As of today, we have officially lived in Bolivia for two months, and it has been a very full two months! We have loved getting to know our new co-workers, new city, and a new language!
One of the things filling my days is a discipleship group with twelfth grade girls. We meet every Monday to chat about life, read, and pray together. These girls are so fun and insightful, and I hesitate to even say that I am a group “leader” since I feel like I am learning more than leading! We have been reading through the book of John together, and I have been really blessed by the Bible study. I’m a bit ashamed to say, it has been awhile since I have read through John fully and in context rather than simply pulling certain verses or stories out of it. It has been a very rewarding study, and I have learned so many new things about the person of Jesus, and the gospel message has been revealed to me in a powerful and new way. I mean how can you not read about things like the adulteress being told that she is not condemned but loved and saved from her life of sin (John 8), or the blind man being healed “so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9), or a dead man being told to “come out!” of the grave (John 11) and not be overcome with awe?!
One passage recently struck me, and I would like to share it with all of you. John 12 is the chapter commonly remembered because it depicts Palm Sunday. Toward the end of the chapter, Jesus predicts His own death and attempts to explain the significance of it to the disciples. A few verses stood out to me in a way that they never have before.
In John 12:31-32, Jesus says, “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” In verse 33, John clarifies Jesus’ words by saying, “He said this to show the kind of death He was going to die.”
This passage is INCREDIBLE. Jesus, talking about His impending death, claims that it will accomplish three very important things.
First, it will accomplish judgment on this world. God is a just God, and He must have justice for sin in this world. Rather than unleashing His wrath on the sinful people of the world, He accomplishes justice through the death of Jesus on the cross, who took our sin – mine, yours, everyone’s – on Himself and sacrificed Himself to achieve this justice. He took the judgment for us! WOW!
Second, it will accomplish victory over the “prince of this world,” meaning Satan. When Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for us and rose from the dead, He was victorious over sin and death! Satan’s power over us was defeated right then! He was driven out! This victory happened 2016 years ago and continues today! As Christians, we need to live in that victory and claim it over the sin that Satan, the accuser and father of lies, still tries to throw in our face and lay in our path. Jesus is the victor!
Third, it will accomplish bringing people into relationship with Jesus. Jesus says that He will “draw all people to Himself.” His death and resurrection serve as the ultimate proofs that what He claimed about Himself is true – He is the Son of God, the way, the truth, and the life. And this God wants to draw you, me, all people to Himself, to live in relationship with Him, in this world and into eternity. How amazing is that?!
When Jesus was “lifted up from the earth” – lifted up on the cross – He accomplished justice, victory, and relationship with us. What other “god” do you know of that would sacrifice Himself to accomplish justice and remove divine judgment from you? What other “god” do you know that could defeat death? What other “god” do you know that wants to be in an intimate relationship with you, regardless of your faults? I don’t know of any others; only Jesus Christ.
The book of John only has 21 chapters. If you read a chapter per day, as we have been doing in discipleship group, I bet you will be just as encouraged and revived by the pure gospel message of Jesus’ love and power as I have been. I encourage you to revisit it, even if you’ve read it before!
Prayer Requests and Updates:
- Spiritual Emphasis Week last week was a success! The team from Texas made it here, and back home again, safely. We are so thankful for the way that they encouraged us staff members and invested in our students. Please pray that seeds that were planted in the hearts of our kids by the group would flourish and grow!
- Praise! – This weekend we hosted Community Festival for our families and the families of the Mallasilla community. We were blessed by good weather and all activities coming together smoothly.
- Please pray for the continued health of our teachers (and students). We have had several very sick teachers, and that can be very discouraging and make life difficult. Pray for healing and renewed energy!
- Pray for my discipleship group – myself, two other leaders, and the twelfth grade girls – that we would be able to encourage, comfort, keep each other accountable, and build each other up.
- Pray for the high school boys discipleship group that Andrew is helping to lead as well. His group is called VIP, which stands for video games, inquiry, and pizza! 🙂