Saturday, February 06, 2021

Jesus Calls Witnesses in His Own Defense (John 5:30-47)

 Jesus says he does nothing on his own authority, but judges according to what he hears from the Father. What's interesting about that is that Jesus has plenty of authority. Yet even here, we see him submitting to the will of the Father. Jesus is also subtly reminding people that the law given to Moses said that a witness's testimony was only valid when backed up by two or three witnesses.

Therefore, Jesus calls John the Baptist in his own defense, and he also says the Father bears witness to the truth of who he is, and what he is doing. He says John the Baptist's witness would otherwise not be good enough, because John is just a man, but Jesus knows that many of the people respect John the Baptist.

Also, Jesus says the works that he is doing bear witness to the truth of who he is. Basically Jesus sees himself as the one who was sent by the Father. He goes on to say that his opponents do not love the Father, because they do not believe Jesus, whom the Father has sent.

Then we have to wonder what Jesus is saying about the Scriptures in verse 39. Is it wrong to know the Scriptures? Is it wrong to read them as much as possible? No; what Jesus is saying is that if you know the Scriptures backwards and forwards, but you don't know Him, you're wasting your time at best. Let's come to Jesus to receive all that he intends to give.

Jesus is frustrated with the leaders, because they will praise one another, before they praise the Father for sending His Son. They see their identity as those who obey Moses, but Jesus says they are not obeying Moses, because Moses wrote about Him. This is really an astonishing claim, because Moses is believed traditionally to only have written most of the first five books of the Bible. God was trying to tell us about His Son more than 3000 years ago!

Friday, February 05, 2021

The Credibility of Jesus, the Son of God (John 5:19-29)

 The "truly, truly…" indicates that Jesus is about to say something new, as a revealer of God's plan. He's telling us that the relationship between fathers and sons which we understand is an analogy to his relationship with the Father. Many sons imitate their fathers, and if the man is good, the son will be good as well. Jesus says that the Father loves him, showing and telling him everything. Verse 23 seems to teach that we should worship Jesus, in the same way that we worship the Father. (St. John uses the word "honor.") Trusting that the Father has sent His Son Jesus grants us eternal life. Verse 23 also closes off the option of worshiping the Father, but refusing to worship the Son.

Jesus teaches us about the resurrection from the dead at the end of time. If you break the word "resurrection" down, it means something like, "the rising to life again." "Hearing" in the Old Testament Scriptures meant something more than simple hearing. It meant paying attention, or listening. The resurrection to new life at the end of time is actually not a new idea, because the prophet Isaiah spoke about it in chapter 26 of his Old Testament prophecy. (26:19) What is new is that the just people will obey and follow Jesus.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Jesus Heals A Cripple On The Sabbath (John 5:1-18)

 Apparently, it was believed that an angel would stir the waters. This poor man couldn't get in fast enough. This seems a bit out of the ordinary, to believe that putting yourself in a pool of water could provide healing, but it is not unheard of. In any case, Jesus cuts the red tape, so to speak. It is doubtful that the opponents of Jesus had a real objection to what Jesus had done here on the Sabbath. Instead, they probably are running out of seemingly reasonable explanations for how Jesus is healing people. Also, anyone who says that the rules the people have been living under don't matter so much is going to challenge the authority of those who hold authority based on those rules.

It is prohibited in the law of Moses to do work on the Sabbath. On the other hand, a miracle of healing is not an ordinary work. Also, God would have authority to dispense with the laws as He sees fit. That is why the identity of Jesus is so important. If Jesus is God in the flesh, then he can alter the laws as he sees fit. He can even tell us what the purposes of each law really were.

It's kind of in the background here, but there is another healing of a disabled person elsewhere in the Bible. In Luke 5:17-26, Jesus heals a paralytic, and he connects the healing to the spiritual healing that we all need. In some way, every weakness and misfortune that we experience in our bodies is related to sin. The people in this culture believed that illness, injury, and disability were direct results of their actions. Jesus understands that, which is why he speaks in the way he does here (v. 14). Even so, he will challenge some of those attitudes later, and he may be hinting at something spiritual in these words anyway. The judgment of God would be far worse than anything bad that happens to us here.

It is unique for anyone in this culture to address God as, "my Father." We are used to speaking this way now, because we have grown up in a culture where the way Jesus talks about God is the way we have learned to speak about Him. In any case, the leaders are not wrong to interpret Jesus as saying that he is equal with the Father. That previous passage in Luke makes it more obvious. Anyway, St. John wants us to believe that Jesus is God, and that Jesus understood himself to be God.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Jesus Heals A Leader's Son In Capernaum (John 4:46-54)

 This official in Capernaum probably had tried everything else. Maybe he had heard that Jesus was a healer. How difficult it must have been, to watch your own child get sick, and come nearly to the point of death.

Jesus expresses disappointment at a lack of faith that he has seen in general. The context for this is Matthew 16:4, and Mark 8:38. In those places, people were witnesses to a miracle, and still asked Jesus to prove himself. Maybe Jesus thought that this official wouldn't believe, either. On the other hand, we have the believing centurion in Matthew 5:5-13. That man knew that Jesus had the power to do anything, and Jesus praised him for his faith. This official must have been somewhere in between the faithless, and the Roman centurion, because Jesus told him to go, and he went. There is some faith there, to take Jesus at his word.

Faith is supernatural, but it is also simple. At any moment, you and I have the opportunity to take Jesus at his word, to trust Him. In this way, faith is a loving trust in Jesus as a friend.

"Religion" gets a bad rap, but it comes from the Latin which means, "to bind together." So if we put that all together, we are bound together to one another, and to God, by certain practices that teach us to trust in God, and especially in Jesus our Savior.

One thing that St. John--and Jesus--don't want us to miss is that the miracles are signs. Like all other signs, they let us know that something is going on. There is nothing special about a road sign, necessarily. Even so, we can think of times when we were glad that we read the signs. In the same way, it's amazing that Jesus can turn water into wine, or to heal an official's son, but Jesus wants to tell us about himself, and about the Father.

Returning To Galilee (John 4:43-45)

 Jesus went back to Galilee from there. When he had said that no honor would come to a prophet from his own country, we can understand this. A lot of times, nobody wants to hear supposed wisdom from a kid they watched grow up. "You think you know so much? I remember when you couldn't feed yourself!"

In this case, Jesus's popularity grew from things he did outside Galilee, so some people must have forgotten that they didn't like him.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Jesus in Samaria (John 4:27-42)

 The disciples wanted to know why Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman, but they didn't ask. Meanwhile, she went and told everyone in the town how Jesus knew everything she ever did. He had to be a prophet, at the very least.

The disciples hadn't seen Jesus eat for a while, so they pressed him about it. Jesus used it as a way to talk about doing the Father's will, and accomplishing the mission for which he was sent. Jesus doesn't see enemies when he looks at sinners; he sees opportunity. To Jesus, we are all beloved children of the Father, who have happened to run away. Isn't it wonderful to think that no matter how unworthy we think we are, Jesus sees who we are supposed to be? That is what it means to call Jesus our Savior and friend.

Jesus reminds the disciples that none of the good things that will happen are because of them, but they will see God's work in their ministry. When we share our faith, the same is true for us.

He stayed in Samaria, in the town of Sychar, for two days, because the people asked him. They no longer believed simply because the woman told them, but they heard and saw Jesus. Sometimes, we have people to guide us in our faith, and for that we should be thankful. But sometimes we have to see God working in our lives, in order to trust Him more deeply.

Monday, February 01, 2021

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (John 4:1-26)

 Jesus knew that the Pharisees could make trouble, the closer he was to Jerusalem, so he withdrew to a smaller place. As it says, he had to pass through Samaria. The Samaritans were viewed as half-breeds and heretics. This is why the woman was surprised when Jesus began to talk to her. It was about noon.

Jesus knows when someone is ready to receive Him, and he is drawing her out, as someone would draw the water out of the well. Sometimes when Jesus gets close, we don't necessarily run away, but we would rather talk about something else. The woman deflects Jesus, or tries to, a couple of different times.

Whatever we are ashamed of is the thing that Jesus needs to take away from us. This woman has had five husbands, and probably it was unlawful, otherwise she wouldn't feel bad about it. Jesus knows why she's here in the middle of the day; she's been ostracized by everyone in her community.

What does it mean when it says, "living water"? It could mean simply moving water. Even so, Jesus has nothing with which to carry water. On the other hand, I think "living water" refers to something mystical and spiritual. Even after Jesus tells her to call her husband, she doesn't want to talk about that, so she starts a theological discussion with Jesus. It would be interesting to talk about the things of God with God Himself, but sometimes it is easy to talk about the things of God, instead of talking with God about the things that have hurt us, and still hold us back.

This woman is transformed, not only because she is known by Jesus, but because she is known and accepted by Jesus. He doesn't accept the choices she has made, but he treats are like a person, and not a beast, or some kind of monster. I think people can get into a pattern, knowing that others judge them, and they accept that in their own way, judging themselves. One of the great mysteries here is that God does not allow us to condemn ourselves. It is actually pride, for us to say that we are unworthy of love.

Jesus reconciling this woman to God is also a preview of God's plan to take the message of salvation in Jesus to the entire world. Salvation is from the Jews, but it is for everyone. The living water of the Holy Spirit quenches our spiritual thirst, our deepest need, even if we don't realize it.