John 21: Shame & Restoration

Read John 21:15-19 »

I can’t think of many things that are more shameful than having to admit to your failings in front of a group. Much less a group that you made grand and bold promises too. This is what we see happen to Peter in John 21

Peter had declared in front of the disciples that he would never deny Jesus. In fact, he had declared he would die for Jesus before denying him! John 18:15-18 and 25-27 show us that Peter’s promises and commitments had fallen short. He had failed in a most spectacular way. He is hiding in his shame by doing what so many of us do, we go back to something that we are good at, that we feel confident in. Peter went to fishing; though after a night without any fish, he must have been feeling even more shame (A professional fisherman who can’t catch anything?!). Jesus comes to Peter to wipe away his shame, and to restore him. Jesus asks him a series of questions in front of the other disciples that work to reinstate Peter and help him to see the purpose for his future. Jesus asks him three time if he loves him. When Peter says he does Jesus tells him to “feed my sheep”. On the third time Peter was grieved, because he knew Jesus was referring back to his denial. The other disciples were there witnessing this event and were seeing how you eradicate shame from your life. Shame leaves when the failure is brought into the light, when it is forgiven, and when we can move beyond shame into God’s purpose for our future.

What are the area(s) of shame in your life that haunt you, that you can’t seem to escape?

Focus internally for a moment, intentionally thinking about those areas. They are probably hard to think about even though likely they quickly jump into your mind. Jesus wants to free you; he wants to take your shame away. He wants to do for you what He did for Peter. Jesus is right there with you, wanting to meet you where you are at. Jesus wants you to face your shame, the events or the choices that caused that shame, and bring you freedom.

Pray right now, ask Jesus to bring you freedom from your shame. Specifically pray about the areas of shame and ask God to lead you toward healing and freedom.

Now you need to tell someone. One of the most difficult parts of healing is bringing our shame into the light and refusing to hide it anymore. This doesn’t mean you stand up and share it with the entire world, but find a person or two whom you deeply trust and share your shame with them. Let them help you walk along the process of healing and freedom.

God has a purpose for your life. God loves you. God is with you.

Have a wonderful week.

John 20: He is Risen!

He is risen; He is risen, indeed!

Many Easter services start with a greeting that sounds a lot like this. This greeting has been used throughout Church history and has become a traditional greeting Christians say to each other around Easter. I hope that this greeting is more than just a tradition to you. I hope that every time you speak this, you are giving testimony to your belief in the reality that Jesus Christ is alive today, just like he was 2,000 years ago.

Three times in John 20 Jesus’ followers testify about His resurrection:

  • Mary Magdalene: “I have seen the Lord” – (John 20:18)
  • Ten of the twelve disciples: “We have seen the Lord” – (John 20:25)
  • Thomas: “My Lord and my God”— (John 20:28)

They saw the living and resurrected Christ, the Savior of the world! This experience (and receiving the Holy Spirit soon after) spurred them on to testify throughout the whole world that Jesus was the Messiah, the God/Man who has conquered sin and death!

Even in this moment of incredible evidence for Christ; there was still doubt. Honestly, this is comforting to me, because sometimes I doubt even there is no "good reason" to be doubting.

We see in John 20 that Thomas doubted and demanded proof before he would believe in Jesus. It didn't matter that Mary Magdalene and the other disciples told him they had seen Jesus. He wanted to see Jesus’ hands and feel Jesus’ wounds before he would believe. After Jesus appeared to Thomas, he responds with belief. Jesus’ words to Thomas in John 20 always provide me with great comfort, and I hope they do for you today as well.

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
— John 20:29

Jesus speaks a blessing in John 20 that is true for us today. We who have believed based on testimony and witness, we are blessed! We have not seen Jesus in the same way the first-century believers did; and yet we still have the opportunity to believe and to be a part of God’s eternal kingdom. Hallelujah!

Church history tells us that Thomas traveled as far as India proclaiming the Good News about Jesus. The other disciples traveled the world and proclaimed the Good News about Jesus everywhere they went. God led them to overcome their doubts and they believed. 

Who can you proclaim the Good News about Jesus to this week?

He is Risen; He is Risen, Indeed!

John 18: Testifying about Jesus

John 18 is filled with incredible courage and sickening cowardice. This chapter of scripture contains testimonies about Jesus from a variety of people. Spend a few minutes reading John chapter 18 and look for these examples of courage and cowardice. As you are reading reflect on the motivations that directed each person’s testimony.

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.

Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.

Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him  and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.

“You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.

He replied, “I am not.”

It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.

Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

“I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”

When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.

“If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”

He denied it, saying, “I am not.”

One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.

John 18:1-26

When we as Christians move through our daily lives we are presented with opportunities to give testimony about Jesus. We can offer a courageous or cowardly testimony. Judas betrays Jesus and shows us a testimony of cowardice. Peter immediately steps up with courage (though misguided) and wants to defend Jesus by taking on a whole Roman detachment of trained soldiers with what was probably a fishing knife! What courage he has! Unfortunately, his courage is short-lived… that same night he responds with cowardice three times as people question him about his connection to Jesus. After his third denial a rooster crows and Peter flees, full of sorrow and tears (Luke 22:62).

 How can we respond with courage, not cowardice, when we are faced with opportunities to testify about Jesus? Peter was empowered in his initial testimony because of Jesus’ presence, Jesus’ power, and the community of disciples that he was surrounded by. Later in Peter’s story his courage isn’t in misguided actions, but in powerful testimonies about Jesus. In his three denials he was alone, he was scared, and he wanted to hide because of the weight of the possible consequences that might come if he spoke the truth about Jesus.

When we are close to Jesus, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us, and being encouraged by a close community of Christians we are much more likely to speak out courageously! One of the big reasons that our vision at Venture includes everyone being In Community is so that we can be encouraging each other to be bold and courageous as we move through our daily lives. If you are not In Community, click here, join one of the various groups and be encouraged. For those of you who are already in a group, I would encourage you to be open and vulnerable in your group so that you can be courageous in your testimony this week. 

John 17: Jesus' Prayer

After Jesus finished saying this, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your Son, so that the Son may give glory to you. For you gave him authority over all people, so that he might give eternal life to all those you gave him. And eternal life means to know you, the only true God, and to know Jesus Christ, whom you sent. I have shown your glory on earth; I have finished the work you gave me to do. Father! Give me glory in your presence now, the same glory I had with you before the world was made.
— John 17:1-5

Many times I’ve heard people express an unwillingness to pray for themselves. They feel that it is selfish and instead they should focus on others. Jesus gives us a great example of praying for Himself.  We can learn a great amount from the content of Jesus’ prayer as he focused inward on Himself.

Jesus focused on the mission that the Father had assigned him to. Jesus’ prayer was that this mission (His death and resurrection) could be completed and that it would bring glory (think recognition/honor) to the Father and Himself. Jesus’ prayer is focused on the results of his mission. He knows that it’s completion will bring eternal life to all who believe, it will also bring great glory to the Father and Himself. He is eager for it and longs for it to come

Jesus also knows the pain and agony of what he will endure in the coming days (Luke 18:31-34). He is aware of the need for him to be punished, and ultimately killed for the sins of the world. He deals with the present agony as he feels of the weight of the path in front of Him (Luke 22:41-46). He submits His emotions (the agony of the pain he will feel) and His desire (to complete the mission a different way) to the plan of the Father and moves forward into completing the mission set before Him.

When we are praying for ourselves, our mission (and the glory it will bring to God) and our emotions ought to be a main focus of our prayers. Telling God your desires and emotions is wise, and helps us greatly in understanding how to submit and surrender those to God (Matthew 6:25-34 / Phil 4:4-7). As we pray for ourselves we must also focus on the mission that God has for us. Jesus focuses on this in John 17:20-26 and tells us that our mission is to testify, to be unified, to overcome this world, and to be glorified with God forever. The wonderful thing about being given this mission is that it is also a promise that God will be with us (John 14:15-17, John 14:25-26, John 16:7-11) and that we have an eternal dwelling with Him that has already begun.

Spend a moment thanking God for this mission that he has given all of us. Pray for strength and wisdom to complete it well.

Furthermore, God has placed each of us in a unique position with a unique role to play. What (or who) has God placed in front of you at this exact stage in your life? Spend a moment praying that God would empower you and lead you forward in the mission he has for you in this stage in your life.


John 16: The Helper

In John 16 the disciples are facing a significant challenge. Jesus has told them that he was going to leave them. They had accepted Jesus’ call and followed Him, leaving everything behind. They had spent years with Jesus, being trained and taught by Him. They had seen his miracles. They had come to believe that He was the Messiah, their Savior. Now Jesus is telling them that He will be leaving!! We see their reaction in John 16:6:

“But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.”
— John 16:6

They were having a very difficult time comprehending what it would be like to not have Jesus with them in the way He had been. Maybe you have pondered this same question, or in a specific situation have wished that you could just see and hear from Jesus Himself.

Jesus, helping His disciples (and us by extension), tells them the great advantages of having The Holy Spirit with them rather than Himself.­­

Read the words of Jesus below:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you."
John 14:15-17
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
John 14:25-26
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer, concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged."
John 16:7-11
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come."
John 16:13


How advantageous it is to have The Holy Spirit living in us! We have the privilege of having God living inside of each of us, simultaneously. The Spirit will teach us and remind us of Jesus’ teaching. The Spirit will convict us about our lives and guide us.  Praise God for this incredible privilege! This week let us lean into the reality of The Spirit’s constant presence in our lives.  

A question for you to consider this week - In what ways are you taking full advantage of the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life?

May you be in tune to the leading of the Holy Spirit this week!