The Word @ Home
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By Sue Olesen
Thoughts: “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me.”
Many funeral services begin with this first verse in John 14. Most ministers would not continue reading the entire chapter, but it is almost entirely devoted to comfort. And comfort is what grieving people need most.
We talk of comfort food – vegetable soup and chocolate chip cookies – and comfort zones – talking with friends and not talking in public. We yearn for warmth and acceptance and security, all of which mean comfort.
In John 14:16, Jesus tells his disciples that the Father will give them a Comforter who will abide with them forever. Verse 26 explains that the Comforter is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in Jesus’ name. Verse 18 contains the beautiful promise we hold close in our hearts: “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.”
The Comforter has been sent to us. We must open our hearts to Him.
Discussion: What tangible things do we consider essential to our comfort?
Scripture: John 17:20-26
Thoughts: John 17 devoted to Jesus’ prayer. This prayer comes between the Last Supper and Jesus’ betrayal by Judas. Did John hear Jesus praying and jot down the words, or did he think these are the words Jesus might have said?
Jesus is facing his betrayal by Judas, his trials before the high priests, Herod, and Pilate, hideous pain, a gruesome death on the cross. Most of us would have been reduced to gibberish. But Jesus prays for the people God has given him that they may know God’s love.
Discussion: If we were faced with betrayal and anguish, what would we pray?
Scripture: John 13:31-35
By: Sue Olesen
Thoughts: We who are old and gray and full of sleep remember when the word “love” was used sparingly. It was not flung about like handfuls of rice at a just-married couple. The devotion between my parents was deep and absolute, but I never heard them say “I love you” to each other.
The movie “Hoosiers” was set in the 1950’s, and it was – for the most part – a faithful reflection of a small, basketball-crazy Indiana town. Coach Gene Hackman, however, had one startling line before the state championship game. He and his undersized, over-achieving team were gathered in the locker room. After one or two final reminders, the coach said softly, I love you guys.”
Jesus and his disciples are partaking of the Last Supper. Jesus tells them that Judas will betray him and tells Judas, “that thou doest, do quickly.” Judas leaves.
Jesus tells his remaining disciples that he has a new commandment for them – “That ye love one another, as I have loved you…”
I love you guys.
Discussion: What neighbors do we find hard to love, as we love ourselves?
By: Sue Olesen
Thoughts: Chief priests, scribes, Pharisees, Saducees, and Jews all seem to have had time on their hands. There were no lawns to mow in ancient Palestine, no demanding soccer leagues, no long commutes to work – indeed, did the men in these five groups work? Apparently, they had infinite time to trail after Jesus and pepper him with questions. The answers to these questions, they fondly believed, would incriminate Jesus.
They were learned – or at least they never accepted – that Jesus was always light years ahead of them. Sometimes he responded to their questions with questions. Whatever answer the PSPSJ (priests, scribes, Pharisees, Saducees, Jews) gave, they would anger some of their listeners. Other times Jesus led his inquisitors into a theological labyrinth which confounded them, and the only answer they could muster was “We cannot say.”
Discussion: What can we say?
“What think ye of Christ, friend?
When all’s done and said,
Like you this Christianity or not?
It may be false, but will you wish it true?
Has it your note to be so if it can?”
Scripture: John 21:1-19
By: Sue Olesen
numbers occur frequently in the Bible.
There are twelve tribes of Israel.
There are twelve minor prophets.
There are twelve disciples.
Rain fell for forty days and forty nights. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years. The temptation of Jesus lasted forty days. Lent has forty days.
But 153? This number is mentioned only once in the Bible – the number of great fish that the disciples caught after Jesus told them to cast their nets on the other side. John makes a point of giving this precise number.
Discussion: Why is the number 153 significant?