2770.) John 9

November 29, 2019

“The Man Born Blind” by Henri Lindegaard, 2003.

John 9   (NRSV)

A Man Born Blind Receives Sight

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes,

Not many people would appreciate having mud made with spit rubbed in their eyes! Some would look at how Jesus did this miracle and object, saying that it was offensive, inadequate, or even harmful to rub mud made with spit in a man’s eyes.

In the same way, some feel that the gospel is offensive. It is true that it offends man’s pride and human wisdom, but it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21)

In the same way, some feel that the gospel is inadequate. But have all the psychiatric and political and social programs in the world done more good than the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ?

In the same way, some feel that the gospel is harmful, that the free offer of grace in Jesus will cause people to sin that grace may abound. But the gospel changes our life for the good and the pure, not unto wickedness.

–David Guzik

7saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.

Psalm 146:8 (NIV)

The LORD sets prisoners free,
  the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
   the LORD loves the righteous.

8The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?”

9Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.”

10But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?”

11He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.”

12They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

For John the miracles are always a sign of the glory and the power of God. The writers of the other gospels had a different point of view; and regarded them as a demonstration of the compassion of Jesus. When Jesus looked on the hungry crowd he had compassion on them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd (Mark 6:34). When the leper came with his desperate request for cleansing Jesus was moved with compassion (Mark 1:41). It is often urged that in this the Fourth Gospel is quite different from the others. Surely there is no real contradiction here. It is simply two ways of looking at the same thing. At its heart is the supreme truth that the glory of God lies in his compassion, and that he never so fully reveals his glory as when he reveals his pity.

–William Barclay

The Pharisees Investigate the Healing

“The Blind Man Tells his Story to the Jews” by James Tissot, 1898.

13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.”

16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.”

They ignore the wonderful healing and focus on the day that it happened. How silly we are when we major in the minors!

But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided.

17So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”

He said, “He is a prophet.”

18The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”

I am almost impressed by how thoroughly they investigate this situation, looking for holes in the story! How diligent we are when we seek to believe what we want to believe, against all evidence otherwise!

20His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God!

Shakespeare gave us a similar idea but with different phrasing:

“And I can teach thee, coz, to shame the devil
By telling truth: tell truth and shame the devil.”

from Henry IV, Part One, Act 3, 1597

We know that this man is a sinner.”

25He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

26They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

27He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen.

Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”

28Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.”

30The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

34They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.

My mother used to say, “There is none so blind as him who will not see.” How arrogant we are when we think we alone know the truth!

Spiritual Blindness

35Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

36He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.”

37Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.”

Asking the question is more than half way to having the answer. How privileged we are when Jesus reveals himself to us!

38He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.

39Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?”

41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus,
To reach out and touch Him
And say that we love Him.

Open our ears Lord
And help us to listen,
Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus.

_________________________

Music:

I once was blind, but now I see.  “Amazing Grace” is sung  HERE  by Nana Mouskouri.  This woman with the beautiful voice was born in Greece in 1934.  She has recorded music in fifteen languages over five decades and has sold more than 400 million discs.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)  Verse 3 could be rephrased to read:  You were born so that God’s works might be revealed in you. Look a moment at your own life. Thank God for where you see his works in you and through you. Ask him to show you more clearly what else he would like to do in your life. What else would you like to do for the Lord? Pray bold prayers to an infinitely loving, infinitely able God!

2)   The hymn “Amazing Grace” was written in 1779 by slave-trader-turned-clergyman John Newton. It is estimated that it is performed about 10 million times annually! What is it about that hymn which makes it so popular, do you think?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Lindegaard.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/lindegaard-l-aveugle-de-naissance1.jpg
Jesus puts mud in the blind man’s eyes.   https://tillchrist.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/lazfam-ru.jpg
Tissot.    http://truthbook.com/images/gallery/James_Tissot_Blind_Man_Tells_His_Story_to_the_Jews_525.jpg
I went and washed.    http://carolinasnalc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/John-9_11.jpg
healed man worships Jesus.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/john-9-blind-man.jpg

2769.) Psalm 116

November 28, 2019

Psalm 116   (NIV)

Paying the Vow of Gratitude

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

“My resolve is to trust God exclusively and worship him explicitly.”

–Derek Kidner (British OT scholar, 1913-2008)

The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“Lord, save me!”

The Lord does not stand at a distance when his people suffer. His salvation is close at hand.

The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.

“Not only is God gracious, he is also gracious to the little people, to the plain, to commoners, to the everyday person on the bus or in the shop—to people like the psalmist. That is one of the great glories of our God. When Jesus called his disciples, he called fishermen and tax collectors. When the angels announced the birth of Jesus, they appeared to shepherds.”

–James Montgomery Boice (author and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia for more than 30 years, 1938-2000)

Return to your rest, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.

For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.

Psalm 27:13-14  (NIV)

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

10 I trusted in the Lord when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said,
“Everyone is a liar.”

12 What shall I return to the Lord
for all his goodness to me?

13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.”

– Aesop

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful servants.

“They shall not die prematurely; they shall be immortal till their work is done; and when their time shall come to die, then their deaths shall be precious. The Lord watches over their dying beds, smooths their pillows, sustains their hearts, and receives their souls.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon (English author and the “Prince of Preachers” from London, 1834-1892)

16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.

17I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the Lord.

P116 loosed

 


from Whispers of His Power,

by Amy Carmichael

(missionary to India who served 55 years without a furlough, 1867-1951)

Psalm 116:15-17  —  Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. O Lord, truly I am Thy servant . . . Thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving.

Sometimes even Christians write of death in a sad way. “We regret to announce,” they say. The Salvation Army people are right in the way they put it:  “Promoted to Glory.”

Just after “Precious in the sight of the Lord” comes “Thou hast loosed my bonds.” Think what a loosening that loosening is! No wonder the next words are, “I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving.”

But those words first refer to the loosening of all bonds of sin. If anyone is conscious of any such bond, ask for it to be loosened now. Live as God’s loosed ones.

18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord—
in your midst, Jerusalem.

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.”

– Henry Ward Beecher

Praise the Lord.

“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.”

–H.A. Ironside

Every Christian should read this Psalm with the atonement of Jesus in mind. Christians cannot help but praise God for such a wonderful gift—the gift of eternal life through His Son Jesus. Will you look upon the Psalmist and emulate His cry: “I love you LORD”? Are you willing to commit yourself to Him without reservations?

–freedominchrist.net

_________________________

Music:

Paying the vow of gratitude — “How can I say thanks / For the things You have done for me?”  HERE  is “My Tribute,” written by Andrae Crouch and sung here by the Norwegian soprano Sissel Kyrkjebo.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Images courtesy of:
I love the Lord.   http://www.freedominchrist.net/BIBLICAL%20STUDIES/Old%20Testament/Psalms/sermons–psalms–psalm%20116–i%20love%20the%20lord-htlm.htm
verse 6, from Jeanette’s Ozpix.   https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2018/11/30/2500-psalm-116/17820504665_48a7559dc1_n/
from the hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”   https://smoodock45.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/what-does-jesus-mean-by-mammon/
verse 15.   http://jacobcherians.blogspot.com/2013/11/psalm-116.html
loosed chain.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/chains2.jpg

2768.) John 8:31-59

November 27, 2019

John 8:31-59   (NRSV)

True Disciples

31Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

TRUTH SETS YOU FREE

God’s truth never restricts you; it always sets you free! Are you discouraged? Is there a sense of bondage in a particular area in your life? A lack of victory over a certain sin? A harmful addiction? It is possible that you do not yet understand a truth about God that can release you.

If you feel powerless to meet the challenges before you, take encouragement from the promise of Philippians 4:13 — I can do all things though Christ who strengthens me. If you are defeated by circumstance, hold on to the truth of Romans 8:28 that God can work your most difficult situation into His good. If you are enslaved to a particular sin, work the truth of 1 John 1:9 into your life, which promises that if you confess your sin, God is faithful to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. All of these truths await the Holy Spirit’s implementation into your life.

It is one thing to know about the truth. It is yet another thing to experience the truth of God being worked out in your life. God’s truth will have no effect upon you unless you accept it and believe it. Perhaps you have already read and heard accounts of God working mightily in the lives of others. But have you allowed God to implement those truths into your life? What truth about God would you like to be experiencing in your life? Ask Him to implement that truth into your life today.

33They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”

What?! They are forgetting the 400 years of slavery in Egypt, and the 70 years of exile to Babylon, and even the present occupation of their land by the Romans! By denying their enslavement, whether political or spiritual, they are denying their need for Jesus and the true freedom he can give them. And isn’t it amazing how easily we will believe a lie if it suits us.

34Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

Discipleship means constantly remaining in the word of Jesus and that involves four things.

(a) It involves constant listening to the word of Jesus. 

(b) It involves constant learning from Jesus. All his life a Christian should be learning more and more about Jesus. 

(c) It involves constant penetrating into the truth which the words of Jesus bear, to study and think about what he said until more and more of its meaning becomes ours.

(d) It involves constant obeying of the word of Jesus. We study it not simply for academic satisfaction or for intellectual appreciation, but in order to find out what God wishes us to do. 

(iii) Discipleship issues in knowledge of the truth. “You will know the truth,” said Jesus. What is that truth? There are many possible answers to that question but the most comprehensive way to put it is that the truth which Jesus brings shows us the real values of life. 

(iv) Discipleship results in freedom. “The truth will make you free.” “In his service is perfect freedom.” Discipleship breaks the chains which bind us to our sins (as Jesus says, we are slaves to sin) and enables us to be the persons we know we ought to be.

–William Barclay

_________________________

Music:

Praise God!  “I am Free!”  Click  HERE  and join in the celebration!

_________________________

37I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. 38I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.”

Jesus and Abraham

39They answered him, “Abraham is our father.”

Genesis 15:5-6 (NIV)

He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, 40but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41You are indeed doing what your father does.”

They said to him, “We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.”

42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. 43Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. 44You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John8 devil-liar

I love how the NIV puts it:  When he lies, he speaks his native language  . . .

45But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.

46Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.”

48The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

By calling Jesus a Samaritan, they are claiming he is not a true Jew, not a true son of Abraham. By saying Jesus has a demon, they are connecting Jesus with the devil instead of with God.

49Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and he is the judge. 51Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.”

52The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ 53Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?”

54Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, ‘He is our God,’ 55though you do not know him. But I know him; if I would say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. 56Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.”

57Then the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”

58Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.

This is the third time in this chapter Jesus uses the phrase I Am (John 8:24, 8:28), and here in John 8:58.

I Am: The ancient Greek phrase is ego emi, which is the same term used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament in Jesus’ day to describe the Voice from the burning bush.

In using the phrase I Am (John 8:24, 8:58, 13:19) Jesus used a clear divine title belonging to Yahweh alone (Exodus 3:13-14, Deuteronomy 32:39, Isaiah 43:10) and was interpreted as such by Jesus’ listeners (John 8:58-59).

–David Guzik

59So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   Jesus says anyone who commits a sin is “a slave to sin.” Some of my readers may remember saying this confession in church: “We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.” Have there been times in your life when you have felt the weight of that bondage? Thank God for the gloriousness of his forgiveness!

2)   Galatians 3:26-29 says:  So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,  for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. So through Christ, Abraham is your father, too! What does this mean? What fullness of blessing does this bring?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
dove.    https://missionventureministries.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/john-8-vs-32.jpg
Continue in My Word.   https://i.pinimg.com/736x/29/0c/d2/290cd2f6983d96d2ee98fe0562b52c21–john–king-of-kings.jpg
Abraham and the stars.   http://www.preceptaustin.org/sites/www.preceptaustin.org/files/images/abramstars.jpg
the devil is a liar.   https://brightstar2911.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/wpid-537695_258012124326719_764149381_n.jpg
I AM.   http://www.mccahon.co.nz/sites/all/files/images/m000828_0.jpg

2767.) John 8:12-30

November 26, 2019

John 8:12-30   (NRSV)

The scene of this argument with the Jewish authorities was in the Temple treasury, which was in the Court of the Women. The first Temple court was the Court of the Gentiles; the second was the Court of the Women. It was so called because women might not pass beyond it unless they were actually about to offer sacrifice on the altar which was in the Court of the Priests. Round the Court of the Women there was a colonnade or porch; and, in that porch, set against the wall, there were thirteen treasure chests into which people dropped their offerings. These were called The Trumpets because they were shaped like trumpets, narrow at the top and swelling out towards the foot.

The thirteen treasure chests all had their allotted offering. Into the first two were dropped the half shekels which every Jew had to pay towards the upkeep of the Temple. Into the third and fourth were dropped sums which would purchase the two pigeons which a woman had to offer for her purification after the birth of a child (Leviticus 12:8). Into the fifth were put contributions towards the cost of the wood which was needed to keep the altar fire alight. Into the sixth were dropped contributions towards the cost of the incense which was used at the Temple services. Into the seventh went contributions towards the upkeep of the golden vessels which were used at these services. Sometimes a man or a family set apart a certain sum to make some trespass or thank-offering; into the remaining six trumpets people dropped any money which remained after such an offering had been made, or anything extra which they wished to offer.

Clearly the Temple treasury would be a busy place, with a constant flow of worshippers coming and going. There would be no better place to collect an audience of devout people and to teach them than the Temple treasury.

–William Barclay

12Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”


Since Jesus is the Word (John 1:1), it follows that he is also the light.

13Then the Pharisees said to him, “You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.”

14Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15You judge by human standards; I judge no one. 16Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. 18I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf.”

Jesus can testify about Himself because He, not they, has view of eternity: I know where I came from and where I am going.

Jesus can testify about Himself because He, not they, judges righteously: You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.

Jesus can testify about Himself because His testimony is fully supported by God the Father: My judgment is true; for I am not alone.

–David Guzik

19Then they said to him, “Where is your Father?”

Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

21Again he said to them, “I am going away, and you will search for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.”

22Then the Jews said, “Is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?”

23He said to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 24I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.”

The word “he” is added by translators so the sentence will make sense in English. Jesus calls them to “believe that I am,” which the Jews would hear as a claim to deity, since that is the name God called himself when he spoke to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14).

25They said to him, “Who are you?”

This question of the Pharisees comes from a combination of willful confusion and contempt. Though Jesus has told them over and over who He is, they will continue to ask until they get an answer they can use to condemn Him.

Jesus said to them, “Why do I speak to you at all? 26I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.”

27They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. 28So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me.

When Jesus says he will be “lifted up,” he means “lifted up” off the ground on a cross. When Jesus is crucified, they will see the perfect obedience of the Son to the Father. And that obedience will lead to another elevation:

Philippians 2:5-11   (NIV)

 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

 Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
 And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

29And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” 30As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a Charles Wesley hymn — “Christ, whose glory fills the skies,” sung by the Washington Choral Arts Society. What a good prayer to sing every morning!

Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ, the true and only Light,
Sun of righteousness, arise,
triumph o’er the shade of night;
Day-spring from on high, be near;
Day-star, in my heart appear.

Dark and cheerless is the morn
unaccompanied by Thee;
joyless is the day’s return,
till Thy mercy’s beams I see,
till they inward light impart,
glad my eyes, and warm my heart.

Visit then this soul of mine,
pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
fill me, radiancy divine,
scatter all my unbelief;
more and more Thyself display,
shining to the perfect day.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   If an unbeliever asked you, “Who is Jesus?” — how would you answer? Would today’s passage help you explain more clearly who Christ is? How?

2)   Jesus and his opponents argue by often asking questions. Consider this statement about Judaism:

It is a faith based on asking questions, sometimes deep and difficult ones that seem to shake the very foundations of faith itself. “Shall the Judge of all the earth not do justice?” asked Abraham. “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people?” asked Moses. “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?” asked Jeremiah. The book of Job is largely constructed out of questions, and God’s answer consists of four chapters of yet deeper questions: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? … Can you catch Leviathan with a hook? … Will it make an agreement with you and let you take it as your slave for life?”

If you and Jesus were to have a discussion today, what questions would you want to ask him?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
 I AM the light.    http://www.armenhareyan.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/what-did-Jesus-mean-by-I-am-the-light-of-the-world.jpg
Psalm 119:105.   https://i.pinimg.com/736x/39/48/24/394824b02466e67ed71c02d36f7a134b–jesus-bible-jesus-christ.jpg
Be still and know that I AM.    https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2018/01/23/2277-john-812-30/john8-i-am/
Jesus on the cross.    http://cocorioko.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/jesus-on-the-cross-678×381.jpg

2766.) John 8:1-11

November 25, 2019

John8 first stone

John 8:1-11   (NRSV)

Then each of them went home, while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them.

3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.

They ignore the obvious question:  Where is the man who is equally culpable in this act of adultery?

Legally speaking, the standard of evidence was very high for this crime. There had to be two witnesses and they had to agree perfectly. They had to see the sexual act take place; it wasn’t enough to see the pair leaving the same room together or even lying on the same bed together. “Under these conditions the obtaining of evidence in adultery would be almost impossible were the situation not a setup.”

–James Montgomery Boice

5Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him.

In the eyes of the Jewish law adultery was a serious crime. Leviticus 20:10 lays it down:  “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.”  So they are correct. The woman was liable to death by stoning.

The dilemma into which they sought to put Jesus was this. If he said that the woman ought to be stoned to death, two things followed. First, he would lose the name he had gained for love and for mercy and never again would be called the friend of sinners. Second, he would come into collision with the Roman law, for the Jews had no power to pass or carry out the death sentence on anyone. If he said that the woman should be pardoned, it could immediately be said that he was teaching men to break the law of Moses, and that he was condoning and even encouraging people to commit adultery. That was the trap in which the scribes and Pharisees sought to entrap Jesus.

–William Barclay

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground.

9When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

St. Augustine says, “There remained a great misery, and a great compassion.”

10Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

It is a challenge for each of us, every day — Go, and sin no more.

Romans 8:1 (King James Version)

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

_________________________

Music:

Oh, the kindness of Jesus Christ!  HERE  is “Forgiving Eyes” by Michael Card. The video clips are from a 1999 television film called Jesus.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   What do you think Jesus may have written on the ground? Some scholars have suggested that he may have been writing down the sins of the very men who were accusing the woman.

2)   Jesus’ words in 8:7 — Let he who is without sin cast the first stone — are commonly used today. Have you used this phrase? Has anyone ever said these words to you? What do these words say to your heart, your life?

3.  Contrast the attitude of the scribes and Pharisees with the attitude of Jesus. What are three adjectives you might use to describe each side?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
They kept demanding an answer.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/75401-john8-7.jpg
Jesus writing.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/jesussand.jpg
No condemnation.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/no-condemnation-101blog.jpg

2765.) John 7:31-53

November 22, 2019

John7 mountain stream

John 7:31-53   (NRSV)

In this chapter there is a whole set of verdicts about Jesus (as from William Barclay).

31Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, ‘When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?’

32The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering such things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent temple police to arrest him. 33Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”

35The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36What does he mean by saying, ‘You will search for me and you will not find me’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”

37On the last day of the festival, the great day,

At the Feast of Tabernacles, water was poured out daily at the altar to remind everyone of the water God miraculously provided for a thirsty Israel in the wilderness.

–David Guzik

while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”

Shades of the conversation with the woman at the well. To her Jesus had said,  “…. Whoever drinks of the water I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” But what a different contest! With her, he was having a private conversation in Samaria. Here Jesus is speaking at the crowded temple during a very busy festival. What is this “living water” Jesus is talking about? The next verse is John’s explanation — the Holy Spirit!

39Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

40When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.”

There is the verdict that he was a prophet (John 7:40). That is true. The prophet is the forth-teller of the will of God, the man who has lived so close to God that he knows his mind and purposes. That is true of Jesus; but there is this difference. The prophet says: “Thus saith the Lord.” His authority is borrowed and delegated. His message is not his own. Jesus says: “I say unto you.” He has the right to speak, not with a delegated authority, but with his own.

41Others said, “This is the Messiah.”

But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? 42Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” 43So there was a division in the crowd because of him.

Where is the fact checker?! They could have done just a bit of research — maybe ask him where he was born . . .

44Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

45Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest him?”

46The police answered, “Never has anyone spoken like this!”

There is the verdict that he had a most dynamic personality (John 7:46). The verdict of the officers who were sent to arrest him and came back empty-handed was that never had any man spoken like this.  When we think of how this Galilaean carpenter faced the highest in the land and dominated them until it was they who were on trial and not he, we are bound to admit that he was at least one of the supreme personalities in history. The picture of a gentle, anaemic Jesus will not do.

47Then the Pharisees replied, “Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? 48Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.”

They are so determined not to believe! They are so arrogant in their judgment of those who do!

50Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, 51“Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?”

Nicodemus speaks up to defend Jesus (John 7:50). In that council of the Jewish authorities his was the lone voice raised in defense. There lies the duty of every one of us. Ian Maclaren, a minister of the Free Church of Scotland, used to tell students when they preached: “Speak a good word for Jesus Christ.” We live today in a world which is hostile to Christianity in many ways and in many places, but the strange thing is that the world was never more ready to talk about Christ and to discuss religion. We live in a generation when every one of us can earn the royal title, “Defender of the Faith.” It is the privilege that God has given us that we can all be advocates and defenders of Christ in face of the criticism –and sometimes the mockery–of men.

–William Barclay

52They replied, “Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.” 53Then each of them went home.

Galileans were objects of Judean scorn, and the butt of Judean jokes. To the Jewish leaders from Judea, nothing good could come from Galilee. But in fact, a prophet had risen from Galilee. Jonah, who was a type of Jesus, came from Gath Hepher, which was three miles north of Nazareth in Lower Galilee (2 Kings 14:25).

–David Guzik

_________________________

Music:

Isaiah 55:1 —

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
   come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
   come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
   without money and without cost.

 John 4:13-14 —

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

HERE  is “Come to the water”  sung by the Capital University Chapel Choir.

Oh let all who thirst
Let them come to the water
And let all who have nothing
Let them come to the Lord
Without money without price
Why should you pay the price
Except for the Lord?

And let all who seek
Let them come to the water
And let all who have nothing
Let them come to the Lord
Without money without strife
Why should you spend your life
Except for the Lord?

And let all who toil
Let them come to the water
And let all who are weary
Let them come to the Lord
All who labor without rest
How can your soul find rest
Except for the Lord?

And let all the poor
Let them come to the water
Bring the ones who are laden
Bring them all to the Lord
Bring the children without might
Easy the load and light
Come to the Lord

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   Verse 39 says that Jesus used the term “living water” to refer to the Holy Spirit. What additional understanding of the Holy Spirit does that phrase give you?

2)   Our friend Nicodemus shows up in verse 50. Judging from what he says there, what impact do you think his conversation with Jesus in chapter 3 has had on him?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
mountain stream.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/09fe6-mountains2010093verse.jpg
verse 38 script.   https://i0.wp.com/margmowczko.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Living-Water-Tabernacles.jpg?resize=500%2C454
Come to the water.   http://hbumc2.visitmysite.net/_media/uploads/files/bulletins/LHBulletin123117.pdf

2764.) John 7:1-31

November 21, 2019

John 7:1-31   (NRSV)

The Unbelief of Jesus’ Brothers

In this chapter there is a whole set of verdicts about Jesus (as from William Barclay).

After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. 2Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near.

The festival of Booths, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, was a joyful, week-long celebration, when families camped out in “booths” made of branches and leaves to remember God’s faithfulness to Israel during the wilderness wanderings. I remember the year I lived in Jerusalem, little shacks of branches appeared on many of the apartment balconies!

3So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; 4for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5(For not even his brothers believed in him.)

His brothers are half-amused, half-contemptuous, teasing him, egging him on.

–William Barclay

6Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. 8Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.” 9After saying this, he remained in Galilee.

Jesus at the Festival of Booths

John7 booths

10But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret. 11The Jews were looking for him at the festival and saying, “Where is he?” 12And there was considerable complaining about him among the crowds. While some were saying, “He is a good man,”

There is the verdict that he was a good man (John 7:12). That verdict is true, but it is not the whole truth. It was Napoleon who made the famous remark: “I know men, and Jesus Christ is more than a man.” Jesus was indeed truly man; but in him was the mind of God.

others were saying, “No, he is deceiving the crowd.”

There is the verdict that he was a seducer. The Jewish authorities saw in him one who was leading men away from true religion. He was accused of every crime against religion in the calendar–of being a Sabbath-breaker, of being a drunkard and a glutton, of having the most disreputable friends, of destroying orthodox religion. 

13Yet no one would speak openly about him for fear of the Jews.

14About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. 15The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?”

16Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. 17Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. 18Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

TRUTH AS A PERSON

Jesus talked a lot about truth. Note how often the word occurs in the gospel of John. When he spoke about truth, Jesus spoke in personal terms. You will remember that he refused, much to the dismay of many people, particularly the philosophers, to speak of truth in abstraction, as though it existed in itself. He wanted to relate truth to himself and to his Father in an existential way. He even went beyond that; ultimately he identified truth completely with himself and his Father.

The temple authorities, troubled by Jesus and wanting to know the truthfulness of his message, challenged him. He responded, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God” (John 7:17).

Jesus thus affirmed the truthfulness of his own teaching in terms of a relationship to his Father. Sometimes we would like to translate that answer into, “Anyone who does the truth will certainly know it.” But that is not the way Jesus spoke or thought. We should never be fooled. There was no truth for Jesus apart from the Father. Truth was simply the Father’s will. Thus personal categories are appropriate when we speak of truth because the ultimate categories are all personal. Ultimately, Jesus is the truth.

If we develop a love affair with the truth and pursue it far enough, we will find the truth. When we find it, we will have found Jesus and that he is the one we need. 

19“Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?” 20The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?”

There is the verdict that he was a deluded madman (John 7:20). It is true that either Jesus is the only completely sane person in the world or he was mad. He chose a Cross when he might have had power. He was the Suffering Servant when he might have been the conquering king. He washed the feet of his disciples when he might have had men kneeling at his own feet. He came to serve when he could have subjected the world to servitude.

21Jesus answered them, “I performed one work, and all of you are astonished.

See chapter 5, verses 2 through 18.

22Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. 23If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath?

If it is permitted (even commanded) to do a negative work (such as cutting away the flesh in circumcision) on the Sabbath, why not a positive work (healing a man) that brings wholeness?

24Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Is This the Christ?

25Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? 26And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah?

There is the verdict that he was a man of courage (John 7:26). No one could ever doubt his sheer courage. He had the moral courage to defy convention and be different. He had the physical courage that could bear the most terrible pain. He had the courage to go on when his family abandoned him, and his friends forsook him, and one of his own circle betrayed him. Here we see him courageously entering Jerusalem when to enter it was to enter the lions’ den. He “feared God so much that he never feared the face of any man.”

27Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”

28Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from.

I wonder what tone of voice Jesus used when he said this sentence. Was he being a bit sarcastic — “Yeah, right, you think you know me and where I come from, but in reality, it would blow your mind!” Or was he being instructive — “Let’s start with what you know and move on so I can teach you what you don’t know.” Either way, he was, as he always is, speaking the truth.

I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. 29I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”

30Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, “When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?”

John7 who-is-he

There is the verdict that he was the Christ, the Anointed One of God. Nothing less will do. It. is the plain fact that Jesus does not fit into any of the available human categories; only the category of the divine will do.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Give Me Faith”  from Elevation Worship.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   Had I lived in Jesus’ time, would I have believed in him? What would have convinced me, or caused me to doubt? Lord, help me to believe with all my heart and mind and soul now!

2)   Jesus speaks often about what is true. Later in John he will declare, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” What does it mean to you that Jesus is truth? How does that fact impact how you think and act?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Give me faith.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/givemefaith1.jpg
family celebrating the festival of booths.   https://jscotthusted.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/sukkot20painting.jpg
man on his way to festival of Booths.    https://i1.wp.com/jamestabor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Sukkoth-2.jpg?fit=484%2C400&ssl=1
Jesus is the truth.   https://quotesthoughtsrandom.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/jesus-truth.jpg
Who is He?    https://www.churchofthehighlands.com/images/content/series/_series_hero/who-is-he.jpg