Category Archives: John

Second Chance: John 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

John 2 NIV
• 2:9…and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” 11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

• 2:14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”

• 2:23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

The Wedding was people coming together to celebrate an important event and an important time in an ordinary village.  The very happy circumstances of a village wedding became unique and even more memorable because Jesus stepped in.

The scene at the Temple is also about people coming together to celebrate an important purpose at an important time but this time in a very important place.  Chaos, animals and noise were a different set of circumstances that became unique and even more memorable when Jesus stepped in.

Those two stories couldn’t be any more different in their circumstances but there is a common thread; Jesus stepped in to effect change in the people involved.   Thankfully Jesus doesn’t entrust himself to the polar opposites of human thoughts and behaviors.  He has entrusted himself and his heart, instead, to our need for renewal whatever the circumstances look like.

The Firsts – John

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  

We all know about keeping schedules don’t we?  They depend on arriving at the right place at the right time.  That’s why the word “came” defined the reality of the first 5 verses of John for me.  There was a plan!  There was a time!  There was a schedule!  There was a baptist and there was a Jesus!

* John “came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.  He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.”
* Jesus “came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet …to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—…born of God.  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen…the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth…For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”
…so….
16 “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.”
‭‬‬and that’s still on the schedule.  Don’t miss it!

This Then…Give Us This Day – That Mental Leap

3. Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray:…
11 Give us today our daily bread

• Numbers 11: 5 We [the Israelites] remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”
• Exodus 16:4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” … 19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”…21 Each morning everyone gathered as much [manna] as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away.

It’s not much of a leap from this line of the Lord’s Prayer to the “manna” bread God provided daily for the Israelites. They ate it but they grumbled about it even though it was what sustained them during their wandering years until they reached the promised land.  Their grumbling was focused on the familiarity of what they had to eat but in reality their problem was what they “wanted” to eat. 

I’m not that different from the Israelites after all.  I’m not immune from grumbling about the “daily” aspect of the spiritual nourishment God has provided for me.  It’s hard to get up every day and want to look for fresh food in the familiar Book and the familiar Word when I could just flip on the TV.  I remember fondly the tasty spiritual meals I’ve already had and can easily forget they were just “enough for that day.” I confess I need to hear Jesus remind me “this then is how you should pray…give us today our daily bread” and then tell me “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 

I read and ponder daily because because Jesus is that mental leap for me that turns familiar bread into the bread of “wanting” what will sustain me until the banquet at end of my wanderings.  

Because I Was There

John 16:12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 

Quote from Jean-Pierre de Caussade: “The duties of each moment are the shadows beneath which hides the divine operation.”

Could I look back and see the reality of the truth Jesus promised in John 16 and the ‘divine operation’ hidden under the shadow of my own duties?  The earliest shadow I remember goes way back to 1963 before I even recognized there was a journey of faith and I wasn’t on it. I was married.  I was a young mother.  I was in church.  I was in a Bible study.  I was ignorant…BUT I was there.  I’d married a preacher’s kid and you were “supposed” to go to church.  It was only a duty but they had free babysitting.  Isn’t that an interesting list of contradictions? 

I wanted to know how you could be an open person when life was teaching you to build a protective shell of “image” around yourself.  I knew about that!  I asked my question in that Bible study not realizing just how much it revealed what I didn’t know.  I didn’t know God would continue to work his divine operation hidden under the shadow of that one duty…because I was there.

I’m grateful for the discovery of that quote from Jean-Pierre de Caussade this week.  It’s true “the duties of each moment are the shadows beneath which hides the divine operation” and more importantly it confirms the truth of Jesus’s words, and the reality of his commitment: “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.  But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” 

Maundy Thursday Bread

Bread for Breakfast: the first meal of the day.
• Matthew 6:9
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”

I’ll bet you’ve never thought of your hours of sleep as fasting but that’s what they are. This “break-fast” meal is nourishment that only comes from heavenly food.  The downloadable graphic image at the left is created by Pastor Greg Long and used with his permission.  Click on the image to enlarge it and print.   Jesus’s familiar prayer can become bread for your daily nourishment.

Bread for Lunch: A meal eaten in the middle of the day.
John 6:32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven…35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.

Lunch is often a meal eaten on the run, “sandwiched” in between that first awakening and the end of the day. Doesn’t that sound like a metaphor for the span of our life on earth? Jesus declares “it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven…I am the bread of life.”  He is our spiritual nourishment for this “middle of the day meal” we call life.

Bread for Supper: the final meal of the day.
Matthew 26:26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.“

Jesus had probably eaten many evening suppers with his closet friends. Unlike  other meals they’d shared, this “last” supper was to become one they’d never forget.  A simple piece of bread and an ordinary cup would become enduring reminders for his followers of a life link between them.  Jesus still honors his covenant to nourish “his” life within us through that bread and cup.  He doesn’t need to be reminded about that, but today we do.  

Cause and Effect

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I’ll bet most of us have thought about our own salvation in terms of surrendering our circumstances and behavior to God. There may be as many stories of personal conversion as there are saved people. That testimony almost always states the effects, the blessings, of “our” surrender to him.

This quote from My Utmost for His Highest reminded me of the “cause” of my surrender: “The fact that He [Jesus] saves from sin and makes us holy is actually part of the effect of His wonderful and total surrender to us.”

It’s a blessing to live with the effects of our surrender but there would be no blessing without the reality of John 3:16. It was God’s “total surrender” of his own son Jesus on our behalf that caused our surrender to effect his blessings in our life. We surrender to God because he first surrendered to us!

Assurance –

John 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”

It’s a desirable thing to be a servant to Jesus but it’s even better to be a friend. A servant operates on a need-to-know basis to accomplish an assigned task. A friend shares the privilege of knowing the master plan. The great heroes of the Old Testament, Moses, Abraham and David, were honored to be identified as servants of God. They were faithful but their access to God was limited. For the most part they saw God as a chief-of-state they could only catch glimpses of through the eyes of the chief priest and obeying the law.

Now Christ has bridged that gap between servant and friend. This is your assurance: that friendship is yours at the most personal level; the Spirit of Christ living inside you. He did not choose you to live a life based on what someone else may or may not know but has provided all YOU need to know to be his friend. He’s chosen you as his representative so you “might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last” in the world we live in – our Father’s world. The ability to know God is only limited by our desire to know Jesus Christ on the same intimate level that he knows his Father.