11.5 John – Offensiveness

In many sports, but in American Football in particular, there are two sides and two particular roles on the field, offense and defense.  This is true in sport, in war, in politics, in many parts of life.  The role of the offense is to move forward, to gain ground, to move from a position into a stronger position.  The role of defense is to stand ground, to hold firm, to not allow things to penetrate.

But what do you do when you have a position that is wrong and cannot be defended?  How to you defend the indefensible?  The normal response is the one that the religious leaders took, they went on the offensive.  They didn’t even try to hold their position.  They didn’t give logic or reason.  They attacked.  Even in the face of testimony from their own guard, they wanted to kill Jesus.  Even in the recognition from Nicodemus that they were violating their own rules and principles, they attacked him as well.

We see this in our day and age as well and it is a factor in people staying quiet.  Speak out for the truth today, and you will face attack.  In some parts of the world that is a verbal attack, one that includes labels and name calling and bullying tactics.  In some other part of the world it means torture, imprisonment and death.  But the response is always the same, attack.

But the response of a Christian is different.  Our response is to love.  To not waver in right and wrong or the principles of truth, but to encourage and listen and give.  When asked directly we speak boldly and with confidence, but more often our actions are prayerful, behind the scenes, patient and waiting and hoping.  We give to the poor.  We aid widows and orphans.  We build communities.  We seek justice and righteousness.  But we do it for the glory of God, not for ourselves.

The overflow of living water is not a firehose that we use to douse others, it is a refreshing and joyful lake and stream, still full of power, but also approachable and comforting and fulfilling.

As we face turbulent times around the world, with attacks and protests and hatred, remember, we already hold the high ground, we already hold the keys to the palace, we are already members of the community with the mightiest King of Kings who cannot be defeated.  We need not attack back nor be discouraged.  Instead, we need to invite the ones who have been deceived by the enemy to come to the feast.  We do not need to become defensive simply because the evil one is and always has been offensive.

My Answers:

The prophet, the Messiah, because of the prophecies about the Messiah in scripture and – BECAUSE HE WAS!

Nicodemus pointed out the rights provided within the law – shouldn’t he get a fair hearing?

I have spoken out against those who bully others and I’ve spoke of the unfairness and inconsistencies and bias in the application of our laws.  The response is the same, it is one of attack against the one pointing out the inconsistencies instead of a response of logic to try to defend.

11.4 John – Choices

We have choices every day.  Some choices are right, some are wrong.  Sometimes we know something is wrong, yet we choose to do it anyway.  Sometimes we make the wrong choice and, when confronted with the repercussions of our choice, we wish we had made a better choice, but often we blame someone else.

The chief priests and Pharisees wanted Jesus to go away.  They saw him as blasphemous because he said that He came from God, that He was God, that He was the path to God.  They looked forward to a Messiah, the one promised sent from God.  But evidently they did not expect this promised one to acknowledge that He was the one sent from God because anyone who professed to be sent from God would be considered to be in sin and thus could not be the one.

With this approach, is it any wonder they could not find Jesus wherever he was, especially in the glory of heaven.

But, to those who came to Him, who sought Him, He promised living water, overflowing to share with others, the power of the Holy Spirit, the power to understand and interpret the scriptures, the power to heal and raise the dead, the power of life of joy of peace.  The fact that some would not come to him was their choice.  The fact that they would not find Him did not mean that He was hiding, but they refused to look in the place that He was, instead insisting that they knew best and He could not possibly be in that place.

My Answers:

Jesus said, “I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”  They failed to lay a hand on him because it was not yet time (his hour had not yet come).

He would be in heaven, they would not find him because they would not look to heaven and they would not come there because He alone is the door to heaven.

The holy spirit

I received it on the day I accepted Jesus.  I receive it still every day in scripture and in prayer.  It overflows to others in peace and joy, in prayer and forgiveness.

11.3 John – Feast of the Tabernacle

There is a richness of the events of John 7 that we have lost by our lack of understanding of the Jewish Festivals.  The Feast of the Tabernacle was a fall time of great joy.  The three feasts were Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of the Tabernacle.  Many of us now understand the Passover.  Pentecost was a festival of the first grain harvest.  But “The Feast” as it was referred to in 1 Kings 12:32, was the final fall harvest.  This came just days after Yom Kippur, the day of atonement.  The sins of Israel were forgiven and the people came together.  They lived in booths (small tents) to commemorate the time of the exodus, but they gathered in a time of joy and celebration.

There were readings for each of the first 3 days from the Torah (the first 5 books) and the Haftarah (the other books of the old testament), but on days 4-7 there was only readings from the Torah.  The final reading from the Haftarah was the book of Ecclesiastes.  It was on these days, 4-7, that Jesus began his teaching in the temple.

If you haven’t read it recently it is worth a quick read through Ecclesiastes.  Vanity of vanities, all is vanity is the start of this book by Solomon.  Vanity is defined as “excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.” Vanity of vanities would be pride in being a proud person.  (can you think of a better description for the religious leaders?)  It also contains the words that there is a time for everything (an admonition to his brothers?)

But in Chapter 9 of this book is a small story told by Solomon about a poor wise man who saved his village, made up of only a few men, from the onslaught attack of a mighty king with great weaponry, but, despite this, “nobody remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.”

And, it was the day following this, that Jesus began to teach in the temple.

The final day of the feast, there are 2 readings from the Torah.  The first is the final blessing of Moses given to the tribes at the end of Deuteronomy.  The second is from Genesis 1.  Keeping in mind that the Torah was a scroll, this got them to the very end of the scriptures, only to rewind and start over from the beginning, something they had done year after year after year for hundreds of years.  But it was in the middle of this that we find Jesus in v37 when he stands and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink”.  The entire point of the Torah was to point to this very moment, the promise of the greatest blessing of all, the blessing of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus announces there is a sequel, more of the story, that the first book of the trilogy points to, and it is available to them right now, right in that place, all they have to do is come to Him and drink!

From the scriptures, some thirsted for more.  They recognized that Jesus was the Messiah, the prophet, the promised one.  But others simply wanted to rewind and do it again, forever cycling through the things that give them pride in themselves for following, the pride of the proud.  They consider themselves to be rich because of their birth as Hebrews and the schooling they have received.  Jesus offers them salvation and they seek only to kill him and forget him.

 My Answers:

He taught in the temple courts with great wisdom.  Jesus explained that his teaching came from God.  He advised to look to the reasons why someone speaks, if to bring glory to themselves, then be cautious.  If to bring glory to God, then there is nothing false about him.

He healed the lame man on the Safbath at the pool at Bethesda, the command of circumcision

Their hypocrisy and the darkness in their heart.  It is ok to have some exceptions to the law (no work on sabbath, but ok to circumcise) but not others (heal someone, carry a mat).  They professed to follow the commands on one hand, but had murder in their hearts on the other.

He spoke from the authority of God the Father who sent Him.  They refuse God because they refuse Jesus (no one comes except through Jesus).  They do not know Him because of bible illiteracy, they avoid the word of God as being “too hard.”

It makes all the difference.  Who else is there who offers eternal life and has the authority to provide it?

11.2 John – Calendar

Some days there is a BSF question that really hits home.  The one today was the question about the calendar and how you spend your time.  My calendar is filled with the cycle of work and business activities.   The timing of proposals, the cycle of payroll, the deadlines of taxes.

I can look at how Jesus’ brothers did not understand the calendar.  They failed to see that God had provided the calendar as a template of His plan for the Messiah, laid down in the fabric of time and the events of the calendar.  The feast days were as much a foreshadowing of the coming of Christ and His life and ministry and ultimate return as they were a reflection of the seasons of the year and harvest.

They sought a Messiah King, the one who would come in glory at the time of the fall harvest, the final harvest of the year, in great celebration of all that had been produced.  We seek that, too.  But, Jesus understood that day had not yet come.  There were still billions of people, like us, to be called to a day of repentance to be welcomed into the tabernacle of the Lord.

But, even though they did not understand and live accordingly, how much more so do I.  Their calendar, at least, was built around religious observances.  Mine is built around government edicts.


My Answers:

He was going about, teaching and performing miracles, but staying away from Judea where they were trying to kill him.  He should go because it was one of the 3 feast days (passover, pentecost and “the feast” 1K12:32)

Jesus basis was the will of God, the brothers was the steady march of the calendar.  Challenges me because my calendar is driven by business language, not even the festival  language of the brothers.  payroll dates, month end close, quarterly tax filings, etc.

some said he was a good man, others said he deceives people, no one spoke boldly for fear of the leaders.  It is the same today, people are divided and misinformed but few speak boldly of Jesus for fear of censure

I would like to say, boldly and with the confidence of the scriptures, but in reality I’m more timid in my profession of faith