Beloved Disciples

“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)

“From this time many of his disciples turned back
and no longer followed him.
‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:66-69

When I think of a beloved disciple of our Lord, two men quickly come to mind. John and Peter. In John 19:25 we read about a disciple whom Jesus loved and most scholars believe this is a reference to John. When we read Peter’s adventures with Jesus, he says profound words as in John 6:69 and Matt. 16:16.

We feel more comfortable with Peter because we can sometimes do well and other times we fail our beloved Saviour as Peter did. This is the reason we love David and shy away from Moses. David could be great and then he could mess up. Moses was so consistent that we feel out of place being near him.

We who have times of failure like David and Peter thank God that He has people of all types! We are part of a diverse family and all loved by our Saviour. He did not love us because we were lovable but rather, He loved us simply because He would love us.

Whether we are a Moses, a David, or a Peter, we all have our part to play for our loving heavenly Father. My work is not your work, nor is your work mine. I have mentioned before a Christian business owner who said to me once that he could not get up in church and preach as I do. He went on to say that his gift was making money to support the Lord’s work.

The home the beloved disciple had was spacious enough so the widow Mary would not feel a burden to this disciple of financial substance. Also, Jesus would no longer be there to meet his mother’s financial needs so He gave her care to one who could attend to her needs financially. The man I mentioned who felt his calling was to be a financial supporter of the Lord’s work is today’s version of John in this regard.

Where do you see yourself in the work of the Lord? Can you preach, teach a Bible study, make financial gifts to help widows, visit the widows and orphans, or verbally encourage preachers?

Find your calling and pursue it passionately today. You serve the best of Masters. He deserves your best. Be as passionate as Peter, as generous as John and as consistent as Moses.

Who Needs To Know?

“…he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
and…he appeared to Cephas.[Peter]…”
1 Corinthians 15:4-5 (NIV)

“Besides, they get into the habit of being idle
and going about from house to house.
And not only do they become idlers,
but also busybodies who talk nonsense,
saying things they ought not to.”
1 Timothy 5:13

The night of the betrayal our Lord told the apostles He was departing from them. Peter asked where He was going. Jesus responded that Peter could not go with Him now but would come later. That was when Peter pledged he would follow Jesus to the death if needed. Immediately Jesus told Peter that he would deny his Master three times before dawn. (John 13:37-38)

It was true that Peter would die for his beloved Master, but he would have to grow in grace over many years before he would be ready to die a martyr’s death (John 21:18-19). As far as we know not one of the disciples witnessed Peter’s denials nor were any of them present when Peter met with Jesus after the resurrection. Paul just states that Jesus appeared to Peter.

We see how gracious Jesus was with Peter to keep the matter private. Such is the gentle Jesus with a beloved follower who has stumbled. Is this not a wonderfully encouraging portrait of our Lord? If you have fallen somehow and need to have the Lord visit you privately you may rest assured, He will treat you with the love and compassion you need. His love for you will keep your visit private and the matter will be settled never to be raised by Him again.

It does not matter how sinful you have been, the Lord came to call sinners to repentance. On the cross Jesus took a criminal into His kingdom even though the man had confessed he had done crimes worthy of death. Who except you and Jesus needs to know the extent of your sins? Come to Him and come now.

“Though your sins be as scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they be red like crimson,
They shall be as wool!”

“Though your sins be as scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow.”
Hear the voice that entreats you,
Oh, return you unto God!

He is of great compassion,
And of wondrous love;
Hear the voice that entreats you,
Oh, return you unto God!

He’ll forgive your transgressions,
And remember them no more;
“Look unto Me, you people,”
Says the Lord your God!
He’ll forgive your transgressions,
And remember them no more.

Isaiah 1:18 (NIV)

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

A Father With Two Problems

“Jesus asked the boy’s father,
‘How long has he been like this? ‘From childhood,’ he answered.
‘It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him.
But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.’
‘If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed,
‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’”
Mark 9:21-24 (NIV)

The father we read about in Mark 9 has two critical problems. The first problem concerns his son who is demon possessed. The man’s love for his son is very evident because he brought the son to the disciples to see if they could remove the demon from him. Sadly, the disciples could not assist the son. As parents we are never more vulnerable than when one of our children are struggling with a serious life issue.

The man turned from the disciples to Jesus for help. When questioned by Jesus the father answered the questions and then made the pitiful statement, “…if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

Our hearts go out to the man as he shows both concern for the son and is honest about his limited faith in Jesus’ ability to assist him. So, the second problem the father has is his shaky faith in Jesus.

In life, many of us find ourselves in situations like the father in our story. We bring our problem to Jesus, pray for help, but wonder if help will come. Are you in such a place today? You came to the Lord’s people for help, but you came away empty handed. You know Jesus is your final source for help so you come but you wonder if even He can help. Many times I have heard troubled people say, “We have done all we could. Now all we can do is pray.”

When “all we can do is pray”, we need to pray the father’s prayer, “Lord I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.” We need to be honest and cry out to the Lord saying, “Take pity on me and help me.” Such prayers will not go unrewarded. Jesus respected both the father’s weak faith and his honesty. So, the son’s problem of demon possession, and the father’s problem of weak faith are both resolved by our compassionate Lord.

Come to your powerful Saviour and come now.

Come to the Savior now, He gently calleth thee;
In true repentance bow, Before Him bend the knee;
He waits to bestow Salvation, peace, and love,
True joy on earth below, A home in heav’n above.

Come to the Savior now, You who have wandered far;
Renew your solemn vow, For His by right you are;
Come, like poor wand’ring sheep Returning to His fold;
His arm will safely keep, His love will ne’er grow cold.

Come to the Savior, all, Whate’er your burdens be;
Hear now His loving call, “Cast all your care on Me.”
Come, and for ev’ry grief In Jesus you will find
A sure and safe relief, A loving Friend and kind.
-John Wigner

The Wonder Of Jesus

“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
John 14:9 (NIV)

“They will see his face…”
Revelation 22:4-5 (NIV)

What was it like for the Apostles to see and hear the Saviour when He was on earth? What an amazing privilege it must have been for them! At some level they were astonished at His wisdom, power and grace. One day, when they were caught in a life-threatening storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus was asleep in the boat. The fear filled disciples awoke Jesus.

“He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters;
the storm subsided, and all was calm…
In fear and amazement they asked one another, ‘Who is this?
He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.’” Luke 8:24-25 (NIV)

The apostles witnessed the Creator “fine tuning” His creation and they were astonished at His power over the elements.

On another occasion Peter, James and John accompanied Jesus up a mountain and there they saw the Saviour physically changed before them. Luke 9:28-31 (NIV)

“About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.
As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed,
and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.
Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor,
talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure,
which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.”

So, the apostles saw something of our Lord’s glory in His physical appearance that day and again were astonished and at a loss for words. Jesus is well beyond a full and comprehensive description. As we seek to give a description of the Saviour, we must conclude by saying with the apostle John,

“Jesus did many other things as well.
If every one of them were written down,
I suppose that even the whole world would not have room
for the books that would be written.”

This remarkable Jesus waits for all of His people of all ages to be finally be gathered to His Father’s home where they shall “see His face”. This thought of “seeing His face” can be both thrilling and frightening. As Christians we long to see the One Who loved us and gave Himself for us. But, on the other hand. we think of the experiences of men like Isaiah (Isaiah 6) and the apostles Peter (Luke 5) and John (Revelation 1) who were so overwhelmed at the revelation of the Lord’s glory they sensed they were unworthy to be in His presence.

What will it be for us? I believe our initial response to seeing His face will be a sense of awe, amazement and humility. Then we will hear His voice welcoming us home and to our place in His Father’s mansion. Tears of joy will soon be wiped away and we shall gaze and gaze upon the wonderful face of our Beloved.

The king there in His beauty,
Without a veil is seen:
It were a well-spent journey,
Though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb with His fair army,
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land

The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory
But on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel’s land.

Mercy, Grace Or Both?

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble
with the comfort we ourselves receive from God…”
1 Corinthians 1:2-4 (NIV)

“But he gives more grace.
Therefore he said, God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:6

When studying the Bible, we come across two very important words, “grace” and “mercy”. Which is most important? Our verses today speak about both. As I have said before, grace addresses us as needy and mercy addresses us as miserable. Let us consider the teaching in today’s verses and accept what the apostle teaches us.

First, we learn that grace comes from the Lord. We do not have in our own resources the wisdom and strength to live well and cope with the very difficult issues life brings to us. For example, suicide rates are expected to rise during the covid-19 pandemic. People are in great distress as they lose income, cannot pay their rent, have to choose between buying meds and buying groceries. Very major decisions indeed.

Jesus knew what it was like to be poor. He possessed nothing more than the clothes on His back. He once said He did not have a place to lay his head (Matt. 8:20). Further, Jesus had a thief among the apostles who stole money designated for the expenses of the ministry. Speaking of Judas we read, “…he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12:6 NIV) SO when we pray we are talking to someone Who understands from personal experience what we are talking about.

We have an amazing description of our heavenly Father. He is called the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. Could we have a more magnificent description of the Lord? I think not! Do these titles not encourage you to run to Him and pour out your complaint? Why do you linger? Why are you hesitant? Come to Him and come now.

…He giveth more grace… James 4:6

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
Annie. J. Flint