I bet that you know verse 16 of John chapter 3 by heart. In fact, I think it’s the most popular verse in the United States. People quote it, they write it down on posters at sports games, they wear the reference on a bracelet. You name it, it’s probably been done.
Did you find yourself saying the verse in your own mind once I mentioned it? I did and it reminded me of something I was shown a long time ago. We all know at least in our heads that Jesus came to earth to save us because He loved us. But what does that mean to us really, like deep down in our hearts? In order to understand better, my teachers told me to put my name in the place of “the world” in John 3 verse 16. So I did…
“For this is how God loved Ivan: He gave His one and only Son, so that if Ivan believes in Him, he will not perish but have eternal life.”
Now take my name out and put yours in. Does that put a different spin on things? God loved you so much that He wanted to rescue you from sin’s death-march that you were on. And from the beginning of time, He chose to send the Rescuer, His own Son. Through Him, God’s love was lived out in flesh and blood.
In this week’s chapter we see how Jesus is the Son of God. And on Sunday, we will be asking the questions: Who do people say that He is? Who do His disciples say that He is? And Who do WE say that He is? That is the most crucial question of all. God knows what He thinks of you (hint: you are treasured and loved). What do you think about Him?
Just when we think we have Jesus figured out, we find we are wrong and misunderstood just how kind and loving he is. This happens to me a lot. I think I have something figured out and then I see another perspective (or usually someone shares their thought and I go.."Oh yeah")
That's what happened to the disciples when excited children tried to visit with Jesus. They thought the children were too little, too young, too rambunctious, to matter to Jesus. Boy were they wrong. Jesus told them to let the children through. He wanted to spend time with them too!
There are other examples of misunderstanding in this week's lesson. Plainly Jesus tells the disciples he will die and rise again on the third day. But it didn't make sense to the disciples and they didn't ask questions. They knew the Messiah was going to conquer the Roman government and make their life better. But the Messiah was here to save them from a must bigger, more destructive enemy...sin.
I pray you enjoy reading and sharing with your special ones this week.
Have you been able to eat anything yet today? Strange question, but work with me. I’m sure you’ve eaten something. And when you did, the food went down your throat into your stomach. Your stomach then broke the food down with its powerful acid and then your body extracted the nutrients it needed to give you life and energy. Kind of funny, because when I started writing, I was eating a chicken Cup Noodles. Not many good nutrients in that!
When the food was absorbed, it became a part of you. The old adage, “You are what you eat,” is true. It really should be no surprise to us, then, when Jesus talks about being the Bread of Life. He’s not saying that we need to eat Him, because that would go against other commands in His Word. He’s saying that we need to get our sustenance for life and our energy to do good, from Him. Our relationship with Him should be so close that we can live our lives on the Words of life He offers.
Last night, we celebrated a Passover Seder as a church. In the story of the Exodus, God asked the people to sacrifice a perfect lamb and to eat its flesh and put its blood on the mantle of their door. When the angel of death came to their house, it would pass over because he would see the blood of the sacrificed lamb and that would save them. 2000 years ago, Jesus, the perfect and final Passover Lamb, fulfilled God’s promise of sending a Messiah and allowed Himself to suffer and die in order for His blood to save us.
Through both of these examples we see that God has sent His salvation. In fact, pastor Daniel Nessim said last night at our Seder that in Hebrew it is “God has sent His Yeshua.” Do you know what Jesus’ name was in Hebrew? Yeshua! There is no doubt whatsoever that the Jesus that we love and worship came to give us all a way of salvation through His sacrificial death and through His daily bread-guidance.
This week's chapter covers a lot of ground like last week's did. We see some of the different ways Jesus taught the people He loved. He used parables like the sown seeds on different soils. the lost sheep, the lost coin and the good Samaritan. He also preached sermons like the sermon on the mount and Beatitudes.
Jesus continues to use miracles to heal people and cast out demons.
Randy Frazee closes this chapter in the book titled The Heart of the Story with this: "It is not enough to think of Jesus as just a great man. In the Lower Story, we may meet many great men and women--celebrities, politicians, actors, professional athletes. If we want to rise above the day-to-day circumstances of our lives, however, we must be prepared to meet someone who redefines the word extraordinary. We have to make the same commitment Jesus asks of all his followers."
Believe in the one the Father has sent.
Have you ever been stumped as to how to understand what God’s will is for your life? For anyone that professes to follow God, this is probably something that comes up continually. There are times when it seems easy to understand what God wants us to do. But at other times, it’s mystifying. God’s will isn’t followed spontaneously on large and challenging decisions, but is learned through obedience in small, normal, daily decisions.
This week’s chapter (23 in The Story) is about Jesus starting His ministry. Throughout the chapter you will see that Jesus confirms again and again that He has come to do the will of God in Heaven. Jesus humbled Himself in His baptism, trusted God for His sustenance, relied on God’s Word to rescue Him from temptation, and rested in God’s will for Him to be the long-awaited Blessing for the entire world. Jesus’ relationship with God and desire to do His will was so strong vertically that He didn’t fall horizontally.
We often find it tiring to obey God even in the smallest matters, which consequently leads to us wobbling back and forth in following Him. May Jesus’ example encourage us to understand God so well that our relationship with Him makes us stand firm.
(Below are some Scriptures that show God’s will for us. Sometimes we make things too difficult in trying to discover God’s will. At times, God is silent in His direction because He has already given us His will to follow in many aspects.)
Carol is reading a book about the Ego. There are several examples of great people who lost it all because they let their ego get in the way. I have the same problem. Every week I sit here thinking how you must all love to get my weekly notes about The Story and how eager you are to get your family involved in a discussion about this week's chapter and the parent page I attach to my email. It's Thursday and only one parent has asked if I sent it yet. It causes me to wonder...
The chapter this week shows us how Jesus conducted His ministry. He was all about helping the people, teaching them about God and the Good News. He wasn't the ruler or conqueror of the Roman government they were hoping for. But He changed lives in a huge way.
There is a lot of stuff packed into these 3 chapter from Matthew, 3 chapters from Mark, 1 from Luke, and 5 from John. I see Jesus consistently putting the people before the man made laws the religious leaders were so proud of. Some of them were very good rules, but they fell short in many ways.
John makes some good points. Chapter 1, verse 4 and 5...In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood.
Chapter 21 verse 25...Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have enough room for the books that would be written.
We take turns writing when God gives us an idea. The author will be noted.