Flashback Episode — When Jesus Left: John 16:5-15


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On Jesus’ last night with His disciples prior to being betrayed, arrested, and crucified the following day, John’s gospel shares a long conversation Jesus has with His followers, and in this conversation, Jesus teaches them about many things, like having faith, hope, and belief in Him, and He reminds them that He will be leaving them soon.

While I wonder if Jesus wanted to teach them more plainly about His upcoming death, because they hadn’t understood or received His warnings along those lines very well, part of me wonders if Jesus shifted focus onto simply talking about His leaving them which is something they would understand easier than His crucifixion.

However, even telling the disciples that He would be leaving them soon filled their hearts with sadness. This portion of what Jesus shared is the focus of our passage for this episode, and in our passage, Jesus tries to explain why it is better for them if He leaves.

Let’s read what Jesus shared with the disciples that night. Our passage is found in John, chapter 16, and we will be reading from the New Century Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 5, Jesus continued by saying:

Now I am going back to the One who sent me. But none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Your hearts are filled with sadness because I have told you these things. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go away. When I go away, I will send the Helper to you. If I do not go away, the Helper will not come. When the Helper comes, he will prove to the people of the world the truth about sin, about being right with God, and about judgment. He will prove to them that sin is not believing in me. 10 He will prove to them that being right with God comes from my going to the Father and not being seen anymore. 11 And the Helper will prove to them that judgment happened when the ruler of this world was judged.

12 “I have many more things to say to you, but they are too much for you now. 13 But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you into all truth. He will not speak his own words, but he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is to come. 14 The Spirit of truth will bring glory to me, because he will take what I have to say and tell it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. That is why I said that the Spirit will take what I have to say and tell it to you.

We’ll stop reading here because in these few verses, there are some really big takeaway points – probably more than we are able to cover in this podcast episode. However, there are two big points I want to draw our attention to in the time we have left together.

The first big point is when Jesus describes how it is better for His followers that He leaves. I’m sure the disciples were shocked to hear Jesus say this and many of them might not have believed Him in that moment. But what Jesus says is profound. If Jesus didn’t leave, then the Holy Spirit, also known as the Helper, would not come. In contrast, if Jesus does leave, then the Holy Spirit will come.

On first glance, we might think that the Holy Spirit wasn’t present ever during Jesus’ life and ministry, but that is not the case. The most notable time that the Holy Spirit is mentioned is when Jesus was baptized. Also, I believe Jesus depended entirely on both the Father and the Holy Spirit while He was present on earth. If the Holy Spirit hadn’t been with Jesus, I doubt He could have healed people or performed miracles.

However, hinted at in this passage is one role of the Holy Spirit, and this role is to bring glory to Jesus. Other roles the Holy Spirit has that are shared in this passage are that: “He will prove to the people of the world the truth about sin, about being right with God, and about judgment. He will prove to them that sin is not believing in [Jesus]. He will prove to them that being right with God comes from [Jesus’] going to the Father and not being seen anymore. And the Helper will prove to them that judgment happened when the ruler of this world was judged.” (v. 8-11)

In many ways, the Holy Spirit’s task-list looks impossible – especially when we look at our culture and the world today. However, the Holy Spirit’s role is only impossible when Jesus is present on earth.

The way I picture the Holy Spirit working, is that while Jesus was present on earth, Jesus had 100% of the Holy Spirit’s focus and power. The Holy Spirit gave Jesus glory and drew people to Him in first-century Judea. This is why we see Jesus performing miracles, and every time Jesus’ disciples are with Jesus, we never see them perform any miracles, because this would distract the focus off of Jesus.

However, when Jesus sent the disciples in pairs, we do learn that they had the Holy Spirit’s support. They healed people, cast out demons, and gave glory to both Jesus and God the Father. When Jesus was not present, the Holy Spirit focused on giving glory to Jesus through the next best thing – Jesus’ followers.

While Jesus’ message might not make sense that it’s better that He return to heaven, when we see the exponential growth of Christianity following Jesus’ ascension into heaven, we can see how the Holy Spirit and followers of Christ are able to impact the world in a much bigger, better, and more personal way than a single person could. The Holy Spirit’s role is only impossible when Jesus is present on earth, because His focus is 100% on Jesus while Jesus is physically present, and while Jesus is physically present, He is only in one place at one time. When Jesus launched the Christian movement, the Holy Spirit was freed to work though all of Jesus’ disciples and followers when Jesus returned to heaven. With Jesus in heaven, the Holy Spirit could exponentially grow the movement Jesus began into a worldwide community – which He has been doing ever since.

I will be the first to say that not everyone who calls themselves a Christian, a Christ follower, or even a disciple, believer, or any of the dozen or more terms common in the world today is actually a true follower of Christ. While the Holy Spirit knows our hearts and He knows who the true followers are from the imposters, He is willing to use anything and everything, anyone and everyone He can to lead people to Jesus. This might mean that people will come to Jesus through some very unconventional, round-about, and unusual ways. The path people take to find Jesus is less important than the simple fact that they found Him.

The second big point I want to bring out in this passage is that Jesus describes how time is against Him. He tells His followers in verse 12 and the first part of verse 13, “I have many more things to say to you, but they are too much for you now. But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you into all truth.

This detail is important for us to remember: Jesus shared everything He could with the disciples, and the disciples included everything they could in their ministry. The gospel writers included everything that space allowed them to include as well. However, the Holy Spirit isn’t finished teaching us the truth about God and about Jesus. He may never be done throughout eternity.

I draw our attention to this detail for one big reason: Don’t be afraid of someone sharing what they claim to be “new truth”. It is possible they are correct. However, be cautious in every case because new truth will never contradict, change, or distract from “old truth”. In the context of this discussion, I am calling “old truth” the foundation that is found in the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. Also, “new truth” will never minimize, distract from, or belittle Jesus’ role in history.

History is His Story – specifically Jesus’ story, and it is a story of redemption. Any and every new truth the Holy Spirit will lead us into will have the Jesus of the gospels at its foundation. The Holy Spirit’s role is to bring glory to Jesus!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always seek God first and intentionally focus on Him. Don’t be scared of the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit exists to draw you into a saving relationship with Jesus!

Also, always pray and study the Bible for yourself in order to keep your connection with God strong. It is when we are personally connected with Him that He is able us use to bless others.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year 4 – Episode 44: On the night Jesus was arrested, He promised the disciples that the Helper would come when He left. Jesus told His followers that it was better for Him to leave because if He stayed, the Helper would not come. Discover some reasons why the Holy Spirit may have needed Jesus to return to Heaven so He could work more freely in the world.

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.

Loving to Heal: Matthew 20:29-34


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As we move forward through the gospels looking at Jesus’ miracles, we come to the last normal miracle that the gospel writers record prior to the crucifixion. When I say normal, this means that it is a miracle that prompts those present to give praise to God and it’s a miracle where someone involved displays a level of faith. While there have been miracles that fall outside of these boundaries before this point in Jesus’ ministry, from this point forward leading to the cross, we don’t see the normal details of faith and praise like we do in most of the miracles we’ve focused in on previously.

Also, as I shared in the previous episode, the miracle in this episode is often listed as being parallel to the miracle we focused on in the last episode. However, while there are similarities, I think enough differences are present to call this a separate event.

Let’s read what happened, and discover what we can learn from this event. Our passage and miracle for this episode is found in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 20, and we will read it from the Good News Translation. Starting in verse 29, Matthew tells us that:

29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd was following. 30 Two blind men who were sitting by the road heard that Jesus was passing by, so they began to shout, “Son of David! Have mercy on us, sir!”

31 The crowd scolded them and told them to be quiet. But they shouted even more loudly, “Son of David! Have mercy on us, sir!”

32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked them.

33 “Sir,” they answered, “we want you to give us our sight!”

34 Jesus had pity on them and touched their eyes; at once they were able to see, and they followed him.

In this passage and miracle, this sounds a lot like the previous miracle. When comparing these two miracles, both miracles happen just outside of Jericho, both miracles have the crowd wanting to silence those desiring healing, both miracles have a similar dialog, and both miracles relate to restoring eyesight. I can definitely understand how many people would connect these events into being descriptive of one event.

However, when we look at the details in each miracle, we discover some interesting distinctions. Unlike the miracle from our previous episode, this miracle happens when Jesus and His disciples are leaving Jericho rather than when they are arriving, and in this miracle, we learn about two men verses the one man in the previous miracle. These distinctions alone suggest two very similar events, but there is one other distinction present. In our miracle from our last episode, Jesus simply commands the man to see again, while in this miracle, we see Jesus touching the men’s eyes in order to restore their sight.

In my mind, these are two similar, but distinctly different, miracles. Since the gospel writers had to scale back what they included in their gospel letters because of space concerns, it wouldn’t surprise me if Matthew, having read Mark and or Luke, decided to place a different miracle in his gospel story than was written in these other two gospels. While there is a lot of overlap between the gospels, there are also very distinct details in each. It is also interesting to note that every one of the four gospels includes a miracle that is unique to it. Each gospel has a miracle included that the other three gospel writers chose to exclude.

However, what can we learn from this miracle that isn’t the same as what we learned in our last episode. While there are plenty of shared themes, a theme that this miracle shows that the other one doesn’t comes at the start of verse 34, where Matthew tells us that, “Jesus had pity on them”.

Nowhere in our previous miracle do we see Jesus showing pity on the man, even if the idea is present. I imagine Matthew wants to draw our attention onto the importance that Jesus loved those who He healed. This detail might be easy to dismiss, but it is powerful when we stop to focus on it.

When Jesus healed people, He had no ulterior motive. There was nothing in Jesus’ miracle working that even hinted at Jesus desiring followers, fame, or wealth because of His help. Jesus helped because He loved, and because Jesus loved, we see Him help.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to be like Him, and being like Jesus also includes loving like Jesus loved, living like Jesus lived, and helping others like Jesus helped. While we might not have the ability to miraculously return the sight to a blind person, this shouldn’t stop us from helping where and when we can. And this also should not stop us from letting the Holy Spirit use us where God needs us. Don’t ever discount the possibility that the Holy Spirit temporarily gives you the ability to do a miracle to help someone in need.

God has called us to lean on Him and on the Holy Spirit for direction, help, and guidance in our life – and this is exactly what Jesus did. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we see examples of Him leaning on the Holy Spirit to work miracles, and when the disciples were sent out in pairs, they worked through the Holy Spirit as well.

In this miracle, we see faith demonstrated by the one being healed, and we see Jesus love those He healed. Jesus loves you and me, and He is actively working, in heaven and through the Holy Spirit, to bring us safely home with Him for eternity!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Keep seeking God first in your life and intentionally lean on Him. Place your trust, faith, hope, and belief in Jesus and in what He has done for us and in the work He currently is doing for us as well. While we are alive on this earth, God has a mission and a plan for our lives, and I’m positive He wants us to walk with Him on the journey He has set before us.

Also, always pray and study the Bible for yourself to keep growing closer to God each and every day. Learn to filter what you read and hear through the pages and truth contained in the Bible, and trust that God has kept His message safe throughout history. Above all, trust in what Jesus has done for you and in what He is doing for you as He leads all of us towards eternity.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of Miracles – Episode 44: As Jesus was leaving Jericho, we see a miracle very similar to one that occurred before Jesus arrived in the city, but one where we get to see a glimpse of Jesus’ heart and His love for those who needed healing.

Join the discussion. Share your thoughts on this passage.

Flashback Episode — Praying Big Prayers: John 14:1-14


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While Jesus and His disciples were together on the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested, the gospel of John shares with us some of Jesus’ last dedicated teaching with His followers. During this last short block of time with His followers, Jesus shares with them where they should place their faith, and He challenges them to keep their faith strong.

Let’s read what Jesus tells the disciples on their last night prior to the crucifixion, and discover some things we can learn about God and where we are to place our faith as followers of Jesus thousands of years later.

Our passage is found in the gospel of John, chapter 14, and we will be reading from the Contemporary English Version. Starting in verse 1, John tells us that:

Jesus said to his disciples, “Don’t be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house. I wouldn’t tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you. After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together. You know the way to where I am going.”

Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t even know where you are going! How can we know the way?”

“I am the way, the truth, and the life!” Jesus answered. “Without me, no one can go to the Father. If you had known me, you would have known the Father. But from now on, you do know him, and you have seen him.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need.”

Jesus replied:

Philip, I have been with you for a long time. Don’t you know who I am? If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. How can you ask me to show you the Father? 10 Don’t you believe that I am one with the Father and that the Father is one with me? What I say isn’t said on my own. The Father who lives in me does these things.

11 Have faith in me when I say that the Father is one with me and that I am one with the Father. Or else have faith in me simply because of the things I do. 12 I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same things that I am doing. You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father. 13 Ask me, and I will do whatever you ask. This way the Son will bring honor to the Father. 14 I will do whatever you ask me to do.

While Jesus continues sharing for several more chapters, let’s stop reading here because in this first section of verses, Jesus touches on a number of really big ideas.

The first thing Jesus tells the disciples might also be one of the most challenging things for them to grasp: He is going to be leaving them. After spending over three years together, Jesus alludes to His followers that He is going away and leaving them. Jesus isn’t leaving them forever; He is leaving to prepare a place for them, and then He will return.

Jesus then makes a statement that catches at least one of the disciples off guard. Jesus tells them in verse 4, “You know the way to where I am going”.

Thomas, the disciple who gets the reputation for being a doubter even if he is a realist, interrupts Jesus by stating in verse 5, “Lord, we don’t even know where you are going! How can we know the way?

Jesus uses this opening to reemphasize the idea that faith in Him is the way to heaven. Without Jesus and His sacrifice, “no one can go to the Father”. (v. 6)

In this next portion of Jesus’ teaching, He emphasizes that knowing Him is the same as knowing the Father, and now Philip chimes in with a statement of his own. In verse 8, Philip interrupts Jesus by asking, “Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need”.

When responding to Philip and continuing sharing with the disciples, Jesus makes a powerful statement that could easily be misunderstood. After Jesus challenges Philip’s belief in the oneness of Jesus and God the Father, He shares a statement of faith.

In verses 11-14, we discover an incredible, open-ended promise that Jesus gives His followers. He tells them, “Have faith in me when I say that the Father is one with me and that I am one with the Father. Or else have faith in me simply because of the things I do. I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same things that I am doing. You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father. Ask me, and I will do whatever you ask. This way the Son will bring honor to the Father. I will do whatever you ask me to do.

I don’t know if you have ever prayed and not received the answer you have wanted, but this open-ended statement appears to promise us both the ability to perform miracles through the Holy Spirit, and to ask for great things of God and receive answers.

While I don’t fully understand why God answers prayers in certain ways or not, this amazing promise appears to hinge on Jesus’ opening statement about having faith in Him. Jesus sets the stage by saying, “Have faith in me when I say that the Father is one with me and that I am one with the Father. Or else have faith in me simply because of the things I do. I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me…” , and with this opening, Jesus then shares the huge open-ended promise.

Three times in this opening, Jesus uses the phrase “faith in me”. We are to have faith that Jesus is one with the Father. We are to have faith in Jesus because of the things he does and has done for us. And, we are to have faith that Jesus will do whatever we are asking.

While I won’t claim to speak for God as to why some prayers appear to be answered while others are not, I will say that in order to fully realize all that God created us to be, we must exercise the three levels of faith in God that this passage describes. We must have faith in who Jesus is, specifically that He is one with God the Father. We must have faith in what He has done for us, especially faith in His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection. And we must have faith in His future working in our life and faith that He is faithful in keeping His promises.

Jesus brings honor to God the Father when we ask Him for help, and when our requests match His will, nothing will stand in the way of God answering our prayers!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Be sure to always seek God first in your life and intentionally focus your faith, hope, trust, and belief in Him and His Son Jesus. Don’t be afraid of asking Jesus tough questions or for big requests, but also know that God’s plan is much bigger than our plan. Chances are that He won’t answer a prayer that will not benefit us in the perspective of eternity, because God’s goals is to see us with Him in heaven.

Also, be sure to always pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow your relationship with God and to keep your relationship with Him strong.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or give up on where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year 4 – Episode 43: On the night He was betrayed, Jesus promises the disciples He will answer their prayers when they have faith in Him. Discover how to apply this promise into our own lives and how to grow our faith in Jesus.

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Lessons from a Formerly Blind Man: Luke 18:35-43


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As we come closer to the week leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, we discover two similar miracles. Some gospel records, and many lists of Jesus’ miracles combine these two miracles into one, and while I can understand this because of their similarities, I see their distinct details outweighing the similarities leading me to believe that these are two separate events. Because of this, we will deal with each miracle separately, and even though they are similar, I’m pretty sure we can discover some things we can take away from each.

The miracle we will be focusing in on in this episode is found in Luke’s gospel, chapter 18, and we will read it from the Good News Translation. Starting in verse 35, Luke tells us that:

35 As Jesus was coming near Jericho, there was a blind man sitting by the road, begging. 36 When he heard the crowd passing by, he asked, “What is this?”

37 “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by,” they told him.

38 He cried out, “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!”

39 The people in front scolded him and told him to be quiet. But he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David! Have mercy on me!”

40 So Jesus stopped and ordered the blind man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Sir,” he answered, “I want to see again.”

42 Jesus said to him, “Then see! Your faith has made you well.”

43 At once he was able to see, and he followed Jesus, giving thanks to God. When the crowd saw it, they all praised God.

In this miracle, we see many similarities with other miracles that took place earlier in the gospels, but in this miracle, many of the key details surrounding Jesus’ miracles are summarized nicely in what Luke describes.

In this event, we see a simple progression we might be able to use to see miracles happen in our own lives as well. To set the stage for this event, we have a blind man begging by the side of the road near the city of Jericho. Since this is late in Jesus’ ministry, the blind man likely knows about Jesus, but it is possible that he doesn’t have any friends willing or able to take him to find Jesus.

Looking at the gospel record, Jesus likely only visited Jericho one time during His entire ministry, and with this visit being later on, this brings a sense of urgency to this blind beggar. Setting the stage for this miracle teaches us that when God sends us an opportunity for faith, we must be ready to grab a hold of it.

When the man asks what is going on and discovers that Jesus is passing by, we discover than he is ready to be heard. The man believes Jesus to be the promised Messiah, the Son of David that God promised, and he honors Jesus with this title while asking for mercy. This teaches us that when asking for God to help, we should remember who God is and give Him honor and respect. It is unlikely God would help someone who is criticizing or cursing Him, even though it is possible.

Then the crowd gets involved, but not in a good way. Whether they were trying to hear what Jesus was teaching, or whether they simply didn’t recognize the opportunity present, those near the blind man scold him and tell him to be quiet. This reminds us that the more vocal we are about God and the more vocal we are about needing God’s help, the more resistance and/or ridicule we will face.

However, this man was ready to face a little resistance. While others might have given up and stayed quiet, this man knows that this is likely his only shot at a miracle for him, and this resistance simply results in him shouting louder. When we face resistance, consider it an opportunity to lean more into God and as an opportunity to further demonstrate your faith and commitment in a visible way.

Jesus then stopped and asked the crowd to bring the blind man to Him. Whether this happened immediately when Jesus heard the blind man the first time, or if there had been several increasingly louder cries for mercy, the faith of the blind man is clearly known. When Jesus calls the blind man to Him, and when Jesus asks the blind man what he wants from Jesus, while the blind man could have asked for anything, only one thing was out of his reach. The blind man wanted to see again.

This detail is fascinating, because it tells us that something had happened to this man’s sight that caused him to lose it. Because he wants to see again, that meant he had been able to see at an earlier point in his life and that he hadn’t been born blind. We can learn from this that sometimes things don’t go our way and sometimes life throws things at us that we would rather not face.

However, while in front of Jesus, the blind man asks for restored sight, and Jesus responds by telling him that his faith had made him well. This reminds us of one big theme within this entire year of podcasting that Faith + Jesus = A Miracle. While we can see some results when placing our faith in other things, Jesus is the only place that we should place our faith because Jesus is the only One who has seen the details of what is coming in our life, and the only One who has also seen how to successfully navigate the trials. While sometimes God works miracles through other sources, this doesn’t mean that God wasn’t behind the miracle in the first place.

At the close of this event, we see the healed man following Jesus, giving thanks to God, and we discover that the crowd praised God. While the crowd wasn’t interested in seeing a miracle at the beginning of this event, we discover that through this miracle, they were given one more reason to praise God. When miracles happen in our own lives, either to us personally or to those we know, let’s use these miracles as opportunities to thank and praise God for what He has done and is doing in our lives and in the world today.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always, seek God first and place Him first in your life. Intentionally look for ways to make your faith in God visible and push past any resistance you face, choosing to see the resistance as an opportunity to demonstrate the faith you have in God. While Satan would have resistance cripple our faith, we can choose to respond to this resistance as an opportunity to show him and others what our faith is made of.

Also, keep praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn, grow, and move closer to God in your own life. While pastors, podcasters, and other people can share great ideas, filter everything you hear, read, and see through the truth of the Bible, because the Bible is the best source for knowing God’s Truth.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or be pressured into abandoning where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of Miracles – Episode 43: As Jesus approached Jericho, discover a miracle that only happened because the one needing help was vocal enough to make his faith visible. Discover also how the crowd almost missed out on a miracle and an opportunity to praise God.

Join the discussion. Share your thoughts on this passage.