Saturday, August 12, 2006

John 1-6 A Glimpse of His Power - Wine, Spiritual Food and Drink
As I went back this week and caught up on my reading of John, I was stunned by the simplicity of what happened in these chapters of John and how clearly it showed the nature and the power of Jesus.

First, in John 1 is the story of his encounter with John the Baptist and then the recruitment of his disciples. John knew Jesus right away, as God had told him and he listened and recognized the signs immediately when he saw Jesus. Then, two of John's disciples hear about Jesus from him and go seek out Jesus for themselves. When they ask Jesus where He lives, He says "come and see for yourselves". One by one after spending time with him experiencing Him for themselves, they tell their friends and family that Jesus is the Messiah that was promised to them and they choose to follow.

I highlight the action words because it shows us what we must do. We need to know what to look for (the Word helps here), we need to not only listen and see what He does for others, but hear and experience His power in our lives. Then we need to tell others so they can choose. That is what we are called to do. Simple!

At the end of John 1, one of the disciples, Nathaniel, was skeptical, first of the fact that He was from Nazareth ("Can anything good come from Nazareth?" he says, laughing) and second because Jesus made a comment about where Nathaniel was from and what his nature was and he didn't believe that Jesus could know anything about him because he hadn't previously met him. Jesus made a simple statement about something in Nathaniel's past and immediately Nathaniel said that he believed that Jesus was who He said that He was.

Verse 51 give Jesus' response to Nathaniel "You've become a believer simply because I say I saw you one day sitting under the fig tree? You haven't seen anything yet! Before this is over you're going to see heaven open and God's angels descending to the Son of Man and ascending again." History would prove this out for Nathaniel.

The bottom line from this encounter is that it is possible to see Jesus and even to marvel at His works, but even if you have never "met" Him, He knows you intimately.

Then John 2 is even more incredible. It tells a very simple story about a wedding. Mary, the mother of Jesus, knows of His power. After all, she has observed Him and God's power in her life since the moment that she was told that she would conceive. At the wedding they ran out of wine. Mary knows that Jesus has the power to even deal with something this mundane. He resists her, but she knows (e.g. has the faith) that He will take care of it, so she goes and instructs the servants to fill the stoneware pots with water. Not just a few - six, each holding 20-30 gallons! You know the rest, he turned the water to wine and not just the same wine that they had been drinking - really superb wine. In our vernacular, that would be about 480 bottles of fine wine!

Now think about it. What are you running out of in your life today. Can you ask, believing that He will fill you up? And can you get the stoneware pots of your life ready to receive it? He is ready and able to fill your need. Get ready - He will give you "exceedingly abundantly" over and above what you ask.

I already commented on John 3 yesterday, so I'll move on.

John 4 begins with Jesus rejecting religious scorekeeping by the Pharisees, who were trying to compare Him and John the Baptist. John had already told them that he baptised with water to cleanse outside and it was Jesus that used the Holy Spirit in order to cleanse the inside.

After this, He moves on to Samaria where He runs into a woman at the well and asks her for a drink. He knew she had a difficult past (5 husbands) and in fact was living with a man who wasn't her husband. But he did not shun her, as other Jewish men would have. He shared with her the secret of the living water that he could pour on her life that would cleanse her and free her from all of the things in her life that kept her from finding peace.

We then move from living water to a story where Jesus' disciples talked about getting food and He said that He had food that they knew nothing about. Taking Him literally, they thought that someone had brought him food. He told them that bread only feeds our bodies, but the kind of spiritual food that Jesus wants us to have feeds our soul. That food found in doing what God wants for us to do.

The balance of Chapter 4 has us back in Jesus' home territory and He began to get frustrated that the people there demanded signs and wonders in order to believe. But once again, when someone needed something, He put his own frustration aside and healed the sick son of an official of Capernaum. Simply by His word he declared that the child was healed and the man traveled back to his village and servants met him and said that the child was better. It had occurred at precisely the time that the Word went forth from Jesus the day before.

Can we hear and observe and learn here? Jesus is the Word - a powerful Word that can create wine from wine - that can clean on the inside, not just the outside - a Word that can heal terminal illness. All we have to do is ask - make Him aware of our need and believe that He will fill the need. If we seek after Him, He will make sure that we are fed and that we are not thirsty in our souls.

In Chapter 5, the healing Word continues in this story about a man that had been sick for 38 years, unable to walk. He was trusting in a pool at Bethesda, renowned for its healing power, but he had no one to put him in when it stirred (which apparently signified that the healing spirits were there). Jesus just told him to get up and walk. And he did!

Jesus faced much rejection throughout the balance of Chapter 5, mostly from the religious ones who called themselves the church. Jesus makes it very clear that He was sent by His Father and that by rejecting Him, they reject God.

John 6 begins with the miracle of the loaves and fishes - taking 5 loaves and 2 fishes and feeding 5000 people. But backing up, Jesus asked Philip, one of His disciples, where they could buy bread for the large crowd. Don't miss this! The Word says that he did this to stretch Philip's faith, as he "already knew what He was going to do". The Word recounts that they all "ate as much as they wanted". When they were done, they used baskets to gather the leftovers. There were 12 baskets filled!

Now I don't know about you, but I have had times when someone showed up unexpectedly at dinner time and in the natural, each person barely gets enough to feel satisfied, let alone eating as much as they want. And leftovers aren't generally a factor in such a situation.

There was a need - God knew how big a need it was. The disciples couldn't see how it could be done, but it just happened at the Word of Jesus. This is amazing power and it is still available to us.

But still they didn't believe what they saw......

John 6:35-38 Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don't really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don't let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.

39-40"This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time."

I want to be alive and whole. I want to run to Him, have him hold me and not let go. I want to accomplish His will - not to be religious, but because He knows better - He sees farther. He won't miss a single detail.

I want to live forever, not in this world that houses sickness, sin and disappointment, but I want to see His face and be reunited with loved ones that loved Him and live with Him. I want to see my mom and dad again and thank them, as they loved with with His love - total, utterly unconditional love. I pray that I learn to be that kind of a parent.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Chicke Fitzgerald

No comments: