Monthly Archives: June 2022

Wednesday with John – The Voice

John 10:1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens.  4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.  7 So Jesus again said to them,  Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
A sheepfold in a central location where shepherds from many places could bring their flock for the night sounds like a good idea.  The shepherd could rest easier knowing his flock was not scattered all over the hillside but at the same time it made all those sheep a convenient target for a thief.  It’s not too hard to to imagine how chaotic the noise of all those shepherds and sheep must have been.  Jesus tries the subtle approach first; it’s not the sheepfold that keeps the sheep safe.  They didn’t get it!  Now comes the hard truth for those self-declared watchmen of Israel; “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”  What keeps the sheep safe is they recognize and follow only the voice of their own shepherd. “I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers.”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Could this be Jesus hinting at the mystery of his own multifaceted identity?  “…He [the Spirit] “when he has brought out all his own…goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  “He [Jesus] is “the Door of the sheep.”  “To him the Gatekeeper [God] opens.”  

What does it say about people?
“…the sheep follow him, for they know his voice”…and…” If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” 

Is there truth here for me?

Everything I wrote about the sheepfold began to sound familiar to me.  My world is a not-so-safe place today.  Life has become noisier, bigger and crowded with chaotic voices and activity.  Everyone is part of some flock or other hoping to find a little security.  This is the reality of a modern day sheepfold: safety depends on hearing the right Voice.  Are you listening?  Jesus is the only safe place; “the door of the sheep,” the Shepherd/Gatekeeper who speaks, trying to be heard over the noise; “If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”

 

Sunday with John – Identity

John 9: 35 Jesus heard that they had cast him [the ex-blind man] out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
There’s one new identity the ex-blind man has already experienced with Jesus; the power of Jesus to take away his physical blindness.  Because of that experience he’s now an outcast too, and Jesus has sought him out to ask an odd question, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  Those capitals are not mine, they’re God’s!  Jesus has chosen that phrase to connect the other-worldly power this man has already experienced to another new reality standing right before him; the Son of Man is Jesus the Messiah. This man who had no sight at all just a short time ago now sees the full truth of Jesus’s identity and he said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 

The Pharisees claim to be “those who see” but Jesus’s judgment has hit a nerve.  He’s already shown them one truth they can’t accept; “If you were blind, you would have no guilt.”  Their defense goes something like this: “we can’t be guilty of sin because we aren’t blind!” Now Jesus confronts them with a much harder truth.  They are blind to the error of what they see so “now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Son of Man, ben-adam, is the term Jesus most often chose for Himself during His life on earth to identify His likeness with God and mankind that began at Creation.  

What does it say about people?
Even before Adam was created, God had a plan to safeguard mankind from the corruption of their free will by allowing them to see His full identity as “Son of Man” and “Son of God.”

Is there truth here for me?
Long before those terms of Jesus’s identity became a reality in my life His plan was at work covering the distance between heaven and earth for me.  I believe this is an accurate visual way to represent God’s eternal commitment to establish the restoration of His broken Creation so “those who do not see may see.”

Jesus
[The Son of God* – who promised sight for the blind]
God’s perfect creation*
to rebuild life broken by the corruption of “free will”
[The Son of Man* – offering comfort in our identity to Him]

Wednesday with John + Decreed

John 9:27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
The confrontational debate continues between the ex-blind man and the Pharisees. The healed man confronts these authorities with his own questions. “Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”  We know so little about this man but he has some extraordinary knowledge about God, sinners, and worship the Pharisees find irritating.  “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him… If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”  His words identify what his heart has experienced just as the words of the Pharisees identify the experience of theirs; “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us? And they cast him out.”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
How odd that this passage points out such a controversial truth.  God reveals Himself more in the man who responded to Jesus but has not yet “seen” Him face to face than from the response of his accusers who claim to be God’s experts.

What does it say about people?
The Pharisees have responded to this man’s restored sight with disbelief as a way to discredit Jesus…and therefore God.  Who is more in need of “sight” now: the man who was blind but now sees what he doesn’t know OR the Pharisees who think they already know what they really don’t see?

Is there truth here for me?
I understand the imagery in this passage and those Pharisees because, God forgive me, I was born to love the rules more than the people who break them.a

† Original sin has decreed we are all truly born blind.
† Life has decreed we teeter between two options; sin and salvation.
† Jesus has decreed He came so we might see.
† I have decreed “I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me!
Ω The Word has decreed
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”
Amen!

a https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-making-of-a-modern-pharisee

Sunday with John – Sabbath

John 9:13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” 18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.)

What is the general theme of the passage?
 
If there was ever a passage that clearly shows the nature of man to dispute truth, even truth which is seen with their own eyes, this is it.  Over and over the Pharisees persist in looking for ways to disprove what they themselves have seen.  The man is repeatedly questioned.  The healing is questioned.  The process is questioned. His parents are questioned.  All the answers given have been questioned.  There is no answer the Pharisees can accept. What they were looking for wasn’t the truth but a way to justify their position against Jesus: “if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he [is] to be put out of the synagogue.”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus has chosen the same dust of the earth that created life in the first place to restore sight to this blind man on this particular day.  He’s chosen the most elemental reduction of His power to let them “see” with their own eyes an act that might recall to their mind all the first acts of the Creator who spoke mankind and this day they call Sabbath into being.

What does it say about people?
The human mind and comprehension is shortsighted. We question the simplicity of how God first chose to reveal His power.  “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

Is there truth here for me?
I want to recognize and acknowledge it’s because of that same elemental reduction of Jesus’s power that I know anything about the Sovereign Glory of God.  It was Jesus who spit on the muddy residue of my life without Him.  It was Jesus who gathered up that mud and chose it to anoint my heart with His own.  It was Jesus who told me where to find living water to wash that residue away.  It was Jesus choosing the elemental reduction of His power to restart my heart so I could experience this particular day with Him and see…THIS is Sabbath!

Wednesday with John – Clay

John 9:1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 As he said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man’s eyes with the clay, 7 saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Silo′am” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar, said, “Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he”; others said, “No, but he is like him.” He said, “I am the man.” 10 They said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Silo′am and wash’; so I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus and His disciples spot a blind man, begging. Interesting that “in passing” turns into interaction that tells us so much more than the story of a man blind from birth.  The next interesting thing is the natural response of the disciples; why?  Why is he blind?  Is it punishment for sin?  Whose sin?  Jesus uses the most basic example of God’s creative power to give sight to a man who has lived in darkness since birth and show us the basic creative power of God can still work miracles.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world…It was not that this man sinned, or his parents.”  The reality is this man’s blindness is only a symptom of the effects of that long ago “original” sin. Jesus is going to remove that symptom using what seems like the same material of mankind’s creation. “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”…so “the works of God might be made manifest in him.”

What does it say about people?
The nature of sin’s hangover is right there in the disciples question to Jesus: “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus gave this blind man physical evidence of the miracle to come, on his own body.  “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Silo′am and wash’; so I went and washed and received my sight.”    

Is there truth here for me?
Jesus urges His disciples, “work the works of him who sent me, while it is day” …even if you don’t “see” the final outcome.  This blind man’s first contact with Jesus is an odd anointing of clay and spit followed by being sent away to wash in the same pool of water used every day during the Feast of Tabernacles, the “living water” that represents the “pouring out of the Spirit” in relation to the coming of Messiah.  The reality of the first “light” of faith for this blind man is that he goes.  He goes even though he can’t see the one who is preparing him to be healed nor understand the method that is being used…and then He sees Jesus!

a Genesis 2:7

Sunday with John – I Am

John 8:48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

What is the general theme of the passage?
The Jews called Jesus a Samaritan!  It was a racial slur that suggested he was the halfbreed product of one who’s father is unknown.  Can you believe it?  God uses their own mouths, filled with ignorant speech and evil intent to publicly identify His own truth against them.  By their own words they admit out loud the exact truth Jesus is trying to tell them; they do NOT know His father!  

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus identifies God as His Father.  God seeks Jesus’s glory.  The key to never seeing death is believing  Jesus Word, “before Abraham was, I am.”

What does it say about people?
These Jews did have faith.  They were sons of their father Abraham but their faith was based on the wrong father/son relationship.

Is there truth here for me?
Those Jews heard Jesus’s words wrong.  They heard verse 51 as “if anyone keeps my word, he will never die.”  What Jesus actually said was “I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” Over and over the book of John has confirmed the truth of eternal life for those who follow Christ.  It was an idea from a commentary that became this pinprick of light that let me “see” how different those two phrases really are. I was just like those Jews, not exactly Godless but not Godly either, but there was a “day” I saw the mystery of Jesus’s Word fulfilled.  I will never “see” death” because in that one moment with Jesus I crossed death’s invisible barrier.  My body surely will die just as Abraham’s and the prophets did but I will never “see” death because I saw Jesus instead “and was glad” my life in Him will continue unbroken forever.

Wednesday with John + Beyond History

John 8:39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus confronts the attempt of these men to justify themselves using the evidence of their heritage with their father Abraham.  But their hearts reveal evidence of guilt and what they “cannot bear” to hear is revealed in their odd response to Jesus; “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus has hit a nerve.  What their heart’s perceive and their minds cannot bear to consider is their illegitimacy. They “are not of God.”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus confronts their legitimacy:
“If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did…”
“If God were your Father, you would love me…”
“Whoever is of God hears the words of God.”

What does it say about people?
People reach for their familiar and measurable history with God to legitimize themselves when they are confronted with sin.

Is there truth here for me?
These people had a legitimate, measurable history with God the Father. The truth Jesus is confronting them with is their miraculous history with God hadn’t stopped with Abraham…but they had!   That was the sin that made them feel illegitimate and their own hearts knew it!   Miraculous history with God is not a stopping point, it’s just one point of grace on an eternal timeline.