John 6:1-15

Read: John 6:1-15

Jesus feeding the 5000 is one of the few miracles that are recorded in all four gospels (Mark 6:35-44, Luke 9:12-17, Matthew 14:14-21). All four gospels record this particular miracle, probably because of the scope of the miracle, as feeding 5000 men (plus their wives and children) is no simple feat. Jesus had gathered a following because he was able to perform signs by healing the sick. John’s account notes that Jesus uses this moment a testable moment: he singles out Philip and asks where there were to buy bread enough to feed them all.

Phillip gives a natural response saying it would take 200 denarii to feed all these people. 200 denarii would probably be the equivalent working wage for about six to ten months of work, which translates into a small fortune if anything. They did note a boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish – not much more than a meager meal. Jesus took the loaves and gave thanks. They distributed the loaves among the people and all ate until they were full, and then the disciples collected 12 baskets full of leftovers. The people recognized Jesus as a “the Prophet” and wanted to make him king – perhaps the prophet Moses referred to in Deuteronomy 18:15, the one Moses wrote about.

The Matthew and Mark note that Jesus was driven by compassion when he fed the 5000 (Matthew 14:14, Mark 6:34). John does not mention this, but does mention a test. John does not mention what the conditions for the test are or if even if Philip passed the test. It would seem that in light of the discourse Jesus gave in John 5:18-47 that he was seeing if Philip understood or believed what Jesus had to say. If he truly believed that Jesus was equal with God then it would seem that Philips reply would have said that Jesus was one with God and was quite capable of feeding 5000.  The only other time Philip is mentioned at length in the Scriptures is in John 14:8-11. Here, Philip says for Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus says that if he knew Jesus, then he knew the Father, and that the works testify to this. Philip probably recalled the question Jesus asked while feeding the 5000 when Jesus mentions works. Because Philip had not understood then, he obviously did not understand here either.

James 1:1-4 says that Christians should consider it joy when test come and names the benefits of these tests – endurance and completeness. Tests of faith can come in all shapes and sizes, but generally one knows intuitively when one is being tested. How one responds to the test is key. James says that holding to one’s faith is key without doubting so that he will remain strong, not as one who is tossed about by the wind (James 1:5-8). A key to passing tests according to James is wisdom, and if one is lacking wisdom, one should ask for it, because God gives it generously. For Philip, he lacked the understanding that Jesus was God. For Christians today, it is easy to see Philip’s error, but not so easy to see one’s own lack of understanding. For this reason, it is best that Christians listen to the wisdom of wise people and the wisdom (Proverbs 13:1) of the Lord contained in his word (Proverbs 2:6), so that when the tests come a person can past the test and believe that Jesus can do immeasurably more than we are capable of understanding.

Lord, help me to pass the tests of faith by understanding who you are!

John 5:30-47

Read: John 5:30-47

Jesus, after laying his claims for equality with God, Jesus says that if he testifies about himself, then his testimony is not true, but if there is another witness, then the testimony is true.  In the Jewish legal system, truth was not established by a single witness, but my two (or more) witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6, Deuteronomy 19:15). Jesus then gives 5 other witnesses to the veracity of his testimony: the Spirit, the witness of John the Baptist, the witness of works, the witness of the Father, and the witness of Scripture.

The Spirit (John 5:32):  The “another” is uncertain, but given that Jesus testifies about the Father later on, it seems that Jesus is alluding to the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who speaks truth into the lives of believers (John 14:17, John 15:26, John 16:13, Romans 9:1, 1 John 5:6, 1 Corinthians 2:10-16). The Spirit here is testifying about Jesus and Jesus, being one with God and the Spirit, knows that the testimony is true.

John the Baptist (John 5:33-35) John the Baptist gave a testimony about Jesus, calling him the Lamb of God and the one who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:19-36, John 3:22-36, Mark 1:1-13). Jesus calls him a “lamp” – a light bearer as described in John 1:6-8. John made the way for Jesus, pointing people to Christ so that they would not only have Jesus’ testimony, but also the witness of another.

Works (John 5:36): Jesus claims that his works were a sign from God that his testimony is true (John 7:31, John 10:24-38). John the Apostle recorded many of the signs in his gospel to that people might believe in Jesus too (John 20:30-31). The ultimate work of Jesus was his death, burial, and resurrection on which the Christian faith stands or falls (1 Corinthians 15:11-19).

The Father (John 5:37-38):  Matthew 3:17 and Matthew 17:5 speaks of a voice from heaven calling Jesus “My son”. Peter recalls the transfiguration of Jesus in 2 Peter 1:16-21. Perhaps Jesus is talking about the voice from heaven, although they may have audibly heard it, they did understand it because it was not abiding in their hearts. This is the condition described in Isaiah 6:10 where the ears are receiving sound, but is not received. The Father’s words abiding in one’s heart should compel them to believe in the Father, the one who sent Jesus.

The Scriptures (John 5:39-47): Moses wrote about Jesus (Genesis 3:15, Genesis 12:3, Genesis 18:18, Genesis 49:10, Numbers 21:8-9, Numbers 24:17-18, Deuteronomy 18:18-19). The scriptures for the Jews in New Testament times varied depending on the sect, but they all agreed that the writings of Moses were scripture. Jesus reasons that if they believed the scriptures they would believe in him. They do not believe in him, so they do not believe the scriptures. The reason Jesus gives is that they seek glory from one another rather than God – perhaps they were looking to make themselves the prophets the scripture spoke of rather than Jesus. In that matter, they were abusing scripture. In any case, if one does not believe scriptures, they cannot believe Jesus.

Claiming equality with God would require extraordinary witnesses, but Jesus nevertheless had the witnesses he need to prove his case. Christians today, perhaps, have even more of a witness concerning Jesus. Not only do Christians have the five aforementioned witnesses, Christians have the message fully revealed and expounded on by the New Testament writers and the Holy Spirit living within. Christians have a personal testimony to share and they can also point skeptics to the veracity of scriptures that have been verified as accurate and reliable. One does not have to affirm some pie-in-the-sky claim concerning what he or she believes, but have evaluate it based on real history and verifiable facts.

Lord, your testimony is true. Help me to point others to the truth!

John 5:25-29

Read: John 5:25-29

Judgement and resurrection are some of the weightiest concepts in all of Christian theology, and in just a short text, Jesus alludes to both. Jesus declares that there will be a resurrection for everyone, but some will be resurrected in to judgment and some will be resurrected into life. John 1:4 declares that Jesus was the Light and in him was life, Jesus is both the source of life (Genesis 2:7) and new life for those who believe (Romans 6:4).  Jesus’ power over life is made evident when he heals the man at the pool of Bethesda, but he says it will be made even more evident when all are resurrected.

But the judgment Jesus is speaking to here is a judgment of deeds. If salvation is by grace through faith, and not of works, then why is Jesus judging according to works? Every person that lives commits any number of evil acts and any number of good acts. In God’s economy though, any one given evil acts makes its doer guilty of the whole law (James 2:10) and Romans 6:23 declares that the wages of sin (categorically singular) is death. One cannot do good deeds to counter act his or her bad deeds because no one deed can amount to the price demanded for sin. The choice is clear then: accept the Jesus’ substitution in one’s place to satisfy the demands of the law or accept the punishment from God. Jesus explains that the ones who don’t believe are already condemned because they have sinned and not believed in Jesus. There will be many who attempt to flaunt their deeds at judgment but Jesus will reject them because they did not have faith (Matthew 7:21-22) but unless one believes and has his or her name written in the Book of Life, he or she is cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15). The ones who do believe have their sins erased and are judge only according to what good they did in Jesus’ name (Matthew 25:14-26).

For believers, the promise of eternal life is to put off mortality and take on immortality and to take of the perishable and put on the imperishable. In this, believers have the promise of resurrection to eternal life and death has no power over those who believe. This is the victory that Jesus claims over death (1 Corinthians 15:50-58). The hope Christians have is grounded in the resurrection of Jesus, because if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then one’s faith is in vain. But Jesus did indeed, as historical fact for that matter, rise from the dead. For this reason, the surety eternal life and future resurrection into glory is as real as the fact that Jesus rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-19).

The Jews at the healing of the man by the Pool of Bethesda marveled at the sign Jesus gave. What Jesus describes, however, is of epic proportions to that one deed. Jesus had the ability to give life and raise the dead while he was on earth, but at the end of days every person that ever lived will be resurrected and judged. These are things that Jesus could only do if he was equal with God! The question is whether or not that person believes in Jesus or not.  For Christians then and Christians today, there is the assurance of resurrection to life for those who believe. The task of believers is to tell as many people as possible about the good news of salvation so they too can be resurrected to life!

Lord, I rest assured that I’ll be resurrected to life. Help me tell others so they too can have the same hope!

John 5:16-24

Read John 5:16-24

The Jews wanted to kill Jesus not only because he was working on the Sabbath, but that he claimed equality with God (John 5:16-18). In spite of this, Jesus launches into a dialogue about himself concerning his oneness with the Father. Jesus claimed among other things that he did the work of the Father. When Jesus says that he is doing the work of the Father, he sees God working and works in the same manner, not of himself. In a manner of speaking, Jesus says that he is working harmoniously with the father as two professional dancers work together as one. It is apparent that the Father is leading the Son and the Son is completely in step with the Father because the Father is showing him everything.

Because Jesus is in step with the Father and in response to the action that Jesus performed, Jesus says that he gives life as the Father gives life, and should the Father heal, The Son heals also. The term translated “judge” and its kin “judgment” are translated from the Greek words “κρινω “ and “κρισις” respectively (John 5:22, also in John 5:29). These words not only carry a legal meaning, but also a carry common usage as well in terms of discernment, approval and opinion. In manner of speaking, the Father and the Son share a common opinion about matter on how they act – there is no deliberation or disagreement. God does this for Jesus so the people will regard Jesus in the same way that they regard the Father. Jesus chose to heal the man at the Pool of Bethesda, and the Father was at work right alongside him and in complete agreement with the actions Jesus was taking.

Jesus makes a peculiar remark that on face would seem contradictory to the statements concerning salvation in John 3:16 and John 3:36 – that is salvation comes by faith in Son. Jesus says in John 5:24 that the ones who hear Jesus’ word and believes “he that sent him”, namely the Father, have eternal life. It would stand to reason that Jesus was contradicting himself unless to believe the Father is not different than to believe in Jesus, which is only possible if Jesus and God are one and the same. John 1:1 declares that Jesus was God and Jesus himself says in John 10:30 that he and the Father are one. For this reason, one cannot affirm just any god for salvation, but have faith in the God who is Jesus. Even more so, this underscores the oneness of Jesus as God.

The oneness with the Father that Jesus had can never fully be understood by human minds, but this relationship is reflected in the relationship God has with his people when he indwells them with the Holy Spirit. John 14:16-26 describes this relationship. The Father loves the Son, and the two are harmonious in all they do. Likewise, Jesus loves his people and his people should love him, and for this reason his people too should be harmonious in all that they do. Jesus says that he would be with them in the form of the Holy Spirit and that one of the Spirit’s roles was to teach and remind people of what Jesus said. The ones who love Jesus will act in accordance with his will by obeying his commandments (John 14:15) and the Spirit will be there to teach and guide believers along the way.

Jesus is still sending his Helper into the lives of believers today. The ones who have the Spirit today are the ones who have life. While Christians have righteousness by faith, Christians still sin and these two competing wills causes disharmony between God and believers, disrupting the oneness. Paul commands believers to consider themselves dead to sin because Jesus died to sin (Romans 6:10-18). Because believers are dead to sin, they should not obey the passions of the mortal body but be instruments of righteousness.

Lord, live in me and help me put off sin so that I may have oneness with you!

John 5:1-18

Read: John 5:1-18

Jesus was undoubtedly a devout Jew in that he would go up to festivals in Jerusalem. This is the second time in the book of John that notes Jesus going to Jerusalem for a festival (John 2:13). Jesus encounters a man by the pool of Bethesda. (Archaeology uncovered what is likely the pool of Bethesda in the 1800 in Jerusalem.) The man was lame and had been lying by the pool for 38 years, well over half a lifetime considering the life expectancy was considerably lower than it is today, perhaps around forty years old. Jesus asks him, “Do you want to be healed?” The man was holding out hope that someone would help him into the pool because the belief that angels would stir the waters and whoever entered the pool first would be healed. A lame man who couldn’t walk would obviously have a hard time getting himself in the pool. In a roundabout way, he did answer Jesus’ question affirmatively.  Jesus healed him and the man got up, took up his bead, and walked.

The Jews saw that the man was carrying his bed, and they told him that it was not lawful to carry his bed. It is questionable as to whether or not the man was really breaking the law. The Pharisees valued piety and had made the law stricter than it already was, such that a simple task such as picking up one’s bedroll was considered unlawful. The prohibition against working on the Sabbath is recorded in Exodus 20:8-11 and Exodus 31:12-17. Nehemiah 13:15-21 expounds on this when Nehemiah sees people working on the Sabbath. Often times, Jesus did things that were considered unlawful to do on the Sabbath (Luke 13:10-17, Luke 6:1-11, Mark 2:23-28, Mark 3:1-6, Matthew 12:1-14).

Mark 2:27-28 mark two facts about the Sabbath that apparently the Jews had missed. First, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, meaning that God instituted a law to prevent man from being over worked – to give him a day of rest from labor. Also, the purpose of this day was to remember God. The Pharisees had made the law burdensome to the people rather than liberating such that one became obsessive over avoiding work on the Sabbath rather that actually resting on the Sabbath. Jesus calls the Pharisees “hypocrites” because they would lead their livestock from feeding to drinking in Luke 13:15.

Second, Jesus (the Son of Man) is the Lord of the Sabbath.  In a manner of speaking, Jesus was receiving from the Sabbath that for which the Sabbath was in part instituted: worship of God. The man Jesus healed was later in the Temple, probably worshiping as most good Jews would probably do on the Sabbath, and Jesus found him there. Jesus tells him to sin no more so nothing else worse would happen. The man then goes and tells the Jews who healed him, and they persecuted Jesus. Jesus says that it is his Father who is working and he is too. Then the Jews wanted to kill him for both working on the Sabbath and claiming equality with God who is Lord of the Sabbath and Lord of all.

The prohibition against working on the Sabbath was given for two reasons: rest and worship. Some had got so caught up in trying to refrain from working on the Sabbath that they were working harder avoiding work than they would if they were actually working! The real crime here is not work insomuch as it is forgetting the purpose of the Sabbath by being legalistic about the Sabbath and condemning those who do not keep the Sabbath according to one’s own artificial standards. This temptation has not gone away either. Being devout does not mean that one should uphold the Sabbath for the legalistic purposes, rather it is good for Christians to have a day to rest and devote themselves to Lord of the Sabbath introspectively — and don’t be afraid to do good on the Sabbath either.

Lord of the Sabbath, help me to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy!

John 4:43-54

Read John 4:43-54

Jesus left Samaria and finished his journey back to Galilee where he came back into the town of Cana where he had turned water into wine. His popularity was apparently growing as many people recognized him from Jerusalem because of the signs and wonders he had done there. A man from Capernaum – a days journey at least – sought him out in Cana asking Jesus to come to his home to heal his dying son. Jesus then addresses the crowds that had come to him (the verbs translated “see” and “believe” in John 4:48 are second person plural, meaning he is addressing more than one person) saying they would not believe unless they are shown a sign. In contrast, Jesus speaks to the man who believes him merely on words and the man departs to find that his son was healed at the same hour that Jesus said he would be healed. This was the second sign that Jesus did in Galilee, the first being the changing of water into wine.

The demand for a sign was a common among Jews. They had demanded a sign from Jesus in John 2:18 when he cleansed the temple.  Nicodemus recognized the signs Jesus was doing too (John 3:2). Signs were commonly perceived as a way to authenticate a messenger (John 7:31, John 10:24-38). John wrote about the signs of Jesus so that people might believe too (John 20:30-31). Right before John declares his intent on writing is the story of Thomas (John 20:26-29), often called Doubting Thomas. The fact that Jesus was among them even though the door was locked was not enough evidence to convince him that Jesus was alive. He had to have tangential evidence for Jesus. Jesus declares that those who do not see him are “blessed”.

While signs are not inherently bad, signs can be misleading. The Bible contains several warnings against false prophets who will be able to perform signs and wonders (Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:22,  2 Thessalonians 2:9).  Likewise, there will be many who performed signs and wonders even in the name of Christ that will not enter heaven (Matthew 7:22-23). What is necessary to steer the course through false signs is sound doctrine accordingly because false prophets can lead one astray by dazzling one with signs. In 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul charges young Timothy to preach the word because there will come a time when people will not endure sound doctrine for one reason or another. Earlier in the letter (2 Timothy 2:2) Paul says that Timothy should teach what he received from Paul to others men who will teach it to others. One chapter earlier (2 Timothy 1:5) Paul talks about the faith that his grandmother and mother possessed, and Paul was sure that Timothy possessed it. This procession of doctrine was not done in the context of signs, but in the context of faith being handed from one generation to the next. Also, Paul says that faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:10-17). Jesus’ last command in Matthew before ascending was for the disciples to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). There is a progression here to: Jesus made disciples, who are commanded to make disciples. There is even some of this going on in the early parts of John too with the early disciples hearing and bring others to Jesus (John 1:35-50) and the Samaritan woman hearing and then going to tell her village (John 4:28-42).

Signs are by no means dead and God still uses signs to draw people to himself. But in any case, signs should always be in conjunction with a message of salvation that is from Jesus, as this is sound doctrine. The plan from scripture for the propagation of the gospel is for the faithful to train up others to be faithful who will do the same. The progression has spanned 2 millennia and reaches Christians today. Part of the Great Commission is like what Paul was doing to Timothy – teaching others to obey the things Jesus commanded. Rather than looking for signs and wonders, Christians should be searching out words of Christ that teach sound doctrine and contain the commands of Christ and trusting in these words rather than some sign.

Lord, help me to trust and obey your words because your words is truth!

John 4:27-42

Read John 4:27-42

Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman of questionable reputation caused the disciples returning from the town to “marvel”. Jesus’ conversation with the woman was undoubtedly a cultural taboo if there ever was one – perhaps even more so here because the disciples thought Jesus was trying to solicit her.  Jesus often associated with people of low standing society. When Jesus called Matthew to be his disciple, the Pharisees raised eyebrows at him, asking him why he associated with sinners. Jesus says that it is the sick that need a doctor, not the healthy. Jesus calls sinners to repentance, not the righteous (Matthew 9:9-13). He was overcoming cultural taboos and reaching out to the ones who need forgiveness the most. In any case, the woman was amazed by Jesus, and she left her water pot and went back to the city to tell about what she had heard from Jesus and they came out to see him.

As the people were coming out, the disciples offered the food that they purchased. Jesus, in typical fashion, uses the common to communicate spiritual truths that confuses his audience. He says his food is to do the will of the one who sent him and accomplish the one’s work. John 5:36 says that Jesus was sent by the father and Jesus explains in John 3:16-18 that his mission was to save the world. Jesus looks out at the ones coming to see him. He declares that they are the harvest. Unlike a natural harvest, a spiritual harvest is not something that is formulaic or even timely in season. Jesus says he had sent them to reap what they did not labor, and they enter into the labor of another, perhaps a reference to what the prophets and John the Baptist before had done. Paul expounds on this in 1 Corinthians 3:4-9 when he is resolving the conflict. The argument is that is does not matter who sowed and who harvested, it is God who gives the growth. This is demonstrably shown when the crowds come to Jesus and see him for themselves. They tell the woman that it is not because of her that they believe, but that they have seen for themselves that Jesus is the savior of the world. Jesus stayed there for two more days before returning to Galilee.

The Samaritan woman probably did not wake up the morning she met Jesus thinking that she was going to be instrumental in her village coming to faith in Jesus, but the Samaritan woman met the Messiah, and she went and told others, who came and met the Messiah. She was a fellow laborer in harvest, much like every Christian alive today.  The Lord of the Harvest is Christ, and Christians the sowers and reapers. In any case, it is God who gives growth. It is enough that Christians do the will of the Father as Jesus did, because spiritual harvests can come in and out of season. It is not the job of Christians to decide who can and can’t come to Christ – that’s God’s job. For this reason, Christians should be willing to break cultural norms and go to the hard places to tell people about him. The personal witness one person can draw people to Jesus, but it is even more awesome when a person encounters Jesus for themselves and believes in him!

Lord, I’m a worker in your harvest. Help me to concern myself with my task and not about things I have no control over!

John 4:19-26

Read John 4:19-26

Apparently, the woman at the well did not understand the “living water” that Jesus was talking was not actual water, rather a metaphor to speak of the sort of life that comes from salvation. Water is a common metaphor used in scripture because of its life-giving properties (Psalm 1:1-6, Psalm 36:8-9, Isaiah 12:1-3, Isaiah 44:3, Revelation 7:17, Revelation 22:1-2, Revelation 22:17). Jesus calls himself the source of this living water and the one who drinks it will have a spring within him welling up to eternal life. The difference between a well and a spring would have been obvious – rather than having to do the laborious work of drawing water out of a well, the water is brought to the surface by a spring. Jesus also uses the same metaphor in John 7:37-39. The promise here is that all who believe in him will have rivers of living water. John notes that this is the Spirit of God living in the life of believers, but the Spirit had not been given because Jesus had not been glorified.

It would seem that Jesus is trying to change the subject in John 4:16, but this is probably not the case. Jesus was trying to reach her. He knew she had no husband, but she had had five previously – a clear demonstration of Jesus’ omniscience. When the woman realized that Jesus knew so much about her, she calls him a prophet and drops a theological question pertaining to the temple’s location. The Samaritans had built a temple similar to the one in Jerusalem on Mount Gerizim that was probably within eye sight of where they were at the well. The woman claimed that “our fathers”, that is the common ancestors of the Jews and Samaritans, worshiped on that mountain. This was perhaps a true statement sense Abraham passed through there in Genesis 12:6 and Jacob bought the plot of land on which the well sat in Genesis 33:18-19. The Jews said that worship was to be Jerusalem at the temple per the command in Deuteronomy 12:1-15 to seek the place God will choose a site for sacrifice, and this was fulfilled in 2 Chronicles 7:10-12.

Jesus’ answer is probably no clearer to her than his previous answer, but it does answer the question. The Samaritans worship what they do not know, but the Jews worship what they do know. The schism between the Samaritans and the Jews had apparently caused the Samaritans to go astray in that they were worshiping something other than God, something other than the truth. But the Jews had the clearer revelation because salvation came from the Jews (Romans 3:2, Romans 9:5) – that is they had the truth.  Jesus says a day is coming and it is then and now when no one will worship in Jerusalem or on the Mount Gerizim. They will worship in “spirit and in truth”, and God is seeking such worshipers because. Because God is spirit, true worshipers must worship in spirit and truth. Worshiping in the truth would be the worship of the saved, which is all who believe in Jesus. Worshiping in spirit would be worshiping in the same manner of who God is. The contrast here is similar to the contrast between the well and the spring. The worship at the mentioned temples was ritualistic and laborious like drawing water from a well. But worship in spirit and truth is like the spring – it’s driven by the Spirit of God.

The woman at the well did get one thing right: she knew that when the Messiah came he would tell “all things”. Perhaps she was counting on the Messiah to set the record straight on who had the right place for the temple or maybe she realized that what Jesus had told her about her past was something only a prophet, or perhaps the Messiah, could do. Whatever her expectations were for the Messiah, Jesus was able to speak the truth about her past and about all things about true spiritual worship. Jesus then declares that he is the one of whom she spoke.

Believers in Christ are the true worshipers that God is seeking. The spring of living water that comes from the Holy Spirit abiding in one’s heart is what compels the believer to worship. It is often the desire of Christians to want to do something for God by going to church, tithing, or doing good things. While these things are not bad, what God wants more than deeds is a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:10-17). In addition to humility, God wants justice and mercy too (Micah 6:6-8). God can work with people who come to him in humility and accept is grace and forgiveness. He can fill them with the Holy Spirit and give them a well spring of living water!

Lord, I want your living water! Take my heart and renew it! Fill me with your Spirit so I can have the well spring of water in my life!

John 4:1-15

Read John 4:1-15

Jesus was apparently concerned about the Pharisees knowing he was baptizing more than John. (John was decreasing so Jesus would increase — from John 3:30) John notes that it was Jesus’ disciples were baptizing rather than Jesus himself. The reason is not clear, but it could be that he was trying to avoid creating tension between the believers similar to what was going on in 1 Corinthians 1:11-17 or if he was letting the disciples do it in a manner to show the procession of disciple making that he commands them to do in Matthew 28:19-20.

In any case, Jesus left Judea. John says he “had” to pass through Samaria. “εδει” in the original Greek indicates that it was necessary for that he go through Samaria. The Samaritans lived in a region sandwiched between Galilee to the north and Judea to the south, and devout Jews wanting to travel between Galilee and Jerusalem had to either pass through Samaria or go around it. Many probably opted for the latter, but it appears Jesus did not have a choice, perhaps because he had foreknowledge as to what would happen in Sychar or a command from God to go through Samaria. Jesus came to Sychar was a town located near Jacob’s well. The well itself is not mentioned in the Old Testament, but was probably a notable landmark and perhaps on the land Jacob bought in Genesis 33:19.

It was an odd time of day for anyone to come out and draw water (around noon) as most people did this chore in the morning, but this particular woman did, probably because she was of a questionable reputation, even for a Samaritan. Samaritans origins date back to when the Jews came out of captivity to resettle the land their ancestors had settled. These Jews had intermarried with other peoples, something that was forbidden for Jews to do because they might be tempted to worship other gods (Deuteronomy 7:1-4). For this reason, Jews who did not intermarry with other peoples disdained those who did. For a Jewish man of high regard (a “rabbi” John 3:2) to be talking to a Samaritan woman of low regard (John 4:16-18) is an odd juxtaposition, needless to say, and the woman recognizes this when Jesus asks here for a drink.

But what the woman does not realize is who Jesus is. Jesus says that if she did, she’d be asking him for a drink instead. She obviously was still thinking that Jesus was talking about literal water. She says the well is deep, he has nothing to draw with, and apparently has no water because he asked her for a drink. She asks him if he was greater than Jacob too and talks about Jacob, his sons, and livestock drinking from the well. She was perhaps inquiring about another spring in area that had not been uncovered by Jacob. Jesus is still speaking on spiritual matters when he says the one who drinks his living water will never thirst again and have “spring of water welling up to eternal life”. It is apparent that the woman still does not understand when she insists the water from Jesus so she would not be thirst have to go about the laborious task of drawing water day in and day out. (For the next few days, this will be explored further as the conversation progresses further as Jesus helps her realize who he is and a whole village turns to him.)

Up against the background of the John 3:1-21, Jesus is talking to the highest of the high, Nicodemus, to the lowest of the low, the nameless woman at the well. It is apparent that Jesus does not consider where one has come from or one’s background – he makes eternal life available to everyone who believes (John 3:16, John 3:36). The difficulty here and for Nicodemus both was seeing who Jesus was. Jesus made the gospel available to persons of all statuses and we should do the same. Paul says that whoever is in Christ are the children of Abraham and children of God, no matter if they are Greek of Jew, slave or free, male or female (Galatians 3:26-29). Our job is to be obedient to the Great Commission and make disciples of every nation (Matthew 28:19-20) no matter who they are or where they live.

Lord, help me to not be a respecter of person, and share with everyone no matter who they are or where they come from!

John 3:22-36: “He Must Increase”

Read: John 3:22-36

John was baptizing at Aenon (called, “The place of springs”) near Salim outside of Sychar, the village that converted after Jesus spoke to the woman at the well. This all happened before John was thrown in jail and executed (Mark 6:14-29). Jesus was baptizing somewhere nearby because and some of John’s disciples took note of this. That, and they were having a discussion over Jewish purification in the context of baptism.  The disciples asked John why people were going to Jesus instead of coming to John. Apparently, there was some issue raised as to who’s baptism was better in making one clean. This is the same problem that arose in the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 1:11-17) as they were claiming some sort of authority or propriety because of who baptized them. Paul attempts to smooth over the discord and unify the church as fellow workers centered on the work of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1-9). John makes a similar argument here in that he too points everything back to Christ. He claims that he is not the Christ, but was sent before to testify to the Christ. Paul claims to be mere preacher of the word (1 Corinthians 1:17), one who proclaims Christ and not a baptizer. In the same manner of concession, John says his mission was to prepare the way for the Christ, and was not the Christ himself. He says that Jesus must increase and he must decrease.

After saying these things, John gives another testimony about Jesus: Jesus is from above and Jesus is above all. God sent Jesus, and he tells people what God says because God gives the Spirit fully to Jesus, because God loves Jesus, and has given him power over everything. The one’s that do believe put there “seal” on the matter that this is the truth — that is, they testify to the truth of the matter. John says that “no one” has receives this testimony, but this does not mean that literally no single person has, rather only few have.  John sums up the matter by echoing Jesus’ words from John 3:16-18, saying the ones that believe have eternal life, but the ones that don’t believe are already condemned.

Often times, believers can get a “holier than thou” complex about themselves for any number of reasons. It could be who their family is, what church they go to, what version of the Bible they reads, what kind of cloths they wears, what kind of car they drives, where they works, among many other things. The fact of the matter though, is that next to Jesus, everyone is petty. Likewise, such complexes detract from the main thing. John acknowledges Jesus’ position: Jesus is from above and above all. For this reason, John says Jesus must increase and he must decrease. Christians too should be as John and acknowledge that Jesus is from above and is above all and get out of the way so Jesus can shine. Christians should set their seal on Jesus as the truth and testify to the matter so that some might believe and receive eternal life and not be condemned.

Lord, help me decrease so that you might increase so your testimony can be received by many!

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