Archive for June, 2021


“But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, ‘Does this cause you to stumble? What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before’” (John 6:61-62)?

If the majority of his followers to this point were offended by Jesus’ claim of origin, that he came down from heaven (v.38), what would be their emotional state upon seeing his return to the place from whence he came? Because of the regret over an opportunity missed, and what might have been, will it not be an emotional state far worse? To avoid such a scenario requires ongoing discipleship; a continuation of listening, learning, and believing. In this is the discovery of life over death.

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“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11).

Church is always fun as a child. Play-Doh, coloring books, artwork, snacks, and thrilling stories of the God who loves them—what is there not to like? By adolescence (ages 12-18), however, they have acquired the realization of other options, and the subsequent tension between a faith understood well enough to now be held accountable, and the entertainment offerings of the world that can be done with a more selective group of friends. The adolescent years also bring a shift in the teaching ministry of the church; from the amusing methodologies appropriate for introducing a child to Jesus, to the disciplined ways of the faith, for the purpose of training teens to take their place of responsibility in the life of the church and the mission given to her. This we do with the understanding that, for confessing Christians, we will need to bring more to the judgment bar of God than our coloring books and clay figurines.

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“Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, ‘This a a difficult statement; who can listen to it’” (John 6:60).

For all but twelve of those who called themselves disciples (students) of Jesus, his preceding bread of life sermon (v.26-58) raised issues that were difficult not to understand but to accept. That is, the expectations set forth did not accommodate their expectations of what a messianic kingdom would be and, more especially, their role within it. They jumped on the Jesus movement because they found it to be exciting, new, and entertaining; having come to believe that what they had so far witnessed was a performance for their benefit (See v.2, 30). As every wannabe disciple eventually discovers, Jesus didn’t come to accommodate but to call to account.

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“So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city…” (John 4:28).

It seemed just another day; waking up to the drudgery of routines necessary to just get by; all while having a sense that there has to be more to life than this, and longing for it to be so. Though an empty waterpot would take the Samaritan woman to the well of Sychar, it is filled with more than meets the eye. She carried within it the weight of shame and guilt; trapped by the  maelstrom of sin and the systemic abuses of a patriarchal society that prevailed repeatedly upon her circumstances. Upon meeting Jesus, however, she left behind her waterpot and all that it held. Today doesn’t have to be just another day; it can be the day you leave your waterpot.

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“For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps’” (John 4:37).

While the previously cited proverb (v.35) was not true in matters of faith and eternal life, this one is. As a follower of Christ, you have a strategic role in a long lineage of sowing and reaping for the gospel and the kingdom of God. You and I have come to know the love of God, and experienced his grace, because of a cumulative witness of faith—from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to the Judges, the kings, to the prophets, Jesus, the apostles, the early church fathers, the reformers, all of your believing ancestors, friends, teachers—great or small, each one has had a providential part in you coming to faith…just as you have a providential part, great or small, in the eternal destiny of all who know you.

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“Then David’s anger burned against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold because he did this thing and had no compassion.’ Nathan then said to David, ‘You are the man!’” (2 Samuel 12:5-7).

The prophet, Nathan, set a literary trap that was tripped by David’s own guilt. How often it is that what we most passionately judge and condemn, emerges from that which lurks in our own heart. Thus, by our judgment of others we establish the standard by which we shall be judged. In other words, our quick judgment of others may tell more of us than we would really want known.  Instead, try grace.

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“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

It is a reassuring metaphor, capturing vividly the security afforded believers. If a shelter is a haven of safety, then the shelter of the Most High is set in the loftiest of heights. The tallest place casts the longest shadow, where we can remain hidden in his protection. Come on in!

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“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest?’ Behold, I say to you lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest” (John 4:35).

While this, seemingly, familiar proverb emphasizes that some things take time, Jesus argues such isn’t the case when it comes to the eternal; that the encounters of today are critical and providential. Whether Jesus is speaking of an overripe wheat crop, referred to as a “rotten ripe,” or the approaching men, in their robed garb, from a nearby Samaritan city, who have been intrigued by the testimony of a Samaritan woman (v.30), that the fields are white for harvest means we are late in seizing those situations that seem menial and turning them into something filled with spiritual meaning. 

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“Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish his work’” (John 4:34).

Jesus’ desire to see the will of God accomplished, speaks to his attitude of persistence and unceasing focus all the way to the cross. In fact, “ to accomplish his work” emerges from the same word heard upon the cross, when he said, “It is finished.” That the pursuit of God’s will is a never-ending task means at no point can we say, “I have done enough.” What the Father accomplished through the Son, he seeks to perpetuate through his church, the body of Christ.

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“But He said to them, ’I have food to eat that you do not know about’” (John 4:32).

These are Jesus’ first disciples, personally recruited by him. They daily sat under his teachings, and witnessed his miracles. Even so, Jesus informs them there is still much nourishment to be had from the pantry of his Lordship that they could not, yet, even imagine. As his present day disciples, it is a reminder to stay hungry, curious, never satisfied with what we have known and experienced in the life of Christ; that what we think we know today is but an appetizer for that which we will someday know more fully.

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