So, we all know the story of Jesus and most of us have heard it a hundred times. If you are like me, when you read through the gospels you start to think I already know these stories. I have heard them all before. What can I learn from this that I don’t already know? It can be hard to read it and expect that He will speak to you in ways He hasn’t before through something you have heard hundreds of times. That being said, that’s exactly what He did when I read through these chapters.
I LOVE the story of Nicodemus. We met him back in chapter 3 when he came to Jesus in the middle of the night to find out more about him. In that chapter it became clear that he believed Jesus was who He said He was. However he had a high standing in the Jewish community and was too afraid of being condemned for believing in Jesus that he came to Him at night so he wouldn’t be seen. Later in Chapter 7 we see Nicodemus try to stand up for Jesus when the other Jewish leaders were plotting to kill Him. Finally, in today’s reading Nicodemus decides he doesn’t care if he gets thrown out of the community, he takes Jesus’s body to bury Him knowing that he will probably be seen and persecuted for it. I love seeing his faith grow little by little throughout this book and that with every step he take he grows bolder and bolder. And I love how he was changed more by Jesus’s death than life!
After Jesus died his followers must have just been thinking Is that it? Here they spent years following Him thinking he was going to become King and change the world but then He just died, like any other human being would (little did they know that His death would not only change the world during their time, but for the rest of the worlds existence as well). Many of them had to be disappointed and embarrassed. Most of them probably started to head back to their old lives with their tails between their legs. Had Jesus not come back to life Christianity would probably be nonexistent. So I try to imagine the fear and excitement the disciples must have felt when they saw Him for the first time after His death (and I don’t blame Thomas for wanting to see it for himself). They must of had adrenaline rushing through them for weeks!
I want to backtrack a little bit back to before they knew Jesus had resurrected. In 20:19 it says the disciples were in hiding with their doors locked out of fear of the Jewish leaders. Then they “were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” Then they received the Holy Spirit. After this they were all willing to die for Him and most of them did! What an incredible difference. This showed me that we are SO lucky to have the Holy Spirit. Without Him the disciples were hiding and denying Him. With Him, they felt joy when they were persecuted because of Jesus. “I may be weak, but Your Spirit’s strong in me. My flesh may fail, but my God you never will” (Give Me Faith by Elevation Worship). “This is the power of Christ in me” (In Christ Alone).
Another thing that struck me that I never really thought about before was Peter in the boat. At the beginning of chapter 21 it became clear to the disciples that Jesus was on the shore and they were were in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. Verse 7 says that when Peter figured it out he leapt into the water to swim to Him. I couldn’t help but get excited when I read this. Peter couldn’t bare the thought of being separated from Jesus for another second. He couldn’t wait for the boat to get there. I try to picture what it was like when Peter finally reached the shore. They probably had a few moments when it was only them before the others reached the shore with the boat. Did he run into His arms and experience the greatest bro hug that has ever happened? Or did Peter just fall to his knees out of awe and reverence and worship him? We don’t know what they talked about or what happened but I am pretty sure that after that moment Peter felt absolutely loved and complete and that it was probably one of the greatest moments of his life here on Earth.
When I read this I thought of two ways that this story applies to today. 1) when we come face to face with Jesus’s love for the first time, we should do exactly what Peter did and leap in head first and run (or swim) to Jesus with everything we have! “Why wait for tomorrow when I can have you today” (some song by United Pursuit). 2) I feel like this is how our quiet time should look like everyday. I know we all spend time with Jesus differently but whether its at 4 in the morning or 7 pm we should not be able to contain our excitement when we think about spending time with Him. I want to be so excited to read His words that I feel I can’t wait another second to be near to Him. And after those moment of quiet time with Jesus I want to feel absolutely loved and complete and I want those moments to be the greatest moments of my life.
Finally I want to point out that all throughout this book John refers to himself as the one Jesus loved. At first when I thought about it I thought it was a little strange and possibly arrogant of John. But when I really thought about it I realized that this is the healthiest way we could possibly view ourselves. Maybe John had deep insecurities and moments of immense doubt in his life that he felt undeserving and unloved by Jesus. Maybe this was his way of reinforcing the concept that Jesus’s love for him was unprecedented and unconditional. Although he (like everyone else) was undeserving of this love, Jesus lavished it upon him anyways. Holy cow! Jesus is amazing!!!!
-Tara Hagan (the one whom Jesus loves)