November 24

John 12:1-13:30

We are in the Christ Stream reading from the New American Standard Bible. | @serenatravis | Donate

Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Lord Jesus, you are worth pouring ourselves out for. You serve us so that we may serve others for your Kingdom and glory.  May we be wholly yours.  Amen.
Just a bit of review before we proceed in John: a week ago was Jesus’ last miracle found in John. Excluding Jesus’ own Resurrection, these are the seven miracles that John weaves into his “story of Jesus”. There are 41 total healing events that Jesus performed in his three-year ministry. John included four of these 41 in his gospel plus three nature miracles. John is employing just enough to prove who Jesus is. These are enough to inform the world that Jesus is sent from God and is The Savior of the world. Jesus is also the Master over the World.  Here is how Jesus shows his mastery as described in John:
Jn. 2 – Turning Water to Wine               Jesus has mastery over quality
Jn. 4 – Healing the Official’s son          Jesus has mastery over distance (the child was 20 miles away)
Jn. 5 – Healing LameMan [38 years]   Jesus has mastery over time
Jn. 6 – Feeding Multitude                       Jesus has mastery over quality
Jn. 6 – Walking ON the water                Jesus has mastery over gravity
Jn. 9 – Healing the Man born blind      Jesus has mastery over misfortune [and light]
Jn 11 – Raising Lazarus from Dead    Jesus has mastery over death
And with that, John proceeds to tell us the rest of the story.  The first 11 chapters of John cover 35 months.  The last 10 chapters take place during the final seven weeks of Jesus’ time on earth.

12 – After Jesus’ healed Lazarus it became expedient to escape for a couple of weeks and let the hub-bub die down. [By now the Pharisees wanted to kill Jesus and Lazarus.]  But when Jesus returned to Bethany, there were still many many people who simply wanted to meet this man who was brought back to life. When in the house, Mary anoints Jesus with 12 oz. of very expensive perfume that cost a year’s wages. What do you make per year? $40K? $110K? Will you pour out an amount like that into God’s kingdom so that Christ is glorified? Most everybody will not. We carry on like Judas and start doing critical math and make sure that Jesus only gets a little bit of it. We can scuttle and skate and excuse all we want, but our priorities are very evident to God.  And we ask Him to bless us … hmm            When He enters Jerusalem the word spread as if 100,000 text messages got forwarded and everyone came to welcome Him into the city. The praise was ecstatic – … and the Pharisees only grew more anxious. Some Greeks had come from Galilee too and wanted a moment with Jesus. Jesus uses such a moment to teach that Jesus was not just ‘the next man along the trail’ of life. Meeting Him was a fork in the road.  If they wanted to just use meeting Jesus to add to their list of “selfies’ with a star” they were mistaken. Today people still need to decide what they are going to do about Jesus in their own lives.  As Jesus tells again of His imminent death, He makes statements that are epic to put it lightly.  Jesus would be lifted up on a Cross. The battle of darkness against Light would rage as never before. As Calvary draws closer and closer, sentiments about Jesus would be deeply divided. What side of reality would the men of Jerusalem find themselves on?

            Choose wisely. Eternity is at stake.

13 – The time for their last supper had arrived. The spiritual battle was thick as a cloud in the room. Judas had already negotiated to trade in his friendship with God for a handful of coins. The other 11 were committed to stay with Jesus but hadn’t yet realized how frail their spirits were.  Jesus uses the occasion of them being enraptured with Him (they were that locked in focus upon Him) to teach that they are to be servants to all; to the whole world. Every leader who has gone amok on earth has forgotten this story that Jesus demonstrated.  It hits so hard and cuts to the core. Peter doesn’t know what to do except to be come sarcastic. Jesus calmly finished the task however.  Jesus knows that his betrayer is still in the room. The events ensue and eventually Judas is at the point of no return. He leaves into the night – truly the man was more committed to darkness than anything. Once someone leaves Jesus, they step into darkness that only grows darker and darker until the grip of Darkness is inescapable.

November 23

Zechariah 7-8

We are in the Exile Stream reading from the New American Standard Bible. | @serenatravis | Donate

Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Dear Lord Jesus – we are glad you don’t give up on us even though hard-heartedness is a big problem with us; your people. .  We are grateful that you intend to restore and celebrate with us as we worship in your presence. Amen.

The two chapters are linked into an intertwined theme.  They had been doing their dutiful deeds to commemorate Zion.  They longed to get back there. Their fasts in (what we call) April, May, July, October were for grieving the destruction of the Temple.  But their hearts were wrong. The fasting wasn’t bringing them to God. It was souring into just being a show of personal piety rooted in … they didn’t even know what anymore. The practice of this and the brand new religion of Buddha in Asia about this same time was queerly similar, btw.
7 – The prologue is soon over and God is inquiring, “are you fasting for me? are you celebrating for me? Are you serious?”  God saw the activity that may have appeared religious, but he was not impressed.  They were cruel to each other as widows and orphans and neighbors were destitute among them and the population basically didn’t care.  They seemed to enjoy pretending not to notice those suffering around them They were being evil to one another and aloof to God.  Their spirituality was a empty, boring, human-centered expression that God was not impressed with.  They had forgotten that God had to scatter them because of their hard-heartedness.  This still was not remedied.  And it needed to be.
8 – The abrupt alternating between distress from their sins and jubilation at God’s renewal continue here, as is Zechariah’s trademark.  Amid all the folly that was yet to be reckoned with and abandoned, there is a coming Day foretold where God was going to come and dwell in Jerusalem in a glorious manner. God loved Zion and he would abide there. Truth and holiness would prevail.  The old and young would be joyful as children played in the streets. God will save His people. All will have provision. Enemies will be gone.  And you will all have stopped lying to each other, yes?!. There will be food aplenty, strength, and blessing. God will do good in Judah so do not be afraid. After this the fasts will be renewing and cleansing, not spiritual weirdness.  The feasts will be joyful celebrations, not mere food festivals of excess. The shame of the Jews’ behavior in past will be gone. And as blessing floods the land, many nations will be inspired to seek the same blessing that the Jews have since they walk anew with their God.  Praise be to the Lord.

November 22

Ezekiel 33-35

We are in the Prophetic Stream reading from the New American Standard Bible. | @serenatravis | Donate

Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Lord, give us your pastoral heart that Ezekiel tells us about.  Amen.

33 – The Lord makes it quite clear that a Believer has a duty to warn one who is straying in disobedience. If we, in God’s safe keeping, look out and see one proceeding into perdition, that man’s blood is on us if we do not take the responsibility to warn him that destruction lies ahead if he does not repent and make amends.  Yes, we are guilty for what he does if we play the politically correct game and remain aloof dismissing the matter with platitudes of “respecting others views”, minding one’s own business, honoring their privacy, live and let live, blah blah and such gobbledy. Regardless of their response to our warning, we are absolved of any guilt as long as we speak to them what God would have us say as corrective direction.    18 months or thereabouts after Jerusalem was sacked [586 B.C.] the first exiles from Judah arrived in Ezekiel’s territory of Babylon. His tone to the arrivals is more or less, “what did you think was going to happen. You are [top to bottom] as idolatrous as witchdoctors, you murder with glee, you swap wives like you were exchanging coupons at a store,  Did you want God to bless this?!” God had it to wipe out all of you for your sedition. You’re fortunate to be alive. So don’t even intimate the ‘gee, doesn’t God love us?’ malarkey!” God had to strip Israel/Judah because of your sinfulness. Don’t act aghast.” As the rest of the Judeans arrived in Babylon, they admired Ezekiel, but they didn’t listen to him either – just like they hadn’t been listening to God.  They would, however, come to revere Ezekiel in time.

34 – God wants Ezekiel to deliver the mail to the “shepherds” of Israel; the priests and kings who led the people into wretched idolatry.  Imagine how things could have been different had they stuck to the Covenant? As in most settings of the world, leadership is the answer. And it would be the sound answer, except that leadership was the problem in Judah. The shepherds were using the sheep to provide themselves with possession. The sheep hadn’t been shepherded into God’s Presence as the priests and leaders were supposed to do.  So the sheep went gravely astray. The leaders would have cared about the problem but they were lounging in palaces, nibbling on roasts, and sinning themselves.     The marvelous scenario is then told of when God is going to shepherd His people.  What a fascinating contrast God provides against what the derelict priests let the population slouch to. Every Pastor needs to be reminded of what is written here.  This is how God loves His sheep – and leaders are to love God’s people the same way.
35 – With Judah falling silent and uninhabited, the neighboring country of Edom [Mt. Seir] thought it was time to go in and take possession as they saw fit.  Judah was attacked with finality in 586 B.C.  So Edom was staging to move in and call Judah (and beyond) their own. They were delighted to have the Jews extricated and gone “forever” so it appeared. Well, being people who are ignorant of the things of God, they were all excited making plans to absorb Judah when in 583, B.C., Babylon rushes in and lays the country out.   The dead were everywhere.  God needed the land of Israel to lay fallow for 70 years. No peoples were going to intercept this plan of God.