Betrayal, denial and following Jesus – from John 13

God forbid any of us should betray Jesus as Judas did. Honestly I’m not very sure what that would even look like today. Possibly, it could be someone doing the opposite of the Apostle Paul. He was an early persecutor of the church who later was converted and became an ardent follower of Christ. Today I can imagine someone following Jesus, serving him in what appears to be sincere, outward devotion encouraging others in a position of ministry. What if this person turns, if Satan enters him as he entered Judas, and then this public Christian turns and becomes a persecutor of the church? It could happen. Maybe someone knows of a story just like this. (I do not.) This would be just Judas-like enough to qualify as a complete betrayal.

More common by far are those who deny Jesus like Peter. Simon Peter was overconfident. He would have gladly laid down his life for his Lord – or so he imagined. Jesus knew better and told Peter he would deny him three times before the night was over. Many of us fit into this category. We’ve blown it when we had the perfect chance to resist temptation or make Jesus look good. Let’s face it, we sometimes find it hard not to go along with the world.

The church is full of Peters and most of us can identify with his weakness. Thank God that he uses weak servants, empowers them with his Spirit, and builds his church through their feeble yet God-infused ministries.

By God’s grace, most of us who follow Jesus do so with a modicum of faithfulness. Our lives give evidence of a modest amount of the fruit of his work. We exercise our mustard seed of faith. We donate our few loaves and fishes to the cause of feeding the multitudes. Someone wishes to see Jesus and we are happy to lead the way to the Savior. We figuratively (or literally, if need be) wash the feet of the saints. These little actions are the big ways that God furthers the kingdom.

One thing that stands out to me in this chapter is how little the other ten disciples could do to prevent the betrayal by Judas or Peter’ denials. As far as I can tell, they could do nothing. There are times when we all have to stand or fall on our own. Even following the crowd, in the end, becomes an individual decision. When that time comes, may we all be found faithful. Let us each take a few more steps today as we follow our Lord.

Matthew 17 Verse by Verse

Matt photoA few disciples have a mountain top experience with Jesus as witnesses of his Transfiguration.  Upon coming down, they find the rest of their group unsuccessfully trying to help a demonized boy.

Matthew 17.pdf

Matthew 17.mp3

Resurrection Sunday 2019

Nabeel Qureshi 1983-2017

Nabeel Qureshi 1983 – 2017

Jesus’ death on the cross is not the end of the Christian message. The gospel is that Jesus then rose from the dead. Whereas every other life ended in death, Jesus’ death ended in life, and his resurrection is the basis of all Christian confidence.

Resurrection 2019.pdf

Resurrection 2019.mp3

Worthy of worship – Matt 2:1-2, 11

When the “wise men” or magi came from the east, they came to worship the king of the Jews.  To all but Christians this may seem odd since the Jews never worshiped their kings.  They were not a people whose religion allowed for the worship of humans, angels, anyone or anything else but the one true God.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (ESV throughout)

This non-worship of others besides God continued into the Christian era.  Take this example of Peter when he meets the Roman centurion Cornelius in Acts 10:24-26.

24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.”

Paul and Barnabas react similarly to Peter in a similar situation.

11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.”

In Revelation John gets reprimanded not once, but twice by an angel for giving him excessive honor.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Rev 19:9-10)

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (Rev 22:8-9)

Back to the magi.  In Matt 2:11, they follow through on their mission.

And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Only God is worthy of our worship.  Jesus is worthy of our worship.  Jesus is God.