Thursday 21 March, 2019

John 9:35–41

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

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Wednesday 20 March, 2019

John‬ ‭9:13-34‬

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

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Tuesday 19 March, 2019

John 9:1-12

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

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Monday 18 March, 2019

John 8:48-59

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

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Sunday 17 March, 2019

John 8:39-47

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

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Saturday 16 March, 2019

John 8:31-38

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

1 (reply)
  1. B says:

    Thanks Shelley. I like the thought – just because I don’t like it, doesn’t mean it’s not true. So true!

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Friday 15 March, 2019

John 8:21-30

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

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Thursday 14 March, 2019

John 8:12-20

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

1 (reply)
  1. Kim Fleming says:

    I too want that confidence that Jesus had as well. Confidence in who He was, whom he belonged to & what path He needed to go even though it led to his death.

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Wednesday 13 March, 2019

John 7:53-8:11

[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

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Tuesday 12 March, 2019

John 7:45-52

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

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