Come and See Forgiveness

GodReflection: Come and See—God Saved the Best for Now

“Come and see,” said Philip (John 1:46). “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (John 2: 10).

gary-2015Forgiveness is a messy commodity. I suspect you can readily join with me  in my observation that we human types don’t handle forgiveness well. Whether I’m the offender or the one offended there seems to be two commonalities—a too often occurrence and more often than I would like, my “all thumbs” in reaching toward resolution. That is with people, not to even mention my more direct offenses of omission and commission against Holy God.

forgive1Then there is the difficulty of my normal expectation that God and the others in my life should forgive me; while in reverse I hesitate to pardon someone I should forgive. I sometime find I need the seventy times seven attempts to forgive a person who has wronged me.

In John’s Gospel he invites me to come and see God who not only forgives betrayal, but in love reinstates the dignity that is a gift of the Holy.

It was only Peter’s third encounter with Jesus after the resurrection. In servant mode Jesus has prepared breakfast for the seven fishing disciples. There is no indication that  Peter has approached the subject of his three denials just prior to the crucifixion.

forgive12To be fair, Luke’s he went outside and wept bitterly (Luke 22:62) describes Peter’s repentant sobs after his third denial as he hears the rooster crow and makes eye contact with his captive teacher.

The Holy has always taken the initiative to seek.

Jesus calls out to those on the boat. Jesus builds his breakfast fire in Peter’s sight line. Breakfast is ready. Fish and Bread cook and warm within the hot coals. Jesus connects the fishermen with the school of fish. Jesus is doing no less than setting the stage for forgiveness. Jesus invites, Come and have breakfast. And to us John calls out, Come and see forgiveness.

forgive20But now the beach breakfast is over and the Son of God carefully and tenderly begins the process to demonstrate his love and forgiveness to the man who claimed three times he had nothing to do with Jesus.

I see in Peter a fisherman’s heart. Apparently, he still owned a boat. He must have liked the breeze, the quiet and the warmth of the sun. As a man wired for action the whole process of preparation, net casting and anticipation had to be a great fit. To be on the water daily suited him fine.

fish4I think Jesus must have looked over at what was left from the pile of 153 fish to help him recommit to a broken allegiance. He uses the morning’s catch as a starting place to cleanse him with forgiveness. Where is his security? Does Peter love Jesus more than he loves to fish and run his own life?

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep (21:15-18).

forgive19Jesus then reminds Peter of his independent lifestyle before they met. As a young man he made his own decisions. He selected his own clothes, went fishing when he wanted and set the daily course of his life (21:18-19).

It’s time to parallel the second miraculous fish catch to the first.

It’s time to once again accept Holy forgiveness and for the final time make“Follow me!” his life’s priority.

The best forgiveness was saved for Peter’s now and for our now.

Peter got the message. Not long after, he witnessed the ascension, he boldly served as Jesus’ spokesman on Pentecost when the church began, and he lived into the love and forgiveness of Jesus until reunited with his master after his own crucifixion.

It is the power of Holy forgiveness that John invites me to come and see at a breakfast hosted by Jesus on a beach.

I would love to hear how you have learned to live under the umbrella of that same forgiveness?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Come and See Forgiveness



Come and See the Great Fisherman

GodReflection: Come and See—God Saved the Best for Now

“Come and see,” said Philip (John 1:46). “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (John 2: 10).

gary-2015The Pecos River flowed into my childhood. It cut from north to south through our portion of the Chihuahuan Desert. From it crops received water, children learned to swim and Grandpa taught me to fish. For him to fish was to encounter pure joy.

fish1Through his life he taught me fishing is more about the experience than the quantity of catch. When the fish were biting that was just an extra layer of frosting on the cake.

Grandpa fished for recreation. Had either he or I required sustenance from the river we would both have died young.

Jesus knew more about fishing than the professionals. (Having created both water and fish helped). Twice he guided fishermen to a miraculous catch as a sign to point to his heart and to the heart of His Father God. The first account isn’t included in John’s Gospel.

To get the backstory for John’s “belief stop” we must switch momentarily from John’s witness to Luke’s call of the twelve.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

fish8When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners (Luke 5:4-10).

Obviously, John remembered.

It was a landmark event in the start of his walk toward belief. It has to be in his mind as he invites us to come and see a similar sign to restore hope and belief—both dead from crucifixion.

fish13In the midst of a few days a lot of brain fog must have set in among the apostles surrounding Jesus’ death, the resurrection and the future. Thus far, they have seen him only twice since his return from the dead. However, the Romans are still in charge.

The same people who killed Jesus are still on the streets. Surely, the disciples remain vigilant. The kingdom Jesus spoke of remains out of sight. His instructions must seem sketchy at best. “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (20:17). “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (20:21). “Receive the Holy Spirit, If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them they are not forgiven” (20:23).

Peter is in need of time to process and to sort out the last few days. There is nothing like a fishing trip to clear the head. It’s time to go fishing.

Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing (21:2-3).

fish5Once again it snuck up on them. Even though it had happened three years ago they didn’t see it coming. Fishermen readily offer advice. In the light of early morning seven fisherman approached shore with their empty boat and a man calls from the beach:

“Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish (21:5-6).

They all seem to realized reality at the same instant. It’s the same voice and the same result they had experienced when first call by Jesus.

John exclaims, “It is the Lord!”

As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he . . . jumped into the water.  The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish . . .  Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 

fish6So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.

 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord (21:6-12).

John invites us to Come and see the Great Fisherman. It’s as if Jesus uses their trade to make one last pictorial lesson. His power hasn’t diminished. He renews the call “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19-20).

Quietly, the voice echoes over twenty-plus centuries as we join the disciples in the boat to listen for the call of the Great Fisherman. He still leads his disciples to be alert for people he places within our sphere of influence.

He saved the best till now we get to fish with the Great Fisherman—the Creator of the universe. How should that change our perspective as we go about our daily walk?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Come and See the Great Fisherman




Come and See a Temple Built and Hope Raised

GodReflection: Come and See—God Saved the Best for Now

“Come and see,” said Philip (John 1:46). “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (John 2: 10).

gary-2015Occasionally, I wonder how many times have I totally missed or misconstrued teachings from the Holy. Since my gnat-size brain is so often out of sync with God’s best for my life I know my misconceptions are in numbers far beyond what I could ever imagine.

Early in the Gospel, John sets the stage for me to eventually see that God has saved the best till now. Had I been among those in the Temple courts that day, my comprehension of what had just happened would have been parallel to the temple1Jewish leaders and his disciples. I wouldn’t have understood.

In Holy Indignation, Jesus went through the Temple courts turning over tables and driving profiteers off the grounds. How could Jesus mess with our church?

John calls me to come and see Jesus’ court-cleaning defense. It’s not so much a defense—rather it’s a proclamation. It’s an important event in preparation for what would happen three days after his secret disciples, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus buried hope. So, the accusation rings out with a question:

“What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

Then comes the insightful exchange: Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I temple17will raise it again in three days.”

They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken (2:18-22).

She arrived in the dark of Sunday morning at the garden tomb. Mary Magdalene was the first to report the tomb empty. Alarmed, she called Peter and John who came, saw and at least John believed.

temple7His running partner may have been a little slow but Peter caught up with John and both arrived as fast as they could. By the time the inspection is finished and the apostles leave to inform the others Mary has caught up and is back at the empty tomb. There alone she weeps in sorrow.

Her devotion started as a healed invalid cured by Jesus (Luke8:21). She was fueled by gratitude, trust and hope.  Mary was a leader among those who followed Jesus. She had supported him financially (Matt.27:56) throughout his ministry. Twelve times she is mentioned in the Gospels. She had stood at the cross and watched him die.

temple10As tears continued to flow from her eyes, she had to look into the tomb one more time.

This time, she saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

temple9Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father . . . I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (20:12-17).

She saw it: Hope had risen. In three days, the temple of Jesus had been destroyed and rebuilt.

It is to that empty tomb and Jesus’ Living Temple God invites. Come and see. He truly saved the best till now.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Come and See a Temple Built and Hope Raised     

Come and See an Empty Tomb

GodReflection: Come and See—God Saved the Best for Now

“Come and see,” said Philip (John 1:46). “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (John 2: 10).

gary-2015Back in my “working life” I received personal satisfaction when it was my privilege to introduce others to South America. I always enjoyed the visit to Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã soccer stadium.

tomb5Completed in 1950 for the World Cup games it was the largest stadium in the world. At the time it would seat 173,000 paying spectators but was estimated that more than 200,000 were inside as Brazil lost to Uruguay in the final game of that year’s soccer grand finale.  The World Cup’s championship match is set before millions of spectators across the globe every four years.

tomb3One reason I liked the stadium tour was upon occasions it would be led by one of the old workers, who not only participated in its construction but, who also lived its game after game, decade by decade history. Eye witness tour guides are rare creatures.

In the Gospel, the Apostle John is that rare guide. His purpose is not totally grasped until he reveals it at the end. That is, his tour sites are chosen for a specific purpose. He invites us to come and see so that we might believe.

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:30-31).

tomb8In our last stop with the apostle he asked us to see hope buried. John knew the pain. He was present at the cross. It’s almost like he can’t dwell on the burial. The silence of death is more than he can bear.

Saturday hope lays in silence. There is no action or story for an entire day. Nothing, until John call us for our next stop on Sunday. It will be a sight and a sign to create belief. Maybe—just maybe—hope is alive.

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.

So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

tomb13So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.

Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head.

The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed (20:1-8).

The tomb was empty. There was something about the head cloth and those empty tomb12grave linens that caused the spark of hope to reignite in the depths of John’s soul. In that dark tomb the apostle saw the linens and remembered anew the signs. Jesus had left a sign to create belief.

He must have remembered the words of his master, “Unless you people see signs and wonders you will never believe” (4:48). “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am” (13:19).

Would empty grave wrappings have been enough for me to resurrect hope? How vital is the site of the empty tomb to your faith?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Come and See an Empty Tomb

Come and See Hope Buried

GodReflection: Come and See—God Saved the Best for Now

“Come and see,” said Philip (John 1:46). “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (John 2: 10).

gary-2015When John brings us to the dusk of crucifixion day hope is no where in sight. I suspect the two disciples on their way to Emmaus three days later expressed what all of his followers felt that dark dusk, we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel (Luke 24:21).

Instead, two men who were secret disciples, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, requested permission from Governor Pilate to take the dead body from the cross and prepare it to be buried forever in a newly excavated garden tomb.

hope5They transported the body and a seventy-pound sack of burial spices provided by Nicodemus to bury hope. It had come to an end. The light of their world had gone out.

Just a few days before, crowds of joyous people celebrated Jesus entry into Jerusalem. On that day hope ruled. Jesus was to be their Golden King David. Hope was on the verge of reality.

But now, here we are. John calls us to come and see hope buried.

hope4Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there (19:40-42).

Why do I need to see hope buried?

I need to identify with the desperation of those early disciples. I need to see as I hit life’s brick walls I’m not the first on the planet to see no way forward.

hope1I think back to times in my life when hope died for a season. Fortunately, like those who witnessed the light die at the crucifixion, my own experience with darkness was temporary. It was created because like them I could not see the hidden acts of the creator behind the scene of my darkness.

Perhaps there are times in all of our lives when the light of hope dies for a period. A risen Lord wasn’t in sight of reality for the two secret disciples. They buried their Messiah for real. At this point in the Gospel we can only kneel with the two hopeless disciples who dutifully and lovingly bury hope.

hope8We now know hope would once again breathe in and out the breath of life. We live with resurrection reality. We have the knowledge of what happened three days later when hope was resurrected.

Think back to a time you witnessed hope buried. Can you identify with the two disciples? How does life on this side of resurrection help when you see hope die?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Come and See Hope Buried


Come and See the King Greater than David

GodReflection: Come and See—God Saved the Best for Now

“Come and see,” said Philip (John 1:46). “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (John 2: 10).

gary-2015It had to be one of the greatest blindsides of all history. From the viewpoint of first century Jews God sent the wrong king.

For hundreds of years they told their children the story of King David who conquered all enemies with his sword and his army. He was the king who made wealth flow in the streets. Everyone had plenty. Even while they told the story they spoke of God’s promised Messiah who would come from the lineage of King David and be greater than all of their stories of the shepherd boy.

king2Surely, Messiah would arrive as recognizable royalty. In the resemblance of David, he would be a freedom fighter, remove Roman rule and fill everyone’s coffers. We humans know how to color God’s promises with our expectations.

In the introductory first chapter John uses an unknown named Nathanael to introduce King Jesus with the words which denote his surprise when Jesus already knew of his recent activities.

He declares: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel” (1:49). However, in John’s gospel this king never acts like royalty.

He walks, rides donkeys rather than great war horses, and dodges ever attempt by anyone to place a crown on his head. His kingship was to be defined by the Holy—not by the desires of the crowd.

We encounter the Jews as they set the stage for crucifixion. There is one last hurdle. They need Pilates permission. Out of convenience treason is the trumped-up charge. This man wants to be king in the place of Cesar. John invites us to see the Roman Governor Pilate’s vetting of the “would be king”:

Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” . . . Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place” . . .  “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king . . .” (John 18).

king1The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” (19:2-5).

Crucifixion is granted to pacify the accusers:

It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

king8 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews (19:14-15,19).

Once again John calls us to come and see. This time the sight is a cross. It is a sad and horrible picture. The king greater than King David is on the cross.

Both Father and Son knew we would come to understand the King made possible God’s best for us. It took the cross to provide His grace to cover all our sin.

The final act of the King was to offer himself for my sin. He had done something David could not. He brought salvation to a creation under the condemnation of Adamic\Satanic sin. Not only was he the King of the Jews, but God made him King over All.

king13God’s King Jesus challenges me in ways I have failed to recognize. I dare not stand in judgement of those who misinterpreted his kingship. I think of promises I tend to misinterpret. His promises of the role of Scripture, His vision and activity in the global church of the centuries and His people around the globe.

I think of my own errors as I interpret His faithfulness and the Holy’s vision for eternity. I wonder how often I’ve colored God’s promises by my own expectation with how I think they should look.

Just perhaps, could that be the greatest lesson I need to learn from my encounter with the King greater than David? How often do I wrongly perceive what God is doing?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Come and See the King Greater than David   

Come and See God on a Cross

GodReflection: Come and See—God Saved the Best for Now

“Come and see,” said Philip (John 1:46). “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (John 2: 10).

gary-2015Gold ones, silver ones, diamond studded ones and rough replicas. Millions of crosses serve as jewelry, decoration and symbols across our globe. Our modern crosses have their origin in THE CROSS of all Roman crosses. From it, humankind crucified the Creator of the universe. From two crossed pieces of cross2rustic wood the Creator of life was killed by those He created.

Gods of Myth don’t die. Our God died—for us His children.

John’s Gospel begins his account of God’s descent to earth, in the form of God the Son, to provide Himself as the sacrifice that would atone for the sin of the human race. He is Jesus.

The name of “Jesus” means “God saves.” And, his name “Immanuel” means “God with us.” This selfless-suffering act would make possible the return of creation to its sinless and perfect Eden state. His essence is firmly rooted in the “three in one” and the “one in three” Godhead.

A cross and a resurrection were the only way to reunite God the Father to His Adams and Eves throughout time. We are all God’s created ones who join with Eve and Adam in sin. I need the cross as much as Adam needs the cross.

cross3So, John asks me to come and see one of the major historic events of all time. Outside of Jerusalem was a land/rock formation people called the Skull.  There they nailed Jesus to the cross. Two other men were crucified with him. One was on each side of him. Jesus was in the middle (19:17-18).

Unlike the other Gospels, John omits the details of the robber’s conversation, the mocking and insults from the base of the cross, the darkness, the earthquake, the splitting of the Temple’s veil, the reaction of the Roman centurion and the resurrection of the holy people at the nanosecond of Jesus’ death.

There seems to be laser beam focus upon what is taking place on the cross. This is none other than Triune God about to die for children who have never given due honor. Time and again they have chosen the satanic over the Holy. Even we who stand this side of the cross far too often still make choices that dishonor. We need the cross.  

cross7The best has been saved for my now. John invites me to come and see what is perhaps Jesus final act of love prior to his death. For it is through his cross that family becomes available to all believers.

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home (19:26-27).

No longer is family limited by bloodline. For the blood from the cross’ births sons and mothers for all who once stood alone.

From the cross of all crosses, God struggles to speak his final words as a man prior to his death. “I am thirsty” . . . After Jesus drank he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and died (19:28 & 30).

John saw it all. At the foot of the cross he inscribes a footnote. The Apostle of Love wants me to depart the scene challenged by what I saw. I saw God on a cross for me. John’s post script is worthy of my notice:

cross6. . . one of the soldiers stuck his spear into Jesus’ side. Right away, blood and water flowed out. The man who saw it has been a witness about it. And what he has said is true. He knows that he tells the truth. He is a witness so that you (I) also may believe (19:34-35).

I came and I saw. God saved it for my now. What are two or three words that come to mind as you see God on a cross?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Come and See God on a Cross