"After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him." John 13:5 (NIV84)

If Jesus was at a hospital, the first thing you'd think is that he'd be a doctor. "The Great Physician now is here, the sympathizing Jesus." Healing is a natural fit for Jesus.  These days though you might expect him to be CEO, organizing a bevy of doctors to heal the masses. That would be more efficient, and fits His headship of his body, the church.

It might be a bit of a stretch, but he might be the cook.

 

"The wounds of a friend can be trusted" Proverbs 26:6

As a pastor, I'm often asked to pray for people as they endure surgery. Praying and waiting while the procedure continues hour after hour, it amazes me, but no longer surprises, to discover that this is the third or fourth operation of the day for that doctor. What is it that keeps the surgeon going, excising cancer from a patient's body? 

I have to believe that it is Wrath: The healer is the sworn enemy of sickness. The doctor is determined to remove every trace of the deadly pestilence from the patient. Loving life, loving health, these healers are refining fires, purifying a body from every unhealthy cell.

That wrath might have had it's beginning in the death of a sister, parent. That future oncologist might have lost a son or daughter. This Wrath might still bring tears and fierceness, impatience with delays and fatigue and the carelessness of others. the Wrath is renewed with every unnecessary death, all the suffering, all the despair that disease brings. 

That Wrath explains the years of study, preparation and sacrifice; this Wrath is a facet of a love of life and humanity; terrifying in its power, awesome in its works. 

The patient emerges from surgery, scarred, bruised, aching. These are the wounds of a friend. The wounds will heal, the scars will testify to the love that went to war upon death.

So also the wrath of God against all unrighteousness. He who lost his Son to sin's malice is fiercely determined to remove every trace of it from his creation. When we turn to him for help, he puts every ounce of his determination, skill and power to work in us. Like a doctor, God has staked his reputation on winning this battle. Even for his own name's sake he will carry on. However long it takes, at whatever personal cost, Jesus will complete the work he began in us. Thank God for his wrath! 

 

John 15:5 (NIV84): “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

It may seem that the Scripture speaks of two kinds of fruit in a disciple's life. Paul speaks of the character producedin a disciple by the Holy Spirit as fruit:  "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22–23 (NIV84), and on the other hand Scripture repeatedly speaks of slanting seeds and bearing fruit as a figure for evangelism, or sharing the Good News and bringing people into salvation under the lordship of Jesus, in fulfillment of the great commission. Paul also writes :1 Corinthians 3:6–7 (NIV84): "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow." where the 'fruit' is clearly the Corinthian believers.

It can be helpful to extend the metaphor of Fruit, to see that really these two ideas are joined together. Fruit is the seed bearing body of a plant: a nut, an apple, a zucchini. In every case the seed itself is encased in an attractive container. (Not every fruit is useful to a human [Genesis 2:16, anyone?], but even those that are poisonous to us are nutritious and good to some other creature.) The goal of producing fruit is for it to be consumed, so that the seed is taken with the fruit. Later the seed will be <ahem> 'deposited,' germinate and grow. 

The Spirit produces fruit in the disciple. That fruit  - love, peace, patience, etc, is very attractive, and many will draw near you to receive the love, enjoy the peace, and try the patience (ouch!) that becomes evident in a believer's life. The fruit is meant to be given away,because embedded in the fruit is the seed of the Word of God, which, when planted in the good soil of the heart, will spring up by faith as new life in a new disciple.

The fruit of the Spirit is "the seed bearing body" of your life in Christ, which encourages those your meet to receive the life bearing word of the Gospel. Produce much fruit, share the Word, and help the seeds you plant to spring up and bear more fruit - ten, fifty or a hundredfold!

"What a Friend we have in Jesus!" 

Joseph Scrivens, of Port Hope, Upper Canada (Ontario) has inspired generations with this truth.  Jesus said, (John 15:13–16) "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." His disciples are his friends. He calls Moses his friend (Ex 33:11), he is a friend to Abraham (Is 41:8). 

We pray in the name of our friend, Jesus. and when faced with trouble and danger we can often hear people praying in 'the powerful name of Jesus.' When was the last time you prayed in 'the friendly name of Jesus?'

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A quick Lenten commentary on the four Gospels, chapter by chapter.

New 2-3 chapters will be published each day through Lent 2020.