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Category Archives: John

John 17:20-21

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.

John 17:20-21

Dear God, maybe this is just the bargaining stage of mourning.

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Bargaining
  • Acceptance

We have denied the reality of COVID-19. We have been angry about having to quarantine and wear masks. I’m sure some have been depressed. And now there is a group out there that is once again pushing a seemingly false solution to the problem so that we can take a shortcut and get out of this pandemic more quickly. And I mention all of this this morning not to take shots at those that believe this. They are good people. The part that is on my heart is that it is one more thing that Satan (and the earthly powers and principalities) is using to tear us apart. To tear apart our unity. Our country is called the United States of America. Well, there is not much about us right now that is united. This turmoil is awful and it is making me sick to my stomach. One answer would be to just ignore it and focus on me, but I don’t think that’s what you’ve called me to do. I think you’ve called me to go back to Jesus’s simple prayer for us before he died. He prayed that we would be one, as you, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one.

Father, first, it starts with me. Help me to love beyond my exasperation. Help me to let things go and just rest in you. Help me let go of my need to be right or what I perceive as reasonable. Help me to just love. Yes, let it start with me. And then I pray for your church. The pastors and the lay leaders: let them be a source of your unity. Make them one. Then let that filter down to your people. Unite us together. I am afraid of what kind of persecution it will take to answer this prayer, Father. I can’t imagine another way for us to unite except through persecution. But whatever you have for me, I submit to it and I accept.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2020 in John

 

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John 17:13-20

“Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.
John 17:13-20

Dear God, thank you for praying this prayer for me. Thank you for having this kind of heart for all of us. I think, today, I am going to pray this for my fellow Christians. The ones in my family, in my church, in my community, and in the world.

Father, help us to all learn from you that we might have a full measure of your joy within us. Give us your word, and help us to receive it and embrace it even if it costs us the approval of the world. Don’t relieve us from the sufferings of this world, but use those sufferings to draw us closer to you and to learn to help our sisters and brothers in their suffering. Lead us not into temptation. Deliver us from evil. Sanctify us by helping us to live in your truth. Help us to know truth from lies. Help us to know the voice of the shepherd and to discern when we are hearing Satan instead. Send us into the world so that we might be your ambassadors to others who need you and need to see you in their neighbors. And sanctify us through the power of what Jesus did for us. What you did through sending Jesus for us.

I pray all of this in Jesus’s powerful name–my only hope,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2020 in John

 

John 17:20-23

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.
John 17:20-23

Dear God, I think I’m going to be praying this passage over and over again for the time being. My wife told me last night that she has been spending a lot of time in prayer in our church’s chapel over the strife in our country right now. I asked what specifically she is praying and, to her credit, a lot of it was focused around your church and our response. Yes, that is a good place to start.

So I’m combining that with the knowledge that Satan’s goal is to work against that prayer and divide us. Divide us against each other as Christians. Divide us against others in our community. Divide us against our own family. And divide us, ultimately against you. He doesn’t care how successful we are or how much we might struggle. That’s not the war he is in. The war he is fighting is our unity with you. He is against our peace and joy because he knows that our suffering is the only way to make you suffer.

Father, I pray for your church. From nondenominational to Catholic, make us one, Father, as you and Jesus are one. And help us to abide in you. Reveal and unmask the plans of Satan to us. Help us to see the battle that is waging among the powers and principalities of this world. And help us to run to you. Help us to march into battle behind the power of Jesus and what he did for us. Help us to be lead by the Holy Spirit. Show us as a faith community the actions you want us to take, and that starts with prayer and clinging to you. As for me, show me my role in all of this. She me where my faith lacks. Reveal to me where I am failing you. I’m sorry for the ways I’ve contributed to any of this.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2020 in John

 

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Mothers of the Bible — Mary, the Mother of Jesus (Part 17)

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem—a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 When they arrived, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. 14 They all were continually united in prayer, along with the women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers and sisters—the number of people who were together was about a hundred twenty—and said, 16 “Brothers and sisters, it was necessary that the Scripture be fulfilled that the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David foretold about Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was one of our number and shared in this ministry.” 18 Now this man acquired a field with his unrighteous wages. He fell headfirst, his body burst open and his intestines spilled out. 19 This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that in their own language that field is called Hakeldama (that is, “Field of Blood”). 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
Let his dwelling become desolate;
let no one live in it; and
Let someone else take his position.
21 “Therefore, from among the men who have accompanied us during the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us—from among these, it is necessary that one become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
23 So they proposed two: Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “You, Lord, know everyone’s hearts; show which of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this apostolic ministry that Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias and he was added to the eleven apostles.
Acts 1:12-26

Dear God, it’s a little vague to me whether or not Mary, the mother of Jesus, was with Mary Magdalene at the tomb after the resurrection, but it’s clear that she is with the apostles now. And her sons re there too. They’re in. They are ready to acknowledge that their brother was unique. They were wrong to have tried to get him out of that house. I wonder if Mary’s sister was there too. So many questions.

This is our last reference to Mary in the New Testament, but I think we can assume she was with them just a little while later for pentecost, and she was part of the church. After all, John was responsible for her now (although I would imagine Jesus’s brothers were more on board with taking care of her now too).

So sometime between the desperate sorrow and loss of the crucifixion and this moment, picking a replacement for Judas, she found out he was alive again. I’m sorry, I didn’t do that justice: HE WAS ALIVE AGAIN!! What an amazing moment that must have been for her. Her life went from being invalidated to validated. Everything good she believed about him was affirmed, and everything she doubted was erased.

I was thinking about this story last night as I went to bed, and I thought of a song I first heard back around 1986. It was by a singer who is deceased now named Luke Garrett. I think it might have been written by the Gaithers. It’s called, “Then Came the Morning.” The second verse and subsequent chorus are about Mary’s experience that weekend:

The angel, the star, the kings from afar, the wedding, the water, the wine. Now it was done, they’d taken her son. Wasted before his time. She knew it was true. he watched him die too. She heard them call him just a man. But deep in her heart she knew from the start somehow her son would live again.

Then came the morning! The night turned into day. The stone was rolled away. Hope rose with the dawn. Then came the morning. Shadows vanished before the sun. Death had lost and life had won, for morning had come.

Now, I’m not necessarily buying the part that she knew deep in her heart he would live again in bodily resurrection any more than I believe Princess Leia knew all along that Luke was her brother. But I completely track with the idea that she was confused and hurt. But then came the morning. That’s what this is all about. The morning came. Your plan came together and she lived to see it. Joseph didn’t live to see it, but she did. What a sweet gift you ended up giving her.

Father, there are things for which I pray every day that I have faith you will grant. Things mainly involving my children. And I may live to see them come about, but maybe I won’t. That’s okay. It’s about your timing and not my ego. It’s about your plan being made perfect and not any agenda I try to lay on top of it. So I give this to you, and if I’m not around to see the “morning,” then so be it.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

 
 

Mothers of the Bible — Mary, the Motherof Jesus (Part 16)

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. After this, when Jesus knew that everything was now finished that the Scripture might be fulfilled, he said, “I’m thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was sitting there; so they fixed a sponge full of sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it up to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then bowing his head, he gave up his spirit. Since it was the preparation day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a special day). They requested that Pilate have the men’s legs broken and that their bodies be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other one who had been crucified with him. When they came to Jesus, they did not break his legs since they saw that he was already dead. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows he is telling the truth. For these things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled: Not one of his bones will be broken. Also, another Scripture says: They will look at the one they pierced. After this, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus—but secretly because of his fear of the Jews—asked Pilate that he might remove Jesus’s body. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and took his body away. Nicodemus (who had previously come to him at night) also came, bringing a mixture of about seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloes. They took Jesus’s body and wrapped it in linen cloths with the fragrant spices, according to the burial custom of the Jews. There was a garden in the place where he was crucified. A new tomb was in the garden; no one had yet been placed in it. They placed Jesus there because of the Jewish day of preparation and since the tomb was nearby.
John 19:25-42

Dear God, there are some things in this story I never noticed before. The first thing is that Mary’s sister was there. Jesus’s aunt. I’ll get back to that in a second.

As I’ve been focused on Mary for the previous 15 prayer journals to you I’ve come to see this whole experience through her eyes as a parent a little more vividly. So the first thing that came to my mind as I read this story yesterday and today is, “Well, this isn’t how this was supposed to work out at all.” What a devastating day! It’s one thing to lose your son, but it’s another to lose him so violently. And even more to have lost the man who was supposed to be the Messiah! She saw this coming. She saw the track he was on from at least the time she and his brothers tried to get him and take him home. This just wasn’t going how she and Joseph foresaw it after they visited with the angels, Zechariah and Elizabeth, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna, and the wise men. I’m sure she and Elizabeth talked a lot about who their boys would be when they grew up, and now they were both dead–killed brutally.

I’ll bet she wished Joseph was there to hold her. I wonder what kinds of conversations she and her sister had had over the previous 34 years. I’m sure the early years were filled with home and wonder. Perhaps big dreams and Israel’s liberation and conquering power. Then, in recent years, concern that this was all unraveling. Perhaps this was too much for her son. Maybe he had lost his mind. Now they stood there together, Mary possibly feeling loved by her sister, but also maybe a little judged. How embarrassing to have this happen to your own son.

And if you’re Jesus, looking down, you see your mom, your aunt, and then John–apparently the only disciple that had the nerve to show up. It doesn’t mention that Jesus’s brothers were there. Regardless, I think it’s safe to say that Jesus didn’t trust them because he made John responsible for his mother’s care. I’m sure their relationships were pretty strained and frayed by that point. Perhaps they were angry with Mary for supporting Jesus. I don’t know. It’s all conjecture, but the picture is pretty clear. She is standing there with her sister, Mary Magdalene, still another Mary who was married to someone names Clopas, and John. Her son’s life is over. And it sure looks like it was all a waste of time–Bethlehem, the stable, the rumors and innuendo, the flight to Egypt, the children slaughtered in Bethlehem, raising him… Now it was all over and all she had left was to live out the rest of her life.

Of course, we now have the advantage of knowing that that isn’t the end of the story, but let’s just sit with Mary in the seeming failure for another day or two. Sometimes as parents we just don’t know what is going on with our children. I talked with someone today whose son ended up failing out of their first year of college. It just didn’t work. His mother homeschooled him, and so she, at least in part, feels like it’s an indictment against her and how she prepared him for college. He feels like a failure. His father feels it too. But maybe this is a door that you needed to close for him to find the path you have for him. Maybe, like Mary, they simply can’t see what you’re doing. I know I’ve certainly had to embrace that level of faith sometimes with my own children.

Father, help me to be at peace with the fact that sometimes things just don’t go according to my plans because my plans can be vain, shortsighted, and foolish. In fact, help me to let go of my plans and simply look to you in this moment of this day, thank you for what you done that I can see and that I can’t see, and then be at peace in your presence. Let me give my utmost for your highest, regardless of what it costs me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

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Mothers of the Bible — Mary, the Mother of Jesus (Part 13)

On the third day a wedding took place in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’s mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding as well. When the wine ran out, Jesus’s mother told him, “They don’t have any wine.” “What has this concern of yours to do with me, woman?” Jesus asked. “My hour has not yet come.” “Do whatever he tells you,” his mother told the servants.
John 2:1-5

Dear God, it is really too bad that we don’t get tone of voice in this story. My wife and I were just talking about this vignette from Jesus’s life and she said that she thinks Jesus was wrong here (she said it, not me 🙂 ). She doesn’t like the tone he uses with Mary. For my part, I see a meddling mother who is trying to save the day for some friends and has a son she knows can do something about it.

However, when tone of voice comes into play, I think we can infer a more playful tone because of how John relates this story. Mary beseeches Jesus to solve their problem. He labels it as her concern and tells her that he can’t be doing anything this public just yet. Then she turns and tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them. What’s missing is Jesus’s acceptance of the task which tells me that his acceptance must have been in the tone of his voice. Our automatic image is of Jesus always stoic, but I have a feeling that he had contributed to the fact that the wine was running out through his own imbibing, and he was maybe even being playful with Mary. It’s certainly interesting that only John gives us this story. Mary apparently didn’t tell it to Luke when he was doing his research.

Okay, with all of that out of the way, what must it have been like to be a human woman and be the mother of the son of God–the Messiah? How did that work for her? Especially with Joseph apparently gone now. She was the only one left who had experienced the angel visits about Jesus. We’ll assume Zechariah and Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s parents) were gone by then because they were old at the time of Gabriel’s visit to Zechariah in the temple. No, she was it. And I’m sure there were confusing days. There was no one to consult with who could relate to her situation. She too was probably waiting for this young man to be the conquering Messiah. He was 30 now. Wasn’t it about time he got going? He could do these miracles, but wasn’t it time for more? Wasn’t it time for public leadership?

Father, it can be hard to get out of your way when it comes to the path you have for our children. It can feel like our prayers for them are going unanswered because, once again, we measure time in days weeks and months and you measure it in years, decades, and centuries. So I come to you today to simply worship you, pray for my wife and my children (and myself), that we would be on the path you have for us, and that you will use our lives for your glory. And I also, once again, commit to you that I will not look to my children to fulfill my own needs for pride or achievement, but I turn them loose to live their lives and pray that they would be dedicated to you for your glory’s sake and not mine.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

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Parents of the Bible — Parents of an Adult Blind Man Healed by Jesus

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.” Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing! His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!” But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!” They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?” He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!” “Where is he now?” they asked. “I don’t know,” he replied. Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees, because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them. Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?” The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.” The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents. They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?” His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue. That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.” So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.” “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” “But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?” “Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” Then they cursed him and said, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses! We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.” “Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.” “You were born a total sinner!” they answered. “Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out of the synagogue. When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.” “You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!” “Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus. Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?” “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.”
John 9

Dear God, an entire book could probably be written about this story. You have so many interesting characters. There is the blind man. There is Jesus. There are the people who witness everything. There are the ones who report it to the Pharisees since it was done on the Sabbath. Then there are the boys parents. I want to just focus on the parents today. I’ve never thought much about them before other than to consider the part where they don’t want anything to do with answering the Pharisees’ questions. So let’s look at the parents.

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered.

Since the boy was born blind, presumably before he could have committed a sin, I’m sure that these parents lived with some sort of stigma that they had committed some sort of heinous sin to have caused their son to be born blind. I don’t know what that was like for them. Did it impact their ability to earn income? Did it impact their standing int he church or the community. Jesus confirms that it wasn’t anything they did, but how many decades had they lived with the shame of something they never did? How many times did they ask themselves what they had done? How much did either of them suspect the other of having done something to cause all of this? I’m sure it was a source of conflict for them throughout their lives. Beyond the challenges of a blind son, they had this other cloud constantly over them, even after he was out on his own.

His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!” But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!”

I wonder what his parents’ role was like in his life at the time of this event. They were obviously close, but if he was left to simply beg, did they have any role in his daily life? Was he living with them? Did they wash their hands of him, or was this how he contributed to the family. Either way, again, they must have experienced a lot of shame from their son’s situation. They were known to be the beggars parents. That has to be hard.

The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents. They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?” His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue. That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.”

I can’t imagine the mixture of joy (elation?) and fear the parents experienced at the same time. On the one hand, “Our son can see!!” On the other hand, “Oh no, we might suffer even more shame and get expelled from the synagogue.” This is what makes me wonder how close they were to the boy at this point. They were willing to throw him under the bus to save themselves. They’d rather he be expelled from the synagogue than themselves.

It’s easy to judge these people, but there are decades of actions and happenings here to which we are not privy. This boy might have rejected them and their help. He might have really hurt them. Or they might have expelled him out of self interest. It could run the entire gamut. The thing we are told is that, at this point in life, they were no longer willing to sacrifice for him. And when I say, “they,” I know at least the father was. Perhaps the mother was just being obedient to the father. Again, we aren’t given that detail.

Now that my children are adults and we have a lot of history behind us, I suppose one question to ask myself in all of this is whether there is a part of me that is unwilling to sacrifice for them. Have they exhausted my good will? Have I just decided to be selfish in some way at their expense? Is there any unforgiveness in my heart that keeps me from doing whatever you need me to do for them? I’m not talking about spoiling them or getting in the way of any lessons you might be teaching them. But is there anything holding me back from being the dad that you need me to be for them?

Father, I give you glory and praise. I thank you for helping both my wife and me see our children into their 20’s. You know all of our background so I don’t have to write about it here, but there have been times when I confess that I was done because of personal pain done to me. I have repented of that, but once again I tell you that I am sorry. I’m sorry that I’ve allowed my own feelings and wants (even needs) get in the way of doing whatever you might have called me to do for their sake. Help me to see them with your eyes and let go of my own selfishness.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

Mothers of the Bible — Mother who Gave Her Son Five Loaves and Two Fish

A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.
John 6:2-13

Dear God, I’m going to make a couple of big assumptions here. In fact, they are so big that they probably don’t warrant me even taking this line of thought when I think about this story. I don’t know. I’ll play with it and see if it goes anywhere. Who knows? What I’m about to type to you might be complete heresy.

Assumption #1: This boy had the fish and loaves because his mother gave them to him.

It could have been his dad. It could have been his mom. Maybe an aunt or grandmother. In fact, as I think about this, perhaps it is too much to assume that his mother gave him this food because of my second possibly erroneous assumption.

Assumption #2: The five loaves and two fish were for his lunch.

I guess I’ve been hearing this story for almost 45 years and the image I always get is of a boy with his lunch bag who is willing to share his food with Jesus. But is that a typical amount of food for a “young boy” in that period. Would a mother send her son off for the day with some fish that can rot and five barley loaves? I don’t know how much the fish or the loaves were, but that seems like a lot of food for his lunch.

The truth is, I don’t really have enough education to answer this question. Perhaps I should go and consult a biblical commentary. I’ll be right back…

Okay, according to Roger L. Frederikson in the Communicator’s Commentary on John (edited by Lloyd J. Ogilvie), “This was bread eaten by the very poor, and the fish were little more than large dried minnows.” So maybe it was lunch. I guess that takes me back to mom.

Now that I’ve talked my way around that circle, let’s just appreciate a woman who ensures her son (even though Frederikson indicates they are likely poor) has enough to eat for the day. I wish we knew more than “young boy,” but I’m assuming (there’s that word again) he must be under 13 because of Jewish tradition of becoming a man at 13. Anyway, this boy was there and prepared to be able to hang out all day without getting hungry. Did his mother make sure he was the most prepared person that day?

Father, moms are amazing. They really are. They love and nurture in a way that, on a whole, fathers don’t. Now fathers tend to have a different role in their children’s lives. It’s an important role. But there is just no replacing mom. And I’m sure this mom had no idea that the love she showed her son that morning didn’t only help thousands of people that day (I’m sure she heard about that part later), but would also be an example of humility, generosity, and your power thousands of years later. The faithful act of one woman one morning dominoed into a teachable moment for us all. May my small acts be pleasing to you as well.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

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Fathers of the Bible — Government Official with a Sick Son

As he traveled through Galilee, he came to Cana, where he had turned the water into wine. There was a government official in nearby Capernaum whose son was very sick. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Jesus to come to Capernaum to heal his son, who was about to die. Jesus asked, “Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?” The official pleaded, “Lord, please come now before my little boy dies.” Then Jesus told him, “Go back home. Your son will live!” And the man believed what Jesus said and started home. While the man was on his way, some of his servants met him with the news that his son was alive and well. He asked them when the boy had begun to get better, and they replied, “Yesterday afternoon at one o’clock his fever suddenly disappeared!” Then the father realized that that was the very time Jesus had told him, “Your son will live.” And he and his entire household believed in Jesus. This was the second miraculous sign Jesus did in Galilee after coming from Judea.
John 4:46-54

Dear God, this is an interesting dad because he was a government official. We don’t know what his job was. John just tells us that he was a government official. But that fact alone was important enough that John called it out. We are only given a father’s job title in these stories if the father was a leader in the church or a government official.

I don’t know my history well enough, but I would guess that the locals were not allowed to be government officials. I would think that this man was a Roman who got stationed over here. He was probably not Jewish, but a Gentile at the least and a European Roman at most. By identifying this man’s occupation, John is intimating that this father was swallowing an extra measure of pride and disbelief to come to Jesus and ask him for help. This wasn’t just some dude. This was a man in an important position who seemingly had it made from a financial security standpoint. But he had a son that was sick, and, at that point, nothing else mattered.

I’ve been there. I’ve had times when I was worried about my children and absolutely nothing else mattered. I’d have quit my job, sold my house, and lived in a tent if I thought it would have made a difference. You get to a point where you’ll do anything for your children.

This is the point when I start adding a layer of fiction to this story. I try to imagine how this man’s day went. First, I’m sure it was a sleepless night. He and his wife were probably caring for their son. Someone who knew his son was sick mentioned to him that they heard that the guy healing people was nearby. Maybe he could get Jesus to come with him to heal his son. He tells his wife he’s going (maybe she begs him to go) and he sets out to find Jesus. He finally finds him and begs, “Please, please, please come with me to heal my son. I’m begging you to please come!”

Jesus asked, “Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?” The official pleaded, “Lord, please come now before my little boy dies.” Then Jesus told him, “Go back home. Your son will live!”

The exclamation point on the end of Jesus’s sentence is interesting. I can almost see a reassuring smile and twinkle in Jesus’s eyes as he says it to him. “Go back home. Your son will live!” What a beautiful moment.

So the government official heads home, hopeful that his son will be healed. Otherwise his wife will be angry with him that he didn’t bring Jesus back with him. But before he is even home he finds out the good news. The boy was healed in the very hour he spoke with Jesus!

Father, I need more faith. I believe, but help my unbelief. This man made a bunch of decisions, one after another. He just did what was next in front of him. He did everything he knew to do. Help me to know what to do was well. Help me to do that next thing that is in front of me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2020 in Fathers of the Bible, John

 

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John 15:5-8

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
John 15:5-8

Dear God, I thought of something this morning. Whenever Jesus compared ya to anything it seems like it’s always vegetation. He didn’t say, “You are the Lion and the world is your prey.” Or, “Be like the camel, which can go for days without water.” I suppose he did compare us to sheep, but that’s because they are too dumb to live without a shepherd. Without leadership, they will just stay in one place to eat until the last remnants of the grass are destroyed. They can’t see the consequences of their foolishness. The branches need the vine to give them nourishment. The sheep need the shepherd to point them in the right direction. In none of these illustrations are the examples pertaining to us on the attack. They are attached to you and need you to move them.

When I’m at work, my tendency is to think that I/we have a duty to be moving and growing. Should we add a new program? Should we strike out in this area? The push is coming from an outward sense of duty and not from the connection I have to you through the vine. It’s not your still small voice I’m listening for, but my own desire to be seen as an effective leader by my board and by the community that drives me. Ah. There it is. It’s my ego that drives me.

Father, I’m sorry for my ego. I’m sorry for my insecurity. I know I can be a fool. Guide me. Show me. Help me to hear your still small voice. My commitment to you is to try to make more room in my life to be able to hear you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2019 in John