The day of rest

John 7

God on trial

“Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”

16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”

20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”

21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”’

The Pharisees were angry with Jesus because he “worked” on the sabbath by healing an invalid who had been crippled for 38 years, and he told that man to break the sabbath by carrying his mat home.

How dare God break the sabbath rest rule. What was the law?

“8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Interpreting this law of God fell to the leaders of Israel.

Rest became a job for the Jewish people. Do not work on the sabbath day. Well what constitutes “work “? I don’t have the specifics but I heard recently that stipulation was so specific and nitpicking that you couldn’t even wear false teeth because it constituted carrying a burden.

The people were so concerned with keeping Gods laws that they lost touch with the God who gave them the laws. The laws weren’t put in place to drive us away or to drive us crazy but to drive into the arms of God who loves us.

Jesus has come to set us free, not from the rules but from our failure to keep the rules. We can’t keep the rules. He can, he did, he died to pay for our breaking them.

Just ain’t feeling it

It could just be the daylight savings time blues. I’m feeling like a smoldering wick and a bruised reed.

Good news for me is found in Matthew 12.

“15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. 16 He warned them not to tell others about him. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

18 “Here is my servant whom I have chosen,

the one I love, in whom I delight;

I will put my Spirit on him,

and he will proclaim justice to the nations.

19 He will not quarrel or cry out;

no one will hear his voice in the streets.

20 A bruised reed he will not break,

and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,

till he has brought justice through to victory.

21 In his name the nations will put their hope.”[b]’

Jesus cares about the lowliest of us. He will meet us where we are. I don’t have to be a flowering vine or a mighty oak for him to care about me. Even the bruised reed gets his attention.

The future

(from 2017)

It’s Wednesday March 22. Its hump day, the middle of the week. I am anticipating that I have 2 more days until a weekend break, then work a week, then a short vacation, then work/break/ work/ etc for 14 years and then retire then grow old and then die.

That’s what I’m assuming will happen. But what if this is the day that a truck crosses the center line and I don’t make it? What if my extended plans for life don’t work out? What is the most important thing I can do today if it’s my last day here?

What if there is an eternity just the other side of our last exhale? Our breath leaves our lungs and our soul slips out of our body and then what? Heaven? Hell? In light of the fragility of life should I be prepared for eternity?

When Jesus was crucified he was hung on a cross between 2 other criminals, two thieves. All 3 of these men knew eternity was very close. They were swinging on a thread over the chasm of death.

Let us listen in on their conversation.

“32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[c] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[d]”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”’

What are the words that I can write on this post to encourage people to believe in Jesus and receive him as savior? What can I say?

What do you believe about Jesus?

Did he rise from the dead? Did he pay for our sins with his death? Have you accepted that gift?

Eternity is coming, some call it death and expect it to be an end but the Bible tells us that the end of this life is just a doorway into eternity. Eternity has two options, with God or without him. I highly recommend the with God option.

Eternity yawns beneath us all.

Accept Jesus’ gift today. Today is all we know that we get. Today.

Museum cleansing

What if Jesus showed up at the door to the museum of our life and asked for a tour? The museum is the store house of our memories, the place where our motives and motivation are kept, where our world view rests. Would our tour sound like this?

“Welcome Jesus to the museum of my life. You may look but do not touch. Please stay on the well marked pathway during the tour. Jesus you are welcome here but please do not alter or change anything, I like my life the way it is”.

What if at the end of the tour Jesus made some suggestions for changes to improve our life? Remove this, add that, clear out an entire area, change the focus of our world view?

Matthew 12 has another story about Jesus shaking up the religious establishments view on their rules.

“9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.”

It’s very easy to see how the religious leaders were wrong here. I keep wondering what other messages should this story be telling me?

So I imagined Jesus coming to me. My life. Bearing all of my life to him. Immediately I think of things that I don’t want him to see. Then I ask myself, why are they there? If Jesus shouldn’t see them, then why are they still in my life? Is there anger or resentment that I’ve been hiding? Why don’t I let Him wash that out of me? What about my little room of guilty pleasures? Not outright wrong, or the little closet of secret sins? Wouldn’t it be nice to do some spring cleaning and purge that all away? The weight of guilt and shame, overwhelming for me,but not for Jesus. He can cleanse those all away.

Is Jesus welcome in my life? Yes. Generally speaking. What if he asks me to change something?

Jesus is the Lord of the sabbath. He is that because he created it. He created. Everything that exists, exists because of him. He is the author and architect of life. He created me. He knows what is best for me because he knows what he created me for.

Back to the tour.

Today Jesus is at the door of the museum of my life. I am handing him the keys and saying, “Jesus, welcome to my life. It is a mess. I’m tired of the gunk and junk, please help me clean it up and clean it out”. Just over his shoulder I see a dumpster labeled Sin Disposal. That is a welcome sight. All of my sins forgiven.

Today not only will I be forgiven of sins committed by me, I will also be forgiving sins against me.

Time for some spring cleaning in my museum.

The list of me.

Is someone writing all of this down? My mistakes? My willful disobedience? Is there a record of wrongs in some file drawer? No human knows the total of my sin. No one person has the complete record of all of the wrong I have done. Well….Jesus is a man but he is also God…and He knows it all.

And yet…he has chosen to forgive me. All of it.

The next section of Matthew 12 Jesus mentions some notorious people. He doesn’t mention them to point out their sin, he mentions them to point out their state of being forgiven.

“38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”

39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.”

The religious leaders of Jesus day who prided themselves on a righteousness based on following the rules will be condemned by notorious sinners who repented.

Then let’s talk about The sign of Jonah, Jesus will die and be swallowed by death and the earth. This planet he created and the curse that was placed on it would swallow him. But not for long. Three days later he will rise from the grave and live forever. The earth and death and the curse of sin forever broken and beaten.

I quote this next verse a lot but it comforts me. I hope is does you too. I know I’ve done wrong, so does God. He knows it all and yet he has forgiven me.

“6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

I am forgiven. That is good news.

Have you heard it yet? We have been forgiven.

Have you received it yet?

Filling the vacuum

It’s spring and it time to start preparing those garden beds. We clean them out, clear them out and if we don’t get back to them right away and get them planted they are immediately filled back in with a new crop of weeds.

Aristotle has said it, nature abhors a vacuum. If you remove one thing, other things rush in to fill the space.

This is true of our hearts as well as our world. In Matthew 12 Jesus says this about cleaning out a human heart.

“43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

When we accept Jesus as our savior he comes and lives inside of us. He lives in our hearts by his Holy Spirit.

John 14 says this; “23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

And in John 17 he prayed for us saying this; “20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Jesus wants to fill the vacuous void inside of us. If he doesn’t, something else will.

Will we let Jesus come and live in our hearts today?

His body and his blood

John 6

Review

The chapter starts out with Jesus feeding 5000 people, that would be like almost everyone in Ephrata, with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.

The crowd goes crazy and wants this guy Jesus as King.

Jesus removes himself.

The disciples leave early in a boat just in time to be hit by a storm.

Jesus walks across the lake, yes, walks, across a lake, rescues them from the storm and miraculously speeds their trip.

The crowd follows but they are still thinking with their stomachs.

He questions their appetite by explaining the lesson. The bread on the shore the day before and the manna in the wilderness were both visual lessons of a greater truth.

“At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’[d] Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.”

Jesus is the bread of life. His body and blood are what will sustain us not just for this life but for eternal life. It will be his body sacrificed for us on the cross that will pay for our sins.

Without partaking of his body and blood we have no hope of having our sins washed away, no hope of fellowship with God, no hope for eternity.

With him we do have hope.