Headlines: Courage

John 16:33
‘Take courage…’ Regardless of what we think about Jesus’ words in this verse, however we reconcile the apparent contradiction of peace and trouble or whatever conclusion we come to about just what His overcoming the world really looks like, the business end of His words here are ‘Take courage…’ In the middle of whatever is going on, we need to reach out and take courage, that boldness of heart and mind that allows us to stand with confidence, even though our hearts are threatening to bound out of our chests and knees are about to buckle.

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Headlines: Overcoming the World

John 16:33
The million dollar question is what does Jesus mean by ‘…I have overcome the world’? This is the peg on which the disciples are to hang their proverbial hats, the connection that will enable them to have peace as they live in a world filled with tribulation and trouble. Whatever this overcoming of the world is, it is something that Jesus has done, past-tense. Even as He sits at the table with His disciples, this victory has apparently, already been won. It is a little bit easier for us to see, knowing the end of the story, than for the disciples sitting in the middle of the Last Supper as it unfolds, but the proclamation of this victory, this overcoming, seems a little premature, even from our point of view. That world that Jesus has just claimed to have overcome, is gearing up to steamroll Him and His disciples; in just a few hours, there will be nothing really left of this band of disciples. Jesus will be hanging on a cross and they will all be scattered across the city. How can Jesus claim that He has already overcome the world?

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Headlines: Contradictions & Context

John 16:33
There is an inherent contradiction in Jesus words here; on the one hand He is promising peace while with the next breath, He is promising trouble. The problem here, at least for me, is in perceptions; trouble and peace just don’t go hand in hand. I am either at peace or I am troubled. I can really struggle to perceive the peace that Jesus promises here when I am all wound up about the stuff going on around me in the world. But regardless of my struggles with perception and reality (and I would be willing to bet that the disciples who sat listening to Jesus had the same struggle), Jesus does not leave us hanging, but gives us the key to reconciling those issues; ‘…but take courage; I have overcome the world’. Whatever this living in peace in the middle of trouble looks like, it isn’t rooted in anything that we have done or can do; it is rooted in Christ’s having overcome the world.

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Headlines: Introduction

Bad news; it is all around us. Extremist of various flavors very publically execute men and women in order to get their own way in the world. Nature seems to be just as malevolent as storms wreak havoc on people, places and things. Those within our culture whom we rely on to keep order and enforce justice are exposed as apparent ‘bad guys’ who fail to live up to our expectations of them. Riots break out over apparent breaches in justice and the innocent are swept up in the violence as their lives are taken and property destroyed. The headlines we see each and every day seem to focus on the negative, the bad stuff happening in the world and apparently confirm our worse fears.

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Flight School: Do You Love Me? – Follow Me!

John 21:15-23
I have heard many sermons on John 21 focusing on the restoration of Peter and the hope we have in obtaining restoration when we too fail. It is a valid point. It gives us hope when we do fail that God will forgive us, pick us up, and pat us on our way. But as we have studied this passage, I have been struck by one other thing, the phrase “Follow me!”

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Flight School: Do You Love Me? – Restoration

John 21:15-23
I have heard many sermons regarding the significance of the different Greek words used in our passage. John uses different Greek words for love (agape and philos), lambs and sheep, feed and tend, and two words for “know”. Unfortunately, although the desire to teach godly truths through these sermons was valid, their exposition was lacking. John the apostle loved to use variation in his writing. In this passage, even the word order for very similar statements is changed around (“yes Lord,” he said vs He answered, “Yes Lord.”). In another example, John writes that the Father loves the Son using both words for love, agape and philos (John 3:35, 5:20). We don’t see the difference when we read our English Bibles, which is good, since John didn’t intend any. We need to be careful about applying meaning to scripture when there is none. It is more important to understand what the Bible is saying.

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