When we last left off, we were imagining being part of the crowd cheering Jesus into Jerusalem. Jesus was ever present in this celebration EVEN THOUGH He knew what the coming week held. He was able to receive from people in the moment what He knew would not endure. In the Triumphal Entry, Jesus permitted the crowd’s support, knowing it would soon sour. Jesus, lovingly and fully, endorsed Peter’s future as the head of the church, even knowing Peter would deny even knowing Him. In short, Jesus did not self-protect. His love did not shrink back even when His love would ultimately be rejected.
Lent encourages us to follow Christ’s example. Individuals who have been hurt by lost hopes tend to protect themselves against future disappointment by lowering their aspirations. The same holds true in our relationship with God. Uncertain that God will protect us, we proactively protect ourselves. We lower our expectations, edit our dreams and shrink back from God. And yet, with all of our inconsistencies God does not shrink back from us. In suffering, our self-protection and isolation are broken.
Self protection is not always unhealthy. We are built with a “fight or flight” mechanism that helps us run from unsafe situations. We also need to self protect by self-differentiating from a toxic relative. Self-protection in these instances are responses to danger: we self-protect when we do not feel safe. Therefore, when we spiritually self-protect, is it because we do not feel safe with God? Or, is it because our disappointments fuel this unhealthy form of self-protections? Spiritual leaders have abused power, prayer requests have gone unanswered, dreams have died, stepping out in faith backfired…..and so we maintain a proper distance from deeper levels of intimacy with God. Favor is not what frees us from self-protection…..suffering is. Well, not actually suffering but the choice within suffering to trust, to hope and to love. Today, ask the Holy Spirit to alert you when you are shrinking back from God.
This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
9-10 “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
11-15 “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
16 “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
17 “But remember the root command: Love one another.
18-19 “If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you.
20 “When that happens, remember this: Servants don’t get better treatment than their masters. If they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you. If they did what I told them, they will do what you tell them.
21-25 “They are going to do all these things to you because of the way they treated me, because they don’t know the One who sent me. If I hadn’t come and told them all this in plain language, it wouldn’t be so bad. As it is, they have no excuse. Hate me, hate my Father—it’s all the same. If I hadn’t done what I have done among them, works no one has ever done, they wouldn’t be to blame. But they saw the God-signs and hated anyway, both me and my Father. Interesting—they have verified the truth of their own Scriptures where it is written, ‘They hated me for no good reason.’
26-27 “When the Friend I plan to send you from the Father comes—the Spirit of Truth issuing from the Father—he will confirm everything about me. You, too, from your side must give your confirming evidence, since you are in this with me from the start.”
16 1-4 “I’ve told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead. They are going to throw you out of the meeting places. There will even come a time when anyone who kills you will think he’s doing God a favor. They will do these things because they never really understood the Father. I’ve told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you’ll be well-warned and ready for them. “I didn’t tell you this earlier because I was with you every day
Jesus’ emotions and actions following the Triumphal Entry were less than placid or tidy. He wept over Jerusalem, forcefully cleared the temple, cursed a fig tree, confounded religious leaders, told pointed parables and experienced emotional distress. That’s quite a week! And it’s certainly not the neat and tidy Jesus that is pictured in family Bibles or children’s Bibles. Jesus wept (think UGLY cry) over Jerusalem. We don’t often think of Jesus grieving that way. We think of halos, perfect hair and “no crying he makes” from Away in a Manger. Jesus was not born with a halo. Of course He cried. Crying is not a sin. Of course He did not have perfect backlit hair. Messy is not a sin.
Many times when confronted with grief we tend to offer utterly unhelpful things to others such as, “You should weep. God is in control. He works all things for the good of those who love Him….there’s no need to fell _______.’ No one understood God’s goodness and control more than Jesus, and He still wept. Which means we can too.
Today, fast from the false defintions of holy.
4-7 “I didn’t tell you this earlier because I was with you every day. But now I am on my way to the One who sent me. Not one of you has asked, ‘Where are you going?’ Instead, the longer I’ve talked, the sadder you’ve become. So let me say it again, this truth: It’s better for you that I leave. If I don’t leave, the Friend won’t come. But if I go, I’ll send him to you.
8-11 “When he comes, he’ll expose the error of the godless world’s view of sin, righteousness, and judgment: He’ll show them that their refusal to believe in me is their basic sin; that righteousness comes from above, where I am with the Father, out of their sight and control; that judgment takes place as the ruler of this godless world is brought to trial and convicted.
12-15 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t handle them now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. Everything the Father has is also mine. That is why I’ve said, ‘He takes from me and delivers to you.’
16 “In a day or so you’re not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me.”