This argument crescendoes into "I AM" and a near-stoning. What a stouthearted Savior we follow!
Jesus heard that the Pharisees had expelled [the man born blind whom He'd healed] and when he had found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
“And who is he, sir?” the man replied. “Tell me, so that I can believe in him.”
“You have seen him,” replied Jesus. “It is the one who is talking to you now.”
“Lord, I do believe,” he said, and worshipped him. - John 9
This week, I've been so struck by the wording of, the immediacy of, that last verse, v. 38. Here's the Greek: "And he said, 'I believe, Lord,' and he worshipped Him." Presumably, he did not say "I believe, Lord," while a church pianist played quiet powerchords and the rest of the worship-band silently took the stage to slip on their guitar straps and join in for their next set. No. More likely, he and Jesus are standing in the midst of a busy, bustling, dusty street in Jerusalem with life happening all around them. "And he worshipped Him."
Imagine if you'd been walking by and saw a man bowing before another man, with eyes filled with joy, reverence, laughter and all the power of Belief. You're just going about your normal life, but that man, the one down in the dust, the one with the wild look in his eyes, he has something going on that you have no idea about. His worship confronts your reality more intently than any words he might say to you. Who is the One who could call such things up in a person?
My friends, is that our worship? Does it absolutely interfere with the normalcy of our lives? Is it silently confrontive, just because it never leaves our faces?
Oh, may it be so!
In J.B. Phillips' translation, the ending of the book of Jude goes this way: "Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glory without fault and with unspeakable joy, to the only God, our Savior, be glory and majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before time was, now, and in all ages to come, Amen."
As we wake to this, our week of Thanksgiving, I'm giving myself the challenge of settling for nothing less than Jude's "unspeakable joy" this week. I personally desire to be so filled with thanksgiving that, deep down in me, the joy of the Lord is able to bubble and simmer and express itself in words and tones and thoughts that are unspeakable, they are so glorious. Would you join me in this challenge and expectancy?
Come, Lord Jesus. You exist "before time was, now, and in all ages to come." Would you now come dwell in us with all your glorious joy?
Happy Thanksgiving week!
So Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, “If you are faithful to what I have said, you are truly my disciples. And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free!” John 8:31,32
These well-known words are packed with so much goodness! The first phrase - "If you are faithful to what I have said, you are truly my disciples" - actually reads, in the Greek, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples." If you ABIDE in my word. Sound familiar?
Seven chapters from now, He'll say it to us this way: "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples."
My friends, do you live in His words - not just the Scriptures generally - but His actual, chosen, stated-while-in-the-flesh words from the four Gospels? Have you walked around in them and allowed them to house your heart, even as He desires to have them enter your heart?
Then the second phrase: "And you will know the truth (future tense) and the truth will set you free (future tense)!" Our abiding in His words, our being truly His disciples, has an ongoingness that is never meant to end. We are today and tomorrow meant to be learning the truth and today and tomorrow meant to be set free by it. Consider John's words in 1 John 2:
Yet I know that the touch of his Spirit never leaves you, and you don’t really need a human teacher. You know that his Spirit teaches you about all things, always telling you the truth and never telling you a lie. So, as he has taught you, live continually in him. Yes, now, little children remember to live continually in him. So that if he were suddenly to reveal himself we should still know exactly where we stand, and should not have to shrink away from his presence.
Oh, to Abide in His words, to be His disciples, to know the truth and to be really set free! All of John 8:31 and 32 is not only possible but available to us through the finished work of Jesus. Do you believe it?
Later, Jesus spoke to the people again and said, “I am the light of the world. The man who follows me will never walk in the dark but will live his life in the light.”
This made the Pharisees say to him, “You are testifying to yourself — your evidence is not valid.”
Jesus answered, “Even if I am testifying to myself, my evidence is valid, for I know where I have come from and I know where I am going. But as for you, you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. (Keep that last phrase in mind.) You are judging by human standards, but I am not judging anyone. Yet if I should judge, my decision would be just, for I am not alone — the Father who sent me is with me. In your Law, it is stated that the witness of two persons is valid. I am one testifying to myself and the second witness to me is the Father who sent me.”
“And where is this father of yours?” they replied.
“You do not know my Father,” returned Jesus, “any more than you know me: if you had known me, you would have known him.” FROM JOHN 8
To me, what’s fascinating in these back-and-forth comments is what Jesus’ words imply rather than directly say. What does He say gives His testimony validity? “I know where I have come from and I know where I am going.” And where did He come from; where is He going? He tells us in verses 16 and 18: “the Father who sent me.” And the reason the Pharisees “have no idea” where He comes from or where He is going? He explains in verse 19: “You do not know my Father…”
Do you see? For Jesus, the launching-point and destination for His life were one and the same: “the Father.” And, at all times, and in every situation, He was utterly surrounded: “the Father who sent me is with me.” There was never a moment when He was out of touch, out of alignment, out of step with His source, His goal, His climate; the life of the Father was His life.
The same is true – can be true; must be true – for us; life is only to be found in the life of the Father as expressed to us in Jesus. The same totality of experience is well-expressed in that famous opening of Hebrews 12: “Surrounded then as we are by these serried ranks of witnesses, let us strip off everything that hinders us, as well as the sin which dogs our feet, and let us run the race that we have to run with patience, our eyes fixed on Jesus the source and the goal of our faith.”
What a joy that the goal of our faith is also the source of our faith; Jesus is our climate as the Father was His!
A thought -
What we say aloud speaks what we think. It's our actions that say what we believe.
Credere quam cogitari
This week, in reading through 2 Peter 1, I've been stirred by Peter's remembrance of the things he'd seen and heard from Jesus during their years together. As he is now an old man, not far from death himself, you can feel how lovingly he recalls every minute with his Savior. Consider the original accounts and then Peter's reflections back...
The day he was called -
One day the people were crowding closely round Jesus to hear God’s message, as he stood on the shore of Lake Gennesaret. Jesus noticed two boats drawn up on the beach, for the fishermen had left them there while they were cleaning their nets. He went aboard one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to push out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and continued his teaching of the crowds from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Push out now into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”
Simon replied, “Master! We’ve worked all night and never caught a thing, but if you say so, I’ll let the nets down.”
And when they had done this, they caught an enormous shoal of fish—so big that the nets began to tear. So they signalled to their friends in the other boats to come and help them. They came and filled both the boats to sinking point. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell on his knees before Jesus and said, “Keep away from me, Lord, for I’m only a sinful man!”
For he and his companions (including Zebedee’s sons, James and John, Simon’s partners) were staggered at the haul of fish that they had made. Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid, Simon. From now on your catch will be men.”
So they brought the boats ashore, left everything and followed him. LUKE 5
Peter's reflection upon that day -
He has by his own action given us everything that is necessary for living the truly good life, in allowing us to know the one who has called us to him, through his own glorious goodness. It is through him that God’s greatest and most precious promises have become available to us men, making it possible for you to escape the inevitable disintegration that lust produces in the world and to share in God’s essential nature. 2 PETER 1
* * * * *
The Mount of Transfiguration -
Six days later Jesus chose Peter, James and his brother John, to accompany him high up on the hill-side where they were quite alone. There his whole appearance changed before their eyes, his face shining like the sun and his clothes as white as light. Then Moses and Elijah were seen talking to Jesus.
“Lord,” exclaimed Peter, “it is wonderful for us to be here! If you like I could put up three shelters, one each for you and Moses and Elijah—”
But while he was still talking a bright cloud overshadowed them and a voice came out of the cloud: “This is my dearly loved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
When they heard this voice the disciples fell on their faces, overcome with fear. Then Jesus came up to them and touched them.
“Get up and don’t be frightened,” he said. And as they raised their eyes there was no one to be seen but Jesus himself. MATTHEW 17
Peter's reflection upon that experience -
We were not following a cleverly written-up story when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ—we actually saw his majesty with our own eyes. He received honor and glory from God the Father himself when that voice said to him, out of the sublime glory of Heaven, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’.
We actually heard that voice speaking from Heaven while we were with him on the sacred mountain. The word of prophecy was fulfilled in our hearing! 2 PETER 1
* * * * *
With the Risen Jesus by the Sea of Galilee -
...Then for the third time, Jesus spoke to him and said, “Simon, son of John, are you my friend?” Peter was deeply hurt because Jesus’ third question to him was “Are you my friend?”, and he said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I am your friend!”
“Then feed my sheep,” Jesus said to him. “I tell you truly, Peter, that when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you liked, but when you are an old man, you are going to stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and take you where you do not want to go.”
(He said this to show the kind of death—by crucifixion—by which Peter was going to honor God.) Then Jesus said to him, “You must follow me.” JOHN 21
Peter's reflection upon that prophecy -
I shall not fail to remind you of things like this although you know them and are already established in the truth. I consider it my duty, as long as I live in the temporary dwelling of this body, to stimulate you by these reminders. I know that I shall have to leave this body at very short notice, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. Consequently I shall make the most of every opportunity, so that after I am gone you will remember these things. 2 PETER 1
* * * * *
The questions for us: Are we so present to His presence right now that we'll, years from now, remember what He's actually doing today? Are we expert cataloguers of the glories we're seeing of Him right now so that our whole lives bear witness to His goodness?
Your day today is your opportunity to remember for tomorrow. Will you be one who deeply enjoys Him today on behalf of then?
There's chaos and beauty and power and fear afoot as Jesus closes out the Festival of Tabernacles...
What a night we experienced together in Shove Chapel, November 1st! Thank you to all of you who joined us for the first weekly gathering; we can't wait to see what next week holds.
For a taste of the "Word" side of our "Word & Worship" format, here was Sunday's message:
And here was a view from the back during our time of Worship...
What a night! Thank you, Jesus!
"Then, on the last day, the climax of the festival (of Tabernacles), Jesus stood up and cried out, 'If any man is thirsty, he can come to me and drink! The man who believes in me, as the scripture says, will have rivers of living water flowing from his inmost heart.' (Here he was speaking about the Spirit which those who believe in him would receive. The Holy Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)" from John 7
Honestly, I feel like I'm losing my mind, so excited am I to write about what I just learned about this section! To tell you, I need to quote extensively from writings by a modern Rabbi, Menachem Posner, on a celebration that happened throughout the Feast of Tabernacles, which, no doubt, Jesus is tying into in these statements:
“One of Sukkot’s [the Feast of Tabernacle’s] most joyous observances was known as Simchat Beit Hashoeivah, the Celebration of the Water-Drawing. When the Holy Temple stood, every sacrifice included wine libations poured over the altar. On Sukkot, water was also poured over the altar in a special ceremony. This ritual engendered such joy that it was celebrated with music, dancing and singing all night long.
“Every morning of Sukkot at daybreak, a group of Levites and priests went down to the Shiloach stream, which ran south of the Temple Mount, and drew three [measures] of fresh water to be poured on the altar after the daily morning sacrifice. Their arrival at the Temple with the water was accompanied by trumpet blasts…
“There were two holes in the altar into which liquid was poured. One hole was for the wine that accompanied every sacrifice, and a second, smaller one was reserved for the Sukkot water. The holes were different sizes to allow the wine and water, which have different consistencies, to drain at the same speed.” (Oh, good gracious! Can't you see Jesus’ side pierced on the Cross and the blood and water, which have different consistencies, draining out together to set us free?!)
“The nights of Sukkot were spent celebrating this once-a-year offering. The Talmud describes the celebrations … in detail: Priests kindled fires on great candelabra, lighting up Jerusalem as if it were the middle of the day. Throughout the night pious men danced holding torches, scholars juggled and Levites played music while the lay people watched with excitement. The Temple courtyard was specially furnished to accommodate this event, and a balcony was erected for women so they could observe the revelry…
“Why was this event accompanied by such fanfare and celebration? … [The] water-drawing was said to be accompanied by a great awareness of Godliness, to the degree that it is said that, along with water, people would “draw” prophetic revelation. The chassidic masters explain that the water celebration signifies a joy caused by a connection to God so deep and so true that, like water, it has no describable taste. And like water, it sustains all life.”
As the Talmud says of this celebration, as we should say of the One who offers to give the measureless “living water” of the Holy Spirit, the One whose side was pierced and out of which flowed blood and water – listen to this from the Talmud! - “He who has not seen the Water-Drawing Celebration has never seen joy in his life.”
That's what we're after! That's the joy of the Holy Ghost! That anyone, on any day, might see you and say to themselves, "He who has not seen Jesus-in-Mike, Jesus-in-Marvin, Jesus-in-Adam, has never seen joy in his life!"