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.