2275.) John 7:31-53

January 19, 2018

John7 mountain stream

John 7:31-53   (NRSV)

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.”

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!”

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?”

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.

_________________________

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://www.livinggraceomaha.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/ComeToTheWater-Web.jpg
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2274.) John 7:1-31

January 18, 2018

John 7:1-31   (NRSV)

The Unbelief of Jesus’ Brothers

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.)

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

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.”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Give Me Faith”  from Elevation Worship.

_________________________

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? 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

_________________________

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

2273.) John 6:25-71

January 17, 2018

John 6:25-71   (NRSV)

The Bread from Heaven

25When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”

26Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”

28Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?”

29Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

Jesus gives them no long list of things to do. He says simply, “Faith.”

Acts 16:29-31 (NIV)

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

30So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Remember,  they were still thinking about the feeding of the crowd so recently. It seems they did not consider Jesus multiplying the bread and loaves as enough of a miracle. Perhaps because Jesus started with something, and not nothing?

32Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

Jesus reminded them that it was not Moses who had given them the manna; it was God. Also he told them that the manna was not really the bread of God; it was only the symbol of the bread of God. The bread of God was he who came down from heaven and gave men not simply satisfaction from physical hunger, but life. Jesus was claiming that the only real satisfaction was in him.

–William Barclay

34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35Jesus said to them, “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE.

Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

The hungry heart is satisfied when we know Christ and through him know God.

36But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; 38for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

John 4:34 — Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.

John 6:38 — For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.

The words are for all of us. My meat, my very food, the thing I cannot do without, is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work — not to leave it half done. It is so easy to do nothing because one cannot do much — and that also is not to finish His work.

To do His work requires a definite and repeated turning away from our own will. “I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” It will mean a daily choice, perhaps an hourly choice, of something which is not our own will at all. It will mean faithfulness, patience, courage. O Lord, give us hour by hour these great virtues.

39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”

41Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

They judged by externals. Not a good method to find truth.

43Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. 44No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Bread of Heaven”  by Fred Hammond, who is a gospel singer, bass guitar player, and record producer.

_________________________

52The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

They bickered with each other. Not a good method to find truth.

53So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” 59He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

To us as Christian believers, this passage speaks so clearly to the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion. Yet John has no account of the Last Supper later in his gospel!

The Words of Eternal Life

60When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”

Indeed. Jesus has claimed to be one a) who has descended from heaven, b) who must be the object of their belief, and c) who must be feasted upon in order for them to receive eternal life. Those who were listening to him saw Jesus as the son of Joseph; how could he also be the one who came down from heaven? And once Jesus began talking about the need to eat his flesh — the Torah strictly prohibited eating blood; the very idea was disgusting to them.

The metaphor is still a stumbling block for many. Yet for those of us who do believe in Jesus, who agree with Peter in the next verses that “You have the words of eternal life” — what blessing indeed is found in the body and blood of Christ, given for us on the cross.

61But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?

Jesus in effect says, You find it hard to accept that I am the bread of life come down from heaven? What will you think when you see me ascending back into heaven?

63It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”

66Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”

68Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

70Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” 71He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   Jesus says that he is the bread of life. What images does that convey? How have you been nourished by this bread?

2)   “Alleluia!  Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.” Do you often tell Jesus what you think of him and about him? That is one way to praise him for his excellent greatness! What are several other qualities of Jesus — not gifts from him, but characteristics of him — that you can thank him for today? (This verse is my end-of-my-rope prayer:  Lord, I have no where else to go.  Only You.)

_________________________

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:
bread of life.   http://www.billiesilvey.com/bread_of_life.jpg
believe.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/believe1.jpg
I AM.   http://www.greatdreams.com/sacred/iam.gif
It’s your decision.  http://quickbase.intuit.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/itsyourdecision.jpg
bread and wine.    http://jameswoodward.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/11lastsupper_s.jpg
To whom shall we go?  http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/weblog/pritchard/john6_68b.jpg

2272.) John 6:16-24

January 16, 2018

 

John 6:16-24   (NRSV)

Jesus Walks on the Water

16When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified.

20But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

Psalm 107:30 (ESV)

Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
    and he brought them to their desired haven.

_________________________

Music:

In Matthew’s account of the story of Jesus walking on the water, Peter asks if he can walk on water, too. Jesus tells him, “Come.”

Jesus asked the man at the pool of Bethesda, “Do you want to be healed?”

Can you tell God what you want, and trust God for it, even though it seems beyond you?  Then come.

HERE  is Britt Nicole singing “Walk on the Water.”

_________________________

22The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
_________________________

Reflections:

1)   Craig Groeschel said, “Never let the presence of a storm cause you to doubt the presence of God.” What can you do to help you not to doubt God’s abiding presence?

2)   Tell Jesus that you trust him to bring you to your desired haven.

_________________________

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:
Jesus walks on water.   http://www.deebrestin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/jesus-walking-on-water.jpg
feet on water.    http://www.gcumm.org/images/r/jesus_walks_water-1/586x329g0-0-514-289/jesus_walks_water-1.jpg

2271.) John 6:1-15

January 15, 2018

“Loaves and Fishes” by John August Swanson, 2003.

John 6:1-15   (NRSV)

Feeding the Five Thousand

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.

5When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” 6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.

‘Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes’ by James J. Tissot, 1886-94, (Brooklyn Museum, New York)

7Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”

8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”

Explanation

The key to interpreting this incident lies with the word “small.” There are at least three possibilities:

  1. “Small” refers not to the fish, but to the lad. There is, unfortunately, little textual evidence for this approach.
  2. “Small,” being a relative term, refers to the fish which, though large by some standards, would be considered small indeed compared to, say, a blue whale.
  3. “Small” refers not to the relative size of the fish but to their number — two.

Note: For each of these explanations, there remain a few unsolved logistical problems concerning the transportation of the lad’s lunch.

–sandscribbler.wordpress.com

🙂

Philip says, “The situation is hopeless. Nothing can be done.”

Andrew says, “Well, it isn’t much, but let’s take it to Jesus and see what he can do.”

William Barclay says, “Jesus needs what we can bring him. It may not be much but he needs it. It may well be that the world is denied miracle after miracle and triumph after triumph because we will not bring to Jesus what we have and what we are. If we would lay ourselves on the altar of his service, there is no saying what he could do with us and through us. We may be sorry and embarrassed that we have not more to bring—and rightly so; but that is no reason for failing to bring what we have. Little is always much in the hands of Christ.”

10Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.

More leftovers than what they started with! Jesus is never miserly. There is always enough, and more than enough.

Jesus is so calm and orderly. People are settled down before the food starts going out. Leftovers were picked up, and the picnic spot was left as clean as they found it.

14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

15When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Oh, but these last verses hit home! The crowd wants Jesus to become their king and conqueror, to get rid of the Romans, to make their lives peaceful and happy! How often I, like them, get things reversed. I want Jesus to do what I want him to do, rather than being willing to let him use me as he sees fit. Lord, in your mercy, forgive me.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Table of Plenty,” by Dan Schutte. Schutte is an American composer of Catholic liturgical music and a contemporary Christian songwriter best known for composing the hymn “Here I Am, Lord,” also known as “I, the lord of sea and sky”.

Come to the feast of heaven and earth! Come to the table of plenty!
God will provide for all that we need, here at the table of plenty.

1. O come and sit at my table where saints and sinners are friends.
I wait to welcome the lost and lonely to share the cup of my love.

2. O come and eat without money; come to drink without price.
My feast of gladness will feed your spirit with faith and fullness of life.

3. My bread will ever sustain you through days of sorrow and woe.
My wine will flow like a sea of gladness to flood the depths of your soul.

4. Your fields will flower in fullness; your homes will flourish in peace.
For I, the giver of home and harvest, will send my rain on the soil.
_________________________

Reflections:

1)   How do we, like Philip, limit what God can do in, for, and through us by assuming what is and is not possible? Where in your own prayers are you — unintentionally! — holding God to your estimate of what can be done?

2)   Are these stories in John’s Gospel helping you trust God more? Are they helping you see more in your life for which to praise and thank God?

_________________________

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:
Swanson.   http://www.johnaugustswanson.com/default.cfm/PID%3d1.2-10.html
Tissot.    http://www.jesuswalk.com/john/images/tissot-miracle-of-the-loaves-and-fishes-450x309x72.jpg
lunch cartoon.   http://sandscribbler.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/me_feeding5000_color.png
five loaves and two fish.   https://blogs.baylor.edu/truettpulpit/files/2015/07/John-6-1-panes_y_peces_5-26jf4ss-288×300.jpg
Thy will be done.    https://rlv.zcache.com.au/thy_will_be_done_art_print-rc88becc90b1b4a8883a14e2e40276b82_wvc_8byvr_324.jpg

2270.) John 5:19-47

January 12, 2018

John 5:19-47   (NRSV)

The Authority of the Son

19Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. 20The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished.

Jesus makes it clear that he identifies as God’s son, that their relationship is based on obedience, and that his obedience comes out of love.

21Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. 22The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, 23so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.

“Whoever hears and believes my word has everlasting life.”  This statement from Jesus is so outrageous that, if it were not true, would make him . . . 

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. . . . Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.

–C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

25“Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; 27and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

30“I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

God alone is holy and therefore he alone knows the standards by which all men must be judged. God alone is perfectly loving and his judgment alone is delivered in the charity in which all true judgment must be given. God alone has full knowledge and judgment can be perfect only when it takes into account all the circumstances. The claim of Jesus to judge is based on the claim that in him is the perfect mind of God. He does not judge with the inevitable mixture of human motives; he judges with the perfect holiness, the perfect love, and the perfect sympathy of God.

–William Barclay

Witnesses to Jesus

31“If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32There is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that his testimony to me is true. 33You sent messengers to John, and he testified to the TRUTH. 34Not that I accept such human testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36But I have a testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. 37And the Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf. You have never heard his voice or seen his form, 38and you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe him whom he has sent.

39“You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. 40Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

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

KNOWING CHRIST

Bible study will not give you eternal life. You could memorize the entire Bible and be able to discuss minute issues of biblical scholarship and yet fail to experience the truths found in its pages. It is a subtle temptation to prefer the book to the Author. A book will not confront you about your sin, the Author will. Books can be ignored; it is much harder to avoid the Author when He is seeking a relationship with you.

The Pharisees in Jesus’ day thought God would be pleased with their knowledge of His Word. They could quote long, complicated passages of Scripture. They love to recite and study God’s Law for hours on end. Yet Jesus condemned them because, although they knew the Scriptures, they did not know God. They were  proud of their Bible knowledge, but they rejected the invitation to know God’s Son.

Can you imagine yourself knowing all that God has promised to do in your life but then turning to something else instead? You may be tempted to turn to substitutes. These substitutes aren’t necessarily bad things. They might include serving in the church, doing good deeds, or reading Christian books. No amount of Christian activity will ever replace your relationship with Jesus. The apostle Paul considered every “good” thing he had ever done to be “rubbish” when compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8). Never become satisfied with religious activity rather than a personal, vibrant, and growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

41I do not accept glory from human beings. 42But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. 43I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? 45Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.

Deuteronomy 18:15 (NIV)

And Moses said to the people, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.”

Numbers 21:8-9 (NIV)

The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”  So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

47But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

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Music:

HERE  is Chris Tomlin and “Jesus Messiah.”

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Reflections:

1)   Jesus calls John “a burning and shining lamp.” And in Matthew 5, Jesus says, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” What are you doing now to be a shining light for Jesus? What more could you do?

2)   If someone asked you, “Who is Jesus?” — what would your witness be?

_________________________

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:
Jesus Messiah.    http://restitutio.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/jesus-messiah1.jpg
Who is Jesus.    http://denveryouthproject.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/who_is_jesus.jpg
Knowing Jesus.    http://www.pastorshelper.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/knowing-jesus.jpg
Moses.  http://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/images/moses.jpg

2269.) John 5:1-18

January 11, 2018

“Pool of Bethesda” by Dinah Roe Kendall, 2000

John 5:1-18   (NRSV)

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath

After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

There were three Jewish feasts which every Jewish male within fifteen miles of Jerusalem was obligated to attend. Those feasts were Passover (remembering God leading them out of slavery in Egypt), Pentecost (remembering God giving them the law at Mt. Sinai), and Tabernacles (remembering God sustaining them in the wilderness).

2Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes.

This pool has been excavated in the area just north of the temple mount, and found to have five porches, just as John says. It is also right next to St. Anne’s, a church from the Crusader period that has fabulous acoustics.

3In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

It seems like a silly question — of course the sick man would want to get well! But several times in his ministry of healing, Jesus asked people what they wanted him to do for them. Suppose Jesus were to ask you today — “Do you want to be made well?” — of your loneliness, or your anger, or your bitterness, or your sense of failure or dread, or your secret unhealthy habits, or your lack of passion for Christ, or your fatigue with your hum-drum yet busy life, or whatever is ailing you . . .  Would you be brave enough to invite change and say, Yes, I want to be healed!

7The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.”

“At the Pool of Bethesda” by Nathan Greene

The man’s answer is basically, “Yes, I want to be made well, but I don’t see how this can happen.”

Calvin writes: “The sick man does what we nearly all do. He limits God’s help to his own ideas and does not dare promise himself more that he conceives in his mind.”

 J.B. Phillips wrote a famous book about this problem, titled Your God is Too Small. For many of us, we create a small God in our heads, a God who is limited by whatever “box” we try to put God into.

–David Guzik

8Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.”

In effect, Jesus was commanding the impossible . . .

9At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.

But as the angel said to Mary, “Nothing is impossible with God!”

Now that day was a sabbath. 10So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, “It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”

William Barclay explains that the Mosaic law says simply that the Sabbath day must be different from other days and that on it neither a man nor his servants nor his animals must work. But throughout the  years the Jewish leaders had made it into thousands of little rules and regulations, one of which forbade carrying a burden.

11But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’”

12They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take it up and walk’?”

13Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there.

14Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” 15The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath.

17But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, and I also am working.”

Jesus said, “Even on the Sabbath God’s love and mercy and compassion are at work, and that is my work, too.”

18For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.

It is easy to dismiss the Jewish opposition to Jesus as blind and narrow. But protection of the Sabbath is a duty under the law given by God and is crucial for protecting the holiness of God among God’s people. Sabbath breaking is a serious offense. But more serious would be any attempt by a Jew to deny its requirement. By claiming to be able to work on the Sabbath because God is also working, Jesus in fact claims a special exemption by virtue of his relationship with God. “The Jews,” then, are quite correct in deducing that Jesus claims equality with God, or at least a special filial relationship.

The Fourth Evangelist allows the Jews to make a number of true statements about Jesus that, ironically, place them in complete opposition to him. In this they betray their darkness and their opposition to God as well. It is not that they do not make the right deductions from Jesus’ statement but rather that they do not recognize Jesus for who he really is. Their opposition is based on darkness and not ignorance.

As it is written in John 1 — He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 

–Mark A. Matson

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Music:

HERE  is a very brief clip — tourists singing “Alleluia” in St. Anne’s Church beside the pools of Bethesda.  Listen to those acoustics!  Then keep this song running in the back of your mind for the rest of the day!

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Reflections:

1)   THEN:  Why did the Jews in this chapter want to kill Jesus?  

2)   NOW:  Why do you think there is such a strong anti-Christian sentiment in certain parts of American/world society today? Are these two answers, in your mind, related?

_________________________

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:
Kendall.     http://imgc.allpostersimages.com/images/P-473-488-90/70/7096/RFIV100Z/posters/dinah-roe-kendall-pool-of-bethesda-2000.jpg
Pool of Bethesda and St. Anne’s Church.  http://www.atlastours.net/holyland/st_anne_church_and_bethesda.jpg
Greene.   http://www.jesuswalk.com/john/images/greene-at-the-pool-of-bethesda-300x233x72.jpg
the healed man carries his mat.   https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4064/4549909196_3ded412513.jpg