flash of lightning. My heart lurched. My pulse raced. Boom! I was on my knees and on my face.

“Peace be with you.” The words caused that familiar stirring in my gut. It was Him, but it couldn’t be.

I looked up into the face I could never forget. He was solemn but gentle.

“Reach here with your finger, Thomas, and see my hands.”

His hands? There they were, right in front of me. Powerful, tender fingers and a gaping wound beginning to scar—and then I heard the echo of my own hasty words. ‘Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails—put my finger into the place of the nails….’

He had heard me. He had known.

He pulled aside His tunic. “Reach here your hand and put it into my side.”

‘…fantasies. If you can’t see it, touch it, inspect it … try to produce … try to conjure….’ Those words jumped back at me. Is there something real you can’t touch or see? Andrew’s laughter. Mary’s joy. The kindness of everyone to receive me, to forgive me.

“Be not unbelieving,” Jesus said, “but believing.”

The door in my mind opened and light poured in. I knew. “My Lord, and my God!”

He reached down a hand with a hole in it and lifted me to my feet. “Because you have seen Me, Thomas, have you believed? Happiest are they who did not see, and yet believe.”

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Fool Me the Second Time, p2 of 3

Nothing. That’s what we had left of those three years. So, may as well get on with life—and I did.

The family business had prospered while I was gone. It was good to sit again at my mother’s table, to see my niece ready for her bridegroom and my brother read Torah in the synagogue.

But, well, yeah, after a few days I began to miss Andrew’s laughter. Those at home hadn’t seen the storm immediately stop or those fish and barley loaves just keep dividing and dividing. They hadn’t felt the stirring in their gut at the sound of Jesus’ voice as He boasted about how deep His Father’s love is—for each of us! Amazing. It still, ya know, causes my breathing to get a little shakey.

Yeah, those people at home are dear to me, ya know, but they couldn’t remind me of what Jesus meant when He talked about sowing seeds, or couldn’t repeat the stories of how the lost were found. So now I find myself back in Jerusalem, evading pistachio baskets carried atop the heads of slave girls and dodging children running through the dust.

I wonder how many of the guys are still holed up. Ha! If they ran like they had the night He was arrested, they’ll all be clear to—but, you’re right. I ran, too. Ran fast, ran hard. Didn’t have a clue where I was headed. Guess I still don’t.

I heard the singing and Andrew’s laughter even before I entered the dark, narrow passageway. Lamp light spilled from the window slits and poured out the wide-open entry. I had almost reached the pool of light when Mary appeared in the doorway.

“Thomas!” Mary called as I stepped up to her. “Look everyone! Thomas has returned.”

I helped bar the door—gave me seconds to control the surge of joy that threatened to choke me.

“Thomas,” Andrew called. “We’ve kept your place for you. Come, the fish is ready to serve. Get yours before Peter does.” He ended with that laugh.

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Fool Me the Second Time, p1 of 3

I’m not going to believe it. No way. Try to fool me the second time? Think again!

And how could someone come back from the grave? It’s crazy. Good solid earth, wood for a fire, and heavy coinage. That’s what you can depend on.

Oh, sure, we’d seen Lazarus raised. He was different afterwards, that’s for sure. Couldn’t quite wrap his words around what death had been like—was almost disappointed to be back up, walking around.

But he’d had Jesus there to do the life-giving. Jesus could do that kind of thing. We saw it more than once. Now Jesus was dead. What was He going to do? Raise Himself?!

No. He’s gone. Had to face it. It’s over. It’d been a wild ride for three years, but it was over. I had learned a lot, seen a lot during those years—things, to be honest, I still can’t explain: a Roman centurion bowing to Him, the walking on water. Everything He said, happened. Boom! But there ya go. Ya see, that was Jesus. Things were just different with Him.

They said, the other guys—Phillip, James, and the rest. All of them. They said He’d somehow appeared out of nowhere and stood in that room with them. Talked to them. They insisted the door was shut tight, even barred.

And there was no talking those guys out of it. No reasoning with them, and I had work to do. I’m not going to hole up in some dark room. Besides, I haven’t seen a Roman all day. Come to think of it, no priests or Levites, either. Guess everyone’s running scared.

“But Thomas, we’ve seen the Lord!” Bah! Don’t you believe it. Peter exaggerates; though, hmm, Matthew usually keeps his facts straight. Oh, forget it. Let them have it.

No way I’ll buy into their fantasies. If you can’t see something, touch it, inspect it, well, how do you know it’s real? And I told them so. Let them try to produce the nail holes, to conjure up the torn, gaping wound of a spear thrust through—thrust through—through His flesh. That can rip at your stomach, but at least it’s hard proof. Without that, what have you got? Nothing.

Nothing. That’s what we had left of those three years. So may as well get on with life, pick up the strings we’d left dangling when we jumped on board Peter’s boat and decided to follow.

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…And Light in the Darkness, 2 of 3

For a child will be born to us,
a Son will be given to us….[1]
~ Isaiah

The child was born—born for the benefit of us—sinners—of all believers, from the beginning to the end of the world.

The Son was given—For Jehovah God so deeply loved mankind—His enemy—that He gave….

And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
To establish [His kingdom] and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
from then on and forevermore.[2]

He is Wonderful, for He is both God and man. His love is the wonder of angels and glorified saints.

He is the Counselor, for He knew the counsels of God from eternity; and He gives counsel to those who consult Him.

He is the Wonderful Counselor; none teaches like Him.

He is God, the Mighty One.

Such is the work of the Mediator, for no less a power than that of Almighty God could bring it to pass.

He is God, one with the Father.

As the Prince of Peace, He reconciles us to God; He is the Giver of peace in the heart and to the conscience.[3]

Without the gospel of Jesus Christ, we walk in darkness; when the gospel comes to any place—to any soul—light comes. Jesus’ good news brings joy; but if we want to experience that joy on a daily basis, we must be willing to give up doing nothing—just as a wine-maker must work the vineyard before he can bottle the joy of the harvest, or an infantry Marine endures crushing training, fatigue, and combat before he experiences the thrill of duty done well.
You’re kidding? I have something to do with whether or not I experience joy?


[1] Isaiah 9.6a, nasb
[2] Isaiah 9.6b-7a, nasb
[3] This paragraph and the following, based on Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible. Isaiah 1. Accessed on eSword Version 7 available at www.e-sword.net.

…and Light in the Darkness, 1 of 3

– empty eyes, empty souls, unmet longings, deepening insecurities –

Why does this Holly, Jolly season—designed to fill us with warmth, love, and sugar cookies—
give us a high suicide rate and deep depression?

Is there a Light in all this darkness?

But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish….
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.[1]
~ Isaiah

Sounds good to me. What else did Isaiah say?

The Ancient Syrians and Assyrians had repeatedly ravaged the lands and people to whom Isaiah spoke: the land of Judea—Israel. But that same land was the first to hear the preaching of Jesus.

The Ancient Jews were repeatedly delivered from the yoke of many oppressors—pictures of the one, true deliverance from the yoke of Satan that is experienced by any true believer in Jesus Christ.

Without the gospel of Jesus Christ, we walk in darkness; when the gospel comes to any place—to any soul—light comes. Jesus’ good news brings joy.

Cleansing the soul of a Christ-follower from the power and pollution of sin only occurs by the work of the Holy Spirit: a purifying fire: because of the work of Jesus Christ.

For a child will be born to us,
a Son will be given….[2]
~ Isaiah

Then why does joy sometimes seem out of reach?


[1] Isaiah 9.1-2, nasb
[2] Isaiah 9.6a, nasb

FORSAKEN ~ The Woman Caught, Part 3 of 3

Paid? Something had happened which I did not understand.

I stopped, turned to look at Him again where He hung, suspended above the mount. The ground convulsed beneath my feet. The air became filled with clouds of dust and cursing. The morbid crowd that had gathered to mock Him now panicked and flowed around me down the mountainside.

Love hung lifeless on the tree.

Who is this Jesus? Why had He set me free? Had that been sadness I had seen in His eyes on that day long past? Had He known what lay before Him? Had it cost Him something to declare me free?

For days the questions pounded through my thoughts, tore at my heart. I sought out His followers to ask them these things. Their incredible words caused great rejoicing in my soul: He had risen! Unfathomable reality. He had risen, alive, from a grave that could not hold Him, never to die again. Their words shook me deeper than any earthquake ever could. He had, indeed, died because of my sin, and not my sin only but for the sin of all mankind. Their words frightened me—but led my feet to a pathway where, for the first time, I found I belonged.

Through His death, that One Man set me free forever from condemnation before Almighty God. Because of His love for me, my just judge took the punishment for my sin upon Himself. Because He forgave me, I shall never again be forsaken.

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