i believe in miracles

do you? why not add your miracles too?


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Father, I’m Ready to be Restored to Greatness: John 17 (how I would say it)

Sculpture of a white lion on a background of the blue sky

Then Jesus looked up to the sky and said: “Father, it’s time. Make me great, so I can prove your greatness. You’ve given me authority over all humanity so that those you’ve determined might live forever. Eternal life is just this: knowing you, the only true God, and me, your representative. I’ve represented you well here on Earth by completing all my assignments. And now, Father, make me great again in front of you, with the same greatness I possessed even before we set planet Earth in motion.

“I’ve revealed you to the people on Earth that you gave me. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they’ve followed your instructions. They understand now that everything I have comes from you. I told them just what you told me to tell them, and they accepted it. They are sure that I am your representative—sent here on special assignment. I would like to make some requests on their behalf. Not all humans, though, just the ones you gave me, the ones that are yours. You and I share them in common. And they have exalted me.

“You know I can’t stay here with them, but they don’t have any choice but to stay here, while I come back to you. Good and right Father, in the same way I belong to you, protect them too, so we can all belong to you together. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe with my power as your representative. The only one that didn’t make it was the one who was destined to self-destruct so that the ancient texts would be fulfilled.

“I’ll be with you soon, but I just wanted to say these things while I am still on Earth, so my followers can be completely content. I told them what you wanted me to tell them, and consequently the world hates them because they don’t belong to the world anymore than I ever did. I’m not asking you to remove them from Earth but just protect them from the evil in it. They don’t belong here and neither do I! Set them apart through the truth in your instructions. I’m sending them now as representatives, just like you sent me. I set myself apart so they could also be truly set apart.

“And there are others who will believe in me as a result of these representatives. I ask that all of them can also be a part of us. Let them belong to us so the world can accept that you actually sent me here. I have passed on to them the same authority that you gave me, so they can belong fully to us—that mutual possession and belonging—this is the complete union I want for them. It will make the world acknowledge that I was here on your business and that you love these representatives just like you loved me.

“Father, I want all of the ones you’ve given me to be able to see where I’m going and see how great I really am—the magnificence with which you endowed me even before Earth was created, because you loved me. Good and right Father, these humans don’t know you, but I know you, and they accept that I am your representative. I have demonstrated to them who you are, and I will keep on so that they can embody the love you have for me, and even embody me.”

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Wait, what are we talking about? John 16:16-33 (how I would say it)

Jesus went on to say, “In a little while, I’m going away, and then after a little while, I’ll come back.”

At yet another mention of going away, the followers mumbled to each other, “What does he mean when he says he’ll go away then come back, and ‘I’m going to my Father’? What’s ‘a little while’? Does anyone have a clue what he’s really trying to tell us?”

Jesus noted their confusion, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I mean by “in a little while, I’m going away, and then after a little while, I’ll come back’? Believe me when I tell you, that you will be the only ones crying over this. Everyone else is going to be relieved and celebrating. But then your grief will turn into joy. You know how when a woman is in labor she experiences increasing pain just before the baby is born, but then after the baby is born she forgets all about the pain because of how happy she is that she’s brought a baby into the world? That’s how it’s going to be for you. It’s your turn to experience pain, but when I see you again, then you’ll be happy—a sort of happiness that no one can take from you.

“And when that happens, you won’t have any more questions. The fact of the matter is the Father will give you anything you ask for as my representatives. Up until now, you haven’t asked for anything as my representatives. But you can ask, you will get what you need, and you’ll be completely content.

“You know I’ve been using a lot of analogies, but pretty soon I won’t need to speak with literary devices. I’ll be able to give you the plain facts about my Father. That’s the day you’ll become my representatives. But don’t think you have to go through me to get to the Father. No, the Father himself loves you because of how you have loved me and accepted that I am his representative. I came from where he is to the Earth, but now I’m leaving the Earth and going back to where he is.”

“Oh, okay, now we get it,” the followers answered. “Obviously, you know everything there is to know, and we are on a need-to-know basis. And that would make sense for someone who comes from God.”

“Do you really believe that?” Jesus replied. “Well, pretty soon you’re all going to desert me and scurry back to your own homes. But that’s OK. I’m not alone; my Father is with me.

“Listen, I’ve just tried to tell you all this so you won’t worry. Instead you can be at peace by remembering what I’ve said. The world is one problem after another, but don’t worry! I have risen above all that.”


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And it Gets Worse: John 15:18-16:15 (how I would say it)

 

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you were one of them, they would naturally love you, but you’re not. I’ve hand-picked you for a life outside this world and because of that fact, the world hates you. Remember how I told you that an apprentice isn’t greater than his boss? Well, if they mistreated me, they’re going to mistreat you too. If they had ever paid attention to my teachings, they would pay attention to yours too. But they won’t and it’s all because of me, because they have no idea who I really am—who I represent.

“I could have stayed away and they wouldn’t have known any better. But now that I’ve been here, there’s no excuse for their ignorance. Now that I’ve done things in their presence that were clearly supernatural, they are without an excuse for their disbelief, and so they hate me. Hate me, hate my father; and they have. But this is exactly what is supposed to happen; it fulfills the prophecy in their ancient texts that says, ‘They had no reason to hate me.’

“When the Spirit of truth comes, the one I’m going to send to you when I reach the Father (because the Spirit of truth has to come from the Father), he’ll continue to convince others about me. And you need to do this as well, since you’ve been with me from the start.

“I’m telling you all of this so that you’ll keep the faith, because they are going to do all kinds of things to you to get you to try to give up. You’ll be thrown out of the synagogue congregation, and worse. It’s going to get so bad that they’ll be convinced that if they kill one of you, they are actually doing God a favor. And it’s all because they’re ignorant of the Father and me. I’m telling you this so that when all this goes down, you’ll be prepared for it. I didn’t tell you before because I’ve been here with you from the start, but now I have to report back to the one who sent me.

[awkward silence. blink. blink.]

“Nobody’s concerned where I’m going anymore, are they? Now you’re overwhelmed with the news of what’s going to happen to you. But the fact is, it’s for your good that I’m going away. If I didn’t go, I wouldn’t be able to send the Helper to you. But I am going and I will send him. When he comes, he’s going to prove that the world was wrong about so many things: wrongdoing, justice and judgment. They thought I was in the wrong, but they’ll understand differently; they think my death is justice for that wrongdoing, but it’s actually just a way for me to return to the Father. And they thought I stood condemned and got what I deserved, but the one who really stands condemned is the ruler of this world.

“There’s so much more I could tell you, but you wouldn’t be able to handle it. But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will slowly reveal the whole truth to you. And don’t think he’s renegade, saying whatever he wants—no! He speaks only what he hears. He’s in my corner because everything he reveals to you comes straight from me. You see everything that belongs to the Father is mine too, which is how I can use the Spirit to send direct messages from me to you.”


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The Vine and the Branches: John 15:1-17 (how I would say it)

weird plant (some very fruity branches)

[Apparently Jesus had a bit more to say before they actually left the building.]

“I’m like the vine and my Father is the gardener. If there’s a branch on this vine that isn’t producing fruit, He cuts it off. Even the branches that do produce fruit He prunes so they will give even more fruit. You don’t need to worry about whether you’re a branch; I’ve already spoken to that. So now you just need to stay on the vine. You have to stay connected to the vine if you want to produce fruit. Likewise, you have to stay connected to me if you want your lives to be productive.

“I’m the vine, you’re the branches. Stay connected to me and I’ll stay connected to you and then you’ll be highly productive. If you disconnect, you won’t be able to produce anything. If you disconnect, you’ll wither; you’ll be garbage—fodder for the fire. If you stay connected and continue to follow my instructions, you can literally ask whatever you want and you’ll have it. Why? Because when you produce fruit, you demonstrate my Father’s greatness and prove you’re my followers.

“Just like the Father loves me, I love you. Now stay connected to that love. You do that by living the way I’ve instructed you to live, just like I have lived according to my Father’s instructions and therefore remain connected to his love. The reason I’m telling you all this is because I want you to know the joy I know—complete and utter joy. That’s why I insist that you love each other in the same way I have loved you. And there’s no greater expression of love for a partner than to give up your life for him.

“Note I’m not calling you students or apprentices anymore. Those terms don’t apply anymore because students and apprentices don’t know the inner workings of the teacher or boss. Instead, I’m calling you partners—if you will live according to my instructions. You’re partners because I have shared everything that I learned from my Father with you. You didn’t choose me; I chose you; and your assignment is to live a productive life. Bear fruit that will endure—that way whatever you ask as my representative the Father will grant it. But, you must love each other; that’s non-negotiable.”


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Here’s What’s Going to Happen: John 13:31-John 14-31 (how I would say it)

After Judas left, Jesus said, “Well, it’s time for me to do the job God sent me to do. And when it’s done, it will immediately launch me to universal acclaim.

“Guys, I can’t stay much longer. And just like I told the Jews, you’re going to look for me, but you won’t be able to go where I’m going.

“I haven’t told you this before, but you must love each other. Like I’ve loved you—love each other just like that. This is what will distinguish you as my followers—your love for each other.”

Simon Peter asked, “Boss, please tell us where you’re going.”

Jesus replied, “Doesn’t matter; you can’t go with me. But you will follow later.”

Peter asked, “Boss, why can’t I follow you now? I would follow you to my death!”

Jesus answered, “Would you really? The fact of the matter is that before you start to hear the rooster tomorrow morning, you’ll disown me three times!

“It’s okay though, don’t worry about it. You believe in God; then trust me. My Father’s house is huge. I wouldn’t joke about a thing like this. I’m going to get rooms ready for you, and if I’m going with that purpose, you can bet I’ll be back to take you home with me. You will know how to get to where I’m going.”

Thomas said, “Boss, we don’t know where you’re going, so how will we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I’m the way. I’m truth and I’m life. The only way to get to the Father is by way of me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and you’ve seen him.”

Philip said, “Boss, all we really want is to see the Father.”

Jesus answered: “After all the time I’ve spent with you, don’t you recognize me, Philip? If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. How can you say, ‘We want to see the Father’? Don’t you believe that to know me is to know the Father and vice versa? I’ve never said one word on my own authority. The Father lives in me, says what he wants to say, and does what he wants to do. If you can’t believe me when I say to know me is to know the Father, you should at least believe your eyes—all the supernatural evidence you’ve seen. And if you would just believe, you’ll be able to do everything I’ve done, and then some! I’m going to be with the Father and anything that you ask as my representatives that will cause the Father to be better known through me, I will see to it that it happens.

“If you love me, you’ll do what I’m telling you to do.

“I’m going to ask the Father to send you another helper to be with you—someone who will never leave. That helper is the Spirit of truth. Only you will be able to discern his existence and understand him; everyone else just won’t get it. But you’ll know he’s there because he’s going to live with you—in you, in fact.

“I wouldn’t think of just abandoning you like orphans. I’m coming back. Pretty soon, I’m going to be gone, for all intents and purposes. No one will be able to see me anymore, except you. You will see me again—alive. And that will be guarantee of your own life. When we meet again, you’re going to realize that we’re all in this together—the Father and me together, and you and me together. And this will be true for everyone who loves me, the people who live like I have instructed them to live. If you love me, my Father will love you, and I’ll love you too and you’ll know for certain that I’m alive.”

Then Judas (another Judas, not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Boss, why will we be able to see you but nobody else will?”

Jesus replied, “The people who really love me are those who will live like I’ve instructed you to live. And those are the ones My Father will love, and when we come back here to live, it’s those people we’ll be coming back for. Everyone else doesn’t love me and hence, doesn’t pay a bit of attention to my teachings. Remember, everything I’m telling you is straight from the Father, who I represent.

“So, I’ve told you all of this, but the helper, that Spirit that the Father is going to send later to represent me, will continue to teach you and will also remind you of everything I’m telling you now.

“I want to give you a special gift now, and that’s peace of mind. I possess it and I’m going to leave it with you. It’s nothing you can sit on a shelf or anything, but it’s better than any gift you could ever give each other. So don’t be afraid and set your minds and hearts at ease. I’ve just told you, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you really love me, you would be happy for me that I get to go to the Father—the Father is just plain awesome, tons more than I am. You know everything that’s going to happen in advance, so that when it does happen, it will just shore up your confidence in me. I can’t say too much more because the ruler of Earth is on his way. He’s no threat to me, but he has a job to do. He’s going to make it apparent to the whole world that, above all else, I love my Father and do exactly what he tells me to do.

“We gotta get going.”


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If I Can Wash Stinky Feet, So Can You: John 13:1-30 (how I would say it)

It was just before the Passover Festival began, and Jesus knew that it was time for him to leave Earth and go back to the Father. During his entire ministry he had loved his followers well and continued that love right up to the very end. He knew that he was in control of everything; he knew where he was from and where he was going.

Before we gathered for dinner that night, an evil angel had convinced Judas (Simon Iscariot’s son) to turn Jesus in for money.

We were in the middle of supper when Jesus got up from the table, took off his shirt and wrapped a towel around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and started washing his followers’ feet, drying them with the towel around his waist.

When he came to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Boss, do you really think I’m going to let you wash my feet?”

Jesus answered, “I know, seems crazy, but you’ll understand later on.”

“No way,” said Peter, “there’s no way you’re washing my feet.”

Jesus answered, “If I don’t wash your feet, you and I are finished.”

Simon Peter replied, “Well, Boss, if it’s like that, don’t stop with my feet, wash my hands and head too!”

Jesus answered, “I assume you’ve bathed already today, haven’t you? Just the feet will be fine—that’s enough to clean you up. But not for everyone.” You see, Jesus knew which of his followers was going to turn on him, and that’s what he was referring to when he said not everyone was clean.

After he washed their feet, he dressed again and sat back down in his place. “Do you understand what I just did?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Rabbi’ and ‘Boss,’ and rightly so, because I am a teacher and a leader. And just like your Teacher and Boss washed your feet, you should also wash each other’s feet. I did this to set an example—I want you to do the things I’ve done—even the most humble of things like washing stinky feet. Why? Because no employee is above his boss, and no messenger is better than the one who sent the message. I’ve taught you a lot, and if you live according the example I’ve set for you, your entire life is going to be awesome. That is, if I’ve chosen you. I’m not actually referring to all of you, because the ancient text that says, ‘I even dined with the one who turned on me,’ has to be fulfilled. I’m telling you all of this before it happens, so that when it does happen, it will shore up your confidence in me. Listen, you’ve got to believe me. If you accept me, you accept the one who sent me. Likewise, whoever accepts my representatives will also be accepting me.”

After he said this, he got visibly upset and finally admitted, “The truth is, one of you is going to betray me.”

We all looked around at each other, wondering who it could be. Simon Peter called me to the side and said, “You’re one of his favorites, ask him who he’s talking about.”

So I edged up to Jesus on his recliner and said, “Boss, who is it?”

Jesus answered, “I’m going to dip this bread in the dish and hand it to the one who’s going to turn on me.” He took a piece of bread, dipped it and handed it to Judas Iscariot. At that very moment Judas took the bread, the evil angel Satan possessed him.

Jesus told him, “Get going; do what you’re going to do.”

We had no idea why Jesus said this to him, but we thought it might have something to do with shopping for things we needed for our festival celebration, or maybe he was supposed to give something to some poor person. But just as soon as Judas took the bread, he left. It was already dark out.


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Anyone Else? Anyone? John 12:37-50 (how I would say it)

The Son is about to set.

The Son is about to set.

Jesus did so many clearly supernatural things right before their eyes, but some people still wouldn’t believe he could possibly be something other than a man. It’s just like the ancient prophesy of Isaiah said, “Boss, will anyone believe us? Will your strength and power be understood by anyone?”

But really, they couldn’t believe, because, as Isaiah also prophesied, “He has blinded them and made them jaded so they won’t be able to see what’s right before their eyes or understand with their hearts what’s so painfully obvious, or veer off their self-destructive trajectory to let me make them wholly healthy.” Isaiah had a visionary glimpse of Jesus’ power and divinity, and that’s why he wrote about him all those years ago.

On the other hand, there were others, even among the Jewish religious leadership, who did believe Jesus, but they just wouldn’t openly acknowledge it for fear of being excommunicated from the synagogue. They cared more about what people thought of them than about what God might be thinking of them.

In a final appeal, Jesus cried out: “If you believe me, you believe the one I represent. You see me; you see the one who sent me. My mission was to enlighten anyone who might believe in me, so you won’t be in the dark anymore. But if you’ve been listening all this time and you still aren’t on board, well… I’m not here to judge you. I didn’t come for that; I came to save the world. Someone else is going to judge those of you who aren’t convinced by what I’ve done and what I’ve said. In fact, my very words will be the evidence used to judge and condemn you on the last day of time, because I’ve only been saying what I was sent here to say—every word of it was from the Father. The orders He gave me mean life for you—life for all eternity. Everything I have said is exactly what the Father told me to say.”