Saturday, February 15, 2014

John 2

John 2
Two Opposites

 Jesus obeys his Mother and turns water into wine.  He fulfills the commandment that we are to obey our parents so that we can have a long life.  He seems reluctant to do so, "Woman, what has this to do with me?  My hour has not yet come."  But he obeys, and He does it with flourish.  He turns that dirty water, that was to be used for washing, into the best wine.  

Jesus shows his care for this wedding celebration and the celebrants by providing what was desired.  He gives us more than we ask for.  The wedding party expected the lesser wine, and they got the best.  Jesus, too, cares about your desires.  He cares about the individual and the seemingly insignificant things in our lives.  Nothing is too small for him.  Jesus takes us ordinary, unclean humans and sets us apart for Himself..

The bookend to this tender first miracle is the clearing of the temple.  St. John is showing us again, in black and white comparisons, Law and Gospel at work.  There was blatant, open, unrepentant defilement of the Holy Temple.  This defilement was encouraged by those in charge of the temple.  Everybody was getting their piece of the money pie from the trade developed by the money-changers and sellers of sacrificial animals.  

God has specific ways we are to worship, specific ways we are not to worship.  Jesus is showing that this is not the way to worship.  This is the Father's house, and Jesus was making way for us, taking out the middlemen.  Jesus is showing the Jews that He is the temple, that He is God.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

John 1:19-51

Three points from John 1:19-51
Come and See

St. John the Baptist is a straight shooter.  He doesn't beat around the bush when he confesses that he is not the Messiah, that he is one who points to Christ.  In these verses we see John the Baptist's ministry diminishing.  His disciples are leaving him and going to follow Jesus.

The next day John was standing there again with two of his disciples, 36 when he saw Jesus walking by. “There is the Lamb of God!” he said. 37 The two disciples heard him say this and went with Jesus.

All of Israel knew of John the Baptist.  He had a large following.  That crowd was beginning to diminish because of Jesus' arrival.  John knew he was a prophet and his job was to point to the Messiah. I wonder how he reacted to seeing the reality of it. If you were in John's shoes, would it be difficult for you to see the large crowd who followed you, turn away from you to follow another?  My self-esteem, ego, sinful self would bristle. I believe I would experience pain, confusion, doubt, anger, and jealousy.  We are all called to be like John the Baptist to point others to Jesus, and it may mean they walk away from you.

This passage, we also see the old fading away and the arrival of the new.  Jesus is now on the scene, beginning his ministry, so John's baptism is becoming the old one, the prepatory baptism.  This is the paradigm shift in scripture from Old Testament to the New Testament.

I find verses 37-40 humorous.  John's disciples turn to follow Jesus, the heralded Messiah.  In my mind's eye, they are following Jesus from a bit of a distance, like puppy dogs.  Perhaps they were unsure of who they were following and wanted to hang in the back until they figure things out.

37 The two disciples heard him say this and went with Jesus.38 Jesus turned, saw them following him, and asked, “What are you looking for?”They answered, “Where do you live, Rabbi?” (This word means “Teacher.”)39 “Come and see,” he answered. (It was then about four o'clock in the afternoon.) So they went with him and saw where he lived, and spent the rest of that day with him.

Really?  That is their question of the Messiah?  "Where do you live, Rabbi?" Don't you think they have other, more probing and serious questions they'd like to ask.  More along the lines of, "Are you really the Promised One?"  Not, "Where do you live, Rabbi?"  They are all vagueness to hide their doubt and conceal what they really want to know.  But Jesus knows what they want and He calls them to "Come and you will see."  So they follow Jesus at His invitation.

The rest of the chapter is about accruing disciples.  Andrew, goes to get Simon Peter, and compel him to follow Jesus.  Andrew is not heard of after this, is he?  But Peter sure is.  Andrew's job was to go get the "big fish" we know and love as Peter.  We could not function as a church without both of these men, the background worker who invites and the boisterous disciple who speaks our thoughts.

Then there is Philip, who believes easily and follows Jesus quickly.  Philip doesn't seem to bat an eye or have any doubt.  His first reaction is to follow and then find Nathanael.  Nathanael, who is skeptical about anything good coming from Nazareth.  Philip doesn't let Nathanael off the hook that easily, "Come and see."  

As believers, we do not have to know all the theological answers that people ask of us.  Oftentimes, I feel so inadequate to talk to others about salvation in Jesus.  But it really is not about me and what I know.  It is me introducing them to the only Savior who can rescue them, as I was rescued.  The One who forgives us and sets us free.  We are then freed to follow Jesus and continue to invite others.

We can introduce others to Jesus, just as Andrew and Philip did, just as St. John the Baptist.  Evangelism truly is simple.  It is an invitation to "Come and see Jesus."

Monday, February 3, 2014

Introduction and John 1:1-18

In this series on the Gospel of John, I will be writing about one or two points that stood out to me through studying this book.  I hope you find these points interesting and true to God's Word.

John 1:1-18

John is pictured as an eagle in Church Art.  He is seen as the eagle because he can fly close to God to see His Glory.  This Gospel is about Jesus' deity and John tells us so here:  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (20:31).  In church art, Luke is represented as an ox, a faithful worker; Matthew as a human, emphasizing Jesus'  humanity; and Mark as a lion, proving Jesus came from Judah.  

When I heard this about how the evangelists are represented in art, I thought immediately of the creatures around the throne in Revelation.  It is Revelation 4:6-11.  These creatures are covered in eyes and are in God's presence.  Their sight is clear and unveiled.  What they tell us are true and trustworthy as they see God, so they see us.  God is at work in and through the evangelists to bring us to our senses, to give us faith. 

The connections between the Gospels and Revelation assure me it is God's Word to us.  

Oftentimes, as a Christian, I feel rejected by others.  They snicker and mock my beliefs.  I'm sure you have experienced this as well.  But Jesus knows rejection. He knows how it feels. Everytime someone does not receive forgiveness from him He is rejected.  We have the pleasure of following in His footsteps.

 John 1:10-13
He came to his own, and his own people[c] did not receive him.  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.