May 16, 2021

Jesus Farewell Prayer for his People 16-05-2021

16th May 2021 Seventh Sunday of Easter
Title: Jesus’ Farewell Prayer for His People
(Scripture Readings: Psalm1; John 17:6-19)
By Heeyoung Lim
We live on earth, which is God’s creation and a gift from God, but India COVID-19 crisis, violence by Myanmar coup, serious conflict between the Israeli Army and Palestinian militants, and many kinds of problems and sufferings are continued in the world. For instance, the airstrikes by both sides continued to kill civilians including children, it raised alarm across the world. I expect that we can pray together for our sisters and brothers who are facing violence and conflict in the Middle East, and I hope God of the nations will give to all people the blessings of well-being, peace, freedom, harmony, and unity.
Psalm1 described God-blessed life. The godly does not walk in the counsel of the wicked; the righteous person does not stand in the way of sinners, and the person does not sit in the seat of mockers. In the text, the delight of the godly is in the law of the LORD, the person who knows genuine joy reads and meditates God’s Word day and night. (1-2) The person who delights in God’s law will be like a tree planted by streams of water. The godly are abundantly blessed because they are deeply rooted in God’s Word.
Verse 6 summarizes the two ways in life; the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. The Lord watches over the way of the righteous, which means that the Lord has a personal relationship with the godly and is involved with them to guide, protect, and bless them. Blessed are the righteous who do not participate in the deceptions and defilements of this world and who internalize God’s Word. Psalm 1 invites us into the blessed life through God’s words. I hope we will be satisfied in the Lord and will be like a tree that yields its fruit in season. The joy and transformation through God’s Word are also seen in Jesus’ farewell prayer from the gospel of John.
John 17 verses 6 -19 focuses on Jesus’ concerns for the disciples. This passage is a part of the ‘High Priestly Prayer’ that Jesus offers up in his role as mediator between God and humanity. But Jesus is not portrayed in a priestly role in today’s text, this prayer shows the proximity of the end of Jesus’ ministry. It seems that Jesus is wrapping up his ministry by telling God what will be needed as the disciples move forward.
The first act of the Son was to tell disciples and show them what the Father is like. The disciples heard about God and his plan through the Son. Jesus identified his task in the world to His disciples.
Jesus prayed for His disciples; this prayer focuses on those believers God has given Him. In verse 10 Jesus says that glory has come to me through them. In Jesus’ prayer His disciples and believers represent the glory of the Son of God even though they are sinning human beings. In verse 13 Jesus said, “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world.” Jesus has come from God, and he is returning to God. This is Jesus’ farewell prayer for His disciples and us. In praying for them, Jesus entrusted His people to the Father when Jesus prepares to depart from the world.
God watch over Christ’s people who live in the world though they are not of the world. He wanted us as Jesus’ followers to be kept from evil; Jesus was asking the Father to preserve His people from the tricks and traps of the world. Living in the world does not mean being part of the world. The disciples were able to go into the world because they were not of the world. We are also not of the world; we are God’s people who belong to God the Creator, and through faith in Christ, we have become children of God. We are gifts from the Father to the Son and relate to Him by faith. For Christians who have faith and obedience, infiltration is a better strategy than isolation in the world. I hope we can all be God’s instruments to change the world in accordance with God’s will.
Jesus told his followers that they should be one in this world. Jesus said that they may be one, as we are one. Jesus wanted us to be one in our communities and witnesses to the world. There is no excuse for Christians not to passionately and newly work towards the unity Jesus prayed for, even though unity cannot be forced in any relationships. As we know being the same is not the basis of unity. Unity does not mean uniformity or a single standard, it is based on peace and love. We do not need to wait for someone else to make peace, we can be the first to try for reconciliation with love as a peacemaker. It will be a necessary process for us to be one in Christ.
The Father sent the Son into the world and now the Son was sending the believers into the world. (18) Jesus is praying that God protect for the disciples with the loving care that Jesus himself has received; this is God’s paternal care that will not leave us but prevents us everywhere. Jesus prayed for their protection and sanctification. Jesus wanted us to sanctify by the truth which is God’s word. God gave us the living words and opportunities to sanctify. The meaning of sanctification is that of being set apart for God’s special purpose rather than just doing of good deeds or pretending to be holy. Jesus prays for the disciples to be “set apart” when they live in the world, since they do not belong to the world. It is not a way of being taken out of the world but being sent into it. Jesus prays that his followers will be sanctified so that they may be witnesses of the Lord and bring the good news to the world.
Realistically, true peace and reconciliation are necessary between individuals and nations with conflict and violence. Prayerfully I hope the newly faced COVID risks in India, violence and tragedy in Myanmar coup, and the serious conflict between Israel and Palestine will disappear.
We live in a world where human dignity is tremendously broken, but hopefully the peace of the Lord will be upon all the people and relationships. We are called to love. In our faith we promise to respect the dignity of every human being. We share our love and praise of God with others and invite them to believe in Jesus with us. We are also sent by Jesus to transform this darkness and sadness of the world by being His witnesses and spreading the gospel to the world in faith and life.
How can our church be more faithful to Jesus’ demands? A sense of Christ’s presence that will allow us to live more faithfully in the world will influence us to be transformed and energized by the truth of God’s word. I believe that God will lead us to an act of dedication as Jesus has dedicated himself to God’s work. I hope we can trust God’s protection for our spiritual and physical life all the time and I pray that we can fulfill God’s will for the church by working to keep its unity. I expect that we can be the godly and peacemakers for the kingdom of God and disciples and leaders for the transformation of the world by our prayers, sanctification, and love.
If we are one in Jesus, there can be no reason why we may not be one in our lives and communities. I believe that unity and harmony in the church serve as a witness to the world. I hope that we can try to make a beautiful community and the world that pleases God by love, unity, and sanctification remembering Jesus’ farewell prayer.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)

You Are My Friends 09-05-2021

9th May 2021 Sixth Sunday of Easter
Title: You Are My Friends
(Scripture Readings: Acts 10:44-48; John 15:9-17)
By Heeyoung Lim
Happy Mother’s Day! May the Lord bless your home and the places of your work with His grace and blessing. I hope that today will be a day of blessing for all mothers, and God’s special grace and comfort will be with those who have parted with their mother on earth.
We saw and heard the cries that Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter in the mid-2020 and witnessed hatred and violence against Asian in many nations and across the globe recently. Many people and protesters tried to call for equality, justice, and peace, but some of them had already died undeservedly, and many people around the world are still suffering from domestic violence and abuse. We cannot find love in all these pains, but today the Lord is telling us to love one another, follow my commands, and be my friends.
In Acts 10, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word while Peter was still speaking. (Acts 10:44) It happened before Peter had a chance to baptize Cornelius and his family, before he heard their confession of faith. Acts 10:44-48 refers to the ‘gentile Pentecost’. This is the fourth pouring out of the Spirit in Acts, this time prior to water baptism and upon even to the gentile. Peter exemplifies the transformation under power of the Holy Spirit. God is the subject of salvation; Peter was an instrument, not the source of salvation. The salvation has been through the inbreaking of the Holy Spirit even to the Gentiles. The Gentile believers also belong to the household of God because God accepts them as they are.
This accounts for the constant relational importance under the help of the Holy Spirit. Anyone who trusts in the name of Jesus for salvation receives the Holy Spirit and the privilege of baptism. Anyone who believes in Jesus needs to be welcomed to His body, the church, for God shows no boundaries and prejudices in the invitation of the gospel. (47) The gospel makes salvation in Jesus available to anyone who believes in Him.
Have you ever imagined that the Holy Spirit may have a hard time getting through our stubborn desire to stay the way we are? I think that the Holy Spirit is sometimes trying to break through our unnecessary boundaries and prejudices that have become rock hard in our lives. We can continue to pass on the good tradition from one generation to another, but we also need to open to the Holy Spirit that brings new message in accordance with God’s will.
The Holy Spirit broke the barriers between Jew and Gentile and propelled the witness of the resurrection beyond the boundaries of Jerusalem and Galilee. What seems clear is that Christians can rejoice and love in the Lord even in the difficulties of the world’s hatred and injustice. We live in the world full of boundaries, but Jesus’ invitation towards the salvation and the gospel is for everyone. Therefore, the boundaries of prejudice and exclusion need to be broken in the love of God.
John 15:9-17 continues Jesus’ teaching on abiding in love and the command to love one another; it tells us to keep the connection between Jesus and us so the relationship will never be broken. The quality of relationships is related to the life, message, and commands of our Lord Jesus Christ. If we remain in Jesus, our lives will be filled with joy and a lasting friendship with the Lord. Love is an absolute command for believers and the chief fruit of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-23). It is also the essential factor in our relationships.
John 15 emphasises the great love six times in today’s text the disciples will be told to love one another. The Father loves first; then the Son shows that love by obeying God’s will; remaining in the Lord’s love also requires obedience and brings joy. God is pleased when we obey Christ’s commands and follow His examples.
The Lord told the disciples he wanted them to experience the joy he had already found in obedience. He said to them, “I have told you this to make you as completely happy as I am.” Jesus wants us to rejoice in the Lord. It is a blessing that Jesus calls his followers into joy. Christian life is characterized by ‘unexhausted passion for the Lord and unconditional love for others.
Jesus’ command is to love each other as He has loved us. He taught us that the greatest way to show love for friends is to die for one’s friends. Jesus said that you are my friends if you do what I command. (12-14) Only Abraham had been called ‘God’s friend’ in the Old Testament; but now the scope widened, and the Lord invited His disciples in. We are Jesus’ friends if we obey Him.
But we sometimes forget the fact that friendship is connected to obedience to Jesus’ command to love. A genuine love for one another is one of ways to show love for God; it can be a way to become Jesus’ friend. The disciples were Jesus’ servants, but Jesus taught them the way to become His friends. We need to remember Romans 5:8: “God demonstrates His own love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God finds and loves us first. Loving each other is central to bearing fruit of life and will be a significant defence against the evil world. Jesus wants us to love others faithfully and fervently.
In Matthew 7, Jesus said that “every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit, by their fruit you will recognize them” Christians can glorify God by producing fruits as a spiritual character and a lifestyle as long as they remain in the vine our Lord Jesus. God wants us to enjoy being loved and to joyfully bear the fruits of love, He wishes us to take pleasure in living in love. I hope we can love each other as Jesus has loved us and choose unity instead of conflict, trust instead of mistrust, and obedience instead of disobedience in Jesus.
As we abide in the vine as branches, we have opportunities to relate to the other branches in right way. Many of us are vulnerable, but we can be a strength and comfort by our sacrifice for each other, sincere interaction in our communities, and respecting one another until everyone feel like blessed one.
The love God offers us in Jesus is unconditional and overwhelming. It is not leftover love tossed to us; it is life-giving love for us. Jesus says, “I love you in the same way that I am loved by the Father. We are being invited to share in the full depths of love that exist in the relationships within God, the relationships of sincere love between the Father, the Son and the Spirit. Jesus points out that there is no greater expression of love than to lay down your life for your friends, and then he does just that. He lays down his life for us!
In John 15, Friends of Jesus remain in His love (15:9-11); Friends of Jesus obey his commands (15:12-14); Friends of Jesus love one another. (15:15-17) Remaining in the Lord’s love also requires obedience and brings joy. I pray we can abide in Jesus’ love, and I believe Jesus is in us and we are in the fullness of Jesus’ love. I hope His joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
I hope that we can reflect on the process of growing into the words of Christ, discover how the life of a faithful community leads it into the joy, love, friendship, and being saved by Christ. We are all Jesus’ friends if we love each other as Jesus has loved us. Jesus calls us His friends if we do what He commands. I pray that we will love one another by understanding sympathetically, appreciating often, praying fervently, listening carefully, and sharing generously.
Being Jesus’ friends is truly a special blessing. I believe that God will renew us and transform our church by His steadfast love.

Thanks be to God. Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)

The Vine and the Branches 02-05=2021

2nd May 2021 Fifth Sunday of Easter
Title: The Vine and the Branches
(Scripture Readings: Acts 8:26-40; John 15:1-8)
By Heeyoung Lim
Philip was sent by an angel from Samaria to the desert, and he was empowered by the Holy Spirit. The lay disciple Philip went wherever God sent. (Acts 8:26) Philip was in God’s plan and ministering through the Holy Spirit. (27) When Philip was doing his missionary work among the Samaritans, he received a divine invitation to broaden the boundaries of the Christian message from the familiar surroundings. (40) The mission field has been extended to the desert for everyone’s salvation.
God led him to meet an Ethiopian eunuch, treasurer to the queen. The man was on his way home from temple worship, and he was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” (29) Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. The man invited Philip to come up and sit with him; he asked the questions that lead to an introduction of the Saviour. (34) The Ethiopian man was baptised and continued his journey home, “rejoicing.” The joyful return is introduced throughout Luke’s gospel many times.
Philip listened to God’s voice through the angel of the Lord, ran to the chariot by the Holy Spirit, and explained the meaning of the Scripture with joy. Leading other people to Christ requires that we be ready, unafraid, able to use God’s Word, and filled with the Holy Spirit. (39)
Philip may have felt mixed emotions of the loneliness in the desert and the regret of leaving Samaria where he put his efforts; he would have hoped that this stranger could really understand the Messiah written by the prophet.
We know that the Holy Spirit takes place when a willing Christian spread the gospel to a prepared listener. (30) There was a willing servant, living Scripture, and the empowering Spirit in the desert. (39) What a combination.
So many Christians own Bibles, but they usually struggle to use them effectively in family worship, personal spiritual growth, and spreading gospel. I hope many more people can come to Christ through our prayers and efforts. Philip is called to share the good news revealed in Jesus without any prejudice. (40) God does amazing things through lay people just like Philip. Luke emphasises that the good news about Jesus is for everyone through the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts.
I hope we can also be ready to go any place for God at any time just like Philip. There would be lots of unknown deserts and possible chariots in our lives. We do not know when and how God will send us for others in a cooperation of servant, Scripture, and the Holy Spirit, but I believe we need to be ready to catch our chariot whenever and wherever it comes along. Sometimes we need to go to others who still do not know Jesus instead of holding back. To do this, believers need to be ready to spread and explain the gospel after knowing the Bible well. I believe our ability to use the knowledge of the Bible needs to be grow in faith. All service for the Lord must be empowered by His Spirit and seeking Christ in our lives as often as possible.
In John 15, Jesus said that I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener: God cuts off every branch of mine that does not bear fruit. He says, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. The branch cannot bear fruit by itself, but only if it remains in the vine.” (4) I am the vine; you are the branches. Without me, you cannot do anything. (5)
In today’s text, we listened to one of the “I Am” statements of Jesus. We have to go beyond the actual words and discover the meaning because Jesus sometimes spoke in allegories and images. We are grafted to Jesus and so can receive our strength from Him as His followers. If we break away from Him, and fail to live his ways, we will be like unproductive branches and die and bear no fruit.
Branches that remain in the vine, and submit to the pruner’s knife when necessary, live and bear fruit. How do we remain in Him? We must have faith in our community that believes in Him and celebrates Him as its Lord. We can bear good quality fruit by God’s pruning knife. Though it hurts, we need to be in front of God’s pruning knife. However, within the faith community, we must abandon our own pruning knife because we are not qualified as a gardener. We all belong to Jesus; we are all in God’s beautiful garden as His branches. We cannot go it alone; we need to remain in Jesus and our lovely faith community by worship, prayer, and fellowship. It can be the ways to remain in Jesus. Verse 7 says, “If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want, and it will happen for you. My father is glorified in this: that you bear plenty of fruit, and so become my disciples.” What a blessing.
There are extraordinary promises about prayer and bearing fruit; our personal relationship with the Lord by prayer and our divinely appointed mission by bearing fruit will be our true blessings in our faith communities. Remaining in the Lord is not a temporary work, it is related to long-term health and productivity. It has nothing to do with our age, gender, and situations. We are members of God’s true people and Jesus’ disciples if we are belong to Him and remain in Him. The vine and the branches are about who Jesus and His people really are, and what is going to happen to them.
We can bear fruit by living a productive life as we follow Jesus. Whenever we are faced with situations of need in our lives, we can also ask ourselves the question “What and how would Jesus do?” We can be fruitful through helping and serving others because we are taking the opportunity to serve the Christ who is already beside people.
We need to cultivate our relationship with Him. How can we strengthen our relationship with Jesus Christ? How can we remain connected to Him? I believe that we can do it by participating in worship, serving the Lord and others, celebrating the Holy Communion, reading the Bible, and living out the gospel in our lives. I hope and pray we can all be productive and healthy branches, grafted to the true vine Jesus.
Abiding in the Lord is our blessing and happiness. Our saviour Jesus can be expressed as our home where we can be loved and nurtured, lifeline that leads to salvation, the source of peace and security where we can live to our full potential, and the place of spiritual nourishment. Our spiritual address we should live is Jesus. That is why we can live fruitful and productive lives in Jesus. When we allow Christ to live in us then we can bear fruit, because we are evidence of God’s love, deeply joined to Him, and dedicated to Him. Bearing fruit means engaging for ourselves as individuals and as the church in God’s work.
Fruitful branches need to be pruned and cleansed so they may bear more fruit. May we continue to live and grow as fruitful branches all grafted to Jesus our true vine. May we continue to let Christ live in us as we live in Him. For then we will be fruitful followers of Jesus. Jesus is the true vine, and we are the branches and disciples. No branch can bear fruit by itself. I hope we can all glorify God by abiding in the Lord, and I pray we can remain in Christ and His word to be fruitful.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)

Good Shepherd and the Sheep 25-04-2021

25th April 2021 Fourth Sunday of Easter
Title: Good Shepherd and the Sheep
(Scripture Readings: Psalm 23; John 10:11-18)
By Heeyoung Lim

Today we recognise the 106th Anniversary of ANZAC Day, when we honour a generation of young men from Australia and New Zealand and elsewhere who gave their lives so we can live in the freedom and peace. We need to remember the troops and veterans and their self-sacrifices.
As we know ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. ANZAC day is the day that we remember their loss and sacrifice of the young people who protect other people’s freedom. In this time of peace, we will remember them and pray for them and their families.
My previous church, the Korean Church of Melbourne invited Australian veterans who fought for South Korea in the Korean War about 71 years ago and their families to express our gratitude and love once a year. Five years after the end of the Second World War, more than 17,000 Australians with the UN forces served during the three-year Korean War, of which 346 were killed there. They lost their lives for others in a foreign country.
We worshipped with them together, shared special meals, gave thank you cards and gifts. Especially all children prepared the thank you cards, sang a song in front of them on the day, gave warm hugs and gifts, and expressed sincere thanks to them every year. We taught children about the history and the meaning of their sacrifices. Sadly, the number of veterans is decreased because time passes by. But we deeply appreciate their sacrifices and commitments which are unforgettable.
On the other hand, South Korean government sent face masks and COVID-19 supplies to overseas Korean War veterans in 22 countries. They showed gratitude to every single Korean War veteran who is alive by sending COVID-19 protection items and the delivered boxes contained a message that South Korea has never forgotten them. There are lots of appreciation stories. For instance, a professional Korean photographer visited and photographed worldwide of 1400 of Korean War veterans in 14 countries including Australia. The veterans receive their portraits for free from a thankful young man from the country they fought for. The young photographer was using his own expense for that, he was not looking to be compensated. However, he said that there have always been so many supporters. He believed that photos can be an important tool that can document and convey today for tomorrow. Whenever he was asked about payment from the veterans, he answered that we have a lot of debt, this is just paying it back. He said that he learned the value of freedom, freedom is not free. It has a price, and the price was the life of those veterans. They tried to make nations peaceful and served for liberty and security through their sacrifices. The photographer wants to continue this so that the next generation can also remember and appreciate the valuable sacrifices.
We are at peace wherever we stan with God, but the peace maintained and kept by someone else’s sacrifices and commitments. Our salvation has a price too; the price is Jesus’ life-giving love and sacrifice.
Jesus told us that he is the good shepherd. The definition of a shepherd’s task is to feed the sheep adequately, care when they sick, keep them gathered, and put their well-being before his own. Such model shepherding might require the laying down of one’s life, it also needs recognition and trust between sheep and shepherd.
Through the Psalm 23 we found and felt God’s presence that enables us to overcome the fear that rises in us when being confronted by death. We know the fact that the Lord is our good shepherd even when walking through the valley of death
In John 10, we hear that “the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus expressed himself as good shepherd. This verse shows us how the good shepherd who is not working for his own profit differs from that false shepherd who runs away from dangerous situations for himself. (10, 14)
In contrast to those who steal and abuse the sheep, Jesus is a caring shepherd who takes care of the sheep even to the “laying down his life”. The good shepherd who sacrifices his life for the sheep also relates to them in trust and intimacy; good shepherd dies for the sheep when predators appear.
The good shepherd knows his sheep in the same way the Father knows the Son; the sheep know the shepherd in the same way the Son knows the Father. The Lord talked about laying down his life for the sheep five times in eight verses. The shepherd intentionally becomes the sacrificial lamb. (18)
Jesus said that He must bring those who have not yet been brought into the one flock which is one body of Christ. (16) His death on the cross did not occur because earthly powers were stronger than the power of the heavenly Father. He willingly laid down his life for the sheep in accordance with God’s will. (17) Christ is the Word of God, the message of the self-giving love of God, who did not want the world to perish. (18) The shepherd alone decides who may enter the fold, but the voice of Christ calls out to all people.
The shepherd’s voice is key, but sometimes we go astray just like sheep. Sheep may follow the voice of a stranger, get lost and fall into valleys. Many other voices and distractions tempt us from the right path. However, our good shepherd, Jesus will never leave us, and His voice will bring us back because we belong to him. Sometimes we are getting into troubles and struggling in difficulties, but we always have opportunities to listen to the voice of our good shepherd in our daily choices. We also have chances to be faithful as the Lord’s sheep. We can say ‘No’ to some tempting voices that is not the will of God and say ‘Yes’ to the Lord because Jesus is here and there going before us and leading us.
The Good Shepherd makes the sheep feel safe, guards the sheep, provides for them, and cares for them. A true shepherd provides the sheep with a genuine shelter, but a hired hand runs away and turn the fold into a dangerous place.
Good shepherds are keeping watch over their flocks by night and seeking out the lost or those in need of being rescued. The sheep feel secure just to hear the voice of the shepherd. I hope the good shepherd’s voice will be conveyed through us to the lost and hurting.
Our good shepherd does not merely care for the sheep, but also gathers the flock continually. I pray that people who see, hear, and believe in Jesus will belong to the kingdom of God and will grow continually. God’s community needs to be open and inclusive. We need to become more like Jesus who embraced the outcast, the oppressed, and the overlooked. We are to provide a space where all are welcome so that all church members can experience the culture of the kingdom of God in our church and related faith communities.
The image of the Good Shepherd is giving us a powerful influence for us who thirst for a true relationship in a society that values individualism and secularism. Our good shepherd, Jesus takes good care of us who experience the moments of loneliness and hopelessness, He responds to our deepest fears and anxiety by offering peace and hope. Jesus is our good shepherd who willingly died on the cross to save us and he offers shelter and security to all who follow Him. Following Him means becoming more like Jesus. We can all become loving and caring good shepherds to each other. The term of good shepherd is not just related to ministers or leaders, but It is also connected to all of us.
Risen Jesus asked and said to Peter three times. “Do you love me?” Whenever Peter answered Jesus “I love you”, Jesus told him “Feed my lambs” (21:15), “Take care of my sheep” (21:16), and “Feed my sheep” (21:17). There was love and care between the good shepherd and the sheep. I hope and pray that we can demonstrate our total trust in the Lord by true loving and caring.
The Good Shepherd offers salvation and shelter for the Lord’s sheep. He will protect at any cost those followers who are intimately known to the shepherd. No one can tear us away from Jesus’ love and His shepherding. I believe that we are safe and secure when entrusting our lives to the Good Shepherd. I pray we can faithfully respond to the Lord’s shepherding by our ‘gathering’, ‘listening’, ‘caring’, and ‘blessing’.

Thanks be to God. Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)

To This We Are Witnesses 18-04-2021

18th April 2021
Third Sunday of Easter
Title: To This We Are Witnesses
(Scripture Readings: Acts 3:12-19; 1 John 3:1-7)
By Heeyoung Lim
“Peace be with you.”
As we have seen the video, in the first part of John 3, Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer at three in the afternoon. A man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful. Peter looked straight at him when the man asked them for money. (1- 4) They were on the way to pray, but they looked and helped him first instead of passing their way.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (6) Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. (7-8) All the people saw this well-known beggar walking, jumping, and praising. No one doubted what had happened. (9) This happened at the beautiful gate. Where is our beautiful gate? I hope we can all feel the church door is “beautiful” whenever we are coming to church where we worship God together and look after each other. I look forward we can open wide the door toward the wider community and the world beautifully through our faith and lives. The physical and spiritual miracle occurred in the same man at the same time by walking, jumping, and praising in the name of Jesus.
God never asks us to give what we do not have; he expects us to give to those in need from what He has given us, and always to do it in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. I hope we can thank God daily for all the great blessings we have in Christ.
When we call Jesus’ name? Luke uses “in the name of Jesus” thirty-three times in the Book of Acts. How was this man healed? How is all this possible? Because of Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through Him. However, using the name of Jesus is not a matter of new kind of magic, there has to be faith in the one who speaks His name.
When Peter and John were surrounded by an amazed crowd after the miracle, they said to the crowd “why do you stare at us?” (12) It was not though by our power, it was not us, it was Jesus. After healing Peter and John completely denied their own power and immediately said that all healing power came from Jesus. They proclaimed that God has glorified his servant Jesus; His name itself has made the man strong. (13, 16) Jesus has given him this perfect health through the disciple’s faith.
We also remember John the Baptist once said, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). All Christian ministries need to centre on Jesus. Our service for Jesus begins and ends in Jesus’ name, but God works through His people to accomplish His Mission.
In Today’s text, Peter reminded us that people rejected the holy and righteous one, Jesus and sent Him to His death; he said “your sins may be wiped out” by repentance in faith. Acts 3:12–19 invites us not to repeat the crucifixion of Christ and leads us to repent and turn to God. Repentance refers to a change of mind, sometimes it describes turning around and walking in a different direction. They crucified the Messiah, but some of them returned to God by repentance accepting Him as their Saviour. They killed our Saviour, Jesus on the cross, but God raised him up. God wants us to be God’s people who does what is righteous.
By God’s grace, repentance brings forgiveness through Christ, and that forgiveness is available to all who call upon His name in faith. The name of Jesus makes us grow up, rinses out our sins, and renews us. The resurrection and His work of bringing new life continues to be at the heart of the church. Most importantly, we are witnesses of risen Christ and God’s work. Repenting sins can be a sign of Christians and loving others can be a mark of authentic witnesses. Obedience to God’s commands is also a mark of our love for Him.
In 1 John 3, God is righteous and loves us with a great love, and God’s children do not try to live in sin. Especially Ongoing, wilful sin is incompatible with true Christianity. True Christian experience is revealed not just in our beliefs but in our behaviour. 1 John 3:2 starts, “My dear friends, we are already God’s children”, and it says, “we know that we will be like Him when Christ returns”. This hope will make us keep ourselves holy just as Christ is holy as in verse 3. We are witnesses of Christ in the hope.
We are loved by unconditional love and redefined as nothing less than God’s children and Jesus’ witnesses. We are also adopted into the family of God even though we have more changes to undergo.
Sometimes our lives are twisted by a combination of our own sin and the effects of the sins of others, but our risen Christ gives us His peace when we are broken and imperfect. From time to tome the world does not understand us because we have been given a new identity in Jesus. On the other hand, when we look at ourselves, we know that sometimes our old identity is too strong to ignore and too powerful to escape.
We may reflect “Am I a true child of God? when we do fearless self-searching, but we are precious God’s children and Jesus’ witnesses. We may face physical, mental, and spiritual difficulties in the experience of our own brokenness, but we can have a rest on the love of God and the peace of the Lord. We need to remember that God’ saving promise is far much bigger than our vulnerability and brokenness. God’s grace is much greater than our sins or pains. God will surely restore us in His way. By grace we are the Lord’s witnesses who purified by faith, hope, and love. In hope we cling to what God is doing to us and we seek solidarity, forgiveness, and peace in our lives.
I look forward to the wonderful change that will occur when we look at Jesus and become like Him. I believe we can get encouragement, motivation, and strength from the hope of resurrection. I pray we can commit ourselves completely to following Jesus and obeying His commands. I hope we are willing to help our brothers and sisters in Christ if they are in need and if we have something to help them in the name of Jesus.
God knows our heart, and He does not condemn those who are in Christ. However, no compromise can be made with evil. I believe that we are witnesses of risen Christ. God gave us opportunities to serve the Lord and others with love and willingness. Some ministry opportunities come when we least expect them and have not planned them into our lives. But we need to be ready for any opportunity for ministry God has given us. Our age, gender, and our circumstances do not matter to serve the Lord.
I hope we can think and thank more how much the Father loves us and I pray we love one another just as Jesus has loved us. I believe God will restore us by healing, comfort, and strength, and we can please God by looking, repenting, sharing, helping, praying, and loving until the very end. May God fill us with His joy.

Thanks be to God! Amen!
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)

My Lord and My God 11-04-2021

11th April 2021
Second Sunday of Easter
Title: My Lord and My God
(Scripture Readings: John 20:19-31, Acts 4:32-35)
By Heeyoung Lim

The risen Christ is with us! The body of Jesus was not in the tomb, but the risen Christ has come to us. Whenever we are looking for Jesus, He comes to us wherever we are.
Jesus went back to Galilee where Jesus spent most of his time with His disciples. He returned to His betrayers. Jesus returns to us. The good news was that Jesus not only rose from the dead, but he was seen in bodily form afterwards. The risen Christ keeps coming to us, calling us as His Easter community of believers.
In today’s text, we see the followers of Jesus gathered behind locked doors full of fear, but then the risen Christ came to them. They did not come to Him; He came to them first. The risen Christ is coming to us and wanting us to live God’s ways of love, peace, and justice. We are never alone for the risen Christ will never leave us nor forsake us. We have Easter hope because Jesus has risen, and he loves us no matter what.
Who is Jesus? Our living Lord has conquered both sin and death. Our resurrected Jesus said to the troubled disciples, “Peace be with you!” when he first appeared to the group. He had promised to relieve the disciples’ grief by replacing it with joy in John 16:20; His promise has been fulfilled. Jesus offered them peace in place of fear; He showed them his hands and his side, and they knew He is Jesus. 
He also said to them, “I am sending you” and “Receive the Holy Spirit”. Jesus gave His disciples ‘Peace’, ‘mission’, and ‘the Holy Spirit’ in their times between the resurrection and the ascension. Sending disciples and giving responsibility are gifts bestowed along with the Spirit itself. Jesus has equipped us with peace and the Holy Spirit before He sends us on His mission field.
In verse 23, “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” If Jesus came to take away the sin of the world (1:29), disciples would continue the work of forgiving and peace-making through the power of the Holy Spirit. 
The disciples were fearful despite what Peter and John had seen and what Mary had reported. The Lord appeared to offer them His peace which is totally different with worldly peace before they could respond. The peace Jesus gave would enable them to go out. As God sent Jesus, he sent them into the world. The locked door could not stop the resurrection body of Jesus, it was nothing to our Lord. He showed them the nail prints in his hands and the spear scar in his side. The disciples saw and met the resurrected Jesus who died now living again and standing before them. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
But Thomas who was absent then said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Thomas doubted even though other disciples said to Thomas “We have seen the Lord!” He did not believe them. There would be mistrust between disciples.
A week later, in spite of locked doors, Jesus appeared and greeted them exactly as he had a week earlier. Jesus said again, “Peace be with you,” The Lord’s peace was related to individual’s inner peace and a community’s reconciliation at the same time; The peace within the community which needs to be one is significant. The evidence of the crucifixion continues in the resurrected body of Jesus.
Jesus did not scold Thomas or condemn his hesitation. He provided the evidence only then did He say to him, “Stop doubting and believe”. (26) Jesus gave doubting Thomas a second chance and Thomas said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God” And Jesus replied to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” God has given us the chance to be blessed by our faith. The disciples rejoiced, but Thomas’ response was praise. Praise and glory be to our God. Their joy was not an end, it needed to be continued to the glory of God.
He is our Lord and our God. He is alive. Jesus is coming to us first even when we are in the darkness with grief, depression, and frustration. He is giving us His peace, new mission with the guidance of the Holy Spirit after He breaks through our locked door. He is sending us out to the world in the power of Lord’s resurrection. Jesus wants us to become the Easter community which is a peaceful and Spirit-filled church with great joy. When it comes to spiritual truth, we need to be prepared to believe what we have not seen.
We are invited to trust our risen Jesus without seeing. We can overcome our trouble and suffering in the power of our Lord’s resurrection knowing the ultimate victory is His and ours. I hope and pray the transformation of fear into joy will be happening in our lives.
We can say to Jesus, “My Lord and my God” and believe in Jesus together hoping the unity of the church in Jesus. Jesus’ resurrection is not just a one-time event, the living risen Christ is the Centre of our lives and our faith community. What does the full acknowledgement of the resurrection mean? It means taking our eyes off the empty tomb and placing them on the Lord. Let us allow the resurrected Lord to handle our hesitation to obey Him in everything.
The living risen Christ is the Centre of the church’s creed. In Acts 2:43-47 & 4:32-35, Luke emphasized the unity of the church and added a message about its generosity in chapter 4. Early Christians were clearly united in their heart and mind. They were united, unselfish, and unafraid because they were witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were generous and shared everything they had.
In verse 33, with great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s grace was so powerfully working in them all. Early Christians knew what God expected of them and put their possession at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. Money is not evil, but 1Timothy 6:10 proclaims that the love of money is the root of all evil. Hebrew 13:5 also says, “keep your lives free from the love of money”. The love of God was clearly displayed in their sharing of possessions. That is why “there was not a needy person among them” as in verse 35.
How might our church itself be an example that encourages faith? How do we embody the message of Jesus by our lives? We can share generously what God has given us, especially to those who need help. We can move forward with love to what Jesus wants us to do by looking at our resurrected Lord and taking care of each other.
Today’s text portrays the risen Jesus in all the abundance of His grace, but many individuals and congregations are back behind closed doors in their lives. I hope we can widely open our doors for Jesus even though He can pass through the closed doors repeatedly.
John invites us to see the life Jesus has given to the world in the life of wounds and pains. The risen Christ appears to us in God’s ways; He is giving us comfort and peace in our lives. Our pain and sorrow may turn into joy in the power of the Lord’s resurrection.
Jesus revealed himself by showing His wounded but living body to His disciples and people. We are OK in Jesus even when our weakness and wounded part are revealed to our extended family of Leighmoor and others just like Jesus because Jesus will make it possible for us to continue His work of sharing peace, forgiving sins, and giving love.
I believe that the Easter miracle is already happening in our lives in the power of resurrected Christ. I am sure Jesus is looking lovingly at our church members. The risen Christ is giving us His peace, comfort, and joy. I hope and pray that we can spread the gospel with joy and share God’s love with generosity to others. The risen Christ comes to us and walks along with us each step!

Thanks be to God! Amen!
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)

He Has Risen 04-04-2021

4th April 2021
Easter Sunday Service
Title: He Has Risen
(Scripture Readings: Isaiah 25:6-9; Mark 16:1-8)
By Heeyoung Lim
Happy Easter! Jesus is risen.
God is praised for his wonderful deeds in many Bible verses. In Isaiah 25, the focus is moved into the future. The prophet Isaiah praised God for His future deeds which could be compared to the great history of salvation. We do not know when and how God’s will be done, but we know God has plans for us and carries them out for God’s people in perfect faithfulness.
In today’s text, Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all people, a banquet that is open to all people and nations.
Verse 8 says “He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.” The Lord has spoken.
No longer will the nations hide themselves while mourning over the victims lost in the battle of the last days. The Lord will destroy the power of death and wipe away all tears. God will invite all who are left to feast joyfully. Death, the last enemy, will be conquered, it will no longer threaten the world; mourning will vanish; joy and thanksgiving will last. God is giving us reasons to be joyful. This promise was revealed in the resurrection of our Lord. God’s people can join in praise for his coming kingdom on earth, for his protection of the helpless, and for his victory over death. We can be glad and rejoice in his salvation as in verse 9.
In Mark 16, three women who were at the foot of cross wanted to anoint Jesus’ body Saturday evening, but they were on their way to the tomb just after sunrise due to darkness. (Mark 16:2) They did not expect to see him alive; The purpose of anointing was an expression and act of love and devotion.
The women had a question; “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But the stone had been moved back when the women arrived at the tomb. Mark does not tell us who moved the stone. When they looked up, they saw that the large stone had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. He said, “Don’t be alarmed, you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.” This is good news. They were invited by the angel to see that the tomb was empty. (6)
The angel said, “go, tell his disciples and Peter.” (7) When male dominated law and culture discounted the witness of women, Jesus gave mission to the women who were coming to Jesus. The women were God’s instruments for spreading gospel, they were called to discipleship even though they failed to communicate due to their trembling and astonishment. Resurrection is the heart of Good news. We can say that Jesus has risen.
The disciples needed reassurance and encouragement during these times, especially Peter. Peter needed to know he had been forgiven and restored. John’s Gospel described how Jesus concerned and cared for His disciples. (John 21). Jesus encouraged and empowered his disciples by appearing and commissioning. Resurrected Jesus empowers us by being, praying, and commissioning to continue spreading the good news.
Jesus received Peter’s denial, but Jesus forgave him and cared for him. God’s gracious hand of forgiveness can bring us back. To do this, ‘coming to Jesus’, ‘removing stones,’ ‘forgiving others’, and ‘going and telling’ are necessary in our faith and life. We are responsible for telling the “good news” of Jesus Christ. The good news is not to hide, but to reveal and it is not to contain, but to convey.
The tomb Jesus was in on Friday was empty on Sunday. We can see His final victory in the resurrection. The resurrection of Christ is the heart of the gospel. Resurrection is Good news and an actual historical event. Jesus fulfilled His gospel mission by rising from the dead.
Disbelief and hardness of heart can be stones that block us from God, it keeps God from working through the believer’s life. God has the power to “roll away” the stones that block us from living life fully. The resurrection of Jesus teaches us that in the darkest circumstances there is always hope. The hope of resurrection came from the tomb. Jesus’ death and the place of death were not the end.
We can assume that the behind the scenes from the tomb by angel’s appearance and good news. “He has risen, He is not here.” Jesus no longer stays in the tomb.
Jesus was doing during those three days in the tomb even if people were not able to see God at work. (4) This does not mean He is not working, and the emptiness does not mean nothing. The emptiness of tomb means hope and a new start.
God is not disappointed when we make a mistake, He is disappointed when we fail to believe Him. We may have doubt in our lives, but Jesus encourages us to rectify previous wrongs and begin again in the power of the resurrected Jesus, our crucified Jesus has risen.
In verse 8, “Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” Jesus had already promised them what the angel describes to the women. Jesus is always a step ahead of our fearful journeys. Always waiting for us in Galilee. Always holding us together. He is guiding us back to Himself and reminding us of the calling: “Follow me.” Jesus’ resurrection renews our fellowship, binds it together instead of allowing it to break. The resurrection of Christ has the power to transform. I hope we will be transformed in the power of resurrection.
Jesus has risen! Everything has been changed from sadness to gladness, from despair to hope, and from frustration to progress. Lent is 40 days, but Easter is 50 days, and we call Easter the great fifty. We are in “the Great Fifty”. Easter is not just today; it will be continued for the next 50 days from today. I pray that the joy of the resurrected Lord will overflow into your lives for these 50 days of Easter Season.

Thanks be to God! Amen!

(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)

The Last Seven Words of Christ 02-04-2021

2nd April 2021
Good Friday Service
Title: The Last Seven Words of Christ
By Heeyoung Lim

1. Luke 23:32-35
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
Forgiveness is Christ’s way in every situation of life. Jesus had proven his ability to forgive sins in his healing and salvation ministry (5:24). He had taught that forgiveness comes only to those who forgive others (6:37; 11:4) and that forgiveness has no limits (17:4). He had called for love of enemies (6:27-28). He watched those who mocked and crucified him, but he forgave and prayed for them. (34)
2. Luke 23:39-43
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (42) Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (43)
One of the criminals who hung there insulted at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” He will be with Jesus in paradise. Jesus has a place in paradise for believers, He is leading us to the Kingdom of God.
3. John 19:25-27
“Dear woman, here is your son” & “Here is your mother” (26-27)
Looking down Jesus said, “Woman, here is your son.” It means, “I am no longer your son. But then he said to the beloved disciple, “Here is your mother.” What is Jesus saying? “Mother, I’m giving you a new son. Son, I’m giving you a new mother.” Jesus was forming a new family on the cross. Jesus said to His disciples before He complete His mission on earth. “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you,”
Jesus tells us on the cross at His moment of deepest grief, Jesus is calling us to live as if strangers are our brothers and sisters. From that hour the disciple took her to his own home. Church is where we are gathered with first time strangers in Jesus’ name, and called to look after brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus was telling His disciples about new family on the cross and He wanted us to love and look after each other as whole new church family.
Our families are a wonderful source of love and grace for us, but sometimes tragic stuff happens in our families. Mary suffered from the most painful moment watching her son of the cross. We may also see our suffering family members at the cross as Mary experienced before. However, we have a new family in Christ looking after each other.
4. Mark 15:33-34
 Jesus cried with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (34)
The darkness lasted for three hours from the time Jesus was crucified until the moment of his death. This darkness of the skies expressed the agony and grief of heaven over the death of the Son of God. The darkness at Calvary was an announcement that God’s beloved Son was giving his life for the sins of the world.
Jesus made seven key statements when He hung on the cross. Mark recorded just one, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus cried out in agony as he bore the sins of the world and was separated from his Father for the first time. Jesus expressed the pain of abandonment by God. Yet, in all this pain Jesus just submitted to God’s will. Jesus is our Saviour who gave His life for us. Jesus fulfilled His mission through his death on the cross and separation from his Father. Jesus, the sacrificial servant, completed His mission by enduring injustice, abuse, crucifixion, and death.
5. John 19:28-29
“I am thirsty.” (28)
All the steps that brought Jesus to the pain and death were in the design of His heavenly Father. The cry I am thirsty refers to Psalm 69:21. “Enemies poisoned my food, and when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar.”
If we were too much busy with difficult tasks at work and intense sports or conversations with someone, we may suddenly feel exhausted or become thirsty. Jesus went through this in a far much more intense way than the experience of any of us during those three hours of darkness on the cross. He had been forsaken by God; He had experienced the suffering even to the last breath. He felt the pain both spiritually and physically. They offered Jesus to drink, but He refused to do it at the first, He asked for a drink later. (Mt 27) He suffered from dehydration more than anyone, He tried to keep His clear mind and aware of what He was doing for people’s salvation on the cross. He knew he was about to die. He felt pain and thirst when He shed blood for six hours on the cross.
6. John 19:30
 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Jesus gave one last cry. ‘It is all done.’ ‘It is complete.’ He has finished the work that the father had given him to do. He has loved to the very end; he has accomplished the final task. Jesus’ work is now complete. Jesus did not stop His ministry for us until it is all done, but we shamefully often hesitate or stop our love and mission. I hope we will do our mission given by God until the very end, and I pray that we can say “It is all done.” Before God.
7. Luke 23:46-49
Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (46) And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 
Jesus expressed His faith and relationship to God through His last word. He breathed his last and died. Life left his body. However, the centurion praised God, he heard Jesus’ promise to the thief and his commitment of himself into the Father’s hands. Admitting that Jesus is righteous is more than a fact. It is a form of praise, of worship, for it brings glory and honor to God. This is what proper response to Jesus. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” I hope the cry of Jesus will be our daily prayer and faith confession.
We cannot treat the cross lightly because we are in the last seven words of Christ. Jesus did nothing to deserve a criminal’s death, but He died for us on the cross. We became a part of His Kingdom. Jesus taught us forgiveness is Christ’s way in our lives. I hope we can forgive others, no matter what they have done to us. We have hope in God’s hands. I hope we can take our stand on Scripture and fulfill what Jesus wants us to do. I believe that we can be sure that we have trusted Jesus and have a place in His Kingdom. I hope and pray we praise God for all He has done for us on the cross and live in expectation of the Kingdom of God and the hope of resurrection.

Thanks be to God! Amen!

(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)

It is Time to Awake and Get Up 28-03-2021

28th March 2021
Palm Sunday (Children Time) / The Sunday of Passion
Title: It Is Time to Awake and Get up
(Mark 14:1-11, 32-42)
By Heeyoung Lim

Who crucified Jesus Christ? Judas, the Jewish leaders, and Barabbas contributed to His death directly and indirectly, but the people cried out for His crucifixion. God could have prevented it from the cross, but it was not God’s way. God allowed Jesus to be crucified to die for all people, He also allowed Jesus Christ to be crucified by people who praised Jesus before. Why Jesus had to die by crucifixion? It was the most publicly humiliating way to die in those days. However, it was the only way because Jesus was the only one who could do it.
In today’s text, the religious leaders wanted to get rid of Jesus, but they decided to wait until the feast was over because they did not want the blame for killing Jesus and they wanted the Romans to do their dirty work. Verse 11 indicated that the religious leaders gained some unexpected help from one of Jesus’ own disciples, Judas. This may have convinced them to move ahead with their plan during the celebration of the Passover. (Mark 14:1)
Mark14 concentrates on the theme of Christ’s suffering, which is highlighted by Judas’s betrayal, Peter’s denial, and enemies’ injustice, but we see the incredible love that Jesus has for us. Jesus was about to enter the most painful time of his ministry.
Why He would be betrayed into the hands of his enemies by one of his own disciples; be forsaken by His disciples; be wrestled by being separated from his own Father in bearing the sins of all mankind. Why He would be rejected and denied by people; and face the injustice of his enemies. Why? Because Jesus “so loved the world” that he was committed to giving up his life for us. We can see the power of committed love.
While Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on His head. (3)
The Gospels of Mark and Matthew do not report this woman’s name, but the Gospel of John tells us it was Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus (John 11:1-2). Mary is mentioned three times in the Gospels; each time she is at the feet of Jesus. (Luke 10:38-42; John 11:31-32; 12:1-8)
Martha had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. (Luke 10:38)
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.” (John 11: 32)
Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12:3)
Mary loved Jesus and surrendered to Him.
In Mark 14 and John12, some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? They scolded her. And one of his disciples, Judas, who was later to betray Jesus, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.

In John14:6-9, Jesus said, the opportunity to help the poor would always exist, but He would not be with them much longer. He defended Mary’s actions by saying, “Leave her alone; why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me; She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.” Jesus received Mary’s gift for which was a meaningful act of love and devotion. In this context, Mary’s expression toward Jesus was appropriate, the motivation for Mary’s act was love and devotion. It was a reminder of Jesus to his followers about his upcoming crucifixion and burial. (6)
In today’s text, we can see the insensitivity of the disciples in comparison to the sensitivity and great love Mary had for Jesus. Mary showed that Jesus deserves our best. The more we love Jesus, the more we will show it by what we offer to him. Jesus said, truly I tell you, “wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” What a blessing!
Jesus experienced blessing during betrayal. Regarding the betrayal, the religious leaders sealed the deal by giving Judas what he loved most, money, with the amount of thirty silver coins. (Matthew 26:15) His betrayal also was the fulfillment of a prophecy about the Messiah in Zechariah 11:12-13. (“So, they paid me thirty pieces of silver.”)
We are moving onto the story of Gethsemane; Jesus was one hundred percent God and one hundred percent man. Mark reveals for us the complete humanity of Christ as he faced the most severe testing of his faith. The Garden of Gethsemane was one of Jesus’ favourite spots (Luke 22:39; John 18:12). He often went there to pray, but he faced his fear of his upcoming suffering by praying for strength to do his father’s will. (32)
Jesus took with him the three disciples Peter, James, and John to pray. They had accompanied him to Jairus’ house (5:37), and they had been with Jesus on the place of Transfiguration (9:2). They had been with Jesus during the best of times and the worst of times.
Jesus said to the three disciples, “Keep awake” when He was experiencing the intense emotional, psychological, and spiritual suffering. He knew what was about to happen to Him on the cross. Not only would he suffer great physical agony but he would bear all of the sins of the world. He would become the sin bearer instead of sinners; he would be forsaken by his own Father. (33) But the disciples could not do it, they could not even watch for one hour. (37) Jesus once again said to the disciples to watch and pray; You will not fall into temptation. Jesus showed the way to conquer temptation is to stay awake and to pray, but the disciples slept again.
Jesus fell to the ground because of this overwhelming task, and he asked that he take this cup from me. (35, 36) The cup refers to Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus showed us the clear purpose of prayer in the verse 36, “yet not what I will, but what you will”. Jesus willingly placed his desires in submission to his Father’s will. After Jesus went to pray for the third time, he returned to find the disciples asleep again. He said, “are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” (41)
It was not “time for sleeping”, it was “time of praying”. It was time to go to the cross and finish His mission. Jesus is speaking to us today. “Are you still sleeping? Enough! The hour has come. Get up!”
We are in unstable places where the painful and shameful cases of dehumanization continually occurred like Roman power and crucifixion.
However, there is divine faithfulness in continuity with God’s love. Thankfully, we experience life-giving love in Jesus’ commitment to His mission, which is the restoration of humans and communities. We, every follower of Jesus, have a future and a hope because of the new covenant based on Jesus’ shed blood and the promise of his return.
How can we express our love and dedication to Jesus more in Holy Week? I hope we can do a beautiful thing to Jesus just like Mary. It is time to serve Jesus with love; It is time to awake and pray for our mission given by God; It is time to get up to go to the next stage. We can “do something” to bring glory to Jesus, and “do something” for someone we love. We can be also sustained through the prayer of “Gethsemanes” just like Jesus. I believe that God’s abundant blessings and unconditional love will be upon you always even during betrayal and hardship because the incredible love that Jesus has for us is touching us today and tomorrow.
We are called to follow Jesus Christ even to the cross; We do not need to be afraid to tell the Lord our deepest fears and frustrations. I pray we can pray for protection when feeling exhausted or weak and we will have our own Gethsemane to pray, serve, and love walking with Jesus even to the cross.

Thanks be to God! Amen!

(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)

The Hour has Come 21-03-2021

21st March 2021
Fifth Sunday in Lent)
Title: The Hour Has Come (Jeremiah 31:31-34; John 12:20-33)
God’s desire is in the sincere relationship with his people. This desire causes that God enters new covenant with them. The new covenant that God will make with His People. When his people fail to keep their part of the covenant, God restores and renews his covenant relationship with them. God will work a transformation of the heart of each believer. The Lord can heal, save, and restore even when it seems there is no remedy, no hope.
When God chooses to forgive our sins, He no longer holds our sins against us even though we have done what God is not pleased. It is possible when God relates to us in His love. God showed us the ultimate method by which he will reveal himself in redemptive history through Jesus. God will work a transformation of the heart of each believer.
In God’s new covenant everyone will be priests who can have relationship with God by a genuine experience of salvation and assurance of forgiveness. The new covenant that will be written on the hearts of the people. In this new covenant, obedience to God’s Words, and acting in accordance with God’s will, become part of our internal character. Especially Peace with God in this new covenant is essential for fellowship with Him. People of faith invest in the hidden future with long view even though it may seem foolish in the present circumstances. The birth, life, and death of Jesus are prophesied in the Old Testament and achieved in the New Testament.
In today’s text, some Greeks asked Philip “we wish to see Jesus.” Philip and Andrew told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. (21-23) The hour has always been coming, but now it has come. (23) It is an hour to which his whole life has been leading, an hour in which he is to be glorified. Clearly the “hour” is the time of Jesus’ completion of His mission. It is the time of his absolute surrender to the God. Jesus was on a mission in the world because God loves the world (John 3:16). In John’s Gospel, it is not
By Heeyoung Lim
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enough just to come to Jesus or “want to see” Him. His followers are invited to come and be with Jesus regarding the “hour”. Jesus wants us to have our ears unblocked and our vision opened by Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection.
He said that the seed of grain must die before it can bear fruit (24). It means that the grain of wheat must fall into the ground and die that it may produce fruit. If the grain of wheat refuses to let go and die it will remain simply a grain of wheat and will produce nothing. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (25) Even eternal life for the many comes through the sacrifice of the One. Only the seed willing to die can live and grow. Loving life is a sacrificial process in our family, church, and communities. It can be expressed as the process of love rather than the process of growth because the purposes of dying and producing fruits are love and life.
In verse 26, Jesus said, “if anyone serves me, he must follow me;
and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honour him.” What a blessing!
In the text, now my soul is troubled. And what should I say ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Along with the time of dying, there is also a time for judgment. (27) Jesus came to this hour for this purpose. Jesus said “Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
In this passage, we can also see Jesus’ emotion and willingness when he prayed that God would be glorified through his death. Then, God spoke from heaven with a promise to do what Jesus has asked.
Jesus’ ultimate concern is the glorification of the Father. Glory originates with the Father and shines through the Son upon believers. We will also share the glory of God in our lives. In fact, glory is part of our everyday lives and suffering is also part of our journey. (28) The greatest manifestation of God’s glory happened at the cross, for there God’s greatest work occurred.
Jesus told them clearly that judgment was coming, and deliverance from that judgment was faith in His work on the cross. The reference to Jesus being lifted centres not on exaltation but death. (30) The cross forms the
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centre of the gospel. By the cross, life and love are offered to Jesus’ disciples.
Jesus says the voice came not for his own sake but for theirs (v. 30); but the enemies of God never hear God’s voice (5:37). Our Lord raised the issue of the hour even when the world did not recognize Jesus because the time of death had arrived.
How should we pray in our physical, emotional, and spiritual crisis? Jesus prayed in verse 28, “Father, glorify your name.” and the dying son of man said, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” The lifting up is simultaneously all three events: crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. In verse 32. There were no boundaries of race, colour, and culture in the gospel.
However, Christ is not affirming that the whole world would be saved, He is showing that all who are to be saved will be saved when they believe in Jesus. Jesus’ action is not a private action. His cross and resurrection, suffering and transformation, and life-giving love and faithful commitment were all for our salvation. Believing this, we, the followers of Jesus, can come in trust to the “hour” in which we must share.
If we are walk with Jesus in the faith of the “cross and resurrection” and “suffering and transformation” just like the grain of wheat dies, we will bear much fruit in the love of God. Throughout his journey to the cross, Jesus refused to take the worldly ways even though He has power. For instance, Jesus’ rejection of violence shows what distinguishes his way from the way of the world.
There are lots of violence, discrimination, and suppression in the world. Many people are still suffering from them. We have all endured a time of pandemic, we may not be able to avoid the darkness by ourselves. But we can cling to Jesus’ promise that He will lead toward light and life. No matter what happened, we need to trust that God will bring about life. As Christians and disciples, we need to learn to be in solidarity with those who suffer as God suffers with us.
The focus on this Sunday is Jesus’ crucifixion for the church rather than the forgiveness of individual sins. The hour has come! Throughout our journey to the cross and resurrection, I hope we remember that we are called to hold on a little longer until morning comes, until resurrection.
Where are we? Jesus said, “where I am, there will my servant be also.” Wherever Jesus is, there will we be also. Jesus is with the Father, and
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he dwells among us. He is leading his followers to eternal life as he moves toward the hour of his death (12:32-33). We will see His Glory at the cross because the hour was the time of dying for salvation. (17:24). God’s love and salvation was revealed through Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
Are we living a loving life? There are purposes of bearing fruits in the falling on the ground, dying in the darkness, and growing from the deep darkness. What was the purpose of a grain of wheat falling to the ground, dying in the dark, and growing out of the hard ground in the deep darkness? Bearing Fruits. In John, today’s Scripture is the Jesus’ farewell word because this is the last time the “world” will hear Jesus’ words on the earth, and following Jesus is the path of abundant or eternal life. This is the time when the suffering of the Lord Jesus becomes the focus of the church. A week before Palm Sunday, I hope we will begin to meditate on the intense sorrow Jesus endured on His road to the cross, and I pray we will bear many fruits in Lent.
Thanks be to God! Amen!
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)