10 December 2016

Stone 37 - John

The Gospel of John is the fourth and final gospel found in the New Testament. John, however, is often the answer that I hear when someone asks where they should start reading in the Bible. One of my favorite quotes refers to a fifth gospel.
There are five gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian. Most people will never read the first four. - Rodney (Gypsy) Smith
 John is jam-packed with information. Let's take a closer peek.

John begins with what I might suggest is a relatively well recognized verse. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1) Verse two goes on to add that "He was with God in the beginning."

Right out of the gates, John works to establish the deity and power of Jesus. "...apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created." (John 1:3)

John declares Jesus as God and also as distinct from God establishing support for the trinity.

John moves into describing the first miracle performed by Jesus - turning the water into wine.

Another, even more widely recognized verse is John 3:16.

**It dawned on me as I read this again that the verse comes during the conversation Jesus is having with Nicodemus and the text gives the impression that the events of the cross have already taken place. Also, an interesting comparison to the teachings of the Quran...
In the Bible, John 3:16 states that God gave his one and only son whereas in the Quran Surah 23:91 states that God has not taken to himself a son, nor is there any other deity besides him. These statements are contradictory. Since God either had a son or he did not, both statements cannot be true.

Jesus later meets a Samaritan woman at the well and asks for some water. He interestingly offers up some water of his own and states that those who drink it will never thirst again. (John 4:14). This is a more striking encounter because the Jews would have preferred to steer clear of the Samaritans. Jesus, however, came for everyone - even the gentiles.

John recalls a couple more miracles - the healing of the official's son. Jesus simply tells the official to go and that his son would live. He did not even need to go to his son. The official heads home and is met partway there by his slaves who share that the boy is alive. (John 4:51-53)

Jesus heals the sick man at the pool. I found it interesting that the man had been sick for 38 years and when asked if he wanted to be well again, his response was that he did not have anyone to lift him into the water. Jesus simply tells him to get up and walk and he does.

**Here are a couple examples of "the Word". In both cases, Jesus only spoke and it was so. I comparison I would make to the Genesis account.

Now we find a couple more miracles. Jesus feeds the 5,000 and walks on water. These are likely to be well known miracles. Taking the five loaves and two fish and multiplying that to feed everyone. While often referred to as the feeding of the 5,000, careful examination of the text shows that the number of men was about 5,000. If we then consider the number of women and children present, the number who actually ate were much greater.

The day after feeding them all, Jesus addresses the crowd that followed him indicating that they only followed because they got a free meal (John 6:26).

**Jesus talks about eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood. (John 6:53) LOL - I can only imagine some of the looks on their faces as they assumed this was some sort of invitation to cannibalism. As a result (v 66) a bunch of them quit following Jesus.

John 7:24 says "Stop judging according to outward appearances; rather judge according to righteous judgement." We are called to discern right from wrong, good from evil.

Miracle number six is the healing of the man born blind. I find some humor in this one. So here is the blind guy who is able to see now. The fact that he was born blind makes it so much more astonishing for those around him. They drag the guy before the Pharisees to be questioned about how he can see now. They were upset that this took place on a Sabbath day. The Pharisees then bring in the parents and ask if it is the son they say was born blind and how is it that he can now see. The parents are like "We don't know. He is our son that was born blind. Why don't you ask him?"
So they ask him again and he is like I already told you and you won't listen. (John 9:27)
LOL - how common today.

In John 10:11 Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." In 10:27 He says, "My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me."
**I have often thought about end times stuff. Let's take a peek back at Matthew 24:4-5. "Then Jesus replied to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many." I read this and then I think of John 10:27.
Now, I enjoy engaging in local community theatre and my wife comes to watch. During a show, cast members do not get to go and mingle with the audience. At intermission times, we remain hidden behind the curtain or in dressing rooms. There was a time when I was back stage during intermission and I heard talking and some laughter. Even though I could not see her through the curtain, I immediately recognized the voice and laughter as that of my wife. I recognized it because I know her. I wonder if it will be the same when Jesus returns. Though I have not heard Jesus speak audibly as if next to me, I think those who follow Him will recognize Him.

Chapter 11 shares the death and resurrection of Lazarus. Consider the following three verses... John 11:35-37.
Jesus wept. So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?"
Verse 35 is quite popular as it is referred to as the shortest verse in the Bible, although I would argue that there is a shorter one. Verse 36 is simple recognition of Jesus' love for Lazarus as the Jews see the tears. But verse 37...

Verse 37 gives us a glimpse into the hearts of those Jews standing by and hints at a very real issue that continues to plague people to this day. A common objection to the existence of God goes something like this...
If God is all-good and all-powerful, He would have prevented that.
John 11:11 informs us that Jesus is aware that Lazarus has died. Verse 4 informs us that it will not end in death but is for the glory of God.
Jesus had a plan that the others were not aware of and they make the mistake of trying to judge God and his actions by human standards.

In Chapter 12, Jesus was with Lazarus just prior to the Passover and Judas was also there. In the account, Mary takes some oil and puts on Jesus' feet and wipes it with her hair. Judas speaks up since he recognizes the oil as a pure and expensive variety by asking why the oil was not sold and the money given to the poor. As verse 6 points out, this was really a heart issue for Judas. he was thinking of himself in that moment and not really the poor. Instead, Judas chose to belittle Mary because he did not get an opportunity to steal from the money bag. Interesting.

Now Jesus is in town and many are aware of what He did for Lazarus and have started to believe. Oh! but read verses 42 and 43!
Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

In Chapter 15 verse 19 states, "If we were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you."

Look around - open a newspaper - watch the news - It does not take long to see the division, the pain, and the evil around every corner. I must consider where I fit into this. Am I part of the givers or the receivers? I should strive to be a receiver, shouldn't I?

The book of John moves to the account of the crucifixion and resurrection and I want to again point out the awesome question that Pilate asks of Jesus that we do not get to hear an answer for.
Verse 38 - "What is truth?" said Pilate.

I might define truth as that which corresponds to reality. Thoughts and opinions have no bearing on truth as truth stands independent of what anyone thinks about it.

John's gospel serves to help show the truth of who Jesus is.

Please enjoy these videos on the book of John from our friends over at Join the Bible Project. I see that the URL has changed but the old ones still seem to work for now.

Until next time...

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