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Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday October 31, John 14.1-20

John 14.1-20

14“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

4And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.

12Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

15”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18”I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

Thoughts:  I will not leave you orphaned.  I have a friend that went to the Ukraine to do some work in an orphanage.  There was one little girl that he meet there who was all of 6 or 7 years old.  All she wanted to do was stroke the bake of his hand.   She knew what it was to be alone.  She desperately longed for the comfort of knowing that there was someone, anyone in this world that would walk beside her, not leave her orphaned.  So Jesus here assures us that even when he is gone, that the Holy Spirit will be with us and we will not be alone.  There is great comfort in this passage, yes there will be a place for us when we die...and Jesus is indeed the way, the truth and the life!  But there  is also the promise that until that day we will have the presence of God in our lives through the work of the Holy Spirit.  So with Paul we can say, whether we live or whether we die...we belong to Christ!
Questions:  Have you ever felt the presence of God when you really needed to know that you weren't alone?  Can we trust that God is there even if we don't "feel" it?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday October 30, John 13.31-38

John 13.31-38

31When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

36Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.” 37Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.

Thoughts: What an interesting little piece of scripture that we get Jesus' command to love one another as he has loved us and the prophetic statement of Peter's denial.   I'm sure Peter's intentions were good but he would not be able to stand by Jesus.  Here I think we have a powerful conclusion to what following Jesus will be like.  First, we are to be servants, to do feet.  Secondly we are called to love one another, even as Jesus loves us--which is fully and unconditionally.   I don't think any of us every lives up to this high calling perfectly; but we are called to hold it in front of us as the mark of the followers of Jesus.  Serve in love!
Questions:  What is new about this commandment to love.  Certainly the Old Testament calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves...what is new about Jesus' love for us?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday October 29, John 13.21-30

John 13.21-30

21After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. 23One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; 24Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” 26Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. 27After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” 28Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

Thoughts:  And it was night.  Betrayal.  And it was night.  This phrase troubled in spirit can also I believe be interpreted more as angry.  Angry at who or whom or what?  I think Jesus is angry not at Judas but at the power of evil that so quickly can seduce and enter even into the best of circles.   After all, if Jesus and the twelve are not safe from the presence of evil--who is?   Certainly this is important for us to remember.  I don't personally demonize Judas, but it does make me stop and take pause at how quickly evil can enter into a situation and begin to work its harm.   What will be the antidote for such things?  Certainly the gift of the Holy Spirit will be one way that communities who gather in Christ will be protected.  You see, evil is and will be something for us to deal with as long as we are on this earth; but the Holy Spirit is more powerful an advocate than evil is a foe!  Don't ever forget that simple truth!

Questions:  What do you think about Judas?  In the Gospels he has a mixed lot.  I rather think he came to repentance and as all of us stands in the mercy of God.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Friday October 28, John 13.18-20

John 13.18-20

18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. 20Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me."

Thoughts: Here is the great chain or connection that Jesus sets forth on the world. To receive a messenger of Christ is to receive Christ himself. To receive Christ himself is to receive the Father. Here is quite the miracle, it is in our work of declaring Jesus, acting in his name and sharing his love that the world receives the creator of the universe!  Or let's make it even more crazy---it is in our SERVANTHOOD!  In our washing of feet that God is made known!  It is Jesus who becomes savior precisely because he is the bridge between humanity and God, it is Christ who allows us to stand in the presence of God without fear--but still with great awe!

Questions: Have you ever considered yourself to be an agent of God? Do you think people can really receive the divine through our humanity? What does it say about God that he desires to be known in this way?

ooops...below is the right post for Thursday

Seems I posted Friday's reading for Thursday.  Below is Thursdays reading.

Thursday October 27, John 13.1-17

John 13.1-17

John 13

13Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.2The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God,4got up from the table,* took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself.5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’7Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’8Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’9Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’10Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet,* but is entirely clean. And you* are clean, though not all of you.’11For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’
12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you?13You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am.14So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.15For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.16Very truly, I tell you, servants* are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.17If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

Thoughts:  Here we have the last night of Jesus' earthly life and John decides to highlight the foot washing over the meal.  Indeed, as we have seen John has talked about the meal at length in his discourse about 'eating Jesus' flesh and drinking his blood,' but for this night he highlights the fact that Jesus once again showed the servants heart.   Certainly there is some baptismal connection here as well; but mainly Jesus is showing us that his followers, like himself, are called to do feet!  Our mark is servanthood.  Many Christians don't like this, they think our mark is to be power or greatness, it is not so.   We are called to do feet!

Questions: Do you have a servants heart?  Can you see in your neighbor the face of Christ?

Wednesday October 26, John 12.44-50

John 12.44-50

44Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. 47I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, 49for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. 50And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.”

Thoughts: I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.  This is reminiscent of John 3.16-17.  There it is Nicodemus who is 'in the dark' but who eventually will come to the light.   The command that Jesus follows is 'eternal life.'   Do you think that judgement means that eternal life if forfeit, or can you be judged and still inherit eternal life?

Questions:  How does your faith in Jesus provide 'light' for you in regards to how you see yourself and the world?

Tuesday October 25, John 12.27-43

John 12.27-43

27“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

37Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. 38This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said, 40“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, so that they might not look with their eyes, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.” 41Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke about him.

42Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; 43for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.

Thoughts:  For they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.  This is an interesting little passage with the voice, the anguish of Jesus, it almost reminds me of his time in the Garden of Gethsemane.   What I think John really wants us to think about is whether or not we "Believe?"  And whether or not our fear of what others might think would get in the way of our ability to believe.
Questions:  Have you ever been in the position of feeling uncomfortable because of your faith?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday October 24, John 12.20-26

John 12.20-26

20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

Thoughts:  What is it about those Greeks?  I see it as the proof of the statement just made by the Pharisees in yesterday's reading:  "look the whole world is going after him."  Indeed, this message of Jesus is not going to stay in Palestine but go forth from there to the whole world.  It is interesting that the 'Greeks' go up to Philip, who then goes to ask Andrew, who then approaches Jesus.  You see Philip is a Greek name (lover of horses) and so is Andrew (Manly) and perhaps this is showing us all along that the Gospel is bigger than just the fulfillment of Israel's story.   Of course Jesus quickly turns to a discussion about his death, and it seems as if he realizes that his mission is salvation, not conversation.  The Greeks will need to wait until after his death and resurrection, for it is only in understanding these that you can truly 'see Jesus."
Questions:  Has anyone ever asked you to help them find Jesus?  If they did, where would you start?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday October 23, John 12.12-19

John 12.12-19

12The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!” 14Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: 15“Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” 16His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. 17So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify. 18It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him. 19The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!”

Thoughts:  The suspense has been lifted and Jesus does indeed show up.  But he doesn't just mosey into town, low key and without he comes in as the Messiah!  We often miss this point, but the things that Jesus does on what we call Palm Sunday are a clear provocation to any who have thus far doubted who he claims to be--he rides in as the anointed and allows the palm branches (a national symbol) to be used in his approach.   I wonder if there is not also a prophetic moment in the statement:  "You see, you can do nothing.  Look, the world has gone after him!"   Indeed, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Questions:  Would you march in a parade for Jesus? 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday October 22, John 12.1-11

John 12.1-11

12Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” 9When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

Thoughts:  Oh boy, did you catch it?  In verse 10 we see that Lazarus--who has just been brought back to life--is once again destined for the grave!  Tradition holds that Lazarus was indeed killed shortly after his being brought back to life.  Doesn't this seem unfair!  What was the point of bringing him back if he was only going to die again?   Many believe that John is reminding all of us that to put our lot with Jesus is to make enemies of many powerful people.  In fact, while Jesus is the resurrection and the life, we still live in a world where folks often try to solve their problems through dealing death.   I also have to laugh at the perfume and the smell of the perfume that most have overtaken the room where they were eating.  Remember, just yesterday we read that Lazarus had the stench of again we have the 'stench' of death, but this time it is the fragrance of perfume that is used to mask the smell of decay.  Death is in the air in this section of John's gospel and I think we are reminded to remember Lazarus---there is always hope that death wont have the final word.
Questions:  What do you think of the woman's exuberant act of worship and devotion?  Have you every wanted to worship your Lord with such devotion?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday October 21, John 11.45-57

John 11.45-57
45Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. 47So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, “What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.” 49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! 50You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” 51He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. 53So from that day on they planned to put him to death. 54Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples. 55Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?” 57Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

Thoughts: Surely he wont show up, will he? Everyone knew that the authorities were out to arrest Jesus, if not kill him. But the question remained would he show up or not? Here I think the story of Lazarus is supposed to help our anxiety, both for Jesus and for ourselves. The answer is of course, yes, he will show up. Jesus will walk quite literally into the very gates of hell before he is done claiming the world once and for all for the glory of God.

Questions: Have you ever wondered if God was really with you? Have you ever entered into a dangerous place or situation, knowing that you had to proceed?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday October 20, John 11.1-44

John 11.1-44

11Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” 11After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” 12The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” 13Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

17When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” 28When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35Jesus began to weep. 36So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” 38Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Thoughts:  This is one of my favorite stories in scripture.  Many folks know this for it being the shortest verse in the King James version of the Bible:  "Jesus wept."  But there is much more here than just Bible trivia.  First and foremost is the honest questions of both Martha and Mary.  They are almost accusing when they say: "If you had been here."   It is a variant of the age old question:  why?  Here it is coached in an offense, 'why didn't you come sooner,' but it still speaks to our knowledge that God can prevent such things, but often does not.  That in and of itself is a mystery.   But I also love the fact that Jesus is angry.  Who is he angry at?  It is death!  It is death that has made him have rage like a stallion and allowed tears to fall down his face.  Why?  Jesus knows that death will be overcome, but he also sees and feels first hand the sting of death, the power of grief and the pain of losing someone--and Jesus got mad!   This is also the 7th and final sign in John's gospel and it deliberately points us toward his own death and resurrection. 
Questions:  Do you think Martha and especially Mary were mad at Jesus for not coming sooner?  Seeing here Jesus reaction to the death of his friend, does that help you in understanding your own times of grief and mourning?  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday October 19, John 10.31-42

John 10.31-4231The Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?” 33The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.” 34Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’ —and the scripture cannot be annulled— 36can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. 38But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

39Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands. 40He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. 41Many came to him, and they were saying, “John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42And many believed in him there.

Thoughts:  Here we need to address an important theme in John's gospel.  In John sin is not really connected to actions; sin is connected to unbelief.   Here it is the scandal of unbelief, the inability of some to recognize Jesus for who he is that is the cause of tension, violence and the need for escape.   This is not so true to our modern experience, but would have resonated with those first folks to whom John wrote his gospel.  They were living in a time when tension with the synagogue was becoming more and more intense...and the issue was belief in Jesus.   So here in John's gospel we have that same issue reflected in Jesus' life.  So, Jesus leaves Jerusalem, but still many came to believe.  So it was in the first century that many left the synagogue and still many came to believe.
Questions:  Is blasphemy something that still irks us?   Do you think God needs us to protect Godself from blasphemers?   Why do you think this is often seen as such an offense? 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday October 18, John 10.22-30

John 10.22-30

22At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; 26but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. 30The Father and I are one.”

Thoughts:  We continue with the misunderstanding--or perhaps the inability to accept--of Jesus identity.  But we also have here one of the most gracious of Gospel proclamations:  "I give them them eternal life, and they will never perish.  No one will snatch them out my hand."   Think about that statement---nothing, absolutely nothing can snatch us away from the loving hand of our Lord.  That is good news indeed.

Questions:  Have you always heard this good news of Jesus, or have folks tried to convince you that there are things that could 'snatch you' away from Jesus?  Is it a bit scary to think that Jesus 'knows' you or is it comforting?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday October 17, John 10.11-21

John 10.11-21

11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.12The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.13The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.16I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”
19Again the Jews were divided because of these words.20Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?”21Others were saying, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Thoughts:  Here Jesus makes it very clear that no one is taking his life...he is freely giving it for the sake of God's sheep.   And not just those sheep that we all know and presume are a part of God's plan...but even these other wandering sheep are the beneficiaries of Christ's unyielding love for humanity.  There is also a wonderful promise tucked into verse 16....There will be one flock and one Shepherd.  Our unity is already accomplished in Christ. He is our shepherd and we are his people.

Questions:  Have you every experienced unity in the Church?  Do agreements make unity, or is unity already  present in the form of a gift from Christ.   That is do we have to find common ground with each other OR is our common ground Jesus Christ.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday October 16, John10.1-10

John 10.1-10

10“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit.2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.5They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”6Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.7So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.8All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them.9I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Thoughts:  That they might have life and have it abundantly!   That's what I want, I want to have life and have it abundantly.  But then I realize that for Jesus to have life is to 'lose' one's life.  To have abundance means that one offers oneself for the other.   This shepherd whose voice sounds so dear and sweet in our ears is also the one who will bid us to take up our cross and follow him.  Yet this shepherd is also the gate...the very entrance point between earth and heave--may we all have that moment of glory to hear him call us by name!

Quesions:  Think a little and answer the question what does it really mean to have life and have it abundantly?   Would you have answered the same way 25 or 30 years ago?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday October 15, John 9.1-41

John 9.1-41

9As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth.2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”6When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes,7saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.
8The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?”9Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.”10But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?”11He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.”12They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind.14Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes.15Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.”16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided.17So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”18The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight19and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”20His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind;21but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.”22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue.23Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”24So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.”25He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”26They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”27He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”28Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.29We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.”30The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.31We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will.32Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind.33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”34They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
35Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”36He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.”37Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.”38He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him.
39Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.”40Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?”41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.


Questions:  What do you make of the fact that the moment the man has his sight restored he is all but arrested and brought before the authorities.  What is the price for "seeing?"  Have you ever paid the price for "seeing" clearly?

Friday October 14, John 8.51-59

John 8.51-59

Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.”The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?”Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, ‘He is our God,’though you do not know him. But I know him; if I would say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word.Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.”Then the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.”So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Thoughts:  Before Abraham was, I am.   Here is a bold statement by Jesus in the midst of a heated argument.  I am, Ego Eime in the Biblical Greek is the proper name for God (Yahweh in the Hebrew).  A name that no devout Jewish person would say.  Here Jesus not only says the name of God, but implication suggests that HE IS, the I AM!   Here we see the real difficulty of what Christians call the incarnation, the enfleshing of God.  How can the people believe this?  Jesus is not yet 50 years old and he is talking about Abraham?   But then of course Jesus utters what many still find unreasonable about Christianity--that Jesus is God!  

Questions:  Have you ever been so mad at someone for their blasphemy that you could have thrown stones at them?  Why is it that our religious believes can stir us to such anger when they are but to question?  

Thursday October 13, John 8.43-50

So sorry....I thought I had the blog set up in advance..and it wasn't this week.  Here are the posts

John 8.43-50

Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word.You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.
Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.”The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me.Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and he is the judge.

Thoughts:  Wow, maybe this is why I didn't post this day--it's a hard little passage.  Truth.  The funny thing about truth is that most of us believe what we want to believe and then convince ourselves that it is truth.  It's obvious that Jesus has come to convict us of those things that we hold on to as truth...but in reality are the makings of our own agenda.   What I find so troubling about this passage is its honest reflection of us.  If we don't agree with someone we automatically demonize them---"Are we not right in saying you are a Samaritan and have a demon?"  

Questions:  When have you unfairly demonized someone or something because it failed to meet your criteria of truth?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday October 12; John 8.31-42

John 8. 31-42

31Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?” 34Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word.

38I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.” 39They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, 40but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41You are indeed doing what your father does.” They said to him, “We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.” 42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me.

Thoughts:  And the truth will make you free.  Truth is not always easy for us on this side of heaven.  The truth often times makes me feel more inadequate and lonely...I much more like the lies that make me feel good.   But a part of the spiritual path is to encounter the truth, not only about God, but about ourselves.  
Questions:  Have you ever gotten caught in a lie?  How did your get out of it?  What is it about the truth that is often so horrendous to us that we work ourselves to death Mon - Friday only for the chance to avoid it for two days a week. 

Tuesday October 11, John 8.21-30

John 8.21-30

21Again he said to them, “I am going away, and you will search for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22Then the Jews said, “Is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23He said to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 24I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.” 25They said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Why do I speak to you at all? 26I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. 28So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. 29And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” 30As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

Thoughts:  As he said these things many believed.  I quite frankly find that hard to believe!   Jesus seems to be intentionally speaking on a whole other plane of existence.  Perhaps this is one of the ways that John helps us to understand just who Jesus is--he is the means by which we are able bridge the gap between dark and light, death and life.  He calls to us in a sense from the world to come, while compelling us to be fully planted in the world beneath us.

Questions:  Do you remember the first time you really began to struggle with who Jesus is?   Is the fact that Christians understand Jesus to be God still troublesome for the world? 

Monday October 10, John 8.12-20

John 8.12-20

12Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” 13Then the Pharisees said to him, “You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.” 14Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15You judge by human standards; I judge no one. 16Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. 18I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf.” 19Then they said to him, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

Thoughts:  I am the light of the world.  In one of his little books the author Robert Fulghum reminds us that the meaning of life is to light our light shine in the darkest of places.   Jesus is the light of the world, but as today, some cannot bear it.
Questions:  When has Jesus been a light for you?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday October 9, John 8.1-11

John 8.1-11

1while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. 3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ 6They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ 8And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ 11She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’

Thoughts:  One of my all time favorite stories in the Gospels!  Why?  I love it that it is the older ones who drop their stones first and walk away.  Lastly it is the young hot heads who also realize their own sin and walk away.  As we get older I think we begin to realize the various shades of gray.  The compromises we have made, the less than noble settling that has won day as discretion has gotten the better part of valor.   Some ancient records of this story have Jesus writing on the ground the particular sins of everyone who was there gathered.  Wouldn't that be something to see Jesus write on the ground about that particular transgression that I thought nobody knew about--but here's this Jesus writing it on the ground for all to see.  How quickly would you drop your rock?   And here is something quite extraordinary.  Did you realize that Jesus never makes the woman confess her sin or even say that she was sorry.  He simply proclaims that he as well will not condemn her.  Go and sin no more he tells her.   I often thought that would make a good dismissal from worship! 

Questions:  If Jesus were about to write your sins on the dirt which would you be most horrified to see?  Can you hear Jesus telling you; "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more!"  To leave those sins behind is to know forgiveness.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturday October 8, John 7.40-53

John 7.40-53

Division among the People 40 When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, ‘This is really the prophet.’ 41Others said, ‘This is the Messiah.’ But some asked, ‘Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? 42Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?’ 43So there was a division in the crowd because of him. 44Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

The Unbelief of Those in Authority 45 Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why did you not arrest him?’ 46The police answered, ‘Never has anyone spoken like this!’ 47Then the Pharisees replied, ‘Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? 48Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.’ 50Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, 51‘Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?’ 52They replied, ‘Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.’

Thoughts:  Here again we have Nicodemus.  He is not one "which does not know the law (vs 49)" but is actually one of the leaders, a Pharisee and it appears that he is beginning to see the light!  Of course he immediately feels the pressure from the others to take no stock in this Jesus of Nazareth.  What I find interesting is that there is no Bethlehem story in John's Gospel, so we are kept in the dark so to speak as to whether or not Jesus really is from the Galilee.  But I think perhaps John wants us like Nicodemus to begin to be able to think in new ways about God.  Jettisoning some of our preconceived notions so that we might find in Jesus the salvation of the whole world.

Questions:  The guards seem to defy the authority of the council.  As a Christian have you ever found yourself in opposition to the 'authorities' around you?  What did you do?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday October 7, John 7.31-39

John 7.31-39

31Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, ‘When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?’

Officers Are Sent to Arrest Jesus

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering such things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent temple police to arrest him. 33Jesus then said, ‘I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.’ 35The Jews said to one another, ‘Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36What does he mean by saying, “You will search for me and you will not find me” and, “Where I am, you cannot come”?’

Rivers of Living Water

37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” ’ 39Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Thoughts: The festival of booths or Sukkot was a harvest festival.  It lasts 9 days and at one time it may have been one of the most important holidays in ancient Israel.  It start 15 days after Yom Kippur.  Jesus is spending a good deal of time in Jerusalem at it is at this last moment of the festival that apparently Jesus feels the need to proclaim himself to be the life giving water.  Similar to his proclamation about being the bread, here again what happened in ancient Israel---the giving of manna and the giving of water--are precursors to what is now happening in Jesus.  One thing I find quite strange is the remark about there 'as yet there was no Spirit."   What can this mean?  We hear about the Spirit of the Lord in the Old Testament and also in the New Testament prior to the death of Jesus--so what does John mean?   I can only imagine that he means the Spirit of the Living Christ, that is the one specifically known as Jesus who destroys the power of death.   John doean' always make it easy, does he!

Questions:  Did you notice that the leaders send the Temple police to arrest him---but that they don't!   No story is given, I think it was simply, "not his time!"  People have said that either Jesus is who he says he is, or the greatest deranged lunatic of all time.  What about today's reading would make you resonate with that saying?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday October 6, John 7.1-30

From the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (Istanbul)
John 7. 1 - 30

The Unbelief of Jesus’ Brothers After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. 2Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near. 3So his brothers said to him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; 4for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.’ 5(For not even his brothers believed in him.) 6Jesus said to them, ‘My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. 8Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.’ 9After saying this, he remained in Galilee.

Jesus at the Festival of Booths10 But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret. 11The Jews were looking for him at the festival and saying, ‘Where is he?’ 12And there was considerable complaining about him among the crowds. While some were saying, ‘He is a good man’, others were saying, ‘No, he is deceiving the crowd.’ 13Yet no one would speak openly about him for fear of the Jews.

14 About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. 15The Jews were astonished at it, saying, ‘How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?’ 16Then Jesus answered them, ‘My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. 17Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. 18Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.

19 ‘Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?’ 20The crowd answered, ‘You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?’ 21Jesus answered them, ‘I performed one work, and all of you are astonished. 22Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. 23If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath? 24Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.’

Is This the Christ?25 Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, ‘Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? 26And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? 27Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.’ 28Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, ‘You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. 29I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.’ 30Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come.

Thoughts:  Interesting how his 'hour' had not yet come.  In the beginning of this reading it is his brothers who seem to be getting a bit frustrated with Jesus.  "Hey, if you are who you think you are, then go out there and prove it!"  But it is funny that Jesus seems to have nothing to prove, while he doesn't shy away from the limelight he will not let others dictate his moves (with the exception of his mother, who seems to get him to turn the water to wine even though it 'is not his time!"  John wants us to know that Jesus is in control.  His life is not some kind of tragedy, but a well orchestrated coming of God into the world.   Yet, we are reminded here as it was said in the first chapter of John: "The light has come into the world, but the world has not recognized it."  There are murmurings that he might be the Messiah, but whether his brothers at home or the leaders of the day--they don't see it.

Questions:  Do you think you would have followed Jesus if you would have been there?  The question of faith is always such an interesting one.  We confess in the Lutheran church that the Holy Spirit blows when and where it wills but why is it that some seem to have the gift of faith and others don't?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday October 5, John 6.60-69

John 6.60-69

60When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” 66Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Thoughts:  Lord to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life--Alleluia!  This passage has always fascinated me because John clearly tells us that many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.  The words of Christ can be offensive, confusing and downright terrifying.   Why is this?   I think because we have the eternal breaking into the mortal, the sacred into the profane, the holy into the secular--and these worlds operate under different assumptions, core values and rules of engagement and because of this there is always a bit of angst when contemplating the things of God.  Lutherans deal with this tension by talking about the 'two kingdoms' and that as Christians we learn to life in both the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world.  We don't try to make this kingdom the same as God's kingdom, but we do pay particular attention to that in which our loyalties reside---Christ.   The 12 here are the epitome of faith and Peter leads the way!  They too I'm sure had their concerns, but they have come to see Jesus as the way, the truth and the life...and so they confess, even perhaps in their discomfort, "where else shall we go?"
Quetions:  Do you think you would have left Jesus at this point?  Do you ever find it a struggle to be both a person of faith and a citizen of the world? 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday October 4, John 6.52-59

John 6.52-59

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”So 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.Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day;for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

Thoughts:  Again we have Jesus speaking this high theology about the Sacrament of the Table (Holy Communion) and his using the manna in the wilderness as a kind of prefiguring what God was now doing in Jesus.  The manna came done, but it was a temporary solution and good only for physical hunger.  The Son has now come down and he is a permanent solution for spiritual hunger.   The word "abide" is very important in John's gospel.  In the beginning it is interpreted as "where are you staying" when the disciples respond to Jesus' question of "What are you looking for?"   It is more than a location, but suggests to what are you connected.  Where do you draw your source of life?  To this Jesus said, "Come and see."  Now he is using this word to suggest that not only does he 'abide' in the Father, but all those who 'abide'  (are connected) to him will have eternal life.   So early on in John's Gospel the first question is:  "What are you looking for?"  "Where do you abide Jesus," ask the new disciples.  "Come and see," he says.  Now they are called to abide in him!

Questions:  This language of eating flesh and drinking blood is very graphic.  Why do you think Jesus used such graphic language to talk about communion?   Lutherans hold to the fact that Jesus is 'really present' in the Holy Communion.  How do you think this passage informs that theological understanding?  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday October 3, John 6.41-51

John 6.41-51

41Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”42They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”43Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves.44No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day.45It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.46Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.47Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life.48I am the bread of life.49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

Thoughts:  Is it any wonder that the Romans thought we Christians were cannibals!   John has given us here in chapter 6 a very serious theological discourse on the Sacrament of the table.   God has provided bread for the people before.  This bread (manna) kept them alive through their wanderings in the desert.  Now, God is doing something new.  Once again God is providing bread, but this is the bread of the Eucharist, the Holy Communion.   Jesus promises to be really present in this bread, which connected to the promise of God's word becomes one of the means by which salvation is proclaimed and in fact given.   Those Christians who have a low theology when it comes to the sacraments stumble on the fact that God could use such simply things as baptism and communion to deliver the gift of salvation.   The truth is God could have used any means that God wanted to to proclaim salvation.  We are like the leper Naaman who comes to Elisha to be healed.  He is instructed to simply wash in the Jordan and be healed!   He finds this insulting, too easy, hardly worth his effort!  Then his slave asks him "If the prophet would have asked you to do some strenuous deed, would you not have done it?  Why do you balk at such an easy request?" (Paraphrase).    But here it is, the body of Christ, given in Holy Communion is connected to Jesus' promise of eternal life.

Question:  What is your view of the sacrament of the altar?   Do you believe that Christ is truly present when you come to communion?   What might you do with the phrase "You are what you eat!"  

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday October 2, John 6.35-40

John 6.35-40

35 Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.36But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.37Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away;38for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.40This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.’

Thoughts:  "Anyone who comes to me I will never drive away."   This is quite a wonderful piece of Gospel!   God in Jesus Christ has not hidden the Gospel only to be found by the wise nor has God made salvation the accomplishment of a few; but has opened salvation to everyone, anyone, you!   Friends might drive us away, but Christ will never abandon us.  NEVER.  Not even into the fires of hell will Jesus be detered for it is the will of God that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.

Questions:  Do you think God has given all things to Christ?  If so what does verse 39 have to say about the salvation of the whole world?   While Christ will never drive us away, are we still free to walk away from Him?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Saturday October 1, John 6.30-35

John 6.30-35

30So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”32Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.33For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Thoughts: After the exile in Babylon the Torah became known as the Bread of Life.   In the Torah we read:  "One does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8.3).   Here Jesus is showing himself as the fulfillment of that statement/prophetic word.   But alas, we have miscommunication as the crowd cannot see Jesus as the "Word" but only as the "feedbag" that has filled their bellies.  Jesus here is proclaiming himself as the source of all life.

Question: They ask:  "what sign will you perform?"  What a crazy question, for Jesus has just performed the feeding of the 5,000.  But you see we are never satisfied with yesterdays sign...we want one today.   Have you ever experienced a miracle?  Do you think God still works "signs" and "wonders" today?