“Peter” in John’s Gospel

June 15, 2012

I’ll be posting some thoughts (and hopefully updating them), as I study John 21 in the coming weeks. Here’s round one: Why does Jesus never use the name that he gave to Peter in the Gospel of John?

Jesus calls Peter Simon son of John once when he meets and names him Cephas and three times at his reinstatement in John 21.  Why does Jesus never call Peter “Peter”?


Jesus the Prophet

April 3, 2011

I’ve posted this on a couple other blogs I write on, but I wanted to put it up here for your consideration and because the content fits so well within the scope of this blog.  So, here it is…

In Deuteronomy 18:18-19 the Lord said something amazing to Moses: “I will raise up a prophet like you from them, from their fellow Israelites.  I will put my words in his mouth and he will speak to them whatever I command.  I will personally hold responsible anyone who then pays no attention to the words that prophet speaks in my name.”  What grounds for expectation, right?  What if you missed his coming?  What if you fail to pay attention to what he speaks?  I mean who wouldn’t be looking for this person?

It is no surprise then that one of the first questions the Jews put to John the Baptist is “Are you the Prophet?” (John 1:21).  Thousands of years after Moses and this prophecy is still in the front of their minds.

Not long after this Philip tells Nathanael, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, and the prophets also wrote about” (John 1:45).  Though Nathanael is incredulous over Jesus’ origin, he goes to see him nonetheless.  Upon meeting Jesus, “the one Moses wrote about”, we find Jesus speaking prophetically about Nathanael and what the disciples will experience and see in the future (John 1:47, 50-51).  And it is not the last of his prophecies in John either (John 4:44; 13:21).

In John Jesus is clearly displayed as the one who makes the Father know, who speaks by the Father’s authority what the Father has told him (John 12:49-50) and who is himself the Truth (John 14:6)

Jesus is the Prophet who not only speaks but also fully embodies God’s truth and makes the Father fully known.  This is Good News, because it tells me that we can stop looking for truth apart from him.  He is our teacher.  He is the one who tells us what is true and what is not.  He shows us the Father, sanctifies us by his truth (John 17:17) and has sent us the Spirit to lead us in to all Truth (John 16:13).  No longer must we search asking “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Now is the time to know him and to believe the truth he shows us and to worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

“As I sent you, I now send my Son”

February 8, 2011

Not a long post today, but hopefully a helpful one.

It seems pretty clear: Jesus’ mission is our mission, right?  “Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you” (John 20:21).  He came to glorify the father through multiplying who would rightly reflect him.  As his people, sent by him, we live for the same things he did.  It’s hardly rocket science.

The funny thing about Jesus’ mission, is that it has always been our mission!  We might surmise that the Father’s sending of Jesus went something like this: “Just as I sent them, I also send you.”

If this seems strange to you, look again at God’s original commandments to man in the garden: #1 “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it!” (Genesis 1:28) and later, #2 the command about what trees Adam and Eve could eat from.  Why did God command Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the earth?  Because, as we read in the verse just prior, they bear his image!  God is saying essentially, “Fill the earth with my image!”

Not surprisingly, this is not the last time this command will be given:

“Go out from your country, your relatives and your father’s household to the land that I will show you
Then I will make you a great nation and I will bless you
And I will make your name great” (Genesis 12:12)

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

So, “Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you”  Go multiply and glorify through the same kind of life-on-life Jesus practiced!

Unity in the Farewell Discourse (John 13-17)

December 11, 2009

I’ve been reading Leslie Newbigin’s The Open Secret this week–great read!–and stumbled upon something I wanted your thoughts on (actually, regardless of your thoughts, I just want to hold on to this layout of the passage!).  Without too much ado, here’s the quote:

The fourth Gospel does not repeat this account of the words spoken at the supper which is given, with some variations, in the first three.  In its place we have the long discourses (John 13-16) which lead up to the great prayer in which Jesus, in consecrating himself to the Father, consecrates his disciples to be sent out into the world to continue his mission.  These discourses give a sketch of the way that lies before the disciples as they go out to represent Jesus in the world.  They are to be servants one of another just as Jesus has served them (13:1-20).  They are to show whose they are by their love of one another (13:34-35).  They will find abiding places which the Father provides for them on the way, and they know the way–Jesus himself (13:36-14:11).  His going to the Father will open the way for a much more vast ministry which will be marked from their side by love and obedience and from the Father’s side by the gift of the Spirit, his abiding presence, and his peace (14:12-31).  Through this mutual abiding they will bring forth fruit (15:1-17).  The world will hate them, but the hatred of the world will be the occasion for the witness of the Spirit (15:18-27).  The Spirit will in fact go before them to convict the world and to guide them into the fullness of the truth (16:8-15).  They will share in the travail of the world’s new birth, but they will have peace in him (16:16-33).  And so these men, to whom Jesus has made the Father fully known (17:1-8) and whom he has guarded from evil (17:9-14), are to be launched into the life of the world as the continuance of his mission and in the power of his consecration (17:15-19).  In fact, the glory of God, the glory which tabernacled in the midst of Israel in the wilderness and which dwelt in Jesus (John 1:14), will dwell with the disciples so that the world may recognize in them the sign of the divine mission of Jesus (17:20-23).

Maybe I’m not a good reader, or maybe I haven’t paid attention during the messages that explained this before, but this is the first time I’ve heard a good, unifying explanation for the whole of the Farewell Discourse.  And I love that the whole thing revolves around mission.  So good!


October 16, 2009

So in Hebrew class the other day we had a fun little discussion about the word and idea of passover. Now this deals more with the actual event of Passover and not the celebration of Passover. Or in other terms, the verb “to passover” and not the noun Passover.

The verb form of passover shows up only a few times. In Exodus 12:13, 23

The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, so that when I see the blood I will pass over you, and this plague will not fall on you to destroy you when I attack the land of Egypt.

For the Lord will pass through to strike Egypt, and when he sees the blood on the top of the doorframe and the two side posts, then the Lord will pass over the door, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.

When I normally look at this story I think about Prince of Egypt with the cool smoke going through the land of Egypt and striking down all those heathen children, while passing over the houses of the Israelites, sort of excluding the Israelites from anything that is going on. But looking closer I found it interesting that the end of verse 23 has this little inclusion in it: “the LORD will pass over the door, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.” God passes over the door so that the destroyer will not enter. He is passovering, if you will, so that the destroyer doesn’t come in. That seems like an interesting little tidbit. So instead of excluding the doors of the Israelites, God is actively passovering the door.

So in class Dr. Kutz drew us to the other place where pass over is used as a verb in Isaiah 31:5

Like birds hovering overhead, the LORD Almighty will shield Jerusalem; he will shield it and deliver it, he will ‘pass over’ it and will rescue it.”

So passing over isn’t this thing where God just ignores the door, or Jerusalem, but is an active verb, not an excluding thing. It is something he is doing, like being a shield and a deliverer, a rescuer and a passoverer. So in our normal context we thing that during passover the LORD just ignores the doors of the Israelites, but instead with this active verb idea we see that the LORD is standing in the doorway, passovering the door so that the destroyer cannot enter the house of the Israelites. We are not excluded in passover but included and protected by God. And when we see Jesus as the passover lamb, the one who stands before the judge, it is not that Christ’s blood just merely makes God glaze over our sins and exclude us from punishment, but instead we are actively passovered by Christ and His sacrificial blood. Christ stands before the judge and does not permit the judgment we deserve to strike us down. Oh what joy! What amazing power this blood of our saviour!

And to make a little side tangent as well, with my little exegesis I did on Numbers 16, there is this cool little thing with plagues and priests standing in the way, making these plagues pass over the people. The priest stands in the way of the plague, much as the LORD stands in the way of the destroyer, and Christ stands in the way of our judgment. It’s everywhere!

Passover is active!

The Washing of Peter

July 1, 2009

We interrupt this program to bring you a short character study of Peter in the Gospel of John…

Basic Idea: If Peter the dedicated follower of Jesus is going to continue to follow, it will only be through continually returning to Jesus for washing.

A couple of sketches of Peter and the events John recounts to us about him: He is dedicated to Jesus and would even die for (11:16 presumably; 13:36–37) this one who has the words of life (6:68).  Peter is willing to go to great lengths, even dying for him (18:10), to save him Jesus descending from his high estate (13:6-8–the master serving!?”).  Peter is instructed by Jesus that he must return to Jesus to have his feet cleansed (13:9).  Peter denies that he is a follower of Jesus when it means following him to the cross (18:15-18, 25-27).  NOTE: he does not deny the Lordship of Jesus, only that he is a follower.  He sees the empty tomb (20:2-9)

When Peter originally declares his willingness to die for Jesus, Jesus does not deny that Peter will also be crucified.  He does however tell him that he is not yet ready (13:36 “…you cannot follow me now, but you will later.”).  At the end of the story, following Jesus washing of Peter, he again reaffirms his invitation to Peter to follow him to the cross (21:18-22) which he had previously escaped through denial (ch. 18).

And so, if Peter the dedicated follower of Jesus is going to continue to follow, it will only be through continually returning to Jesus for washing.  The remaining question for me is, Who will wash Peter’s feet?  What are Jesus’ instructions on the matter?

So when Jesus had washed their feet and put his outer clothing back on, he took his place at the table again and said to them, “Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and do so correctly, for that is what I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you too ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example – you should do just as I have done for you.  I tell you the solemn truth, the slave is not greater than his master, nor is the one who is sent as a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you understand these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:12-17)

Yes, the foot washing is an example of service, but Jesus (in his discussion with Peter) has also invested it with a profound spiritual reality.  So, as followers of the Servant King, we bring his presence not by bringing forgiveness (“a messenger is not great than the one who sent him”), but by washing each other with and bringing each other back to the Gospel we so regularly fail to believe.

How do we as believers carry out this washing?  As others New Testament authors have put it,

Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous man has great effectiveness. (James 5:16)

Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious – not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. (Eph. 5:25-27)

And again, with Peter,

But when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he had clearly done wrong…But when I saw that they were not behaving consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “If you, although you are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you try to force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Gal. 2:11, 14)

Peter’s life declares his disbelief in the Gospel and Paul confronts him on it, washing him and drawing him back to Jesus, the Servant King, at whose Table all find provision!

This Old Man: He wrote four

May 18, 2009

John 3:22-36 (NIV)

22After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized. 24(This was before John was put in prison.) 25An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

27To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. 28You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ 29The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30He must become greater; I must become less.

31“The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

Here again we have a text that is not often misquoted, but often misused. When it is used, it is so often not really understood what it means. Jesus must become greater, I must become less. First of all, He is greater. He does not have to become greater, He is greater. Now I understand that when this is used, people, (including myself) are talking about a pride thing we have. When I am seated on the throne of my life, I put myself in a position that I should not be in. And in that context, there may be a reason to use this. However, I believe that there are much better Scriptures to use, ones that speak of humbling yourself in the sight of the Lord.

Now why do I say that. Simply because there is something greater going on here. First of all, what we read in this passage is not about John being prideful, lifting himself up, seating himself on the throne. John is actually testifying to the greatness of this One who comes after him. He is testifying of the greatness of the Son of God. This is the one who had been prophesied, promised. He is the bridegroom come to claim His bride. John has been sent ahead to prepare the way for Jesus. Now that Jesus has come, John is filled with JOY, not because he was the center of attention, but because the bridegroom has come. John is full of JOY because Jesus is successful.

John was willing to go all the way to death in the light of this joy. We read in other gospels, that just before his death, he had some doubts and sent to find out if this joy was was misplaced or was still valid. Jesus sends back the word that all that had been promised, was in fact, being fulfilled. John could die with joy.

It is just at this point we need to realize what this text is talking about. Not just simply humbling yourself, stepping off the throne but still remaining in the throne room. No, it is about getting out of the way and letting Jesus get to work. It is about dying. Dying to self, dying of self, DYING!!! It is about letting the plan, promise and purpose of God be fulfilled. It is about taking up crosses, it is about a radical way of life, that says not only, “take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to Thee,” but says, “Take my life!” If that is what is needed for your plan, promise and purpose to be fulfilled, then so be it! That is what John is saying here. Whatever it takes Lord, I will do.