Do You Love Me?

Once again, we witness Jesus giving himself to his disciples. He intimately knows how weary these fishermen are. He knows they need to rest and be restored before they are sent out again. So he gives of himself, his body, symbolized by the bread to feed and nourish his friends. Christ feeds these dear ones with his presence as a tangible embodiment of his love. The natural response is to deepen the bond of loving trust. The conversation Jesus shares with Peter serves to strengthen the connection between nourishment and love. We love the One who satisfies our soul.

John 21:12-17 (NLT)

“Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. 14 This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.

15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”

“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

How do you hear the tone of Jesus’ voice here? What do you notice? How does it affect your experience of prayer with Jesus?

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

Healing Trauma

Living through grief, loss or traumatic events will have an effect on the whole of our being: our body, our mind and our soul. Safe, loving community and familiar routines can help us begin our lives again. Yet more is needed. We long for healing of the pain and fear. We yearn for the restoration towards wholeness. Jesus too longs to be present to us in these places of need and yearning. He offers his comforting presence, his understanding, his hope, his provision and very real practical, care for our bodies. As your pray with this text, consider how Jesus might be inviting you to participate in his compassionate care towards yourself. What rest and nourishment does your body, mind and soul need today?

John 21:1-11 (NLT)

Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. 2 Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.

3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5 He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied.

6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 8 The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. 9 When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.

10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Was there any particular emotion which emerged as you listened to the scripture?

Journal about it. Where do you sense that emotion in your body? What does that emotion tell you about your need or hope?

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

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Wrestling with Belief

In this tender scene, Jesus gently beckons Thomas towards the place where Thomas has honestly wrestled with belief. This poignant interaction can fuel our courage to be honest with our questions of faith and allow Jesus to meet us there. He invites us to come close enough to touch and see him for ourselves. Our prayer helps us draw close. Watchful waiting in the ordinary moments of our lives will train us to see.

John 20:24-31 (NLT)

One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Place yourself into this scene. Who are you? What feelings and thoughts are going on inside of you as this scene unfolds? Talk it over with Jesus in your prayer.

Where have you or long to experience Jesus loving you in such a humble way? Journal about that experience or your longing.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

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Surprised by Christ's Presence

Has Jesus ever startled you? Suddenly showed up in a place or situation you weren’t expecting? Join the disciples behind the locked doors in this passage and experience with them as they behold a living, breathing, healed Jesus. Receive His peace. Feel His breath. Ponder the power of healed wounds.

John 20:19-23 NLT

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

For Reflection and Prayer:

If something captured your attention - a word, a phrase, an image - let this simmer in you and allow the Spirit to expand its meaning for you.

Notice any place of consolation or desolation that you experienced as you listened and allow the Trinity to minister to you there.

This text is full of tactile and sensory observations. How is it for you to place yourself in this story? Which of your senses are affected? Bring this affect into conversation with Jesus.

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Signs & Evidence of New Life

One of the most significant shifts in my faith has been the inclination to look and keep watch for signs of new life. Evidence of God’s continual work of renewal is oftentimes very difficult to see. Today’s text points to specific observations and details in an empty tomb.

May we keep turning to wonder in empty, dead places. Jesus how are you renewing life here and now?

John 20:1-10 (NLT)
Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 2 She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

3 Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. 4 They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, 7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. 8 Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— 9 for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened or read the text? Did something particular catch your attention? Bring it into conversation with Jesus.

Give yourself room for the word to affect you. What are you feeling or sensing? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

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Tender Care for Christ's Body

Jesus freely taught and answered questions day and night to all regardless of position or status without evidence of acceptance or belief. In this passage, we see two individuals move beyond fear and secrets to publicly honor Jesus with a tender, lavish, and fragrant burial. We witness these powerful men leave their fears and secrets behind and begin living confidently in what they know to be true. Join them in the garden and share in their tender caring of Christ’s body.

John 19:38-42 (NLT)
Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. 39 With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. 40 Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth. 41 The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before. 42 And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

For your reflection and prayer:
As you listened, was there a word, a phrase, an image, or something else that stood out to you? Notice what it stirs in you. Have a conversation with Jesus about this.

What emotions arise within you as you dwell in this text? How can you tenderly care for yourself as you feel them?

Slowly savor any consoling words or images which God gives you in this time of prayer. Simply rest in God’s presence with them.

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A Time To Die

For everything there is a season…
A time to be born and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance…Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

This is the great mystery of God’s continual work of renewal in this world and in our lives. Jesus goes before us to show us the way.
For the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross, disregarding its shame (Hebrews 12).

Perhaps something is dying away in your life right now. The grief may be unspeakable and unbearable. As you are able, allow Jesus to minister to you in this death and wait with him to instill hope that new life will come. Always, he walks with us toward wholeness.

John 19:28-37 (NLT)
Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

31 It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was Passover week). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. 33 But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. 34 One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. 35 (This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also may continue to believe.) 36 These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and “They will look on the one they pierced.”

For Reflection and Prayer:

What did you hear as you listened to the text? Did a word or phrase stand out in particular? Meditate on this word, phrase or picture. Is there more God wants to say to you?

This sacred passage is full of graphic details which engage all of our bodily senses. If and as you are able, notice which emotions and sensations arise within you as you dwell in the text. As part of your prayer, extend your compassion to Jesus, his companions and yourself however you are feeling in this moment.

Savor any comforting words or pictures God gives you. Simply rest in God’s presence.

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Final Moments with Jesus

Praying through the traditional Easter texts in late summer and autumn, so “out of order” from the liturgical church calendar, has allowed us to enter the story differently, perhaps a little freer from the expectations we place upon ourselves as we listen to the story told again. Nonetheless, the sorrow and pain of Jesus’s crucifixion remains. As you are able, just simply be with Jesus in his final moments. What consolation would you like to offer him? What consolation or care does Jesus seem to offer you in his final moments of life?

John 19: 17-27 (NLT)
So they took Jesus away. 17 Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). 18 There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 And Pilate posted a sign on the cross that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it.

21 Then the leading priests objected and said to Pilate, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’”

22 Pilate replied, “No, what I have written, I have written.”

23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes among the four of them. They also took his robe, but it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24 So they said, “Rather than tearing it apart, let’s throw dice for it.” This fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They divided my garments among themselves and threw dice for my clothing.” So that is what they did.

25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” 27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, a phrase, or an image that stood out as you listened? Linger there as you are able with Jesus.

Which emotions rise up for you as you pray with this text? What do you notice? How can you offer compassion to whatever emerges? Do any invitations rise to the surface?

If a consoling thought or picture comes to you, rest with Jesus in it.

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When Fear Wins the Day

As painful as it is to hear the details of Jesus’ trial and witness the injustice of the entire process, Jesus seems to want us to understand how fear operates in real life and real systems. When we are guided by fear in our choices and decisions, truth can become blurry and we can be easily deceived. Perhaps our question for today is, do I know when I am being guided by fear or guided by love? How do I know the difference?

John 19:7-16 (ESV)
The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” 8 When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. 9 He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

12 From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” 13 So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.

For Prayer and Reflection:

Was there a word, a phrase, or an image that stood out as you listened? Linger there awhile with Jesus.

Place yourself in the story. Where are you standing? What do you see? What do you smell? What else do you sense? Notice any feelings that surface and follow it deeper if you feel led.

Consider encountering Jesus within the question, “Where are you from?”

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Not Guilty

Not guilty echos forward into eternity. A prophetic voice foreshadows what it to come. Our Abba and his Son look upon us and declare “Not Guilty”. There is to be no more blood shed to atone for sin. That way is done. And it is done now. What might it be
like to live “Not Guilty” today?
- free of guilt and shame?
- of not being enough?
- of messing up or making mistakes?
- of taking out our anger laced fear on others?
- of finding someone to blame?

John 19 contains the reality of great suffering. Please be gentle with yourself as you pray through these texts. Christ is with you.

John 19:1-6 (NLT)
Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. 2 The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. 3 “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.

4 Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.” 5 Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!”

6 When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

“Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”

For Reflection and Prayer:

What did you hear as you listened to the text? Did a word or phrase stand out in particular? Meditate on this word, phrase or picture. Is there more God wants to say to you?

Place yourself in this conversation. Who are you? What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What do you want to say to Jesus? What does he in turn say to you?

This can be a painful passage to pray with. Invite Jesus to minister to you in your pain or just be with him in his pain. Together you are sharing in his suffering and he in yours.

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