Division, Confusion, and Jesus - john chapter seven

This post is part of a weekly share of gleanings from the book of John. Click here for more information, and read to the bottom to join the conversation! 


This chapter!
It's about the people who heard Jesus speak when He walked the earth.
It's about the people who hear about Jesus today.
It's relatable, it's today's personalities and today's realities.

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"There was a division among the people over Him..." (John 7:43)
...and is there not still a division among people over Him?

Some thought He was a good man (Jn 7:12), some thought He was a prophet (Jn 7:40), some thought He was the Christ (Jn 7:41), many were just confused (Jn 7:15, 27, 35-36), and others misunderstood His birth story, leading to a belief that He did not fulfill the prophecies of the coming Messiah (John 7:41-42). Others feared believing and following him, as the result of such belief would most definitely be rejection (read ahead --> Jn 9:33-34. also NICODEMUS, guys! Jn 3:1-21 & here in Jn 7:50-52), and a verbal flogging by angry hypocrites who called anyone they couldn't sway by peer pressure (Jn 7:48) "accursed (Jn 7:49)" and "deceived (Jn 7:47.)"

Y'ALL! This. Is. Today.
I mean, I could share so many real life stories of students and friends in my life who were fearful of the fallout with peers and sometimes even family if they openly confessed Jesus as their Savior... Yes, persecution still exists and is flourishing around the lives of Christians today, sometimes even to imprisonment and death. Guys, I could have written this whole post on Nicodemus and his fear. I love that guy, because I am so much like that guy! ...but I'll save that for another day. What really stood out as I read through this is how it speaks to the exact. same. world we live in today! Right?? Some folks think He was a good man, or a prophet, or a "great moral teacher"... SO many are just confused and, lacking any real desire to understand, can't bring themselves to believe what He says about Himself. Others misunderstand the prophecies and thus believe He cannot be who He says He is.

Let's keep in mind that Jesus is a historical human who walked the earth. His humanness is written about in multiple historical sources outside of the Bible, and His existence is even defended by A LOT of atheist scholars on the subject.
So who did this very real person, Jesus, say that He was?
He says He IS God. (John 8:56-58, John 10:30-33, John 12:44-46, John 14:6-9...)

And LET'S BE REAL for a sec... if Jesus wasn't who He said He was, then... well, I could never put it in better words than this guy did:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

He HAS to be who He says He is if we want to believe He is good or Godly in any way.

He has to be God.
And He is God.
And He cries out to this divided world today the same way He did at this feast all those years ago... to a confused, angry, hypocritical, prejudice group of sinners who would reject and persecute Him to His death:
Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37&38)

He invites the thirsty to never thirst again. He turns hearts toward Himself and changes eternity for His children.

These are the pieces of this story that stood out to me, and tonight I'm responding to the words in this ninth chapter of John in prayer... that in all of the growing division and confusion about who Jesus is, my children will always desire to learn and will never stop asking questions and seeking clarity when that confusion strikes. And I'm praying for a spark of curiosity to light up in others who have not understood the Gospel of Jesus. I'm praying that my own understand would grow in depth and discernment, and that the Spirit would bring and lead conversations and hearts. Ultimately, I'm thanking God that, despite any confusion, or lack of desire and curiosity, and despite my own many failures and mistakes in walking and talking the Gospel, HE is a God who turns the hearts of His children toward Himself, crying out for each of us by name, and filling our thirst eternally. 


If you're journeying through the Gospel of John with us (or if you'd like to!), click below to download your guide through chapter eight!


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So... You have a diverting toddler... - gleanings from john chapter four

So... You have a diverting toddler... - gleanings from john chapter four

Among SO many other things in John 4, I love how Jesus addresses the Samaritan woman, and the route He takes to bring her to Himself as the Living Water and her Savior.

If you've got a minute, read through it, specifically verses 7-30. And while you’re reading, think about that toddler in your life who avoids admitting wrong by diverting your attention to his awesome new somersault skills..

The message in these verses is beautiful: Jesus is teaching her about Himself and the salvation He offers that will quench her thirst eternally, unlike the earthly relationships she has sought over and over that have repeatedly failed to quench her never-ending thirst. His methodology, however, was lost on me until an all too familiar interaction I had with my two year old today.

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Non-perishables in a perishing world - gleanings from John chapter three

This post is part of a weekly share of gleanings from the book of John. Click here for more information, and read to the bottom to join the conversation! 


Several years ago I worked in a food bank, always asking friends and church members to donate non-perishables. Why? Because the lifespan of perishables was already diminishing. Before long those items would be moldy, rotten, and tossed…

Sound familiar?

It should, because that’s me and you! Perishable from birth… And that’s the nature of our existence that this third chapter of John addresses.

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I have known John 3:16 my whole life. And I bet you have too. Is there a more “famous” Bible verse??

And I think I have misunderstood it’s message my whole life too. That’s unfortunate because, y’all… this is the Gospel! The Good news of Jesus!

Perhaps my misunderstanding was due to lack of investigation. Did I ever read it within it’s context, or consider to whom Jesus spoke these words? Did I ever compare the words in the 16th verse to the story in the two previous verses? Or look into Jesus’ God-given mission in the following verse? So let’s back up and jump forward a bit, and look at verses 14-17.

14 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:14-17)

Numbers 21:4-9 tells the story mentioned in 14&15. Click on the link and read through it briefly… it’s an important part of the investigation, because it reminds us that looking upon the serpent did not save those who were well, but those who were already bitten, already perishing… and gave them life.

Perfect segway to Jesus’ presentation of His own Gospel, which He shared with a Pharisee, somebody who believed he was well because of his many “righteous” works.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Should. Not. Perish… but have eternal life! Eternally non-perishable! Saved from decay, mold, and the being tossed!

And remember the nature of perishables? Already diminishing! That’s where the next verse comes in… and that’s where my years of misunderstanding came in as well.

I always read these verses in regards to two separate groups of people: the condemned and the not-condemned, the lost and the saved. Not only is that thinking deeply flawed, but it is a BIG disservice to the awe and gravity of what Jesus came to do!

The beauty and great impact of these passages comes when we realize and accept that Jesus is speaking to ONE group: the condemned. I am in that group and so are you… and so is every human who has ever existed… including our precious little ones. Already condemned. Diminishing, perishing from the moment of our birth. Enemies, completely unworthy of His great grace that brings salvation to those who would never turn to Him if not drawn by Him.

Jesus did not come to this world in judgement or in order to condemn a world which was already condemned in it’s entirety. Jesus came into the world in grace, in order to rescue us, His enemies, and willingly receive the punishment we all deserve. Jesus came into the world as a substitute for our condemnation. Jesus came into the world so that when His Father looks upon His children, He won’t see you and me in our filthy, rotten, perishing condemnation. Instead, He will see the righteousness of Jesus covering each of us whose hearts He has given the gift of belief!

And what a gift it is to share this grace with our children when we encounter various sins in our families. What a privilege and responsibility to model unconditional love and forgiveness despite the behaviors we see in these little ones, and the behaviors they see in us. What a challenge to live and love the way Jesus did, patiently dealing with Nicodemus and the Pharisees in their endless questions, doubts and traps… and what a celebration to see them turn to Him as He calls them forth!

I hope you are reading these scriptures with your little ones, they are immeasurably valuable and eternally fruitful!


If you're journeying through the Gospel of John with us (or if you'd like to!), click below to download your guide through chapter three!


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Remember and Believe - gleanings from John chapter two

 Remember and Believe - gleanings from John chapter two

This post is part of a weekly share of gleanings from the book of John. Click here for more information, and read to the bottom to join the conversation! 

I'll never forget the time a friend tried to comfort me as my two pound daughter lay in a NICU isolette twenty minutes away from her daddy, me, and her own crib.

She said, “One day you'll forget any of this ever happened.”

I confidently responded, “I hope I don’t. I wouldn't trade these moments for a full term pregnancy.” Despite the grief and trauma of the NICU, I meant those words. God was doing miraculous things, and my faith was being stretched and strengthened every day.

She’ll be five soon... and I really hate to say this, but some days I forget any of that ever happened.

My friend was right.

This is a problem, y’all. As moms, these days we spend with our little ones are precious and important, but can become so routine and so monotonous that the miracle that made us moms gets lost in the mundane. If you’re reading John with me, the second chapter cuts right to the heart of the problem!

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I thought I was pretty - gleanings from John chapter one

I thought I was pretty - gleanings from John chapter one

As I’ve read through the Gospel of John, so many memories have been stirring… and as I’ve worked through them, I’ve been constantly drawn to you: the young girls crying themselves to sleep at night, praying to be somebody they’re not, begging to be somebody worth knowing. I see you in my story, and I see us in John. May I share with you?

 

I remember being very young, around five or six, and my dad asking me what I liked about myself.

I said, "I think I'm pretty."

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