Bits and Pieces in John

John’s gospel is my favorite. Each chapter is filled with much to learn and embrace. Rather than force myself to select one example, I thought it best to provide a sampling of some of the rich teaching found in this amazing gospel. If something spurs your interest, feel free to pursue it a bit and see what else the Lord might show you.


Jesus’ Submission to the Father:  John 5:19, 30, 7:16-18, 8:29-20

Over and over again we hear Jesus speak about His desire to honor the Father, to give glory to the Father and to please the Father by doing and saying only what the Father tells Him to do and to say. When you read these words together the picture becomes clear; when we see Jesus, we are looking at the very character and heart of God (see John 14:9-11)! What is your picture of God and how closely does it resemble the life of Jesus revealed in the gospels? Where are the similarities? Where are the differences?


The Shepherd Seeks the Sheep

It wasn’t until recently that I finally connected John 5:14 and 9:35, two different stories where Jesus sought out common people to follow up on a work He had done in their lives. Imagine Jesus scanning the large temple crowd, looking for one face, one person that He wants to engage with so that He might finish the work He started. Imagine Jesus searching the crowd…for you! Do you feel important enough to grab Jesus’ attention? If not, what blocks you from believing how deeply you are loved by God?


Division among the people: John 7:12, 9:16 and 10:19

John’s gospel shows the division that Jesus brought among the leaders and the people. (Matthew 10:35; Luke 12:51-53). Chapter 7 states that there was “widespread whispering” about Jesus. Some said He was a good man while others called Him a deceiver and no one dared say anything publicly about Him for fear that the leaders would throw them out of the synagogue (9:22). The division even impacted the temple guards! Imagine the disruption it caused when the temple guards (who had been sent to arrest Jesus, 9:22) came back empty handed. They failed in their duty because “No one ever spoke the way this man does” (9:46). Where do Jesus-caused divisions exist today? Do I find myself whispering about Jesus and not willing to speak publicly about Him? If so, why? What is my fear? What is it about Jesus’ teaching that causes you to stop and take notice?


Message Enhancements

Finally, consider how Jesus purposely framed two famous messages.

John 7:37-39: John tells us that it was “the last and greatest day of the feast” for a reason. The final day of Sukkot (the Feast of Booths) involved a climactic moment. For seven days a priest carried water in a golden pitcher from the Pool of Siloam up to the alter where the High Priest poured it out as a prayer for both rain and the outpouring out of the Holy Spirit to come on God’s people as God had promised. On this day—the last and greatest day—the water carrying and pouring was accompanied by priests blowing trumpets, Levites singing sacred songs and ordinary folk waving palm branches and chanting the Hallel (Psalms 113-118). This was a day filled with celebration and overflowing joy. And it was here—in the middle of all the water-pouring, trumpeting-blowing, branch-waving, psalm-singing crowds and in the presence of all 24 divisions of the Priesthood who had gathered for this event—that Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink! Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John then adds that Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit! Take a minute and try to imagine this scene. Think about the people, the crowds, the ceremony, the sounds and the symbolism. Then imagine a moment when there is a pause between songs and in that brief interlude a solitary, clear, strong voice breaks in and declares, “If anyone is thirsty….” What was Jesus saying to the people? What is He saying to you?

 

John 8:12: The words, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” were also spoken within specific context. During Sukkot the temple held four menorahs, each containing four bowls (so 16 “candles” in total). These menorahs were recorded as being about 75 feet high and that only young, strong priests were given the task of filling the bowls and trimming the wicks. The Mishna states that these candles illumined every courtyard in Jerusalem. They symbolized how the Messiah will be a light to those walking in darkness (Isaiah 9:2). With this in mind, take a minute and try to imagine the scene. Every night for seven nights the city is illumined like at no other time. Darkness is pushed back as people walk the usually dark streets in amazement at the tremendous light flowing from the temple courts. Now, imagine walking by those candles on a day when you know the celebration is about to end and the light will be extinguished for another year. As you think about the familiar darkness that will soon envelope the night again, you hear a solitary, clear, strong voice declare, “I am the light of the world…” What was Jesus saying to the people? What is He saying to you?

 

Okay, so I’ve given way too much to think about. Maybe you can take one section each day for the next couple of days? From where I sit, it was just too good to pass by without comment.

 

Pondering with you along the way.

 

Rob