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Series: Lord of Lent
The Crucified King

John 12:12-27; 19:16b-22, NRSV

Reflections

And when the story does turn the world upside down, or the order of nature anyway, by telling us that Jesus lives again, it isn’t suggesting that he didn’t really die, or that we won’t really die. The happy ending makes a promise sized to the utmost extent of our darkest convictions. It says “Yes, and …” to tragedy. It promises, bizarrely enough, that love is stronger than death. But it does not promise that death is imaginary, that death is avoidable, that death is temporary. To have death, this once, be reversed is to let us feel the depth of our ordinary loss in it, not to pretend it away. Some people ask nowadays what kind of a religion it is that chooses an instrument of torture for its symbol, as if the cross on churches must represent some kind of endorsement. The answer is: one that takes the existence of suffering seriously.

– Francis Spufford
Unapologetic

  • Language of Hanukkah being used:
  • Symbols of Palm tree, Judah the Hammer, Hosanna (deliver, save in Hebrew)
  • But it’s a bit bizarre since it is Passover, not Hanukkah
  • Bringing Lazarus back from death created the buzz, that Jesus has power over death

  • God is “For” you, lets your re-frame your life, your troubles, re-frame your future

  • “All will be well”
  • Enthronement – John’s writing focus on Jesus’ Enthronement, not the suffering, not like the movie Passion of Christ
  • A Swiss Theologian Karl Barth: Conflict is between faithfulness of God and unfaithfulness of Man
  • Jesus comes down to bring the two together

  • v16 – disciples didn’t understand at first, but remember after


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Series: Lord of Lent
Trial Before Pilate, Part 2

John 19: 1-16a, NRSV

Reflections

I’ve often thought… that if I’d been a journalist in the Holy Land at the time of our Lord’s ministry, I should have spent my time looking into what was happening in Herod’s court. I’d be wanting to sign up Salome for her exclusive memoirs, and finding out what Pilate was up to, and… I would have missed completely the most important event there ever was.

– Malcolm Muggeridge
quoted in First Things

  • Pilate didn’t really want to be there, be bothered
  • He realized he need to handle the situation carefully (v8)
  • Pilate’s fear, hope, pride

  • Pilate hoped the beating/flogging were enough for Jewish leaders, but they responded “crucified him”
  • Jesus was mocked because of His claim of being Son of God
  • C.S. Lewis said of Jesus’ claim is either of no importance, or infinite importance, but it cannot be is moderately important
  • Tim Kellor mentioned in his sermon that Anne Rice was surprised of the hostility to Jesus throughout Jesus
  • Even many New Testament scholars despised Jesus, Son of God

  • Pilate is fear of rich Jewish leaders, and uprising of poor Jewish populations
  • It’s a matter of classes, he asked “Where you came from?” (v8)
  • Pilate realized it’s struggle of spiritual power, even though he boast about his own power
  • But Jesus says Power comes from God (v11), people’s power is temporary, on loan
  • We all have power, but how are we using it?
  • Parents have physical, financial, relational powers over their children
  • Bosses in workplaces have power of cultivating the culture, either with grace, or running treadmill

  • Pilate’s pride is challenged by Jewish leaders, questioning authority of Emperor


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Series: Lord of Lent
Trial Before Pilate

John 18: 28-40, NRSV

Reflections

Every call to worship is a call into the Real World…. I encounter such constant and widespread lying about reality each day and meet with such skilled and systematic distortion of the truth that I’m always in danger of losing my grip on reality. The reality, of course, is that God is sovereign and Christ is savior. The reality is that prayer is my mother tongue and the Eucharist my basic food. The reality is that baptism, not Myers-Briggs, defines who I am.

– Eugene H. Peterson
Take & Read

  • Jesus let the charges laid on Him
  • Even Pilate tried to give Jesus ways to get out
  • Jewish leaders won’t meet Pilate because they don’t wan to be “unclean”
    • obstacles to hear Jesus, like us putting obstacles to hear Jesus
  • Kingdom of God is not kingdom of this world, it’s upside down, not by sword, not crushing from above, but serving from below
  • in relationship, ask how do we invest, instead of what we get out of
  • Are we tourist or ambassador for the Kingdom of God?
  • We might think “If you really know me, you wouldn’t love me” But Jesus does know you, and He does love you
  • Pilate asks, what is the truth? Anybody can claim truth, be manipulative
  • “Pick your layer of bullsh*t” from the movie Hero, with Dustin Hoffman
  • How is your choice of layer working out for you?
  • Jesus is the way to truth. Knowing Him is knowing the Truth

  • If Jesus can answer every single question you have, you are acting like your own King, or Queen, your own authority, when all things revolves around you
  • Barabbas is the first person Jesus died for
  • No more condemnation, no more shame, no more guilt


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Series: Lord of Lent
Arrest and Denial

John 18: 12-27, NRSV

Reflections

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.

– “Screwtape,” a senior devil, to his nephew, “Wormwood,”
in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

  • Peter’s complete failure
  • Bible is filled with stories of people failing
  • Major injustice, major pressure
  • Don’t react to things, learn to respond to them
  • In the scripture, Peter is reacting to things happening, lack of self-aware, not taking into account of the identity and agenda given by God
  • (Note to self: when Peter said earlier that he would lay down his life for Jesus, was that reactive also?)
  • We often have our own identity and agenda
  • Toddlers and teenagers might not know their identity, but they definitely know their agenda, very reactive
  • After Peter’s failure is complete, he is ready for transformation
  • Jesus’ measured response to the high priest: non-violent, but ask them back questions


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Series: Lord of Lent
Kneeling Power, Kneeling Love: Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

John 13: 1-17, NRSV

Reflections

The horrified reaction of Peter … is the reaction of normal human nature. That the disciple should wash his master’s feet is normal and proper. But if the master becomes a menial slave to the disciple, then all proper order is overturned. This is a total subversion of good order as we understand it, and as the smooth operation of human affairs seems to required. All normal management procedures require chains of authority. All of us, except those at the very bottom, have a vested interest in keeping it so, for as long as we duly submit to those above us we are free to bear down on those below us. The action of Jesus subverts this order and threatens to destabilize all society.

– Leslie Newbigin
The Light Has Come

  • Jewish leaders warned that Jesus becomes too powerful, too populate, that Romans would destroy them all
  • Feet are awkward, unattractive
  • Peter confused the point of feet washing, that is the lesson of power of hierarchy structure, with getting cleansed
  • Do we then want to avoid being in high power position?
  • Jesus sees the necessary failure in Peter’s Life


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Series: Lord of Lent

Tears at the Tomb

John 11: 17-44, NRSV

Reflections

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

– C.S.Lewis
The Four Loves

  • Death is everywhere
  • Death of people, death of dreams
  • Louis C.K. hates cell phones (for kids)
  • Martha’s understanding of resurrection didn’t help her to grieve
  • Jesus know your name, and calls out your name, invite you to new life
  • Jesus gives us courage to face death in our lives


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Understanding Jesus: He Gives Sight to the Blind

John 9: 1-13; 18-41, NRSV

Reflections

“Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.” If it is “the Jews” whose actions illustrate this fact, it is only because they are the representatives of us all – as Paul insists in Romans 2-3. Every achievement in “making sense” of the world, insofar as it succeeds, creates a claim to “see” which is threatened by the coming of Jesus who overturns all the “wisdom of the world,” all the systems which are extrapolations from the experience of a world turned in upon itself. The coming of the light must always threaten every such system, for it can only be received in the simplicity of a child, in the simple gratitude of a man who says, “One thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.” This kind of “seeing,” this “wisdom from above” (James 3:17), begins and ends in worship, for the true light can never be a possession but only and always a gift.

– Leslie Newbigin
The Light Has Come

  • Jesus reveals who God is
  • Gives us new eyes to see who God is
  • Jesus not only sees us, he has empathy for us

  • “It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble, it’s the things we do know that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

  • Our usual reaction
    • Anger track – looking for scapegoat, blame it on parents
    • Guilt track – blaming yourself

  • It’s God’s grace when Jesus heals the man without being asked
  • You could be so secured you can’t soften your heart
  • Jesus finds rejected people (v35)
  • The blind man’s conversion, from v11 “The man called Jesus”, to v38 “Lord”
  • It wasn’t the blind man finds Jesus, it was Jesus finds him

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Understanding Jesus: Come To Me and Drink

John 7: 37-52, NRSV

Reflections

We can’t be human without God. That’s what Christians believe. We believe that this human life is a great gift, that every part of it is designed by God and therefore means something, that every part of it is blessed by God and therefore to be enjoyed, that every part of it is accompanied by God and therefore workable.

We can’t get away from God; he’s there whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not. We can refuse to participate in God; we can act as if God weren’t our designer, provider, and covenant presence. But when we refuse, we’re less; our essential humanity is less. Our lives are diminished and impoverished.

And it’s just this sense of lessness that gives us an important clue to understanding ourselves. We’re aware of something we need or lack most of the time. We’re not complete. We’re not fully human. This sense of being unfinished is pervasive and accounts for a great deal that’s distinctive in us humans. We then attempt to complete ourselves by getting more education or more money, going to another place or buying different clothes, searching out new experiences. The Christian gospel tells us that in and under and around all of these incompletions is God: God is who we need; the God-hunger, the God-thirst is the most powerful drive in us. It’s far stronger than all the drives of sex, power, security, and fame put together.

– Eugene H. Peterson
Leap Over a Wall

  • Note on a parchment stitched to the lining of Pascal’s coat: FIRE. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and scholars. Certainty. Certainty. Feeling. Joy. Peace.
  • Being thirsty is a sign of readiness to receive Him
  • v37 – Jesus cried out! Not preached, cried!
  • Jesus’ empathy for us, as He watch us worrying about things we can’t control in life
  • His intensity of empathy
  • Crying over you when you are at your very worse
  • Jesus offers us to come and drink – “His kindness that leads us to our repentance”
  • When we don’t feel thirsty for Him, maybe it is judgement for us, when we feel we need nothing

  • His intensity of His mission

  • His intensity of His vision (v38)

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Understanding Jesus: Sustenance for our Soul

John 6: 35-59, NRSV

Reflections

We never seem to be satisfied with what we possess or achieve; we are restless and crave what is novel. As Plato puts it, we are like leaky vessels. It is as though we were containers into which we keep pouring things, but we never get filled up because there is a hole in each container and something is always leaking out. So we spend our lives trying to attain fullness, satisfaction, and completeness, and yet we never do. We go on thinking that if we only we had just a bit more, then we would be satisfied; if we had something else, then our potential would be realized, our happiness assured, and our fulfillment achieved.

– Diogenes Allen

  • Gracious Warning
  • Gracious Invitation
  • Gracious Provision

  • It will be okay, if only we have _____:
    • control
    • riches
    • a way to hide (being self-pity)
  • Not to settle

  • Invitation to:
    • trust
    • believe
    • walk with Jesus
  • Jesus might not seem so impressive to some
  • Invitation from God (v44) the Father to come to Jesus

  • v58 – This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.

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Trusting Jesus: The Development of Faith

John 4:46-54, NRSV

Reflections

The setting in which this is happening to this man is a setting of suffering. The reason this man is willing to believe and able to believe and moving toward Jesus is because tremendous suffering has come into his life. What would possess a man of his stature and royalty to walk 25 miles to see an illiterate Carpenter? The only thing that moves us toward Jesus, in most cases, is suffering. I think we need to be honest about that.

– Tim Keller
from a sermon on John 4

  • Word Given
  • Place Faith in it
    • Superior complex – seeing faith as crutch
    • Inferior complex – seeing faith as skill/talent
  • Obedience to Instructions

  • Faith starts from suffering
  • We find out how religious we are when suffering comes
  • Greatest suffering is when you see a child suffering

  • Different Reactions to Suffering
    • Angry at God
    • Abandon slowly, having smaller and smaller circle of influencing friends
    • Trust even more; to cope with suffering, slow down by going day by day, or even hour by hour

  • The man in the scripture believes two times
  • The second time is reward of his faith
  • Spread your faith after (v53)

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