John 19:39

Nicodemus came too (the man who, at first, had visited Jesus by night). He brought a concoction of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds in weight.

“Nic” is mentioned three times throughout John’s gospel.

Very interesting.


In chapter 3 he meets up with Jesus at night, fascinated with Him as an impressive teacher.

In chapter 7 he sort of defends Jesus to his Sanhedrin buddies, saying to them, “Our law doesn’t condemn a man, does it, unless first you hear his side of the story and find what he’s doing?” for which he was of course ridiculed. It seems he just kinda dropped it after their hostile response.

Now here towards the end he’s helping bury Jesus, wrapping His body in cloths with a whole lot of spices. A LOT of spices.

Why does John have these references to Nic throughout his account? One thing about John’s gospel is that he writes on sort of two levels, and he seems to always want us to look below the surface at deeper meanings.

Notice the progression. He first meets Jesus in secret seeing Him as an impressive teacher. Then he’s a little more bold after witnessing miracles. And finally he’s like, “I don’t care who knows or what they say, I’m giving Him the royal burial treatment fit for a King!”

Perhaps John wants us to see that as we know Jesus more and more, we become increasingly sure of who He is, and therefore, more bold in our embrace of Him.

It’s one thing to be fascinated with Jesus as a great teacher, another to be captivated by Him as a miracle worker, but a whole new depth to embrace Him as the One who loves you gave Himself for you.

There is really something foundation-shifting about Jesus’ death…not to mention His resurrection!

Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

Who’s Asking?

John 18:33-34

So Pilate went back into the Praetorium and spoke to Jesus.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked.

“Was it your  idea to ask that?” asked Jesus. Or did other people tell you about me?”

~The Kingdom New Testament

Jesus puts Pilate on trial, forcing him to clarify his question. The origin of the question determines what is actually being asked.

In its historical context, if Pilate is asking on his own, then he is asking if Jesus is a political king and, therefore, some sort of usurper of Caesar. But if he is asking on behalf of what the Jewish people are saying, he is asking if he is a spiritual king, their Messiah.

These two questions have two different answers.

It is always good to get to the heart of people’s spiritual questions, for they deserve thoughtfulness, since they are of the deepest importance.

When someone asks me things like, if there really was a worldwide flood, and Noah literally built a boat that could fit all the animals of the world in it, etc., I first clarify why they’re asking. Is it coming from a place of sincerity, of seeking God,  and wondering? Or is it just a cynical curiosity into what I’ll say? How I’ll answer? I have no interest in answering interrogations coming from that second place.

But if from seeking, we want to always direct toward Jesus and not assist people down fatuous rabbit trails.

If you can get to the place of asking someone who they really think Jesus is, all distractions and what other people say aside, it is quite interesting that many people have not really thought through that.

Many people who do not care for Jesus get their view of Him from other people–in a bad way, right? From what they see reported, how they’ve been hurt, false teachers…and not from direct experience of Jesus Himself, whether through Scripture, nature, other people–in a good way. However God chooses to reveal Himself.

Like Pilate, we must all be directed to deal with Jesus ourself, one on one, and make a decision about what we will do with Him.

Christology by Jesus

Photo from “Journeys with the Messiah” by Michael Belk

John 17:7-8

“Now they have come to know [four realities]:

[a]  that everything you gave to me [and that they have experienced in me] comes from you;

[b]  that the words you gave to me are the very words I gave to them (and they have accepted them as such [i.e., as the very words of God]);

[c]  that I really [and not just figuratively] came down from your very side;

[d]  and that they have come to believe that you sent me.”

~translation by Frederick Dale Bruner

One of the 7,000 things I love about John’s Gospel is how he is so up front about who Jesus really is. You actually have to try to miss it.

Notice that Jesus does not pray, “Father, they have realized that I am a great teacher, and a really good example to follow.”


He acknowledges that His disciples have come to understand that He really is from God, of God, giving the actual words of God…and that they have accepted it, believed it, and placed their trust in Him accordingly. And with that, it is now time to move forward.

Once you accept these truths as realities, as these disciples did, you will experience a new Ruler over your life. The old ruler (you) has been dethroned, and you couldn’t be more gratefully relieved. You also experience and operate out of a new power–the very Spirit of God. The old power source (you alone) is dead and discarded, and you couldn’t be more ecstatic about it.

Creed, Confession, Consolation

John 16:28

“I came out from the Father, and I have come into the world. Again, I am leaving the world, and I am going back to the Father.”

I’ve seen this referred to as “The Children’s Creed” due to its succinct simplicity.

Isn’t it like Spirit-breathed Scripture to have so much in such a small space!

Here in just four short phrases we have the Pre-existence of Christ, His Incarnation, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension. How’s that for a brief summary of the Greatest Story of All Time??

John 16:30

“Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”

More simplicity. More depth.

They know that Jesus knows all things. They have full confidence in Him. Jesus has answered the question in their hearts, and they ascribe to Him the power to do this always. There is no need to ask him anymore questions to find out who He is or where He came from. They now have assurance of His divine origin. Of His “Everythingness“.

John 16:33

“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.”

Notice the three contrast here: “in me” is set over against “in this world,” “you may have” over against “you will have,” and “peace” over against “trouble.”

There is no true peace anywhere but in Jesus. In the verses before this one, Jesus predicted His disciples’ desertion, and still loved them to His death. Who else can love you like this in the midst of your shortcomings? In full knowledge of how His friends would leave Him hanging, He promised them peace.

You will find this peace not in yourself, not in others, not anywhere, but in Jesus.

Living in this world, you will have trouble. It is inevitable. But you may have peace, if you live in Christ.

Everyone has troubles. Not everyone has peace…even though it is always abundantly available.

We are able to take heart, be encouraged, cheer up! because Jesus has overcome the world. The perfect tense of the verb “overcome” denotes abiding victory. Audacious, in the shadow of the cross, but Jesus sees it as His complete victory over all the world is and can do to Him.

In each moment, you may have abiding victory, if you look for it in Christ, the Conqueror.


John 15:10

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love…

Upon a surface hearing of this verse, it sounds rather legalistic. Obey my rules in order to earn my love.

But then we see a couple verses later what command Jesus is asking us to keep, and realize that there’s nothing close to what can be labeled legalism.

This is my command: love one another, in the same way that I loved you. No one has a greater love than this, to you lay down your life for your friends.

So oppressive.

As we’ve seen before, the way Jesus loved the disciples was in radical equality and total sacrifice of self.

One way we can practically love one another is to cease from all “detraction.”

Over our wonderful weekend Arizona with long-time friends, I was reading my favorite author, Michael Casey, and came across his reflection on the 40th verse of chapter four in the Rule of Saint Benedict which admonishes “Not to be a Detractor.”

What is a detractor?

No, it is not someone who takes tractors away from people.

Detraction is sin against a person who is the object of our negative speech; it is an attempt to damage or destroy the reputation of someone; attacking someone in the hope of diminishing their value in the eyes of others. These are often acts of injustice which require some form of compensation or restitution for the wrong done to the other person.

It’s talking bad about someone who is not in the room.

I will leave you with a ridiculously poignant paragraph to ponder from Michael Casey that states the seriousness of detraction, and what it really is, perfectly:

Detraction is the most cowardly mode of aggression. We do not confront the other person; nor do we offer them any opportunity of self-defense. We do not need witnesses or evidence. We simply make an unsupported negative statement and call on our hearers to accept it without qualification. We not only narrate a particular unflattering incident, whether it is factual or fabricated, but also extrapolate from it to arrive at generalized conclusions, larding our recital of external events with generous helpings of our own interpretations. And we go further; we proceed to give a reading of the person’s intentions and motivations, even though we have no means of knowing what these were. The guilty verdict is inevitable, and we feel no compunction at all for our part in it. Mostly we walk away feeling blameless, but an injustice has been done. Our sense of righteous innocence is no more than an indication of an inoperative conscience.

WTL–by Mark Morrell

Today’s reflection comes from my brother in Christ, Mark Morrell, who reads the Ripple from Nashville, TN. Though we’ve only spent a few hours together in person, we have the bond of our Lord Jesus.

“Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6).

Way.  Truth.  Life.  WTL.

Today’s Chapter, John 14, describes a conversation between Jesus and his disciples after eating the Last Supper.  They are reclined and relaxed. The food is settling in their bellies.  The wine is probably giving a familiar lightheadedness.  And there is Jesus, his death only hours ahead, trying to explain what is about to happen, to a group who isn’t getting it.  

Chapter 14 follows Jesus’ prediction about two betrayals – denial by Peter and betrayal to death by Judas Iscariot. Jesus changes tone with a message of comfort:  “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” (John 14:1).  Jesus knows what’s coming.  They don’t.  And he wants them to endure, to keep the faith.  

So Jesus gives the most recognized message of John 14, the WTL verse.  But what does “Way, Truth, Life (WTL)” really mean?

Many self-identifying Christians interpret WTL as a disqualifier for anyone who doesn’t know about Jesus, or for anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus specifically. Many view WTL as the litmus test for Christianity.  The verse generates logical questions – What about children who haven’t reached an age of accountability?  What about the foreigner in a remote place who has never heard?  What about babies?  What about good people, not exactly Christians, who have an inner peace reflecting truth but who would not qualify under the WTL standard?  If Jesus is the only way, then aren’t they excluded?

I don’t think Jesus was answering all the “What If” questions here.  He was making a going away speech to his friends, who didn’t understand he was about to go away.  He didn’t say that any particular mindset, doctrine, or denomination was the way, the truth, and the life.  He wasn’t talking about destination.  He was pointing the disciples, his followers, back to himself, as a way to know God, in times of trouble.  He was trying to reassure them, hours before his death.  And right after the WTL verses, he immediately previews the Holy Spirit, another comfort to the disciples in Jesus’ absence.  

If we are disciples of Jesus, then let’s keep the WTL for what was intended – to comfort us.  Not to disqualify, but to help us face difficult times ahead.   There are moments for all of us when God seems distant.  When we betray Jesus.  When we deny Jesus.  And when God is a far off, vague thing, do you know how God wants to comfort us?  Jesus. WTL.   Know him, and then God is known.  And we have the Holy Spirit to help us make that connection.   

Jesus is WTL.


Glorify Your Name~by Gabriela Pallikan

John 12:27-28

What stood out to me as I was reading this chapter was when Jesus said, “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” This reminded me of what we talked about in class only a couple weeks ago. We talked about hard times and discipline. I think God gives us these times to see if we will turn to or away from him. Whenever we come across something hard we tend to turn away from God and sulk in our own misery, but what we should do is run to Him.

God understands what we are going through because Jesus went through something much harder and he felt the same feelings we feel: anger, sadness, and hopelessnesss. God does not make us go through these things for His pleasure, he hates seeing us in pain, but he makes us, and made his son 2,021 years ago, go through these hard times because he loves us. We should turn to the God who understands, the God  who wants to help, and the God who loves us so unconditionally. We should glorify his name because I know from experience, and I’m sure everyone can relate, that whenever we come out of something hard we are stronger in our religion, as a friend, and even simply as a person, and that’s God working thru us, working to improve and shape us.

Sometimes we don’t see how God works thru our hard times though. Sometimes God uses our hardships to help others, and that’s when it’s hardest to stay strong, but we have to remember that God has a plan and will never leave nor forsake us. All we have to do is believe in Him and glorify His name.

Divine Empathy

John 11:35

Jesus burst into tears.

I love this translation of the shortest verse in our Bible. It seems to really capture the language and feel from the author. It’s so powerful.

Jesus was deeply moved to tears.

What moved Jesus so deeply in this story?

We must admit that it is difficult to clearly pinpoint what exactly moved Jesus to such deep feeling here. But I believe we can say with some confidence that we do see the heartfelt humanity of Jesus.

In seeing the heaviness of grief over Lazarus’ death, his friends mourning and sad, the hopelessness of death in some there, Jesus becomes overwhelmed himself with tears.

We truly have a God who is intimately familiar with our range of human emotions. Jesus was susceptible of the impressions of joy, grief, and other affections.

One of our most foundational emotional needs as humans is to feel felt. To have at least one person in our life, hopefully more, to whom we can say, “You get me.” It’s mind-blowing, or “ShastaPuss” (the word I use to describe that which is beyond human language) to think that our Creator is such a person.

Jesus showed us God, and this revelation shows us a God of compassion to the fullest degree we can’t even imagine, proof of how really our Lord is one with us.


God with us.

Every single emotion, no matter how fleeting, that you will feel today, God has not only felt before in Jesus, but feels with you in real time as you feel it.

This is one of the paramount and most profound differences of Christianity that truly sets it apart from the other religions of the world and ancient myths. There are many creation stories, flood narratives, and epic tales of sacrifice for others. But I know of no other account in which an almighty Creator God binds him or herself to the humanity which she created in such a manner as to become one with them–and then dying for them in order to be reconciled together!

Venturing beyond my self-imposed word limit, I want to leave you with this quote from Sir Oliver Lodge in his Man and the Universe from 1908:

The Christian idea of God is not that of a being outside the universe, above its struggles and advances, looking on and taking no part in the process, solely exalted, beneficent, self-determined, and complete; no, it is also that of a God who loves, who yearns, who suffers….This is the truth that has been reverberating down the ages ever since; it has been the hidden inspiration of saint, apostle, prophet, martyr; and, in however dim and vague a form, has given hope and consolation to unlettered and poverty-stricken millions:–A God that could understand, that could suffer, that could sympathize, that had felt the extremity of human anguish, the agony of bereavement, had submitted even to the brutal hopeless torture of the innocent….This is the extraordinary conception of Godhead to which we have thus far risen.

Other Sheep

John 10:16

And I have other sheep, too, which don’t belong to this sheepfold. I must bring them, too, and they will hear my voice. Then there will be one flock, and one shepherd.

Here’s another verse I’ve wondered about, so I checked with my commentary compadres, and they agree that Jesus is simply speaking of those believers outside of Judaism. Jesus and salvation came through Israel, the Jewish people, but it is for all people.

Yahweh promised Abraham in the OT that all the world would be blessed through his bloodline, not just Israel.

Jesus may also be referring to believers that were not in his midst during this conversation.

The beauty I find in this verse is in that last part: “Then there will be one flock, and one shepherd.”

There are “sheepfolds” all over the world full of people who love Jesus and call Him Lord. Undoubtedly they all look very different, but at the end of the day, there’s one flock, one Shepherd. It’s comforting and inspiring to know that there’s so many other “sheep” out there following Jesus in their own context.

When you think about it, the differences can actually be unifying. I kind of think of it like the power of music. Music moves people, people all over the world, from different cultures, generations, educational backgrounds, etc. And nowadays there’s a different style of music for about every person on the planet. How foolish to argue your favorite style to be better than someone else’s, when all the while we could be celebrating joyfully together, “Isn’t music wonderful?!?” “Don’t you just LOVE music??”

Spirit recognizes Spirit. Of course it’s gonna come out in vastly different ways due to the unique God of variety we have been gifted life from.

But all of us who have been regenerated can say in unity with one another, “Isn’t Jesus wonderful?!?” “Don’t you just LOVE Jesus??”