Friday 21 March 2014

John 11:1-16 - Lazarus dies

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When Jesus hears of Lazarus' illness he says it will not end in death but that it has a purpose. Through this illness, the Son will be glorified. Jesus waits a couple of days, and then decides to head back to Judaea where the religious leaders had so recently wanted to stone him. When the disciples query the wisdom of going back he mentions light and darkness. This would have puzzled them greatly!

Although the disciples misunderstand much that Jesus tells them, they also seem to know that he is their only hope. They know that he has the words of truth, even though they are confused. They know they must continue to follow him even if, as Thomas says, they must die in the attempt.

Their failure to understand the things Jesus teaches yet their willingness, even determination, to follow him is a real example to us. We should be the same. When we think we understand we should follow Jesus, and when we are confused or puzzled we should also follow him. Obedience doesn't depend on knowledge, it depends on trust followed by hearing and doing [Tweet it!]. If I really trust Jesus I will do anything he asks, even if it involves serious danger.

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Thursday 20 March 2014

John 10:22-42 - Hanukkah

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The Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) commemorates the re-dedication of the Jerusalem Temple after the Maccabean revolt against Greek rule. It's also known as the Festival of Lights and takes place in winter time. Re-dedication marks the Temple as holy (set apart for Yahweh's purposes).

Jesus, the Son, is also holy and set apart for his Father's purposes. So at this time when he is in the Temple, the Jewish leaders quiz him about these purposes. Surely if he is the Messiah he will remove the pagans from the city and from the nation and restore Israel. Isn't that what the Messiah was supposed to do?

But Jesus just says that he has already told them he is the Messiah and they disbelieved him. The miracles he performs show clearly that he is the Messiah. He disowns them saying, 'You are not my sheep'; and he makes it abundantly clear again that his sheep hear his voice and are obedient and he gives them eternal life.

These religious leaders don't understand any of the things he says, but they are angered by his claim to be one with the Father. He slips from their grasp and returns to the far side of the Jordan where they are not able to pursue him. And many people who remembered John the baptist came to him and believed the very evidence the religious elite had failed to understand.

Once again we see how important it is to hear Jesus and to follow him. And we are reminded that people with strong religious thinking are unable to understand, let alone follow him [Tweet it!]. Jesus says who he is and provides evidence; our place is to believe him, follow him, obey him and become more and more like him.

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Saturday 15 March 2014

John 10:1-21 - The work of a shepherd

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David was a shepherd before he was anointed the king of Israel, and Jesus who is the King of Kings is also the good shepherd. He says so in verse 11, and he makes it clear that a good shepherd is one who values the lives of the sheep more highly than his own life.

Jesus is speaking fundamental truth to his disciples. He is being completely logical; everything he says hangs together and makes perfect sense. Clearly, the Jews (ie the religious leaders) are divided. Some of them think Yahshua is demon-possessed and crazy; the others are sure his healing power demonstrates otherwise.

The fact is, everything depends on our assessment of who he is. If we think he is crazy and misled we can have no part in his final victory. If we think he is the Son of the Most High and has authority to lay down his life and also to take it up again, we become co-heirs with him of the kingdom and everything that includes and implies.

And for us as Jesus' disciples in the twenty-first century, if we truly follow him we too will be good shepherds [Tweet it!]. This is why he said to Peter, 'Feed my sheep'. If we love him, we will indeed feed his sheep. And feeding a sheep involves leading it to a place where there are green things to eat. We need to be constantly leading one another to the place of healthy nourishment, helping one another to be and remain in Jesus' presence and will.

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Monday 3 March 2014

John 9:20-41 - Be like a Pharisee?

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The parents affirm that the man is their son, and that he was born blind, but they tell the Pharisees that their son will speak for himself on the matter of how he is now able to see. They are being cautious and want to avoid trouble.

The man himself answers that he only knows that he can now see. He irritates them by pointing out that such a miracle is unheard of and concluding that Jesus must, therefore, be a holy person.

They throw him out, but Jesus goes to find him. These are opposite actions; who will we emulate in our own lives - the Pharisees or Jesus? Sometimes we are frustrated by people and no longer want to listen to them or spend time with them. People hurt us, disappoint us, annoy us, are unkind to us; it's tempting to throw such people out of our lives and bar them from returning. That's just human nature, isn't it?

Well, yes it is! But if we follow Jesus and believe in him we are called to be like him. In fact, we are to be like our Father in heaven [Tweet it!], who sends his rain and sunshine on all alike - evil and good. Jesus came to show us the Father, and in our lives it's important that we go to show people the Son. If Jesus lives in me, how can I behave unlike him? He goes out to find people, he draws people to the truth. And I must do the same.

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