Tag Archives: Jesus

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 – Truth Confirmed

John 7:45 The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” 47 The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? 48 Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Pharisee [separated ones] was not a title these pietistic men had chosen for themselves.  It was a somewhat disparaging name others outside their ranks had chosen for them.  The Pharisees motivation lay in their belief that what Moses had written could be adapted by reason and conscience to include unwritten oral law of current Jewish tradition. That’s what separated them.  It was one thing to debate those points with the Sadducees or the crowd BUT this man, Jesus, claimed He was speaking God’s own words!  They didn’t like the words He spoke AND even worse they saw there was power behind them. That was all the proof they needed that Jesus must be stopped!  Nothing reveals the Pharisee’s misuse of reason and conscience more clearly than calling the crowd they were dedicated to teach, “accursed.” 

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus spoke to confirm God’s own heart was to save people, not to give Pharisees a debate forum based on reason and conscience.

What does it say about people?
God uses even flawed reason and conscience.  He gave mankind those gifts and is still in charge of them!  The Pharisees unknowingly were speaking God’s own truth when they asked “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?” OR said “No one ever spoke like this man!”…”search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”

Is there truth here for me?
Truth has become like soap bubbles in the wind.  It catches our eye with it’s prism-like brilliance for a moment and then bursts and disappears. “Make up your own mind” is easier and takes less time than struggling to figure out how to deal with God’s list of moral truth, or Moses’ explanation of the ceremonial working out of that list, or our own mistrust that man is even capable of establishing judicial truth.  But beyond man’s reason and conscience there is God’s truth confirmed that even a Pharisee can reveal: No one ever spoke like Jesus…search and see…the truth of God is God Himself…revealed in Jesus!

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.

Exodus [The Road Out] – Three Curtains

Exodus 40 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Set up the Tabernacle on the first day of the new year.  3 Place the Ark of the Covenant inside, and install the inner curtain to enclose the Ark within the Most Holy Place. 4 Then bring in the table, and arrange the utensils on it. And bring in the lampstand, and set up the lamps. 5 “Place the gold incense altar in front of the Ark of the Covenant. Then hang the curtain at the entrance of the Tabernacle. 6 Place the altar of burnt offering in front of the Tabernacle entrance. 7 Set the washbasin between the Tabernacle and the altar, and fill it with water. 8 Then set up the courtyard around the outside of the tent, and hang the curtain for the courtyard entrance.  NLT

Each of those three curtains: the entrance to the courtyard, the entrance to the Tabernacle within, and finally the entrance into the Holy of Holies – were designed to reveal God’s identity to people caught in the wilderness.  The purpose of each curtain was to make them physically aware of the separation between the wilderness of man and the Holiness of God.  The people’s words often proclaimed their desire to worship God and do all that He asked, but in reality they needed physical reminders it wasn’t their words that separated them from the presence of God but their actions, and so he gave them three curtains. The first curtain was at the entrance gate to the courtyard.
#1 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16

They had to physically pass through that first curtain, with their offering, into a courtyard filled with visceral reminders of sin.  Sin that required a substitute of blood for God’s forgiveness. In that first-step place they would “see” the second barrier; the curtain before the Holy Place that only priests could enter.
#2 for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. 1 Peter 2:9

An finally, beyond their sight, but not their imagination was the last curtain. The curtain that hid the presence of God from them.  A presence so fearful that even the high priest entered with a rope tied about him so he could be pulled out in case he would be struck down because the blood of their sacrifices did not please God; the last barrier to forgiveness.
#3 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Mark 15:37-38
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.  Hebrews 10:19-20

Exodus [The Road Out] – The Blood

Exodus 24:1-8

He [The Lord] said
Come —
Aaron, Nadab, and Abhiu, and seventy of the elders
and worship afar off.
Moses alone shall come near
and the people shall not come up with him.
Moses came and told
all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances.
The people answered with one voice
“All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do.”

Moses wrote all the words of the Lord,
and built an altar at the foot of the mountain.
He sent young men of the people of Israel,
who offered burnt offerings
and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord.
Moses took half of the blood,
he threw against the altar.
He took the book of the covenant,
and read it in the hearing of the people.
They said,
“All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”
Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people
and said,
“Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord
has made with you in accordance with all these words.” RSV

The contrast between the Lord’s instruction for some to come and worship “afar off” but that Moses alone should “come near” was the thing that caught my attention.  That separation is such a different idea than what we understand when Jesus says “Come to me ALL who are weary…”   My modern-day heart is looking for clues from this episode of “back to the future”  because I recognize that contrast still exists.  “Afar off” was the trigger phrase that reminded me these people are homeless, weary prodigals,  people who want, even need, to worship but they are lost in the circumstances of life. This is the Word of the Lord, and He’s the only one who knows the future.

Moses took half of the blood,
he threw against the altar.
Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people
and said,
“Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord
has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

The unpleasant visceral images of Moses’s application of that long-ago gory, blood sacrifice as part of worship have done their work in reminding me there are two important truths about blood sacrifice that have forever changed the future for ALL prodigals and I see the reality of them for today.  Jesus IS the Blood of Sacrifice that identifies both the PLACE of worship and the the PEOPLE who  worship there.

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 – The Beginning

This week I begin two new group studies, one that includes the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy and a second less formal one using the book of John. “Cherry picking” taught me more than I’d anticipated. It was hard to pick fruit based on a word search without forcing the issue. The Message passage from Matthew is still going to be my guide.  Instead of a word, these four questions will be my jumpstarters to read and ponder for Wednesday posts from John and Sunday posts from those Old Testament books.

  1. What’s the general theme of the passage?
  2. What does it say about God [or Jesus or the Holy Spirit]?
  3. What does it say about people?
  4. Is there truth here for me?

Excerpts from John 1:1-18 RSV
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life [Or was not anything made. That which has been made was life in him], and the life was the light of men…14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father…17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.

This is the beginning of the relationship between God, Jesus and us. “In the beginning was [God], and the Word [Jesus] was with God.  God was first!  God did not create Himself and Jesus was not a product of God’s creation.  “And the Word [Jesus] was God.” God offered Himself as God-man so we might see “In him was life, and the life [of His own perfect image, Jesus] was the light of men” that darkness could not overcome. 

John’s witness is to show us we are like those people he speaks of; often content to NOT know more, because we think we already know.  That’s the darkness Jesus has come to shed His light on. The good news is “but to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.”

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.”  The truth is the “light” we beheld is now the light held within usa because Jesus has become part of our flesh.

“No one has ever seen God;
the only Son, who is in the bosom [heart] of the Father.”
“He has made him known” to us.

a Matthew 5:14

“New” Year’s Revolution

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

These words of Jesus are meant to be very personal but personal is different than private.  This is the year in which my husband of nearly 63 years was killed in a tragic accident, and life continues despite the confusion of learning all the things I must now do alone, AND, life is still impacted by a relentless pandemic.  The temptation has been to let grief lure me into believing that isolation must be like rest, right?  Not so!  Over this last year I have learned a “new” thing about the reality of grace.  The less private I’ve allowed my awareness of grace at work in my life to become, the more personal it has become to me.  

In this “New” Year of my life I am not relying on a New Year’s resolution, but on the revolution of recovery that Jesus offers me keeping company with Him and other people of faith.  We can learn to live the “unforced rhythms of grace,” together, walking and working with Jesus, watching how He does life so we can make living “freely and lightly” both personal and possible.  I hope you will join me in this New Year’s Revolution to “recover your life” and to “take a real rest.” Love, Shirle

The Poetry of Love

1 John 4
16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. NIV

God is love
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them
In this world we are like Jesus
This is how love is made complete among us
so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment

The one who fears is not made perfect in love
because fear has to do with punishment
But perfect love drives out fear
There is no fear in love
We love, because he first loved us.

The Cure for Lawlessness

I John 3:4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he [Jesus] appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 

Excerpted from God’s Deliberate Sacrifice
first Posted on September 29, 2019

“…the Jew was always quite clear, when thinking at his highest, that the sins for which sacrifice could atone were sins of ignorance. The deliberate sin did not find its atonement in sacrifice.”  William Barclay

None of the diligent and and rigid rules of sacrifice had the power to deal with the full capacity of a broken human being to choose to sin on purpose.  Jesus was appointed by God to represent the people in matters related to God in place of those sacrifices.  He became God’s deliberate Sacrifice that could remove the deliberate guilt of all sin when He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.