New Year – I Wish You

Image by Annette Meyer from Pixabay

 1 Corinthians 13 (GNB)


What words do you use to wish folk at this time of the year?

 Compliments of the season? Happy New Year? Every blessing for the new year?

Though traditional at this time of the year, these formal greetings may often lack sincerity.

So then, what shall I wish you for 2023?

While preparing this blog the words of a Frank Sinatra song came to mind, particularly the phrase. I wish you love.

On this our first week of the New Year, I wish you love.


The Apostle John tells us that the chief characteristic of God is love. (1 John 4:16)

Are we able to love without God’s help?

Max Lucado comments, “Oh, we may succeed for a time…But our relationships need more than a social gesture. Some of our spouses need a foot washing. A few of our friends need a flood of tears. Our children need to be covered in the oil of our love…..We need help from an outside source……We start by receiving God’s love. (Max Lucado –‘Cast of Characters’ p 25)

The God of love loves you. Have you responded to His love by opening your life to His Son, Jesus Christ?

Is Jesus perhaps asking you the same question He asked Peter centuries ago, “Do you truly love me?” (John 21:15-17)

I wish you a greater awareness of God’s amazing love for you during 2023 and that your love for Him will continue to grow.


What words would you use to define our love for one another’?

Tenderness, affection, attraction, cherish, value, treasure, passion, worship?

Victor Hugo wrote, “The Greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved, loved for ourselves, or rather loved in spite of ourselves.” (Victor Hugo – Les Miserables Sourcebook for Speakers – Doan – page   248)

A man and a woman had been corresponding via the internet, and fell in love.  They agreed to meet at a particular airport.  Because they had never seen one another, they came up with a plan that would help them to recognize each other. She would wear a green scarf, a green hat and have a carnation pinned to her coat.

When the man got off his plane, he immediately looked for her. Then he saw a woman with a green scarf, a green hat and a carnation – he was disappointed – she was one of the plainest looking women he had ever seen in his life.  He was tempted to get back on the plane without speaking to her.

But, he conquered his feelings and walked over to this woman, smiled and introduced himself.

Puzzled, the woman said: “What is this all about, anyway? I don’t know you!”  She went on to explain:  “That woman over there gave me $5, 00 to wear these things.”

When the man looked over at the woman mentioned, she was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen.

The man approached the woman who later explained, “All my life men have wanted to be with me, to be my friend, because of my beauty.  I want someone to love me, not just for my outward appearance, but for what I am inside!

I wish you will experience the sincere love of others this year. 


Paul describes this gem of true love in 1 Corinthians 13 by examining its various facets.

In the first three verses Paul points out that love is recognized by what we are, more than by what we do:

But Paul then he gets down to the qualities of true love:

  • Love is patient and kind.
  • It is not jealous, or conceited or proud;
  • Love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable;
  • Love does not keep a record of wrongs;
  • Love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth;
  • Love never gives up;
  • And its faith, hope and patience never fail.
  • Love is eternal. (1 Corinthians 13: 1-8)

Replace the word love with your own name and you soon realize that this is a standard that no one except Christ can meet, because none of these facets of love come naturally to us.

However in another of his letters Paul points out that love is one of the fruits of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22, 23)

So my wish for you is that you will allow the Holy Spirit to grow in you the facets of true love.


Oscar Hammerstein taught the great Broadway musical star, Mary Martin a lesson in love when he told herLove isn’t love ’till you give it away.

Love isn’t love ’till you give it away.

Think of someone close to you – your marriage partner, a child, parent, friend, neighbour, fellow staff member. Then ask yourself this question, how can I do a better job of showing love to this person? Make a list of the things you could possibly do to show your love for this person. Before the end of this week, begin doing a least one of the things you wrote on your list.

Jesus said, “whenever you do it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

See what a difference Jesus makes in and through you during 2023.


  • God is love.

  • God loves us in spite of all our faults and flaws – enough to send His Son to die to save us.

  • The only acceptable response to God’s amazing love is for us to give our lives to Jesus.

  • In return for our commitment to Jesus, the Holy Spirit sows God’s love into our hearts.

But love is not love till you give it away.

If you haven’t been following this series, you might like to take a look at the other posts.

P.S. I am taking a break from this blog for the time being as I seek the Lord’s guidance on what topic to tackle. I welcome your comments on whether this blog has been helpful to you or not. Rob

Christmas 2022. Jesus makes the difference

The annual open-air Carols by Candlelight service had been disrupted by a thunderstorm. Everyone moved into the Church. The service required the participation of a number of folks to take the scripture readings.

The minister welcomed everyone and opened in prayer. At the end of the prayer, he quietly moved into the background, without introducing the first reader, who silently came forward to take the reading.

A little boy in the front row of the congregation opened his eyes and in shocked dismay turned to his mother and said, Mummy, where’s God gone?”

When we think of how highly commercialized Christmas has become, one might well ask, “Where has God gone?”

Carol Service – Photo by Blue Ox Studio:

Matthew 1:18-25


Because of God’s amazing love for our fallen world He sent His Son Jesus Christ, to invade our world. His coming made a significant difference to the lives of many at the time.

  • To a young engaged couple – Joseph and Mary.

The news of Mary’s miraculous pregnancy threw Joseph’s life into turmoil. Our loving God put Joseph’s mind at rest about marrying Mary, by sending an angel to explain Mary’s pregnancy.

Mary probably dreamed of a happy married life, with Joseph, her carpenter husband, in a comfortable furnished home. Her unexpected pregnancy certainly changed things.

Emperor Augustus’ census forced Joseph and his young wife to make the long tiring journey to Bethlehem at the height of her pregnancy, where there was no accommodation available at the local inn.

The pregnancy, birth and infancy of Jesus certainly made a difference in the lives of his earthly parents.


  • There were the Shepherds

Out in the fields the  shepherds received a glorious heavenly visitor with the news that a Saviour had been born.

Later in Bethlehem they found the couple with their special child. “As the shepherds returned to their sheep, they were praising God and saying wonderful things about Him. “ (Luke 2:20 CEV)

For some time into the future their lives would have been different as they excitedly told their story.

  • Also the Magi

They spotted a new star, which for them indicated the birth of the king of the Jews. They put everything on hold. Packed their bags and headed for Jerusalem to worship this newborn king. A journey from the east which would have taken them almost two years.

For the Magi the birth of Christ made a huge difference. It called for a sacrifice of both time and treasure.

He also made a difference for: Simeon,  and Anna as we saw in Advent 1.

Christ’s coming definitely made a vast difference in the lives of all of the folk involved in Christ’s birth and infancy.


 Throughout His three year ministry Jesus continued to make a difference in the lives of those He came into contact with. Sick were healed, dead were restored to life, and many demon possessed were set free.

The fishermen, Peter, James and John and others, became “Fishers of men”.

Tax Collector, Matthew was transformed from the writer of tax records to the recorder of Jesus’ teachings and miracles.

Another Tax Collector, Zacchaeus promised to give half of his possessions to the poor and return fourfold any money that he had extracted dishonestly.

A prostitute, Mary Magdalene turned from her sinful lifestyle and became a faithful follower of Jesus.

Christ’s coming made a difference in the lives of many who met Him during His earthly ministry.


Down the years Jesus has made a difference in the lives of  many others.

A diving accident in 1967 left Joni Erickson Tada a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. Through faith in Jesus she has overcome her handicap.

Niki Cruz, a former gang leader opened his life to Jesus and now has a successful ministry to gangland youth.

Charles Colson jailed for Watergate-related charges. Became a committed Christian, a leader in the Christian right movement, and author of at least 20 books.

As they have opened their lives to Jesus as Saviour and Lord, Christ has continued to make a difference down the centuries  


How about you?

  • Is He someone you acknowledge or greet only once in a while?

  • Is He someone you perhaps only call out to in times of trouble and crisis?

  • Are you a truly different PERSON because of Him?

God has not gone, as the little boy thought, God has come! He came into our world in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ – Emmanuel – God with us! He continues to ring the changes in the lives of those who put their trust in Him.

As we move on from Christmas, make sure that the celebration of  Jesus’s birth has made a difference in your life. In the year that lies ahead don’t  live  your life as if He had never come.

Advent 4. The Angel’s Story

 The fourth Advent candle represents love. In some traditions peace. It is called the “Angel’s Candle.” 

The group ABBA sang a song titled “I believe in angels”.

Do you believe in angels?

Did you know that there are 196 references to angels throughout scripture commencing in Genesis and ending in Revelation?

Angels played an important role in the Christmas story as we saw in our last session.

Luke 1:26-35: Matthew 1:18-25

Photo by cottonbro studio:


We know from traditional readings at Christmas time of the angel’s announcement to the shepherds out in the fields. But angels were involved right from the the very conception of the Christ child.

An angel appeared to an unmarried teenage girl to inform her that she was to become pregnant. She would give birth to a son. Her child would be special, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High,…” (Luke 1:32 NET)

She was understandably confused because she had not been intimate with any man.

The angel explains, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35 NET)

Ladies how would you react to such a message?

Mary’s response to this unexpected news was simply amazing. “Yes, I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38 NET)


When Mary’s fiancé, Joseph became aware of his beloved’s pregnancy he was also confused.  But, “Because Joseph, her husband to be, was a righteous man, and because he did not want to disgrace her, he intended to divorce her privately. ” (Matthew 1:19 NET)

Once again God sent an angel to explain to Joseph what had happened. Whereas Mary actually saw an angel, “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream”. (Matthew 1:20a NET)

The angel explains. “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20b NET)

The words of the prophet Isaiah were about to be fulfilled, (Isaiah 7:14)  “Look! The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will name him Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23 NET)

When Joseph woke up his confusion had been cleared. So he went ahead and married Mary. However, they did not have marital relations until she gave birth to a son, whom Joseph named Jesus.


When Jesus was almost two years old they were visited in their home in Bethlehem by a group of wise men from the east. Unfortunately they had come via King Herod in Jerusalem. When they did not report back to him he sent his soldiers to kill all children under the age of two.

Once again God sent an angel to this special couple. “…an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to look for the child to kill him.” (Matthew 2:13 NET)

Joseph packed up their belongings and he and his little family fled to Egypt where they stayed until after Herod’s death. Then “an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream….Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” (Matthew 2:19,20 NET)

Angels certainly played an important role in communicating God’s will to this young couple.


When God has an important message for us he pulls out the stops to make His will absolutely clear. God has a plan for each of our lives and it is His responsibility to make His will known to us. It is our responsibility to then obey.

Our passages also show God’s protective love of His own. At times we wonder at God’s protection when confronted by alarming situations. But we need to be thankful that because He loves us there are many other situations that God actually shields us from.

Within a few days we again celebrate Christ’s birth. Close the session by joining in a carol about the angels—Angels from the realms of glory.

And if you haven’t been following this series, you might like to take a look at the other posts.

Advent 3. Shepherds receive joyful news

On the third Sunday of Advent, a pink candle symbolizes Joy. This candle is also called the ‘Shepherds Candle’. 

Luke 2:8-20

Photo by Brigitte Tohm


If you wanted people to know that the promised Messiah had been born, you would surely choose the most influential person you could think of, wouldn’t you?  How amazing that God choose to share the joyful news of the Saviour’s birth first with a group of lowly shepherds.

Apart from certain Old Testament heroes very few people had actually seen an angel. Then one night an angel appeared to a small group of shepherds.


In those days, religious people for various reasons despised the shepherds:

  • They were regarded as spiritually unclean. Because their sheep required their constant attention they were unable to observe all the details of the ceremonial law. They could not observe the meticulous hand washings, rules and regulations.

  • They were regarded as unreliable witnesses and so were not allowed to give evidence before a judge.

On the positive side, these men and boys may have been special shepherds. There’s a strong possibility that they were actually caring for sheep, destined to be sacrificed in the temple.

It is a beautiful thought that the shepherds who perhaps cared for the Temple lambs were the first to see the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.


Those shepherds may well have had a special relationship with God. David was a shepherd boy. He wrote many of his psalms out on the hillside, watching his father’s sheep, aware of God’s presence.

Regardless of whether they were in charge of the temple flocks or not, those shepherds would still have been regarded by most as the lowest of the low. Yet God chose them—despite their lack of education, and their poor living conditions. He gave them the amazing honour of being messengers of good news, in fact the best news ever.


Suddenly, unexpectedly “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them…” The suddenness and splendour of this appearance threw the shepherds into a state of panic, but the angel was quick to set their minds at rest, “Don’t be afraid!”

Having given them the good news of Christ’s birth the angel went on to give them a sign’ which would help them to recognize the baby. In Bethlehem that night there were probably several newborn babies “wrapped in cloths” but there would only be one “lying in a manger.”

A heavenly choir praising God joined that one angel. In those days when a boy was born, the local musicians gathered at the house to greet his birth with simple music. Isn’t it wonderful to think that a heavenly choir took the place of local musicians when Jesus was born? That the angels sang songs for Jesus when the earthly singers were not available!


When the angels had left them the shepherds were quick to act. “They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in a manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word…The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen…”

The joy of having seen the Christ child was something they could not be bottled up—they “spread the word.”


God has a message for each one of us. He will use whatever means necessary to get that message across to us. But we have to be listening!

  • We have to be reading His Word for Him to speak through it.

  • We need to be in Christian company—listening to His chosen messengers.

  • We must spend time in prayer – and have times of quiet before God.

Does God want to speak to you today?  He certainly does.

Let’s make this Christmas season a special one—a time when we hear God speaking to us. Let’s be available, and listening, for His personal message to us this Christmas season. Like the shepherds let us be ready to respond.

In closing here’s a catchy song about the shepherds to sing along with—‘Shepherd’s Song’.

And if you haven’t been following this series, you might like to take a look at the other posts.

Advent 2. Joseph wondered why?

On the second Sunday of Advent, the Peace candle is lit. Some traditions call it the Faith candle. Like the first candle, it is also purple and is often referred to as the ‘Bethlehem Candle’.

Micah 5:2; Luke 2:1-7


Joseph, husband of Mary and earthly father of Jesus Christ appears only briefly in Scripture. Yet during his brief appearance he teaches us some important lessons about being a true follower of Christ.

Try to imagine what it must have been like to discover that the woman you to are intending to marry has become pregnant. And she claims that she had become pregnant by the Holy Spirit.

Though Joseph did find this story difficult to accept, the power of his love for Mary overcame the confusion in his mind. So out of love he decided to quietly call off the wedding. (Matthew 1:19 CEV)

God came to Mary’s rescue and sent an angel to confirm that Mary’s story was true. Only then did Joseph begin to experience peace of mind.

Truly our hearts will never be healthy and at peace unless we learn to accept, receive and abide in God’s unfailing love through total obedience. Share on X


In several places we read that Mary wondered at the things that were happening. (Luke 1:29; 2:19) Joseph must also have wondered and had a number of ‘Why?’ questions.

Why didn’t the Holy Spirit impregnate Mary after our marriage?

Legally Joseph could have had Mary stoned to death for being unfaithful to her betrothal vow. Instead he obeyed the angel’s instruction to Go ahead and marry her.


Eventually, when the dust had settled, a government decree required them to make a long tedious journey at the height of Mary’s pregnancy.

Why Lord, Why did Caesar Augustus’ decree have to coincide with the end of Mary’s pregnancy? 

Joseph and Mary made that five-day journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem only to discover that all available accommodation had been taken up because of the census. They ended up in a stable amongst the domestic animals.

It was probably a cold, damp, dark, dirty and unhealthy cave, which served as a stable for the innkeeper, as well as for his guest’s donkeys. A hollowed out feeding trough or manger, was the only available cradle for the newborn child.

 Why Bethlehem? And a stable of all places ?


Once the census was over Joseph was able to get more comfortable lodgings in Bethlehem. But their peace of mind was disturbed yet again.

Just short of their infant son’s second birthday they were visited by the Magi from the east with amazing gifts for the one born to be king – gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Their visitors had no sooner departed when Joseph was warned by an angel of Herod’s assassination plot to kill their child and they were forced to flee to Egypt until after Herod’s death.

Why was Herod’s scheme not thwarted before he could implement it?


Though Joseph’s involvement in the nativity story was a brief one, he is a model to us of obedience.

  • When and angel gave him a message from God in a dream to marry Mary he was ready to obey.
  • When Jesus’ life was threatened by Herod’s assassination plot, he had another dream involving an angel and he immediately packed up his wife and son and headed for Egypt.
  • Yet a third time after Herod’s death he was instructed in a dream to return with his family to Galilee in Israel.

How often do we pay any attention to our dreams?

Joseph experienced peace each time he obeyed God’s warning.

Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and take up residence with him. (John 14:23 NET)

Joseph’s love for Mary and obedience to the will of God played a major role in the Christmas story.

In closing I invite you to sing along with the carol ‘Oh little town of Bethlehem.”




Advent 1. Hope for the world

This past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent.

The candle that is lit on the first Sunday of Advent, is usually purple and represents ‘Hope’.

 Isaiah 52:1-10;  Luke 2:21-38

Image by 41330 from Pixabay

  • With 2022 drawing to a close what do you hope for most in 2023?


The prophet Isaiah ministered in Judah. He presents a very clear picture of the sins of the kingdom of Judah—idolatry, hypocrisy, materialism, and the oppression of the poor. Sound familiar?

But his message was not entirely negative; the prophet also promised God’s people redemption, offering them hope for a glorious future, particularly when their Messiah arrived.

With these promises in mind as well as other prophecies, the people held onto the hope of their fulfillment during their lifetime. Sadly, however, because of their sins they succumbed to enemy forces and were taken into captivity.

Even then, through the prophets the Lord promised that a remnant would return to the Promised Land. This return took place during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.


What do you do when you have prayed for a situation or a person for a long time and yet the Lord seems to ignore your request?

Do you lose hope?

Do you give up and stop praying?

The years passed.  Israel’s hope for the promised Messiah who would bring redemption and salvation faded into the background. By the time the Romans took control of the Promised Land, all hope for a coming Messiah had faded.

Yet certain individuals were still hoping for the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

A part of the story that is not so well known is the part that we read about in Luke 2:21-38.


According to Jewish tradition when a baby boy was eight days old, he had to be circumcised. After a period of purification for Mary, Joseph and Mary took Jesus, as their firstborn son, to Jerusalem to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord. (Luke 2:23)

Amazing, even though Jesus was God in the flesh his parents obeyed God’s law and had Him dedicated to God.

In the temple, Joseph and Mary met Simeon who had not lost hope.

Luke recorded, “At this time a man named Simeon was living in Jerusalem. Simeon was a good man. He loved God and was waiting for God to save the people of Israel. God’s Spirit came to him.” (Verses 25b ,26 CEV)

He took the baby Jesus in his arms and announced “Lord, I am your servant, and now I can die in peace, because you have kept your promise to me. With my own eyes I have seen what you have done to save your people, and foreign nations will also see this.” (Verses 29-32)

Do you sense his incredible joy, at his hope being fulfilled?


But the story continues. Next, they were approached by Anna, an 84-year-old prophetess, who, since her husband’s passing in her youth, had spent day and night in the temple fasting and praying hoping to see the promised Messiah.

When she saw Mary and Joseph and the Christ child she too knew her hope had been fulfilled.

Simeon and Anna’s hopes were satisfied because their hopes were based on God’s promise through the prophets.

What are you hoping for?

If what you are hoping and praying for is biblically based, God is committed to providing an answer.

It may not be the answer you hope for, but it will be the best answer because it is God's answer. Share on X


The coming of Christ and the formation of the Christian Church has introduced many wonderful benefits to mankind, yet as we know, this world is still a shockingly evil place. Each day’s news informs us of just what a selfish, wicked, corrupt, and violent society we live in. And it’s not only in our own lands.

So then where is the promised redemption and salvation?

As was the case with many Old Testament prophecies, Isaiah’s promise looked to a double fulfillment.

  • The first fulfillment was the coming of Israel’s Messiah, as the babe of Bethlehem – the Christ of Calvary.

He came not only for the redemption and salvation of a particular nation, but to offer redemption and salvation for all those who put their trust in Him.

At the same time, Jesus made it abundantly clear that following Him would be no picnic , It would not guarantee us freedom from hardship, suffering, and pain.


  • The second fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy will take place in the future at the return of Jesus, the hope of the world.

As Paul wrote; “you surely know that the Lord’s return will be as a thief coming at night…So we must stay sober and let our faith and love be like a suit of armor. Our firm hope that we will be saved is our helmet.  God doesn’t intend to punish us, but wants us to be saved by our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4, 8, 9.)

The Greek word used for ‘hope’ is more than just “wishful thinking”. It means ‘confident expectation’.

Our Christian confident expectation is that:

  • We were saved the moment we opened our lives to Jesus.

  • Throughout our earthly life we will continue the process of being saved.

  • Ultimately when we either go to be with Jesus through death, or Jesus makes His second appearance on earth to fetch us, our salvation will be complete.

Jesus Christ “hope of the world” has come. Praise God this same Jesus who was born as the babe of Bethlehem over 2000 years ago will one day return as our Redeemer, the focus of our hope.

  • Is your life focused on Jesus Christ the hope of the world?

Please close this session by joining me in this prayer. 

God of hope fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in You, so that I may overflow with a message of hope towards others through the power of the Holy Spirit.








26. A Man Called Peter

Did you ever read the book ‘A man called Peter’?

 “A man called Peter” was written by Catherine Marshall about her deceased husband Peter Marshall, a Presbyterian minister who had been chaplain to the President of the United States.

Our readings this session focus on another man called Peter.  There are three major highlights in his life, although there are many other passages that mention him.

Matthew 16:13-20; Luke 22: 54-62; John 21:15-22

The Apostle Peter – Photo by Marina Gr:


Like a number of other disciples of Jesus, Simon Peter was a fisherman.

Andrew, his brother was a disciple of John the Baptist. One day Jesus approached as John was baptizing folks in the Jordan River at Bethabara. John proclaimed to his followers, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36b) Andrew and John, another of John’s disciples followed Jesus and spent the rest of the day with Him.

Andrew then went and found his brother Simon and introduced him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, the son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter) (John 1:42).

Although from the outset of his gospel John calls him Simon Peter it would appear that his name was actually Simon until Jesus renamed him Peter.

Like many others, I have been puzzled at the seeming clash between John’s account of Peter’s calling as above and what we read in Matthew’s gospel.

Matthew states, “While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.   And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18,19 ESV)


In an article with the title immediately above, Charles Spurgeon explains the dilemma. He points out that John’s account is of Peter’s initial conversion and calling to become Jesus’s disciple.

Then in Matthew, we have an account of a second, later calling. After a miraculous catch of fish along with Andrew, James, and John, Jesus called them to become evangelists—fishers of men.

Spurgeon sees Peter’s third calling as when he was called to be a leader—one of the twelve Apostles who would become the founders of a new religion—Christianity.


On one occasion when Jesus and His disciples were able to get away from the crowds, they were in the area of  Caesarea Philippi. Jesus took the opportunity to cross-question the disciples. “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  His disciples came up with several answers: John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.

Then Jesus made it personal, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15 ESV)

It was Peter who came up with the reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  

To which Jesus responded, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven!” (Matthew 16:17 NET)


The twelve were gathered together with Jesus in the Upper Room for the Passover meal. During the meal, Jesus washed their feet. Jesus then announced that one of them would betray Him and the others would desert Him.

Jesus informed Peter, “Simon, Simon! Listen! Satan has received permission to test all of you, to separate the good from the bad, as a farmer separates the wheat from the chaff. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back to me, you must strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31,32 GNB)

Peter’s immediate  response was, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you and to die with you!” (Verse 33 GNB)

But Jesus answered, “The rooster will not crow tonight until you have said three times that you do not know me.” (Verse 34 GNB)


After the Passover meal, the eleven of us along with Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus spent time in agonizing prayer. We were so tired we fell asleep. Suddenly Judas was there with a number of temple guards who promptly arrested Jesus.

The other disciples fled, but John and I followed at a distance. Jesus was taken to the home of the high priest. I was outside at the gate until John fetched me.

I went to sit with the servants and temple police, who were trying to keep themselves warm in front of a charcoal fire. Three times someone accused me of being part of Jesus’s group. Each time I denied this.  After the third time. a rooster crowed and I noticed Jesus turn and give me a long look. Then I remembered what he had said about me denying him. I felt awful. I went away and wept.

Although I heard what was happening to Jesus,  I couldn’t bring myself to go to Calvary. I couldn’t bear to see them crucify him.


After Jesus’s resurrection, the disciples were told to meet Him in Galilee. Peter’s spirit was still wounded by his denials, so Jesus deliberately reconstructed a whole series of events to bring that troubling memory to the surface. (See session 12 – Deja vu.)

Then after breakfast, Jesus singled Peter out and began His healing therapy.

  • How many times did Peter deny Jesus?

Three times Peter denied knowing Jesus.

Three times Jesus asks Peter the same question, “…do you truly love me?” ( John 21:15,16,17)  Twice Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” (Verses 15,16)

The third time Peter responded, “Lord, you know everything. You know I love you.” ((John 21:17 The Message)

Three times he tells Jesus “I love you.

By this threefold challenge not only was Peter assured of his restoration but he was also re-commissioned by Jesus. In effect, Jesus said, “Love me… go and care for my flock”

Then Peter heard again those wonderful words, he first heard years before alongside that same Galilean Sea, “Follow me!” (John 21:19)

Peter went on to become a faithful and influential leader in the New Testament church.


We’ve all failed our Lord. Like Peter, we need the assurance that all is forgiven.

Just as Jesus went to amazing lengths to restore Peter our Lord wants us to be assured of forgiveness and restoration.

Until those hurtful memories of your failure are dealt with, you can never be the person that God intends you to be. Share on X

In closing, I suggest you bring any areas of hurt to Jesus in prayer and ask Him to bring about a healing. Pray along with this song.

If you haven’t yet read the Introduction to Encounters with Jesus, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.

25. He stoops to conquer

What is the most surprising thing that has happened to you?

Our reading describes an occasion when Jesus washed His disciples’ dirty feet.

I’m sure that took them by surprise!

John 13:1-17

Photo by Luis Quintero:

The scene was a large upstairs room on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The atmosphere was uncomfortable and unpleasant. There were two reasons for the unpleasant atmosphere


The Palestinian roads were dirty and dusty. The disciples wore sandals.  Although the owner of this upstairs room had provided for the rest of their needs, he may have been unable to afford servants to wash their feet upon arrival. But none of the disciples was prepared to wash those smelly, grimy feet.


In his account of the Last Supper, Luke gives us a hint that another contributing factor to the uncomfortable atmosphere was an argument over who was the greatest (Luke 22:24). Not the first time this debate had raised its ugly head (Luke 9:46-48; Matthew 18:1-5; Mark 9:33-37).

Jesus and His twelve disciples were eating the Passover meal. The tense atmosphere increased as all eyes were fixed on Jesus who suddenly—unexpectedly—rose from the table. Discussion ceased. You could have heard a pin drop. Was there something wrong with the Passover preparations?


Without a word, Jesus got up and moved across the room to the large water jar standing near the front door. He stripped off His outer garments, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Jesus was about to act out a parable. “Having loved his own…He now showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1b). Clad only in the garments of a slave, Jesus began to wash His disciple’s feet.

Peter reacted: “No way Lord—you shall never wash my feet!”—“Lord, I’m not fit to have you wash my feet.”—I can’t let you be my servant.”

Jesus’s reply shook the disciples. “Peter, If I do not wash your feet, you will no longer be my disciple” (John 13:8b GNB).

Typical of act-before-you-think Peter, the fisherman replied, “Lord, do not wash only my feet, then! Wash my hands and head too” (Verse 9).

Jesus use this everyday practice of foot washing to teach His disciples a spiritual truth. “Anyone who has had a bath is completely clean and does not have to wash himself, except for his feet” (Verse 10).

We who trust Jesus have been washed clean of all past sins. Yet, we are constantly contaminated through our contact with the sinful practices of the world. We need Jesus’s continual washing of those daily sins that attach themselves to our lives. “Having loved His own…He began to wash His disciple’s feet” (John 13:1a, 5).


Several lessons can be learnt from Jesus’s actions that evening.

True greatness

Jesus gave them a demonstration of true greatness by humbling himself and washing their feet.

Jesus said, “The greatest one among you must be like the youngest, and the leader must be like the servant” (Luke 22:26 GNB).


None can serve Jesus meaningfully until we have let Him serve us. Until we allow Jesus to wash us clean of all sin, our good works count for nothing. We need to allow Jesus’s act of sacrifice to impact upon our lives.

Only once we acknowledge His sacrifice and surrender our lives totally to Him, can we begin to serve others effectively for Him.


What Jesus did physically that evening He wants to do spiritually today. He cares for you and me. He wants to meet our needs. Jesus wants to serve you—to wash those who have. . . . .

Tired feet

You feel weak and worn out. Battling to cope. Things are getting you down. Jesus wants to restore your strength.

Dirty feet

Things have crept into your life that ought not to be there. Skeletons are in your cupboard that Jesus wants to help bury today. He died on that cross to set us free from these things.

Wounded feet

Wounded at some time, in some way

  • in childhood by the actions of a parent or relative.

  • by someone who betrayed a trust we placed in him or her.

  • through the unfaithfulness of a marriage partner.

  •  as a result of words or actions of a church leader.

  • due to bad, crippling experiences which have left you confused and bewildered.

Our wounded spirit needs inner healing. The scars will always be there. But the hurting , the raw wounds can be healed. That’s why Jesus went to the cross. He was wounded for us so that our wounds may be healed.

For many the problem is Busy feet.

  • Too busy to spend time with the Lord.

  • Too many things going on in your life.

  • A constant need to keep busy and working. Maybe we can identify with Martha.

Don’t forget, Jesus told Martha that she was losing out by being too busy and not spending more time with Him like her sister, Mary. Busyness does not necessarily equal effectiveness.

Let Jesus bathe your busy feet as you admit your business and ask Him to show you where to cut back to make more time for Him.

Finally, some have Ugly feet.

  • Are you discouraged and disappointed in yourself?

  • Do you seem to be lacking in gifts to use to serve Jesus or others?

  • Have you thought, If you could look behind my mask, you would have nothing to do with me. I am not a pleasant person to be around. I’ve got ugly feet!

Jesus says to you, “Allow me to wash those ugly feet. I want to make them beautiful!”

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation...(Isaiah 52:7 ESV) Share on X

No matter which category of feet you identify with today, remember that Jesus died to give you abundant life. He came to save sinners, to heal the wounded, to restore the brokenhearted.

Admit that you have tired—dirty—wounded—busy—or ugly feet and ask Jesus to wash them for you today.


After washing the disciple’s feet Jesus said, “I have set an example for you so that you will do just what I have done for you.”

Jesus did not mean that we’re to literally wash one another’s feet, but serve one another. Serving  is a two-way street. I need to come alongside you and allow you to be open with me. But in return, I must be open with you, and let you come alongside me.

Once we have been washed by Jesus, He commissions us to make ourselves available to wash, to minister to, to come alongside, those who need to be washed clean of the things that have contaminated their lives.

Praise God that Jesus came to save us and make our lives beautiful for Him. Now we can confidently proclaim “Our God reigns” in the words of this song, ‘How lovely on the mountains’ based on Isaiah 52:7.

If you haven’t yet read the Introduction to Encounters with Jesus, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.