John 15: “True Vine”

Wisteria, it’s a beautiful plant, and when in full bloom it can almost look magical, but this viney, creepy, goes wherever it wants vine, has a dark side.

 

I can remember the day when working for a lawn company in Cape May, NJ; we pulled up to a little white Cape Cod style house, only to find a little Wisteria was staging a coup in the backyard!

Some of the vines on this wisteria were 5” around! The metal trellis installed in 1982 was 8” off the ground! The wisteria literally over time had picked up this heavy metal trellis and was starting to carry it away! Here’s the kicker! We couldn’t just hack the thing to the ground because she still wanted to see the beautiful blooms of the wisteria, so we had to be more skillful.

It was an incredibly painful process, but the results were amazing. Instead of waiting for the next 15 years to trim back all the overgrowth, there’s now a regular schedule of pruning that helps make the wisteria bloom to its fullest potential.

Boy, that sounds like a sermon doesn’t it? Think about it with me for a second.

Our lives are like that wisteria. Isn’t it true that without a regular schedule of pruning and shaping, our lives can quickly get out of control? The pruning process is painful but necessary.

John 15:1-8 (NLT)

From the beginning, there’s a startling revelation that I have missed before. Jesus in (v.1) says, “I am the True Vine or True Grapevine.” What does this lead us to believe? There’s a False Grapevine. Jesus is saying to his disciples; there have been many that came before me and many after, claiming, “I’m the Messiah,” but he says to them, don’t put your trust in Israel or other teachers, I’m the only one you should be concerned with. I am the true vine.

Seems like in (v. 2) there’s a conflict in language. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. Cuts off…Prunes… to our English ear, that sounds the same, but it’s actually not. The truth is, the word for prune in the ancient Greek could mean “pruning,” or “cleaning.” It was common for a vinedresser to pick up the branches that have produced fruit, clean them off, and place them in a place where they can get more sun to grow stronger and more productive.

But in the process of cleaning or “pruning” the branches, he also cuts off the diseased parts of the branches and leaves. It’s painful but productive.

Challenge for Today

What does he need to prune from you? Arrogance, Vanity, Anger, Lust, Pride, Bad Relationships, Selfishness.

But truthfully, as powerful as this imagery is for us, I don’t think it’s the main point of the message. As I was preparing and talking to Jesus about the message, I asked Jesus, “what do you want the main point to be?” He said, “I want people to remain in me.” Then Jesus said, “We spend so much time talking about fruit, but the truth is, if you don’t remain in me, I can’t produce fruit in you.”

So I went and started looking at the passage and do you know what God revealed to me? The passage isn’t about bearing fruit. In fact, nowhere in the passage does Jesus command his disciples to bear fruit. Look at it! It’s not there; you’re not going to find a command from Jesus to bear fruit.

The truth of the scripture is, without Jesus, you can do nothing! Meaning: without remaining in Jesus, you can try all you want, but you will not produce fruit!

Can you imagine a tiny little branch trying to willfully create a cluster of grapes without the help of the vine?

Jesus at no point demands the disciples to bear fruit; instead his challenge time and time again is, “Remain in me.” If we remain in Jesus today; we’ll have no choice but to bear fruit.

John 14: “Consoler”

When my son was younger, he used to love jumping off things, which forced me to catch him. It was a bit of game at times, but one that was quite scary for me!

Once when I was walking down the steps with Parker behind me, he yelled out, “Hey Dad! Catch me!” I turned around to see Parker mid-flight hurdling towards me off the steps. I immediately channeled my inner circus clown and caught him just before we both crashed to the ground. While he was laughing, and I was both scared and angry, I asked him, “Parker, what in the world were you thinking?” He said, “you’re my dad, I knew you’d catch me!” Although I appreciated his level of trust in me, we needed to have a conversation about safety.

In my experience, trust isn’t only given; it’s earned. In fact, there are many times throughout our day that we are left with the choice to either trust or not trust. Think about how much trust you put in the person who’s driving in the opposite lane on a two lane highway?

In John 14, John paints the portrait of Jesus as, “the Consoler.” It’s here we find Jesus meeting with his disciples in the upper room after the Last Supper. He’s explaining to them what’s about to happen, and how ultimately they need to trust him. The words are simple, but complex all at the same time.

John 14:1 (NLT) “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.

There’s an indication from John that our hearts are troubled on account that we don’t trust God. If you think about it, there’s a lot of truth to that understanding. I believe the more we trust God, the less our heart will be troubled. I pray that for you today as well!

 

John 13: “Servent Savior”

John 13:1-10 (NLT)

Before we begin to unpack the implications found in the scripture passage, let me set the scene for you.

It was customary that the lowest servant of the house would wash the feet of the guests as they came into the house, especially for formal meals like this. We’re not sure why, but for some reason, there was no one available to wash the disciples feet as they came in.

This would have been a formal meal around a common U-shaped table called a “triclinium.” The disciples would have been reclining on mats at the table. The table was so low to the ground, the disciples wouldn’t have sat on chairs, in fact, if they were sitting in chairs, it wouldn’t have been a big deal if their feet were dirty. But instead, they reclined at the table, which meant that dirty feet would have made the meal pretty awkward and uncomfortable.

As I read this passage one of the questions I have is, “why didn’t the disciples wash each other’s feet?” In fact, why didn’t they take the initiative and wash Jesus’ feet?

Maybe the conversation they had during the meal can educate us on the reason this didn’t happen.

Before we look at that conversation and Jesus’ response, you have to remember in the disciple’s minds; Jesus was still speaking in code about going away and establishing his kingdom.

So Luke 22 reveals the conversation and makes sense why they didn’t serve each other.

Luke 22:24-27 (NLT)

Jesus taught the disciples some radical concepts while he was with them, but this one was as a radical as they get. But the beautiful picture is Jesus didn’t just teach His disciples how to be servants; He showed them how to be servants.

John 13:4-5 (NLT) So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

If Jesus wanted just to display the “image” of a servant, he would have had a servant or even of the disciples do all the prep work. He would have quickly wiped a damp cloth on a couple of dirty feet and consider the job done. That would have given the “image” of servanthood and loving leadership, but Jesus gave himself completely to the work of getting everything setup and prepared to wash the disciples feet.

Jesus washing the disciples feet was a powerful moment and experience for the disciples. In fact, the foot washing was so shocking; Peter initially refused to allow Jesus to wash his feet at all. But again, Jesus wasn’t just teaching them a lesson; He was showing them the lesson. He showed it in a way that illustrated what His life was all about.

Not only was the foot washing a powerful lesson; it was a powerful parable: Think about the connection between heaven and earth at this moment:

  • Jesus got up from his earthly table, a place of comfort and rest
  • Jesus got up from his throne in heaven, a place of comfort and rest
  • Jesus took off his earthly robe, removing his outer covering
  • Jesus laid aside His glory, taking off his heavenly covering
  • Jesus took an earthly towel and wrapped it around his waist ready to work
  • Jesus took the very form of a servant and stepped down from heaven ready to work
  • Jesus poured water into an earthly basin, ready to clean
  • Jesus poured out his blood to cleans us of our sin
  • Jesus after washing their feet sat down
  • Jesus sat down at the right hand of the father after cleansing us on the cross.

Servant leadership can’t be just something we say, it has to become something we do or even someone we are. We have a model for us in the person of Jesus Christ. I challenge you today to get up, take the towel of the servant, wrap it around your waist, and start washing feet.

John 11: “The Prince of Life”

We’ve been walking through the corridor of John’s Portraits of Jesus and in John 11 we see one of the most significant portraits of Christ, “The Prince of Life”

I once had a conversation with a friend about the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. “Ah yes, the worst miracle Jesus ever performed,” he said. I must have had a puzzled look on my face cause he explained to me that Lazarus was already in glory and Jesus brought him back to earth… in his same broken body! Can you imagine being Lazarus? “Wait, I’m back?” That might have been cool until he realizes, “Wait, I’m gonna have to die all over again!”

I never thought of that before. All the people who were raised from the dead all had to die again! This was true for:

  • The Widow’s Son in Luke 7
  • Jairus’ Daughter in Luke 8
  • of course Lazarus here in John 11
  • Tabitha in Acts 9
  • and Eutychus in Acts 20

Resurrection vs. Resuscitation

Now you need to know; there’s a difference between resurrection and resuscitation. Resuscitation means raising the person in the old mortal body in which they died. Resurrection, on the other hand, refers to putting on a new, glorified body.

All of these people were resuscitated only to have to die again, but there is only ONE who died on the cross and on the third day was RESURRECTED, NEVER TO DIE AGAIN! Jesus was no resuscitated. Jesus was resurrected!

In John 11:23 Jesus tries to explain to Martha that we will rise again, and she understands that, but she understands it in the traditional Jewish context. The thought of resurrection in the last days was introduced in the ancient letter written by Daniel. So it is no surprise for Martha to say this. But now, Jesus proclaims a new truth for everyone to hear:

John 11:25-26 (NLT) 25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

I want you to hear these words as Jesus says them to you today. Jesus tells you, “I am the resurrection and the life, if you live and believe in me, you’ll never die. Do you believe me   (insert your name here)?

What an incredible promise for us! You gotta know, we are Lazarus! Or better yet, Lazarus is us. Hang with me here for a minute:

Lazarus is actually the shortened name for Eleazar which means, “God helps.” He is from the town of Bethany, which means “House of Affliction. SO we can literally translate this situation as God helping the afflicted. Lazarus is the one Jesus loves, but he represents for us all those whom Jesus loves, which includes you, me, and all humankind.

Lazarus’ story is a story of coming from death to life. A story of hope restored! That should be our story! My story is a death to life story!  And aren’t we people with afflictions?

Just like Lazarus stunk after being in the tomb for four days, I would say that there are times our life just really stinks.

The Good News

We have a Savior who is not afraid to come face to face with death on our behalf and call us out into his holy light. Lazarus is us, bound by death in our current lives, called to life by Jesus who is the Light and the Life of the world. Jesus stands at the edge of our tomb and shouts…

  (insert your name here)   Come out!

We need to hear his command, and walk into the light of day, pulling free of our grave clothes as we go. Come out of your grave today and take the hand of The Prince of Life. For Jesus is the only one who has the ability to resurrect us today.

 

John 10: “The Good Shepherd”

Picture this with me…

Jesus is traveling in and around the area outside Jerusalem called the Kidron Valley. In this area are familiar places in Jesus’ ministry Mt. of Olives, Gethsemane, even the Jericho Road weaves through the Kidron Valley.

You have to know, Jesus is a master communicator! When he’s talking to farmers he talks about seeds and farming, when he talks to fishermen, he talks about repairing nets and where to fish…and when he talks to shepherds, or even those who are called to be shepherds of people, he talks to them about sheep.

Jesus uses His surroundings to preach incredible and hard to explain biblical truths. This time would be no different. As Jesus is standing with a large group of people he begins to look out into the Kidron Valley. Do you know what he sees? He sees another opportunity for an important lesson regarding who he is. He begins to draw the attention of the listener to the sheep pens, or folds, that dot the landscape of the Kidron Valley.

Some pens are caves, some are sheds,or even large walled areas in an open field called a pasture.

What’s interesting to me, and I hope for you, is how these pens would operate: The first thing to know is every sheep pens had a gatekeeper. Because the pens didn’t have gates, the shepherd would sit down in the opening of the pen. This wasn’t to keep the sheep in, but to keep the predators out! Shepherds would prove they were the shepherd of their sheep because they had a distinct call and knew them by name.

The Sheep Know My Name

During WWI, some Turkish soldiers tried to steal a flock of sheep from a hillside near Jerusalem. The shepherd, who had been sleeping, awoke to find his flock being driven off. He couldn’t recapture them by force, so he called out to his flock with his distinctive call. The sheep listened, and returned to their rightful owner. The soldiers couldn’t stop the sheep from returning to their shepherd’s voice.

Listen, sheep are dumb, but they’re experts in knowing the voice or their shepherd. It just takes practice and training.

Think about if you were a sheep…

  • A shepherd knows your name
  • A shepherd leads you (on purpose) to good pasture
  • Protects you when you get stuck
  • Searches for you when you’re lost
  • Lays down to protect you from harm
  • Places himself between you and an attacker

John 10:1-11; 14-16 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

John 9: “Light of the World”

What does Sensodyne and Aquaphor Have in Common?

One of the things my wife loves about me is that I can get dressed and ready for the day without having to turn on a single light! It’s true! I was used to doing this for my roommates since I was a religion major and had 7:30am – 8am classes in college. Most of my roommates were slackers and had cake majors that let them sleep in till like a 11! Okay, so maybe that’s not completely true, but the getting ready in complete darkness is true.

I only had one instance where a little more light would have gone a long way. Early in my marriage I got up one morning and started to get ready as I normally do, but this time I left out a BIG step. I forgot to put in my contacts. My eye doctor will tell you, if I don’t have my contacts in I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a bunny rabbit and a mountain lion.

You’ll never know how hard it is to see until you mistake your Sensodyne toothpaste with you’re tube of Aquaphor. Needless to say, my mouth was not left minty fresh, however my teeth where now treated against the harsh effects of winter…

There are two things that would have been REALLY helpful for me that morning; light and the ability to see clearly.

This leads in nicely to the story of the blind man found in John 9.

John 9

Right off the bat we have the disciples asking what seems to be an insensitive question: (v. 2) “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” You have to remember, the belief in those days what it was possible to be born guilty of specific sin. Example, a child is judged to be guilty of idolatry if their mother worshiped false God’s while pregnant. Strict Jews believed that a fetus could sin in the womb.

Jesus insures his disciples that this man didn’t sin, (v. 3) but this happened so that the work of God, might be displayed in his life.” He then makes an interesting comment in verse (v. 5) But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

We’ve heard others as well as Jesus reference that he is the light of the world, but to this here is actually extra special. Let’s cover one more point of the story, then will come back and make reference to the significance of his comments.

After Jesus makes a mud pie (v. 6) and smears it over the eyes of the man, he instructs him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. After the blind man went and obeyed Jesus’ command, he came home seeing.

Okay, so lets look at why this is important. In Chapter 7 we learn that Jesus is the Water of Life or better phrased, “The Living Water.” We also know that the timing of this declaration was important because it was during the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths, where the final day would have centered all around the theme of water. But do you know what else was celebrated during the Festival of Tabernacles; the “Illumination of the Temple”

Illumination of the Temple

During the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) there was a great ceremony called the “Illumination of the Temple,” which involved the ritual lighting of four golden oil-fed lamps in the Court of Women. These lamps were huge menorahs/candelabras (seventy-five feet high) lit in the Temple at night to remind the people of the pillar of fire that had guided Israel in their wilderness journey. All night long the light shone their brilliance, it is said, illuminating the entire city.

Jesus is the Light of the World, the source of illumination to bring the lost out of darkness. In the moment when Jesus is declaring that he is the Light of the World, he’s pointing to the giant menorahs set up in the temple to commemorate God’s light that led the people of Israel out of slavery and into freedom.

John 8: “Defender of the Weak”

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I have a fond story of my dad that I’ve never shared publicly, probably because it happened at one my weakest moments as a kid.

Growing up I was never the strongest, fastest, or best athlete on my street. There were five, yes five, boys on my block that grew up within months of each other. The birthdays started in April and rolled right on through till August in our neighborhood. One day we were out playing street hockey when a teenager decided to play with us. It wasn’t uncommon for the older brothers to come and play hockey with us, but while we were elementary school, the older kids took it a little easy on us since they were in middle and high school. This particular older boy however served more  as the neighborhood bully than anything else, and decided he was going to come out and beat up on us younger kids.

After getting knocked down a couple of times, I got really hurt when he checked me into the side of the house where we were playing. I got really hurt and gingerly started to skate for home, which was only two houses down. As I was skating home my dad was getting home from work and saw that I was crying and holding my head. After finding out what happened from me he walked over to the boy and began to give him a lecture on his obvious difference in size. One thing you have to know about my dad is he wasn’t just larger than life in my eyes, he was actually 6′ 3,” 250+ in everyone else’s eyes as well!

I remember him yelling at this boy and at one point even picked up the hockey ball and through it into the net just inches from the teenager in question. At that moment I didn’t care that I broke an unwritten street rule and would potentially get beat up because my dad defended me. I didn’t care because I watched my father defend me against an outmatched and outsized opponent. I remember thinking, “that’s my dad.”

In John 8 we find one of the most famous stories of Jesus encountering two things:

  1. The righteousness of the Pharisees
  2. Sin

The break this story down there’s a couple of things we need to know. First of all, the woman was literally caught in the act of adultery (v. 3). This makes for a very testy situation since there are direct consequences to this action. Here’s another thing that we need to be aware of; this woman was used to lure Jesus into a trap. They knew, and he knew that they were trying to catch him up. But here’s the first problem, where was the man? The law of Moses indicated that both the woman and the man were to be held accountable. So here’s the trap:

  • Don’t Stone Her = Violate the Law of Moses
  • Stone Her = Breaking Roman Law

So what does Jesus do? Of course, he writes in the sand! What every ordinary person would do…write in the sand. We have no record of what Jesus wrote, but here’s some of the speculations:

  1. The sin of the Pharisees
  2. The Ten Commandments
  3. Exodus 23 regarding lying

 

John 8:7-10 (NLT) 

Think about ultimately how Jesus defended this woman. She was obviously caught in the midst of sin, but instead of beating her up more than she had already experienced, he defends her and exercises love and compassion. Here’s a key takeaway: Jesus loved her, but he didn’t approve of her sin. It’s important to know that love doesn’t equal approval. You can deeply love someone, but it doesn’t mean you approve of their sin. The reality for us is found in Jesus’ admonishment of the woman. He didn’t say, “Go and commit adultery no more.” He said, “go and sin no more.” Sin is sin no matter how big or little we deem it. Her sin that was made public is no more or less sinful than the sin you commit in private.

In this case, Jesus was the defender of the spiritually weak. He communicated to her that she was more important than what she did wrong.

 

John 6: “Bread of Life”

Beginning of Year 3

While Jesus lived on earth for thirty-three years, it wasn’t until his final three years that he started his public ministry. Those three years can be broken down into three categories:

  1. Inauguration
  2. Popularity
  3. Oppression

So our reading today is at the beginning of his last year on earth, the year of oppression. This is significant for us because Jesus is beginning to set the stage for the cross.

We also need to recognize that at this point in the story Jesus just fed the 5,000 on the eastern side of the sea of Galilee. Because of the location of the Feeding of the 5,000 we know that many of the people he fed, and who were following him, were both hungry and most likely poor.

Chapter 6 Challenge

At first glance in reading Chapter 6 we could think that the people genuinely want to be in the presence of Jesus, but upon further reading Jesus points to the heart of the matter.

Read John 6:26-29 (NLT)

 Here’s a challenging question for us today: Are we more concerned about things that wont last, or do we spend our energy seeking the eternal life that only Jesus CAN give us?

(v. 28) They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” 29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

Interesting: Jesus’ first requirement for the people is not to do, but to believe and trust!

Listen: You don’t first fall in love with Jesus, you first trust in Jesus, and when you continue to trust you find that you begin to fall in love with Him! What does the scripture say? “I love because he first loved me.” (1 John 4:19) a couple of verses before that reads, 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

Look at the people’s response…

Prove it!

Read John 6:30-31 (NLT) 

 

There are two things at work here:

  1. Prove it mentality
  2. Manipulation

“All you need to do is show us a miraculous sign and we’ll believe in you…” Right, until that sign wasn’t enough and you’ll need more signs, and more signs… it’s a manipulation folks. It’s like a kid who wants a Happy Meal from McDonalds. Tell me if you’ve heard this one before, “But dad, all I want is the happy meal! If you get the happy meal I’ll be content and never ask for another happy meal again!” 

Jesus’ response is classic! He doesn’t tell them or give them what they want, but he sure straightens out their theology.

Read John 6:32-34 (NLT) 

The problem is, they’re still thinking with their stomachs! The conversation we’re reading here between Jesus and the unbelieving crowd is the same conversation Jesus has with the Samaritan woman at the well from John 4.

In both of these cases Jesus used the natural conversation to make a profound and life changing point.

The Life Changing Point

(v. 50) Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”

What’s the action here that Jesus is pointing us to? Anyone WHO EATS THE BREAD from heaven… WILL NEVER DIE!

It doesn’t say anyone who gags on the bread because God is shoving it down your throat will never die. Folks, there’s a choice here!

Think of it this way: Pretend with me that you’re starving…

  • Seeing a loaf of bread on a plate won’t satisfy our hunger!
  • Knowing the ingredients in the bread will not satisfy our hunger!
  • Taking pictures of bread will not satisfy our hunger!
  • Selling bread will not satisfy our hunger!
  • Playing catch with the bread will not satisfy our hunger!

Nothing will satisfy our hunger except actually eating the bread! And so it is with Jesus!

The crowd wanted more bread
and Jesus is telling them, “I’m better than bread!”

The crowd wanted to fill their stomachs
and Jesus was telling them, “I can fill your soul!”

“Oh taste and see that the Lord is good.”
(Psalm 34:8)

John 5: “Great Physician”

Today as I picture the portrait of Jesus portrayed as the “Great Physician,” my heart is heavy over the loss of my Pastor, Dr. Ed Heck. I had so much respect for him as my pastor for 12 years, that even though my wife and I served on staff with him for eight of those years I never called him “Ed.”

Yesterday around 6pm Pastor went home to be with the Lord after complications due to cancer. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I still today where the “Shields Up” wristband he gave me last Thursday to remind everyone to fight along side him as he fights this disease. We never anticipated the fight would be so short. He may have lost the battle, but I can assure you, Pastor Heck won the war!

Today’s reading finds us in John 5 and the story of the sick man at the Pool of Bethesda.

Bethesda

John 5:5-9 (NLT) Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”

“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”

Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath,

Model of the Pools during the Second Temple Period

Legend said that the waters of Bethesda had supernatural healing properties. It was believed that an angel would come down periodically and stir the water of healing. The first one into the pool would receive the benefit of the healing while everyone else would have to wait for the next time the water was stirred.

The title “Bethesda” is translated “House of Mercy,” and mercy is exactly what the sick man experienced on the day he was healed by Jesus. Although the man had no idea he was going to be healed that day, he still showed up at the pool believing in its healing properties. But here’s a question to consider, what if he stayed home?

In the sick man’s mind he had at least a chance to be healed if he got into the water first, but not showing up would have guaranteed him continued sickness. Here’s the interesting thing about physicians, they can only help if you get in front of them. I’ve heard people over the years complain about aches and pains, but they refuse to go to the doctor to get relief.

The sick man in our story didn’t refuse to get help but instead showed up believing it was his best chance for healing. The truth became clear that Jesus was this mans best chance for healing.

Physical or Spiritual Healing

There’s been a debate among scholars about the exact title and meaning of the “Pools.” While many believe the place was called Beth-hesda (House of Mercy or even Grace), there are others who believe the translation is more appropriately “shame” or “disgrace” in Aramaic. This translation would shine light on Jesus’ follow up with the sick man in (v. 14) 14 But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” 

When we look at the stories of Jesus’ healing’s, the Spiritual healing is always the intention. Many times for Jesus, physical healing is a means to spiritual healing. Because as we will learn, it doesn’t matter how healthy you are if your soul is plagued with sickness.

Takeaway

Whether you’re in need of physical healing or spiritual healing, your steps are the same, you need to get in front of the Great Physician and recognize he’s the only one that can offer you true and eternal healing. The most important thing to your spiritual life today is:

Whatever you do, don’t stay home.

John 4: “The Great Soul Winner”

As we continue to walk down the hall of John’s Gallery of Jesus, we are presented with a new portrait of Christ in John 4. The title under this painting is, “Jesus, The Great Soul Winner.”

From Nathaniel in the beginning of His ministry to the thief on the cross at the end of His ministry, Jesus never stopped calling lost sinners unto himself. He genuinely cared for the fallen and was willing to reach out to all who crossed His path, whatever the cost! I can admit to you today that I’ve never saved anyone! Well, neither have you for that fact. The truth is, we’re not the one who saves people, Jesus is.

The interchange between the woman at the well and Jesus is a classic example of a conversation that you may have around the water cooler at work, or the dinner table at home. Maybe it’s a conversation waiting to happen on the airplane as you travel on your next business trip. Either way, it’s in John 4 we see Jesus doing what he does best, bring sinners to salvation. We want to join Jesus today as He speaks with a poor, lost, sinful woman. As we do, let’s take notice of how Jesus shared his love with her.

1. Jesus Went To Her

(v. 4) says, “He had to go through Samaria on the way.” At first reading we may be led to think this wasn’t a choice, but the reality is, Jews would intentionally add hours to their journey in order to avoid going through Samaria. Instead, Jesus made the choice to walk straight through Samaria on his way back to Galilee. We begin to hear a different tone in John’s words when we know that Jesus “had to go through Samaria.”

Where do you intentionally need to go today in order to share the love of God with someone? Are their places you avoid going, even sometimes adding more time to your trip so you don’t have to interact with people deemed lower than yourself?

2. Jesus Knew Her Story (Discernment)

As we keep reading we find out that this Samaritan Woman had quite a story. We understand that only Jesus could have told her things that know one else knew about her, but that’s not the perspective I want to focus on today. Yes, Jesus knew her story, but Jesus also knew her. Maybe not in an intimate way, but theres an overlooked piece of the story that many miss and it’s right at the beginning. v. 6 “[Jesus] sat wearily beside the well about noontime.”

Women customarily came to the well early in the morning to draw water, not around noon. We don’t know the exact reason why she came so late, but Jesus knew this woman was filled with shame. Without knowing the details of her story, he knew her story.

Discernment is a spiritual gift. The Holy Spirit gives the gift of discernment to enable certain Christians to clearly recognize and distinguish between the influence of God, Satan, the world, and the flesh in a given situation.

3. Jesus Gave Her What She Needed, Not Wanted

As the woman and Jesus sit and talk Jesus begins to share with her that he has a well that never runs dry. The response from the woman seems typical: v. 15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

At first glance we read this and we think, “She wants the life giving water Jesus is talking about.” But upon further study, you read this and understand that she doesn’t want it for her spiritual life, she wants it so she doesn’t have to relive her shame everyday by coming to the well. If she’s not thirsty, she won’t need the well. The best part is, Jesus knows this, and instead gives her what she needs… a wake up call.

4. Jesus Didn’t Let Anything Get In The Way

If you remember, when we started the story, Jesus was tired, and we assume hungry. When the disciples come back from getting lunch (v. 27) they were shocked to see Jesus breaking all the customary rules. They were also surprised that Jesus didn’t eat, even after their urging (v. 31-32).

Jesus knew this was a teachable moment for his disciples. Sure he was hungry, but in that moment the, sharing the his love with one lost sinner, was worth the discomfort of being hunger.

By the Way

The interaction with Jesus must have been pretty powerful. (v. 28) indicates, “The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village.” She left behind not only a jar, but the shame that jar came to represent every time she went to draw water from the well.