Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Lenten Devotional: Days Twenty-one and Twenty two, Monday and Tuesday "Take You To Our Leader"

Gospel Reading: John 5-10Devotional Emphasis: John 7:18 “He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.”

John is an amazing piece of literature and it is very symbolic. As I have mentioned in an earlier devotional, there are seven miracles in John’s gospel. The first was turning water into wine; the second was the healing of the official’s son. In these six chapters in the book of John, we read about four more miracles. In miracle three Jesus heals a blind man who has been sitting by a pool (archeologist believe there were actually two pools) called Bethesda for thirty-eight years. This isn’t any old pool, but it brought healing. This man claims he could not enter the pool because someone else got there first. Jesus heals him instead. Next, Jesus feeds five thousand people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Just after feeding five thousand people, Jesus allows the disciples to take a boat across the lake, but when due to a strong wind, the waves began to be rough. Jesus then walks across the water and meets the disciples in the boat. The sixth miracle in the Gospel of John is the story of a man born blind who is healed by Jesus and, unlike the first blind man who was healed, comes to believe in Jesus. If you are keeping up, the numbers look like (1) Turing water into wine (2) Healing the man’s son (3) Healing the Blind man (4) Feeding Five Thousand People (5) Walking on Water (6) Healing the man born blind.

John’s symbolism does not stop with miracles. John also uses seven “I am” statements. “I am” is important because this is how God described himself to Moses in Exodus: “Tell them that I am sent you.” Jesus uses this to respond to his critiques in chapter eight by saying, “Before Abraham was born, I am.” In chapters five through ten we also see several “I am” statements. Jesus says (1) I am the bread of life (2) I am the light of the world (3) I am the sheep gate (4) I am the good shepherd. These “I am” statements and the miracles stories noted above play an important role is painting the picture John wants his audience to see about Jesus. Over and over again, we hear Jesus telling his opponents that he only speaks and does the things God tells him to do so that if they see him and believe in him, they will see God and believe in God. The reason they reject him is because they have already rejected God. This is a harsh criticism for religiously pious Jews.

This is also a good reminder that as followers of Jesus we have to give honor to God and do things for God. When we speak on our own, we only bring honor to ourselves. I have learned the hard way that drawing people to me does them little good and does me no good. The Newsboys sing a song called Take Them to Our Leader in which we are reminded to show people Jesus every chance we get.

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