The Father and the Son.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I will not want. He leads me by still, still waters, and I will trust in You alone, surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.

” I am your Goodness, I am your Grace, I am your Mercy and yes, I follow you all the days of your life. But there is more, I not only follow you I go before you, preparing the way and all the time as you make your way through this life I am by your side. When the sun shines and when the rain comes, in the green pastures and also through the dark, dark valley. So – yes, rest in Me and trust in Me, I am totally trustworthy, I will never let you down. I hold you close to my bosom with my arms clutched around you.“

As we proceed in John ch 5, Lilly has made a very insightful point in the comments column. To read it just tap the title of last week’s blog and it will open up.

John uses this healing miracle (the lame man by the pool) as a springboard for Jesus’ discussion which relates to how the miracle reflects His divinity which is closely associated with His relationship with the Father. Behind the discussion is the thread that this miracle, as all the others were merely predictions of our ultimate healing at our resurrection. In vs 29 He says, “All those who have done good will rise up and live”, speaking of their resurrection. The Greek word for rise up is the same as the one Jesus uses in vs 8 where He says to the paralyzed man, “Get up“.

Jesus opens the discussion from vs 19 concerning the unique relationship He has with His Father. We must remember He is speaking from His incarnate nature. He reveals He is totally dependent on the Father to be led what to do. He is motivated only by the Father’s love for Him and doing His will. From the Father He draws the power which even reaches the raising of the dead, which He had not shown up to that time yet.

Ultimately it is only the Father that can give life. He has delegated this power to the Son as well as giving Him the independence to decide whom He should raise. Ultimately God has delegated the task of Judgement to the Son. This task is extremely important and according to vv will be exercised at a future time when everything will be drawn to a close.

The question of judgement is closely associated with the provision of eternal life and Jesus in v 24 reminds us that this eternal life is only available to those who hear Jesus’ word and believe Him who sent Jesus. IOW faith. The results of His judgement are shown in vv 28 ff.

There is an important remark in v 23 that the way we treat the Son reflects what we think of the Father. The two are inseparable. The whole theme of this section is interwoven with continued reaffirmation of the close relationship of the Father with the Son.

As we read this section, we can see how John is drawing the various events which he has been describing up to now in Jesus’ life together to show a more complete picture of who Jesus is and what He has come to do. I find the whole question of the interaction within the trinitarian relationship still a mystery. Just as one thinks you have fully grasped it, it seems to slip away. Truly God yet truly man at this stage.

There are several points that struck me from this passage: The way the material takes us forward to the future. The importance again of seeing eternal life from faith and the remarkable danger of judgement for those outside of this relationship that we may have with Jesus. Also, being reminded that the way we treat and speak about Jesus reflects what we think of God.

Enjoy meditating on this discussion which will be taken up again next week. God bless you all.

Further Proofs.

As the rain teems down, I am reminded that it represents Your abundant blessings on me and Your whole creation, at the same time the enigma is that it also represents hardship and difficulty for many. The enigma of Christianity is that what appears as weakness and disaster is often actually the way to greatest blessing – even as we view the cross – perhaps apparently the greatest moment of weakness and disaster – was and is Your greatest triumph.

”Yes, there is apparently much in this world which appears as an enigma. Something beyond your comprehension. How weakness and hurt can actually be for My glory and your good. Only I, as a loving and all-powerful God – full of grace, can see the bigger picture and see how all these enigmas fit together and contribute to your good, as well as the good of all My loving children. I see everything, I see the finest details of your thoughts and motives and I am drawing them all together for my glory and your good“.

The next story in John 5:1-18 picks up the theme of healing and presents the third miracle described in the gospel. Remember, according to 20:30,31, the miracles are presented as proof of who Jesus is. So, the central question of this passage is in v 12 “Who is this fellow…?” There is no direct answer, the reader is left to draw his/her own conclusion.

There is another clue however. That is in the fact that Jesus chose to do this miracle, openly on the Sabbath, in what may appear a purposeful provocation of the people here referred to as “the Jews”. vv 10, 15, 18. This is another move by Jesus to show the difference that the coming of the New Covenant was going to make. Just as in His coming Jesus was going to replace the temple as the place to worship God, so He also was replacing the Sabbath. The Sabbath which represented rest and the opportunity to worship God was now to be found in Jesus. In Him we find our true rest and through and in Him we worship the Father in spirit and truth.

In the background we also see the storm clouds gathering. vs 16 Shows how this open confrontation of the traditions of the Jews was going to contribute to His final persecution and death.

What about the healing, which I have not yet mentioned, which actually acts as a backdrop to the main theme in this part of John’s gospel?

There is the sharp contrast to the healing in the previous chapter, where the subject was the child of an important royal official. Here the subject is a “nobody”, who has been disabled for 38 years. What is not so apparent is the answer to the question, “Why did Jesus choose this man from the number who were all needing healing?” After all Jesus took the initiative here. There is no answer and we could guess anything. It does seem to highlight the whole question of God’s election, which is another Christian enigma and best not attempted to be explained here though.

The other question is in the statement to this anonymous man in vs 14, “See you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you”. We may be tempted to link his disability to the fact that he had committed a specific sin or in his general state of being a sinner. This, according to the rest of the bible does not seem to fit eg, the story of Job. Later in John’s gospel Jesus also heals a blind man and gives an explanation that his blindness was for God’s glory. John 9:3. I take this warning that Jesus gave the man was simply to repent and turn his life around.

So. in the last 3 chapters we have been shown Jesus’ interaction with several people, with diverse backgrounds and it shows how He was interested in people from every sphere of life. What an encouragement it should be for each of us. His wings are spread over the whole of His creation, knowing and caring for each one. No-one is outside His reach.

As the story of Jesus is unfolding, I am sure we are all enjoying a growing faith as we see the proofs of who He is and what he has come to do. Enigmas? There are always things which appear strange to our limited human brain, but if we can relax and trust Jesus and let Him be who He is that takes all the tension out of these apparent contradictions.

God bless you all in the rain till next week. Stay warm.

He took Jesus at His Word.

None above Him, none before Him, all of time in His hands – because my God is the Ancient of Days – yet he knows my name.

Glorious, massive, wonderful, beautiful – all the adjectives you can gather together to describe Me. Yet this name – the “Ancient of Days” has special meaning because it shows how I have always been and will always be. No new development or invention takes me by surprise – because I am already there. I am outside of time and will take you outside of time when you come to be with me. Then you will truly see and comprehend what you were singing about that I am the Ancient of Days. Yet I am also “I am” – so I am always present with you, always contemporary, always one step ahead of you as you walk with me. Enjoy me today for who I am, the “Ancient of Days.”

We go back today to where Jesus is leaving Samaria after spending a few days in a village which has been transformed by His presence. We pick up the story in John 4:43. There is an interesting editorial comment in vs 44 that Jesus had pointed out that He was not honoured in His own country. Presumably this explained why He was again leaving the area to take His ministry elsewhere, ie Galilee. He was becoming more prominent there after visiting Jerusalem for the Passover feast.

We are now treated to the next miracle that Jesus did, the second one according to 4:54. This section then describes His encounter with another man, this time a royal official, who is probably a gentile. The progression is interesting as some commentators suggest that it parallels Jesus’ instruction to the disciples in Acts 1:8, where He told them to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. He had met Nicodemus in Jerusalem, ministered to the woman in Samaria and now was ministering to someone outside of the Jewish faith.

Be that as it may, this encounter once again is with a person of some importance and influence, contrasting to the Samarian woman and incidentally with the man Jesus heals at the pool in ch 5, which we will look at next week. Here we see the official approaching Jesus for His help, similar to the Meeting with Nicodemus, where Jesus had instigated the meeting with the Samarian woman and would do so with the man at the pool in ch 5.

So, what is the main message of this passage and the whole section since the miracle of turning water into wine in ch 2? The two miracles sort of bracket the whole section, indicating a common theme. The clue is in vs 48 which links with the main message of John. Jesus makes the statement after the man had asked for a miracle, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders you will never believe”. This almost seems incongruous as Jesus then says to the man, “You may go your son will live”. The NIV translates the latter part of that verse 4:50 as “the man took Jesus at His word“. The Greek actually says simply “the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken“, using the same word that is translated elsewhere as believed, “pisteo”. (The ESV gets this right.)

Remember the main message of John in 20:30,31 “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name”.

So, despite Jesus’ apparent accusation, this miracle has been recorded to bring us, the reader to faith. Now if we step back and look at this whole section, bracketed by two miracles, one of the main themes has simply been an emphasis on believing or on faith. In this section alone the word “believe” is repeated 5 times: vv 39, 41, 42, 50, 53.

So, are you tired of hearing this word “faith” or the concept of “believing” repeated constantly? It seems to me that one of the main purposes of Jesus in our lives is to continue to build our faith. He uses many ways, but one of the main ways is through His word and reading and understanding passages like this and the whole of the gospel accounts. Worth spending a bit of time pondering how your faith is doing.

May God bless you all until we meet again next week.

Many Believed.

But this I know his wounds have paid my ransom – oh the deep deep love of the Father – to give us his Son – my mocking voice among the many holding him to the cross – yet his arms wide open in welcome into His ultimate plan of salvation.

”My plan, my plan from the beginning was to reverse the effects of Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the garden. To reverse the curse which I have placed on the world and all mankind. To reverse it ultimately so that many would truly be able to experience My great love and mercy. These thoughts are too high for you to fully comprehend them. Yet you can bask in the effect and enjoy them as part of my enormous growing family of faithful, loving believers.“

We continue today with the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. John 4:27-42. The disciples return at this moment and are astounded to find Jesus the, great Messiah talking to a pagan woman. She is so overcome that she dropped her water jar and fled back to the village where she had come from. But she had been transformed from a fearful outcast to running into the village proclaiming at the top of her voice, “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”

Hold on, didn’t Jesus just confirm to her that He is indeed the Christ? 4:26. I suppose the truth was so great, so impossible to really take in that she was still processing it. Yet her actions tell us that she wanted to and yes, did believe that she had just met the Messiah. We are taken back to to ch 3 to the notion that belief is the fulcrum on which the rebirth occurs.

In the meantime the disciples ply Jesus with the need for earthly sustenance. Jesus’ reply in 4 ff shows how He skillfully uses earthly pictures to illustrate spiritual or heavenly truths. We have already seen how he had used the concept of birth to describe the heavenly rebirth. Then just recently He had turned the conversation about water to illustrate the concept of eternal life. Now he uses the idea of food to illustrate that His priorities are doing God’s will. Obedience to the Father would give Him full satisfaction.

God, through Moses had already given that thought. Take time to read Deut 8:1-5 to see where Jesus had picked up this concept. Especially vs 3b: “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. This is also reflected in the Lord’s prayer. It is interesting to note in the passage in Deut that God’s word only becomes sustenance when one is obedient to it. See Deut 8:1.

This theme of Jesus claiming to be bread is going to be picked up in the chapters ahead. In the meantime the woman’s testimony back in the village has been received with such enthusiasm that the people go and invite Jesus to stay for two days, during which time many of them come to believe. The key vs is in vs 42 where they say ..“and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.” picking up again the main theme of John reflected in 20:31. They have also come to believe. At this stage they would not have had the whole story but simply recognized that Jesus was/is indeed the Messiah.

This passage is a timely reminder of the value and importance of our witness and testimony. It reminded me of several aspects. Firstly we cannot testify to a life-changing event if we have not experienced it ourselves. Secondly it is not necessary to have a complete gospel exposition. Witness is simply telling what you have experienced, seen and heard. The result of our testimony does not depend on us but on the supernatural work of the Lord who enlivens and drives home our words. Once again, giving a testimony about something you are clearly not experiencing is empty and meaningless, hence the importance of our daily, growing walk with God.

This is one of the main ways of God growing His kingdom and that is why it is important to do this as a church group where we can support and encourage one another.

On reflection there is one thing which I am guilty of and many of my brothers and sisters. That is what I called becoming part of the “Ain’t it awful” brigade”. ie When someone starts telling how awful something is: politics, sickness, crime etc you chime in with something even worse, instead of sharing how your relationship with God and depending on His souvereign power gives you a different perspective.

May your testimony indeed be genuine this coming week and may God give you the opportunity to be His witness. God bless you all.

In Spirit and Truth.

His arms stretched out wide – on a Cross – how does that look beautiful, how does that reveal His glory? It is because this is the greatest act of love imaginable – an act encompassing all his outstretched arms can signify.

”The cross becomes faint as you draw near to Me, yet it is the only way that makes it possible for you to communicate with Me, to have a real relationship with me. At the moment when the curtain in the temple tore the way was opened for us to see each other, at this stage by faith but later by sight – that torn curtain became the Way, the only Way, the Truth and the Spirit which join you to Me forever and fulfilled your full status as a son. That is why it is beautiful that is why it reveals My glory.“

Now to John 4:1-26. Having described Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus, who could be described as one of Israel’s religious aristocracy, John describes a meeting with someone who is at the opposite end of the social scale. Someone who is a bastard Jew, a woman whose name is not even given, who could be described in many ways but is an outcast in her society because of her loose morals. Jewish men were not supposed to speak to strange women and even less to a foreigner, yet Jesus seems to have set this meeting up for our education to get a much wider view of who He is exactly and what He has come to do.

The story is so beautifully told that you can actually picture the scene. The sun burning down at midday, Jesus exhausted, dusty and thirsty and this lone woman coming to draw water when there should be no-one else around. It is interesting to compare the differences and similarities in how Jesus deals with these two seekers, Nicodemus and her.

We have mentioned their completely different backgrounds and social status. although Nicodemus comes to Him with a question. He simply asks only who He is, Jesus steers the conversation towards his salvation. The woman has no expectations and even shies away from Jesus. However, Jesus speaks to her first and offers her something equally supernatural that He had offered Nicodemus. Only here He calls it “water that wells up to eternal life.“Just as Nicodemus had questions or objections, the woman also has a question. In her case it has to do with the place of worship which was a contentious point between the Samaritans and Jews.

John gives Jesus’ answer which fits nicely into the continuing revelation of Jesus We have already heard that Jesus was going to replace the temple in ch 2, John uses this interaction to raise that issue again. The place of worship under the New Covenant changes from a place to a person, the person of Jesus. Worship from now onward will be “in Spirit and Truth”.

What does that mean? Well, it is actually quite simple, Once Jesus had ascended to heaven, we would worship God through Him. In other words, He is “The Spirit and Truth” that we all worship through (4:22). Our worship is not bound to a place, as I said but to a person – Jesus.

The section ends with an open statement by Jesus of His real identity. He is the expected Messiah.

Just keep in mind all the time what the purpose of John’s gospel is, according to the author, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name”. John 20:30 The Samaritan woman did believe, and we will see how this affected her as she experienced springs of living water welling up in her, a parallel description to the instruction by Jesus to Nicodemus to be born again, in the next part of ch 4.

As we see these various encounters by Jesus, we can learn a lot about how we could interact with others, especially non-believers

May you all be truly blessed as you take these beautiful truths to heart. See you all next week.

The One in whom we believe.

To my God be the glory, to my God be the praise for I know Your glory is my good.

”Perceive My glory, as I have shown very small previews of it over the years, for instance on the mountain at Sinai and at the inauguration of the temple. But when you ultimately come to be with Me you will experience my glory in all its fullness. It will overwhelm you and fill you with wonder and joy. In the meantime, I am working out everything in your life to bring you to your full glory so that you can experience My glory in its fullness. You may not always think you are experiencing My glory continually yet if you lift up your eyes it is always all around you. See it in the magnificent sunset, see it in the roaring oceans, see it in the wonder and diversity of My creation, see it in the ones you love. But most of all see it in My Son on a cross – see Him there by faith – emptying himself of glory so that you can have and experience our glory in its fullness. So go out today rejoicing”.

While most people know the first half of John ch 3, few people probably give much attention to the second half of the chapter, yet it is actually part of the story which has been unfolding and it rounds off that section. The clue lies in the repetition of the phrase in vs 13 “everyone who believes in him may have eternal life”, in vs 36, where it is slightly expanded, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life”. which brackets this section. So, this passage seems to complete the picture John has been painting using Nicodemus as a starting point.

It is a reminder that John is still bringing the Old Covenant to a close. In choosing Nicodemus as the protagonist, he has chosen someone who would have been a prominent figure under the Old Covenant. Showing that the birthright of Abraham for every true Israelite was not going to be sufficient, even for the aristocracy of the religious hierarchy, to give him membership of the new kingdom Jesus was coming to inaugurate. He needed to be born again, born afresh to be part of that.

As John expands this concept of the rebirth he emphasizes the vehicle through which this rebirth would happen, faith. As we saw last time, he emphasizes this several times and in several ways. The question now arises as to who one must believe in to receive this new birth. In whom must we have faith. From vs 13 to vs 19 John identifies this Person as either the Son of Man or simply The Son or God’s one and only Son. He repeats this 5 times. vv 13, 1, 16, 17, 18.

Who is this Son? John now takes us back to John the Baptist to expand on that and give us a clearer picture. At the same time, once again connecting to the Old Covenant. He starts the picture using the practice of baptism. The emphasis here is not actually on the baptism as much as it is in the difference between the two’s baptism. This should remind the reader of the statement in ch 1:33 “I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit“. He then identifies this “One” as: I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.

John (the gospel writer) then in 3:22 ff picks up this previous statement to amplify the understanding of who this Son is. He is the one who baptizes in a different way. Incidentally the concept of the “Baptism in the Spirit” which is used elsewhere is nothing other than a different terminology for being born again.

Then follows a paragraph which is a repeat and expansion of 1:19, 20. Basically John (the B) compares his own ministry with the one who he clearly identifies in vs 28 as “the Christ”, or Messiah. He insists he, himself is not the Messiah and his ministry is fading in comparison. He also uses the language of marriage, bridegroom etc, designating himself as just the attendant, which recalls the time of Jesus’ first miracle at a wedding, giving that act significance. He declares that his ministry is fading away as the messenger, pointing forward so that the real One, who this book is about can come to the fore.

The chapter builds to a climax in the last paragraph, where John (the B) amplifies the description of who the Son is, having connected Him to the designation of Messiah in the previous paragraph. “He speaks the words of God and has received the Spirit without limit, completely beloved by God the Father, who has placed everything in His hands“. This is the One in whom we must believe and through whom the new birth will happen if we look up to Him, trusting in Him, lifted up on a cross to die for our sins. And finally, a repeated warning, without this rebirth God’s wrath remains on every person.

Friends this is important stuff and I trust you all have embraced it. It is THE message of the gospel. No one can function as a Christian if they have not been reborn into the kingdom and identifying Jesus as the one who gives the rebirth. So many people out there labour under the misconception that being a Christian means something else and hence fall short of God’s glory. Part of all this is the understanding that an integral part of the new birth is that we are baptized in the Spirit, who is the active third Person of the Trinity acting as an agent who gives us life and power to live as witnesses to God and His great salvation plan.

As I have studied this well-known part of God’s word, I have sensed again the welling up of a joy unspeakable and a huge gratitude that I have been given this privilege despite knowing that I could never deserve it.

Next week we will pick up the story with Jesus’ encounter with someone at the other end of the social structure. May God bless you all as you read and meditate on this amazing passage in the scriptures.

You Must be Born Again.

Dear Lord Jesus, search me and search my heart and please cleanse me from all thoughts of self-interest and desire to be glorified and help me focus on the dear words – “Blessed Redeemer, Glorious Saviour” and may they permeate my mind and my heart.

“It is good to start again by remembering the glorious fact that I sent my Son to die a substitutionary death for you and a multitude of others so that through that death you may be set free from the bondage of death you were strangled in due to your sinfulness and given life. A new and glorious life – a life which you are only just tasting the first fruits of it – the full glory will only be revealed when you finally come into my Presence and experience something which is impossible to describe in terms that you may be able to understand. So just enjoy my Presence and my friendship now and as the day unfolds.”

We come today to one of the best-known passages of the bible in John 3:1-21. As this is a devotion let us stand back and not get embroiled in the detail. We saw last time in John 2:23-25, the enigmatic statement that many people believed but Jesus would not put His trust in them. Obviously, their faith was deficient in some way. Chapter 3 then shows how real faith is the key to entry into the kingdom and into becoming a true disciple of Jesus.

John uses a story to illustrate this. Firstly, he uses as the central figure someone who would be expected as a respected member of the religious elite, to have the correct credentials to enter the kingdom of God. Nicodemus represents every person who desires to enter the kingdom. Remember John had been showing us how Jesus came introducing the new kingdom through the New Covenant. So, the bottom line is that there is no-one who has sufficient credentials to enter the kingdom on his/her own merit. Something needs to happen. There is no such thing as drifting into the kingdom by doing things like going to church and praying or deciding to join as if you are joining a club.

Jesus uses the description of a complete rebirth. There has to be a drastic change, as if you were being born again, Yet this time not a natural water birth but a Spirit birth. The concept is strange to Nicodemus and to everyone else, so he questions it. The answer is as enigmatic as the process. It is a mystical process as hard to get hold of as it is to get hold of wind. You cannot see wind, yet you see the effects of wind, trees bend, dust blows, leaves skid across the ground.

In much the same way the experience of rebirth is unique for every person. For some it is a dramatic experience, turning their world upside down. For others it is a gradual awakening where the exact moment it happens is unsure. However, all have the same things in common. Ultimately like the effect of wind, the effect of rebirth shows in a changed life, hence v 21.

Firstly, it happens by faith. Real faith, not like the people who were following Jesus superficially. John uses the beautiful illustration of the bronze snake which God gave as a way of salvation in Numbers when the Israelites had sinned, and God sent a plague of snakes upon them. Num 21:8,9. Every time someone was bitten, they simply had to look up at the bronze snake, which was mounted on a pole and trust that they would be healed. In a similar way we have all been bitten by the snake of sin and the way of rescue is to look up at the figure of Jesus on the cross and trust in Him that he will give us salvation, through the new birth.

John repeats the word believe a number of times after the illustration to drive the point home. The summary statement is one which we all know in John 3:16.

To emphasize the seriousness of this teaching Jesus repeats in several ways the alternative to being born again in vv 16 -20. He uses the word condemnation and darkness in several ways. So, this is not a sort of optional kind of Christianity. One often hears in certain circles someone being describes as being a “born-again” Christian as if there are other types of Christian. If you are someone who calls themselves a Christian, you must have been born again, otherwise you fall short and are in darkness and under condemnation.

Ultimately the measure of whether you are truly born again lies in the change which has happened in your life, hence v 21. “Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God”. Two things prove whether you are a born-again Christian. A change in your life from how you lived before to how you live after rebirth and then a perseverance in that to the end.

Friends, this is an extremely important teaching. In some circles it is almost a no-no to speak about being born again as if it only belongs to the extreme fringe of Charismatics or other weirdos. It is central to the gospel message. Jesus says quite clearly, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.……….”

No one!

There are many other descriptions of this reality of conversion in the word, but they all have the same things in common. See you all next week.

The New Temple.

I sit here at your feet Lord, just enjoying your presence. I know you are a super generous God that you want more from me then just me needing you. You want me and my heart – so I give you that to you as best I can.

“I receive the offer of yourself as part of our relationship with one another. Yes, I want to give – giving is the greatest pleasure. The biggest gift I can give and have given is salvation – through the giving of Jesus on the cross to die on your behalf. Recognizing that and appreciating it gives me the greatest pleasure and yes, I want you and your heart in return. I know you are in part of a process, and I know you still have secret places in your heart that you have not yet given to me, but what is important to me is your intention to give that. So, over time I am helping you to bring those things to the surface and to give them to me. So go ahead now and just sit and enjoy me and my presence.”

We continue in John 2:12-25. John continues to unveil the New Covenant kingdom as it was being introduced by Jesus. The first step, which we saw last week was the introduction of the reminder that the New Covenant was represented by the New Wine. It was really introductory telling the reader that was what Jesus was introducing.

In today’s passage he looks again at the move from the Old Covenant to the New, as the symbols of the Old, which looked forward to a new era with a Messiah king, are to be replaced by Jesus in Himself. The greatest symbol of the Old was, of course the temple. The temple represented the place where God would meet with his people. The ark represented the very presence of God through the tablets on which the law was inscribed. Kept in a box in the holy of holies, behind a solid curtain 10 cm thick reminding the people of how much God was actually separated from them because of their sinfulness and His holiness.

Yet there was the mercy seat above the ark where the sacrifices were laid to demonstrate the only way to access God was through the sacrifice of a living being, which would be laid there. The whole process was overseen by priests, especially a high priest who would act on behalf of the people before Yahweh. In turn God had spoken through his law and continued to speak through the prophets. God appeared distant and unapproachable to the ordinary person. This was the only place where the people could go to meet with God especially at the various feasts.

The passage of today starts with Jesus visiting Jerusalem at one of those feasts, the Passover, which reminded them of God’s rescue act from the Egyptians. The great saving act of the Old Covenant, which was actually looking forward to His ultimate saving act in Jesus. The timing of Jesus’ visit was no coincidence as it brackets the whole of Jesus’ ministry life with the Passover feast, which closes with the bracket, where His whole mission was brought together and completed in His passion and death on the cross, also at the Passover feast.

The scene continues with Jesus’ actions when he enters the temple and declares that the people have lost the original meaning of the temple and drives them out with a whip. He was actually demonstrating that the time of the temple had drawn to a close with this act of judgement. John then uses the demand of the Jews for a sign to highlight what Jesus said He was going to do.

He had come to replace the temple with His own body, fulfilling all the functions and symbols that were incorporated in its original design and function. The finality of the judgement was ultimately brought home when the temple was sacked and destroyed in AD 30.

The fact that Jesus is now the living temple means we are not bound to a place and time in our relationship activities with God. You may find it an interesting activity to see how many of the functions of the temple you can relate to Jesus and His ministry towards us.

Finally, the chapter ends with three interesting vv- 23-25. They actually act again as a transition and introduction to chapter 3 . Why don’t you ponder how they do that, and I will be sharing that most important ch next week with you all?

The fact of Jesus replacing the temple with Himself has vast implications for us today, which we may be taking for granted. I was aroused again at this wonderful plan of God and the beautiful mystery that we can actually have a living, dynamic relationship with Him, because of His great salvation plan through Jesus.

I was also reminded that, just as the stone tablets represented God’s presence in the Holy of Holies, His word does the same today in the scriptures. They are not to be worshiped as such, but act as the door through which we enter into His presence.

I hope you all managed to get your vote done today. Looking forward to meeting with you all again next week.

The New Wine of the New Covenant.

Amazing love how can it be that thou found out me?

“I did not need to go seeking for you as if I did not know where you were. I created you in the place where I had planned for you to start your life. Your whole life’s plan was in My hand from the beginning. Yet I stood back and allowed you to explore. Yet, you were never far from me and although you were spiritually lost, as it were – you were always in place where I had planned for you to be. When I stepped in and woke you up to my Presence and turned your life around – I welcomed you as one who had returned from the dead. Today you continue to still be part of My plan and I am as close as a brother to you – just as I am to every other believer out there. Enjoy my Presence and My Company as I enjoy yours”.

Our adventure continues today in John 2:1-11. This section describes the well-known miracle of Jesus turning water into wine. Most people know it superficially as His first miracle, but there is much symbolism in this passage which gives it more meaning.

Firstly, the wedding. The picture of marriage is used throughout the scriptures to describe God’s desired relationship with His people. In the OT the people were often accused of committing adultery when they worshiped foreign gods. The New Covenant heralds a new beginning and Jesus is referred to as the bridegroom by John the Baptist in 3:29. Ultimately when time is brought to a close, we are told of an event, “The Marriage Supper of the Lamb”, describing the ultimate completion of God’s great plan. Here we have a wedding looking forward to these exciting events starting to unfold.

The picture of changing water into wine also tells the story that the wine of the New Covenant (Jer 31:12) is replacing the water of the Old. Wine representing vitality, flavour and power, compared to the powerless, tasteless water of the OT. In Mark Jesus speaks of putting New Wine into New Wine skins. So, this chapter acts as an acted parable introducing the fact that Jesus, the Messiah is introducing the Messianic age.

Furthermore, we have His statement in 2:4 where He says, “My time has not yet come”. This statement is repeated several times as the gospel unfolds (cf 7:6, 8, 30; 8:20) then in 12:33, 13:1, 17:1, as His passion approaches, he changes to say, “The hour has now come”. It appears he was trying not to be too visible before the time for his crucifixion had come. Yet He was clear when that would happen eventually.

The last remark I want to make is that the NIV does not clearly indicate quite how abrupt his answer to his mother is in 2:4. This is a reminder that for her to achieve eternal life she would have to, like everyone else come to a point of putting her faith in Jesus. For this reason, it appears that he purposefully is drawing slightly away from her. It is not because of lack of love because remember how he tells John while he is dying on the cross to look after his mother, but He needs her to realize that a mother – son relationship is not going to get her into the kingdom.

Having said all that, we must also accept the wonderful and obvious theme of the story where Jesus is willing to be involved in the most mundane areas of our lives, like a wedding.

This is also the first of the miraculous signs which prove that Jesus is who He said He was. (John 20:30,31.)

So, what was Jesus saying to me from this passage. The wonder of the whole plan of God and the revelation of the coming of the New Covenant age remain a great encouragement to my faith. The detailed care and concern by Jesus of the people, including His mother, also gives me much comfort and assurance of not only His greater plan for the world but for each one of us personally. It was also a reminder that the greater purpose of Jesus was to die on our behalf on the cross, which He obviously recognized from the beginning. Thus, dealing with our greatest need – salvation and forgiveness of our sins.

God bless. See you next week after you have voted.

The Lamb of God.

In the midst of the storms of life – here in the love of Christ I stand with my feet firmly placed on the Rock – the Rock of Ages which was cleft for me.

“My desire for you is that you have that sense of safety and security that’s can only come if you have a sure footing on the only One who is immovable. But at the same time, I am not only a rock I am also soft and receptive and seek to surround you with feelings and assurance of My love that I will keep you safely standing on the Rock. As you have that absolute assurance you are able to move out and be My witness without the fear that your foot is going to slip and that you will stumble. If you are in danger of stumbling my arms are always there around you, holding on to you firmly to keep you going on the right path.”

As we now continue in ch 1 of John’s gospel, he is painting a picture of the One about whom this gospel is all about. Reading today from vs 35 to 51. John uses the calling and introduction of the various disciples as a backdrop to this unveiling of the One whom he introduced as the Light of the World and the Word in the opening vs.

In vs 35 He is given the title “Lamb of God“. This is the second time John uses this title which not only reveals who Jesus is but what He has come to do. He is THE Lamb of God. A special Lamb linking to the OT sacrificial system. His purpose is to die on behalf of the people to atone for their sins.

The next title is in vs 38, “Rabbi “, which means teacher. He is going to be THE teacher, not in the mold of the rabbi’s of the day. “Truly, truly” He often repeats, reminding us of the fact that He only speaks the real truth.

In vs 41 we have Andrew revealing who Jesus really is –“the Messiah” that is the Christ. Undoubted, they did not really understand the full meaning of this title which described the expected king who everyone was waiting for and looking for. The full understanding what this title meant would only come after Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection and ascension, at Pentecost.

In vs 45 Philip describes Jesus as “The One Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets wrote”. Moses had written about the Prophet as someone special differentiating Him from the other prophets. (Deut 18:15-19).

The interchange with Nathaniel is a bit more difficult to unravel The NIV translation is unhelpful where he describes Jesus as a true Israelite. It has more to do with an Israelite without guile and reflects on their further conversation. What is insightful here is the revelation of Jesus that He knew everything about Nathaniel, revealing a special, unheard of, supernatural knowledge.

The chapter ends with Jesus repeating the dream that Jacob had, had described in Gen 8:13-17. Jacob a man with guile in contrast to Jesus. The dream as Jacob awakes gives two more aspects to Jesus’ nature and character. In Vs 17 of Gen 28, Jacob “says surely this is none other than the house of God; the gate of heaven”.

In the very next chapter of John, Jesus reveals that He is going to replace the temple (2:19), The House of God and later He describes Himself as the “Gate” John 10:17.

The chapter ends with Jesus calling Himself by the name that He prefers, throughout His ministry. “The Son of Man“. This name comes from Daniel in 7:13 where He is pictured with “The Ancient of Days“, the name for Yahweh Himself.

John has skillfully woven these names into the narrative of the calling of a number of His disciples. These are pictured as very real humans, not in any way polished over to look better than they were. As you read this passage one cannot help feeling that this story is absolutely real. Jesus is slowly appearing like a multicoloured jewel against the background of these various people.

Each of these names describes something of Jesus ‘s person and character, what a beautiful way to get to know our glorious Saviour more completely and deeply. Why don’t you choose one name every day this week and glorify Him just according to that?

Bless you all see you next week. Sorry I was late this week I had an unexpected visitor who delayed me. My son Paul.