You Can’t Handle It Now

“I have much more to say to you, but you can’t handle it now.” John 16:12 CEB

In his “farewell discourse” with his disciples, Jesus lets them know there is more, much more, that he would like to say to them, but they can’t handle it at the moment.

How awesome is it that Jesus knew his friends well enough to know their limits and respected them enough to hold off on saying some things to them?

How many times have I unloaded words on people when they were already up-to-here and unable to handle more?

How many times has Jesus wanted to tell me something, but knew I couldn’t handle it?

The discourse continues with some assurances about the role “the Companion” (CEB) plays in communicating. While you can’t handle it “now,” God is already preparing for the moment when you can handle it.

Thanks be to God.

What is God Like?

What is God like? God is revealed in many ways in scripture, but the final word on what God is like is seen in Jesus. What is God like? God is like Jesus. Jesus is the “radiance of God’s glory.” So, if you are wondering what God is like and find yourself confused by different pictures of God in scripture, let Jesus settle your understanding. Jesus is the final word. Check out Hebrews 1:1-3.

Light, Bread, and Water

My brother Josh Patrick writes, “Jesus compares himself to light, bread and water. He illumines the path. He satisfies the appetite. He quenches the thirst.” It’s difficult to overemphasize or exaggerate the importance of keeping my eyes on Jesus. When I turn away from Jesus, I find myself looking for satisfaction and guidance in the wrong places. I want to stay focused on Jesus.

Jesus and Women

Women played an integral role in Jesus’s life and ministry beginning with those listed in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Uriah’s wife), the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36-38), and Mary.  Without Mary to give birth to Jesus and provide his physical nourishment, there would be no story of Jesus. But there is evidence Mary’s influence continued beyond his infancy, which is not surprising when you think of the profound effect a mother has on the spiritual nurturing of her children. Is it coincidence that themes from Mary’s song (the Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55) were reflected in Jesus’s preaching and the writings of Jesus’s brother, James?

Mary does not disappear after giving birth to Jesus, but is part of the story throughout the life of Jesus and is even present in the upstairs room (Acts 1:12-14). In addition, Luke, who carefully researches his gospel, includes several stories in chapters 1-2 that only could have come from the witness of Mary.

Jesus welcomes women as disciples and friends (Luke 8:1-3; John 11:1-45; 12:2-8; Matthew 26:6-13; 27:55-56). Jesus affirms the dignity of women, teaches they are not to be treated as objects, and holds them up as positive examples (Matthew 5:28; Luke 21:1-4; Matthew 26:13). Jesus engages women in deep, theological discussions (John 4:1-42; 20:10-18); in fact, in some cases women seem to have a deeper comprehension than do men (Matthew 26:6-13; 28:1-11, 17). Jesus’s conversation with the Samaritan woman resulted in her acting as an evangelist who led many Samaritans in the town to believe because of her testimony. Jesus used illustrations about women and for women, and even presents a feminine metaphor for God (Matthew 12:42; 13:32-34; Luke 15:8-10).

Jesus interacts with women without condescension (Luke 7:36-50; 13:10-17; Mark 5:25-34). Luke often couples stories of Jesus with a man to stories of Jesus with a woman seemingly to emphasize equal treatment (for one example, Luke 7:1-17). Matthew records Jesus holding men and women equally accountable in discipleship (Matthew 10:34-39; 25:1-13) and divorce (5:32; 19:9; see also Mark 10:12). While there is some discussion over exact chronology, most agree that women were the last ones at the cross, the first ones at the tomb, and the first to proclaim the resurrected Jesus (Luke 23:27-29; Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:9-11).

When the Pharisees question Jesus about divorce, Jesus seems more interested in talking about marriage (Matthew 19:1-9). As Jesus responds to their questions He emphasizes God’s original plan for human beings in marriage by quoting from Genesis 1:27. God’s original intention for humans was to join male and female so they become “one flesh.” Jesus encourages a restoration of God’s original purpose.

Jesus welcomes women as disciples but does not appoint any women among his original apostles (nor were any Samaritans or Gentiles appointed, it should be noted). But notice what happens as we see the life of Jesus coming to an end at the cross. The men have fled and the women are present — it almost reads as if they are stand-ins for the men (read the entire account with special notice of Matthew 27:55-56, 61; 28:1-10).

Women were (and are) an integral part of the story of Jesus.

Best Church Sign Ever

Messages on church signs often make me cringe.

Some make no sense. Others seem like passive-aggressive attacks.

Still others seem to be smart-aleck.

At one church where I worked a new church sign was purchased. Only after it was installed did people realize the letters were so small you could not even read it from the street. At another the office phones lit up within minutes after a message that could best be described as both passive aggressive and smart-aleck was displayed by a helpful volunteer. It wasn’t long after that I decided if I had any input, the message on the church sign would always be a scripture that bolstered the current theme.

I see the signs all over town. I see them when I am traveling. Maybe I am just too harsh, but I gotta tell you that I don’t like most of the messages I see.

And then it happened…I saw the greatest church sign ever. It happened last Sunday as Lourene and I drove around in downtown St. Louis after visiting a patient in the hospital. It all happened so fast. The traffic was moving quickly. I couldn’t get to my phone in time to snap a photo. So I ventured back to the church yesterday so I could get a good shot of the sign. I was concerned the message might have been changed, but something told me that it probably had not been changed in a long, long time.

Take a good look. What could possibly be better to say about a church than that they feature Jesus?