Quiet Time Series

THE GOSPEL of JOHN 

2019
“Go and Do Likewise”

Produced originally for the 2017 HOPE Youth Corp with contributions by Emma Fridley, Joy Garcia, Kiara Yeatman, and  Cameron Taylor.

INTRODUCTION 

Imagine yourself in first century Judea. Times are tough both politically and financially. Roman invaders from a far-off place with a different language, a different religion, and different customs have been occupying your country for decades. They claim to bring peace, but that peace often comes with violence that swiftly silences any who dare speak or act out against them. In order to finance expensive projects back home, these invaders extract a heavy tax from your people. Those who cannot pay have their homes and lands stripped from them. The result is many of the poor are even poorer, and many now are without the land and homes that have been in their families from ancient times. Your fellow countrymen and countrywomen react to this situation very differently. Some of the wealthy and powerful have decided to get on the good side of the Romans and work with them. This includes the religious elites who claim to know how to get right with God. Well they get rich by working with the “enemy”, you and your family struggle to get by. Others in your community have started to whisper about fighting back against the Romans. They plan to take up weapons and drive the foreigners out of the land that is rightfully theirs. You have seen what has happened to others who have tried that strategy. Opposition to the Romans has always ended in complete and utter defeat. You still can’t get the image of the rebel leaders pitiful crucified bodies out of your mind. Your country is divided between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, those who support Rome for their own gain, and those who die trying to oppose Rome.

However, you have heard news about a man from the northern province of Galilee who is a miracle worker and great teacher. There have been other such people around before, but this man seems different. There’s something about his authority and power and care for others. Those who have met him always walk away feeling like they’ve somehow experienced God. His name is Jesus. Understandably you’re interested! You hear that this man is passing through your town so you go to see and hear him. You’re not the only one in town who has that idea. A large crowd gathers, with farmers, craftsmen, fishermen, and even the local religious leaders and lawyers in attendance.

This man is like none you’ve ever seen before. He heals the woman who lives down the street from you who has been blind for as long as you remember. The emotion of seeing a person see the world around them once again is incredible! This man’s teaching is also unique. He speaks like he knows what he’s talking about, and every word cuts to your heart and opens your eyes to a way of seeing things you never imagined.

In the midst of all this, one of the local lawyers stands up and asks this man a question with a smug and conceited look on his face. The lawyer wants to know what this Jesus thinks one has to do to inherit eternal life. You can feel the tension in the air. This Jesus replies with his own question, asking the lawyer to explain what he understand the law of God to say in this regard. The lawyer lists off the two commandments that you and the crowd could list off by heart: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus agrees with the lawyer on these points, but the lawyer isn’t finished. With the look of someone entirely sure of themselves, the lawyer coyly asks for clarification on one point: who is my neighbor? You’ve heard this before. Some in your town have often wondered how this lawyer and his colleagues have been showing love to their neighbors. Rather than giving assistance to the ill, crippled, poor and strangers in your town, this lawyer has often claimed that they are not his neighbor. Apparently, their terrible situations are the result of them sinning against God, so they couldn’t possibly be the neighbor of someone as righteous and pure as the lawyer.

With all this in mind, you and the crowd wait on this Jesus’ response. He begins to tell a story. He tells of a man who is robbed and beaten within an inch of his life while on the road to Jericho. He explains that this naked and bleeding man is ignored by a priest and Levite who pass by along the road. This makes sense to you. If these model citizens and religious examples of Godliness touched a dead body they would become ritually unclean, something that would be quite the hassle to take care of. You’ve seen it with the lawyer who asked Jesus the question just like you see it in the story, avoiding people who aren’t on God’s good side takes priority over everything. Fortunately, you yourself are in God’s good books. You keep the commandments, and make a sacrifice when you make a mistake. You’re not the best, but you’re certainly not the worst.

As Jesus continues to tell the story, you and the crowd are shocked into complete silence. He explains that that only person who stops to help the man on the road is a Samaritan. You must have heard wrong, that couldn’t possibly be the case! Samaritans are evil, you’ve heard it all your life. Centuries ago, they forfeited being a part of God’s people by intermarrying with foreigners and worshipping idols alongside God. Their religion was weird. They had their own version of God’s word, and they did things differently. You always heard stories of your countrymen getting abused or harassed whenever they travelled through Samaria.You may not be the best person in God’s books, but at least you’re not a filthy Samaritan! How could such a person be the hero of the story? What was this man Jesus trying to say?

This Jesus follows up his story with a question: Who was the neighbor to the man who was robbed? The lawyer, looking far less sure of himself and visibly shaken, can barely utter a response. He can’t even say the word “Samaritan”. He can only identify the neighbor of the story by their actions: the one who had compassion on the man who was robbed. You can see this Jesus nodding his head at this before he continues to explain what the lawyer must do. Although the words are directed at the lawyer, it’s as if Jesus is also speaking to you. The level of love, compassion and service that the Samaritan character showed in the story still has you stunned. And now this Jesus is calling you to imitate it: “Go and Do Likewise”

Each day there is a section of John to read. We have also provided a synopsis to better make sense of some of the long and dense passages. Each day there are specific points to reflect on in the passage, and some practical questions about how to apply it to your own life.

A Bit of Background
Author: John, one of the Sons of Thunder
When: Written between A.D. 85 and A.D. 90
Audience: To new Christians and to searching non-Christians.

Purpose: To prove that Jesus is the Son of God and to motivate us to respond. As John 20:31 says, “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”

What Makes It Unique: Eight miracles are listed in the book of John, and six of them are specific found only in John. John recorded personal experiences he had with Jesus that really impacted him. We get a glimpse into Jesus’s personal thoughts and feelings towards the disciples, the poor, the lost, etc. Throughout the book, the author refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. Whenever you come across this phrase, you can substitute in the name “John”.

December 17th- Read John 1:1-34 

This opens up unlike any of the other gospels. Before John jumps into Jesus’s life, he wants to impress upon us who Jesus is. Jesus is a man, but he is also so much more than a man- he is GOD. He was there when the world was created. In fact, the world was created through him and by him and for him! John is preparing our hearts to be ready to see and accept Jesus for who he is- the light of the world. Even though Jesus gives light to everyone, he is easy to miss if we are not willing to see who he is. When he came, the world did not know him and his own people did not receive him. But those who did receive him obtained the right to be his children by God’s will. That’s what we’re aiming for!

Jesus fully encapsulates grace and truth. Many times, people think that God is full of truth in the Old Testament and grace in the New Testament, but this is completely untrue. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and he perfectly balances both truth and mercy.

John the Baptist enters the scene to prepare the way for Jesus. Many people thought that he was the Messiah, but he did not let them think that for long. He openly declared that he was not the Christ and embraced his role in preparing the way for Jesus. When Jesus did come, he directed people to him, “losing” followers in the process.

Points of Interest 

1. Verses 10-11 talk about how the world did not receive Jesus, though it was his in the first place. Why would this be? Because the people had a pre-formulated idea of who they wanted Jesus to be instead of accepting him as he was.
2. Verses 12-13 talk about how we get the honor, the privilege, and the right to become children of God simply by believing in Jesus. Can you believe that we can earn something as amazing as being a child of God?! However, how do we learn to be children of God? It’s not something that’s natural for us…
3. Verses 19-28 introduce us to John the Baptist, whom Jesus calls “the greatest among those born of women” (Matt 11:11). He was prophesied about (see Isaiah 40:3, John 1:23) and had a large number of followers. Yet none of this goes to his head. He had opportunities to take the glory away from Jesus (in John 1:20, he could have taken credit for being the Messiah), but instead takes every opportunity to point people to Jesus and not himself.
4. Again, in verses 29-34, John was not competitive with Jesus. When Jesus came, he gladly stepped aside and pointed his followers to him. He is the first to bear witness that Jesus is the Son of God.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. Who do you think Jesus is? Is it based off of what you’ve known your whole life? While we study out John, try not to let your heart be clouded by who you think Jesus is, or even who you’ve been told he is. Try to see him as he truly is- you might be surprised!
2. Jesus is the Son of God. When we believe in Jesus, we are also children of God. The best way to learn how to be a child of God is to watch Jesus’s example. Identify in which areas you are currently NOT like Jesus and look for Jesus’s example in these areas in the book of John.
3. Are you like John the Baptist? Do you take advantage of every opportunity to point people to Jesus? Or do you, like most of us, like to take a piece of the glory for yourself? Do you sometimes take credit for your heart and good deeds instead of giving honor to God? Starting now, train yourself to be humble and give glory to God in all circumstances. If you’re looking for credit or glory, you are going to have a really hard time being a servant.
4. So often, we get competitive with our brothers and sisters, especially in areas of service. We can compete to see who “serves the most”- how ironic! Lord, forgive our foolishness. John the Baptist was not competitive at all- it did not matter to him whether he got recognition or not for the things he did. All that mattered was that he was obeying God and glorifying Jesus. As he himself says, “[Jesus] must become greater, I must become less” (John 3:30). Instead of having competitive hearts, let us spur one another on to serve Jesus in greater and greater ways and give him every ounce of the credit and honor!

December 18th – Read John 1:35-51 

Two disciples of John start trailing Jesus because John had told them he was the Messiah. Jesus turns around and asks them point blank, “What do you want?” I imagine the disciples were quite flabbergasted, and simply asked, “Where are you staying?” to which Jesus replies “Come and see.” In the course of that single day they were with Jesus, these men became convinced that he was the Christ. Andrew runs to tell Simon, whom Jesus immediately renames “Peter.” However, those these men claim now that Jesus is the Christ, they do not truly understand until much, much later…

Jesus goes out and recruits Philip as a disciple, who then goes out and tells Nathanael that they had found the Messiah. Nathanael is doubtful to say the least, but is willing to step out on faith and see Jesus. He immediately believes when Jesus tells him that he saw him under the fig tree, but of course, there is still much he does not understand. Jesus tells him that he would see greater things- that the heavens would open and angels would ascend and descend upon him!

Points of Interest 

1. The disciples had to GO AFTER Jesus. They had to find him and follow him wherever he was going. If they had stayed behind with John, with what they already knew, with what was comfortable for them, they would have never found out the truth. But instead, they chased Jesus down. They were eager for answers and were not afraid to be bold to get them.

2. “What do you want?” Wow. That’s direct. I don’t think Jesus said this in an irritated or aggressive way. I think he genuinely wanted to know the disciples’ answer. “What are you looking for? Why are you following me? What do you want, truly?” (See verse 38). Jesus wants to know our hearts. He is not looking for blind followers, but for true seekers. People who want to know the truth.
3. In verses 41, 45, and 49, the disciples confess that Jesus is the Messiah. But, as evidenced throughout the rest of the gospel, they don’t quite know what that means. Even after walking with Jesus for 3 years, they struggled with disbelief that Jesus really was the Son of God. But they became convinced by knowing Jesus and by living as he did. That was how they finally embraced the truth.
4. Jesus says that angels will ascend and descend on him. This scripture bears a striking resemblance to Jacob’s ladder in Genesis 28:10-17. Jacob described the ladder as the “gate of heaven.” Jesus, too, is the gate to heaven. He is the only way to get to God. If we want to get to heaven, we have to go through him.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. Get uncomfortable. Many times, Jesus is where it is hard and uncomfortable to be. We will not be able to see Jesus for who he is and be like him if we do not go out of our way to be uncomfortable. It’s in these times that Jesus molds our character to be more like his and where we truly understand him. Get to know Jesus better right now by pushing your limits and following him like never before. Ask spiritual people who know you well how you can start to do that.
2. What do you want? What do you want out of 2019? What do you want from Jesus? Spend some time thinking deeply about these questions, because the answers will affect everything that happens in the next year. The disciples’ answer was “Just to be with you where you are.” They ended up walking with Jesus for 3 years and becoming the very people who would change the world. Let’s strive to get our hearts there: to want to be with Jesus above everything else.
3. You may “know” that Jesus is the Son of God. But do you really know what that means? Have you understood the intensity and radicalness and beauty of the statement, “Jesus is Lord”?  The only way to know Jesus deeper is to walk with him daily. Have you spent time with this incredible man? Have you asked him questions about his likes, dislikes, dreams, concerns? Get to know him, really. He will blow you away, no matter how long or short you’ve been walking with him.
4. If you are trying to figure out the truth and how to get to heaven, Jesus is THE ONLY answer! This is not a popular opinion in our world. It is seen as disrespectful, rude, prejudiced, and narrow-minded if you believe that Jesus is the only way to God. But remember, Jesus is full of grace AND truth. He is completely loving and completely honest. Are you that way? Are you full of honesty and love for those around you? How can you be more like Jesus in this way?

December 19th – Read John 2 

Jesus was the Son of God on a mission to save the world- but he was also a man. And like any normal person, he went to weddings with his family and friends! When the wine runs out, Mary knows just who to ask for help. Jesus says that it is not yet his time, but because his mother asked, he helps. Not only that, but he makes the best wine any of the guests had ever had! This is Jesus’s first sign- changing water to wine at the request of his mother and in the service of a friend.

Later, Jesus and his disciples go up to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. This sacred festival was a time to remember how the angel of death had “passed over” the house of the Israelites while killing the firstborn of every Egyptian. In this way, God saved Israel. However, when Jesus arrives, he finds vendors selling animals in the temple courts. He could not stand for this injustice and dishonor, and thus makes a whip out of cords and drives them all from the temple. The Jews were enraged and challenged his authority. Jesus replied that the proof of his authority would be when he would rise from the dead.

Points of Interest 

1. Jesus, the Son of God, who came to save the world, went to weddings. He had family and friends. He went to celebrations and festivals and birthday parties. He was a normal guy. I find this AMAZING. Jesus is perfectly holy, yet he is also perfectly human. To have fun, go to family events, and have a wide circle of friends is actually to be very much like Jesus! He also did not waste his time. These fun, casual events were part of his ultimate plan to save the world.
2. Jesus gave the best he had, even when no one was watching. He made wine better than any that came before. When the guests were least expecting the best to be given out, Jesus went above and beyond.
3. What was so bad about people selling doves and lambs in the temple? Instead of people bringing their own animals to sacrifice to fulfill the Passover, they would simply buy the animal at the temple. It saved time and hassle. But it completely defeated the purpose of Passover! The sacrifices were not out of the heart, but out of convenience. Merchants also used what was supposed to be a time of remembrance and gratitude to God for their own self-benefit. Thus, it is understandable why this deeply upset Jesus.
4. When Jesus saw God being wronged, he took a stand. But though he was angry, he did not act out of the heat of his emotions. Verse 15 says that he “made a whip out of cords” before driving everyone from the temple. Making a cord takes time! This was not a rash lashing out of feelings and emotion, but rather an act of controlled righteous anger.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. Do you take advantage of every opportunity and make it obedient to Christ? Jesus used every day to glorify God. His personal life and spiritual life were not separate, and neither should ours be. Do you live like Jesus whether you’re at church or a birthday party, at school or at a service event?
2. Do you stop giving your best when it’s not required? When you don’t think that what you’re doing is important? When you think nobody’s watching? Jesus gave his very best even in the middle of these times, and it was because of times like this that his disciples believed in him (verse 11)! Do not underestimate the effect God can have through you even in times that seem “not as important.”
3. It is easy to give out of convenience (or because someone is making you), but God does not want us to give under compulsion or just because it’s the right thing to do. We have to be careful that we’re not just “going through the motions” or doing what we know we should. Pondering the heart behind sacrifice and service is what God desires.
4. Do you take stands for God? Do you speak up when you see friends or family disrespecting him, disciple or not? Do we desire for God’s name to be spoken of justly? And do we remember not to speak out in anger or uncontrolled passion, but rather with righteous, godly zeal?

December 20th- Read John 3:1-21 

Nicodemus, a Pharisee, came to Jesus to hear him. He did not want anyone to know he had begun to believe in Jesus, so he did this secretly and during the night. Jesus is direct and tells him exactly what he needs to do to be saved- be born of water and Spirit. Nicodemus does not understand at all, but Jesus explains that this is a heavenly concept, and that he had come down from heaven to explain such things. Jesus compares himself to the bronze serpent Moses lifted up in the wilderness which would heal anyone bitten by a snake if he looked to it. In the same way, Jesus said that he would be lifted up so that anyone who looked to him would be saved.

Jesus then goes on to explain that the purpose of his coming was to save the world, not condemn it. His arrival paved a path of salvation for those who believed in him. But the coming of the Son of Man also signified that anyone who did not accept Jesus as Lord could not be saved. Just like in John 1, Jesus compares himself to the light of the world. Those who believe in him would come into the light, but those who do not believe in him would stay in the darkness. Jesus proclaims that people would choose not to believe in him in order to keep their evil deeds hidden while the people living in light would choose to be exposed and be healed.

Points of Interest 

1. Nicodemus feared men more than he feared God. He believed in Jesus, but he did not trust in Jesus. He allowed his fear to be stronger than his love of the truth. His focus was on the here and now, not on the eternal.
2. Discipleship looks different for everyone, but the heart behind it is all the same. Jesus does not modify his expectations depending on each person. He is not satisfied with half- heartedness, which is why he did not hold back the truth from Nicodemus. His love for us is too great to not tell us the truth- that he is the only way to be saved.
3. Background on verse 14: In Numbers 21:4-9, the people of Israel rebelled against God by complaining and arguing with his plan. God then sent deadly snakes among the people, and many died. When Israel repented, God had Moses make a bronze snake and hold it up in front of the camp. When anyone who was bitten by a snake looked upon the bronze snake, they were healed. In the same way, Jesus would be lifted up on the cross, so that anyone who was living in sin could look to him and be saved.
4. We definitely fear being exposed. Think of any secret you’ve ever had, or any time you were afraid to get in trouble with your parent or teacher. We fear the light! But being exposed is one of the most freeing feelings in the world. When you come out of a dark room into the light, you start to see the true order of things. We start to see how much sin we truly have when we get closer to God, but that is A GOOD THING. It means we are starting to know him better and to allow him to work on our hearts.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. Where is your focus?  Do you know the truth but are too afraid to act on it? Have you searched out the truth for yourself before? Ask questions and get answers. Do not be satisfied with complacency, but really go after the truth. However, if you know the truth and are not willing to act on it, there will be no benefit.
2. We live in a world of relative truth. But to God, there is an absolute truth- that Jesus is the only way to salvation. Do you really believe this, no ifs, ands, or buts? If we are to be the light of the world, we must be immovable in this fact.
3. Do not fear correction or exposure so much as to keep you from being freed from sin.

When we are unwilling to lay ourselves bare before God and before people, we keep ourselves chained in the dark. If there is any sin unconfessed in your life, or anything you’re not being totally real about, anything hidden, bring it into the light now- it is keeping you from walking with Jesus.

December 21st- Read John 3:22-36 

Jesus’s disciples baptize along the Judean countryside while John also continues to baptize at Aenon. John’s disciples were very confused that each Jesus and John could baptize at the same time, and question John about this phenomenon. He repeats what he has said in the past- “I came to prepare the way for the Christ. Now that he is here, my joy is complete.” He compares himself to the friend of the bridegroom at his wedding. John’s entire attitude is encapsulated in verse 30: He must become greater. I must become less.  John then explains that it is so hard for people to accept Jesus’s testimony because he is from heaven and that people who think in an earthly way cannot comprehend him. Yet, God gives the Spirit without measure to those who ask for him. Understanding is attainable. This is only made possible through Jesus and his gift of eternal life.

Points of Interest 

1. Jesus and John were a team. They were working towards the same goal. Although John came first, he did not become prideful at Jesus’s coming. Jesus, although he was the Son of God, eagerly accepted and desired John’s help. They worked in harmony, and this led to God being glorified.
2. John did not care what happened to him. The most important thing to him was that Jesus was lifted up. John’s desire was to become less if it meant Jesus becoming greater. His priorities, his motivations, the every wish of his heart, was centered around Jesus. Because John knew Jesus deeply, he was nothing but thrilled and bursting with joy when others knew Jesus as well.
3. What does eternal life signify? (spoiler, it’s in John 17:3!) Knowing Jesus is eternal life. Without Jesus, there is only death. He is the light, and without light there is no life. God sent Jesus so that we would no longer have to be blind and in the darkness! How lucky are we?!

Go and Do Likewise 

1. We get an incredible experience to be apart of the greatest team there ever has been- the kingdom! While you’re being a disciple, serving, fighting temptation, etc., know that there are thousands of your brothers and sisters doing the same thing. We are all in this together. We need each other. Jesus didn’t try to live solo, and neither should we.
2. He must become greater; I must become less. Look at this scripture in other versions too. Really ponder what this is saying. Spend some time thinking about who is the greatest in your life. How can you increase Jesus in your life, in your personality, in your character? As he becomes more, your sin will become less. If we just try to cast out sin without filling ourselves with more of Jesus, our old self will come right back. Let’s train ourselves to be made more like Jesus!
3. You’ve probably been through some dark, devastating things. You will experience more hard things as well. But with Jesus, there is hope. However you’ve been hurt, whatever your or someone else’s sin has done to your life, whatever inexplicable circumstances you’ve undergone- Jesus is the answer. For you, and for everyone in your life. By knowing Jesus better, not only will you experience the healing he brings, but you will also be able to offer it to others.

December 22nd – Read John 4 

In 2 Kings 17:24-41, Israel was divided into the northern and the southern kingdom. The northern kingdom got conquered by the Assyrians, and to keep the Israelites from rebelling, the Assyrians brought in foreigners to populate the land and create disunity. Intermarriage occurred between the Jews and the foreigners and they began to worship idols, breaking the law of God. Thus, prejudice arose against these new Samaritans and the “pure” race of the Jews.
Fast forward a few hundred years, and the prejudice has persisted. What’s more, there is very little respect for women in general. It would be extraordinarily rare for a well-respected Rabbi to casually converse with a woman, let alone a Samaritan. As always, Jesus defies all expectations and cultural rules.

In the middle of the day, Jesus takes a break from weeks of travel to rest by the well while his disciples go into the city to buy food. When a woman comes to draw water from the well, Jesus breaks all cultural boundaries by talking to her. She is taken aback, and when Jesus tries to talk to her about salvation and living water, she misunderstands. When Jesus starts to discuss her personal life, she struggles to change the topic. But Jesus was not to be thwarted- he was direct with her, and reveals to her who he truly is. As the disciples return, the woman departs shocked and excited to her village and tells everyone that she believes she found the Messiah.

Jesus tells his disciples that his true food is to do the will of God and charges them to reap from the fields that are ready for harvest. Ironically, right afterwards, the harvest is made clear when many Samaritans from the village come to Jesus and believe in him, thanks to the woman’s testimony. After spending a few days there, Jesus moves on to Galilee.

In Galilee, an official comes to Jesus and begs him to heal his dying son. Jesus tells him that his son would be healed, and the man takes Jesus at his word and leaves. As he is on his way, his servants tell him that his son began to heal the very same hour Jesus had said. He and his whole family became believers.

Points of Interest 

1. Jesus touched the untouchables and spoke with the outcasts. He did not limit his love to those he was familiar with and was not afraid of a tarnished reputation. He was not concerned with what his disciples would think about him talking to the woman, or what the woman herself would think! His boldness moved the woman’s heart, and her heart moved an entire village to Jesus.
2. Women traditionally drew water in the morning and the evening. This woman came in the middle of the day, perhaps to avoid the crowds because of her damaged reputation. She wanted to stay out of sight. But Jesus did not let her hide. He saw her when no one else would. He chose her to reach out to,to love, and to use to reach many others. He loved her when she was untouchable.
3. Jesus was hungry for food, but not just physical food. The most important thing to him was doing God’s will. That was what sustained him and kept him going. If he could not do God’s will, he would die. “The fields are ripe for harvest.” For Jesus, the time was always right to do God’s will.
4. How incredible, that the official had to travel over a day to see Jesus and therefore could not see if his son was being healed or not. But Jesus said “Go, your son is healed” and he trusted Jesus. He took Jesus at his word and went in faith, not knowing that Jesus’s word was fulfilled until the next day (even though Jesus’s word was fulfilled the moment he spoke it).

Go and Do Likewise 

1. We live in a world of divisions, prejudice, pride. We often consider ourselves as better than others. Who we are associated with is of paramount importance to us. Our reputations are everything. But Jesus tossed his “reputation” out the window again and again, and so gained the greatest reputation possible to have. If we are going to follow in his footsteps, we have to sacrifice our idea of a good reputation and trade it in for what God says is a good reputation.
2. Do you love like Jesus loved? Do you seek out those who are on the outskirts, have the fewest friends, stay away from the spotlight, are hurting and make them feel loved despite what they or others will think? How important is your reputation or comfortability to you? Do you make friends and love only those whom you “naturally click with”? Jesus was not this way, and neither can we be.
3. What sustains you? What motivates you? Service is hard work. If pleasing God is not your source of sustenance, you will get burned out. Pray for God to reveal your heart and what your purpose for serving is. On top of that, pray for God to move your heart to be willing to do his will all the time, not just when you are able to see the ripe fields! Trust that God will bring the harvest at the right time, and work until then.
4. Do you take Jesus at his word? You may not be able to see the ways that God is working in a situation. You may only see the pain and the what ifs and the worst possible outcome. But, like this official, we must learn to take Jesus at his word and trust him, regardless of whether we see him working yet or not. We can have faith that he already is.

December 23rd – Read John 5 

Jesus travels to Jerusalem for a feast and there visits the pool Bethesda, said to have healing powers. The sick congregated there, hoping to get a turn in the healing water. One of these was a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. Jesus finds him and asks him a seemingly obvious question. “Do you want to get well?” The man doesn’t say yes or no, but rather explains his predicament to Jesus- that he has no one, not a friend or family member, to help him get into the pool when it was stirred. Jesus simplifies this problem by telling him to get up and walk, and so he does. Later Jesus tells him that the more important thing is that he stops sinning, for then he will truly be healed. The Jews, meanwhile, are furious that Jesus would heal on a Sabbath day.

Jesus counters this by saying that as long as his Father is working, so will he be. This incites the Jews to desire to kill him, but Jesus does not back down. He goes on to explain that he could do nothing if God had not been doing it through him. And because of this relationship with God, Jesus has the power to give life and to judge the world. Jesus’s judgement is simple and just: believe in me and my word, and you will be saved. That he is the Son of God had been made very clear through the works he had been doing. Jesus then slays the Pharisees by saying that they had never heard or seen God, nor was his word abiding in them- otherwise, they would believe in him. He points out their faulty legalistic tendencies of clinging the the word and then not believing in him, the very person the scriptures attested to. For this reason, the love of God was not in them.

Points of Interest 

1. 38 years is a long time. Most of us have never hoped for something for 38 years. This man had been an invalid for that long and still sat at Bethesda, hoping that his situation would change. Jesus chose this man, the one whose situation seemed the most hopeless, to love and change.
2. Jesus repeats a few times that he can do nothing apart from God (verses 19, 30). Think about this- the Son of God, through whom the universe was made (see John 1 again), says that he can do nothing on his own. He is completely and utterly dependant on God.
3. Verses 28-30 get real. Those who have done good will rise to life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgement. The problem is, in this world, good and evil is totally subjective. Everyone will have a different opinion of who will rise to life and to judgement. But thankfully, God does not leave this up to personal opinion or changeable ideologies. God is good, and his word reveals what is good and what is evil.
4. Verses 39-47 builds on verses 28-30. Knowing the scriptures and living out the scriptures are two entirely different things. Following the rules and loving God are two entirely different things. Loving God does entail obedience, but obedience without faith is empty.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. What are you going through that seems hopeless? A prayer that has gone seemingly unanswered for years? A life circumstance you believe will never change, because “it’s just the way things are”? Jesus often chooses these very circumstances, ones that seem to last a lifetime, to reveal his glory. Don’t give up hoping. Jesus sees it.

2. Do you have Jesus’s dependance on God? I know I don’t! I definitely like to think I can do things on my own or take credit for my talents. But even Jesus himself did not have this attitude. If we want to be servants of God, we need to adopt this same attitude.
3. We can know for certain what God means by good and evil. We can know for certain what the future holds simply by holding on to his word. What a blessing! So… are you among those who have done good and will rise? It doesn’t have to be a question. You can know the answer for sure. We always have room to grow, always have more good to do. But according to the word of God, according to Jesus, will you attain the resurrection of life?
4. Remember, JESUS is the source of life, not “following the rules.” You will only be able to walk with God for so long if you do not dig deeper in love for him. This is hard to do! Ask for help, pray on your knees for God to guide you, and chase Jesus with all you have.

December 24th – Read John 6:1-24 

Having run afoul of the religious authorities in Jerusalem for healing a person on the Sabbath day of rest (Saturday), Jesus heads with his disciples back up north to Galilee. A large crowd, who knows of Jesus’ reputation for healing people, follows. The Springtime festival of Passover (commemorating God rescuing Israel from Egypt with mighty plagues and wonders, see Exodus 11-12 for full story) is approaching, and they are all in an open, grassy area.

Jesus decides to feed the large crowd that has gathered. Philip, one of the disciples thinks that will take about 8 months wages (about 200 denarii or roughly 5600 US dollars) to do that. Andrew, one of the other disciples, finds a boy in the crowd who has 5 small loaves of bread and 2 small fishes. Jesus, unphased by this predicament, gets the crowd to sit down. The crowd has about 5000 men present (so with women and children included it could be closer to 10-20000). After breaking the bread and giving thanks, Jesus passes the food around. Miraculously, everyone has enough to eat and there are 12 baskets of leftovers! This is the 4th of the 8 signs Jesus performs to increase people’s faith and give people life in the Gospel of John.

The crowd gets very excited by all this, and Jesus slips away to avoid encouraging the mob-mentality beginning to form. In his absence, Jesus’ disciples set out across the waters when it’s dark to their base of operations in Capernaum. When they are well away from shore and the waters get rough, Jesus joins them, walking on the water! This understandably scares the disciples, but eventually they let Jesus into the boat. The disciples and Jesus then reach the shores where they were heading. Jesus walking on the water is the 5th of the 8 signs Jesus performs to increase people’s faith and give people life in the Gospel of John.
The people whom Jesus fed on the other side of the waters, along with some others, realize Jesus is no longer on that side of the waters and therefore head to Capernaum to find Jesus.

Points of Interest: 

1. In verse 5, the first thing Jesus does when he sees the crowd is to figure out a way to meet their physical need for food (How Jesus met their spiritual needs also is the topic of tomorrow’s passage). This is not just a casual or passing thought. In verse 6 we find out that Jesus already has a plan. He not only saw the needs in others, but made plans for how to properly meet those needs.

2. In verse 12, Jesus wants the disciples to gather up the leftovers so that nothing is wasted. When Jesus served, he didn’t do it with no thought for the future. He wanted his service of others to be sustainable and not wasteful. As much as Jesus was extravagant and abundant in his provision for others, he was also practical.
3. In verse 14 and 15, Jesus avoids getting caught up in the momentum of a crowd that may have led to political violence. As much as Jesus called for personal transformation and subsequent societal transformation, he did not advocate political change by force. Jesus knew when to step away from situations that could take a turn for the worse, and find a place of solitude by himself. In Matthew and Mark’s telling of the story the purpose of this solitude was to pray (Mark 6:46, Matthew 14:23).
4. In verse 21, once the disciples were willing to let Jesus into the boat with them they got to where they were trying to go, and fast! Prior to this the waters had been rough and it was dark. Jesus appears un-phased, but the disciples are terrified. Jesus reassured them in this time of trouble, and once they were onboard with Jesus things went a lot smoother.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. What needs can you see? What ways can you plan to meet those needs? How can you combine meeting both spiritual and physical needs?
2. How can you make that service sustainable? This applies to our emotional and energy levels as well as physical and financial resources. Make sure to recharge yourself physically with rest, and spiritually with time spent with God.
3. Those who have a passion to serve can easily get caught up in a purely political drive for change. We need to make sure to follow Jesus’ example. Are your efforts really meeting needs and making a difference? Or are you just getting involved with stuff for the sake of being involved? Know when to take a step back and pray.
4. When rough and dark times hit you in life, are you open to Jesus’ reassurance? Do you try to reach your goals (including noble and admirable goals) without Jesus onboard?

December 25th – Read John 6:25-71 

Jesus is teaching in a synagogue (most likely an informal meeting area given the rural setting at the time) in Capernaum when the crowds find him once more. They appear to be more motivated by the thought of another free meal than actually following Jesus. Jesus tells them to have the proper perspective and work for things that have spiritual value, not just things of physical value. The crowd then fixates on the work aspect and asks Jesus what kind of work God requires of them. Jesus explains that this kind of work is different than what they’re used to: they must believe in him. The crowd, understandably skeptical, asks what proof he can give them so they can believe in him. Jesus uses an analogy of bread to describe his work on the planet.

This bread metaphor also confuses the crowd, especially in light of the actual bread Jesus provided the day before. Jesus explains that he can satisfy their hunger and thirst in a more fulfilling way than food can. He paints a picture of comfort and acceptance, showing that he has come from God and has the authority to give people everlasting life and raise them up at the last day. The crowd, knowing who Jesus’ very human father and mother were, are once more confused about how Jesus could have come from God. Jesus repeats that he is the bread of life, sent from God and capable of giving them eternal life. He uses imagery of eating his flesh and drinking his blood as a form of sacrifice that makes this all possible.

This is too much for many in the crowd. They along with many of Jesus’ disciples turn back and no longer follow him. The twelve still remain. They have a renewed conviction that Jesus is indeed who he says he is.

Points of Interest 

1. In verses 27-29 gives us all a reality check. He sets the record straight on what kind of perspective to have. Physical efforts will only get us so far. Unless they are combined with a spiritual perspective they will not last. Similarly, all the works we do pale in comparison to believing in Jesus, sent from God. Belief means a different thing now than it did when this was written. Another way of saying it would be to “belove” Jesus. It’s about deepening an intimate relationship with God, through Jesus, rather than mentally agreeing with some list of statements.
2. In verse 66, Jesus draws a hard line that pushes many people away. He isn’t concerned with compromising his message in order to encourage larger crowds to follow him.
3. In verse 68, the twelve, and especially Peter, seem to get what Jesus has been talking about this whole time. They understand Jesus to be the source of eternal life and there’s nowhere else they can go for that. It’s important to realize that eternal life doesn’t just involve the afterlife, it starts now. Eternal life is an extension of this life we momentarily have on earth. Eternal life involves both this life and the life to come. In verses 33, 35, 40, 47, 48, 50, 51, 53-58, and 63 Jesus makes it clear that someone has to remain connected to him to have such a fulfilling life.
4. In verse 60, Many of the disciples find what Jesus is saying to be hard to accept. Part of this probably stemmed from the fact that in the Jewish law, drinking blood was forbidden (Leviticus 17). The reason that blood was forbidden was because it was a source of life and atonement (Leviticus 17:11). Atonement means restoring a relationship with God. At-one-ment, being one with God. The very reason the people are challenged by Jesus’ choice to use blood as a metaphor is the very reason he chose the metaphor: He gives life and restores our relationship with God.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. What is your perspective? Why do you serve or give? Are you serving to try and get a relationship with God, or are you serving because of a relationship with God?
2. Who are you trying to please in life? It can be easy to seek others approval in your ministry, in your school or work, in your family. Does this lead you to making compromises?
3. We need to try and be connected to the source. How dependent are you on God? On our own we can only sacrifice and live so much, but God is an endless supply of both through Jesus. In order for your phone to recharge, it needs a power supply and a cord to plug it in. God is the perfect power source of life and sacrifice and nourishment, and Jesus acts like a cord to plug into that power source. How connected are you to God through Jesus? How willing are you to live a life of sacrifice? Do you live with just this life in mind, or just the next life in mind, or with both in mind?

December 26th – Read John 7:1-52 

The fall Feast of Tabernacles, celebrating Israel’s time spent wandering around the desert for forty years in Tents and temporary shelters, is near. Jesus has been avoiding the southern part of the country because of the hostility towards him there. However, for the Feast he decides to go to Jerusalem, the seat of power for those seeking his life. After laying low for the first half of the week-long festival, Jesus goes to the Temple courts to teach.

Jesus’ teaching impresses the crowd, since he is from a the northern, rural, less academic part part of the country. Jesus attributes his teaching to God, comparable to how Moses received the Law from God in the desert (see Exodus 19). Jesus healing people on the Sabbath (Saturday) day of rest seems to still be an issue. The crowd begins to wonder whether Jesus really is the Christ (one anointed by God to symbolize kingship and prophethood). Jesus drives home the point that he is from God and will return to God soon enough. Drawing on the imagery of Moses causing water to flow from hardened rocks in the desert (Exodus 17) and therefore connecting back to the festival they were celebrating, Jesus proclaims that those who believe in him will have “streams of living water” (the Holy Spirit) flow from their hardened hearts.

The crowd is still undecided. Some believe he is a prophet, some believe he is the Christ as well. Others, along with the religious authorities want to arrest him. Despite their attempts, Jesus is able to leave the city of Jerusalem. Those who discredit Jesus’ claims appear to so based on his Galilee heritage. How could a prophet, let alone the Christ, come from such a backwoods, backwards place like that?

Points of Interest 

1. In verses 3-8, Jesus’ brothers try and push Jesus towards publicity and fame. Jesus is not after those things. Rather, he is concerned more with proper timing and discernment. He avoids a needlessly dangerous situation. At the same time, he speaks in a decisive way that made people either love or hate him (verses 12, 43).
2. In verse 17, Jesus gives a simple way to find out whether what he’s saying is legitimate. Choosing to test and live it out will show whether Jesus is just talking for himself or whether he speaks on God’s behalf.
3. In verses 15, 41-44, and 52, the crowds and the religious leaders both question Jesus’ origins. Galilee was a rural area in the north that was religiously, politically, and culturally inferior to Judea and Jerusalem in the south. Jesus coming from that area was seen as a negative by a lot of people.
4. In verse 38, Jesus explains that those who believe in him will have streams of living water flow out of them. There is an expectation that those filled with the Holy Spirit will be life giving in an abundant way. It isn’t a trickle of living water, it’s a stream.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. It can be hard to find the right balance when it comes to service. At one extreme it can become about attention or seeking needless and dangerous confrontation. At the other extreme it can become apathetic to the point where we aren’t decisive at all. What is your motivation to serve? How discerning and decisive are you? Try to balance the two like Jesus.

2. Jesus’ words can be scary and radical. When’s the last time you tried living to the point
where they could only be proved true or false? What novel way can you live like Jesus today?
3. Much like the crowds in Jesus’ day we can also have negative views of certain areas. We might think we know better than the people living in our area.  We might also have prejudices about places and people in our own neighborhoods. What prejudices do you think you might have? It can be hard to see our own prejudices, so try and talk with someone else about this, and be open to correction. Don’t let your prejudice keep you from seeing God in situations like the crowds did in Jesus’ day.
4. In what ways can you be a stream of living water? How can you be so filled with God’s Spirit of love and compassion that you can’t help but be a blessing to someone else?

December 27th – Read John 7:53-8:11

While Jesus is in the temple, the Scribes and the Pharisees bring to Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery. They did this with the hopes of trapping Jesus. In this case, if He allowed stoning He would be in violation of Roman law. If Jesus tried to release her, He could be faulted for ignoring the Law of Moses. What does Jesus do? He starts writing in the ground with His finger. It would have been easy to get caught up in the politics of the situation by concerning himself with how they would expect him to respond.

Instead, Jesus does something radically different. Jesus side-steps the trap because of his focus on Grace. He silences the Pharisees and he does not condemn the woman, but he tells her, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” As discussed in John 1, Jesus encompasses Grace and Truth perfectly. Here is an example of Jesus’ perfect Grace. His grace is unlike what we could even imagine. The concept of Grace is so counter-intuitive to our world, and clearly counter-intuitive to the Pharisees.

Points of Interest 

1. In verses 6-7, After Jesus says, “Let any of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” the Pharisees and Scribes have no choice but to walk away. You cannot argue with the beauty of Grace. It is extremely humbling.
2. In verses 10-11, Jesus is completely forgiving, but also expectant. This woman came face-to-face with condemnation, shame and death, but she was pardoned. The compassion and mercy of Jesus is related to the call to live in obedience to the will of the His father.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. Can you think out of the box? Don’t just respond how people expect you to respond. A lot of times, we limit ourselves because we only do as much as others expect of us.
2. Are we always reminded of the grace Jesus lavishes on us? Because of his great compassion, we can choose to live to please the Father. Do we think about our service to others as being an act of gratitude for God’s mercy?

December 28th- Read John 8:12-59 

The latter half of John 8 includes the interaction of Jesus and the Pharisees. The Pharisees constantly question Jesus’ identity and validity. And every time, Jesus points them back to God. Like in verses 31-33, Jesus is talking about a spiritual freedom, but the teachers of the law are caught up in historical information. The Pharisees continue to dispute with Jesus, never truly listening to anything He is saying and this is why Jesus says, “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word.” Nevertheless, Jesus continues to focus on God, “for I didn’t come on My own, but He sent me,” (CSB, verse 42). Jesus saw through their petty questions and focused on the heart of the matter: faith and dependence on the heavenly Father.

Points of Interest 

1. In verse 27, Jesus says, “I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.”
2. In verse 54, Jesus says, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing…”

Go and Do Likewise 

1. Are we in touch with how God wants us to speak?
2. In today’s society, “every” person wants to travel the world and be as cultured as possible, and post everything on their profile. This is why it is important for each of us to check our hearts to remind ourselves why we do what we do. It never hurts to check your heart, before you make an instagram or facebook post: Does this glorify GOD or ME?

December 29th – Read John 9 

In this chapter, we see Jesus’ ability to give new life to people in hopeless situations. Jesus Heals a Man born blind with mud and saliva. The disciples want to know why God would have punished this man with blindness. Did he commit some terrible sin? Or were his parents sinners? Jesus says that neither is the case. The man was born blind so that God’s good works could be shown off. Afterwards, the blind man runs into his Neighbors and also goes before the Pharisees to explain the miracle that happened. Later, Jesus uses this concept of blindness and

sight to represent our spiritual state. Jesus is always interconnecting our daily life with our walk with God.

Points of Interest 

1. Like His disciples questioned him in verse 2, it is easy to feel the need to put blame or cast judgements about why people are poor. Said very plainly, if we see a drunk on the streets, what do we immediately assume? We must realize that we should have the same compassion on a homeless drunk as we do on an orphaned girl. We are naturally predisposed to react differently to different people’s life circumstances and we have to overcome the natural urge to assume.
2. In verse 3, we see Jesus’ exact words “this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” We must have faith that no matter the extent of poverty we are faced with; God’s glory will be shown through it.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. When we see the depth of suffering and poverty around us, it can be easy to question God: Why was this man born blind? But when we take a step back and think, what does this teach us about a reason for suffering?
2. God’s work can’t be displayed if we aren’t the ambassadors of Christ we ought to be: Love like Jesus would.

December 30th – Read John 10 

In John 10, we learn all about the amazing shepherd that Jesus is to his sheep and how they respond only to his voice. Jesus not only explains himself as a shepherd once, but two times because the Pharisees not understand the first time. And even after He explains it to them a second time, a division takes place. The Jews are too blind to understand the truth. Many times throughout this passage, we see how the sheep listen to the Shepherd’s voice (3,4,5,16,27). The sheep don’t just hear the shepherd’s voice, but they listen and follow. The sheep trust that He will take care of them when he simply calls out their names. When you are asking God to lead you, are you listening for a quiet whisper or a megaphone and sirens to show you where to go?

Points of Interest 

1. Verse 10 says, “A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance (CSB).”
2. Verse 29-30 says, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” There is nothing that
3. Like verse 27 illustrates, are you listening and following the voice of Jesus?
4. Verse 38, explains how sometimes people might not be interested in following God, but
they might be interested serving his people.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. Our relationship with God should always be an adventure of loving him and loving others as a result.  Are you on an adventure with God? Do you strive to have fun and do crazy things with him? (Psalm 73:23-26) Is God holding your right hand everywhere you go? Is Jesus your “right hand and your go to?”
2. Just focus on how amazing it is that we get to serve such an amazing God who wants to be so close to us!
3. Sometimes the best way to reach out to people is to show them how much you love to serve others. In today’s society, everyone wants to “do good” in the world. Though they might not be directly interested in a relationship with God, use the ways that you serve the community as a reach out tool. Prayerfully, this might eventually open their hearts to God!

December 31st – Read John 11

Jesus’ very good friend, Lazarus, was very sick. Jesus said this situation would be for God’s glory. Jesus waited an extra 2 days before heading back to Lazarus. And even, when he did head toward Judea, his disciples questioned him. Here Jesus give them an admonition to not hide from troubles, but rather to stay in the light. After Jesus explains that Lazarus has died, Thomas says “Let us also go, that we may die with him”. When Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead 4 days and there was a bad odor! Therefore everyone knew he was REALLY dead!

Jesus talks with both Martha and Mary. They both had faith that if Jesus had been there, their brother would not have died. But Jesus challenged them to have even greater faith…and that he is The resurrection and The life!
Jesus exhibited great emotion as he went to the tomb. This showed his love for Lazarus and his own humanness!

Apparently, Martha and Mary had faith, because that was a condition Jesus stated in v 40 for them to see the glory of God…and they had to be convinced to take away the stone even though there was a bad odor

Jesus prayed and Lazarus CAME OUT of his own volition!!! Take a moment to really feel the emotions of what those people would have felt. Unbelievable amazement and joy!!!!! This caused a huge spike in the faith of many…as well as a huge spike in the determination of others to get rid of Jesus…as you read on in John, it seems that Lazarus being raised creates a huge momentum that motivates the Pharisees to act drastically to rid themselves of their Jesus problem.

Points of Interest 

1. In vs 5-6 the NIV seems to tell us that it was because of his love for Mary and Martha that Jesus let them experience 2 more days of grief and pain…so that the power of raising Lazarus could be felt so much more…so that it would build so much more faith.

2. The sisters believed Jesus could have healed Lazarus, but before verse 40, a resurrection never even crossed their minds.
3. Jesus showed his emotions. He was fully human and understands the emotions we feel.

4. Jesus’ blatant power created both faith and hatred. Even though, this miracle was hugely substantiated to the Pharisees, they refused to change their perspective.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. If you feel like you are going through an unbearable time, how can you look for the faith that God is planning to build in you? (Ro 8:28)
2. How can you remind yourself that sometimes God has something in mind, that has never even crossed yours? Pray for the faith to see what Jesus is trying to show you and the faith to act on it in the way Jesus wants you to.

January 1st – Read John 12 

While Jesus is in Bethany, reclining at the dinner table, Mary took a pound of fragrant oil and anointed Jesus’ feet and  wiped His feet with her hair. Imagine the humility and gratitude Mary has.

Later because the news of Lazarus was spreading, the chief priests were out to kill not only Jesus, but Lazarus too. You can’t stop God!

The following day, when Jesus entered Jerusalem, a large crowd kept shouting “Hosana!” while he rode in on a young donkey over palm branches. This large crowd of Jews were in town because of the Passover Celebration. Once Jesus was in Jerusalem, he predicted his death and concludes with a summary of his Mission. All the while, Jesus constantly reminds his followers, “For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say” (Verses 49-50).

Points of Interest

1. In verses 1-5, we see that this is the form in which Mary shows her love to Christ. At a huge cost to herself, she pours herself out. She gives her best to Jesus.
2. Mary does this out of gratitude for what Jesus has done in her life.
3. In verses 27-28, we see the mental battle that takes place in Jesus’ mind “Now my soul is
troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Jesus was willing to sacrifice for the glory of the father!

Go and Do Likewise

1. Are you  willing to pour yourself out for Jesus? Are you willing to empty the jar out for Jesus and give the best that you have in 2019?
2. Are you acting out of gratitude?
3. Are you willing to sacrifice your own comfort and plans to serve God and to glorify His name with all that you have?

January 2nd – Read John 13 

Jesus has been very busy in his ministry teaching, preaching, serving, healing, correcting and loving.  Now Jesus sits down at his last meal with his disciples and he does something no one would expect. He washes his disciples’ feet. He takes a towel and a basin of water, and lowers himself to wash and dry the feet of his disciples. People’s dusty, sandy feet were usually washed by the lowest-ranking servant of the household. Jesus’ actions were deliberate. Removing his outer clothing was a sign he was going to do some work, and it identified him with a lowly servant who was dressed in the same way.

After Jesus serves his disciples, he predicts his death and provides them with a new and great command, “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another (CSB, verses 34-35).”

Points of Interest 

1. In verses 1&3, Jesus says he “knew” what was coming. Jesus’ self-knowledge was at the heart of his willingness and ability to serve. These verses say that he knew who he was in terms of where He had come from, where he was going, and what his role was while he was on earth.

2. In verse 16, it says “Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master” Are you willing to lower yourself to do work that may be out of your comfort zone?
3. One of our greatest weapons in fighting off Satan’s schemes in this world is: love. Love is not a feeling but an action.

Go and Do Likewise

1. Do you know with certainty, what your role is on earth? Even if we don’t know specific details, we know enough to know that God calls us to give up our lives to love him and love others. With this self-knowledge, is it evident in the way that you act?
2. In practical terms, how can you “wash someone’s feet” in your daily life?
3. Reflecting on this passage, what would it look like for you to love others as Jesus has loved you?

January 3rd – Read John 14:1-14 

As Jesus and his disciples finish their evening meal where Jesus not only washed their feet, but also informed them that “[He] will be with [them] only a little while longer”, Jesus comforts His disciples. The next four chapters give us insight into Jesus and His disciples’ “family time”. I like to think of “family time” as a time of regrouping among an actual family or a group of friends, comrades, etc. Family time is necessary to make sure everyone is on the same page, unified, and of one spirit and mind. Jesus uses this “family time” — really the last extended time he had to be with his disciples and followers before he went to the Cross — to give them words of encouragement, comfort, vision and inspiration. In chapter 17, he finishes this precious time with his disciples by lifting up his voice in prayer to God (which we will talk about in a few days).

In these verses in the first half of John 14, Jesus immediately jumps into profound statements about himself, the Father, and Heaven.

Points of Interest 

1. V. 2: “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”  What incredible promises from Jesus! The way to eternal life is secure, as secure as our trust in Jesus. He has prepared the way for us, leading to a house with many rooms because he wants all of God’s children to be with him (1 Peter 3:9). We just have to be willing to believe and trust him.

2.V. 6-7: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’”  Jesus says this in response to Thomas’ question in v. 5 about how can they know the way when they don’t even know where Jesus is going. That’s a pretty valid question in my opinion! But look at how Jesus responds– as his disciples ask for direction, he points them back to him. Jesus is our guidance and direction. And as he goes onto say, Jesus is how we know God. He is the visible, tangible image of the invisible God. He is the only living way to the Father. By knowing Jesus, we inherently get to know the Creator of the universe. How insane is that!?
3. Jesus is the way– the path to the Father; the truth– the reality of all God’s promises; and the life– He joins his divine life to ours, both now and eternally
4. V. 12: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” WOW.  Did you know that Jesus, the Son of God, the man who walked on water, made the lame talk, and raised the dead to life, said that we (His disciples) will do even greater things than these?! That’s not to say we will do more amazing miracles, but that working in the power of the Holy Spirit (which he tells us more about in these upcoming chapters), we will get the opportunity to  evangelize the world! But we’ve got to have faith in him!

Go and Do Likewise 

1. Do you really believe Jesus is preparing a place for you in Heaven? He wants you with Him for all of eternity! And He wants His other children there too! Share these scriptures with someone today and have a conversation about Heaven. Ask them if they also believe Jesus is preparing a place for them!
2. It is only by faith that we will do what Jesus did– how important does that then make our faith? Where is your faith right now? Do you have a weak faith, or a strong faith? How can you grow in your faith to believe and then do “even greater things than these”?

January 4th – Read John 14:15-31 

This second half of John 14 is a continuation of what Jesus was saying in the first half of the chapter. In fact, although there are headings that break up the chapters to give us clarity of the main idea of a passage, we must remember that these headings are man-made and with that, try to understand the flow of what is going on. This is a single conversation Jesus is having with his disciples.

Points of Interest 

There are numerous points to highlight in this part of Jesus’ words, but today we’re going to focus on just one of them that continues to come up–

1. Obedience is Jesus’ love language. Most people know the five love languages– acts of service, gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation, and quality time. Well in 1 John 5:3, it says that, “This is love for God: to obey his commands.” And here in John 14, we learn that obedience is both Jesus’ and God’s love language.

a. “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” v. 15
b. “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He
who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show
myself to him.” v. 21
c. “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My father will love him, and we
will come to him and make our home with him.” v. 23
d. “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” v. 24
When we obey Jesus, that is how he knows we love him. That is how he feels our love is through our obedience to him. And Jesus expresses love through obedience too– “…but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” (v. 31) As in everything, Jesus first shows us an example of how to love God– obey Him!

Go and Do Likewise 

1. How do you express your love for God to Him? Is it through obedience? Love is more than nice words; it is commitment and actions. If you love Christ, then prove it by obeying what He says in His Word. How will you love/obey God today?

January 5th – Read John 15:1-17 

In the last verse of John 14, Jesus says, “Come now; let us leave”, which suggests that these next chapters (15-17) may have been spoken en route to the Garden of Gethsemane. Another view is that Jesus was asking the disciples to get ready to leave the upper room where they ate the Last Supper, but they did not actually go until 18:1.

Points of Interest 

1.V. 1-5: Jesus is the vine; God is the gardener who cares for the branches; and we, as followers of Christ, are the branches. There are two types of branches for which He uses two different kinds of pruning: 1) the unfruitful branches which are cut off from the vine, which represents unproductive followers of Christ who turn back from God and must be cut off from the vine because they are as good as dead and can infect the rest of the tree; 2) the fruitful branches which are pruned to be even more fruitful, which represents faithful followers of Christ who are “pruned”, or discipled, to promote growth, and strengthen character and faith. “Fruit” is not only limited to conversions and helping others become disciples, but can also be answered prayer, joy, and love, as mentioned in verses 7, 11, and 12 of this chapter (also see Galatians 5:22-24). Just as an actual tree branch cannot survive without direct connection to the vine, we as followers of Jesus cannot bear fruit, survive, or really do anything without direct connection to Jesus.
2. V. 9-11: We once again see the importance of obeying Jesus’ commands: it not only shows Jesus that we love Him, but obeying His commands also keeps us in His love. Jesus has just given us the secret to having complete joy– remaining in Christ’s love by obeying him! Joy comes from a consistent relationship with Jesus Christ. True joy, complete joy, transcends all the lows and valleys of life, because it comes from living daily with Jesus.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. Are you receiving the nourishment and life offered by Christ, the vine? What “pruning” is God doing in your life right now? How are you reacting to it?
2. Jesus has chosen and appointed you to go and bear fruit (v. 16) — how do you feel about that? What fruit in your life are you bearing for Christ? Are you bearing any fruit? Remember you will not be able to produce any fruit apart from Christ.
3. Is your joy complete? What does that look like, or what do you think it would look like for your joy to be complete? Think personally in your own life.

January 6th – Read John 15:18 – 16:4 

Just as Jesus has spent the last little while teaching His disciples about the Way, promising the Holy Spirit, comforting them, and teaching them to remain in Him, He now warns them of the hatred of the world.

Points of Interest 

1. V. 1-2: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

a. The world hates us as followers of Jesus because it first hated Him. You can take comfort in that fact that there is truly nothing we endure that Jesus Himself did not go through as well. You have been chosen out of the world to live for Him. And with all the hatred we get from the world, we need love and support from each other all the more– that is why He commands us to love each other in v. 12 and 17. Don’t let small issues get in the way of loving other disciples.

2. V. 26: “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.”

a. Even though this world is so full of evil and hatred, Jesus once again comforts us and gives us hope. He has given us the Holy Spirit to strengthen us as we endure the unreasonable hatred and evil in our world and the hostility many have toward Jesus and Christians. What else do you learn about the Holy Spirit in this verse? He is a Counselor/Advocate and the Spirit of truth. The Spirit ministers to both the heart and the head, by encouraging, helping and strengthening us, as well as teaching, illuminating, and reminding us of Christ and His Word.

3. 16v.2 — An example of this is actually Saul (who later became Paul), who under the authority of the high priest, went throughout the land persecuting and killing Christians, convinced that He was doing the right thing (Acts 9:1-2, 26:9-11).

Go and Do Likewise 

1. Do you ever feel out of place in this world? Remember that you are not alone. Just as Jesus did not belong to this world, neither do you as His follower. How can you stand out in this world for Jesus today? How will you show that you belong to Christ?
2. How do you see the Holy of Spirit? Do you see His work in your life as more of a Counselor/Advocate to you, or the Spirit of truth? He should be and is both.

January 7th – Read John 16:5-16 

These next few verses give us more insight into who the Holy Spirit is and the work that he has come to do.

Points of Interest 

1. V. 7: “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

a. This is quite a profound statement that I had a hard time believing the first time I read it. But think about it: unless Jesus did what he came to do, there would be no gospel. If he did not die, he could not remove our sins, he could not rise again, or defeat death. Only once he returned to the Father would the Holy Spirit come. Christ’s presence on earth was limited to one place at a time, but through the Holy Spirit, He could be present to the whole world. Believe it or not initially, it was for our good that Jesus went away so that we could receive the presence of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, to strengthen and be with us at all times.

2.V. 8-11: There are three important tasks of the Holy Spirit:

a. Convicting the world of its sin and calling it to repentance
b. Revealing the standard of God’s righteousness to anyone who believes (since Christ would no longer be physically present on earth)
c. Demonstrating Christ’s judgment over Satan
3. V. 13: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”
a. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would “tell [them] what is yet to come.” The disciples didn’t fully understand these promises until the Holy Spirit came after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Then the Holy Spirit revealed truths to the disciples that they wrote down in the books that now make up the New Testament, as discussed in 2 Peter 1:20-21.

4. V. 16: Here Jesus is referring to his impending death (now only a few hours away), and his resurrection three days later.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. How does the Holy Spirit do those important tasks listed in v. 8-11 in your life?
2. Write down all the qualities of the Holy Spirit that you have learned from this passage and previous passages we’ve read. Feel free to also look up more scriptures in the Bible about the Holy Spirit to learn more about Him!

January 8th – Read John 16:17-33 

Before Jesus starts praying in chapter 17, we see the disciples ask him a few more questions and see how Jesus responds to them. Jesus doesn’t stop explaining and teaching these things until His disciples understand that He knows all things and they express their belief in Him (v. 30).

Points of Interest 

1. V. 22-27: Jesus is talking about a new relationship with God that every believer gets to experience after Jesus dies and is resurrected. Before Jesus, people could only approach God through a priest, by sacrificing offerings to become righteous and holy before God. After Jesus’ resurrection, any believer can now approach God directly, talking with God personally. We are able to approach God not because of our own merit and righteousness, but because Jesus, our great high priest, has made us acceptable to God. (Hebrews 10:19- 23)
2. V. 32: “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.”

a. In Mark 14:50, we know that the disciples all scattered after Jesus was arrested. Jesus accepted their statement of faith in v. 30 even though he knew their weakness. He knew they would have to grow into people whose words and lives matched even to the point of death. Jesus takes us through that same process.

3. V. 33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

a. In this concluding thought, Jesus sums up everything he had told them that night, tying together themes from 14:27-29, 16:1-4, and 16:9-11. He tells His disciples to take courage, in spite of the inevitable struggles they would face, because they would not be alone. The same goes for us. He does not abandon us to our struggles, but has given us His Holy Spirit and His Word. If we remember that the ultimate victory has already been won, we can claim the peace of Christ in any hardship we face.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. Do you understand what a gift it is to be able to directly approach God? This is something our brothers and sisters in OT times could not have even imagined, and too often we take this gift for granted. Spend some time today praising and thanking God for Jesus and the gift He gave us to approach the throne of God through His death and resurrection.
2. Do your words and your life match? How well are you living out what you say you believe about Jesus?
3. Today, as in everyday, you have been given the victory through Christ. Live today as a victor! What will that look like for you to live today knowing you have already won the greatest battle of all time?

January 9th – Read John 17:1-19 

Here begins our look into Jesus’ prayer to God before going to the Cross. As Jesus says in v. 1, “the hour has come”: Jesus has spent about 33 years on earth with a mission and purpose to bring eternal life to all mankind (v.2-3), and the time has arrived for Him to bring this mission to fulfillment. No more waiting. Let’s see what He is feeling and thinking in this critical hour, as He lifts up His prayer to God with His disciples.

Points of Interest 

1. V. 5: “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

a. Before coming to earth, Jesus was one with God. Here we see Jesus asking God to restore Him to His original place of honor and authority. Think about what that must have been like for Jesus to leave His place of glory next to the Father (which He had since “before the world began”) to come to our measly earth– and not even in a time of running water, technology, and some of the luxuries we have today. Just coming to earth was a sacrifice for the Son of God. Don’t take that lightly.

2. V. 10: “All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.”

a. God’s glory is the revelation of His character and presence. So what did Jesus mean when he said “glory has come to me through them”? The lives of disciples of Jesus reveal his character, and he is present to the world through them. Through us, his disciples, he is glorified.

3. V. 15-19: Jesus never asked God to take disciples out of the world.  Instead, Jesus prays for our protection from Satan and to use us in this world. The battle against Satan is real; Jesus knew that. So he prayed for our protection, and that we would be sanctified (set apart for sacred use, cleansed, made holy) by the truth, which is his Word. Jesus first sanctified himself by his death and resurrection so that we could also be sanctified. Over and over again, we see Jesus’ unfailing love for us and that he never asks us to do something that he did not first do himself.

Go and Do Likewise

1. Does your life reveal Jesus’ glory by displaying his character and presence?  How can you bring Jesus more glory with your life?
2. Are you being sanctified– set apart, cleansed, made holy  by the truth? By the Bible? Daily application of God’s Word has a purifying effect on our minds and hearts.
3. We have been sent by Jesus into the world (v.18) — do you see yourself as sent? Today, pray to see yourself as sent, as a messenger of Christ. How will this change your day? How can this perspective change your life?

January 10th – Read John 17:20-26 

What a gift it is to have this prayer of Jesus’ recorded, as in many ways we can think of it as some of Jesus’ final words, thoughts, and emotions before His death on the cross. And look at how He spends this time! Compare the length of Jesus’ prayer for himself to His prayer for his disciples and future believers. He spends the majority of this time praying for others! Once again, we get a look into the selfless, unconditional love Jesus has for his followers, even for all of us who were not born yet!

Points of Interest 

1.V. 20-23: Jesus’ great desire for His disciples was that they would become one. He wanted them unified as a powerful witness to the reality of God’s love. He prayed for our unity based on our unity with him and the father. As disciples, we can only know unity among ourselves if we are living in union with God. Think of it using the vine and branch analogy Jesus speaks of in chapter 15– each branch living in union with the vine is united with all other branches doing the same.
2.V. 24: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

a. Jesus desperately wants you to be with him in heaven. Remember that he has chosen you out of this world to be with him. He wants you to know and see his glory. you are precious to him!

Go and Do Likewise 

1. Are you helping to unify the body of Christ, the church? Make a list of somethings you can do. (i.e. pray for other Christians, avoid gossip, encourage others, work together in humility, give your time and money, exalt Christ, refuse to be carried away by divisive matters).
2. Do you realize and believe that Jesus wants you to be with him for all of eternity? How does that make you feel? Does that change how you see him?

January 11th – Read John 18:1-40 

After praying, Jesus leaves with the disciples. They cross over the Kidron Valley by the Temple and go to an olive grove outside the city. Judas Iscariot knows where Jesus and the disciples will be, and leads some soldiers and officials from the High Priest to the olive grove. Jesus meets them head on, which surprises the soldiers and officials. Jesus gives himself up to the soldiers, and tries to ensure the disciples will go free. Peter draws a sword and cuts off the ear of one of the High Priest’s servants. Jesus disapproves of this action.

Jesus is bound and taken to Annas, father-in-law of Caiaphas, the High Priest appointed by Rome to help maintain order in Judea (the southern province of Palestine). There Jesus is questioned about his teachings. He replies that he taught in public so there is no secret to what he said.

While Jesus is questioned by the High Priest, Peter is outside warming himself by a fire. A servant girl asks if he is a disciple of Jesus. Peter denies it. Another person also asks if Peter is one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter denies it. Another man (related to the servant who lost his ear to Peter’s sword) is convinced he saw Peter in the olive grove when Jesus was arrested. Peter denies it. A rooster then begins to crow, confirming Jesus’ prediction about Peter’s denial.

Jesus is then taken to Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect in charge of Judea. The High Priest and the Jewish leaders cannot condemn Jesus to death, but the Romans can. Pilate asks if Jesus is claiming to be King of the Jews. Jesus replies that he is a King, but not of this world. The purpose of Jesus’ Kingship is Truth. Pilate does not agree with Jesus, but he doesn’t think he should be executed. He proposes to the Jewish leaders that he releases Jesus as part of a Passover custom. Passover was a celebration of when Israel was freed from Egypt. The Jewish leaders are not happy with this idea. They want Pilate to release Barabbas, leader of an armed rebellion, instead.

Points of Interest 

1. In verse 4, Jesus meets the approaching soldiers and officials head on. In the process, he also tries to ensure the freedom of his followers.
2. In verses 10 and 26-27 we see two sides to Peter. He was willing to be associated with Jesus when it was an exciting moment and there was a big crowd that could back him up. However, Peter did not want to be associated with Jesus when he was on his own in a quieter moment.

3. In verses 36-38, Jesus makes it clear that the citizens of his kingdom play by a different set of rules. They don’t fight like the world fights, and they listen to the truth, they listen to Jesus. Pilate, despite literally staring truth in the face (John 14:6) doesn’t recognize it.

Go and DO Likewise

1. How can you meet troubles head on? Are you one who shrinks away when things get tough, or do you stand up for others and confront challenges? There’s no question about bad things happening, the question is how you can be a leader in those situations.
2. How do you display  being a citizen of the kingdom and not the world? Does it show in your words? Your actions? How you interact with others in your school, work, family etc.?

January 12th – Read John 19:1-42 

Because Pilate does not think Jesus has done anything deserving a death sentence, he has him flogged. Although the Jewish people had regulations on how many times a person could be whipped, the Romans did not. The Roman soldiers also make Jesus a crown of thorns and a purple robe, mocking him and slapping him in the face for being the so called “King of the Jews”. The Jewish leaders still want to see Jesus crucified though. Pilate tries to reason with them, but the crowd is convinced Jesus has spoken blasphemy by claiming to be the Son of God. This blasphemy carries with it a death sentence. Eventually Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified.

The Roman soldiers then take Jesus outside Jerusalem to a place called Golgotha (which means place of the Skull). Two other people are crucified along with Jesus. Pilate, despite the protests from the Jewish leaders, insists on placing a sign reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” on Jesus’ cross. Jesus is stripped naked while the soldiers gamble over his clothes. Meanwhile, Jesus’ mother Mary, as well as two other women and John the apostle are present as Jesus dies. Jesus makes sure that his mother will be cared for by John in his absence. Women had next to no job opportunities at the time, and social security nets were also non-existent. Without a man to care for her, Jesus’ mother would have become very desperate. As death approaches, Jesus requests a drink and then proclaims “It is finished”. He dies.

According to the Jewish Law in Deuteronomy 21:23, the bodies of criminals cannot be left hanging after sunset. It is also the day of Preparation before a special Sabbath day of rest. Therefore, the soldiers pierce Jesus’ side to make sure he’s dead, and break the legs of the other two people crucified to speed up their death. With the permission of Pilate, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (both secret disciples of Jesus because they feared the Jewish leaders) take Jesus’ body and prepare according to Jewish customs prior to placing the body in a tomb outside of Jerusalem.

Points of Interest 

1. In verse 14, the day Jesus died is the day of Preparation. This was the day during the Spring Passover feast that the lambs were slaughtered for the feast. Passover was all about when God sent the plague of death on the firstborns of Egypt, but the houses of Israel were spared because they took the blood of lambs and spread it on their doorposts. Following this event, Israel was able to be free of slavery in Egypt. It’s no coincidence that Jesus, the lamb whose blood spares us from death, and leads us out of freedom from sin is also killed on that day.
2. In verses 26-27, Jesus ensures his mother will be taken care of when he’s gone. Even in the midst of agonizing death, Jesus was looking to the needs of others. He understood how to delegate and that meeting the needs of his own family was important.
3. In verse 34, when a soldier pierces Jesus’ side with a spear, blood and water flow out. This confirms Jesus has died from being unable to properly breath on the cross, but it also symbolizes something more. Blood, according to Leviticus 17:11 is a symbol of life and having a right relationship with God. Water, is an almost universal symbol of cleansing. Jesus’ death leads to life, a right relationship with God, and cleansing from the mess we’ve made.
4. In verses 38-42, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus go out of their way to serve Jesus and take care of his body. However, both are described as secret disciples, very much controlled by fear. In spite of this they are still able to do a great thing.

Go and Do Likewise

1. Don’t lose sight of Jesus’ death. It’s the ultimate expression of love from a God who wants to clean up the messes we get ourselves into, have a right relationship with us, and give us true freedom! Jesus’ death should be one of the motivations for us to serve as he did. We have been freed to give others freedom, we have been comforted to give others comfort. Who, and in what ways, can you comfort someone today? What are some long term, regular ways you can show the same kind of love God showed to those in your neighborhood, in your ministry and around the world?
2. Often we can confine service to something we do as a special event.  Service is more than that, it’s an attitude and a lifestyle. How have you been doing at serving your friends  or family members?

January 13th – Read John 20:1-18 

Mary Magdalene goes to Jesus’ tomb possibly to finish the rushed burial ceremony. Upon arriving, she realizes the stone covering the entrance is moved and the tomb is open. She goes back to Peter and John in the city of Jerusalem and tells them what she has seen. The two men go running to the tomb. There they find the burial cloths but no body. The burial cloths are laid in such a way that they have not been disturbed. Jesus’ body has somehow passed through the cloths rather than the body being stolen.

Peter and John leave the area by the tomb, but Mary remains there crying. When she looks in the tomb, there are two angels. They ask her why she is crying. She replies that the reason is because she does not know where Jesus’ body has been taken. She turns around to see a man she thinks is the gardener. This man also asks why she is crying. Since she thinks he is the gardener, and therefore responsible for the grounds around the tombs, she asks him where she can find Jesus’ body. When the man says her name, she realizes it is Jesus, her teacher and Lord. Jesus instructs her to find the other disciples and tell them that he is going to be returning to God. Mary then goes back to the other disciples to tell them about all she saw and heard.

Points of Interest

1. In verse 4, Peter and John are running to the tomb after Mary tells them it’s empty. They didn’t walk, they didn’t delay, they ran. News about their Lord took priority and demanded immediate action.
2. In verse 9, it says that Pater and John had not yet realized that Jesus had to rise from the dead. This was God’s best and only plan from the start.
3. In verse 16, Mary only recognizes Jesus when he says her name.  Despite being so familiar with him, she did not immediately recognize him. Recognition only came when he personally spoke her name.
4.In verse 17, Jesus gives Mary a mission. She has to spread the good news about Jesus to the disciples.

Go and Do Likewise 
1. In the same way that Jesus rising from the dead was God’s  plan, you are part of God’s plan to spread the news about Jesus and meet the needs of the poor.  He has given us the  responsibility. Regardless of how much we trust ourselves with such an important task, God trusts us. Does this motivate you to grow in your evangelism and service?
2. How emotionally invested in Jesus are you? Like a close friend or family member, do you recognize when he calls your name? How can you strengthen that relationship? Only when we’re strong in that relationship will we be able to fully meet the needs we see.
3. Just as Mary Magdalene had to spread good news to the disciples, we need to spread the good news to other disciples. Who can you think of in your own ministry that would benefit from encouragement?

January 14th – Read John 20:19-31 

Mary, Peter and John have already seen the empty tomb Sunday morning. That evening, the disciples are hidden behind closed doors. They’re afraid that they might also be arrested and executed like their Lord Jesus. At this moment, Jesus appears to them in the room, speaks to them and shows them his wounds. He tells them to go out into the world just as he went out into the world. He also gives them the Holy Spirit. Thomas is not present at the time.

Thomas, despite the testimony of the other disciples, still has his doubts about Jesus being raised to life. He won’t take their word for it, but wants his own experience of the risen Lord. A week later, Thomas gets just that. Jesus once again appears and shows Thomas his wounds and speaks to him. Thomas’ response is to worship Jesus. Jesus explains that Thomas’ belief depended on personal experience, but this will not be the case for everyone who believes.

Points of Interest 

1. In verse 21, Jesus explains the pattern behind sending out the disciples. It follows the same pattern as Jesus’ experience. God sent Jesus, Jesus sent the first disciples, and so on and so forth throughout history to the present day.
2. In verse 27, it takes Thomas experiencing Jesus first hand and touching Jesus’ wounds to fully believe and commit to Jesus. There were doubts that held Thomas back, but experiencing Jesus negated those doubts.
3. In verse 30-31, the author of the book (John) explains that everything recorded in the book is not everything that Jesus did. There was more! John picked those things which would increase the faith of others and allow them to live a life like Jesus lived.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. The cycle of going into the world to spread spiritual and physical healing was initiated by God and Jesus, and continues with you! How does it feel to be able to participate in such an historic and great mission? Do you feel ready? Does it encourage you to know that God thinks you’re ready?
2. We all can be like Thomas. What holds you back from believing and committing to Jesus? What are your doubts?  Jesus is more than willing to respond to those doubts by making himself known to you.
3.The purpose of writing the Gospel of John was to increase the faith of others and help them live like Jesus lived. Your actions can do the same thing for others. How can you be sure your actions send this message? Is your life based on leading yourself and others closer to a life lived Jesus’ way? What does a life lived Jesus’ way look like?

January 15th- Read John 21:1-25 

Despite Jesus giving them a mission and the Holy spirit, the disciples are back to fishing. After catching nothing all night, a stranger on the shore suggests that they put their nets on the other side of the boat. This leads them to catching so many fish that they cannot lift the nets back up into the boat. At this point, John realizes that the man on the shore is Jesus. Peter jumps out of the boat and wades through the shallows to the shore about 100 yards away. The other disciples follow in the boat, dragging the nets full of fish behind them.

On the shore, Jesus has prepared breakfast for the disciples. They eat together, and then Jesus has some words for them. Three times, Jesus gets Peter to publicly declare his commitment to Jesus. This is the exact opposite of when Peter denied knowing Jesus three times during Jesus’ trial before the High Priest (John 18:15-27). Jesus continues to explain how this commitment will someday require Peter to be executed. Peter wants to know if this will also be the case for John. Jesus does not answer the question directly, but rather emphasizes that Peter must worry first about his own commitment to Jesus. Apparently, this led some to believe for years afterwards that John would live forever, something the author stresses was not what Jesus meant by his response to Peter. John closes out his book by explaining that the events recorded are only the tip of the iceberg. Jesus did so much that there is probably not enough time or space to discuss it all. Even to the present-day people continue to write, and talk about all that Jesus said and did.

Points of Interest 

1. In verse 3, Peter and the other disciples go fishing. Many of the disciples were fishermen by trade, and Jesus had called them from that job to follow him. Even though he had already given them the mission of going into the world equipped with the Holy Spirit, they went back to their old ways.
2. In verses 10-13, Jesus makes breakfast for his disciples. He doesn’t get them to make him breakfast, he makes it for them. Despite it being a small gesture, he still took the time to do it.
3. In verses 18-19, Jesus explains to Peter what type of death he would suffer. Although the Bible does not mention it, early traditions claim that Peter was crucified in Rome during the persecution of Christians by Emperor Nero. Because he did not consider himself worthy of dying like Jesus died, Peter apparently asked to be crucified upside down. Despite all this, Jesus still expected Peter to follow him.
4. In verse 22, Jesus makes Peter’s discipleship very personal. It doesn’t matter if Peter has to die a horrible death while John never has to die, Peter still has to follow Jesus. The circumstances may vary, but the expectation is the same: commitment to Jesus no matter what that entails.

Go and Do Likewise 

1. It can be easy to get sidetracked from the mission at hand. What are some old patterns that you can easily go back to instead of pressing forward with the task Jesus has given you? Maybe it’s laziness, ambition, greed, selfishness or any number of things. Being self-aware can help make sure that you are focused on Jesus’ mission and service rather than your old way of doing things. How can you make sure you don’t fall into your old patterns?

2. Jesus met simple needs as well as big needs. Do you feel that some acts of service are too small to waste your time on? How can you meet small everyday needs?
3. Following Jesus and service is important.  People have died throughout history for following Jesus . Are you willing to follow Jesus no matter what he calls you to go through? Does being aware of the worst-case scenario make you back away from following Jesus?
4. It can be easy to compare our own situation to others. We can view it as unfair if others have any easier time than we do. Do you feel entitled to an easy life or comfort in any way? Is your service and relationship with Jesus personal or based on what others do? If you were the only one serving would you still do it?

CONCLUSION

You have spent the last month studying and reflecting on how Jesus served, reached out to, and loved others. Hopefully you’ve had the chance to put some of it into action.  We hope and pray that you have the best year so far.  Here is to a great 2019!!