2268.) John 4:27-57

January 10, 2018

“Christ and the Samaritan Woman at Jacob’s Well” by Ivan Mestrovic, 1957, seen at the University of Notre Dame. Photograph by Ruth Councell.

John 4:27-57   (NRSV)

27Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?”

The disciples’ attitude reflects both the contempt of the Jews for the Samaritans and the male chauvinism that regarded giving instruction to a woman as a waste of time.  (The Reformation Bible)

28Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29“Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” 30They left the city and were on their way to him.

Her first instinct was to share her discovery!

–William Barclay

31Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”

33So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?”

34Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

According to William Barclay, Jesus is using familiar agricultural proverbs to reveal spiritual truth. Jesus says that the usual cycle is to plant, then wait four months, then harvest. But with Jesus, the seed can be planted and harvested immediately. Barclay says, “God’s time is here; the time when the word is spoken and the seed is sown and the harvest waits.” The second proverb is that one person will sow while another will reap. Jesus is sowing the seed now, in the cross, and the disciples will go out and reap what his life and death have sown. And to carry it further — the disciples will plant seeds that will be harvested down through the ages in the Christian church. Jesus is saying, here is opportunity and challenge!

39Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41And many more believed because of his word. 42They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

The conversation with the woman at the well is the longest recorded discussion Jesus had with anyone—and she, a Gentile woman. Further, the lesson Jesus gave her about living water was just as profound as the lesson he gave to the Jewish leader, Nicodemus, and the woman had a better response. Unlike Nicodemus, she was willing to be associated with Jesus. She told her neighbors about Jesus, and many of them believed in Jesus because of her testimony.

–Grace Communion International

Jesus Returns to Galilee

43When the two days were over, he went from that place to Galilee 44(for Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in the prophet’s own country). 45When he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the festival; for they too had gone to the festival.

Jesus Heals an Official’s Son

“Jesus healing the royal official’s son” by Joseph-Marie Vien, 1752 (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Marseilles, Provence, France)

46Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. 47When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went (a distance of about 20 miles) and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”

49The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my little boy dies.”

Spoken with the passion and urgency of a father of a sick child.

–David Guzik

50Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way.

The NIV has it:   The man took Jesus at his word and departed.

51As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. 52So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, “Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.” 53The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he himself believed, along with his whole household.

 We come to Jesus with desperate need. He meets that need. And we respond with overwhelming love. The pattern is shown here and in countless lives since, in stories of people who have been saved by Jesus.

54Now this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee.

The second sign: In the Gospel of John the signs are given to lead the reader to faith (John 20:29-31). The relation between belief and signs is clear in John chapter 2 and chapter 4.

· The first sign persuaded His disciples
· The second sign persuaded a Jewish nobleman and his household
· The Samaritans believed without a sign

The first two signs in the Gospel of John took place at Cana of Galilee. The first was at the best party ever – a wedding party. The second was connected with the worst tragedy ever – the illness and soon death of a child. Jesus is real in both aspects.

–David Guzik

_________________________

Music:

“No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus,” sung  HERE  so gently by the Signature Sound.

This song by Charles Weigle is the product of one of the darkest periods of his life. He spent most of his life as an itinerant evangelist and gospel songwriter. One day after returning home from an evangelistic crusade, he found a note left by his wife of many years. The note said she had had enough of an evangelist’s life. She was leaving him.

Weigle became so despondent during the next several years that he contemplated suicide. There was the terrible despair that no one really cared for him anymore. Gradually his spiritual faith was restored, and he once again became active in the Christian ministry. The point came when he felt compelled to write this song.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)  Re: the woman at the well and the Samaritans:  Thank God right now for specific people who have told you about Jesus and so helped you to believe. Are some of those people still alive? Write them a note today and thank them for sharing the Good News of the Gospel with you.

2)  The father of the boy realized that Jesus had healed his son. What has the Lord done for you? Remember James 1:17 — Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

_________________________

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:
statue at Notre Dame.    https://i.pinimg.com/236x/44/a9/c5/44a9c522008c63285f1fe24f41ad6365–ivan-mestrovic-jacobs-well.jpg
reaping grain.   http://www.jesuswalk.com/john/images/sickles-300x200x72.jpg
woman carrying a pot.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/sw8.jpg
Vien.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SonRoyalHeal.jpg
Tissot.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/279e1-2-12bjames2btissot2bthe2bhealing2bof2bthe2bofficer27s2bson.jpg
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2267.) John 4:1-26

January 9, 2018

“Christ and the Samaritan Woman” by contemporary Chinese artist He Qi

John 4:1-26   (NRSV)

Jesus and the Woman of Samaria

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John” 2—although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— 3he left Judea and started back to Galilee.

4But he had to go through Samaria.

Why? Many Jews often avoided Samaria by crossing the Jordan and traveling on its eastern side back and forth to Jerusalem. Did Jesus’ requirement have less to do with geography and more to do with mission?

5So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. 7A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8(His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.)

A good Jewish man did not speak in public to women he did not know. A rabbi did not speak to any woman in public — not his mother, not his wife.

9The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)

painting from a Roman catacomb, 4th century

10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

11The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?”

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman, by the Italian Renaissance painter Paolo Veronese

13Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”

15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Living Water (Jesus and the Samaritan Woman), by Simon Dewey.

16Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.”

17The woman answered him, “I have no husband.”

Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!”

19The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.”

Some commentators see this as a clever change of subject on her part, to divert Jesus from a more sensitive topic. I read it differently. She immediately recognizes his supernatural knowledge of her, and then asks a question which has obviously been a point of confusion for her. I believe the woman was disappointed in her own life and had a heart that was tender to spiritual things. Jesus knew from afar her longing for healing and forgiveness, and sat by the well waiting for her to come, to redeem her. Oh, the kindness of our Lord!

21Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and TRUTH.”

“Woman at the Well” by American painter Daniel Bonnell

25The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.”

26Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

This is the only occasion before his trial that Jesus explicitly acknowledges that he is the Messiah — and he tells it to a woman, a Samaritan woman, an immoral Samaritan woman.

Dear Woman at the Well:

You can never be so sinful so as to erase Jesus’ love for you!

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is the story sung by Anne Millen Longacre.  It’s a new song to me and I quite like it!

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   Who are the Samaritans in our society/in your community? 

2)   Do you know a “Samaritan woman” who needs to meet Jesus-in-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:
He Qi.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/john-he-qi-samaritan-woman.jpg
catacomb.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/womanwell.jpg
Veronese.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/9ff2c-veronese-jesus_and_the_samaritan_woman.jpg
Dewey.   https://teachthem.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/woman-at-the-well.jpg
Bonnell.   http://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large-5/the-woman-at-the-well-daniel-bonnell.jpg

2266.) John 3

January 8, 2018

“Visit of Nicodemus to Christ” by John La Farge, 1880 (Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.).  I love that the artist pictures Nicodemus coming with Scriptures in hand to learn the truth.

John 3   (NRSV)

 Nicodemus Visits Jesus

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2He came to Jesus by night

Our friend Nic is a Pharisee, which means he is zealous to keep the law of God. He is a leader, a member of the Sanhedrin. He came to Jesus when no one could see him, for he did not want to jeopardize his esteemed and influential position by being seen with an uneducated traveling preacher.

and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.”

3Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”

J:  “Nic, you’re a mess.”

4Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?”

N:  “Excuse me?”

5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

9Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”

10Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

J:  “Oh, you Pharisees!  You know so much about God’s law, and so little about God’s love!”

11“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

God so loved that He gave. How much do you love? Do you love enough to give — this? To each of us there is a different “this,” but the question is the same and there can only be one answer:  “Let Him take all.”

We may be put off from the joy of giving by the thought of the smallness of what we have to offer. But our Lord does not think anything love can give is too small to take. There is nothing small to God; even our little “this” matters to Him. When by His loving enabling we look up to Him and say, “Take all — take this,” then He comes near and makes peace in our borders and fills us with the finest of the wheat (Psalm 147:14). The very Bread of Life empowers us once again.

So now, today, let us so love that we give.

17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

J:  “There’s hope for you, Nic!”

18Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

Dear Nic,

You can never be too spiritual, or even spiritual enough, to erase your need for Jesus!

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is the old favorite, “God So Loved the World,”  written by John Stainer in 1887, and performed by the St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir, London.

_________________________

Jesus and John the Baptist

22After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. 23John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized 24—John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.

25Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. 26They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. 28You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ 29He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. 30He must increase, but I must decrease.

The One Who Comes from Heaven

“From heav’n above to earth I come
To bear good news to ev’ry home;
Glad tidings of great joy I bring,
Whereof I now will say and sing:

“To you this night is born a child
Of Mary, chosen Virgin mild;
This little child, of lowly birth,
Shall be the joy of all the earth.

Now let us all with gladsome cheer
Follow the shepherds and draw near
To see this wondrous gift of God,
Who hath His only Son bestowed.

Welcome to earth, Thou noble Guest,
Through whom the sinful world is blest!
Thou com’st to share my misery;
What can we render, Lord, to Thee?

Were earth a thousand times as fair,
Beset with gold and jewels rare,
It yet were far too poor to be
A narrow cradle, Lord, for Thee.

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.

–Martin Luther, 1531

31The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. 33Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. 34He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. 36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.

We might say that John 3 is a “must read” chapter of the Bible.

There are four prominent “musts” in John 3.

    • The Sinner’s must: you must be born again (John 3:7).
    • The Savior’s must: so must the Son of Man be lifted up (John 3:14).
    • The Sovereign’s must: He must increase (John 3:30).
    • The Servant’s must: I must decrease (John 3:30).

–David Guzik

_________________________

Reflections:

1)  Martin Luther said that John 3:16 is “the heart of the  Bible — the Gospel in miniature.” How so?

2)   There has been much speculation, over the centuries, about the character and motives of Nicodemus. He appears three times in John’s Gospel:  here, in the first extensive dialogue of the Gospel; again, when the Temple police try to arrest Jesus (John 7:45-52); and finally at the tomb after Jesus is dead (John 19:39). What do you make of him? What do you think he was after? Do you see (a piece of) yourself in him?

3)   How do these “must” statements above apply to 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:
La Farge.   https://s3.amazonaws.com/saam.media/files/images/1909/1909.7.37_1a.jpg
John 3:16 as a cross.  http://www.girlfriendgetawaypackages.com/images/John316bright.jpg
John 3:16 (the greatest . . .)   https://lifeandbuilding.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/john316.jpg
baby Jesus in the manger.   http://www.jandmranch.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/manger-baby.jpg

2265.) Proverbs 15

January 5, 2018

Even monkeys know to “Speak no evil!” Proverbs 15 has long been a chapter I turn to, since so often when I get into trouble, it is because of something (unwise, unkind, unnecessary) that I said. Here are many recommendations for how to keep a guard on your mouth and in so doing, lead a life that honors God and doesn’t needlessly offend others.

Proverbs 15 (The Message)

God Doesn’t Miss a Thing

Verses relating to speech are written in RED.

1 A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.

2 Knowledge flows like spring water from the wise;
fools are leaky faucets, dripping nonsense.

3 God doesn’t miss a thing—
he’s alert to good and evil alike.

Oh, be careful, little eyes, what you see,
Oh, be careful, little eyes, what you see,
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love,
So be careful, little eyes, what you see.

Oh, be careful, little ears, what you hear,
Oh, be careful, little ears, what you hear,
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love,
So be careful, little ears, what you hear.

Oh, be careful, little hands what you do,
Oh, be careful, little hands what you do,
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love,
So, be careful, little hands what you do

Oh,  be careful, little feet, where you go,
Oh, be careful, little feet, where you go,
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love,
So be careful, little feet, where you go.

Oh, be careful, little mouth, what you say,
Oh, be careful, little mouth, what you say,
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love,
So be careful, little mouth, what you say.

4 Kind words heal and help;
cutting words wound and maim.

5 Moral dropouts won’t listen to their elders;
welcoming correction is a mark of good sense.

“A fool spurns his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.”   (verse 5, NIV)


6 The lives of God-loyal people flourish;
a misspent life is soon bankrupt.

7 Perceptive words spread knowledge;
fools are hollow—there’s nothing to them.

One day Harold St. John was standing in the private chapel of Keble College, Oxford, admiring Holman Hunt’s masterpiece The Light of the World.  A party of tourists approached and stood chattering before the famous painting. The guide announced in a loud voice, “The original of this picture was sold for fifteen thousand dollars.” Mr. St. John stepped forward and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, may I add that the true Original of this picture was sold for thirty pieces of silver.” A hush fell on the tourists and they left in silence. 
The words of the mouth express the condition of the heart.

8 God can’t stand pious poses,
but he delights in genuine prayers.

9 A life frittered away disgusts God;
he loves those who run straight for the finish line.

10 It’s a school of hard knocks for those who leave God’s path,
a dead-end street for those who hate God’s rules.

11 Even hell holds no secrets from God—
do you think he can’t read human hearts?

Life Ascends to the Heights

12 Know-it-alls don’t like being told what to do;
they avoid the company of wise men and women.

13 A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face;
a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.

14 An intelligent person is always eager to take in more truth;
fools feed on fast-food fads and fancies.

15 A miserable heart means a miserable life;
a cheerful heart fills the day with song.

“I am determined to be cheerful and happy
in whatever situation I may find myself.
For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness
is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.”

–Martha Washington 

16 A simple life in the Fear-of-God
is better than a rich life with a ton of headaches.

17 Better a bread crust shared in love
than a slab of prime rib served in hate.

“Better a meal of vegetables where there is love, than a fattened calf with hatred.”   (verse 17, NIV)

“Riches and poverty are more in the heart than in the hand.
He is wealthy who is contented.
He is poor who wants more.” 

18 Hot tempers start fights;
a calm, cool spirit keeps the peace.

19 The path of lazy people is overgrown with briers;
the diligent walk down a smooth road.

20 Intelligent children make their parents proud;
lazy students embarrass their parents.

“Tragically the person who needs their instruction,
out of his exaggerated opinion of his self-importance,
feels that he is better than his godly parents
and so is intractable and incorrigible.”

–Bruce K. Waltke

21 The empty-headed treat life as a plaything;
the perceptive grasp its meaning and make a go of it.

22 Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail;
take good counsel and watch them succeed.

23 Congenial conversation—what a pleasure!
The right word at the right time—beautiful!


A king once asked his cook to prepare for him the best dish in the world, and he was served a dish of tongue. The king then asked for the worst dish in the world, and again was served tongue. “Why do you serve me the same food as both the best and the worst?” the perplexed monarch asked. “Because, your majesty,” the cook replied, “the tongue is the best of things when used wisely and lovingly, but it is the worst of things when used carelessly and unkindly.”
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue” — Proverbs 18:21

24 Life ascends to the heights for the thoughtful—
it’s a clean about-face from descent into hell.

25 God smashes the pretensions of the arrogant;
he stands with those who have no standing.

26 God can’t stand evil scheming,
but he puts words of grace and beauty on display.

27 A greedy and grasping person destroys community;
those who refuse to exploit live and let live.

28 Prayerful answers come from God-loyal people;
the wicked are sewers of abuse.

29 God keeps his distance from the wicked;
he closely attends to the prayers of God-loyal people.

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless.
I pray because the need flows out of me all the time–
waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God– it changes me.”

–C.S. Lewis (Shadowlands)

30 A twinkle in the eye means joy in the heart,
and good news makes you feel fit as a fiddle.

31 Listen to good advice if you want to live well,
an honored guest among wise men and women.

32 An undisciplined, self-willed life is puny;
an obedient, God-willed life is spacious.

33 Fear-of-God is a school in skilled living—
first you learn humility, then you experience glory.

from Morning and Evening,
by Charles H. Spurgeon

Humiliation of soul always brings a positive blessing with it. If we empty our hearts of self God will fill them with His love. He who desires close communion with Christ should remember the word of the Lord, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.” Stoop if you would climb to heaven. Do we not say of Jesus, “He descended that He might ascend”? So must you. You must grow downwards, that you may grow upwards; for the sweetest fellowship with heaven is to be had by humble souls, and by them alone. God will deny no blessing to a thoroughly humbled spirit. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” with all its riches and treasures. The whole exchequer of God shall be made over by deed of gift to the soul which is humble enough to be able to receive it without growing proud because of it.

_________________________

Music:

Lord, speak to me, that I may speak
in living echoes of Thy tone. . .

HERE  is the old hymn which prays to the Lord for His grace upon our speech and all our doings.

_________________________

The Message (MSG)  Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Images courtesy of:
three monkeys.     http://pressvision.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/hear-no-evil-speak-no-evil-photo.jpg
child with big brown eyes.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/little-eyes3.jpg?w=450
Don’t be a fool . . .   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/proverbs15_5.jpg
The lips of the wise . . .    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/42/19/3e/42193e5ca9add65dffa7908689cf174e.jpg
A cheerful heart . . .      https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/proverbs-15-151.jpg
vegetables.     https://i.pinimg.com/originals/31/79/9d/31799dbd1319422349e209df86c92f1e.jpg
A word fitly spoken . . .    http://media.photobucket.com/image/recent/drewsfamilytx/othersuchhappenings/proverbs25-11.jpg
Draw near to God.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/a6160-drawneartogod.jpg
humility.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/humility-blanchardbysg.jpg

2264.) John 2:1-12

January 4, 2018

John 2:1-12   (NRSV)

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the three synoptic gospels. Synoptic means “see-together” and the first three gospels present Jesus’ life in pretty much the same format. The first three gospels focus more on what Jesus taught and did; John focuses more on who Jesus is.

John shows us who Jesus is by highlighting seven signs (miracles) of Jesus. Six of these miracles are not mentioned in the first three gospels.

John shows us who Jesus is by allowing Jesus to speak for Himself in seven dramatic I Am statements.

John shows us who Jesus is by calling forth witnesses who will testify about the identity of Jesus. Four of these witnesses speak in the first chapter alone.

–David Guzik

The Wedding at Cana

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”

This was a major social faux pas. “To fail in providing adequately for the guests would involve social disgrace. In the closely knit communities of Jesus’ day such an error would never be forgotten, and would haunt the newly married couple all their lives. ”

–Merrill Tenney

4And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.”

5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it.

9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

These few paragraphs on prayer, from the classic book on prayer by the Norwegian theologian Ole Hallesby (1879-1961), have done more to inform my prayer life than any other teaching. I hope they will help you, too.

from Prayer,
by O. Hallesby

The Spirit of prayer would teach us that we should disregard the question as to whether the fulfillment of our prayer is hard or easy for God. What we think or do not think about this, has no bearing on the hearing and answering of prayer. Not only that; it has a blighting and destructive effect upon our prayer life, because we waste our strength on something which is not our concern, and which our Lord has never asked us to be concerned about.

This secret of prayer became very plain to me once many years ago as I was reading the delightful little account of the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11).  Jesus, His mother and His disciples were bidden to the wedding. In all likelihood the family was closely related to, or very friendly toward, the family of Jesus. At least, we notice that the host and hostess had acquainted the mother of Jesus with the embarrassing situation which had arisen when the wine had given out.

Whereupon the mother of Jesus reveals herself as a tried and true woman of prayer.

In the first place, she goes to the right place with the need she has become acquainted with. She goes to Jesus and tells Him everything.

In the next place, notice what she says to Jesus. Just these few, simple words, “They have no wine.” Note here what prayer is. To pray is to tell Jesus what we lack. Intercession is to tell Jesus what we see that others lack.

In the third place, let us notice that she did nothing more. When she had told Jesus about the need of her friends, she knew that she did not have to do any more about it. She knew that she did not have to help Him either by suggesting what He should do or anything else. She knew Him and knew that this need had been left in the proper hands. She knew Him. She knew that He Himself knew what He wanted to do.

She knew also that she did not have to influence Him or persuade Him to give these friends a helping hand. No one is so willing to help as He is!

In the fourth place, let us notice that when the mother of Jesus had presented her petition, she had done her part. As far as she was concerned she was through with the matter; she had left it with Him. She was no longer responsible, so to speak, for the embarrassing situation. The responsibility had been placed upon Jesus. It was now up to Him to find a way to help the beloved host and hostess.

She had never before seen Jesus turn water into wine. Therefore she likely did not even think of this way out of the difficulty. It is a question if she, on the whole, even thought about this aspect of the situation. She knew Him well and that He was never at a loss as to what to do. As a rule the way out of difficulty which He chose came as a surprise to her. At least, that was something which did not concern her and in connection with which she did not have to waste any time or effort.

Here is one who truly prays right!

I think we can all see how different our prayer life would be if we would only learn this aspect of the holy art of prayer, with which the mother of Jesus was so familiar.

11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

The Franciscan Wedding Church at Cana (Lower Galilee of northern Israel) is small. Inside, the church has two levels. The upper church has a chapel surmounted by a simple dome. Six stone water jars are placed above the altar, as a reminder of the miracle Jesus worked here.  The lower church has a chapel and a small museum with artifacts from the site, including a winepress, a plastered cistern, and vessels of various dates.

12After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days.

_________________________

Music:

Water into wine in chapter 2 and living water coming in chapter 4 . . .

HERE  is “Let Your Living Water Flow,”  written by John Watson and performed here by Vinesong Music.  One listen and the song will be in your mind for the rest of the day!

_________________________

Reflections:

1)  Why is it, do you think, that many of us feel we must help God to fulfill our prayer by giving him suggestions about what/when/where/why/how to do it?

2)  Or why do we think prayer is to be used (more or less) to command God to do our bidding?

3)  Do either of these questions encourage you to examine and improve your own attitudes towards prayer, and your prayers themselves?

_________________________

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:
wedding feast at Cana.   http://parishableitems.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/wedding-feast-of-cana-icon.jpg
Dear God.   https://image.spreadshirtmedia.com/image-server/v1/mp/compositions/P1006835459MPC1011555126/views/1,width=300,height=300,appearanceId=351,backgroundColor=E8E8E8,version=1485256808/dear-god-men-s-t-shirt.jpg
Wedding Church in Cana.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/john-wedding-church-cana3.jpg

2263.) John 1:35-51

January 3, 2018

John 1:35-51   (NRSV)

John 20:30-31 (NIV)

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

The First Disciples of Jesus

35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”

37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

Following Jesus:

Andrew came to Jesus because of John’s proclamation about the Lamb of God. Then Peter came to Jesus because of his brother’s witness. In the next verses, Philip will come to Jesus as a result of a direct invitation from Christ, and Nathanael will come to Jesus when Jesus showed himself so great in relation to Nathanael’s small question. Our Lord will meet us wherever we are and draw us to himself with gentleness and graciousness. May we be eager to follow Jesus!

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

43The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

47When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

50Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

_________________________

Music:

Such a simple invitation! HERE  is “Come and See,” by Bob Bennett.

_________________________

Reflections:

Just in chapter 1, Jesus is given a number of different titles: 

  • In the Prologue (v. 1-18), Jesus is identified in a cluster of metaphors that are cosmic and foundational in nature:  the Word, the life, the light.
  • The second group of titles assigned to Jesus identify him in terms of God; they are relational terns: (only-begotten) Son of the Father, the Son of God.
  • The third group of title are functional terms that identify some aspect of Jesus’ role, especially involving certain expectations in Israel:   Messiah; Anointed; the King of Israel; and Rabbi.
  • Finally, Jesus is referred to with certain prophetic or apocalyptic terms:  the Lamb of God, the Son of Man.

What were these different titles trying to convey about Jesus?  Which ones are most familiar and comfortable to you?  Which ones might you want to explore further, so as to learn more about Jesus?

_________________________

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:
make disciples.   https://image.slidesharecdn.com/080127-the-first-disciples-john-13551-dale-wells-1230156161287959-1/95/080127-the-first-disciples-john-1-35-51-dale-wells-4-728.jpg?cb=1230127807
following Jesus.   http://tvhostmelissa.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/follow_jesus.jpg
Jesus and the fig tree.   https://sacredstorydotorg.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/figtree.jpg

2262.) John 1:19-34

January 2, 2018

John 1:19-34    (NRSV)

John 20:30-31 (NIV)

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

The Testimony of John the Baptist

19This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” 21And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said.

Isaiah 40:1-5 (NIV)

 Comfort, comfort my people,
   says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
   and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
   that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
   double for all her sins.

 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
   the way for the LORD;
make straight in the desert
   a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
   every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
   the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
   and all people will see it together.
            For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

24Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” 28This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Among Rabbis and their disciples, there was a teacher-student relationship that had the potential for abuse. It was entirely possible that a Rabbi might expect unreasonable service from their disciples. One of the things which was considered “too low” for a Rabbi to expect from his disciples was the untying of the Rabbi’s sandal strap. John says he is unworthy to do even this.

–David Guzik

The Lamb of God

29The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

At the very dawn of his ministry, Jesus is greeted with words that remind him of his destiny: His sacrificial agony on the cross for the sin of mankind. The shadow of the cross was cast over the entire ministry of Jesus.

30This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.

_________________________

Music:

“Behold the Lamb of God”  from Handel’s Messiah.  HERE  by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.

_________________________

Reflections:

Why are there four gospels? The ancient Christian writer Origen (185-254 a.d.) gave a good answer: there are not four gospels, but one four-fold gospel. Each gospel presents a different perspective on the life of Jesus, and we need all four to get the full picture.

John was probably the last gospel written, and written in view of what the previous three had already said. This is one reason why John is so different from Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

There are significant events in the ministry of Jesus that Matthew, Mark, and Luke include that John leaves out, including Jesus’ birth, baptism, temptation in the wilderness, the Last Supper, the agony in Gethsemane, the Ascension, demonic confrontations, and parables.

The first three gospels center on Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. John centers his gospel on what Jesus said and did in Jerusalem.

And each of the gospels emphasizes a different origin of Jesus.

Matthew shows Jesus came from Abraham through David, and demonstrates that He is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament (Matthew 1:1-17).

Mark shows Jesus came from Nazareth, demonstrating that Jesus is a Servant (Mark 1:9).

Luke shows Jesus came from Adam, demonstrating that Jesus is the Perfect Man (Luke 3:23-38).

John shows Jesus came from heaven, demonstrating that Jesus is God.

However, it is wrong to think that the Gospel of John completes the story of Jesus. John makes it clear that the story of Jesus can never be completed (John 21:25).

–David Guzik


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:
John baptizes Jesus.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/john-jesus-baptism.jpg?w=240
straight road.  http://frjamescoles.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/southwest-desert-road.jpg
John 1:9.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/29038-the-lamb-of-god-who-takes-away-the-sin-of-the-world.jpg