Category Archives: Wednesday

Wednesday with John – The Sign

John 12:12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
What seems like a victory parade for Jesus is really a crowd full of curious people.  Some in this crowd wave palms because they are Jesus’s friends and support Him though they don’t fully understand His mission.  Some in this crowd wave palms because they saw Jesus raise a man from death to life and it’s all they can talk about.  Some in this crowd wave palms because they are filled with a kind of nationalistic fervor that Jesus may be the one God has sent to be their king. Lastly there must surely be some in this crowd that wave palms to hide their identity as enemies of Jesus and gather evidence they can use against Him.  Jesus recognizes them all.  He deliberately chooses a donkey’s colt, the symbol of a king coming in peace, for His last journey into Jerusalem.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
This IS His time and His choice.  Jesus has thoughtfully managed His involvement with the crowd.  He’s chosen to enter into Jerusalem as a visible sign of Peace that is to come.

What does it say about people?
Whatever the underlying motives of the crowd; friendship or nationalistic fervor, the reason why they’ve come to usher Jesus into Jerusalem is “they heard” of the amazing sign he had done in raising Lazarus.

Is there truth here for me?
Jesus is going to give them another sign that will be life restoring  and make peace a part of their future. “Behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”  Though they “did not understand these things at first,” some will come to recognize Jesus IS the sign to remind them  “that these things had been written about Him and had been done to him” and prove the Pharisees prophetic words in a way they never intended “Look, the world has gone after him.”

Wednesday with John — A Final Choice

John 12:1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
What an unusual but familiar story this is.  It’s filled with facts that are puzzling.  Jesus is a fugitive from the law but this dinner is to honor Him.  Lazarus is evidence that honors God. Martha is honoring Jesus by serving. Mary honors Jesus’s in an unusual display of foot washing at the table.  Judas is blatantly showing the truth of what he honors most.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus’s choices have been perfect…so far.  He hasn’t made any mistakes in his choosing to confront the Pharisees unbelief or in the timing of raising Lazarus from the dead or in choosing how and why Mary will anoint Him.  But what about His choosing Judas Iscariot?

What does it say about people?
Each person in this story, Lazarus, Martha, Mary and Judas Iscariot, has had a very different experience with Jesus.  It makes me think of that brain game, “which of these does not fit?”     

Is there truth here for me?
The answer to that question seems so obvious, but is it?  Jesus did not make a mistake in choosing Judas, nor did He choose Judas to be his betrayer. Judas chose to betray Jesus, the one who’d chosen him!  I believe Jesus chose Judas to teach us a truth that is so simple and so painful that our hearts cannot miss the message…that Jesus chooses to give even betrayer’s a final choice.

Wednesday with John — Gathered In

John 11:45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
There are two damming verses in this passage for those chief priests and Pharisees.  Verse 47 is not about the people impacted by Jesus’s “many signs” but that those miracles have narrowed the Pharisees focus to themselves and a different set of personal pronouns; “we and our” in Verse 48. They have forgotten what their God-given purpose IS.  No longer are they maintaining God’s place and God’s nation for God’s purpose.  They think the real threat to their future is Jesus, not that God remembers His plan.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
God never forgets His purpose is Jesus, “and not for the nation only.”  Jesus’s death IS the miracle of life that will display His purpose “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” throughout history.

What does it say about people?
God will reveal His truth even in the perverted context of man’s reasoning and the human tendency to focus on “we and our” instead of God and Jesus.

Is there truth here for me?
Many of those same people who “had seen what he [Jesus] did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees” and told them what Jesus had done.  They’d all seen Lazarus come out of the tomb with their own eyes but now they’ve separated into two groups.  I know there were other miracles where life was restored but the truth here seems particularly clear; “resurrection” is the dramatic separation between those who believe and those who need an expert to validate what they believe.  Resurrection is how God has gathered in His children to validate their faith and make it personal!

Wednesday with John — Blessing

John 11:28 When she [Martha] had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
This is a story of family and friends coping with the unbearable circumstances of loss when death has upended routines, emotions and actions.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus was moved in His Spirit, and greatly troubled…Jesus wept.

What does it say about people?
Lord, if you had been here…Both Martha and Mary spoke very similar words to Jesus.  Are they an expression of emotion or faith? Even the supporting cast of Jews knows about Jesus and, as He weeps, are wondering that same thing.

Is there truth here for me?
“Jesus wept” over Lazarus even though He knew what was about to happen. This is the same Lord that spoke about a relationship between mourning and comfort.  “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.”  These verses are the “Teacher” living out His truth so I can see His purpose in coming to this place of mourning and death, is still life.  Life is an abundant story that includes death.  Jesus wept, not because death will have any hold over those who will live in eternity with Him but to show me mourning releases the emotional hold death has over those of us who still need to find the blessing of comfort in our life.

To honor my husband, Conrad K. Bedient, July 16, 1933 — April 9, 2021

 

Wednesday with John – Four Surprises

John 11:1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
The main characters in this story are all familiar; Lazarus, his two sisters and Jesus.  Word comes that Lazarus is ill.  The disciples know Jesus’s love for Lazarus and his sisters.  They know this family loves Jesus.  They know there’s danger if they go to Judea. Jesus has assured them Lazarus illness has a purpose; “for the glory of God.”  That’s all familiar to them.  Now two delay days have passed. Jesus tells “them plainly, Lazarus has died…But let us go to him.”  What has been so familiar about this text now adds a surprise character into the picture, “Thomas, called the Twin”

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus loves Lazarus, Martha and Mary.   Surprise #1: He said “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  Surprise #2: Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. ”

What does it say about people?
Surprise #3: the disciples don’t question Jesus’s response until the danger of returning to Judea comes up.

Is there truth here for me?
Surprise #4: John has found a surprising detail to give this familiar story a little plot twist so that they might believe and I might see something new in verse 16. Thomas, familiarly known to me as the “doubter,” is the one God uses to encourage his friends to put aside their doubts about returning to where Jesus’s life has already been threatened.  “So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, says “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Wednesday with John – Your Position

John 10:22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
The Pharisees faithfully celebrate the history of what they already believe.  They have dedicated their lives to the structure of their past.  They have set themselves apart to determine and define every detail of what being chosen looks like in life, faith and politics. Jesus is using miracles and truth, the same evidence God used to secure their past, to confront their present and their future.  They perceive the simple truth Jesus is telling them as a rejection of what they already believe rather than a completion of what God has already shown them.  That’s what makes Jesus hard for them to accept.  “When the pharisees in front of the temple heard Jesus saying that they were not his sheep, they have probably heard it as a complete rejection of their status as elect. But the Jews have not lost their election. In regards to the gospel they are enemies, but in regards to election they are beloved.”a

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus is confronting the position of these “chosen” men with their history, not the security of their history.  He’s asking them is it their history that validates their security OR is it their security that validates their history? 

What does it say about people?
Jesus still asks that same question today in a slightly different way: Is it your life and behavior that validates your position with God OR is it your position with God that validates your life and behavior?

Is there truth here for me?
I am dedicated to defining the details of what being chosen looks like in my life, faith and politics.  Is my security my history with Jesus OR is my history with Jesus my security?  While I may struggle with the role of semantics in answering those three positioning questions because I am a Pharisee, I am also smart enough to know I am “beloved” because Jesus has completed my past and that is why I am among His sheep.   

“Now many of the Jews are enemies of the Gospel. They hate it. But this has been a benefit to you, for it has resulted in God’s giving his gifts to you Gentiles. Yet the Jews are still beloved of God because of his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn; he will never go back on his promises.”  Rom. 11:28-29TLB

ahttps://www.mercyuponall.org/2018/08/02/2763

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.”

 

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

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

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.