Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” 40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
Jesus was once more deeply moved. Other translations say “Jesus was still angry…” So, the question is, “what gets Jesus angry”? The answer is in V40 where Jesus tells Martha, “didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believed?”
Jesus had sent the message that Lazarus would not die. Yet all that Martha could see was that Lazarus did die. And because Lazarus died, he was fully prepared for the grave and sealed in a tomb. For Martha, Lazarus was dead and buried, and Jesus didn’t keep his promise.
The disappointment of “seeing” Lazarus die, meant that Martha no longer believed what Jesus said. It was unbelief that moved Jesus deeply, it even made him angry.
But this is what I love about God. Martha’s unbelief didn’t stop Jesus from keeping his promise. It doesn’t matter what we can “see”, what matters is that even in our struggle to believe, God still keeps his promises.
No matter how bad things might look, even if what we are hoping for dies, nothing is too difficult for God. All that matters, is what God has said. Jesus raised Lazarus to life, Jesus kept his word.
Father, I know that I have given up on some thing’s because of what I can see. Help me to keep believing. I choose again to keep believing and trusting in you and your promises.
Written by Andrew Martin
17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[a] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” 28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then 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 have kept this man from dying?”
I have witnessed and experienced miracles, but I have never seen a dead person come back to life.
I wonder what Lazarus experienced? I wonder if he had a taste of the eternal as Ian McCormack did when he was stung by a box jellyfish and died, before coming back to life? (he visited our church once- see his testimony here https://youtu.be/59mRZ1Vj8ZU)
But a bigger question for me is why did Jesus bring Lazarus back to life? There are probably many simple or pithy answers, but I wonder if I think longer on Christ, his purpose, his nature and character, if I might receive a fresh insight into the access that I have to eternal life really is.
Lord, your love for me is great and powerful, and expressed for me in the same way that your son Jesus expressed his love for Lazarus. You were sad and angry when I was in death, but now you have brought me in to eternal life.
Written by Ps. Justin Ware
11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” 8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” 11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. 14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Jesus knew Lazarus was going to die, but he stayed where he was. The NLT says in verse 5, ‘although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days.’ Even though he loved them and even though he knew Lazarus was going to die, he waited. Finally, after the two days are up and Lazarus is dead, he returns to the family.
Meanwhile, Lazarus has died, his life ended, and his poor sisters and friends left to grieve. It seems cold and calculated that Jesus would let this happen, except that there was a bigger purpose. Jesus would do the impossible and raise Lazarus back to life.
For all the grief they endured for those few days, believing Lazarus was lost, how much joy did they experience when he was restored to them? And how many people in the years, centuries and millenia since have found hope in knowing that the God who raised Lazarus from the dead is with them. I am sure that Lazarus and his sisters could not have imagined the importance of their story.
Thank you God that you do nothing carelessly, and that you are a God of restoration and hope. No matter what I see or experience, please help me to trust in your wisdom, love and eternal perspective.
Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh
22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” 31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” 33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. 40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.
John has just recorded Jesus talking about himself as the good shepherd & his sheep (people) knowing his voice. Jesus now continues this as he is ambushed while walking in the Temple. The Jewish leaders want to know if he is the predicted Messiah, the Saviour. Jesus’s response shows them that they are not his sheep or they would recognise him & the miracles he’s done.
It seems as though these Jewish leaders already had their minds & hearts made up, they were ready to dismiss him either way. Jesus said plainly “you do not believe because you are not my sheep”.
I need to be careful to keep my heart following Jesus, so that I don’t miss what he’s doing or what he is speaking to me, lets not be like these leaders who because they didn’t like the answer, it wasn’t what they wanted to hear, they completely missed the salvation they had been waiting for. They walked away from eternity.
Jesus it’s my desire to follow you all the days of my life. Thank you for your promise of eternal life & for the security, care & love you show me as the Good Shepherd. Amen
Written by Suzie Hodgson
10 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. 7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” 19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” 21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
V10 contains such a wonderful promise – life to the full through Jesus. What a wonderful example of this is presented in the previous chapter with the restoration of the man who was born blind. Not just a physical restoration to wholeness, but freedom from a life of judgment (Ch 9v2) and an existence governed by rules (Ch 9 vv14-16). The man recognised Jesus’ voice (v4) as a man of God. Jesus is offering so much more – he is bringing eternal life with God to all who believe in him, who follow him (v4). It’s the offer of a restoration of God’s original plan for everyone one of us.
The image of the Shepherd reminds us of Psalm 23. Jesus is saying I am the Shepherd who will always be there, walking ahead, showing the way, providing and caring. There is something more though and to me one of the most powerful truths Jesus spoke is in v 14. We are each known by him. When you think about sheep, well really they do look a lot alike. But no, Jesus is saying each of us is known personally by him, because he is our loving God. There is an immensity in a God who can know every person, but at the same time loves and understands each individual. He is after all a God of relationship, which is at the heart of this fantastic passage.
Jesus I know your voice. Thank you for the conversation we will have today and for the life you have given me. Amen
Written by Claire Moore
35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” 38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” 40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” 41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
I love this man’s clarity of sight.
Even before he is healed he has more self-awareness than these intelligent Pharisees: He knows he has a problem that only God can fix. Though he could not see the visible world he sees the spiritual significance of what has happened to him with crystal clarity, in dramatic contrast to the learned scholars.
Jesus calls himself “the Son of Man” many times, but it seems that only this man sees its significance. “The Son of Man” is not just a theological term. He’s personal. He’s here now. He requires a response: the “blind” man seeks him with purpose; he asks the Son of Man to reveal himself; he acknowledges him as his Lord; he believes in him unreservedly; and he worships Jesus. Again, it’s a sharp contrast to the Pharisees who respond with hostility and a challenge.
Jesus, I want to be like that “blind” man who saw so clearly.
Written by David Cornell
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided. 17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” The man replied, “He is a prophet.” 18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?” 20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” 24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” 25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” 26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” 28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
I actually find this a scary passage of Scripture. On the surface I like that this guy is giving the Pharisees some real lip! But as I sit in this story I am struck with the reality that these men who are pressing the formerly blind man and his family with questions, these men are so committed to a particular path, a particular way of life, that they refuse to accept the evidence before them. They were committed to a way of life that gave them honour in their society. To become a believer and follower of Jesus would be to lose that honour, to literally be kicked out of the Synagogue. The blind man on the other hand had nothing to lose and was ready to believe and follow Jesus. He received a great miracle.
As I look at my life, I see that there is faith and growth in God in some areas. In others, there is stifled growth or no growth. These areas of little or no growth are areas where, like the Pharisees, I am still somewhat committed to another path, another way of living. For me, some of the common paths that distract me from the way of Jesus are comfort, wealth and pleasure.
Lord there is too much at stake to be playing around with dead-end paths. Comfort is no guarantee, wealth perishes and worldly pleasure is fleeting and can turn into hideous pain. Lord help me double down on your path, your way!
Written by Andrew Mellor
9 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. 8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” 10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked. 11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” 12 “Where is this man?” they asked him. “I don’t know,” he said.
Jesus firmly resists an analysis of the world which is purely cause and effect. The world is stranger than that, and darker than that, and the light of God’s powerful, loving justice shines more brightly than that. But to understand it all, we have to be prepared to dismantle some of our cherished assumptions and to let God remake them in a different way. We have to stop thinking of the world as a kind of moral slot-machine, where people put in a coin (a good act, say, or an evil one) and get out a particular result (a reward or a punishment). Of course, actions always have consequences. Good things often happen as a result of good actions (kindness produces gratitude), and bad things often happen through bad actions (drunkenness causes car accidents). But this isn’t inevitable. Kindness is sometimes scorned. Some drunkards get away with it. Being born blind doesn’t mean you must have sinned, says Jesus. Nor does it mean that your parents must have sinned. No: something much stranger, at once more mysterious and more hopeful, is going on. The chaos and misery of this present world is, it seems, the raw material out of which the loving, wise and just God is making his new creation.
New creation always seems puzzling. Nobody in the story could quite figure out whether the man was the same or not. Sometimes when people receive the good news of Jesus it so transforms their lives that people ask the same question: is this really the same person? Can someone who used to lie and steal, to cheat and swear, have become a truthful, wholesome, wise human being? The answer is yes, this can and does happen.
Father may we experience Your new creation life so deeply that we are never the same again and people do not even recognise us!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” 49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” 52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” 54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” 57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” 58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
This passage covers the final events of a visit Jesus made to Jerusalem to attend a Jewish festival. By this time in his ministry Jesus had performed many miracles and had begun to speak openly about Himself. He had gained many followers but also enemies, some of who wanted Him killed.
Just prior to Jesus leaving the festival in v58 in an exchange with some angry Jews he says, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’. This is a reference to Exodus 3:14 and probably the clearest statement Jesus could make that He is the incarnation of Jehovah God Almighty.
To be honest, if I had been there myself, I am not sure I would have believed Him. It reminds me of the proposition made by C.S. Lewis, you only have three options regarding Jesus.
He is either a Lunatic, a Liar, or Lord.
As Christians we confess ‘Jesus is Lord’ but the question I have challenged myself with recently is ‘does my private life agree with my confession?’.
It is a great question to ask yourself. For most people, if you cannot find anything in your behaviour that needs improving it usually means you haven’t been prayerfully asking the question.
Lord, I ask you today, to bring to our awareness areas of our behaviour we need to better align with our confession ‘Jesus is Lord’! Amen
Written by David Newton
39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
The old saying ‘actions speak louder than words’ rings just as true now as it did for the Pharisees speaking to Jesus. We may be able to kid ourselves, but our behaviour and actions reveal our heart. A label or signing a church membership doesn’t mean I belong to Christ. While I can’t live worrying what others think, I hope the way I live reveals that I follow Jesus. I need to make sure my behaviour lines up with what I say. Jesus burned the people he speaks to here, but I want him to proudly say to the Father ‘I know her, see, she belongs to us’. Jesus is speaking of a relationship, knowing the Father, not just knowing about the Father. I want to live with patent integrity. I want people to see Jesus in me.
Heavenly Father I thank you for all you have done for me. Thank you I can belong to you. Help me Lord to follow you faithfully. May I always bring Glory to your name, in Jesus name Amen.
Written by Christine Knight
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” 34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.
As I read the conversation here between Jesus and some of his contemporaries, it strikes me that this could easily be reinterpreted in a modern day context.
It might sound something like this…
Jesus: If you follow my teaching, then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free
Post-modernist: Free? I don’t need to be set free – I’m a slave to no man.
Jesus: Well actually, everyone is a slave to sin, whether you know it or not. I’m offering you true and lasting freedom if you will follow me.
Post-modernist: How very narrow – how dare you call me a sinner! I’m a good person.
Jesus: I understand that you don’t like the sound of what I’m saying, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.
Me: Good point. I think if we are honest, we would all admit that none of us like to be told that we are flawed and slaves to sin.
For this “good girl”, this is an uncomfortable truth, but one that I’ve had to come to terms with. I’ve recently discovered that the more I’ve acknowledged my sinfulness, the more free I have truly become.
Thank you Jesus that the truth of who I really am – a sinner saved by grace – has truly set (and continues to) set me free.
Written by Shelley Witt
21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.” 22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?” 23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” 25 “Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” 27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.
Tough crowd! Jesus has an up hill battle with this lot. They just didn’t get it. Jesus, God the Father, His ascension, where He came from, their sin and consequent death if they don’t believe – none of it.
They even asked “who are you?”
But people were still listening. People were still believing! (See verse 30)
I need to remember this. When I have those conversations about my faith that I think are going nowhere, badly even, who knows who could be listening. God only knows who could be believing, even as I speak. I just need to speak!
Thanks Lord, that you waste nothing. Please take all my words and efforts to share my faith – even the ‘bad’ ones – and use them to rescue people. Amen.
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” 19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.
Jesus proclaims himself to be the Light of the world. A rather brazen statement, the Pharisees don’t miss a beat challenging Jesus about such a claim. They question him on his authority saying he needs someone to verify his statement. Jesus doesn’t balk: My statement is valid even without someone else backing me up (v14).
How can Jesus be so sure of himself? How can He be so confident when people question Him?
More than confidence, Jesus has assurance. He knows. He knows who He belongs to, He knows who sent Him. He knows where He came from and where He is going. More than purpose, Jesus has a relationship with His Father. He knows: I am not alone (v16). I am One of two (v16 AMP). There are two of us, I and the Father (v16 AMP).
This relationship gives Jesus an unshakeable strength and steadfastness. He doesn’t care what others think. His life is undergirded by the closeness He has with His Father.
Lord Jesus, I thank you that you model the type of relationship I too can have with our Heavenly Father. One that is my source of strength and assurance. One that helps me disregard questions and doubts.
Written by Gab Martin
[The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53—8:11. A few manuscripts include these verses, wholly or in part, after John 7:36, John 21:25, Luke 21:38 or Luke 24:53.] 53 Then they all went home, 8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
This whole episode arises because the scribes and Pharisees want to trap Jesus, want a basis for accusing him, in order to discredit him and even to remove him from public life altogether – whether by imprisonment or death, no doubt. Jesus turns what is a terribly humiliating and deliberately destructive set of actions into a moment of redemption, love, and healing.
This passage is a direct affirmation of the promise made of God in Romans 8:28 – that he makes everything work out for His good. The key is, though, that He can and does. If I was in Jesus’ shoes in this episode, I would have been hard pressed as to how to handle the whole situation. Not my Jesus!
That’s why I trust in Him, I listen to Him, and I follow Him. And when I, or those around me, are hard pressed in tough situations like this woman found herself in, I come to Him – “Jesus, work this out for your good purposes! Give breakthrough wisdom, that silences the arrogant and foolish, and that heals and restores the broken and needy. Amen”
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” 46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied. 47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”
The temple guards, who were supposed to arrest Jesus, came back in awe of Jesus. They are ridiculed for believing that, maybe, Jesus is the Messiah. The Jewish leaders were so caught up in the law that they were incapable of really understanding Jesus’ words of life and grace. Their belief that only they knew the truth stopped them from seeing the fulfilment of the law in front of their eyes.
Sometimes I can get caught up in what is the ‘right’ thing to do rather than bringing God’s grace and words of life to a situation. When I look with the eyes of Jesus and listen with the ears and heart of Jesus I can allow others to experience the awesomeness of Jesus. When my thinking gets out of the way, others can know Jesus as the Messiah and worship Him.
Father I thank you that you sent Jesus to earth so that we don’t have to live under law but can now live under grace. Father I pray that your grace and truth will abound in me so that it can overflow into the lives of those around me. Amen
Written by Meredith O’Neill
37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. 40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.
Over January we have been learning and hearing from God about the Holy Spirit. How incredible to think that Jesus says in this passage “anyone who is thirsty can come”; however those who believe “can come and drink”. Every person is invited to COME to Jesus; but only those who believe can COME and DRINK. “the scriptures declare that ‘rivers of living water will flow from His heart.”
In this hot weather over summer it has reminded me afresh that people become dry and thirsty in tough conditions. People in our community are dry and thirsty for truth, for honesty, for integrity, for freedom, for purity, for grace, for a message that brings life, hope and a future.
I have thought about this – what can I do to help people see the “river of Christ’s hope in me”? I can remove blockages, I can focus my heart and my mind on Christ, I can pray for release and freedom. I can think less about myself and my circumstances and focus more about how God can use me.
Lord help me to see others better and clearer. Give me the skill and ability to connect with others and help them to see you. Help me to be a river of living water this year.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
25 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? 27 But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” 28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” 30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?” 32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. 33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”
This passage is placed so uniquely in the timeline of Jesus ministry. The authorities are in the midst of planning his arrest but can not execute it yet because it isn’t time.
In Verse 28 Jesus explains that while the Pharisees have a knowledge of who He is in reference to his background, culture and upbringing they have missed the revelation of who he is in God. A solely informational awareness of who Jesus is will never catch the significance of who he is as our Lord and Saviour, the Messiah.
I am fascinated by the verse that explains the attempts to seize him, which resulted in no one laying a hand on him because his hour had not yet come. The visual element of this really grabbed my attention, they could not physically grab him nor detain him at this point. I love that God’s sovereignty is on full display in this moment.
Looking back on scripture is a privilege that allows us to see it within the context of the full story. The Pharisees knew the scriptures and knew that a Messiah was coming, however they missed it when Jesus was right there; they knew the information but missed the revelation. This scripture encourages me to continually remind myself to search for God in the situation, not to rely solely on history, understanding or experience but to actively choose to see God and to seek out the revelation.
Lord, thank you for your word. Thank you that it is the light for our feet and our guide to life. Help us to find you in our daily life. Give us eyes to see you in each circumstance, each situation we find ourselves in and lead us back to you with a fresh revelation of your love for us. Amen.
Written by Ps. Annique Botta
14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?” 16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” 20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?” 21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”
I really like how Jesus regularly challenges the judgements people made about him. So much of it was around the Law and their understanding of it. When the crowd was against what he did, he responded by saying: “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgement” (v24).
The actions that we see don’t always reflect the motives for what was done.
For Jesus, the “why” was more important than “what”. The heart is more important than the action. For the crowd, they saw the “what”, the action but didn’t know why Jesus did the things he did. They were so bound up in observing the Law that they lost sight of God, who is more interested in our heart than our actions.
We will make mistakes, some small, some really big, but what matters to God is our heart.
It’s the same with regrets. I have been challenged recently about a few things that I regret, things that happened quite a while ago. All I can remember is the result, and I remember what went wrong, and wish I could somehow fix those mistakes, but I can’t. What I can do, is remember why I did what I did. Did I set out to hurt someone? No, absolutely not. But reflecting, I can say that I did the best I could for everyone.
To “judge correctly” as Jesus says, don’t forget to look beneath the surface, also look at the motives, whether it is for someone else or even for yourself.
Father, help us not to be quick to judge, but to look beneath the surface to make a right judgement, whether that is for someone else, or even ourselves. Better than a judge, you are a good father to us. I am thankful that our hearts are more important to you than anything else.
Written by Andrew Martin
7 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him. 6 Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 8 You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee. 10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?” 12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.
In this passage I am struck by the peace and confidence of Jesus. He knows himself. He knows his father. He knows the right timing for his actions.
The brothers motivation here was that Jesus should come and show off his power and become famous. Maybe they were also seeking more signs themselves, so that they could be convinced of who he was.
But Jesus did not need convincing of who he was and he did not feel the need to prove himself. He did not seek fame. He knew who he was, Jesus the son of God! Saviour of the world! And he knew Gods peace and perfect timing. Jesus does not live out of self interest or independence. He lives in and out of his intimate relationship with his Father. He is compelled by love and a desire to bring glory of his father.
Jesus may I be convinced again today that I am who you say I am. That my greatest purpose will be fulfilled as I trust in you. Help me to walk with you, in your perfect timing. May your peace be my guide. And may I desire most to love you and my neighbour. That you may be glorified.
Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart
52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. 60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
Jesus is encouraging the people around him to eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have eternal life. Those in the synagogue were confused and alarmed by this teaching. Many could not stomach what Jesus was saying and turned away but Peter remained steadfast in his faith in Christ.
When you think about it being encouraged to eat someone else’s flesh and drink their blood is very strange not to mention confronting. Jesus even goes so far as to ask if some have taken offence to what he is teaching. He knew they had! It is interesting to note that this particular teaching turned people away from Jesus. Much of Jesus teaching and ministry drew people but this particular line of teaching repelled some. People felt strongly, they argued and were confused. What’s in it then and what is this true bread from heaven that leads to eternal life? To receive eternal life we truly have to partake of Jesus regularly ie. “Remains in me and I in him.” It speaks of wholehearted commitment and devotion and not a part time interest. Jesus has to have every part of us. Jesus is not an entree, side dish or even a desert – he’s the bread of life, the essential and the only! His message is the same to us today.
Thank you Lord that you have the words that give eternal life. Like Peter, help us believe and know you are the Son of God. Amen
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods
41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” 43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’[a] Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Divergent and convergent realities?
I recently had a very brain bending conversation with an atheist that talked about the concept of divergent and convergent realities.
For him, a divergent reality was a person’s perspective that didn’t seem to align with another person’s view of the world, like if two witnesses saw very different versions of events in the scene of a crime, or a person who hallucinated bugs on the wall vs a person who saw no bugs. For this person, everything an individual experiences is their individual reality.
While this level of relativism is quite challenging to my perspective, I am intrigued in this passage of John chapter 6 to read of Jesus talking about physical realities and spiritual realities in a very interchangeable way. Almost as though there are two convergent realities at work.
The people who were the audience of Jesus’s speech were clearly perplexed, and even after 2000 years of thinking and analysis on this passage, I feel like there is more that we as Christians can learn from it, especially me!
Thank you Lord that your ways are rich and deep, and to know you is like experiencing fine wine!
Written by Ps Justin Ware
25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” 28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” 30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
The part that stands out to me in this passage is verse 27, the NLT puts it this way. “But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”
How am I spending my energy? Am I expending it on things that will last, or am I using it all for temporary things? How often am I spending my time, energy and attention on seeking God in His Word, in talking and listening to Him, in worship, in being with Him, in thanksgiving or in enjoying the world and people He has made?
My God desires to give me eternal life – life that doesn’t run out or grow weary or cynical or cold; a fountain of new and fresh life, full of energy, faith, passion, creativity and joy.
God, please help me to see that I have a choice when it comes to how I invest my time. Please help me to see the possibilities of moments I can spend seeking the never running out life you offer. Amen.
Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh
22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
These few verses follow on from two significant & very different miracles – Jesus feeding 5,000 & Jesus walking on water. One miracle very public before crowds & the other intimate before his disciples. These verses relate to the crowds response & their search for Jesus.
Jesus goes on to speak to their heart motive for their search but they did search for Jesus, this has caught me & challenged me. How much am I hungrily searching for Jesus? When I was a new believer I certainly was hungry in my search to learn, grow & change but now that my relationship, life experiences are established, do I still go searching & how far am I prepared to go, am I still spiritually hungry? Do I come to church in search of Jesus to continue to learn, grow & change or is it now just a comfortable place to go, a social gathering with no hunger for the things of God?
Lord Jesus, I pray that you’ll continue to challenge me to seek & search after you & that my heart would be open to grow & to go wherever you lead, that I would always remain spiritually hungry for you. Amen
Written by Suzie Hodgson
16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
The disciples were facing a rough storm that led them to be fearful. But when Jesus came to them, He said, “It is I; don’t be afraid” (vs 20). What strikes me most in this passage, is the next verse which says, “…they were willing to take Him into the boat…” (vs21). It seems almost strange that they didn’t invite Jesus into their boat straight away, without question. It took them a moment to become willing to allow Jesus in. If I was in their situation, I would like to think that I would be desperate for Jesus to come and rescue me if He was before me in the flesh.
However, this makes me think about the times in my life where I need the help of Jesus, and are not quick to invite Him into my situation. When do I overlook my need for Jesus to ‘step into my boat’ and be my helper and strength? In the second part of verse 21, Jesus entered the boat and they immediately reached safety. When we are aware and willing to invite Jesus into our situations, He is immediately there for us.
Lord God, I thank You that You are for me and with me all my days. Please prompt me to call upon Your Name daily and invite You into all the areas of my life. Thank You that You rescue and redeem me. In Jesus’ Name.
Written by Ps. Laura Samperi
6 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near. 5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. 14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
I love this beautiful story. Jesus performs an incredible public miracle, caring for those who have come to hear him.
The effect was to totally shift people’s perception of him – v14. The people recognised Jesus was from God, that he was more than just a wise teacher. While their plans (v15) did not align with God’s, they did change their understanding on Jesus’ identity. Just as their eyes were opened to Jesus being from God, I want opened eyes to see and praise God for his work in my life, in the lives of others, through miracles, through restoration.
I also try to place myself in the shoes of the disciples who witnessed this incredible event, in particular Phillip and Andrew. “It’s impossible” is Phillip’s position, while for Andrew there is the “possible”, as he indicates the paltry food available. (I especially love the emphasis John puts on the smallness of the loaves and fish. Just enough for a boy’s lunch out of which flows amazing abundance.) Why else would Andrew tell Jesus about this little bit of food unless he expected Jesus could use this? Their 2 perspectives remind me that my mindset must be guided by the Holy Spirit. He tunes me into God’s perspective. For Phillip, it is just his practical mindset of cost and the size of the problem. For Andrew it is a start of belief, as he begins to catch a glimpse that Jesus is God.
Like Phillip, my heart gets overwhelmed by the size of the problem, and how I cant solve it. But if I look at the situation from God’s point of view, things become possible. He is the God of the Possible!
Dear Lord Jesus, as I read this event again the Holy Spirit reminds me that you are Lord of the Possible! I am believing you for that today. Amen
Written by Claire Moore
31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true. 33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. 36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life. 41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
Believing is a major theme in John’s gospel. He uses the word 95 times. He tells us he wrote the book so that we could believe that Jesus is the Christ, and so have life. (John 20:31)
Jesus’ disciples believed because of what they saw him doing and heard him saying. Even Samaritans believed in Jesus because of what they saw and heard. Even though a miracle has been done in front of this group of lawyers’ very eyes and Jesus has told them quite explicitly who he is and how he did what he did, they can’t see past their closed interpretation of the law. God has done what only God could do, but it was done on the Sabbath.
I think Jesus would have been justified if he had shaken his head in disbelief at their wilful stupidity. But Jesus is better than that. He works within their (constricting) legal framework of truth: the testimony of three witnesses is conclusive, nothing less.
Today people have other ways of deciding what is true. In our “post-truth” era, some seem strange, but I’m confident that the truth about Jesus stands no matter how you judge truth. I’m challenged to follow Jesus and place myself in the mindset of people I talk to and tell the truth about him in the way that will make it as easy as possible for them to believe.
Jesus was good at knowing how others were thinking, but It’s not so easy for me. I’m sure it involves more listening than speaking, especially listening to the Holy Spirit (John 5:19). I’m sure it needs me to align my heart with his. Holy Spirit, I need you to lead the way here.
Written by David Cornell
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. 19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. 24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come 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 he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. 28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
This is one of the great passages of Scripture that confirms Jesus position as the human who reveals God himself. This is not just a man who is living the kind of life God would want a man to live. This is a man who has power and authority that only God has. This is a man who shows me what a righteous life looks like, but also demands the honour due to the creator of the universe! This man is God!
But God the man, Jesus, doesn’t live to please himself. Jesus lives to please his Father. Within God’s own identity is love, honour and the willingness to put the other first. Also we see here that the Father, freely shares truth, revelation and meaning with the Son. Jesus ‘sees the Father at work’. That’s hard to get my head around, but in the way it was lived out by Jesus, I can at least understand its implications.
Lord Jesus, just as you lived for the honour and love of your Father, so I live for the honour and love of you. I am not my own. Lord, sweep me up in the love of God. May I gladly do your will above my own. And Lord, help me see the work you are doing that I may join where you are calling me to join. Help me jump in and trust you.
Written by Andrew Mellor
5 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” 11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ” 12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” 13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. 14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
Jesus heals a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. At the time he was healed he had no idea who Jesus was. Jesus simply told the man to get up, walk and take your mat with you. The miracle was performed on the Sabbath which angered the Jewish leaders. Jesus referred to God as his Father thereby equating himself with God and this further infuriated the Jewish leaders.
Jesus was happy to see the man made whole but he also warned him to stop leading a sinful life because something far worse may happen. The guy was probably thinking what could be worse than lying here paralysed for 38 years and had no concept of an eternity in hell.
Jesus authority is clearly on display here. The paralysed man had no idea who Jesus was yet at his command he got up and walked. He did this without hesitation. There was no questioning who Jesus was and why should obey. He just did it and his obedience paid off. There must have been something so compelling about Jesus that this man took him at his word. It encourages me to take God at his word especially where I feel unable to move in the right direction or make any kind of move at all.
It is interesting that Jesus asked the man what he wanted – wasn’t it obvious! God so wants to relate to us – to chat. He wanted to hear this poor man explain why life wasn’t working for him. The hopelessness of never making it to that pool in his own strength. When Jesus tells the man to get up and walk it’s like he’s saying, “Enough of this life, no more, be healed!” It’s said in direct response to the man’s explanation.
Thank Lord thank you for the authority that Jesus has in my life to make me whole. Amen
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods
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NSW, Australia 2118