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by Bruce Hanson

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying.
As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head
and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).” John 20:11-16

I had an interesting but not so pleasing experience Sunday. For most, having church in the lobby due to a power outage was novel and maybe even sort of cool. Trouble is, I was stuck behind the pedestal with the coffee and bakery items. I could sort of hear Alex but couldn’t see him. I have hearing aids, but a part of hearing is seeing the mouth of the speaker. I know Alex said more than a few funny things. I heard others laugh, but I had no clue as to what he was saying.
Great Words, but for me, they were for naught.

“They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear,…” Psalms 115:5-6


Now my problem was not my rebelliousness. I just can’t hear. What Alex had to say was significant, but I didn’t have the tools to interpret it. Mary was there to see Jesus’ body, but she could not. And then she could. “Rabboni.” Jesus’ voice opened her eyes. It reminds me of the later experience of the Apostle Paul.

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again….” Acts 9:17-19


Ironically, that led me to an incident from Jesus’ birth rather than His resurrection.

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. Matthew 2:7-10


That wonderful star!! It lit the way for them, and did the same for me. Like Mary, I once could not see but now I can. Way Beyond Wonderful!!

Now it is my turn to be that star for someone else.

“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:15-16


Be a Light  (-B


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_____________________________

Red Couch Theology Podcast


Sermon Conversations with Alex and Aaron

LIVE podcast at 11 am on Thursdays – recorded (and sometimes prerecorded) for later, online viewing.

What can you expect? Pastors Alex, Aaron and the occasional guest, having a casual conversation diving deeper into ideas related to last Sunday’s teaching: 

Light

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Contrast2024-04-10T14:52:48-06:00

Seeing Mary in Myself

Sherry Sommer

While reading the account of Mary Magdalene at Jesus’ tomb, today, I’ve been struck for the first time by how much I can identify with her. While Mary is reacting to a unique historical occurrence, I can relate to the way she processes her grief over Jesus’ death.

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.  They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,”
she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.  John 20:11-14

Mary, at the tomb, is so overwhelmed by grief that she doesn’t notice that the pair of strangers who question her are angels and that it is Jesus who is speaking to her.  The darkness of her grief turns her inward in pain, and obscures nearly all the light Jesus had brought to her life; but not all, however — she still calls Jesus “My Lord”. Friends tell me that I can bear difficult circumstances and challenges amazingly well, and I attribute that to my faith.  I do have my breaking point. When grief at injustice or human brokenness digs deep into my heart, I know intellectually that Jesus is my Lord and that he is the Lord of all. I feel like a wounded animal though, overwhelmed by pain.  It feels like Jesus has been taken away, even though I still believe He is Lord of all.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). John 20:15-16

When Jesus asks Mary why she’s crying, she doesn’t ask for better circumstances. Her response is that she wants to find Jesus.  When Jesus says Mary’s name, the horrible events she’s been through fade away, and all that matters is that He knows her and that He’s with her.   I’m also reminded that my circumstances can’t be relied on for happiness  when challenges are crushing and disorienting.   I’m reminded that stability and meaning in life are found in Christ alone.
When events are at their worst, what I really want is to find Jesus, to know that He’s with me. Experiencing God’s peace and comfort in the midst of hard times is the best experience I know. Sometimes, when I get overwhelmed by circumstances,  I subconsciously think I’ve disappointed Jesus, that my faith has failed somehow.  It’s good to be reminded that Jesus is compassionate, not disappointed, when my life seems overwhelming. 

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:17-18

Jesus doesn’t conclude the conversation with Mary by promising that He’s back to stay — instead, he tells her He’ll ascend to the Father. This could upset Mary, but instead she goes back to the disciples to share the news that she has seen Jesus. The amazing experience she had of seeing Jesus and having Him call her name is enough. She doesn’t have a list of questions or ask for reassurance that He will be back to stay. It’s not easy living in this “in between” world of contrasts — beauty and kindness preferred to brokenness, and cruelty — to name a few.  I can’t see Christ like Mary did, but He has left me with the  guidance of the Holy Spirit, within communities of fellow believers and with the reassurance that He knows everyone who calls His name.   

 

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Seeing Mary in Myself2024-04-10T14:16:51-06:00

Known and Called by Name

by Carolyn Schmitt


There are a number of women named “Mary” mentioned in the New Testament:  Mary, the mother of Jesus; Mary the mother of James and Joseph;
Mary, Martha’s sister; Mary the wife of Clopas; Mary the mother of John Mark; and Mary Magdalene.

Mary was a popular name in Jesus’ time. In my research as to the meaning of the name “Mary”, there are several: “Bitter Tears” is often referenced as well as  “Beloved”.  There are also descriptions of how some of them, along with other named women who followed Jesus, helped support him and the disciples
in their travels.

With the exception of Martha’s sister, Mary, the others were part of the group of women who watched from a distance while Jesus was crucified.

Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. Matthew 27:55-56 NIV

Even from the cross, Jesus saw his mother and made provision of a home and family for her.  Calling her “Woman” was a term of endearment in Jesus’ time.  

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:25-27 NIV

I can imagine what a comfort for Mary Magdalene to have someone, even a gardener ask her why she was crying and even using the same name, “Woman”,
that Jesus used to address his mother from the cross.

At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means  “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ “

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!”
And she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:15-18 NIV

I can well imagine how Mary’s tear-streaked face lighted up when she heard Jesus call her by name and she immediately realized who he was.

Recently my son and I went to a music presentation put on by an organization for whom we had served as sound techs at Solid Grounds coffee shop prior to the Covid shut down in the spring of 2020. It was a joy to see the faces of so many people light up as we walked in and to know our faces radiated delight at seeing the many friends we knew, but hadn’t seen for years.  To call each other by name and to catch up a little with our lives was so good. 

As I thought about it later, I thanked our Lord for this pleasure he knew I needed at the end of a hard week. I felt known and called by name and loved by Jesus in a very practical way. How about you? Do you see ways in which God brings light into your life in small, unexpected events?  Ask Jesus to show you how to see what he may have for you today and thank him for knowing what you need.

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Known and Called by Name2024-04-09T13:55:57-06:00

Very Early, Still Dark – The Murky Hour

by Kathleen Petersen

 

Now very early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been moved away from the entrance. John 20:1 NET

This “murky hour” between dark and light when most of us are not quite asleep nor quite awake can create a state of vulnerability to dark thoughts and unusual experiences. 

When my daughter was young, I was sometimes assailed during that ”murky hour” with thoughts that I had permanently ruined her life with prior actions.
Such guilt! Only after I pulled into full consciousness was I able to put those thoughts into better perspective.

Mary Magdalene’s sense of grief and foreboding may have been intensified that particular morning because it marked what should have been the joyous
Feast of Firstfruits. But no joy for her — she was lamenting the loss of her Master who had brought her out of desperate brokenness. Was she also hearing
murky voices that reminded her of her own weakness and accented her sorrow? 

The Jews celebrated the Feast of Firstfruits two days after Passover as part of the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread. Leviticus 23:4-14 discloses that these holidays were instituted to be holy convocations (rehearsals) which recalled the most significant past events/miracles that God had ever performed for Israel. They were also rehearsals for more glorious fulfillment in future events and miracles. These festivals also anticipated Israel’s expected messiah.   

Little did Mary know she was to be such a significant part of that glorious fulfillment. She was the first person to experience the most extraordinary First Fruits celebration in history! The Apostle Paul wrote:

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 NET

Are you experiencing a “murky hour”? Silence any voice of despair by taking time to gain full consciousness. Review either God’s promises or some of the marvelous acts of power Jesus has performed in your life. Rejoice that you are part of the First Fruits who belong to him and will join in his resurrection.  

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Very Early, Still Dark – The Murky Hour2024-04-08T09:28:59-06:00

Dark = Fear + Grief Light = Presence + Freedom

by Grace Hunter

In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 

The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. John 1:4-9 NIV

But Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). John 20:11-16 NIV

  

John introduces several of his themes in the first 20 verses in the book of John. In John 1:4-9, He introduces Jesus as the light of the world, one of his main themes. Alex spoke on light this week and he used John 20:1-19 as his text. Mary Magdalene was grieving because Jesus — her light, her savior, her healer —
was crucified on Friday. Now, early on Sunday she couldn’t even find his body. John tells us she went to the grave early, when it was still dark. It can be difficult to sleep when grief is new and fresh. Perhaps she did not sleep well and that is why she went to the grave before dawn on Sunday morning.

Mary Magdalene encountered the risen Lord but did not recognize Him. She talked with Him but didn’t know who He was. Grief, darkness, fear can do the same thing — it can block our ability to see, hear, and feel the presence of God. Imagine a young child in the dark — it can be scary to children. But if a father or mother is there in the dark with the child, then fear probably is removed; the presence of the adult takes fear away.

When we are grieving in a difficult circumstance, in a dark place, we also can be consumed by fear: we can feel hopeless, we can be consumed by dark thoughts. The resurrection had occurred, but Mary Magdalene could not perceive it or access it when she did not recognize Jesus’ presence. Have you experienced this? David certainly did. Let’s look at Psalm 18.

I love you, O LORD, my strength.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies.

The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.

The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called to the LORD ;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears. Psalm 18:1-6 NIV

David describes a dark, fearful episode in his life. He is overwhelmed, scared, perhaps alone. But he brings it to God, he asks for God’s help Who provides refuge and deliverance for David. God is David’s refuge and safe place — just as a parent can be for a child in the dark. The Psalm continues to describe difficult circumstances and many ways that God enabled David to stand, fight and endure. Has God done this for you at a difficult place in your life? If you are there now, perhaps pray Psalm 18. Ask for God to make His presence known to you in a way you can feel it, know it and experience it, as David did. Be encouraged;
once Mary heard her name spoken by the risen Jesus, she knew she was in the presence of her Lord, and it made all the difference. God’s presence with you in your circumstances can make the difference for you too. 

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Dark = Fear + Grief Light = Presence + Freedom2024-04-07T22:34:57-06:00

I Was Lost, Until I Was Found

by Loyed? Petersen

Providentially, those who volunteered me to write this devotional, misspelled my name, spelling it in the “past tense” (i.e., “…ed”). But I can make something of it.

Recently I had a dream. I sometimes remember the details when it happens right before I wake up. This was what I dreamt. “I lost my identity: no name,
no driver’s license, no car, no house, no pension, no country.”
*  Well that’s like being dead. But it’s really about being a pilgrim — this world is not my Home.

*   “I did not lose my mind.”

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:3-4 (Emphasis added.)

So, I will never be just in the past tense.

As a little boy learning to read — my Mom and Grandma reading to me different Bible stories — my Mom showed me the illustration of the “lost lamb”, with a leg stuck in a cleft of a rock, hanging over a steep cliff, while the Devil, an eagle flying high above, was ready to snatch me. But here comes the Wonderful
Good Shepherd to rescue the little sheep and take it home, holding it on His shoulders. Then my Mom says to me, “You are the lost sheep”. 

It’s a lonesome, dreadful feeling being lost, without a family, a home; a bird without a nest — nowhere to land.

When I was a toddler, we moved from a North Denver apartment to South Denver. The new house came with a baby brother — some of you know him as Glenn (nicknamed “Pete”). My parents found a new Bible believing church in our neighborhood, in a colonial style building — such high cathedral ceilings! (My Uncle Bob had done the plastering.) 

But that year our Mom dropped us off at a vacation Bible school at a different church. I remember a young girl teaching me Bible verses (in KJV). God spoke to me through those verses how Jesus died in my place. I immediately recognized His Voice, believing that because Jesus died for me, I can trust Him. The last day we were let out early, plus our Mom was late to pick us up in the car, so I told the lady we would just walk to my (other) Grandmas’ house. (It was about two miles away, but though I was just five or six, I knew the way.) When Mom arrived to pick us up, she asked the lady, “where’s Lloyd and Glenn?” “Oh, they walked to their grandma’s house.” At the time. I would not have imagined our Mom’s panic, scouring “Wash” Park for us.

My Aunt Margaret was not married, so she lived with Grandma Petersen. Aunt Margaret had been my Sunday school teacher at yet another church, so she was the one I told first, that I received Jesus as my personal Savior (John 1:11-12.). She immediately told me about the “Rapture”. 

… Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,..
I Corinthians 15:50-53, NKJV

So, like the Apostle Peter, I kinda had an idea how Jesus will take me Home to Heaven some day. Much later, I learned details as I became more committed to following the Lord, and more alert to fulfillment of prophecy (especially after Israel’s “Six Day War” victory). 

(Yes, the Bible teaches that we, the Church, asleep or alive, “shall be caught up” at Jesus’ appearing. There is just a difference of opinion when it will occur in God’s scheme of things, I Thessalonians 4:15-17 KJV.)

Being “born again” of the Spirit of God, we are His children and now we have Eternal Life: 

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;…
Colossians 2:12-14 KJV

The Witness of God Himself 

…this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son….  I John 5:9b-11, 12-15 KJV

“Who hath believed our report…” Isaiah 53:1

We, the true Church, have been believing God for almost two thousand years and have been passing the baton throughout the ages. 

Jesus said [to Thomas], “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:29-31 CSB 

So there is one book we are called to read: The Word of God, The Bible.

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.**  John 21:25

** The Love of God, Frederick M. Lehman, 1917, Public Domain, esp. v. 3 by Anonymous/Unknown.

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I Was Lost, Until I Was Found2024-04-04T11:45:59-06:00

A Wonderful Plan…

by Kathleen Petersen

“God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life!” opens the persuasive message of a popular gospel tract. I’m curious. If passages such as the one below were paired with that sentence, how many readers of that tract would be more cautious about following Jesus? In the final portion of John’s gospel, Jesus revealed unpleasant details about the finish of Peter’s earthly life: 

I tell you the solemn truth, when you were young, you tied your clothes around you and went wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will tie you up and bring you where you do not want to go.” (Now Jesus said this to indicate clearly by what kind of death Peter was going to glorify God.) After he said this, Jesus told Peter, “Follow me.”

Peter turned around and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them. (This was the disciple who had leaned back against Jesus’ chest at the meal and asked, “Lord, who is the one who is going to betray you?”) So when Peter saw him, he asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to live until I come back, what concern is that of yours? You follow me!” So the saying circulated among the brothers and sisters that this disciple was not going to die. But Jesus did not say to him that he was not going to die, but rather, “If I want him to live until I come back, what concern is that of yours?” John 21:18-24 NET

Peter might have felt that the crucifixion of his Master was more than enough to endure — why did Jesus pick him to experience that same kind of shame? Peter reacted by appealing the fairness of his projected end by hoping to compare it to John’s last days. If John was scheduled to receive more favorable treatment, could Peter possibly negotiate a better deal? 

But Jesus firmly redirected Peter’s impulsive, agitated thoughts and underscored his purpose in revealing Peter’’s unique destiny.

…“Follow me.” John 21:19 NET

…what concern is that of yours? You follow me!John 21:22 NET

For those with strong personalities like Peter’s, who are inclined to arrange their own pilgrimage, “wonderful plans” rarely include “bringing them where they do not want to go”. Conversely, those with less aggressive natures lean into the idea that a truly loving God will supernaturally fulfill their secret hopes and dreams, give them special advantages, and make life safe. Sign me up!

Some of the most significant stumbling blocks to following Jesus into his sufferings are like Peter’s. We compare ourselves to seemingly better-off disciples and/or seek escape hatches when Jesus asks us to follow him into self-sacrificial service. Rather than choosing to follow him no matter the results, we are drawn to shortcuts offering immediate rewards.

The Apostle Paul gave the following perspective on what ordinary disciples should anticipate when relinquishing earthly, tangible desires to follow Jesus. Meditate on this: 

…but we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed, always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body. For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our mortal body…Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 and 4:16-18 NET


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A Wonderful Plan…2024-03-30T23:49:13-06:00

Peter: Memories, Motivation, Mission

by Carolyn Schmitt

It is interesting to me that while Peter’s denial is mentioned in all four gospels, only John tells about Jesus restoring Peter and giving him an additional occupation. I wish I knew how many memories of the years spent with Jesus were on Peter’s mind at that breakfast. Also, if he asked the questions about Peter loving him in front of all the others at that meal. 

I have chosen the Amplified Version for this writing, because it expands on Jesus’s love question and Peter’s love response.

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these [others do—with total commitment and devotion]?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Feed My lambs.” John 21:15

Might Peter’s response come from remembering what Jesus said about no longer calling his disciples servants, but calling them friends? 

I do not call you servants any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you [My] friends, because I have revealed to you everything I have heard from My Father. John 15:15

Again He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me[with total commitment and devotion]?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” John 21:16

Perhaps Peter is remembering Jesus, the Good Shepherd, as he takes in the different occupation Jesus is calling him to.

 I am the Good Shepherd and I know [without any doubt those who are] My own and My own know Me [and have a deep, personal relationship with Me],
John 10:14 

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with a deep, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend]?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you [really] love Me [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend]?”

 And he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.” John 21:17 


It seems as if Peter was grieved because this time Jesus changed the question of what kind of love Peter had for Him. Perhaps he realizes that now what Jesus has done has restored him to a trusted friend relationship and has given him the responsibility of loving and caring for His people. Peter also acknowledges that Jesus knows everything there is to know about him, past, present and future. 

I have learned to find great comfort in that Jesus knows the same about me, which is why Psalm 139 is a favorite of mine.  Peter would likely have been familiar with it, too, as even the less educated of that time would have known the Psalms.



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Peter: Memories, Motivation, Mission2024-03-31T17:22:52-06:00

Stick Figures

by Bruce Hanson

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. John 21:4-6

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.
Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.”  John 21:7-14

I recall, back in the day, way back in my elementary school pre-art days, I loved to draw pictures with stick figure people.  In fact, those were probably better than my drawings in my post-art days. 

Betty Likes Bruce

Now that may work for artistic contributions for the teacher, but it definitely doesn’t work for Bible studies. No stick-figure people here. These Bible characters offer us a deep dive into the real story!

God has given us far more than a supply of people to learn from in the Bible. Yet in the hurried style of life most of us struggle with, it is easy to rush into a Bible story, read it as quickly as we can, without fleshing out the situation of those we are reading about. We put a check mark next to today’s assignment and move right on. A new one tomorrow. 

Peter is a wonderful case in point. Jesus christened him The Rock, but more often than not, his life was rocky. He was impetuous. He recently drew Jesus’ ire for cutting off Malchus’ ear, but that pales next to his blatant denial of Jesus when  his loyalty counted most. Three times. Sit on that for a minute. This is the Savior of the world. And when He needed you most, you disappeared. I think the shame that Peter felt was far beyond measure. Now he finds himself out in a boat with his friends. A place they all find comfortable, and then a man on shore offers a curious suggestion. The man tells Peter and his friends to cast their net on the right side. Why? Boy was I surprised! Thy will not my will!

Fishing nets would normally have been cast to the left side of the boat so they could be hauled in more easily led by the “culturally” stronger arm — the right arm. Casting to the right meant that if they caught anything, they would have to work counter to their cultural and even physical norms, to haul the catch in.

As a lifelong lefty, Latin class taught me long ago the word sinistra, suggestive of darkness or evil, coming from a Latin word meaning “on the left side.”
The association of “left” with “evil” is likely because of the dominance of right-handed people within a population. Casting a net on the right side meant dragging it in with the nasty left hand. They ordinarily wouldn’t have done that. But the moment they did, Peter knew. This was Jesus’ work. One hundred fifty-three BIG fish. Peter leapt from the boat and hurried to shore. The weight was lifted. Jesus was still there for him. Despite his failures. Learn from Peter. Jesus waits on shore for you and I as well!!

Hallelujah!!

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Stick Figures2024-03-30T23:02:01-06:00

Fishing Jesus’ Way

by Grace Hunter

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. John 21:1-6 NIV 

We are going to use our imaginations this week in our devotionals. Let’s picture this scene, Peter along with Thomas, Nathanael, James, John and two more of Jesus’ disciples are near the Sea of Galilee at night. It has been some time; we don’t know how long, perhaps a week or two since His resurrection, that they have seen Jesus.

Peter decides, “I’m going out to fish”, John 21:3. Peter murmurs to himself, “I know how to fish, I’m going to do something, I’m going to do something to earn money or to get some food, I’m tired of waiting. I’m a man who needs to be doing something, not waiting for something to happen. I’m going fishing.” All the others decide to go with him, get into one boat, row out to the deep part of the Sea of Galilee, fish all night long, but manage not to catch anything –- not even one little fish. Peter and everyone in the boat are disappointed. Peter, James and John, fisherman, think to themselves, “We know how to do this; we did this for our living before we knew Jesus. We don’t know where he is right now and we don’t understand: Why can’t we catch anything? We did everything we know how to do, but we can’t find any fish tonight.”

Early in the morning, the sun is just starting to come over the horizon. As the men row their boat to shore, they see a man standing on shore, but they cannot see him clearly. “He [calls] out to them. ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No’ they answered”, John 21:5, NIV.

The man called to Peter and the others in the boat, “friends”. None of them recognized him. But then he gives them an interesting direction to follow. “He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some’”,  John 21:6a.

Peter harkening back to a previous encounter: “I remember the last time this happened, Jesus, a man from Nazareth, a carpenter – not a fisherman – told us to put our net over into the water after another long disappointing night of fishing. Last time, we had so many fish in our net that it started to break. Ok, I’m game, we will put the net on the right side of the boat and see what happens.”

“When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish”,  John 21:6b, NIV. The others as well as Peter remembered the other time a man told them to fish in an unusual way. Each one is thinking, “the man on the shore must be Jesus”.  He called them friends. Jesus had called them “friends” right before he was arrested. Could it be? Hope is rising in each person’s heart. Jesus is on the shore!

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:12-17 NIV

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Fishing Jesus’ Way2024-03-31T17:03:49-06:00
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