2277.) John 8:12-30

January 23, 2018

John 8:12-30   (NRSV)

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

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

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

–William Barclay

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

–David Guzik

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

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

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

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

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

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

25They said to him, “Who are you?”

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

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

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

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

Philippians 2:5-11   (NIV)

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

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

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

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

_________________________

Music:

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

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

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

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

_________________________

Reflections:

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

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

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

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

_________________________

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

Images courtesy of:
 I AM the light.    http://www.armenhareyan.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/what-did-Jesus-mean-by-I-am-the-light-of-the-world.jpg
Psalm 119:105.   https://i.pinimg.com/736x/39/48/24/394824b02466e67ed71c02d36f7a134b–jesus-bible-jesus-christ.jpg
Be still and know that I AM.    http://www.basil-ltd.com/files/1764012/uploaded/WG-317BZ.jpg
Jesus on the cross.    http://cocorioko.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/jesus-on-the-cross-678×381.jpg
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2276.) John 8:1-11

January 22, 2018

John8 first stone

John 8:1-11   (NRSV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

–William Barclay

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 8:1 (King James Version)

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

_________________________

Music:

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

_________________________

Reflections:

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

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

_________________________

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

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

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

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.
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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.

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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.
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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