32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him[Jesus]. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. 33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. 40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.”41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. ESV
What is the general theme of the passage?
Every day of this Festival there was a ritual water drawing that reminded people how important God’s provision of access to good water had been to their history with Him and that His provision for the survival of their ordinary daily lives still depended on that access. The “hope” of this week was that God might choose this water offering as a means of access to the Messianic age. The Festival water was drawn each day from the Pool of Siloam, known as the “well of salvation,” and poured into a bowl that drained onto the altar.a “On the last and greatest day of the Festival Jesus compared Himself to that water…“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” That made Jesus a problem the Pharisees couldn’t ignore. Some remembered Isaiah’s promise when like water poured “…on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants [44:3]…and they were talking! Some saw beyond the ritual of that poured water flowing through that bowl onto the altar of God for exactly what it was; Jesus was the bowl that promised access to the future Spirit of God.
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus’s time of physical accessibility to them is short. God has sent Him and He is returning to that certain and exclusive place. That place is a destination even thirsty and curious people will not be able to find without Jesus.
What does it say about people?
What thirsty people need is a willingness to accept the water…and drink!
Is there truth here for me?
I think Jesus could add “I am the bowl” to His identity statements. Jesus is the “bowl” that directs the living water drawn from God’s own heart to the Holy Spirit. “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezekiel 36:25-27 NIV
a Water Libation Ceremony
Exodus 33:18 Moses said, “I pray thee, show me thy glory.” 19 And he[the Lord] said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live.”
“Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee”
21 And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand upon the rock; 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; 23 then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”
The old hymn, Rock of Ages, is what inspired my painting. God chose to reveal the truth of His moral code, written from His heart on a surface physically made by His own hand. Can you imagine the Lord of all Creation busily speaking every perfect thing into reality; and yet purposefully carving broken fissures and clefts into that solid, immovable mass of rock and calling it “good?”
We don’t have those stone tablets but we still have the ten truths for life that were on them. Can you imagine the permanence of God’s message as much more than two [or four] lost tablets but a message from the stone itself? Those Words have never been lost! Instead they have become a good and perfect place to hide as the Lord of all Creation passes by to reveal Himself amid the broken fissures and clefts. It’s a very different solid, permanent and immovable place of safety from which to witness the Glory we cannot bear to see — THE Rock.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
John 2:1-12 The Wedding at Cana
1 On the third day THERE WAS A MARRIAGE at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there;
2 JESUS also was invited to the marriage, WITH HIS DISCIPLES.
3 When THE WINE GAVE OUT, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”
4 And JESUS SAID to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me? MY HOUR HAS NOT YET COME.”
5 His mother said to THE SERVANTS, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.
7 Jesus said to them, “FILL THE JARS WITH WATER.” And they filled them to the brim.
8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to THE STEWARD of the feast.” So they took it.
9 When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and DID NOT KNOW where it came from (though THE SERVANTS who had drawn the water KNEW), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom
10 and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but YOU HAVE KEPT THE GOOD WINE UNTIL NOW.”
11 This, the first of HIS SIGNS, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and MANIFESTED HIS GLORY; and HIS DISCIPLES BELIEVED in him.
12 After this HE WENT down to Caper′na-um, WITH HIS MOTHER AND HIS BROTHERS AND HIS DISCIPLES; and there they stayed for a few days.
What is the general theme of the passage?
The wedding is an allegory of faith. Jesus does this first sign to give us a picture of the difference between attending a ceremony as a guest and becoming a participant in a lifelong “feast of the best of meats and the finest of wines.” [Isaiah 25:6 NLT]
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus’s purpose is to move His people from a ritual to relationship; to celebrate the perfect wedding and lasting relationship of the Groom and His bride.
What does it say about people?
People cannot always meet their own needs. Mary wants to organize Jesus, Jesus is reluctant, the guests are oblivious, the steward is confused, the servants were an unwitting part of the sign that convinced the disciples of their belief. The wine was the Sign proving He could overcome all those human obstacles to rituals and relationships.
Is there truth here for me?
I am all the things I wrote about “those” people but nothing can limit glory being manifested better, than when Jesus turns the basic elements of a ceremony into a celebration. I was happy to be a guest at the ceremony for a long time before I realized I have been identified as the “bride” and that God’s rejoicing. Me too!
For just as a young man marries a maiden,
so your sons will marry you;
and just as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so your God will rejoice over you.
Isaiah 62:5 ISV
God is still offering this world His annual reminder to celebrate Christ’s birth, even disguised by what we call the chaos of Christmas. This year in the midst of my very different kind of personal chaos I have been reminded that first Christmas was disguised by chaos too! People lived in a world where harsh circumstances became the evidence they mistakenly used to form their judgments about God and each other. They lived as separate pieces of chaos with no connection to one another. Sound familiar? But…then The Gift of Connection happened.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
Jesus is The Gift of Connection! He is the real Gift sent to us with God’s divine expectations…hoping we would recognize…and receive…the one Gift that could reclaim chaos. The Gift that could connect old Words and Light to overcome darkness. The Gift that would find, and custom-fit, the unrelated shapes, mismatched patterns and varied colors of chaos together to become a perfectly designed whole cloth; every piece connected in just the right spot, at just the right time to become part of something eye catching and unique.
This Christmas, 2021, God still persists in reminding the world he chooses to make whole cloth from pieces of chaos so the world might see how the many parts of His Body and His church can fit together to become proof that His character and promises are made visible by The Gift of Connection and His perfection. Amen!
“All the persons of faith I know are sinners, doubters, uneven performers. We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us.” ― Eugene Peterson
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Every year during December we see the signs of Christmas around us, wreathes, trees, lights and baubles. Advent encourages us to watch for another kind of sign. A sign from the Lord himself that leads us to the cradle again this year to give our own witness to the birth of Christ. Information is one gift the Bible has given us. It paints a vivid picture of the perfect and glorious outcome of that journey of the pregnant virgin and that carpenter to that first cradle and the finally the Birth of Faith, Jesus. That’s what I give thanks for but I believe I may have overlooked another reality to be thankful for. It’s the reality of their tough circumstances and simple obedience that ultimately led to another kind of birth, the birth of my faith. This year I want to imagine and give thanks for their long, hard days on dusty roads and the fatigue, discomfort and inconvenience of travel. I want to appreciate the reality of the relief and gratitude they felt sinking into a pile of smelly straw in a barn at the end of their journey. It was not a perfect situation but they would become part of a perfect plan. I want to be grateful for that too. That pregnant virgin and that carpenter have walked through the words of the prophets, through history, into Bethlehem and now into my life this year to become the Lord’s sign for me of the reality that the Birth of Faith can happen in the most unusual places and circumstances.
Originally posted November 30, 2015
NASB John 1: 35–39 As John the Baptist stood there with two of his disciples, Jesus passed and John stared hard at him and said: “Look, there is the Lamb of God.” Hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus, and Jesus turned around, saw them following, and said, “What do you want?” “Rabbi [which means “teacher”], where do you live?” “Come and see,” he replied. So they went and saw where he lived and they stayed with him the rest of the day. It was about the tenth hour.
There’s no simpler or more effective way to tell people about Jesus than to invite them using His own words…“come and see.” They are gentle words with a mystery about them. That invitation to a one-on-one engagement with Jesus is what makes that relationship a “personal” and effective one. “Come and see” for yourself.
NASB Isaiah 32:18 Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places;
You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?
“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?
But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Your hands fashioned and made me, and now you have destroyed me altogether. Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust?
“Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
2 Timothy 2:20
Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable.
Isaiah 12;1 In that day you will say:
“I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. 2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” 3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
Today I will praise you Lord:
You are faithful even when I deserve anger:
Faithful to intervene because of need
Faithful to love even before obedience
Faithful to teach that need can lead to obedience
You are the Comforter:
When I am uncomfortable
When I am sorrowful
And finally when I am repentant
You are Salvation:
From life with no purpose
Or purpose with no life
You are the reality of life and purpose
You are the power and defender of my salvation:
You make known what seems unknowable
You defend the faith you’ve given
You draw life-giving water up from the deep wells of salvation so we can drink together.
You have become my Salvation for the sake of your own joy:
Your joy has become my shared joy.
Thanks for sharing Lord!
Isaiah 43:3a, 10 & 11 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. [v3a the Lord your God,the Holy One of Israel, your Savior]. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. 11 I, even I, am the Lord
Isaiah 11:1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
My only other “Jesse Tree” was made for a church decoration years ago early in my own faith journey. I was caught up with the idea of a simple branch as a decoration. This year it’s different. The origami Stars are folded around the Word of Light for each post to help me remember. The ornaments for the days in between posts represent ways I do remember God has worked in my life. This year the Jesse Tree is more than a decoration.
Isaiah told about gifts the Savior would receive, “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.”
There’s a little piece of knitting to remember my first real awareness that God could use ordinary hands and a pair of knitting needles for his purposes. Prayer Shawls were knit with nothing more than those hands and trust that God would open my eyes to recognize a connection he’d made between his heart and my hands to know who should receive that shawl. Giving away those shawls was an unexpected gift that changed my life in ways I could never have imagined.
This year the Jesse Tree is my visual reminder of why I choose to spend these days remembering the Big Event; the birth of our Savior. I can see with my own eyes how the branch is changing as the ornaments are added each day. They are the gifts received, remembered and returned that make the branch beautiful and add Isaiah’s capital “B.” God bless the fruit of the Branch.