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:

3.
a.
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)

b.
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.

4.
a.
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

b.
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

11.2 John – Calendar

10.5 John – Just Dating vs. Married

On the day 3 questions of this weeks study I discussed the analogy of marriage and a right relationship with Jesus.

We really see that played out in our lesson today.  As question 13 hit on the head, the discussion has come to a question of “commitment.”  Are you committed to the ways of flesh or are you committed to the ways of God?

The disciples that were there, all of them, loved being with Jesus.  They got a lot out of it.  it was fun.  They felt healed and whole.  They were filled up.  They ate together, they drank together.  They sat at his feet and took in all of his teaching.

They really enjoyed dating Jesus.  But marriage?  That was hard.

Marriage is forsaking all others.  Marriage is every hour of every day.  Marriage is binding for the rest of your life.

But ask those in a healthy loving marriage relationship and you will hear of all the benefits and joys and blessings of marriage.  Can it be hard?  Of course.  Sharing the ups and downs of life with someone is not an easy path, you see more of your own flaws and how they impact those you love.  But is it wonderful, absolutely, like no other joy that people can experience with each other on earth.  The unity of marriage is how two can become one that is stronger than either would be alone.

Peter was ready to commit.  The Psalmist was ready to commit.  Marriage is a commitment.  Are you committed to your relationship with Jesus or do you just really like dating?

 

My Answers:

11.
Flesh fades and falters.  I forget things, I say things I don’t mean or intend, I cause hurt and pain, I experience pain and weakness, my body ages and cannot do things it did in the past, it will day.  But the spirit that God has placed in me combines with my soul and created a new eternal life, one that lives forever int he very real presence of God raised up in a new body in a new world.

12.
This is hard teaching.  They were fine with gifts, but wanted a more distant relationship with God.  They wanted to receive the satisfaction and recognition of earning things with God, building up their own self worth.

13.
v25-26 Whom have I in heaven but you? Earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
We all know that this life ends, everything material has an ending.  If one desires more, eternity, there is nothing on earth that can reasonably make that promise to fulfill, it must come from outside of the physical.  God alone offers this.  Compared to all else combined, this is greater – where else would someone look?  To whom else would someone turn?

10.5 John – Just Dating vs. Married

10.4 John – The Part of the Passover

Our lesson today made special note that the Passover feast was a backdrop to the timing and message of the scriptures in John 6.  Unfortunately, many of us today know so little about the annual Passover celebration at that time that we miss the meaning.  It would be like an American trying to describe Thanksgiving in another country.

But Jesus takes each of the parts of the meal into his dialogue.  I’m not going to go into all the details of the meal, I’m far from a scholar on this material, but there are a few highlights I think are critical.

Prior to the meal there is a cleansing that is conducted.  And, during the meal, foods are dipped into salt water and then brought back out.  These uses of water both represent a cleansing and an emergence.  The salt water is a reminder of the tears of bondage.  The washing is both and actual and ritualistic cleansing.  In both cases, the item (hands or foot), is drawn back out, into a new state.  We know the Jews at this time practiced baptism (i.e., John the baptist) and that many of the people with Jesus at this place and time would have had a deep understanding of both and many may have been baptized by (and have been followers of) John the Baptist.

At the traditional meal three of the main foods would have been the wine, the bread and the lamb.  The wine today is presented as a drink of joy and hopefulness, but it also would have served as a reminder of the blood of the lamb painted on the doorposts on the evening before the Hebrews were freed from Egyptian bondage.  On that night, they sacrificed a lamb or having painted the blood on the doorpost, roasted it and fully consumed it, leaving no part left over.  They also made unleavened bread and, as noted in Ex 12:39, brought this with them as they left, carrying it into the new world of freedom to nourish them.  God continued to provide manna for them all along the way.

Jesus uses all of these symbols that were foreshadows, to attempt to describe himself and teach them about who He was.  He doesn’t go into lots of deep explanation, because, they understood all of the background and had participated in the tradition every year of their lives.

Jesus explained that his human body was the lamb.  It would be slain and given fully for the sacrifice to pay the price of their (and our) sins.  He explained that his blood would be the blood painted on the doorpost that would cause death to pass over all who believed and obeyed.  He explained that He, as the Son of the Father God, was the bread of life that would nourish them not only now, but forever, taking them into the new world, raising them up into eternal life.

For us, we think this teaching is hard because we don’t have the reference and don’t understand.  But for them it was hard because it meant something else.  It meant that the things they had put their faith in, the points they earned and could cash in for their adherence to the traditions and rules and law and all the physical things they were doing, had now completely changed.  Those were only symbols leading up to what now was in their presence.  Instead of putting their faith in their work to adhere to the law and tradition, Jesus was saying, I’ve fulfilled that law, now put your faith in me.  To grab ahold of Jesus with both hands, they had to let go of something that had been a part of their identity for hundreds of years.  It was hard because it meant letting go of earthly things to hold on to heavenly things.  It isn’t that they didn’t want the things of heaven, but it was too hard to let go of the earthly things.

As a result, the Jews brought to pass another remembrance of passover.  They grumbled as the hebrews in the desert did and wanted only to return to how things were before.  They also found the same result, none but the 12 who stayed were like the 12 spies Moses sent to get a glimpse of the land, but instead of only 2 (Joshua and Caleb) walking in faith and getting to eventually enter the land, we are told only 1 of this group of 12 will end up giving a false report.

My Answers:

8.
The blood was a representation of the life/death of the lamb who was sacrificed.  It was painted over the door in obedience and faith as a covering on the house that death would passover.

9.
It was eaten for strength and in anticipation of moving forward out of bondage and in to the promised land.  It was consumed completely, if the family was not large enough on their own, they joined with another family.

10.
v53 Life, v54 Eternal life, raised up by Jesus at the last day, v55 Connection with what is “real”, v56 Remains in Jesus and Jesus in them, v57 Will live the same way the living Father gave life to and sent Jesus, v58. Bread (nourishment) from heaven, live forever, v59 message received in synagogue

 

10.4 John – The Part of the Passover

10.3 John – Marriage

Here is my analogy:

Let’s say two people know of each other.  They’ve casually dated maybe.  Then one day, one proposes to the other.  They immediately grab a couple of witnesses, go down to the chapel, and get married.  After the ceremony, they both go back to their respective homes and lives.  They occasionally get together, chat on the phone, particularly during difficult times, but that is it.

How would you describe their relationship?  Deep?  Devoted? Supportive? Loving? Giving? Lasting?  Probably not.  We don’t really even have a term for it in our language, it makes so little sense.

Yet, that is the “relationship” so many people want to have with Jesus.  Jesus invites us to be His bride.  Over and over again He discusses our relationship together (and His relationship with the Father) in the same language of a wedding.  The two become one.  The relationship Jesus wants is a relationship of Unity, of coming together, Him transforming us, us being transformed in Him, everlasting, deeply spiritual.

The other key point I want to make in today’s lesson is to carefully read question 5.  I read it incorrectly the first time and it is a much deeper and more meaningful question when read correctly.  The question asks about the role scripture has in “people coming to Jesus in faith?”  When I first read it (and answered it), it turned it around.  I read it as people coming to faith in Jesus.  But that isn’t what the question says.  The question is regarding how you come to Jesus “in faith.”  When you open the word of God, do you start with prayer?  Do you call on the Holy Spirit to open your heart?  Do you begin with openness and desire to experience the message and truth?  Or do you come in doubt?  Do you come in skepticism?  Do you come with pre-conceived ideas looking for the scripture to support what you want it to say?

The scriptures are a portal to experience and see God, but if not entered in faith, they are a stumbling block at the feet of the proud.

My Answers:

5.
The bible is the written word of revelation about God.  It is the story of relationship between a loving God and mankind, told in fullness and truth including the things that have not yet transpired but are known by God.  Without the revelation and teaching we would only believe in a God drawn from our own imagination.  The bible is God’s way of teaching us about Him.

6.
It is a holy connected relationship, not a distant acquaintance.  It is a belief “in” Jesus as God incarnate, not a belief “about” Jesus.  It is “in”timate.  It is also transforming.  The relationship brings life to a transformed heart and spirit, one that yearns to become holy and do the works of love.  (compare to someone professing love for another person, but not making any life change.)

7.
a.
Physical death and spiritual death.  Body vs. Soul.

b.
That if we unite in belief with Jesus, then we do not die and will have eternal life.

10.3 John – Marriage

10.2 John – Authority from Birth (and before)

The question that Jesus is facing in our lesson today is related to when and how Jesus received his authority?  When did he get his calling?  Who gave him his orders?

For the jewish people, this request for an audit trail, to use the accounting term, was completely natural.  They were jews with access to the torah and teachings and traditions because of their ancestors.  They traced back to Moses, who received his authority at a burning bush.  They traced back to Jacob/Israel and the visions he received when he saw the stairway of heaven and wrestled with the Lord.  They traced back to Abraham who was called to leave his homeland and moved to the promised land.  Each of their ancestors had “a moment.”

As Christians, we do the same thing in a slightly different way.  We ask fellow christians about “their testimony” to recount the moment “when they accepted Jesus” or “were saved.”  We focus on events or an event, a point when things changed.

And all of those things are true in our lives.  We are born into sin.  We are dead in our sins, even as a child.  And, then, the Holy Spirit moves in our lives and we are called to accept the gift of salvation and, if we do accept, we are changed.

But these things are not true about Jesus.  Jesus was God forever before He chose to become flesh and enter the world as a baby in Bethlehem.  Jesus, as a new Adam, was not born of sin. He was placed in a virgin’s womb by the power of the Holy Spirit.  All of this exactly as foretold by the prophets.

This distinction is huge and it is the difference between “seeing to believe” and “believing to see”.  The people around Jesus saw a man, he looked like a man, he sounded like a man, he dressed like a man, he ate and drank and breathed like a man.  That, to them, meant that at his core, Jesus was a man.  For him to be something more would be an “add-on” some additional blessing or authority that would come from heaven to add-to what he was.  But, in truth (amen, amen), at his core, Jesus was God.  He came down from heaven and took on an earthly human body.  The word became flesh.

As the jews at that time pointed out, this is hard teaching.  It is hard teaching for us even today.  Many in our lesson this week will say, I don’t get it.  I don’t see it.  I don’t understand it.  And that is alright.  God is bigger than we can understand.  God is deeper and wider than we can fathom.  My encouragement to you is to park those things so they don’t become a traffic jam or a detour to the journey of your faith.  Write them down.  Keep them in your bible or prayer journal and keep in the path of studying the Word.  Maybe God will explain them to you.  Maybe He won’t in this life.  But it is amazing that as our faith deepens and our lives our transformed, we see things in different ways.

 

My Answers:

3.
That Joseph was not his father and that Mary was a virgin.  They assumed it was a human birth, not a divine intervention.

4.
It is the difference between believing that Jesus was a normal man with grandeurs of being God’s son and believing in the fact that Jesus is God who took on earthly form and lived without sin and sacrificed his life to pay the price for our sin.  John 1:1 and 1:14, In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

10.2 John – Authority from Birth (and before)

09.5 John – God’s Will: Fully Filled

When you read the words of Jesus in this first half of the dialogue in the temple in Caperneum closely, there are some amazing insights into the relationship of the Father and Son of the Trinity that are presented.

  1. Believers are a gift from the Father to Jesus the Son v.37
  2. Jesus did not come to earth for His own will (benefit), but to do the will of the Father.  He is here out of obedience. v.38
  3. The Father’s will is that none who He sends to Jesus will be lost, but all raised up at the last day v.39
  4. There will be a last day for the earth v.39
  5. The Father’s will is that EVERYONE who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life v.40

The fact of all of this is that the will of the Father is for all to be fulfilled.  Jesus is the only path for that fullness.  He is the bread of life.  Coming to Him does not just temporarily stave off the hungry we all have, but we never go hungry again.  Believing in Him doesn’t just quench the dryness in our throat, but we never thirst again.  He doesn’t just give us a life, He gives us Eternal life.  He doesn’t just fill us, He fully fills us.  Fulfillment.

Because of sin, all of us are born with a part of us that is dead.  Sin is death, and like someone who has had a heart attack, part of our selves is dead even at birth.  We are born in sin.  But, the Father’s will is not just that we live, but that Jesus fix us by removing the death in us, the sin, so that we not be lost but all raised up on the last day to eternal life.

We know, from this discussion, that Jesus knew fully and completely that He came to earth to die, to pay the price for our sin.  He came out of obedience to take on the death of the world, of every one of us so that He would not lose any of us.  He came to unite Himself to us, to take on our sin, and bear our death, fully out of obedience to the Father.

My Answers:

11.
material, most likely, although some may have been coming around.  The clincher is the “always”.  Bread that causes you to never hunger again does not need to be received always, but only once.  Once saved, always saved.

12.
a.
v40, that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life.  I’m sure because Jesus said it and I believe it.  I’m sure because His word and His sacrifice are sufficient.

b.
All those the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me I will NEVER drive away.

13.
Never hunger again, never thirst again.  He is providing everything I need and allowing me to participate in serving Him by serving others and demonstrating His love; I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day

09.5 John – God’s Will: Fully Filled

09.4 John – Demands

As hard as it is to believe, there will probably be some people at some time who look back on this day and age and consider it to be “the good old days.”  When you look at the troubles in the world, the division and hatred, the way the world has pulled farther and farther away from God, it seems hard to believe.  I can’t imagine the Hebrews, wandering in the desert and yearning for the food of Egypt, would ever have believed that, generations later, people would be pining for their 40 years in the desert!

The people didn’t just ask for “daily bread”, they demanded Jesus give it to them ALWAYS.

That is ALWAYS the wrong approach to God.  It assumes we know what is best and demand that God get on board and use His power to provide it.  I have a plan, I have needs, I have desires, I know what should happen, I just need God to sponsor it, to get behind it and make it happen.  Get behind me God, with you as my co-pilot, I can steer us into great things.

See the problem?  See why this is such a wrong approach?

But haven’t we all also done similar in our prayer life.  We make up our mind and ask God to get behind us instead of us getting behind God and following Him.  It isn’t that God won’t at times give us what we ask, but, we then simply do not know what greater blessing God would have had for us if we had followed Him.

We shouldn’t pray for God to be on our side, we should pray that we be on God’s side.  We shouldn’t pray for God to be our co-pilot, we should be thankful to have God pilot our lives.  We shouldn’t run ahead and count on God to catch up to our great plans, we should be at peace where we are and patiently wait and trust in God’s timing.

I’m not saying any of that is easy.  We are impatient, we are infants, we are self-focused.  We are like little kids going down the candy aisle at the grocery store after not getting a nap – we through tantrums and make demands.  We don’t just want, but we want what we want right now.  But, God loves us even during these times and He helps and guides us to mature.

My Answers:

8.
As they wondered in the desert, God provided Manna from Heaven for them to collect daily and eat.  Moses was their earthly leader, but he did not make the manna, it was from God

9.
a.
The more wonderful food is Jesus.  He is the bread of eternal life, given by God.

b.
I am in Jesus and He is in me.  We are connected and I am slowly being transformed out of my sinful self and nature into a holy being who will live forever, because He paid the price.  My God is not distant, My God is my creator and He loves me.

10.
Bread from heaven… they must have been hungry!    Demands don’t go well, because we don’t know what we really need.  Sometimes God provides them, sometimes He provides something more in line with what we really need.

09.4 John – Demands