April 19, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Nancy Cheung, Gracepoint Berkeley

John 18:15-18, 25-27
Reflect on the picture of Peter warming himself by a fire while Jesus was being interrogated and beaten inside.  What does this reveal about human nature, and how does this apply to me? This reveals that human nature is fleshly, living for comfort over what one knows to be true, what one knows he ought to do. Peter’s beloved Master was being interrogated and beaten inside, yet he warmed himself by the fire, trying to be comfortable, rather than anguishing about what was happening to Jesus. Desire for comfort overrides higher things, even loyalty to one’s friend.

My desire for comfort determines a lot of the way I live and what I choose to do. There are always issues I need to think about, sins I need to confront and confess, but I avoid thinking about it because I don’t want to experience emotional discomfort and pain. Last week, I had opportunities to read and reflect, but I put it off, thinking I’ll just start when Passion Week starts. I didn’t want to think about the pain of the cross, what I had done to necessitate such agony on Jesus’ part. It shouldn’t be limited to just Passion Week, but every week, always, I should think about what Jesus went through for me, and be quick to confess and repent. I shouldn’t have such a big boot-up time to reflect and anguish and repent over my sins. Seeing this picture of human nature, I see that my tendencies are natural, but all the more I need to fight it, because it’s not right. It is a picture of me snoozing and making myself comfortable while my Master undergoes his suffering. It is a betrayal of the One who loves me and died for me.

John 18:19-24
What can I learn from what Jesus says in v. 23 about how to respond to words spoken to me? Jesus addresses objective truth and fact. He could have responded with indignation and righteous anger toward the official, but brings the focus of the discussion to truth. Of course he, the Son of God, is right, yet he even says, if I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. I shouldn’t respond with offense to how I’m treated, but respond with truth and with interest in getting to the truth. I am quick to take offense, to feel wronged by someone’s tone or the accusatory nature of their words, but rather than defending myself or pointing out the other person’s unreasonableness, I should respond with directing the conversation to what is the truth of the matter. I should focus my own thoughts onto what is the issue, instead of immediately thinking the other is wrong and I’m right. I should be open and interested in hearing that I’m wrong if I am wrong. When I get in conflict with others, this is often the case. I focus on their tone rather than acknowledging the content of what they said and discussing it so as to get to the truth. I’m not interested in the truth, in finding out what they’re saying exactly, but just assuming that they’re being unreasonable and getting worked up about that. With my husband, I focus on how I think he mistreated me with his tone or words or attitude, rather than being content when we’ve talked things through and come to a conclusion. I have this need to show him that he was unreasonable and mean. But Jesus shows me that my focus and interest ought to be, not on my dignity and whether it was trampled on, but what is the truth.

Jesus tells those who are interrogating him that he spoke “openly to the world,” and that he “spoke the truth.”  Reflect on the fact that the authorities eventually end up resorting to brute power to suppress Jesus, rather than “testify[ing] as to what is wrong.”  What lessons can I learn from this about the truth, the place of truth in our society, and the function of power to suppress the truth to which Jesus came to testify? The authorities had their own agenda. Their power, influence over the people, religious status were threatened by Jesus, so they arrested him unjustly, beat him every time he said something they didn’t like, and finally killed him to get rid of the threat he presented.

What I learn from this is that the truth is not evident to those who don’t want to hear it. Although Jesus spoke the truth openly, the religious authorities just didn’t get it. They were so intent on holding onto their position of power and status that they just could not hear the truth message. Truth is not welcomed in our society; it doesn’t hold a valuable place. It has a backseat to what I feel is right, what is best for me. Because truth threatens our sense of well-being, our feeling that all is OK, we are naturally compelled to do whatever we can to suppress it. And so, power is used in this way –to silence the unpleasant voices of truth and to enforce status and respect from others that we don’t deserve. Seeing the marginal place that truth holds in our society, and the worldly use of power to suppress truth rather than to do what is right, I need to be vigilant about keeping truth as the foundation of my life. In order to keep being able to even hear the truth, I need to make sure to not compromise in the little ways of trying to preserve my pride at the cost of truth.

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Submitted by Jammy Yang, Gracepoint Riverside

John 18:15-18, 25-27
Reflect on the picture of Peter warming himself by a fire while Jesus was being interrogated and beaten inside.  What does this reveal about human nature, and how does this apply to me? The picture of Peter warming himself by the fire while Jesus was being interrogated and beaten inside reveals that our human nature is ultimately selfish.  We can say all we want and we can promise all we want, as in the case of Peter, but ultimately when push comes to shove our human nature looks out for ourselves.  Peter who was so close to Jesus, who vowed to be with Jesus to the end, ultimately finds himself not following through with his promise, and standing outside warming himself by the fire while his master is getting beaten.

This applies to me in that it awakens me to the reality of my selfishness and my sins.  It awakens me to note that my words go only so far and that my actions will speak louder than words.   It reveals that with all the promises I make there is this selfishness in me that I need to constantly battle.

Are there some parallels between Peter’s denial of being associated with Jesus and the way I live? The one parallel between Peter’s denial of being associated with Jesus and the way I live is when I’m trying to love someone or marriage.  Loving people is always hard because true love demands sacrifice of your time, your energy, and often your pride and ego.  When it comes to relating to my wife if there’s a disagreement or she points out some character flaw about me right there is an opportunity for me to either deny I know Jesus and be selfish and proud about or confess I know Jesus and attempt to deny and humble myself.  In ministry when you’re ministering to people what they say might totally bring inconvenience into your life and there you’re presented a situation where you’re either going to hear and help this person our or hear him and say I hope everything goes well for you.  This past week a student I know hurt himself playing sports with some other friends.  He asked for prayers and so we got to praying for him.  When we found out the extent of his injury, I was thankful nothing worse happened because it easily could’ve been a lot worse.  So last night my wife, daughter and I paid a visit to him  at the dorms and brought fruit to him because he loves fruit.  I think we could’ve easily just texted back and forth and say nice words to him, but I wanted to show him that we genuinely cared for him.  This is a small way that I can sacrifice and associate myself with Jesus.  I think everyday presents opportunities and there must be so many time times where I took the route of warming myself by the fire.  This is something I need to look out for and something that every day I need to pray about and ask God for his mercy and grace so that I can love other people the way Jesus loved me.

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Submitted by William Sam, Gracepoint Berkeley

John 18:15-18, 25-27
Reflect on the picture of Peter warming himself by a fire while Jesus was being interrogated and beaten inside.  What does this reveal about human nature, and how does this apply to me? The picture of Peter warming himself by the fire is a very interesting look into human nature.  Peter is the bold, outspoken disciple.  Peter claimed that he would surely follow Jesus wherever life would take him.  Peter even declared that he would go with Jesus to imprisonment, yes, even death.  And we notice here that Peter does go with Jesus to the Temple area where Jesus is being led.

We see here that Peter does follow, but he follows at an awkward distance.  Jesus is inside, he’s bound, by now, the reign of blows has already started to fall down on Jesus, it’s clear that the crowd and the Sanhedrin is looking for a way to bring Jesus down, permanently, so now would have been the time for Simon Peter to step up and make true of his earlier-made promise.  In the cold bitterness of the night, Jesus is being interrogated and struck, again and again.  This picture is contrasted against Peter, who is inside the complex, warming himself by the fire.

We see here that human nature is heavily based on self-preservation.  Peter did want to follow Jesus, he even went into an area where he knew it’d be dangerous.  But though he had come thus far, he could not get himself to go further in.  Peter must have known the obvious danger he was in, and because of that, he hesitated and he did not move any closer.  Peter decided that it’d be better to save himself.

I think one way that this applies to me is when I refuse to really give it my all to serve God and His people.  I know, more than anyone, what my body can and cannot handle.  I also see, however, that I am chiefly the person who tries to make sure that my life is as comfortable as possible.  So when times come and hard work is required, I’ll be sure to help out, but I’ll also be finely attuned to my body when it even begins to speak of feeling hungry or tired.  I think in this way, I don’t lose myself in the desire to serve others, I simply reinforce this mantra to myself – you’ve helped out long enough, you’ve done your fair share, I’m sure someone else can pick up your slack, you, you deserve a good night’s rest; you need a certain amount of sleep every night to function well.  And while I am not saying that we should consistently push ourselves to the point of exhaustion, I am saying that I do notice how easily I give into my own feelings – of emotional or physical tiredness – and how much the desire to carve out a comfortable day, week, even life, really is.  I want to serve, but counter to that, is that equally powerful feeling of wanting to ensure that I’m going to be OK in the long run.

Are there some parallels between Peter’s denial of being associated with Jesus and the way I live? I think that there are some parallels between Peter’s denial of being associated with Jesus and the way that I live.  As a college staff member, I often think that as soon as I hit that college campus, it’s clear to me that I am a Christian mentor, older brother, and someone who has that clarity of the Gospel at my disposal and there are plenty of people who need to hear about and fall in love with Jesus.  When I’m at church, or with other church people, I think that this identity is also clear and I am not afraid of being associated with Jesus.
What I find revealing, however, is when I am with my co-workers.  Now of course it’s not like I should simply take my Bible and go to my coworkers in the break room, or go into their cubicles and ask them – can I talk to you about the Lord?  But at the same time, am I also bold enough to stand firm in my faith when religion comes up as a topic?  Because ultimately, to the world, the life that I live, with the kind of time and energy that I spend at church; it’s going to be obvious to many people that I am a pretty committed Christian.  So then the label comes – some people are foodies, some are into shopping, some really enjoy the outdoors, and me, I’m the Jesus freak.
Of course, this is actually the truth, I really do spend a lot of time with the church and I really do love those times and know that I’m living as the Bible is calling me to live.  But before the eyes of those that I’m “peers” with in the world, is it OK for me to say – no, I’ve never been to that new, hip restaurant in the Mission district, in fact, I’m not planning on it; nope, I’ve never watched that episode, actually, I’ve never watched that show; actually, I don’t even have a TV!  This is where being associated with Jesus begins to become something more real and this is where I find that though I am bold enough to say –yup, those things are true; I have yet to find that comfortable.  Why?  Well, to put it squarely, it’s because you want your co-workers to like you, which is strange, because in the end, I should be less concerned about their “acceptance” of me and more about whether I can live a kind of life, and build relational bridges so that I can share with them the true saving knowledge of the Gospel.

John 18:19-24
In what ways are people like “one of the officials” who struck Jesus? I think that people are like “one of the officials” who struck Jesus when they don’t question the veracity of what Jesus is saying, and they merely focus in on other, more tangential things.  The official who struck Jesus never stopped to think – did what you just say actually make sense, is it the truth?  Instead, he simply thought to himself – that’s no way to speak to the high priest, how dare he!?  This is strange – it’s not focused on the truth claim that Jesus is saying; it’s focusing on the attitude of the voice, or the perceived slight that the high priest was just given.

I think there are people today who don’t ever even get to that question of whether Jesus’ truth claims are valid or not.  Some people never even get to ask themselves – are Jesus’ words true and accurate?  Instead, they get caught up in the particulars – church is so boring, church people are squares, those religious right are so condemning, those religious left are so jargon, and they never bother to ask the actual question that matters – what do I think about the claims of Jesus.

What can I learn from what Jesus says in v. 23 about how to respond to words spoken to me?
Jesus response is simple – focus on the truth of what is spoken.  If someone speaks a word to me that is not true, then testify against that claim.  If someone speaks a word that is true, then let it impact you.

Jesus tells those who are interrogating him that he spoke “openly to the world,” and that he “spoke the truth.”  Reflect on the fact that the authorities eventually end up resorting to brute power to suppress Jesus, rather than “testify[ing] as to what is wrong.”  What lessons can I learn from this about the truth, the place of truth in our society, and the function of power to suppress the truth to which Jesus came to testify? Jesus came to speak the truth.  He came to tell the world about who God really is, God’s desire to reconcile, and God’s desire for all sinners to come clean before Him to receive grace and forgiveness.  The world did not want to hear Jesus’ words because they objected to it.  They thought it too different from what they knew.  They couldn’t accept the fact that we were all sinners; the world continues to deny this reality.

One would perhaps naively think that we are all lovers of truth; people who don’t care about the implications of truth, but that we’d rather have truth confront us and change us.  But this is obviously true.  Instead, the more Jesus spoke about truth, the more He testified plainly about God and God’s vision and plan; the more they resorted to suppressing Jesus, to put the ultimate mute on him – through death.

This entire episode reveals once again that truth does not hold an esteemed place in society.  Comfort, the status quo – as in, the way things have always gone, and the desire for autonomy – this is my life and I’ll do with my life as I see fit à these are the values that are so strongly held onto and these are the things that we deem worthy of keeping.  And anything that tries to butt up against that – we can ignore at first, but once it gets too close, we can also simply suppress that thought or idea.  This is the human nature that we find back then, this is the very same human nature that we find today.

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