The Water of Life
Summary – This is a reflection on part of John's Gospel chapter 7
A lot of us in Britain will be thinking that over the last few weeks we have had too much water. Far too much, in fact water has become a costly nuisance. Yet only back in April of this year the Telegraph
was reporting that we faced our worst drought since 1976, with 35 million people living in drought-affected areas. How things change in a few months.
It seems that often we can either have too, much or too little water, but it is something we we do need for life. This is a fact that has been recognised through time, and often in areas of warmer climate and more often water shortage than not, water symbolises life.
2000 years ago Jesus recognised this when he was talking to the crowd at the Feast of the Booths or Tabernacles (This was the annual celebration of the time when Israel wandered in the wilderness. One of the things that they commemorated and celebrated was the water that God gave from the rock in the wilderness. And each day the priests would pour out water before the altar to remember that gift of water) -
37-39 On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.) (The Message John Chapter 7)
Just as we need to drink water to live, so we also need the Holy Spirit of God. It is an essential for ones spiritual life. Just like our physical bodies thirst so do our hearts (and souls) thirst, but in this case it is for God's Holy Spirit – the Water of Life
You can read more on this amazing chapter of John in our home group notes on the chapter 7 of Johns Gospel
The Feeding of the Five Thousand
The feeding of the five thousand is so amazing that it is recorded in all four Gospels in the Bible.
Just to refresh your minds as to what happened here. A great crowd had been following Jesus listening to him and watching him perform miracles. They were just amazed at what they were seeing. It was getting late on and the people were hungry and needed some food.
"One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”
Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted." (The Message John 6 8-11)
As a child I remember a teacher spending ages describing to us how this was done. She said that everyone felt guilty and shared their food with each other. Well that sort of works except for the next few verses where we read
"When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves.
The people realized that God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done" (The Message John 6 12-15)
Now I know that when I go on a hike I only carry the minimum amount of food and drink with me as it is heavy. I certainly don't carry an extra meal, so the teachers idea does not really hold water, as where does all the extra food come from. The passage does not say that the people just had a snack, but that they ate their fill.
The second thing that squashes the teachers statement is the numbers of people involved. It is hard enough to hush up something if just a few people had seen it, but noway could this be hushed up. The text says that there were around 5000 men present, so this does not account for all the woman and children- we are probably talking of around 20,000 people.
The third thing that squashes the teachers statement is the fact that it is recorded in all four Gospels. Basically saying this happened, and it was an amazing miracle. I can just imagine the TV news crews if it happened today. They would be interviewing everyone for their take on the story..
You can read more on this amazing chapter of John in our home group notes on the chapter 6 of Johns Gospel
The Pool of Bethesda
This is a blog article referring to John's Gospel chapter 5 -
At the time of writing this it is in the news that Pope Benedict XVI has named seven new saints, one of which is Kateri Tekakwitha. Now I have never heard of Kateri Tekakwitha before but the web tells me that she lived in the 17th Century, and impressed missionaries with her deep spirituality. It is claimed that she was involved in the miraculous healing of a Native American child, being ravaged by a flesh eating bacterium.
I don't have any problems with the miracle, but I do believe that it was God who performed the healing, working through Kateri Tekakwitha, much in the same way He has worked through humans all down through the years.
If we go back 2000 years or so there was a pool in Jerusalem, which had the reputation that people were healed if they were in the water when it stirred. It is recorded that lots of disabled people used to lie around the pool waiting for the waters to stir.
One such invalid was waiting by the pool when Jesus came along. The invalid did not know who Jesus was and asked Him if he would help him get into the water. Jesus then asks him if he wants to get well?
The invalid gives an excuse as to why he can't get into the pool, and Jesus then just tells him to “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” The invalid did this and was cured.....Amazing.
All through the ages it is recorded that people have been miraculously healed but the key is not the miraculous healing but as Jesus says here
“It’s urgent that you listen carefully to this: Anyone here who believes what I am saying right now and aligns himself with the Father, who has in fact put me in charge, has at this very moment the real, lasting life and is no longer condemned to be an outsider. This person has taken a giant step from the world of the dead to the world of the living.” John 5:24 (The message)
You can read more about this amazing chapter of John's Gospel – chapter 5 in our home group notes on the chapter.
Too embarrassed to move
Recently I had an accident. I sneezed and dropped the large tin of white gloss paint that I was holding. It landed on its corner and sploshed white paint all over the place – the floor and wall, and over me. I then spent the next hour cleaning up the mess.
People often recount nightmarish type dreams where they have been too embarrassed to move, as maybe they have spilled food or drink all down themselves, upsetting their fine clothes, and thinking that onlookers may laugh at them. Of course sometimes this is not a dream and people just want to avoid others due to gossip, or shame that they may be feeling. And this is not something that just applies to our society. It has gone on throughout time.
The water cooler discussions have replaced the discussions at the well side. Everyone needs water and everyone used to gather together at the well, to pass on news and gossip, that is unless you were the social outcast of the time.
We read about such an outcast in Johns Gospel chapter 4 the account of the Samaritan woman.
She is getting water from the well in the noonday sun. The hottest part of the day, when everyone is normally in the shade. Jesus approaches her and asks her for a drink. She is taken aback and asks, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.) John 4 v9
Jesus replies “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.” John 4 v10
She then goes on to ask Jesus, where is he going to get this water from as he does not have a bucket. Jesus says to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” John 4 v13-14
She then goes on to ask Jesus for this water, but Jesus says that she should go and get her husband, and then he will give it to her. She replies “I have no husband,”
“That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.” John 4 v17-18
So that is why she was at the well at noon time. Afraid of the well-side gossip and avoiding that she meets Jesus and He offers her the gift of the everlasting water of life.
It is then recorded that Jesus goes on to say in v23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
You can read more about this amazing chapter of John's Gospel – chapter 4 in our home group notes on the chapter.
Birth and Re-birth
Cute Baby Lamb
It is said that there is one thing we cannot really influence or control and that is our birth. (Though I am sure there are some Paediatricians out there who will say that the baby does control the birth telling the mother when it is time) but generally it is thought that the baby does not have control on how it is born. The mother or other external influences do this, (drugs inducing the birth for instance or even a caesarian)
Roughly 2000 years ago one of the rulers of the Jews called Nicodemus had to ponder the question about birth. Nicodemus was talking to Jesus one evening about things, especially the miracles that Jesus had been performing, and suggested that Jesus was a great man from God. Jesus answered Nicodemus
Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.” (The Message John 3 v3)
Nicodemus's reply was to ask how can one be born again when they are fully grown, It would not be possible to re-enter your mothers womb and be born again.
Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit. (The Message John 3 v5-6)
“So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.” (The Message John 3 v 7-8)
The question logically comes, "Why does a person need to be born again (born from above)?"
The simple answer is that we have all done wrong and so can't have a relationship with a perfect God. There is a gulf between us that needs to be spanned to allow the relationship to occur.
Paul in Ephesians 2 says It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah (The Message Ephesians 2 v 1-6)
Paul also goes on to say in Corinthians -
Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way any more. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. (The Message 2 Corinthians 5 16-20)
Now I know Nicodemus did not have Paul’s writings to help him understand but he did have the chance to actually question Jesus in person, and we hope that he must have realised that being born again (or from above) is not a human activity but a miracle inspired by God
You can read more about this amazing chapter of John's Gospel – chapter 3 in our home group notes on the chapter here.
Just remember Pauls invitation to become a friend with God still stands today
Wedding party blues?
Everyone likes a party, especially a party at a wedding. The bride looks beautiful, the groom handsome, the music is playing, there is dancing, the refreshments are fantastic, the food and wine keeps flowing and everyone is having a good time.
So imagine the scene when suddenly the waiter comes along to top up his jug and there is no more wine. He mentions this to his companion and they look in all the wine storage jars. They are all empty. They have been too generous and the wine has now run out.
Mary happens to be near by and notices that something is wrong. She asks what it is . Calamity what can they do? She says I will ask Jesus and he will know what to do. Come follow me she tells the servants and do whatever Jesus tells you to do.
Mary, with several servants in tow, finds Jesus and tells Him, that the wine has run out. Everyone stops and looks at Jesus – what will he do? Does he have enough money on him to go and buy some more wine from the market.
No, he tells the servants to fill up some storage jars with water This is lots and lots of water somewhere between 120 to 180 gallons of water. Then he tells a curious servant to take some of the water from the jar off to the master of ceremonies to see what he thinks about it.
The servants look from one to another. He's lost his marbles, they will be laughed at by everyone. You do not serve water at a wedding banquet. But Mary has said do what he said, and they had already gone to all the effort of filling the jars with water so may as well do this.
The servant takes the water to the master of ceremonies and gives it to him to taste. He draws it to his lips smelling the lovely rich aroma of a fantastic wine, and sips it. A smile appears on his face. He calls over to the bridegroom – “Most people”, he says “serve the best wine first at a weeding and then the not so good when everyone is starting to get drunk, so they don't notice the poorer quality, but you have done it the other way round. This is the best wine I have tasted for a very long time.”
The servants looked to one another in amazement knowing full well where the wine had come from. It was all the more amazing that there was not just a little of this fine wine but well over 2500 glasses full of the stuff. This party was going to be one that they remember for a long time.
This is a paraphrase of the start of the Gospel of John chapter 2 recording Jesus's life on earth around 2000 years ago. Jesus changes the agenda around. More can be read on this chapter in our studies here
This is a book that does as the saying goes exactly “what it says on the tin”. It is a book that explains in non nonsense language the what John's Gospel is all about. For the difficult parts and it is a book of great significance Andrew offers a down to earth understandable explanation of what John is saying and also often an explanation as to why he might have chosen to say what he did say.
It is also refreshing to read a book that does not set about doubting what is written because it may be difficult but rather offers help in understanding John's eyewitness accounts. He also examines the evidence that John provides concerning Christ's power and authority, showing us that John wanted his evidence to result not merely in an intellectual assent to the truths he was recording, but rather “in Life” in Christ's name.
The book was a great inspiration and help in understanding what John had written in his Gospel. Andrew certainly knows what he is writing about and I would say all in all an excellent book.
This was book 20 week 12 fiction 19 (7 on audio) non fiction 1
Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.