Category Archives: Wednesday

Wednesday with John – God Living Up to His Word

John 6:1 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.
2 And a multitude followed him, because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased.
3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there sat down with his disciples.
4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.
5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”
6 This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.
7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”
8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,
9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?”
10 Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.
12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost.”
13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten.
14 When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!”
15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

•What is the general theme of the passage?
After this?  Jesus had told these same people just a chapter ago “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”  After this…the crowd is still following.  They probably were on their own journey into Jerusalem because “Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.” They “followed” the custom of worship and they “followed” the shiny object of miracles.  Jesus had no illusions about the crowd or their needs. They needed food and He could do that.  They wanted a sign and He could do that too.

• What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus did not assume His authority. He was the miracle worker but He included His disciples in the process of questions and answers because the goal was revealing that God was living up to His word through Jesus.  That was the Miracle they needed to see.

What does it say about people?
It seems unlikely that out of this huge crowd, only “one lad” came prepared with food.  It also seems likely that while many of them had provision they were guarding for their own journey, they weren’t interested in sharing.  These people might not even have realized they were part of a miracle at the moment they reached into that one basket for their share of “five barley  loaves and two fish.”  But by the time that one basket had been passed hand to hand to feed five thousand people, there was a miracle some of them would never forget, there were 12 baskets left over!

• Is there truth here for me?
Sometimes miracles happen in the most basic ways.  I don’t want to miss the historical fact that this miracle was not just for that one moment — because there were leftovers!  Many have already eaten their share before me but Jesus continually refills the miraculous nourishment of His Word.  There’s plenty, take some and pass it on!

Wednesday with John – Daily

John 5
34 Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved.
35 John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message.
36 But I have a greater witness than John—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me.
37 And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face,
38 and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me—the one he sent to you.
39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!
40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. NLT

What is the general theme of the passage?
This is Jesus’s harsh indictment of apathy. Avoiding the witness of His life and the evidence of His teachings and miracles while searching for alternatives is going to end badly; they’ll miss life altogether. The negative response of human nature to judgment and authority is unbelief.  The error of that plan is the two-sided mystery of faith; you don’t believe because you don’t have God’s message in your heart and you don’t have God’s message in your heart because you don’t believe. 

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
God has testified about Jesus.  Jesus has accomplished the work God has given Him.  His teachings and miracles are proof of God’s own witness that He has sent Jesus for a specific purpose, “so you might be saved.”

What does it say about people?
V37 & 38 from The Message says it so clearly: The Father who sent me, confirmed me. And you missed it. You never heard his voice, you never saw his appearance. There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously.

Is there truth here for me?
Many years of hearing “read your Bible every day” seems like a good esample of just what Jesus is saying.  It’s easy to believe that reading Scripture is a good alternative. It’s also easy to avoid it because it’s hard to force my mind to accept that daily reading isn’t just an exercise of faith but is meant to challenge it. “Daily” is part of that two-sided mystery of how difficult, AND how infinitely valuable it is to allow Scripture to transform “what I believe I know” into personal evidence of “what I know I believe.”

Wednesday with John – Life Now!

John 5:19 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise.
20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing; and greater works than these will he show him, that you may marvel.
21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.
22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,
23 that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.  25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself,
27 and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man.

What is the general theme of the passage? Jesus loves His Father and only does what He is asking of Him.  Together they have a purpose; to give life that begins in this hour, now, and into eternity!  God has given Jesus His own power of judgment over life and death so that we might see in Jesus the deity of God lived out in the humanity of man.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
The Father loves the Son, and shows him all that He is doing.  Jesus does only what he sees the Father doing. The Father raises the dead and gives them life.  The Father has given all authority and judgment to the Son to give life “to whom He will.” The Father has life in  himself. The Son also has life in himself.

What does it say about people?
People honor a judge because they recognize He has the power to decide their fate.  What people hear from Jesus, now, will decide their final judgment later. Read verses 25 – 27 with a small rearrangement in the two phrases “Son of God,” and Son of Man . Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and NOW is, when the dead will hear the voice of [GOD THE SON], and those who hear will live.  Got has done HIs power handoff to Jesus “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is [GOD THE MAN.]

Is there truth here for me?
GOD THE SON is GOD THE MAN
who’s come to reveal He’s the identity of God’s life IN us “who do not walk according to the flesh but according the Spirit,” NOW.

Wednesday with John – Some Thing More

John 5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. ESV 

What is the general theme of the passage?
The name Bethesda means either house of mercy or house of grace but it seems improbable that pool has any religious connection to the God of the Jews OR that the people there, were waiting for Israel’s God to heal them, especially on this Sabbath day.  Some versions have added to the ending of verse 3 and all of verse 4.  In many versions this addition is only a footnote a because the ancient manuscripts do not make that connection.  This pool would likely have always been a place of uncleanness to the Jews because “a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed were there.” The mystery of this water is healing happens only when the water is “stirred up.”  

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus chooses to go to this pool to find this man. It seems so similar to what He chose to do when he offered “living” water to the outcast woman at the well.  Jesus’s assurance is “My Father is working until now, and I am working” even on the Sabbath.

What does it say about people?
Here are some questions to read and ponder: Why did the crippled man not just say “yes” when Jesus asked him “Do you want to be healed?”  If he IS a Jew, what’s he doing there on the Sabbath?  If he’s NOT a Jew, why did he go to the Temple after his healing?  This invalid man may be yet another story of someone who is not necessarily Godless, but not Godly either.  He knows some of the essentials: the water in this pool is identified with the grace and mercy of some mysterious power.  He knows there is some miraculous healing possible. He knows he needs some thing more, some one who can get him to that “stirred up” water.

Is there truth here for me?
How many times has this man been taken to this same pool and been disappointed?  Jesus is not just the some one who will put that invalid into the pool to be healed.  HE IS the “stirred up” water”  that man cannot reach on his own.  Jesus has given that invalid man the one  thing that pool could never offer, a healing that is something more — a connection to Him.  Jesus is the missing verse 4! 

a “waiting for a certain movement of the water, for an angel of the Lord came from time to time and stirred up the water. And the first person to step in after the water was stirred was healed of whatever disease he had.”

Wednesday with John – Advantage Takers

32 DAYS TO EASTER!

John 4:43 After the two days [in Samaria]  he [Jesus] departed for Galilee. 44 (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) 45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus has narrowed the scope of his influence by moving from the big city of Jerusalem, through the in-between place of Samaria, to zero in on His home territory.  Jesus isn’t fooled into assuming the basis of the welcome in Galilee is prompted by anything more than the “actions speak louder than words” stories of His time in Jerusalem.  Those miracle-working realities are meant to be actions that emphasize the Words of truth behind them.  His recent time in Samaria shows us the stark contrast of the “Samaritans welcoming Jesus because of His Words and the people of Galilee focused on the signs and wonders.”a

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?) Jesus has come to His home for one prophetic purpose: to help those who could not see past the power His actions to hear and recognize the truth of His Words. 

What does it say about people?
People are advantage-takers and Jesus has come home for the express purpose to give the people in His home territory the opportunity to take advantage of Him.

Is there truth here for me?
I wrote that line above about Jesus giving the opportunity to take advantage of Him as a play on words before it actually dawned on me how true those words were. Jesus is just 32 days from this year’s reminder that He has overcome a desperately broken and negative sin of humanity – to be users of each other and God.  Easter is the action He took to speak the reality of His Words and His Spirit into my past, my present and my future so that I might recognize His purpose for me is to take full advantage of Him and never be satisfied with anything less.

a https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/go-your-son-will-live

Wednesday with John – In Between

John 4:39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s  testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” RSV

What is the general theme of the passage?
I suppose because I’m studying both John and Exodus at the same time, this familiar story seems like another story about an exodus to me – the road out of a wilderness on the journey home. Jesus has chosen this direct route that connected the wilderness with the tainted land of Samaria on his way home to Galilee.  Somehow that seems important.  Jesus’s own baptism and the place of God’s proclamation of His Sonship took place in that Judean wilderness.  That is also the place Satan hoped, and failed, to disgrace both Jesus and God with desperate temptations about food, faith and power.  Jesus survived that wilderness and now He’s become the saving link for Samaria, the “in-between” place, filled with people who’ve lost their right to even claim the title “Jew” and He can offer them a greater Home. 

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Spirit?)
Jesus was able to combine their remembered facts with experience and truth in a way that reached into the history of their heart to turn their facts into faith that He was their way out of that “in-between” place. 

What does it say about people?
The practical truth about Jesus is that He is God and capable of saving people caught “in between” their wilderness and their true Home.  The woman at the well knows old “facts” but is less interested in instructions about eternity than she is in not having to haul water every day.  She acknowledges “our father Jacob, who gave us the well” and “our fathers worshiped on this mountain.”  She obviously has knowledge that affects her mind without her having a conscious awareness her facts are the “kindling” of faith. One new fact has ignited something of faith for her,  “He told me all that I ever did.”

Is there truth here for me? I thought about my own moment of recognizing Jesus, and all the “facts” I’d had for a long time before that day came.  Doubt was not my wilderness, I believed those facts!  But someone else’s facts are only the “in-between” part of faith.  It’s when Jesus enters the “in-between” and turns facts into kindling that ignites faith that you recognize you’ve survived the wilderness and have a Home to aim for.

Wednesday with John – Conversation

John 3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.”Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? …7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ 8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.”16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

What is the general theme of the passage?
It’s like Nicodemus and Jesus are having a conversation about two different things.  Nicodemus wants Jesus to know he knows the corporate “we” position: “we” recognize your position with God because of the signs you do.  It’s an odd conversation because Jesus responds to Nicodemus as if he’s answering a question about the Kingdom of God rather than replying to a statement about faith.  Jesus has answered that unasked question to help Nicodemus figure out his “personal” position with God, even if it means going back to square one and learning about love, faith and relationship with God, as if you’re a new born baby.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?
Jesus answers questions of faith our hearts don’t know enough to ask. Jesus has Kingdom answers for our unasked questions that will remind us that new birth is the reality of  our faith and our continued growth.  

What does it say about people?
We’re confused about our faith and what to expect from it.  Our hearts and minds fool us into depending on what “we” know as the basis of our faith rather than our personal relationship with Jesus.

Is there truth here for me?
Keeping the conversation with Jesus going will answer the Kingdom questions I don’t know enough to ask…yet!  I have physical senses that let me feel and hear the wind and I have Spiritual senses [born of the Spirit] so I can understand the difference between a comfortable breeze and a brewing storm in life and in faith — “so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.”  

Check out this resource on John 3:16.  I feel safe in guaranteeing you will never “breeze” through that verse casually again after investing your time in John Piper’s four labs on John 3:16

Wednesday with John – The Celebration

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;
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

Wednesday with John – Us and Them

John 1:35 The next day
John was standing with two of his disciples

36 and said “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
37 The two disciples
followed Jesus
38 Jesus turned and saw them following
“What do you seek?”
They said

“Rabbi, where are you staying?”
39 He said“Come and see.”
They stayed with him that day,
40 One of the two was Andrew.
41 He first found his brother Simon
“We have found the Messiah”
42 He brought him to Jesus.
43 The next day
Jesus found Philip and said…“Follow me.”
45 Philip found Nathan′a-el

“We have found him
whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote,
Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 “Come and see.”
47 Jesus saw Nathan′a-el coming to him
“Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”
48 Nathan′a-el said…“How do you know me?”
Jesus answered.

Before Philip called you
“I saw you.”
50 “You shall see greater things” RSV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Kingdom evangelism of others is pretty obvious, but I wonder if it’s something bigger, like “us and them?”  John sees Jesus walking and identifies him as the Lamb of God.
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus notices.  He responds to their curiosity. He invites, “come and see.”
What does it say about people?
They’re curious. The two disciples have obviously already heard about the Lamb of God.  Maybe they’ve even heard of Jesus and what he’s done.  They know enough to call Him “Rabbi’ (which means Teacher).” They’re curious enough to follow Him.  Something has happened as a result of their simple curiosity and the time spent with Jesus that has convinced them He IS the Messiah.
Is there truth here for me?
God didn’t plan evangelism as busy-work for believers.  My human nature wants to narrow the scope of evangelism to reaching out to someone else. It’s simpler to believe sharing the truth I know about Jesus is all it takes to make Him attractive to others. It’s true that what I have recognized about Jesus can be enough to provoke curiosity in someone else.  The real truth is my faith has limited value to the faith of anyone else…but curiosity is catching.  The gift of curiosity and time, invested together with the invitation to “come and see” how Jesus will reveal Himself is what makes evangelism personal for “us and them.”

Wednesday with John – 4 Words of Identity

John 1:19-34 [RSV] Here is a compilation of verbatim phrases and sentences copied from these verses.  This is a personal study method of identifying an important part of each verse and then letting them guide what I write. 

19 the testimony of John
Who are you?
20 He confessed, he did not deny
I am not the Christ.
21Are you Eli′jah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the prophet?”
he answered, “No.”
22 What do you say about yourself?
23 I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness,
24 they [priests and Levites] had been sent from the Pharisees
25 why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Eli′jah, nor the prophet?”
26 among you stands one whom you do not know,
27 he who comes after me
28 This took place in Bethany
29 Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
31 I myself did not know him
32 And John bore witness,
“I saw the Spirit descend and it remained on him
33 I myself did not know him
He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain
this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.
34 I have seen and have borne witness
this is the Son of God.”

This is the kickoff week of the ”public” ministry of Jesus.  It must have been like drawing the short straw for the priests and Levites that were sent to that wild place to question John.  He could read between the lines; he knew their question “who are you?” was code for “do you claim to be yet another messiah?”  It’s interesting to think about John’s courage implied by this phrase, “he confessed, he did not deny.”  There were many false messianic claims and that phrase was a critical part of his answer, “I am not the Christ.” Perhaps the most dangerous part of his ministry was the act of baptism itself. John had just identified himself as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” telling God’s chosen people they weren’t clean enough.  There was something more they needed to do: to be cleansed by baptism in preparation for the coming of the Messiah,  just as if they were the same as an impure Gentile.

John resisted identifying his own activity with anything [or anyone] other that what he’d just seen with his own eyes: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Twice John uses the odd phrase “I myself did not know him” but we know he did know WHO Jesus was. His confession was that now he recognized WHAT Jesus was, and that confirmed his own identity. “For this I came baptizing with water, that he [Jesus] might be revealed to Israel.”

He had become a disciple!  “And John bore witness, I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him…He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.”  What he’d witnessed with his own eyes was the work of the Holy Spirit.  He could personally confess to the reality of  that work as the  truth of  his own testimony: “this is the Son of God.”

Disciple: a personal follower
Witness: personal observation
Confession: personal knowledge
Testimony: the confession of a follower from personal knowledge