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.
John 10:27–28 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Alexa! Hey Siri! OK Garmin! These are names associated with voice recognition technology that enables a machine or computer program to receive, interpret, understand and respond. Even if you personally have never used them, you’ve likely heard those names. I suggest there’s an even more important name associated with voice recognition technology…Jesus!
This verse from John is my evidence that God should be the one to get credit for what seems to be a “new” technology that enables those who follow his Son to receive, interpret, understand, hear, recognize…and follow the voice of their Shepherd…and he will respond, “I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Listen! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; there’s just something about that name. Master, Savior, Jesus, like the fragrance after the rain; Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, let all Heaven and earth proclaim. Kings and kingdoms will all pass away but there’s something about that name. [Bill Gaither]
A New Year is one of those times when I just need God to tell me:
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix you attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” [Romans 12:1-2 MSG]
That’s the Happy in this New Year I pray for you
Ephesians 2:3-5 NIV All of us also lived among them [our transgressions and sins] at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
I’m fascinated with the uniqueness of the Greek language to distinguish subtleties of words and meanings. In this scripture there is one word [hamartia] translated “sin” and another [paraptoma] the NIV translates as “transgressions.” What makes it interesting is not the way we might differentiate between those two words but how the Greeks did. These are my edited notes from William Barlclay’s study of Ephesians.
•Hamartia (Greek #266) is a shooting word that means to miss the target completely.
•Paraptoma (Greek #3900)…means taking the wrong road when we knew enough to take the right one.
Sin is a loaded word even for those of us who believe we are sinners saved by grace. The Greek definitions don’t impact the reality of the scripture but they do influence my courage to recognize and confess the truth of it.
What if I read this Scripture as:
I have also lived with missing the target completely and choosing the wrong road at one time, gratifying the cravings of flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like so many, I was by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for me, God, who is rich in mercy, made me alive with Christ when he saw the road I’d chosen was going nowhere—it is by grace I have been saved.