I am thirsty. ... It is finished.

Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. -John 19:28-30 NRSV

I want to again look at the cross through the eyes of Mary, John and others at the cross. They had no understanding about what would happen in just a few days. Unlike us, they had no ability to see the cross in light of the resurrection. It reminds me of that day that I stood by my wife's side when she breathed her last breath. "It is finished" seemed so final.

Jesus' death seemed both human and divine. Like a man, he was thirsty. Like God, he had power to leave his body. Yet the people who were watching Jesus die did not understand the divine part of the story. It causes me to consider how I forget about my own divine story. I am more than the sum of the things that happen to me. Divinity lives in me.

Lord help me to remember that I am part human and part divine because you live in me.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

Your Son. Your Mother.

There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle. ... When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. -John 19:18,26-27 NRSV

It is so easy to get wrapped up in all of the hoopla that is surrounding Jesus as he suffers on the cross and forget that one is watching him with a broken heart. What would it have been like to have been Mary? Can you even imagine watching your son being treated in such a vile fashion? What a nightmarish experience this must have been for Mary.

Yet another is also watching with a broken heart. John, the writer of the gospel, who describes himself as the disciple whom he loved, is standing next to Jesus' mom. He too cannot believe what he is seeing. His soul has been pierced and hope seems so far. To these two hurting souls Jesus speaks sweet words calling them into a family relationship.

With these words Christ speaks to us about finding comfort in each other when life seems out of control. In a sense we are God's familial gifts to each other. Lord, give me a heart for your family. Help us to share our pain with each other.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

I have power to crucify you ...

“Where are you from?” Jesus did not answer him. So Pilate said to him, “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?” Jesus answered [him], “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” ... They cried out, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” -John 19:9-11,15 NRSV

The trials are over and two courts have spoken. The Jews render a guilty verdict. Pilate finds no guilt in Jesus. He does not want to execute the man before him and tries to talk with him. In the end Pilate washes his hands of the matter and submits Christ to the court of public opinion. The verdict is rendered. Crucify him. Crucify him. Hate wins the day.

In the end it seems that Pilate's words were empty. He had no power. He was a pawn played by religious leaders and the power of public opinion. The greater sin was committed by them and not Pilate. Yet, even in such darkness, God was working. His power was on display. Love was overcoming hate. And the power of good turning evil inside out.

Help me Lord to see the power of good working in my life. Teach me to see love winning the day.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

My kingdom is not from this world.

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. -John 18:36-38 NRSV

Jesus stands before Pilate condemned to death by religious leaders who twist his words as they bring him to the governor. So Pilate asks Jesus if he sees himself as the King of the Jews. In a few sentences Jesus not only refutes the claims of his accusers but goes on to declare to Pilate who he really is and the sort of kingdom he rules over.

I love the phrase "For this I was born". Jesus came to tell humanity the truth. Some listened. Most refused to hear. Some, like Pilate, would not know truth if it stood before them. Yet the truth remains. The visible kingdoms of this world are subservient to the invisible kingdom of God. And Christ Jesus now sits as King of kings and Lord of lords.

We bow to you King Jesus. Open our eyes to the truth Lord. Help us to see the invisible kingdom.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

Why do you ask me?

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together.
I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” -John 18:19-22 NRSV

Questions. Some arise from a good heart and a sincere motive. Some arise from evil hearts and motives. Yet a question, in an of itself, is (generally speaking) neither good nor bad. So when Jesus returns a question with a question he is addressing more than the question. He is speaking to the dark motives of the religious leaders that asked.

The reaction of the religious policeman speaks to how the words of Christ were received. Many then, and even today, respond by lashing out against those who would question those in authority. It is a sad commentary on the abuse of power and authority. It gives us cause to pause and weigh the intents of our heart when we ask questions.

Help us Lord to watch over our hearts. Teach us to really listen before we speak.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

Am I not to drink the cup?

Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. ... Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?” -John 18:4-6,10-11 NRSV

Such an interesting contrast of power in this passage. Peter, and all present, watch as soldiers twice recoil and fall as Jesus speaks the words "I am". It is a reminder that of the words that Jesus spoke about having angels at his disposal. Yet Peter, a fisherman, felt a need to swing a sword. He was ready to go to war. His messianic vision was earthly.

The words of Jesus challenge me. I wince when he speaks of drinking the cup of suffering. Sometimes the things we do for others come at great cost. In truth, I want to swing a proverbial sword of resistance. Yet love compels me to drink of the cup. To endure the suffering when I want to strike out. To patiently trust that God is at work in my pain.

I hurt and want your power Lord. Help me to remember that your power is made complete in my weakness.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.

That they may all be one ...

I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. ... I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
-John 17:15,20-21 NRSV    

It is moments before soldiers will come to take Jesus away. He is praying and his disciples are listening. And a main theme of his prayer is that these would stay together after he was gone. Looking back over the past two millennia, I have to wonder if this prayer was answered at all. Division, not unity, seems to have marked the history of his followers.

On this same night Jesus told his followers that outsiders would know that they followed him because these would see the way that they loved each other. Love for each other would protect them from the evil one. It would breed harmony and not dissension. It would create a bond. These followers would be one in heart and spirit if they would only love.

We have fallen so far Lord. We, your church, have chosen to divide instead of love. Forgive us. Make us one again.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on the Gospel of John.