Do not let your hearts be troubled

Series: Face to face with John (John’s gospel), by Rosie Moore.

In John 14, as Jesus draws near to his death, he says some of the most consoling words to his disciples that have ever been recorded. “Do not let your hearts be troubled…I have gone to prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to be with me…Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:1-427).

Presence, place, presence, promises, peace.

Jesus leaves his disciples with some comforting promises if they trust him in the dark days ahead. He reminds them of their eternal home, where they are already part of the perfect circle of love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (John 14:1-10). He reminds them of the immense privilege of being able to ask God anything in prayer (John 14:11-14). And he assures them of the intimate presence of the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor, who will “teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:15-24).

But consolation is not Christ’s only focus. In the same chapter, He makes some of the most confrontational, controversial claims ever heard. His words were as offensive to the pluralistic first century culture as they are to our postmodern ears. In John 14:6, Christ claims to be the only way to God and the only way to heaven.

“I am the Truth, the Way and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Clearly, from the context, Christ’s words of consolation are only for those who have put their trust in Him as the only Way, the Truth and the Life.

We will focus on Christ’s words of confrontation next week, but for today, let’s look at what Christ’s words of consolation meant for the disciples, and what they mean for believers today.

Words of consolation.

The setting is the upper room on the night that Jesus was arrested. The disciples must have felt lost and confused, fearful and sad, disoriented and perplexed all at the same time.  I don’t think we can begin to understand the emotional turmoil that must have gripped their hearts at the prospect of being left on their own, without the Lord Jesus. Their future was bleak and they were overcome with doom.

Christ had been speaking of his imminent betrayal and death, and had just announced that their bravest member, Peter, would deny him three times before the next morning. It was to this troubled group of friends, huddled together in the upper room, that Jesus spoke these tender words of consolation. Only the good Shepherd would have have cared more about comforting his sheep than his own troubled heart:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going” (John 14:1-4).

Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in me.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled” is a negative command to resist the natural hopelessness we sometimes feel. The positive command is to trust in the Lord instead. For followers of Christ in every generation, these words are full of reassurance, not merely positive thinking. They remind us to resist our troubled, anxious condition by trusting in God, to cast all our cares on the Lord who cares for us. To call the disciples to trust in these circumstances was no platitude. Let’s bear in mind the reasons why those first disciples had good reason to be very troubled:

The disciples had found love, truth and purpose in following Jesus as their Lord and Master. They’d lived with Him and learned from Him ever since they first left the security of their careers and homes. They’d watched his stunning miracles and rejoiced at the conversions of many who had put their faith in Him. Three of them had been with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Recently they’d witnessed a dead, decomposing corpse emerge from a tomb after Christ called, “Lazarus, come out!”

The disciples had heard Christ’s extraordinary claims of deity and seen the accompanying signs: I am the Bread of Life; I am the light of the world, I am the Gate; I am the Good Shepherd; I am the Resurrection and the Life. But although they had all the proof they needed to trust Jesus, their hearts were still troubled at their circumstances.

Naturally, they were scared of what it would mean to follow a betrayed leader, a political and religious outcast, someone considered as a dissident by the Jewish and Roman establishment. They weren’t superhuman. They knew the power of the people who were plotting to kill Jesus. And they knew the might of the Roman empire. There were many crucified bodies to remind them that Rome didn’t tolerate dissidents and troublemakers, no matter how false the accusations.

Rome was determined to make an example of anyone who would not bow to its gods and its Emperor as Lord. The great offense of Christians was not that they followed Christ per se, but that they believed that Jesus was the only way, and the truth and the life. They could not follow other gods or bow to Rome, as only Christ was their Lord, not Caesar.

None of their fears were unfounded. After Christ’s death and resurrection, Christians would soon be called the “Christ-ones” or “the Way”, and many would be shamed, dispossessed and persecuted for pledging their allegiance to Jesus only, rather than bowing to the idols of the age. Beginning in Jerusalem at the hands of the Jews, the pattern of persecution would spread to the rest of the world, wherever Christians gathered and lived out their faith consistently. They would not worship other gods, and this refusal to compromise endangered their lives and livelihoods.

And so it was reasonable that the disciples felt troubled. They thought they’d be left to fend for themselves in a dark and hostile world.

But they were wrong. They were not left alone. In the power of the Holy Spirit, those original disciples carried the gospel outside of Palestine and into the whole world. Jesus kept his promise not to leave them as orphans. He gave them His Spirit.

“I will not leave you as orphans.”

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18).

Jesus promised that He would not leave his followers as orphans, but his presence would remain with them by his Spirit. He would come to them in a spectacular way on the day of Pentecost.

These words from God’s written Word are as comforting for believers today as they were for Christ’s first followers. Without the Holy Spirit, there’s no way that John could have recorded his detailed Gospel, letters and the book of Revelation. The Spirit of truth, the Counsellor, spoke in and through him, reminding him of everything that Jesus had done and taught in his lifetime (John 14:16-1726). And there’s no way that Christians today can survive in a troubled world without the Holy Spirit either.

And so, when we read the Bible, we can be sure that the words recorded in it came from Christ’s own lips. We can rely on Scripture as the truth, no matter how different our culture or circumstances may be. And if we are followers of Christ, we can also take comfort from Christ’s promises in this chapter–  the three big P’s, which have big implications for our lives: Our place, prayer and peace.

Our place.

The way to our eternal home is as secure as our trust in Jesus (John 14:2-41-7). Jesus gave us His word that He is preparing a place for us. We will arrive in heaven, not by trying to live a good life, but by claiming only Jesus and his atoning sacrifice. Because He went to the cross and rose from the dead, we can be confident of our heavenly home. It is a roomy place with many mansions, a permanent secure home for all God’s children of every nation, tribe and language.

God’s place is our only safe space, because Christ has already paid for our accommodation in full. He is the way home.

Jesus himself fulfills all the promises of God dwelling with His people, in God’s place, for all eternity. We hear strains of this beautiful homecoming song throughout Scripture (Ex 29:45Lev 26:11Jer 32:38Ezek 37:27Heb 8:10). Our place climaxes in John’s vision in Revelation 21:3:

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God”.

Don’t you long for that permanent, secure home? Jesus says he’s coming back for us, but then He asks us, “Will you trust me in the meantime? Remember that I am the Lord of life and death!” Our fearful hearts will be stilled if we think more about heaven as we face our daily troubles on earth.

But God’s place is not just future oriented. He has also promised His presence in our lives. Even while living in this world, we are blessed by a God who lives and reigns among His people by His Spirit. When we trust in Christ, He joins his divine life to ours, now and for all eternity. Isn’t it wonderful to think that ordinary Christians are the holy home of God? We are the place where Christ lives by His Spirit. John says, “He lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:17).

Jesus explicitly tells his disciples what this entails, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23).

Paul fleshes out the same idea to the Corinthians Christians:

“What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people” (2 Cor 6:16).

How does this apply individually? Well, when God makes his home in our bodies, it follows that we will seek to obey him in all areas, free from the worship of idols (John 14:15). It matters what we do with our bodies and our choices. If we are Christ’s, we are people of the Way, the Truth and the Life. Because we worship Christ as Lord of every area of life, we cannot bow to the lies and idols of our age, no matter how great the pressure to conform or comply.

How does this apply corporately? Well, the Church is not an organization, a business or a building, nor flowing robes, stained glass windows, incense or rituals. No, Christ makes his home amongst his people, who worship the Father in spirit and truth, “for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (John 4:23). He lives and works in “God’s household, rising to become a holy temple in the Lord…built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit” (Eph 2:21-22).  Christ will not make his home in a church that won’t acknowledge His Lordship and is embarrassed by the Jesus who declared, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” 

Our prayers.

Not only are we promised Christ’s presence before we reach our eternal home, but Jesus also invites believers to ask for anything in His name, “and I will do it” (John 14:14). This is the extraordinary privilege of prayer that we so often take for granted or treat lightly.

How do we ask in Jesus’s name, and what should we ask for? I think to pray in Jesus’s name is to pray according to God’s character and will, with sincere and humble faith. It is how Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer and his own agonizing prayer in Gethsemane. We pray to Him as a child talks to their father, with childlike faith, reverence and expectancy.

Of course we will not do more spectacular miracles than Christ, who raised Lazarus from the dead, but through our prayers, God gives eternal life to spiritually dead people and multiplies his kingdom throughout the world, through all the centuries. The era of the Holy Spirit ushered in miracles far greater and more wonderful than those recorded in Jesus’s three-year ministry.

Our peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

Finally, there is a stark contrast between Christ’s peace and the world’s temporary pacifiers.

Jesus reassures us that His peace is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. It is not a superficial emotion or a fleeting mood. Nor a few months of respite and relief from Covid or our financial woes. It is deep and lasting peace that only Christ can give. Not worldly peace, which is usually defined as the absence of conflict.

Christ’s peace comes to those who open their hearts to Him as Lord and who put their confidence in Him, not in their own goodness, but in His. It is a peace that comes to all who rest in His gracious sacrifice on the cross and the great truth that Christ alone is King of kings and Lord of lords. If you trust in His promises, if you trust that He is Lord of life and death, you will know that you have a new life and an unshakeable future prepared for you. You will have no need to fear and will be given a peace that transcends your current circumstances.

With Christ’s peace, we have no need to fear the present nor the future, nor the prince of this world (John 14:30). We have no need to fear the time when we are called upon to share the gospel with an individual or even a hostile crowd. We have no need to fear the consequences of following Christ, instead of taking the knee to a false god. We have no need to fear even the greatest enemy of all– death.

We see this kind of resolute peace in the face of Stephen, as he faced his enraged persecutors yelling at the top of their voices and grinding their teeth at him: “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56).

Christ’s peace is nothing like the false pacifiers offered by the world. He does not give as the world gives. For those who trust, He gives the confident assurance of His presence in any and every circumstance. He gives us His Spirit and the wonderful gift of prayer. And He gives us the conviction that He is our home and our final resting place– in this world and the next.

Thank you for joining me today as we looked at Christ’s words of consolation. Please join us next week as we finish our devotion on John 14:6, “ I am the way, the truth and the life–” words of Confrontation.

I am the resurrection and the life

Series: Face to face with Jesus (John’s gospel), by Rosie Moore.

Since I started writing ‘The God Walk’ in 2018, I’ve tried to publish a devotional every Friday, except during holiday periods. Some people assume that it’s easy, like a factory churning out words from an established set of moulds, but nothing could be further from the truth. I’m a slow writer and a slow thinker. Most weeks I wrestle and scribble and pray in my journal for many days before I timidly start clicking away on the keyboard. I think that’s because I made an agreement with myself long ago that I’d never try to teach or write about the Bible until it had changed me first. I am in awe of God’s Word. And never has it been harder for me to write on a text than today. The text is John 11, the true, historical account of Christ raising Lazarus to life after four days in the tomb. It’s in this awesome story that we see Christ’s fifth “I am” statement in John’s gospel. This is what Jesus told Martha just before he ordered Lazarus to come out of the tomb:

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

This is surely the greatest ‘I am’ statement that Jesus made, followed by an intensely personal question directed at the grieving sister. It is a question that I myself have needed to answer over and over again.

Do you believe this?

“Yes, Lord,” Martha replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:25-26). Martha makes a profound confession of faith even though she hasn’t yet grasped what Jesus is about to do. Remember that she hasn’t yet seen her brother’s resurrection, or indeed, the resurrection of Christ. She thinks that Jesus is talking about the final resurrection at the end of time, not a miracle in her back yard.

I’m glad that Martha had the chance to publicly affirm her faith after being too preoccupied to sit down and talk to Jesus on a previous occasion (Luke 10:38-42.) It gives me hope for myself! This time, it is busy Martha who runs out to meet Jesus and says, “Lord, If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:20-22).

Even though she didn’t fully understand, Martha was a woman who trusted Jesus as her Saviour and Lord. She believed Christ,  with her limited knowledge of Him at that point. And this is the response God wants from each one of us, even today. He doesn’t first give us all the answers and solve all mysteries, but He calls us into relationship with His Son. He wants us to put our trust in Jesus Christ, the same Jesus who raised Lazarus from the dead.

A corpse walks.

There is no more audacious claim than this one: “I am the Resurrection and the Life, whoever believes in me, even though he die, he shall live forever”.

Then, to match the claim, Jesus performs a magnificent sign before an audience of mourners. This was no mere resuscitation, for Lazarus’s corpse had been in the tomb for four days. Always the practical realist, Martha warns that the body is smelling bad by that stage. Lazarus was already in an advanced stage of decomposition (John 11:39), and Jesus made sure of that by delaying his trip to Bethany.

I can just imagine the crowd of mourners hearing Jesus pray to his Father in heaven, then calling out in a loud voice,

“LAZARUS, COME OUT!” It was an order, not a request.

The familiarity of this story must never desensitize us to its wonder. It seems almost unbelievable. Yet in John’s mind, this is no fable, no metaphor, no hearsay evidence. He writes it as historic fact. The apostle John heard Jesus with his own ears and saw Lazarus walking out of the tomb with his own eyes, as did many mourners. John’s eye witness account couldn’t be more certain: “The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face” (John 11:44). No one living at the time ever contradicted the resurrection or exposed it as fake news.

Although none of us was a witness at the graveside that day in 33AD, John wants us to know that Lazarus was well and truly dead when Christ called him out of the tomb. He tells us this seven times just in case we’re in any doubt (John 11:142132373944). John was there, along with the rest of the disciples (John 11:16).

I took some time thinking through the implications of this miracle: A living person has ten major systems that must all function simultaneously in order to survive a single day– skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, lymphatic, respiratory, digestive, urinary and reproductive. A human heart needs to pump 100 000 litres of blood around the body every day. But Lazarus’s heart had stopped beating four days before and every one of his systems had shut down. Rigor mortis had set in and his flesh was decaying.

In an instant, Christ ordered every organ in his friend’s corpse to fire up and function normally again. Without hesitation or medication, every molecule of the finely tuned engine known as the human body, obeyed his voice.

John records Jesus saying, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:43-44).

That you may believe.

“That you may believe” is a phrase that’s impossible to miss in John’s gospel. It’s the whole point of the miraculous sign (John 11:1425-264240). ‘Believing’ is the reason why John wrote his gospel in the first place (John 20:31). He wants us to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and by believing, to have life in his name. Lazarus’s resurrection was an indisputable object lesson that no one in Bethany or Jerusalem could ignore.

Of course, this miracle seems unbelievable, because we know that no human can create a single molecule out of nothing. The best our scientists can do is mimic systems that God has already created. Don’t our ‘miraculous’ vaccines, prosthetics, implants and insulin pumps just mimic the wonderful bodies that God has given us, from the beginning? As useful as they are, man-made imitations don’t come close to the real thing. The supernatural raising of Lazarus proved, beyond reasonable doubt, the divinity of Jesus. There is no other explanation for the miracle.

And the Jews who witnessed the resurrection knew this. They hadn’t been indoctrinated with the theory of evolution like us. They knew that only Yahweh could give and take life, or reconstruct a rotten corpse with a word. They believed the Creation account described in Genesis 1 and 2.  And that’s why this miracle caused such a stir.

It’s why, a chapter later, the Chief Priests even conspired to murder Lazarus, because “on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in Him” (John 12:10-11). They weren’t interested in truth or facts. They were only concerned that Jesus was identifying himself as the Creator God and masses of people were believing and following Him!

I am the resurrection and the life.

It’s easy to underestimate the magnitude of this sign, but it undergirds Christ’s claim to be the Resurrection and the Life. It also proves his earlier claim:“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it…25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself” (John 5:19-27).

 The raising of Lazarus took place in Bethany. It was a graphic preview of Christ’s own resurrection, which was soon to take place at another tomb in Jerusalem. The sign points us to the spiritual life that Christ gives freely to all believers– the new birth (John 3:3;14-15). But it also guarantees a future bodily resurrection for all who believe (Acts 4:224:1526:8Matt 27:52-53).  The sign of Lazarus emerging from the tomb is a powerful picture of the new creation. John believed this with all his heart and he wants us to too.

Yet, unlike Mary, Martha, John and many mourners who saw and believed (John 11:45), not all who witnessed the miracle put their faith in Christ as Lord. Some were charmed but unchanged. And others refused to open their hearts to Jesus, but instead reported Him to the Pharisees (John 11:46). It seems almost unbelievable that after witnessing such a wonderful miracle of life, after experiencing the goodness and compassion of Christ at the graveside, some hearts would remain stone cold in unbelief.

Yet, John tells us that the Pharisees even conspired against Jesus for fear that so many people were putting their faith in Him. Because Christ threatened the ‘peace’ and their power, they plotted to scapegoat and kill a perfectly innocent man. They knowingly suppressed the truth for the sake of political expediency. (John 11:47-53). Nothing much has changed since then.

The humanity of Christ.

But the main reason this devotion was so hard to write was because the love and humanity of Christ in this story totally overwhelms me. John records the raw emotion of Christ weeping at the tomb of his beloved friend, weeping with the heartbroken people around him. It is a deep cry of the heart that only the bereaved understand.

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” 38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. 

Jesus wept.

The two words, “Jesus wept,” are pregnant with a deep agony of spirit. Jesus overflows with a mixture of indignation and gut wrenching sorrow. He is “deeply moved and troubled” at the sight of his friend’s tomb and the grief of the mourners. We are told repeatedly in the story that Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters very much.

Last Thursday, I taught this story to some students at Christ Church Preparatory School. I don’t think I presented the lesson well, but a boy in the back row drew the class’s attention to the humanity and compassion of Jesus in John 11:32-34, asking a question that stuck like gum in my mind:

“Why did Jesus weep if he knew that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead in just a few minutes?”

And so, that evening, whilst having dinner with some dear Christian friends, I threw the question out, asking our dinner guests for the answer they would have given the boy. Our friend, Alex, took a keen interest in the question. He’s always the first to volunteer to teach a Bible lesson and it’s just like him to care for the fidgety kid in the back row! Although I can’t accurately recall every word, his answer was along these lines:

“When Jesus wept, He showed us that He’s not just a God far away, with the power to bring a dead person back to life. He’s also gentle and compassionate towards the brokenhearted. He knows the pain of those left standing at the graveside. He knows that before He returns to earth to restore all things, there will be plenty of death and misery in the world. Jesus was a good friend to Lazarus and he loved Mary and Martha. He hated seeing their grief. He hated death and its power to rip loved ones apart. Even though Jesus knew that He would bring his friend back to life, he also knew that Lazarus would die again, and generations of grieving people would stand over the bodies of their loved ones, mourning all that they’ve loved and lost. Jesus ministers to those who grieve and is very near to the brokenhearted.”

I remember wishing that I’d given Alex’s excellent answer to the boy at the back of the classroom, because he seemed to see God’s grace more than anyone I know. But I hadn’t realized how prophetic his words would be.

Only two days later, in the early hours of Sunday morning, Alex’s own wife and daughters were grieving his horrific death. Alex Otto was ripped from his family and friends when he was hit by a taxi while riding on his bicycle, training for the Cape Epic cycle tour. He was chatting and joking with his friend as they were hit from behind. This week, hundreds of shocked and grieving friends, family and fellow cyclists have been wracked by the gut wrenching horror of death in a way we can’t explain. Alex was only 50 years old and he was dearly loved.

So what is the point of this story? There are so many beloved people that we’ve had to mourn in the last few years. We cannot minimize any of these deaths, old or young, from whatever cause. Each one is precious in God’s sight. I’ve said goodbye to more loved ones in 2020-21 than in my entire lifetime. But is there any consolation to be found in the story of Lazarus, or in Christ’s claim to be the resurrection and the life? Don’t you find yourself asking a version of the same question expressed in John 11:36-37,

“But Lord, the one you loved believed in you with all his heart. If you loved him so much, couldn’t you have kept him from dying?”

Death is always a mystery to us, and it’s also scary. We know it’s not as it should be. As Tim Keller says, “Its terrifying. One person called death “the worm at the core of human pretensions to happiness”. It’s that one thing that’s just always eating away. No matter how successful you are, no matter how happy you are, no matter how healthy you are, no matter how well your life is going, you still know this: Death is coming. We will all die sooner or later.”  Death is the big issue that we can never solve. The Bible tells us that it is the last enemy to be destroyed (1 Cor 15:26-2754-57).

Grieving with hope.

But, as those who have put our faith in Christ, we do not grieve without hope or comfort. Jesus made us a categorical promise at the graveside of Lazarus that we must hold onto:

“The one who believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). We cannot miss Christ’s promise or the pointed question at the end. Who is this Jesus that John wants us to believe in?

Even though he never believed, Caiaphas the High Priest unwittingly got it right in John 11:49-52: This is the Jesus who loved us so much that he died for our sins and entered the tomb of sin and death on our behalf. The Jesus who defied the natural order of death by rising from the dead, victorious and transformed in a new and glorious body (Acts 13:29-3034). Like Lazarus, this Jesus appeared to many eye witnesses (1 Cor 15:3-9Acts 2:32). He backed up his promise with his own death, resurrection and ascension.

But unlike Lazarus, Christ did not stagger out of the tomb, covered in strips of burial linen. No, Christ left the grave clothes neatly folded in an empty tomb, never to return. His victory over death was complete, as His atoning work on the cross was done.

And so, when a believer, like Alex, shrugs off their earthly body like a worn-out coat, they slip seamlessly into the eternal presence of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, to be raised with an immortal body on the day that Christ returns– A new body, free from the consequences of sin and brokenness. This future hope of redemption fills today’s grief with meaning and consolation (Rom 8:22-25).

And as we wait and long for that great resurrection day, we live with full confidence that Christ loves his people with a deep, unfailing love. He too is troubled and deeply moved by our sorrows. He hates evil and death, and loves our loved ones as much as we do, even more. He stands at the grave alongside us and ministers to the brokenhearted. He weeps with those who weep. That is what Jesus is doing right now with my friend Janet, and all her family, as they walk through their darkest valley.

Written in loving memory of Alex.

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” 

Let the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life (Rev 21:522:17).