Sunday Morning Coffee: A Memory

It’s snowing heavily. Wasn’t supposed to start until sometime after five tonight. Watching the big, fat flakes drift down has triggered a memory. I may have written this one before, don’t remember. So here goes.

We lived in southern Minnesota. I was 17, a senior in high school. My little brother, John, was three.

Mom had suffered severe problems for a long time with issues that finally led to her having surgery, a complete hysterectomy including her ovaries, which put her into medical menopause. It was March, when the area we lived in often got the worst blizzards of the winter. Dad had driven from St. James to the hospital in Madelia, a 15-mile trip, to spend some time with Mom. Johnny and I hunkered down for the day, played some games, read some of his favorite stories, and generally just relaxed.

I decided to make a big pot of hearty soup, knowing Dad would be hungry when he got back.

It was dark fairly early, but the heavy snow made it even harder to see clearly for any distance. I knew he was a capable driver, having grown up in the mountains of Colorado, but this blizzard had me worried.

As always, when one is worried, the time seemed to drag by. It was around four in the afternoon, and he should have been home by then. Since the snow was so heavy, I decided to turn on every light in the house, including the upstairs bedrooms, hoping that it would help him find his way home. We lived on the outskirts of town, with very few other houses nearby.

Meanwhile, Dad was crawling along the highway through some of the thickest snow he’d ever seen. The roads were slippery and obscured so that it was hard to tell where the shoulders dropped off onto the ground. Dad had planned to beat the storm, but like it is for us today, the snow started earlier than predicted. When he left the hospital, it wasn’t completely dark, but he had to drive slowly and the darkness soon settled over him. He had the windshield wipers going, and had turned his headlights onto low beam. In that kind of weather, high beam just creates a non-helpful glare.

There was a car a short distance ahead of him, and he followed the tail lights. But the car turned off well before Dad needed to, and he was on his own for a while. The wind was growing in strength, the snow thick and heavy. Always careful, he had a shovel, blanket, and overshoes, as well as gloves and his heavy winter overcoat.

He was delighted to see lights high above the car, and realized he’d caught up with a snow plow. Perfect! He followed it all the way to St. James, turning off into town. He drove through town and found our road, but there had been no plowing yet. Almost as soon as he made the turn, he was in snow so deep that he couldn’t move forward or backward, not even with the tire chains he always used in bad weather.

Well. He figured it was about a mile from where he was stuck to our house, so he bundled up with a hat that had earflaps and tied under his chin, put on his boots and gloves, wrapped the blanket around his shoulders, and grabbed the snow shovel. I don’t remember if he had a flashlight or any other type of lamp.

Of course, by this time I was truly concerned. Johnny wrapped his arms around my leg, asking me over and over where daddy was. “He’ll be home soon. It’s okay,” I would answer. In my heart, I wasn’t so sure.

The phone lines were down. The wind had done that. I was thankful we still had electricity and heat. All we could do was wait, and it truly did seem like forever.

Finally, there was a ruckus at the back door. The light was already turned on, and as I looked out the window in the door, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. It was just a big shape, huddled under the porch light. Then, the shape moved and put its face right at my eye level, and I got the door open as fast as I could.

Dad just stood there for a moment, obviously worn out. Then he shook the snow off each foot, stepped inside, and began the long process of unwrapping all his winter protection.

“Smells good in here,” he said, removing that ugly but wonderfully protective hat.

“I made soup. It’s ready to eat. I also made biscuits.”

Finally, divested of the blanket, coat, boots, and gloves, he said, “Are you guys okay?”

“Yes, we’re fine.” I wanted to cry, but Dad was not into emotion. I wanted to hug him, but that was also a rare thing.

“You were smart to turn on the lights. It’s the only thing I could see, and without them I’m not sure I would have made it.”

That was high praise.

We sat down to enjoy our hot soup, and he told us the story of his journey home. Always a good storyteller, he kept us entertained until we were all full.

I was clearing up, washing the dishes, when I felt his hand on my shoulder. “You did good, Linda.”

P.S. I see that I did write this one before, called it “A Blizzard to Remember.” Some of the details are different, which goes to show you that memory really is elastic. Which story is closest to the truth? Don’t know. Can’t remember 🙂

Malchus and Peter

John 18:10-11.

Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.

Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?

Peter simply couldn’t stand by and watch while his Master was arrested! A man of action for his entire life, he pulled his sword out of its sheath and attached Malchus, the servant of the High Priest. Malchus must have put up a good bit of resistance, for all that Peter was able to do was to slice off his ear.

I was surprised at the amount of commentary I found on this act of Peter. Some have construed it to have a great deal more meaning than others: Since Malchus was a servant (slave) of the High Priest, Peter was symbolically attacking the religious authority of the day; that it was cowardice on Peter’s part, since, if he were holding the sword in his right hand, he could only have cut off the right ear from behind; and many other ideas which seem to me to be stretching the importance of this act.

Rather, I’m thinking Peter was remembering his promise that he would go even unto death in defense of Jesus (Matt. 26:35) and that his attack was impulsive and carried out on the nearest victim.

Some have wondered why any of the disciples carried a weapon. It is probable that Peter’s sword was a short sword, not the long one of the centurions; that it was easily concealed by his clothing; that it had to do with his work as a fisherman. Also, this was a time, like our own, when thieves and murderers were ubiquitous. Having some sort of weapon was only common sense.

John doesn’t tell us the rest of that small moment, but Luke 22:51 does. Jesus rebuked Peter (“Suffer ye thus far!” In other words, “That’s enough!”) and He touched Malchus’ ear and restored it.

He then addressed Peter again, telling him to sheath his sword, and saying, “You must not try to keep Me from doing the work that the Father has appointed to Me. The time has come. There will be no more avoiding the priests and the Pharisees.”

Fulfilling Scripture

John 18:7-9.

Then asked He them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus answered, I have told you that I am He: if therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way:

That the saying might be fulfilled, which He spake, Of them which Thou gavest Me have I lost none.

Once His would-be captors had regained their feet and brushed off their clothes as tried to look dignified, Jesus asked them again, “Whom seek ye?”

They answered, again, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Notice that they did not say “Jesus Christ,” or “Jesus, son of Joseph and Mary.” They were determined to give Him no honorifics, no respect. Nazareth was a little no-account, fishy-smelling dump of a town, so they were content to identify Him as being from there.

In my imagination, which does tend to go into overdrive now and then, I can see Jesus drawing an impatient breath, letting it out with a rise and fall of His shoulders and almost, but not quite, an eye-roll. He would not show disrespect to these men who had been sent on someone else’s errand. Not even to Judas, who was moments away from betraying Him.

What He said was, “I have told you that I AM. If I am the One you seek, then let these others go free.”

His words fulfilled John 6:39 and 17:12.

Jesus did not set free His power again. Once was enough to convince those who wanted to arrest Him that He could walk away, but He chose instead, after that one object lesson, to protect His disciples from harm at the hands of these officers and soldiers. It would seem that His words were enough, because we hear nothing of any attempt to restrain or harm the disciples, who probably began a quiet exit at that point.

Except for Peter.


John 18:5-6.

They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am He. And Judas also, which betrayed Him, stood with them.

As soon then as He had said unto them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground.

In the previous verse, Jesus stood calmly before the crowd and asked, “Whom seek ye?”

They responded, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Again, calmly but with authority, Jesus spoke. “I AM!”

Yes, the word He appears in some translations. It is not in the original Greek.

Jesus made several. I AM statements in the book of John:   John 8:58 , John 6:488:129:510:910:11-1410:3611:2514:6). It was His identification as God, Jehovah, the Great I AM of the universe.

When He spoke those words, all those armed soldiers and Temple officers were tumbled off their feet and landed on the ground. At that moment, He let loose just a tiny little bit of His authority; His power was so great that all those men could not stand against it. What a dramatic moment that must have been!

What is so astonishing to me is that once they regained their feet and dusted themselves off, they went right ahead with their plans! I can’t help but wonder if perhaps a few of them who regained their senses decided it wasn’t such a great idea to try to arrest someone Whose spoken word could tumble them all to the ground!

Maybe they thought it had just been a small earth tremor, or a very strong wind. I don’t know what they thought. I’m not sure they did, either.

Judas was among them. Again, my imagination pictures him being blown off his feet and landing with a painful thump on his backside. Did he shake his head to clear the cobwebs out? Was he angry? Terrified? We don’t know. What we do know is that the evil he planned was not shaken, and once he gathered himself together he moved forward to commit the betrayal he had promised to the Pharisees.

Whom Seek Ye?

John 18:3-4.

Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.


Jesus, therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?

Gethsemane, in Hebrew, simply means oil press. We can deduce, therefore, that it was at some point an olive garden, or at least a place in which olives were pressed. In Jesus’ time, it seems that it had become like a modern city park, a place of rest and relaxation for anyone who cared to use it.

But it was not restful on this night.

Judas Iscariot, having agreed to betray Jesus to the priests of the Temple, was given men and weapons to go and find Jesus and bring Him to the priestly council.

There is some question about the number of men and officers. What is clear is that they were heavily armed; that they expected to have to hunt for Him, and therefore carried lanterns and torches even though there was a full moon. Every source I looked at states that the troops were Roman soldiers, since the Jews were not allowed any militia while Rome occupied Israel. There could have been a huge number of them, depending on the perceived threat of Jesus and His disciples. There were officers of the Temple, likely sent to make the proceedings legal according to Jewish law and custom. It would seem, then, that Judas was very well-equipped to identify Jesus without any risk to himself, which tells us that Judas still didn’t truly understand with Whom he was dealing.

Jesus, knowing every detail of this event before it happened, made no attempt to hide. In fact, He walked up to the group and asked them who it was they were looking for. Did any of them, aside from Judas, recognize Him? Did the disciples gasp in fear and astonishment that Jesus so boldly approached this posse that had come to arrest Him?

In my imagination, Jesus stood before the crowd calmly and quietly. He stood straight and tall, His eyes resting on Judas for a moment, but scanning everyone else in the crowd as well. He didn’t waste words, but silently waited for their response. I imagine several moments of complete silence as Jesus waited for Judas to make his move.

The Brook Cedron (Kidron)

John 18: 1-2.

When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which He entered, and His disciples.

And Judas also, which betrayed Him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with His disciples.

John does not specify that the garden was Gethsemane, but two other gospel writers did (Matt. 26:36 and Mark 14:32). The important thing here is that this was, apparently, a place where Jesus and the disciples often gathered; it is likely they frequently slept there when they were near Jerusalem. Jesus was making no effort to conceal Himself, but chose a place where He could easily be found. Judas knew the place well.

The brook Cedron (Kidron) ran down from the Temple, and at this point it would be colored red from the blood of all the passover lambs that had been sacrificed. There was a channel from the altar in the Temple that had been created for the express purpose of disposing of the blood and other refuse from the sacrifices. Crossing that brook must have been a vivid reminder to Jesus of His own sacrifice which was soon to come.

I in Them

John 17:25-26.

O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast sent Me.

And I have declared unto them Thy Name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.

An unrighteous world cannot know Who the Father is. Only the righteous Son fully understands the Father, and what is about to take place.

This, the greatest love story ever told, is a story of the so great love of the Father for His Son, and for the whole of mankind. Jesus knew that He had been sent from the Father. His disciples knew that He had been sent from the Father. They knew that Jesus had often declared that He and the Father were One. The fulfillment of that declaration was about to begin, and the disciples themselves did not yet fully understand all that was about to take place.

Jesus did. He asked, in this ending to His High Priestly prayer, that the same love of the Father which was in Him would reveal itself in His disciples, who would then begin the process of sharing the love of God with all of humankind.

First, though, they had to get through the next few hours of horror.

Seeing Jesus

John 17:24. “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world.”

Jesus is now coming to the end of His heartfelt prayer for His disciples, both then and down through the centuries.

I will” could correctly be translated as I desire, I want, I ask You.” He is praying, remember–not demanding. He desires that all His followers, which God gave Him, be with Him. The desire He expressed here was for the ultimate completion of all things, so that all the people God had given Him could be united in heaven with Him forever. He was not yet in heaven, but was speaking as if He were, and as if all His earthly work had been completed. He came, after all, from a place where time did not exist.

Ephesians 1:3 and 2:6 speak to believers in the same sense–that God has already raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in heavenly realms. That is our ultimate end, and in the mind of God it is already accomplished! I find great comfort in knowing that, as we face growing unrest and uncertainty in the days ahead.

That they may behold My glory”: We really have no concept of what it will be that will hold us enthralled through all eternity. So great is His glory, given Him by the Father, that we will never have enough of seeing Him, praising Him, worshiping Him and glorifying Him forever. Our understanding here on earth is limited, clouding our vision of what heaven will be like.

I recently had cataracts removed from both eyes. The first thing that struck me, as my vision cleared, was how white white is! When I closed the eye that had not yet been repaired, out new bathroom appliances were so white as to make me want to close my eye! Then, closing the “good” eye and looking at the same thing with my “bad” eye, everything took on a rather greenish-beige tint. The cataract limits the amount of light that penetrates the lenses of the eyes, and so we do not see clearly. It is rather like “looking through a glass darkly (I Cor 13:12), but when the glass is washed clean, the true glory of the Savior will, in a sense, blind us to everything else.

I think most of us have wondered what we’ll be doing in heaven all through eternity. It’s interesting to speculate, and I believe God will have more wondrous things for us there than we can even begin to imagine. But I also believe that we’ll just want to see Jesus.

The last part of today’s verse tells us that the Father loved the Son before the foundation of the world. Before time began in the human realm. From eternity past to eternity present and future, the love of the Father has been and always will be invested in the Son, and through the Son, in us.

Perfect in One

John 17:23. “I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.

Perfect in

Please go back and read v. 22 again, since 23 is really a continuation of Jesus’ thoughts and words in that verse. I’m going to take this one apart pronoun by pronoun. It is important that we understand to whom all those pronouns belong.

I- This personal pronoun refers to Jesus Himself.

-in them- the disciples and all believers to come down through the centuries.

Thou- the Father, God, Jehovah.

-in Me–Jesus

-that they may be made. . . .all believers

perfect- this is not a pronoun, of course, but needs clarification. It means mature, complete.

-in one–“Jesus again referred to the living, organic unity He prayed would exist among His people. This isn’t the totalitarian unity of coercion or fear, and it isn’t the unity of compromise. Jesus prayed for a unity of love and common identity in Him.”

Guzik, Blue Letter Bible

-And that the world may know that Thou (the Father) hath sent Me (the Son) –the unity of believers, the love they show toward one another, would be such that unbelievers would see it as proof that Jesus was indeed sent by God.

-and hast loved them–unbelievers, loved by the Father and redeemed by the Son when they repent and believe.

-As Thou (the Father) hast loved Me (the Son)–this final line teaches us that God loves sinners just as He loves the Son He sent to save sinners.

Think on that.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Wondering

I know we’re nearly three weeks into January now, so this “wonder” is a bit late. I’ve just been wondering why so many of us seem to think that with the coming of the new year, everything is going to be better than it was on the 31st of December.

Maybe it’s because so many truly horrible things have happened in the last 8-10 months that we hoped, somehow, 2021 would herald a change. People would be honest. Government would concede that it is not responsible to monitor our daily lives. Politicians would hush. All the NON-peaceful riots of the summer and fall would go away, and those responsible for all the destruction would volunteer to help restore our cities. Crime and poverty would go away. People would stop throwing the F-bomb all over the place. World peace would descend like a soft blanket of warmth and comfort.

I hope you’re not surprised.

There is a law of physics that says that once something is in motion, it tends to stay in motion; and once something is NOT in motion, it tends to remain unmoving. It takes some kind of external force to change either status.

So what outside force could possibly stop the rush to chaos to which people around the world seem to be heading? I can think of only one thing:

Well, two things:

God’s Word and fervent prayer.

Matthew 18:20. “For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.”

No rhetoric, accusation, anger, or self-righteous bloviation can bring peace to this tired old world. God can.

What the world needs now is Holy Spirit revival.