Translate

Only One risen Saviuor

Only One risen Saviuor
There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved - Jesus

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

John Days 31 to 50

John Day 31- Jesus enters her bedroom
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”
Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
So Jesus opens a conversation about thirst that she thinks is about water. When she asks for the water Jesus tells her to go and get her husband and come back. She tells Him she doesn't have a husband hoping that would be the end of that topic. Far from it, Jesus opens to her, her entire relationship history. 5 husbands, 5 divorces, and now she is living what we would call common law.
Her reaction? She changes the subject. She brings up the most controversial subject she can think of to take the blinding spot light off of her personal life.
Why did Jesus do it? Why did he expose her like that? It all makes sense now. She is getting water alone at noon because she is hated by the other women in her village. She is likely labeled a home wrecker and husband stealer and worse...
Jesus brought it up because it was the deepest need of her life and it needed to be addressed. She had a thirst problem. She was thirsty for love but misinterpreted the hole in her heart where God's love needed to be as a hole that a husband could fill.
The english is pretty tame but Jesus said to her "You've had 5 husbands and the man you are giving yourself to now is not your husband." It's a term that refers to sexual intimacy. They aren't husband and wife but they certainly aren't just friends either. Jesus pulled the curtain back on her soul and left her completely exposed. Growing up with a dad who painted cars I learned early that the first step in restoration is to strip everything off so you can get to the areas that need repair. It's messy and leaves the car looking so much worse before it ever starts looking better.
There is a saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. 5 husbands. Now on a sixth relationship yet still her exposed soul is empty. Her life is a hollow mess. Her reputation is shot yet she keeps repeating the cycle.
Jesus NEEDED to go through Samaria.
Jesus NEEDED to meet this woman.
See you tomorrow.

John Day 32 - Let's change the subject...
4:17 "The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”
Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
You've done it. We've all done it. We don't like where a conversation is going so we quickly change the subject. This poor woman with her entire closet door ripped off it's hinges is desperate to change the subject. Personally I believe based on what follows that she changed it for more than one reason. Sure she didn't want to discuss her personal life but I believe she saw in Jesus a man who could answer questions she had held for a long time.
Here comes the ABC dilemma we have discussed before. So often we argue between two positions (A and B) when the answer is actually C. As we discussed Jews and Samaritans are cousins all descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. All were part of the miraculous journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. They hold more in common than any two people groups on the planet yet like her and her 5 husbands they who were once one are now estranged and enemies. She doesn't understand why. She wants to know. She wants to know which religion truly leads to God. It's not so different today. Christians, Jews, and Muslims all have Abraham in common. Within Christianity all the factions have so much in common. Who is right? What road truly leads to God?
Jesus uses no political correctness. He answers her question very directly. He tells her the Samaritans are off the path in their worship. From the very beginning when they split from Judah and the kingdom they set up a false counterfeit system that looked similar but was like the offering of Cain.
Then Jesus says something fascinating. "The Jews know what they worship for salvation is of the Jews but, BUT, the hour is coming and now is when the true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth..."
The Jews know WHAT they worship BUT...
But what? What is missing?
Again the english fails to adequately express what is being said here. Let me illustrate:
When God made Adam he created a form. He created a body. Everything was there. Every necessary organ, bone, ligament, artery and vein was in place. Not one of the billions of cells was missing. However a form is all Adam was.
Jesus said the Jews know what they worship. What is not Who. Who is a person. What is information. The Jews had the form but that is all they had. A form has no life. A form is a what but not a who.
What took the form of Adam and made him become a Who? The Bible says God breathed into him the breath of life and Adam became a living soul.
So the answer was not A or B it was C. God is not wanting false worshippers (Samaritans) or those who worship an empty form that is technically correct (Jews). He is seeking those who have the breath of life (spirit) in their religious forms (truth).
You see true worship is the worship of a Who not just what. Salvation is of the Jews for the simple reason that Jesus is our salvation and He was born from the tribe of Judah.
Think about this. "What" religion sees your external issues and tries to correct them. "Who" religion sees your broken soul and goes straight to the real problem and offers a true remedy...
See you tomorrow for the rest of the story...

John Day 33 - It Can't Be Can It?!!!
4:25 "The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” who is called Christ. “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”"
When our goal is to do our religious duty and read the ink on the page it is so easy to miss the Story. I've done it lots. Then somewhere along the way I figured out it's just ink on a page unless I am listening to the Voice and seeking His eyes and His heart.
Here is a woman from the wrong place. To a white supremist she is black, to a Quebec separatist she is english, to a Palestinian she is Israeli, you get the picture... but it's worse than that. In a culture where women are of no count and are not spoken to by men she is a woman, but it's worse than that. In her own town she known, known for all the wrong reasons. The other women see her as a threat and hate her. The men pretend they don't see her during the day but are happy to pursue her in the dark. She lives a life of near solitude and her soul is empty.
Yet when Jesus told his grumbling racist twelve that He NEEDED to go through Samaria she was the reason. When He sat down by the well and sent all twelve to get lunch she was the reason.
When Jesus explained that true worshippers worship not only something but much more importantly Someone He was leading her to Himself. He was offering Himself. He had already told her fully understanding everything in her dark closet that God's gift was completely available - to her.
Now comes the kicker. As she mulls over what He has said she says "Messiah is coming. When He comes He will explain all these things..."
What?!!! She knows about the Messiah? She is expecting His soon arrival? SHE is waiting for Him???!!! This woman who can't even get water in the morning when it is cool or in the evening when it is cool because of the shame gushing from her life?! This woman who wouldn't be welcomed in church even if she tried to attend?! This woman who would be the last name on almost anyone's list as a candidate for the Kingdom?! She is looking for the Messiah?!!!
Last chapter we found out that those who say they are teaching the light and have the truth are in darkness and now John is exposing an opposite truth. Those we judge to be in the deepest darkness are often the ones most passionately and desperately seeking the Light.
"Woman you have found Him. I who speak to you am He."
No matter your shame and guilt He is still speaking. "For God so loved the world that He gave (the Gift) His only Son, that whosoever (yes even her and yes even you and yes even me) believes in Him (who not what) will not perish but have everlasting life.
Into our darkness has shone a GREAT LIGHT!
See you tomorrow

John Day 34 - Blind Prejudice
4:25 "The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”
28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him."
So the disciples return and are traumatized that Jesus is speaking with this woman. They want to know why. They want to blurt out questions so they can get answers but their respect for Jesus and the intensity of the situation kept them silent. I think we can all relate to walking into a situation that fills us with questions but the circumstances scream at us that now is not the time to ask.
Sensing the awkwardness and knowing her conversation with Jesus could not continue in their presence she makes a snap decision. People need to meet this man! She even forgets why she initially came to the well. She leaves as quickly as the 12 arrived and the only proof she was ever there besides the stunned looks on their faces is her empty waterpot.
She runs back to village with a simple message. "Come and see a man who told me everything I've ever done. Could this be the Christ?!"
Amazing! Here in this country of "half breeds" that the Jews considered to be spiritual degenerates apparently she is not the only one expecting the Messiah to come. Shame on them. Shame on me.
Yesterday I went to a car show with my dad. The show was hosted by a church. First time I had ever gone to a car show hosted by a church. I was looking at an old truck that was "restored" in the vintage weathered style. It's becoming increasingly popular. As I was checking out some of the techniques used to achieve this "look" the owner approached me. She was not what I expected. I didn't expect a woman at all. It's amazing to me how many conclusions we draw in our minds based purely on assumptions and stereotypes. She was dressed 50's style and covered in tattoos. First we talked about her truck and then I asked her about the tattoos and she was happy to talk about why she got each one and what they meant to her etc... Suddenly she transformed from tattooed stranger who in my mind didn't match her truck to a fellow human being with a story that was deeper than even she was revealing. I asked her where she got the weathered boards to make the bed in her truck box. Her eyes lit up as she explained that she did all of that herself and described to me the process. Turns out the boards weren't weathered at all. She just made them look that way...
Then she made a comment which was immediately followed by an interruption and our encounter was over. She said something to the effect that the truck was just like her...
We stayed till the show ended because I like to hear all the old V8 engines fire up and rumble down the road. As we sat on the grass she drove by and she smiled at me and waved with more than casual meaning. Her truck looked rough but the engine ran so good that even my dad made mention of it.
I relearned a lesson yesterday that Jesus has been trying to teach me over and over. It is the same lesson He was teaching His disciples at the well that day. "Don't judge her based on externals. She is my daughter and behind the facade of what you think you see she is beautiful. You judge the outside appearance but I see the heart."
I'm a slow learner filled with built in preconceptions but He is working on me. What a God!

John Day 35 -
"Come see a man who told me everything I ever did..."
I confess I'm going to use my imagination today but I think you'll agree it's a fair use of it.
Before Jesus ever talked about her personal life He said: "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that offers you a drink you would have asked Him..."
Not only does He offer her the Gift (Himself) but He affirms she would have desired the Gift and asked for it.
Later after all the exposure of her personal life and the exposure of her misguided religion there is a pause. During that pause the disciples return. It was really more of an interruption than a pause. Now 24 eyes are staring back and forth between her and Jesus. They were close enough to see a conversation was taking place even if they could not hear what was being said. The awkward pause and the shifting eyes told a lot. They were judging her for just being her and judging Him for talking to her.
Realizing her opportunity to speak to Him alone was over she flew back to town forgetting everything but the message she had to share.
Now here is where my imagination kicks in. The Bible says her message was "Come and see a man who told me everything I've ever done..." I believe her tone and expression said a lot more. I believe they said "Come and see a man who knows what a mess I have made of my life and still loves me."
In Mark 4 and 5 when Jesus crosses the sea to a foreign country where they didn't even believe in God he healed the demoniac in the tombs. Then he sent him home with a message. "Go tell everyone what the Lord has done for you."
Science can argue against creation and religionists can argue over the laws and teachings but no one can argue the miracle of a transformed life. I know where my heart was headed before and I know where it is headed now. No argument can tear me from my Jesus.
In the morning when I rise give me Jesus...

John Day 36 - No Condemnation
Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."
"Come see a man who told me everything I have done (and loves me anyway)".
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
Many of us, perhaps all of us feel religion is condemning. We feel under a magnifying glass. We feel judged when we walk through church doors or are around churchy people. Countless times when meeting strangers and they ask what I do I could see them physically react. It's like they take half a step back and begin to look for a way of escape. It often kills what was a good conversation.
Condemning:
1. to express an unfavorable or adverse judgment on; indicate strong disapproval of; censure.
2. to pronounce to be guilty; sentence to punishment:
to condemn a murderer to life imprisonment.
Here is the truth about condemnation. It comes from within. It comes like a flood when the realities of our past wash over us in a moment like a flood.
Here is more truth. Jesus is not about condemnation. He didn't come to drag up the past and throw it in our face and pronounce judgment.
Here is more truth. We were in a mess before He ever came. He came because of the mess, not to point it out but to offer a solution.
Here is more truth. Our bent toward self-condemnation causes us to flee the presence of the only One who has a solution to our broken past and broken soul.
This "half breed" - the "weaker sex" - she got it. He knows everything and He still loves me. "Come and see this man!"
Come and see Him indeed.
Don't stay away because of self-condemnation. He already knows. That's why He came. He doesn't just have a solution. He is the solution.

John Day 37 - Food
Having worked at summer camps for many years and in various other situations where food was involved I have learned nothing affects group morale positively or negatively like food. If the food is good life is good and if it isn't look out...
After the disciples recover from their trauma of seeing Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman they encourage Him to eat the food they have brought for Him. His response in true Jesus style is unexpected. "I have food to eat you know nothing about."
This confuses them. Did someone give Him food while they were gone?
"My food is to do my Father’s will and to finish the work".
Now remember the twelve are disciples. This meant they were to mimic everything Jesus did. Do you see the problem?
If Jesus talks to Samaritan women then we are supposed to talk to Samaritan women... Now you can see why they quickly changed the subject to something else - food - and Jesus quickly changes it back. Jesus is working. They are supposed to be job shadowing and doing as He does.
I often get consumed in my work. It is not unusual for me to go the entire day and not even think about food because whatever I am doing is all consuming. Jesus was consumed with His work. Everywhere He turned He saw lives empty of hope and meaning and purpose and direction. He saw shoulders slumped under a load of guilt. He saw religion adding to the problems instead of alleviating them. There was so much work to be done!
Jesus was not saying we should not eat. He was making a statement about His view of the world versus theirs. For them Samaria was a place to travel around. Samaritans were half breeds barely worthy of oxygen. For Jesus they were sheep in need of a Shepherd and sinners in need of a Saviour.
Today it's the west versus Islam and a bizarre resurgence of the racial divide. How do you see the world. Who is worthy of your compassion. Who do you care enough about to miss a meal or two for their benefit?
Jesus simply says "Follow Me."

John Day 38 - Half breeds
4:34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”
Jesus used a lot of farming analogies to teach the disciples because it was something they were familiar with. Sowing was planting the crops and reaping was gathering then up when they were ripe and ready. Gathering up a crop you didn't plant was pretty much unheard of unless you were stealing or plundering enemy crops after a war. So what was Jesus getting at? When He talked about having food they knew nothing of He wasn't talking about energy bars so what is He talking about now?
It must have been spring time because Jesus said "You say there is 4 more months until the harvest but I say look, the fields are white for the harvest."
When Jesus called these 12 men to be His disciples He told them He was going to make them fishers of men. Their job was to gather people "into the kingdom". Their harvest was not pumpkins, it was people.
Now here they are among people they consider half breeds, people they don't want in the kingdom, people they think would ruin the kingdom. For centuries they have been idol worshippers and worse. How could they possibly be "ripe"?
Yet the woman had said to Jesus "We know that Messiah is coming and when He comes He will explain all these things".
Seems the "heathen half breeds" are a lot more "ripe" than they assumed. How did that happen? We are not told. All Jesus says is that others have done the planting and now they get to gather in a harvest without having planted anything.
Seems to me there is much to learn from this story. Perhaps we need to dial back our western arrogance and our sense of superiority and be willing to consider that those we consider "unfit" might be more fit for His kingdom than we are.
Who are the "half breeds" and "heathens" around you? Talk to them. You might be surprised what you find out...

John Day 39 - More Than Hearsay
4:39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word.
42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”
Two simple points from today's passage. After leaving her waterpot behind and going back to town to tell everyone about Jesus the people of the town have come to see Him for themselves. They ask Him to stay with them and he remains for 2 days.
Point number one:
Do not allow your knowledge of Jesus to remain second hand information. Jesus doesn't want to have a second hand relationship with any of us. You can't be called as a valid witness in court if your only knowledge of events or of a person is what someone else told you. So many places in the Bible people find Jesus and then they say to friends and family "Come and see..."
The Psalmist wrote "Taste and see that the LORD is good."
Jesus is not information to be passed along, He is a person to discover and know and love and trust. In Matthew 7 Jesus says many religious people who did a lot of religious things will be lost and the reason He gives is not because they did horrible things. The reason is because they didn't know Him. See if they had known Him they never would have presented Him with a list of their accomplishments to begin with...
Point Number 2:
No miracles were performed in this Samaritan village other than Jesus revealing the secrets of the woman's life. I could be wrong (it has happened lots before) but I believe this is the only place where Jesus meets strangers, performs no miracles, and they confess they believe Him because of what He says...
Now believing people based only on what they say can be dangerous but that is not what is happening here. Remember two significant clues. Clue number one is that even this guilt laden woman shamed among her own people is expecting the arrival of the Messiah. Clue number two is that Jesus told the disciples they were going to gather a harvest someone else planted.
I remember reading the coolest mission story. The missionary arrives on foot in a remote village believing he is going to be the first person to tell them about Jesus. The first guy he meets is sitting leaned up against a tree listening to a small radio with an open Bible. Turns out radio had planted a crop and the missionary was there to gather the harvest.
We aren't told who or when or how but someone had already prepared this village for Jesus' arrival and when they met Him and heard Him they knew He was the One.
God is always at work. Some people live to eat but Jesus lives to seek and save. If you have found Him make sure you give the invitation "Come and see". If you're not sure what He is like or what this Christianity stuff is all about, take the time to listen, to search, to observe. He's never far away no matter which side of the tracks you live on.

John Day 40 - Humbling
4:43 "Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee. 44 For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. 45 So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they also had gone to the feast.
46 So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”
49 The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”
50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. 51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!”
52 Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household.
54 This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee."
Jesus is returning to Galilee, the region where He grew up, the place where He turned water into wine. As He arrived a nobleman, a member of the king's court comes urgently to Jesus begging Him to come and heal his dying son. Jesus' response seems harsh, almost rude. Context and what happens next reveals the point Jesus is making and it is a humbling one.
Jesus is from Galilee. He is better known there than anywhere. His "fame" is spreading and nowhere more than in His home region. The story admits as much because the nobleman knew where to find Him before the era of social media etc... Not only did he know where Jesus was but where He had arrived from. You'll note that Samaria was not mentioned on His itinerary.
So with all that prior knowledge of who Jesus is and the miracles He has performed the nobleman rushes to Him and begs Him to come and heal his son. Nothing wrong with that. We're supposed to bring our troubles to Jesus right? So why then does Jesus essentially rebuke him and a his entire country with him? "You people...". Not a flattering opening line.
Interesting that the reaction to this by the disciples is not mentioned. I'm sure they were once again traumatized. How could Jesus speak this way to member of the king's court?! Certainly not the way to win friends and influence people. I can guarantee you He had everyone's attention though...
The nobleman is undeterred by the rebuke and asks again. As a father I can understand he had only one concern at this point and it wasn't his position or dignity. He was a father with a dying son. The second time Jesus reveals His point. He simply said "Go home. Your boy lives". Then it says the man took Him at His word and went home.
In Jerusalem they wanted to see miracles. In the "heathen land of half breeds" Jesus performed no miracles and they believed Him simply because of His word. Now back in His home area a nobleman comes frantically begging Jesus to come to his house to heal his son. The rebuke Jesus gave was for all of us, especially those of us who claim to be close to Him. If we know Him so well and believe Him so much why are we so frantic when trouble comes and why do we think He needs to be present to hear us or help us?
The nobleman understood the rebuke and when Jesus sent him home alone he had nothing to go on but the promise that his boy would be ok.
Don't we have His promises? Didn't He say He would be with us always? Didn't He say that in this world we will have trouble but we don't need to be afraid because He has everything ultimately taken care of?
Apparently those we judge and look down on as heathens might have greater faith than we do. Humbling...

John Day 41
5:1 "After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
Nicodemus came to Jesus. Jesus then positioned Himself so that the Samaritan woman would 'accidently' meet him. The nobleman came to Jesus himself. Jesus went to this man by the pool because he couldn't go to Jesus on purpose or by chance. Do you see a pattern?
Think about that and we'll continue later...

John Day 42 - Back to the well before heading to the pool...
We'll continue the encounter with the man by the pool tomorrow. Today God called me back to the woman at the well. She came for water. She was thirsty. It was likely a trip she made every day. Jesus asked her for a drink and when she expressed her disbelief that He would accept water from her He turned the tables and said "If you knew... and if you had asked... I would have given you living water and this water would have become a fountain in you and you would never be thirsty again!"
"Sir give me this water so that I won't have to come here anymore..."
"Go get your husband..."
"I don't have a husband..."
"I know... the truth is you have had 5 and the one you are sleeping with now is not your husband..."
Do you see it? Do you see the connection between the water and her personal life? Do you see why at the moment she asked for the water He brought up her repetitive cycle of failure in her personal life?
She was thirsty for love, for value, for a sense of wholeness. There was a void in her heart. She was thirsty to fill it. She kept returning to the same well. She kept trying the same water. Man after man told her they could fill the void but each in succession left her feeling more empty. She kept trying. Surely if she could find the right man...
Addictions are a funny thing that come in many shapes and sizes. Some think of addictions as only alcohol, gambling, or drugs. Many fail to realize accomplishments can be an addiction. Relationships can be an addiction. Food can be an addiction. Acquiring stuff can be an addiction. Pretty much anything can be an addiction. Let me give you my simple definition for what an addiction is. It is anything that promises satisfaction only to leave you dissatisfied. The lie of an addiction is that if I feed my addiction it will solve the emptiness and/or fill the craving and I'll be fine. And it does... but never for long. The solution is short lived and the problem remains. I drink but I soon need another. I go to the well of pornography and soon I need to return again and again. I need that feeling I get of worth when I create or accomplish something but soon after my emptiness returns and ignoring my family and everything else I accomplish and accomplish and accomplish so I can convince myself through the approval of others that I have value...
We live in a society that more and more believes that the solution to our emptiness is to obey our warped desires like a slave must obey his master. If I just satisfy my thirst for _______ I will be happy, I will be ok. But it doesn't work. Time after time we repeat the cycle but it never leaves us satisfied for any length of time.
"If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
Interesting. The water He gives becomes a fountain. It doesn't diminish, it increases. You not only are fully satisfied forever but become a source for others.
Jesus was not talking about water. He was talking Himself and His offer of unconditional love, forgiveness, and full acceptance that fills every Crack and hole in our hearts. Insecurity will disappear, the need to self medicate will disappear, and the need to pursue addictions that never satisfied anyway will melt away.
"If we knew the Gift we would be filled with Living Water."
See you by the pool tomorrow...

John Day 43 - Jesus goes to the pool
Two days ago I briefly pointed out that Nicodemus came to Jesus, Jesus positioned Himself so the Samaritan woman would bump into Him, the nobleman came to Jesus, and now in chapter 5 Jesus comes to the crippled man by the pool. I asked if you saw a pattern? It may seem random but it isn't. The nobleman and Nicodemus both knew who Jesus was and where to find. The Samaritan woman did not know Him or that He was passing by. The crippled man may have heard about Jesus but he was crippled. He couldn't even get to the pool never mind get to Jesus.
What is the lesson in all this? Jesus knows you. He knows where you are and He knows what condition you are in. He will so arrange things that you can encounter Him no matter what your situation.
Think about it, especially this man by the pool. This pool by the way is literally right beside the temple in Jerusalem. If you were sitting on the temple wall you could throw rocks into this pool. It is quite likely because of Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple that the crippled man had heard about Jesus. He had likely heard of the miracles He had performed. In spite of this he was trapped by circumstances. He couldn't go to the temple even though he could see it everyday. He could search for Jesus no matter how close He was at times.
This being the case what does Jesus do? He comes to the man. Jesus comes to him. Jesus seeks him out. Jesus meets him where he is.
Tomorrow we'll talk about why this man is by this pool and it may get a little uncomfortable. See you then.

John Day 44 - It's Getting Uncomfortable
5:3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
I don't know how the legend of the pool started or exactly what supernatural and/or deceptive forces were at work but I am certain God was not involved. I am certain because the nature of the scenario is opposite His character. Jesus repeatedly taught that the first would be last and that seeking first place was never to be the action of one of His followers. Imagine the mayhem that would be created and the numbers of people further injured as everyone rushed toward the pool at the expense of everyone else. For 38 years this man has been a cripple. Jesus sees both his suffering and the hopelessness of his situation and he asks the man "Do you want to be made well?"
What a question! Now I warned you yesterday that this would get uncomfortable. The suffering dying man looks up at Jesus, then looks at the pool which might as well be miles from him. He then looks at his powerless arms and legs and replies "Sir I have no one to lift me into the pool..."
I have a plan and a hope but my plan has holes and my hope is hopeless. I am so close to a solution yet I am as far as the east is from the west...
Remember I told you where this pool is. It is right beside the temple. You will remember that on Jesus' first visit to the temple He disrupted the system and threw over the tables. Is there a connection between this pool and the temple? Are both advertising something false and creating hope where there isn't any? Are both producing worshippers that remain because they don't know where else to turn but after decades are more sick and more crippled than when they first came?
I told you this would get uncomfortable. Tomorrow we'll find answers and begin to peel away the layers of disease that plague this enterprise called religion. If you feel like you are close to answers yet have been spinning your wheels of faith and getting nowhere you need to be here tomorrow.

John Day 45 - When Hope Is A Mirage
6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
We've talked about it before but this instance demands that it be repeated. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. This man has a plan that carries with it the illusion of hope yet when Jesus asks if he wants to be made well he articulately explains why the plan will never work. Let that sink in. The man has a problem and has put all his efforts into a plan that he himself knows will never work. Let me take it a step further. In explaining why his plan can't work he identifies the missing ingredient. "I have no one to help me..." He needs a solution that is beyond himself...
Directly beside this pool is a large building - the temple. It too is filled with broken people who return repeatedly yet are never healed. The building carries the illusion of the solution but when people enter corrupt priests take their money in exchange for relief from their guilt but nothing happens. They leave either as burdened as ever or with a sense of relief that is temporary at best.
Why does the lame man remain beside a pool that taunts him with a hopeless hope? Why do sinners return again and again to a temple that offers relief but sends them away again and again with a heavy heart and emptier pockets? It's literally insane.
Everywhere you go on this ball called earth you find religions yet you also find burdened people, fighting people, oppressed people, weary people who keep returning to the mirage of hope only to come away empty over and over...
What did Jesus say to Nicodemus? "I did not come to condemn. I did not come to cripple you with guilt and burden you down. You were already in that condition before I came. That is not my mission."
What did Jesus say to the Samaritan woman? "If you knew the gift and who I am you would have asked and I would have given even though I know your whole broken story that has driven a wedge between you and your people and excludes you from them and has caused hope to all but die in you."
What did he say to the nobleman? "It's done. Without money, without ceremony, without a formula or a "magic" touch your boy is healed and whole because you asked."
Now he stands over a cripple who has invested everything into a hopeless hope and asks a penetrating question. "Do you want to be made well? I mean if that's what you want why are you here?"
In the book of Revelation it describes what religion, what church will be like at the end of time which is the time we're living in now. You can read about it in Revelation 3:14 and onward. It describes a church that has all the appearances of hope and answers just like the temple did, just like that pool did yet it's all smoke and mirrors. Then Jesus enters the scene: "Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hears My voice I will come into him..."
Jesus closed out of the one building that bears His name and is called His house.
If where you are right now in your search for Him seems like an endless cycle of hopeless hope you're likely invested in the wrong place. If you're able go in search of Him, the One who offers without money and price and loves you no matter your past. If you are too hurt, too crippled, too trodden down by those around you don't despair. He will find you. He will come to you just at that moment when you figure out "my plan is useless and my hope is hopeless".
Today if you hear His voice...

John Day 45 - How Religion Loses it's Power
5:6 "When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked."
I believe that when the man looked up to explain to Jesus why he couldn't get well something happened. His eyes met the eyes of Jesus. They say the eyes are the window to the soul. In the window of His eyes that man saw something he had never seen in all those 38 long years - deep love, compassion, and hope. He immediately sensed that he had misinterpreted the question. It wasn't really a question as much as it was an offer. Almost before he was done explaining the predicament of his hopeless hope Jesus invited him to stand. This man had no idea who Jesus was. He had simply called him sir, a polite term for a stranger. However the look, the power, the compassion in His eyes lifted him to his feet as his body developed feeling and strength in one glorious burst of new life. Just like that he was standing and walking... What a difference between hopeless hope and hope in Jesus, between religion and faith in the One.
Do you want to be made well? Are you positioned where your hopes are bound to be disappointed? Are you counting on a formula, an exchange program, or the abilities of men, maybe even your own abilities? The truth is as much as we criticize religion for offering what it can't deliver at a price we can't pay the truth is it takes two to keep the system going. If we didn't pay they couldn't charge. If we didn't listen they couldn't lie. If we didn't follow they couldn't lead. They survive on our needs. They can see we're crippled and helpless.
On that day one man's eyes shifted from a pool to a Person and it made all the difference. No one had to convince him of the futility of the pool ever again. He had seen the Truth and the Truth had set him free.
There was only one “problem”... It was Sabbath... See you tomorrow...

John Day 47 - Breaking the Law
5:8 "Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
And that day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’”
12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath."
Religious fervor is an interesting animal. Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath and then tells him to carry his mat. This is not an accident or an oversight. This is a deliberate challenge to the prevailing Sabbath laws. The Jews in their determination to be holy enough had written rules about how to keep the Sabbath that went far beyond not only what the Bible says but beyond the scope of what the Sabbath meant.
When the Jews found out what Jesus had done and that He had told the man to carry his mat they tried to kill Him. Think about that. The rule about carrying objects on Sabbath was a man made one written as an addition to the Scriptures. "Thou shalt not kill" was written on stone tablets by the finger of God and kept inside a gold plated box inside the most holy place of the temple.
The number one reason why Jesus went into the temple and had what appears at first glance to be a temper tantrum, overthrowing tables etc... was because it was His Father's house. Now of course that is not literal. In the Old Testament God asks "What kind of house will you build for Me? Heaven is my home and the earth is my footstool." The temple was God's house in one sense only - It represented Him. When things were done there that shouldn't have been it reflected on God. It created the impression that God was like a crooked greedy priest who was a taker instead of a giver and that religion was just big business designed to exploit the masses.
Parallel to the temple as something that painted a picture of what God is like was the Sabbath. The understanding of the Sabbath created an understanding of the God of the Sabbath. If Sabbath laws were taxing and illogical and arbitrary then the God who made them must be taxing and illogical and arbitrary. It was Jesus studied purpose to overthrow the man made Sabbath "tables" as well. Jesus came to repaint the picture. Jesus came to shift the paradigm. Jesus came so that our eyes and minds and hearts would be "born again" and we could see the kingdom and the King as He really is.
When the religious leaders realized what He was doing they had to kill Him to rescue their turf and continue their exploitation of the masses unchallenged. It pains me to even write that but it's the truth...

John Day 48 - Serious Business
5:16 "For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”"
War is serious business. Several years ago I had the privilege of visiting Germany, a country that is no stranger to war. The following is quoted from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website:
"On February 27, 1933, the German parliament (Reichstag) building burned down due to arson. The government falsely portrayed the fire as part of a Communist effort to overthrow the state.
Using emergency constitutional powers, Adolf Hitler’s cabinet had issued a Decree for the Protection of the German People on February 4, 1933. This decree placed constraints on the press and authorized the police to ban political meetings and marches, effectively hindering electoral campaigning. A temporary measure, it was followed by a more dramatic and permanent suspension of civil rights following the February 27 burning of the parliament building.
Though the origins of the fire are still unclear, in a propaganda maneuver, the coalition government (Nazis and the German Nationalist People's Party) blamed the Communists. They exploited the Reichstag fire to secure President von Hindenburg’s approval for an emergency decree, the Decree for the Protection of the People and the State of February 28. Popularly known as the Reichstag Fire Decree, the regulations suspended the right to assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and other constitutional protections, including all restraints on police investigations.
Justified on the false premise that the Communists were planning an uprising to overthrow the state, the Reichstag Fire Decree permitted the regime to arrest and incarcerate political opponents without specific charge, dissolve political organizations, and to suppress publications. It also gave the central government the authority to overrule state and local laws and overthrow state and local governments."
I remember standing in front of the rebuilt Reichstag building and while others were snapping pictures I was curious about a row of slate stones mounted in the ground in a neat row on their edges. Each one bore a name. I first assumed they were people who died in the fire but it turns out that wasn't the case. They were people of influence, many of them media, some lawyers, etc... They did not die in the fire, they were murdered by the Nazis. We often hear of the Jews being killed by the Nazis but that was only part of the story. In order to succeed in his plans Hitler had to first eliminate the dissenting voices of influence to keep the public near and far ignorant of his intentions.
War is serious business.
What does this have to do with Jesus and the Gospel of John? Jesus was a dissenting voice of influence positioned to overthrow the regime of bad religion that was keeping the masses subject through guilt and fear. He had to be silenced. Murder had become their plan. They were desperate to hold their turf.
Somewhere in this war between the Truth and bad religion the Sabbath played a crucial role. Tomorrow we'll find out how.

John Day 49 - The War Is On
5:9 "And that day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’”
12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”
18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God."
Let's review some key statements:
"In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God."
"The Light came into the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it."
"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory..."
"The law came through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus"
"You must be born again or you will never see the kingdom"
"You are Israel's teacher and you don't know these things?"
And don't forget that in chapter 2 Jesus disrupted the preparations for Passover by chasing the money changers and those selling animals from the temple. He dumped out their money and turned over the tables.
A theme is building and it explodes in chapter 5. Jesus has returned to Jerusalem. He has returned "to the scene of the crime". He has returned to heart of the Jewish religion. He has returned to the city on a hill that is supposed to be a beacon of light and hope for the whole world. His Father's house is supposed to be a house of prayer for all the nations (Isaiah 55:7).
However it is the opposite. It is a walled fortress of darkness. It is a hotbed of prejudice and racial tensions. Even the temple is built to reflect the Jewish sense of self importance and the hierarchical system they have imposed on mankind. How close you could get to the temple depended on your bloodline and gender. There was only one courtyard which non Jews were permitted to enter to worship and it was the most outer court. It was here that the money changing and animal selling was taking place.
Jesus in His most extreme show of passion and force cleared the place. How could any sincere seeker ever find God or hear His voice or participate in worship in this bedlam? However that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was "What picture does this paint in the minds of the nations of what my Father is like if they are treated this way when they come to His house?"
Now we come to the Sabbath. The other issue about which Jesus is passionate. Another place where He confronts the darkness and turns the tables. The temple was a sanctuary in space and the Sabbath is a sanctuary in time. Both were instituted by God and both reflect back on Him and what He is like.
Can you see a theme? True religions shapes a beautiful picture of God. Bad religion paints an evil, distorted, ugly picture of God.
Changing the day changes the picture. Twisting the day twists His face.
The war is on between Light and darkness. The stakes are high and the battle is fierce. See you tomorrow...

John Day 50 - The Sabbath Was Broken By Religion
5:16 "For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”
18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God."
The temple and the Sabbath. One a sanctuary in space and one a sanctuary in time both designed to communicate a message about who our God is and what He is like. Both sanctuaries had been so twisted by men to become the exact opposite of what they were designed to be and Jesus was serious about setting the record straight.
Growing up in church I was always taught based on one verse that we should never do anything that would cause someone else to be offended even if we believed it was ok. Apparently Jesus either didn't get the memo or we misunderstood that verse. Jesus didn't heal the man by the pool by accident on a Sabbath. He had not forgotten what day of the week it was. When he told the man to carry his mat it wasn't motivated by Jesus' desire to keep the streets clean. Jesus was sending a message without saying a word just as He preached a sermon in the temple by flipping some tables.
Jesus was here to bring Light into the darkness.
For the past two days my dad has been sandblasting. Using silica sand blasted at high pressure he is removing 6 and a half decades of rust and corruption in order to restore his tractor to what it was meant to be. Jesus came to sandblast the church. The beauty was still there but it was hidden by centuries of corruption and darkness. The Sabbath was made for men but religion had made Sabbath a god and men it's worshippers. The temple was made to tell the story of what God is doing for the human family but it became about what the human family must do for God. Do you see a pattern? Religion shifts the Story from God to us. We become the main feature and in our self-obsession God either gets forgotten completely or changed into Someone He is not.
When God reintroduced the forgotten 7th day in Exodus 16 He did it very simply and very powerfully. He used food. He used a simple symbol of life and death. Food = life. No food = death. The Israelites had run out of food. They had come to the end of their own resources. Left alone they would die from their lack.
God steps into their lack and announces what He is going to do to rescue them from their own emptiness. Each day He will supply them with enough for that day and nothing more. They were not to attempt to gather extra for the next day. It would not last but rot. Each day would bring a fresh supply. Each day He would provide.
There was one exception. The 7th day. On the 6th day and only the 6th day they were to gather double and on the 7th day they were to rest. They were not to go out in search of His food on that 7th day. It was a day of rest.
You can well imagine what happened. On the very first day they gathered extra fearing there wouldn't be enough or even that none would be there the 2nd day. What they gathered extra rotted just as God said it would. Finally by the 6th day they had figured out that they could obey His simple instructions and He would provide each day what was needed. Or did they learn? Because on the 6th day some didn't gather double fearing it would rot and on the 7th day they went out in search of a fresh supply that wasn't to be found.
Do you know what God said about the whole ordeal?
"How long do you refuse to keep My instructions?"
What happened? Why did they do it? Simple really. They were more obsessed with themselves and had more faith in themselves then they had in God even though without Him they had nothing. The Jews later made the day about a display of their own holiness. It was a day to show God and the world how holy they could be. Again they missed the point. The Bible says that God said the Sabbath is a sign between us and Him that He is the one who makes us holy. He feeds our bodies. He feeds our souls. He provides all we need in all spheres. It's a weekly reminder that all physical and spiritual provision given to us day by day comes from Him. It's a day to get over ourselves and get it straight in our thinking Who the Provider is.
The man was told to carry his mat. For 38 years His best efforts couldn't even carry him to the pool yet in a moment Jesus made him able to not only carry his body anywhere he wanted to go but his mat as well. Carrying his mat was a reminder to himself and an evidence to everyone else of what God had done for him. It was a silent sermon about what the Sabbath was always meant to teach.
Sadly we were self-obsessed then and we remain self-obsessed today.

See you tomorrow as the war intensifies.

No comments:

Post a Comment