Tag Archives: John

An Unexpected Hero

Everyone has a list of heroes. We admire these men and women because of their achievements, nobility, or courage. We expect some people to be heroes, but occasionally, we find a hero in an unexpected place. This holds true with heroes of the faith as well.

Most of the time when we think of Bible heroes, we think of Moses or David. We may think of Jesus’ first disciples, the Apostle Paul, or anyone listed in Hebrews 11. They are certainly all heroes and worthy of our admiration, but I would like to bring to mind another hero. Though we do not know his name, we know enough about this gentleman to classify him a hero. His character and courage are impressive, and though he is only known as the man born blind, he leaves an iconic mark in history.

We are first introduced to this hero in John 9. “As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth” (John 9:1). Jesus’ disciples immediately judge the man. Either he or his parents had to be steeped in sin; otherwise, the man would have been born with his sight. How often this must have happened as the man begged to meet his daily needs. He received what he needed plus an abundance of judgement because of his vision loss. Passers-by would jump to conclusions about the man, his family, and his life. They automatically assumed things about the man based only on his eyesight. They did not take the time to find out more, or even get to know him. They knew he was a blind beggar, so everything else they thought had to be true.

Jesus, on the other hand, offers a different perspective, which truly shows the man’s heroism. Jesus uses the situation to magnify his glory. Notice how Jesus answers the disciples’ question in John 9:3. “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” Jesus says this man’s life and vision loss can bring glory to God.

This is the first reason the man is a hero. He allows the Lord to be glorified through his life. To spite the judgment and criticism the man encounters, his life is still able to glorify the Lord. Just like the man born blind, our lives have been put in a unique position by the Lord to glorify him. In those moments when we feel helpless, when we feel as if we cannot do anything for the Lord, this hero reminds us we still have an abundance of opportunity to glorify God.

Glorifying God is only one reason this man is a champion. As the timeline of John 9 continues, we see this man demonstrate heroic resolve, courage, and character. His healing grabbed the community’s attention and was widely discussed. There were those who were grateful because the man could see, but more so, there were those who were upset because Jesus made mud on the Sabbath. They were upset and began asking several questions, which is where we again see the man’s heroism.

Again, and again, we see the man being questioned about his healing, and each time, he takes a firm stand for Jesus.

  • When his neighbors ask how he was healed, “He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So, I went and washed, and now I can see!” (John 9:11).
  • “The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So, he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!” (John 9:15).
  • “Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?” The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.” (John 9:17).

Each time the man is asked how he received his sight; he points to Jesus. He does not claim to fully understand, and he is undoubtedly aware of the divisiveness caused by crediting Jesus. But he knows the truth, and he is resolved to proclaim it. This is the mark of a true hero: someone who stands up for the truth in spite of the consequences. Taking such a firm stand for Jesus meant being kicked out of the synagogue. The man would no longer have access to the place he has been day after day for years; he would no longer be able to worship in these familiar surroundings. Our hero risked a lot by crediting Jesus for his healing, but he was determined to tell the truth. His resolve spurred on by his courage.

The final time the man is questioned, we see his courage fully displayed. “So, for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”

“I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”

“But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”

“Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” (John 9:24-27).

The man’s question is inspiring. It is as if he is saying, “Look at what Jesus has done for me! Don’t you also want to come follow him?” With much courage the man presents the Gospel. The testimony of his life is a true picture of the Lord’s grace, and he is not afraid to share it. We find in this man’s story an example of courageously sharing the Good News.

Our lives are testimonies of the Lord’s grace, so we should be ready to share it. The Lord may put us in some unique places with opportunities to share the Gospel just as he did our hero. A neighbor’s curious question could easily turn into an opportunity to share our hope in Jesus Christ. When it does, we have the man’s example to follow. We can look to this icon to see what it is like to speak the truth with much courage. Scripture implores, “if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it” (1 Peter 3:15), so be ready to imitate this champ’s response.

The man’s character is another reason he is a hero. After the man endured much criticism and had been expelled from the synagogue, John tells us Jesus came to the man. He could have used this opportunity to complain. He could issue a complaint for a number of reasons; blindness, judgment from others, and being excluded from religious services just to name a few, but he did not display a grumbling attitude. Rather, the man pronounced faith in Jesus and worshiped. He was grateful for what the Lord had done. Life may have not been perfect, but the man realized the Lord had shown goodness to him. He displays a character worthy of modeling.

Our lives may not be perfect, and we can easily come up with a list of complaints to present to the Lord. But the Lord’s goodness is also prevalent in our lives. A gracious and merciful God is walking with us through each day. He is guiding our steps and directing our path, so we should strive to imitate our hero’s character: displaying an attitude of gratefulness for what the Lord has done.

“Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done,” instructs David in 1 Chronicles 16:4. We are also encouraged in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Just as our champion did, we should concentrate on our blessings rather than our complaints.

He may not have a name and may only be in the Bible for one brief chapter, but the man born blind is truly a hero. As he responds to being healed, the man’s resolve, courage, and character are admirable. These qualities set him apart as a hero, and we should strive to model them in our own lives. This man may have come from an unexpected place, but he certainly left a heroic mark on history.

Please share this, and thank you to Light magazine for publishing a version of it.

Appearing to Boost Our Confidence

Check out the latest episode of Get Encouraged on Spotify!

“I’m going fishing,” Peter called out as the disciples were gathered. Six others joined him, and the seven men headed out to the water. For the past three years, these men have been following Jesus, but now, they are not going to see him on a regular basis. They may be a little disoriented as they wonder what to do, so they return to what they know:  fishing. After all, it was their livelihood prior to Jesus calling them, and they are professional fishermen.

The team of seven spend all night casting nets, but no fish. Spending all night on the water with empty nets was rare, but this was one of those nights. John 21 says, “At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So, they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore.” 

Peter discovers Jesus is the one standing on the shore, and he immediately heads ashore. Peter could have taken the time to pull in the nets and ride the boat to shore, but he’s in too big of a hurry. Peter’s need to get to Jesus compels him to jump in the water. Understanding why Peter was in such a hurry requires us to rewind through time.

Sometime earlier, Jesus said Peter would deny knowing him. The pressure would become so intense Peter would deny Jesus not one time, but three times. Peter is hurt by this statement, and he boldly proclaims it would never happen.

Some time later as Jesus is standing trial, the pressure mounts and Peter crumbles. He is asked if he is following Jesus, and Peter says, “No.” This happens three times, then a rooster crows and Jesus’ words hauntingly echo through Peter’s mind.

In this moment, Peter knows he has failed. The very denial Peter boldly proclaimed would never happen took place. Peter never thought he’d make that mistake. He never thought things would get that far out of hand, but they did. Peter could try to make excuses. He could try to explain the failure away, but reality is he fell short. He failed.

Perhaps this sounds familiar. We all fail. We all make mistakes, and there will always be moments in time we would re-do if possible. Mistakes and failures come in all shapes and sizes. Our stories may be different, but we can relate to the guilt Peter must have felt. This is why he was in such a hurry to get to Jesus.

Usually someone in Peter’s situation instinctively tries to avoid the hurt person. No one likes an awkward interaction or facing failures and mistakes from the past. But this isn’t the way Peter responds. The minute he realizes Jesus is on the shore, he jumps in the water and heads inland because he is confident.

This is not a confidence in himself, but a confidence in his Lord Jesus Christ. Peter is so confident in the Lord’s mercy and grace that he runs straight to Jesus. Scripture tells us we can share in Peter’s confidence.

  • 1 John 1:9 says, “…if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
  • Speaking of the Lord, David writes in Psalm 103, “He has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west.”

Peter’s confidence proves right. John 21 goes on to tell us Jesus boldly and gently reinstated Peter. We know Peter went on to be used by the Lord in a mighty way. Peter took his failures and mistakes to Jesus, and the Lord lavished grace upon him.

Because of an empty tomb, you and I can take our mistakes and failures to the Lord confidently knowing he will lavish mercy and grace upon us. We can follow Peter’s lead and go straight to Jesus in these moments. It is by grace we have been saved, and this not of ourselves, but it is the gift of God through Christ Jesus.

Freedom

No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. For some, those mistakes can cause them to hold onto a lot of guilt. However, the Bible teaches we can be set free from our guilt.

One day the religious leaders tried to trap Jesus by presenting a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Assuming they were telling the truth, there is no doubt she is guilty. She was caught in the act. Jesus uses this as an opportunity to remind us that no one is perfect. Then, he shows us an illustration of grace. He sends the unnamed woman on her way giving her a fresh start.

A little later as Jesus is talking to the religious leaders, He tells them the truth of the Gospel can set us free. Jesus says in John 8:31-32:

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

It was through the work of the cross that Christ set us free.

  • Romans 5:10 says, 10 “For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.”
  • Romans 6:23 says, 23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

It is in this freedom we take on a new identity in Christ.

  • 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

And, we are able to fulfill the purpose for our lives.

  • Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s handy work, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works which he has prepared in advance for us to do.

Knowing and accepting the truth of Jesus’ message brings freedom.

Please share this post.

Set Free

A crowd was gathered and Jesus was teaching. We are unaware of the topic; it could have been compassion or anxiety. We just don’t know. As he was talking, the door suddenly burst open and a group of men came running in pulling a slightly clothed woman behind them.

“We caught this woman in the act of adultery,” one of the men shouts. “The law says we should stone her. Jesus, what do you say?”

Jesus didn’t answer. John 8 tells us he began writing in the dust. He may have done this to illustrate the point he was getting ready to make or as an act of compassion toward the woman. For her, this could have been an embarrassing situation; she probably wasn’t wearing many clothes and there were several eyes staring directly at her. Perhaps Jesus put his finger in the dust to divert attention from her. Either way, the crowd demanded an answer, and Jesus gave them one.

In John 8:7, Jesus says, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 

Verses 9-10 continue, When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

One by one, everyone left until only Jesus and the woman were standing there. Jesus doesn’t condemn her. He doesn’t rebuke her for what has happened in the past or even for what happened that morning. Notice Jesus words in verse 11.

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Jesus set her free. In his grace he gave her a fresh start. Guilt she may have experienced was gone. Jesus set her free from her sin and the guilt it caused.

Likewise, we can be set free from guilt we may be experiencing. In his grace, Jesus can free us from the guilt of our past which may plague us.

  • Romans 8:1 says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
  • Galatians 5:1 says it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

The next time you feel guilty for something in the past, allow the Lord’s grace to replace your guilt with peace only he offers.

Please share this post.

down, but not out

The tomb was sealed. The Roman government sealed the tomb and placed guards outside to ensure no one messed with it. His opponents believed they had gained the victory. He was in the tomb, it was sealed, guards were posted, and it didn’t seem a dead man would want to get out anyway. They didn’t have the victory though, he did!

The Bible teaches Jesus rose from the tomb. The tomb couldn’t hold him as he is more powerful than death’s grip. He may allowed death to hold him down for a moment, but he certainly wasn’t out.

Jesus says in John 16:33, 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.”

Life may push you and me down at times. The checking account balance may have us pushed down, but Jesus says we are not out. The lack of employment may have us pushed down, but Jesus says we are not out. The medical issues we’re facing may have us down, but we are not out. With Jesus, we may be down, but we are not out.

Jesus says we will have trouble, but we can have courage because he has overcome this world’s trouble. We may get knocked down for a moment or two, but we are not out. The next time life pushes you down, remember, you can have courage because Jesus has overcome.

Please share this post.

the vine

A good gardener knows how to care for a garden. She knows when to tenderly care for her plants. He knows when and how much to trim away. The plants in the garden are healthy, and they produce good fruit and beautiful flowers. A good gardener’s work is obvious when we look at a garden.

The Bible teaches God is the gardener of our life. John 15:1-3 says, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.” As the gardener, God compassionately cares for our lives so they become a beautiful part of his creation.

And, the source for our lives, according to John 15:5, is Jesus. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” It is in Jesus life is found and turned into a beautiful part of God’s plan.

As our life comes from Christ, the gardener trims away all of the unattractive parts to give room for the fruit of the Spirit to grow. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us what fruit will be growing. 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

A life in Christ is a beautiful creation. That is not to say as it grows, it doesn’t have its ugly parts. We all know life is not perfect every day, but in Christ, it ends in the beautiful perfection of Heaven. How is the Lord making your life a beautiful creation?

Please share this post.

resurrection and life

Jesus was close to Lazarus and his sisters. Lazarus was ill, so the family sent word to Jesus requesting he come and help Lazarus. Jesus does go and help Lazarus, but the Bible teaches he waited before going.

We know Jesus waited until Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days before helping. At this point, all hope had been lost. No one believed there was a chance Lazarus could be brought out of the tomb. However, the Bible records that is not the case.

John 11:23-25 says, 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Jesus is getting ready to display his power over death. Life and death battled, and life won. Death’s grip could not hold Lazarus in the grave because of Jesus.

Because of Jesus, death’s grip cannot hold us in bondage. Jesus says he is the resurrection and the life. Ephesians 2 says it is in Christ we are made alive by grace. Jesus question to Martha is the same one he asks us, “Do you believe?”

Please share this post.

the gate

The sheep would graze all day, and when darkness fell, the shepherd would lead the sheep to the safety of the pen. It was usually an enclosure with rock walls and perhaps some thorn bushes across the top to keep predators from crossing the rocks. There was no gate on the enclosure; that is where the shepherd came in. The shepherd would serve as the gate blocking the opening. No one could go in or come out of the pen without going through the shepherd. The shepherd was the gate.

In John 10:7-10, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth. I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers, but the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely, and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

The Bible teaches man longs to have a deep communion with God. There is nothing else capable of filling the void in one’s life except the Lord. There are many things which promise a rich and satisfying life, but they fail. Money taunts that it can buy happiness, but it doesn’t. The excitement of popularity and fame is soon replaced with weariness of always being in the spotlight. Chasing after a “perfect body” leads only to stress and anxiety. All promise to bring a rich and satisfying life, but the promise is hollow.

The emptiness left in one’s life without the Lord can only be replaced by the fullness of life he offers. Jesus says, “I have come that they may have a rich and satisfying life.” This life is not measured in material possessions, popularity, or good looks. It is measured in the fullness of life we experience by fulfilling our God-ordained purpose. It is measured in allowing the grace and mercy of the Lord to work in one’s life. The way in is Jesus.

As he says, “I am the gate.” He is the entry point to a rich and satisfying life, and he welcomes all who desire to walk through the gate.

Please share this post.

rivers of living water

It was October, and time to remember Moses striking the rock in the wilderness. The people celebrated for a week. They slept in tents and each morning they would draw water from the pool and take it to the altar. This was done to commemorate the Lord providing Israel water while they were in the desert.

Exodus 17 records the Israelites in a waterless place and grumbling against the Lord. The Lord instructed Moses to strike a rock, and verse 6 records water gushing out of the rock as the Elders looked on. The Lord provided for Israel’s need in a big way, so a festival was started to remember the Lord’s provision.

This week-long festival ended in a dramatic way. The daily water drawing was performed seven times on the seventh day. It was here Jesus revealed where one’s desire for God could be met. John 7:37-38 says, “on the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds. ‘Anyone who is thirsty may come to me. Anyone who believes in me may come and drink. For the Scriptures declare rivers of living water will flow from his heart.”

Jesus stands and shouts to grab the people’s attention. He stands and shouts because his news is that pertinent. “Is your soul thirsting for God? Come to me! Are you longing to feel God’s presence? Come to me!” Jesus invites everyone to come to him and satisfy the desire to be with God. He invites everyone to come to him to find the peace and forgiveness for which they are longing. Jesus invites the thirsty, weary traveler to find rest in him. He can grant rivers of living water for our soul.

Do you allow your soul to drink from those waters? Is Jesus a dot on your calendar or the center of your day?

Please share this post.

light of the world

Night time in an unfamiliar terrain can be a scary place. With darkness all around, a traveler is not sure what lies ahead. The pitfalls of the land are unknown, so anxiety increases and nerves grow razor-thin. Have you ever been in this situation?

Israel was. As they were leaving Egypt, they found themselves in the unfamiliar territory of the desert. They were unsure what lie ahead, but the Lord gave them guidance. Exodus 13 records the Lord leading Israel by a pillar of fire. The light provided by this pillar gave Israel protection, it provided salvation, and it helped the people remember the Lord was with them.

Like Israel, life may place us in some unfamiliar territory, and the Lord will give us guidance in these moments. Jesus says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Just as Israel followed the pillar of fire, we can follow him.

“here is a promise of salvation much greater than Israel experienced. For it is deliverance not just from a national enemy, but from the forces of rebellion against God that lie behind every form of evil in the world. And, this deliverance is not just a rescue from darkness and a glimpse of the light, but an ongoing life apart from darkness through possession of the light of life,” according to the IVP New Testament Commentary. Jesus is our guiding light.

It is through Jesus we find protection, salvation, and the truth the Lord is with us. He is our light in unfamiliar places. He is our light guiding us through the darkness of this world. What areas of life do you need the Lord’s light to shine?

Please share this post.