Daily Devotion Text

March 24, 2017

John 15:1-11

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Reflection Questions

John 15:1-8

“Pruning is necessary for any vine. Dead wood is worse than fruitlessness, for dead wood can harbor disease and decay. An untrimmed vine will develop long rambling branches that produce little fruit because most of the strength of the vine is given to growing wood.  The vine-grower is concerned that the vine be healthy and productive. The caring process is a picture of the divine dealing with human life. God removes the dead wood from his church and disciplines the life of the believer so that it is directed into fruitful activity.”[1]

“The connection is maintained by obedience and prayer. To remain in Christ and to allow his words to remain in oneself means a conscious acceptance of the authority of his word and a constant contact with him by prayer.”[2]

  • Why is the relationship between the vine and the branch a particularly apt description of my relationship with God? How is fruitlessness and withering away an accurate picture of a life that does not remain in Jesus?
  • What is surprising about the fact that the vinedresser prunes the “branch that does bear fruit”?
  • How does the word of God “prune” or “clean” a person?

Notice that there is no command to bear fruit, but only the command to “abide in me.”  What is the significance of this, and how does this apply to me?

[1] Frank E. Gaebelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1992), notes for chapter 15.

[2] Ibid.

 

 

 

 

March 23, 2017

John 14:27-31

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Reflection Questions

John 14:27-29

  • Why was Jesus able to offer his peace to the disciples in the middle of telling them about his death?
  • Contrast the peace that Jesus gives and the “peace” the world gives.
  • Do I have this peace of Jesus?

 

John 14:30-31

  • Why does the “ruler of this world” (i.e. Satan) have “no claim” on Jesus?
  • What is the relationship between doing as “the Father has commanded me” and freedom from the influence of “the ruler of this world”?

 

 

 

 

March 22, 2017

John 14:15-26

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Reflection Questions

John 14:15-26

“Jesus in his reply did not discuss the question of post-resurrection appearances. He focused the disciples’ attention on the broader revelation that would come to them through obedience to his known teaching and through the work of the Holy Spirit. The reality of Jesus’ and the Father’s presence would be conditioned on obedience. […] Obedience is not, however, the condition of God’s love for men but the proof of their realization of his love and of their love for him.”[1]

  • What is the relationship between knowing God, loving God, and obedience?
  • Why is it impossible to get to know God without obedience?
  • What do I need to obey in order to grow in my knowledge of God?
  • What is the role of the “Helper,” “the Spirit of truth,” in a disciple’s life?

[1] Frank E. Gaebelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1992), notes for chapter 14.

 

 

 

 

March 21, 2017

John 14:1-14

1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Reflection Questions

John 14:1-4

  • How did Jesus describe heaven?
  • Reflect on Jesus’ promise in this passage and the personal way in which he anchored his promise. What is the basis of my assurance that I will be with Jesus in the father’s house?

 

John 14:5-7

“Jesus’ reply is the ultimate foundation for a satisfactory philosophy of life. First, it is personal. He did not claim merely to know the way, the truth, and the life as a formula he could impart to the ignorant; but he actually claimed to be the answer to human problems. Jesus’ solution to perplexity is not a recipe; it is a relationship with him […] He is the truth because he has the perfect power of making life one coherent experience irrespective of its ups and downs. He is the life because he was not subject to death but made it subject to him. He did not live with death as the ultimate end of his life; he died to demonstrate the power and continuity of his life.”[1]

  • Reflect on v. 6. In what ways has Jesus been the way, the truth, and the life for me?

 

John 14:12-14

“He wanted to impress on the disciples that he was not disbanding them in anticipation of his departure but, rather, he was expecting them to continue his work and do even greater things than he had accomplished. Such an expectation seems impossible in the light of his character and power; yet, through the power of the Spirit whom Jesus sent after his ascension, there were more converts after the initial sermon of Peter at Pentecost than are recorded for Jesus during his entire career. The influence of the infant church covered the Roman world, whereas Jesus during his lifetime never traveled outside the boundaries of Palestine. Through the disciples he multiplied his ministry after his departure. […] The power of the disciples originated in prayer. Jesus could hardly have made more emphatic the declaration that whatever they should ask in his name, he would do… The answer is promised so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. The disciples’ obedience to him will be the test of their love.”[2]

  • What are the things I need to ask in Jesus’ name in prayer, and the “greater works than these” that I will do in order “that the Father may be glorified in the Son”?

[1] Frank E. Gaebelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1992), notes for chapter 14.

[2] Frank E. Gaebelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1992), notes for chapter 14.

 

 

 

March 20, 2017

John 13:36-38

36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

Reflection Questions

John 13:36-38

  • According to v. 36, how did Jesus pave the road for me to follow him?
  • How did the cross enable Peter, who once disowned Jesus “three times,” to follow him to his own death?
  • Consider Peter’s heartfelt confession of devotion to Jesus. Did he mean it? Did he know he would deny Jesus only hours later?
  • What did Jesus know that Peter did not?
  • Reflect on the frailty of human resolve, the generous heart of God, and our need for grace shown through this incident.

 

 

March 17, 2017

John 13:31-35

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Reflection Questions

John 13:31-32

  • With regard to the impending cross, Jesus repeated the word “glorify” five times in these two verses. What does this reveal about his perspective towards the cross?
  • Contrast Jesus’ definition of glory to the world’s definition of glory.
  • How did God glorify Jesus through his voluntary death on the cross?

 

John 13:34-35

“As I have loved you: The command to love wasn’t new; but the extent of love just displayed by Jesus was new, as would be the display of the cross. Love was newly defined from His example.”[1]

  • What is the significance of Jesus giving this as his final commandment to his remaining eleven disciples before his crucifixion?
  • How does this clarify what the purpose of my life should be?

[1] David Guzik, Bible Study Resources (2000), <http://www.enduringword.com/bible.html>.

 

 

March 16, 2017

John 13:21-30

21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

Reflection Questions

John 13:21
“’Troubled’ is the same verb used of Jesus’ agitation at the grave of Lazarus (11:33) and at the request of the Greeks to see him (12:21).  As “the hour” approached, the bitterness of the betrayal Jesus anticipated became known. The desertion by many of his disciples evoked an expression of disappointment; here, the injury was felt more poignantly. The quotation in 13:18, which the author cites as prophetic of Jesus’ feeling, contains in its context an allusion to “my close friend, whom I trusted” (Ps 41:9). Among the sorrows contributing to the agony of the Cross was the voluntary and selfish defection of Judas.”[1]

  • Reflect on the fact that Jesus was “troubled in his spirit.” How does this match my view of Jesus?  What implication does this have on how I should view acts of betrayal toward Jesus today?

 

John 13:27-30

  • What may have been the heart of Jesus as he told Judas, “What you are going to do, do quickly”?
  • Notice the progression between Satan prompting Judas (v.2) to Satan entering into Judas (v. 27). What steps could Judas have taken to arrest the downward spiral of sin’s increasing hold over his will?

[1] Frank E. Gaebelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1992), notes for John chapter 13.

 

March 15, 2017

John 13:1-20

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Reflection Questions

John 13:1-5

  • What did Jesus do with the knowledge that “his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father”? Why did Jesus choose this as his final lesson for his disciples?

 

John 13:6-9

“This was a world where roads were dusty and sandals were worn daily […] The task of foot-washing was so menial that according to some Jewish sources, Jewish slaves were exempt …”[1]

  • What may have been going on in Peter’s mind as he refused Jesus’ offer to wash his feet?
  • What are some ways in which people respond to Jesus like Peter did?
  • What can I learn from this passage about what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus?

 

John 13:12-17

  • Reflect on the words: “I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you…blessed are you if you do them.” How seriously have I taken the example of Jesus’ concrete humility and loving service for his disciples?  In what ways have I taken on tasks that others do not want to do in order to serve others in love?
  • In what ways has following the example of Jesus become a blessing in my life?

[1] Gary M. Burge, The NIV Application Commentary: John (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000), 368-369.

 

March 14, 2017

John 12:36b-50

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,

40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”

41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

Reflection Questions

John 12:37-40

“God appointed the prophet to preach to the inhabitants of Judah but warned him in advance that his mission would not be successful. The verbs as given in Isaiah 6:9-10 are imperatives. Isaiah was told to announce his message even though it merely hardened the hearts of those who heard him. God offered the opportunity of faith, but the very offer made the recipients of it more obstinate. John interprets the prophecy by its effect rather than by its intention. It was not God’s desire to alienate his people; but without the offer of faith and repentance, they would never turn to him anyway. The cumulative effect of unbelief is a hardened attitude that becomes more impenetrable as time progresses.”[1]

  • What was the reason the Jews could not believe in Jesus despite all the miraculous signs he had done?
  • How can continuing to see the work of God and yet refusing to believe cause a person to become blinded and hardened?
  • Are there some ways or areas of my life in which I am allowing my heart to harden because I am persisting in not responding to God?

 

John 12:42-43

  • What was the problem of these leaders who would not confess their faith “for fear of the Pharisees […] so that they would not be put out of the synagogue”?
  • What fears prevent me from making my faith public?

 

John 12:47-50

  • What has been my attitude toward the word of God that “is eternal life” when believed, but “will judge [me] on the last day” if rejected?

[1] Frank E. Gaebelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1992), notes for chapter 12.

March 13, 2017

John 12:25-36a

25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

Reflection Questions

John 12:25-28

  • How does Jesus’ prayer in v. 27 demonstrate what it means to live out v. 25?
  • Reflect on Jesus’ words: “but for this purpose I have come to this hour.”
  • Have I faced situations where I wanted to pray, “Father, save me from this hour” but faced it for the glory of God’s name?

 

John 12:30-36

  • Recall v. 24, in which Jesus refused to remain a single seed that does not die. How does Jesus willingly laying down his life cast out the “ruler of this world”?
  • In what ways am I still listening to the “ruler of this world”?
  • Reflect on how v.32 has worked out in history and in my life
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