Search This Blog

Thursday, March 31, 2011

4/1/11 John 13:2-5 The Importance of Good Service

 2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

(Washing of Feet- Giotto di Bondone 1267-1337)

Thoughts: Jesus last act, would be an act of service.  Not just his washing feet, but his dying on the cross. Jesus said (Mk. 10:45) "Even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."  Washing feet was a dirty smelly job reserved for slaves.  In a few hours he would die as a thief and a slave though he was really the most Innocent One ever and a King. 

Prayer: You served then, Lord.  You serve me today by your death on the cross. Give me grace, O Lord to serve someone today in your name. 

John Calvin Abidged: The Evangelist says that Judas had already agreed to betray Christ.  Who could have the patience and endurance to wash the feet of such a detestable traitor? The Evangelist says that he knew the Father had given all things into His hands to show us where Christ gained such great composure of mind. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

3/31/11- John 13:1 The Length of the Love of Christ

1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

(Upper room in the City of David in Jerusalem)

Thoughts: John does not concentrate so much on the words of the Last Supper as the environment around it in the upper room, and his final teachings before his arrest.  John points out that Jesus knew his end was near when he said the words recorded in John 13-17.  For those of us who are older, we should consider not only making a will, but witnessing to our faith in our will- with some last words to our heirs.  The verses recorded here are tender, compassionate, and a bit melancholy.  Yet they are also full of goodness, hope, and grace.  Christ' s love did not stop when he knew he would die.  It did not stop when he knew or even saw his disicples desert him, betray him, and deny him.  His love did not fail then, and it does not fail now. 

Prayer: Thank you that you showed us love then and you show us love now. 

John Cavlin Abridged: John purposefully leaves some things out that are included in Matthew, Mark and Luke.  But he also adds some things- like the washing of feet.  By this visible sign he shows them his love.  Our Lord still holds the very affection for us that he held at his death. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

3/30/11 John 12:44-46 Christ comes as a light

44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

Thoughts: These words are the last time we hear Jesus teaching in public.  To believe in Jesus is to believe in God.  To look at Jesus is to look at God.  Jesus claims to be the light of the world.  Strong claims.  Jesus is saying, "If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck- it must be a duck."  One of the last things Jesus is teaching is to make sure everyone knew his claim to be God. 

Prayer: When I look at you, Jesus, I see my example; I see my Lord.  Keep me from darkness for I believe in you.

John Calvin Abridged:  Christ is trying to encourage his followers to a proper and unshaken steadfastness of faith.  Faith in Christ does not rely on mortals, but on God; for it finds in Christ nothing but the divine.  "To see" is used of knowledge of God.  Or faith rises from the flesh of Christ to his Divinity.  Christ came into the world to being light and deliver us from darkness and errors.  The way we obtain such a great benefit is to believe in Him. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

3/29/11 John 12:37-43 If Seeing is Believing...

37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.”
41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him. 42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

(Carl Henry Bloch - Christ healing)

Thoughts: One would think that miracles would lead to belief, but they do not .  If God answered every prayer we prayed in the way we might want, some still would not believe.  Faith is not sight.  All the arguments, evidence, and power shown does not automatically lead to belief.  The opposition to Jesus was strong, and the believers were weak.  IN the midst of the worst disasters the hand of God is at work.  Many refuse to look, because they are blinded by their sorrow or the tragedy. 

Prayer: My eyes have been blind to your hand working.  Open them, O Lord, that I might see and believe.

John Calvin Abridged: The evangelist explains why Jesus was so disappointed with his own people's rejection.  There were numerous undoubted testimonies that proved that credit was due Him.  We see that it was not Christ's fault that they doubted Him.  Many may wonder how the visible power of God had such little effect upon them.  John tells us that they were blind showing us that faith is an exraordinary gift [like opening the eyes of the blind].  It was an ancient prediction that few would believe the Gospel when it came. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

3/28/11 John 12:34-36 A Non-earthly kingdom

34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?” 35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

Thoughts: Isaiah 9:6-7 says, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and the government will be upon his shoulders...of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end."  The risen Lord is reigning now.  But the people of Jesus' day wanted him to reign in Jerusalem physically.  William Barclay points out that in Shaw's play "Joan of Arc" she says when she realizes she is to be betrayed by her own people, "You will be glad to see me burnt; but if I go through the fire I shall go through it to the hearts [of the common people] forever and ever."  The greatest kingdom is not one established by force.  Xerxes, Alexander, Caesar, Napolean, Hitler are all gone.  But the kingdom established by peace lives forever.  This is where the terrorists deceive themselves- thinking that force and terror will win the world. The rebellions in the Middle East today are against the dictators who took over control mostly by force in the past.  The light of the world was about to be extinguished physically, but it would multiply billions of times over spiritually.

Prayer: Lord, help me to believe and live knowing that your kingdom is not of this world.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

3/27/11 John 12:27-33 Choosing Glory Over Comfort

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. 30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

(Crucifixion of Christ- with St. Jerome and St. Francis by Francesco Bianchi Ferrari 1490-1500-
The Son of Man was lifted up)

Thoughts: In the West we seek worldly comfort and feelings above all else.  But Jesus calls us beyond our selfishness and pride into selfless sacrifice for a greater good- the glory of God.  Too often we ask God to save us from our suffering, and if that doesn't happen we rebel against Him.  So we fail the test before us, showing the weakness of our faith.  If we believe in God only because our parents did, or only for what God can do for us- then when life doesn't go our way- we drift away from God.  In contrast, Jesus sets us the example.  He was not interested in his own salvation and comfort as much as He was God's glory. 
Prayer: Give me the will, O Lord, to give up seeking my meager comfort for the betterment of your glory.

John Calvin Abridged: Christ shows his humanity in that he was troubled by his impending death.  Yet all his feelings were regulated to obedience to God.  He starts to pray for deliverance because his sorrow wrung this feeling from Him.  There are five steps here 1)a complaint; 2) asking Himself what He ought to do; 3) He asks the Father for deliverance; 4) He chooses to do the Father's will above all else;

Friday, March 25, 2011

3/26/11 John 12:21-26 Unless a Kernel Falls

“Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

Thoughts: The Greeks had asked to see Jesus, and Jesus reply seems a little strange for he talks about his death.  It would be like someone saying, "May I see Larry?" and Larry's reply would be, "I'm getting ready to die."  Jesus was basically saying that the time of people just coming up to see him, He also tried to tell his disciples that he must die in order to bear fruit.  Death for the Christian is not just being buried it is like being planted.  Unless a seed is planted it will not begin to bear fruit.  To follow Christ means to die to self.  While death is our enemy- and Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus, God uses this enemy as a toll to accomplish His purpose.  He knew His kingdom was not of this world.  He also tried to encourage his disciples not to hold on too tightly to this life. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to let go of this life, and to cling to you.

John Calvin Abridged: "The hour has come" probably does not refer to Christ's death bu to the spreading of the Gospel. We ought to despise our life whenever it hinders our relationship with God.  He demans that His subjects not refuse to submit to death following His example.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

3/25/11 John 12:20-22 Seeking Jesus

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

(Andrew Introducing Greeks Ottavio Vannini- 1585-1643)

Thoughts: The Greeks came to worship, and the Greeks sought Jesus out.  When we come to worship, we shouldn't just go through the motions, we should seek Jesus.  Philip and Andrew, like good disciples, wanted to introduce them to Jesus.  Part of our job in being disciples of Christ is to introduce others to Christ. 

Prayer: Help me to seek you, Lord.  Help me to introduce others to you. 

John Calvin Abridged: These Greeks also were Jews who came to the Temple to worship.  That they went to Philip first shows modesty developed by their piety. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

3/24/11 John 12:17-19

17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

(Second Tomb of St. Lazarus in Larnaca, Cyprus- the first was in Bethany from which he was raised)

Thoughts: If you were a part of the crowd that saw Lazarus raised from the dead, could you keep from spreading the word?   Would you not want to tell everyone?  Yet the resurrection of Christ affects us in that it assures us that we will ourselves be raised by Him.  Can we not invite someone to worship with us this Easter?  Amazingly, those who are against God, get angry when the Church succeeds- but it is out of their hands.  They could not put Lazarus back in the tomb, and they could not place Jesus back there either.  There is a tomb in Cyprus that bears Lazarus's bones where Lazarus went as a missionary years later. Lazarus was appointed by Barnabas as the first Bishop of Kittim, and died thirty years later.   But there is no second tomb for Jesus.  He cannot be thwarted.  That is, after all, the lesson of resurrection- even death cannot hold him down.  So we should spread the news of hope.

Prayer:  Give me faith as the people who saw Lazarus raised had faith.  Help me to believe and so spread the good news.
John Calvin Abridged: He repeats what he has said before that many were aroused to faith by the miracle of Lazarus.  They had great reason to call Mary's Son the Messiah.  The enemies of Christ urge themselves into greater rage for they saw their own laziness and cowardice as the reason fame of Christ spread.  If the enemies of God persevere so obstinantly, the people of God should be strong and persevere in the truth.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

3/23/11 John 12:12-16 Jesus Entering Jerusalem

12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,  “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: 15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

(Jesus Entering Jerusalem William Hole d. 1917)

Thoughts: When Jesus went into Jerusalem what were the disciples thinking?  John admits that they had no idea that he was fulfilling scripture.  It was only looking back that they could piece the puzzle together.  They saw the crowd, and saw the parade.  Often we are unable to digest what God is trying to tell us until after the event happens.  Luke speaks of the disciples finding the donkey at Jesus' request, while John speaks of Jesus finding the donkey (perhaps through the means of the disciples).  John is here indicating that the disciples did not plan this as if it were a production. 

Prayer: When great events too big for me are going on around me, Lord, give me grace to discern their meaning.  Help me to see your providential hand leading and teaching me in life. 

John Calvin Abridged: The other gospels tell us more about this event, but John gives us the basics.  Jesus came to Jerusalem of his own accord to offer himself to die. He openly declares he begins his reign by going to die.  Yet He remained unknown to his enemies until he proved himself as the Messiah by the fulfillment of prophecies.  The palm was a symbol of victory and peace  "Hosanna" (Ps. 118:25) was a shout acknowledging Him as the Messiah.

Monday, March 21, 2011

3/22/11 John 12:9-11

9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.

(In the garden outside Bethany (El Eizariya)- Mark and LInda Sloan- the author's brother and sister-in-law)

Thoughts: The raising of Lazarus had a huge impact on how people perceived Jesus, and how they reacted to Jesus.  The reaction was one of praising Him or rejecting Him.  It is amazing that those who wanted to kill Jesus also wanted to kill Lazarus whom he raised from the dead- as a living, walking testimony to Jesus' power. If they killed Lazarus, could Jesus not raise him up one more time?  In the end, death cannot conquer life, though those who are consumed with this world think death and power now are the only things. 

Prayer: May your witness live on, O Lord.  May your testimony live in me- a living walking sign of your grace.  Give me strength to know that life will always conquer death.

John Calvin Commentary abridged: The more it got closer to the time of Christ's death the more His name had to be known so that their faith would be strengthened at His death.  They did not come to honor Lazarus but to see him- whose life displayed Chrsit's power.  The furious wickedness of the priests led them to war against God.  Satan works to bury or at least obscure the work of God.  Therefore, it is our duty to meditate on God's works that we can see. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

3/21/11 John 12:1-8 Anointing for Death

1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Thoughts: Jesus went back to Bethany where he had raised Lazarus.  Here Jesus speaks of the priority of God over the priotiry of the poor- two very important things in the life of the Church.  Yes, we are called to care for the needy, but there is also a place in the Church to care for God.  The visible presence of God in Jesus was about to disappear, and it was appropriate that gratitude and honor be shown to Jesus before he died.  Jesus did not say that we should never care for the poor, but that is just not our only priority.  In and outside the Church there are those who think that our reason for the church's existence is to help those in need- loving our neighbor.  But the first commandment is loving God. 

John Calvin Abridged: They judged to hastily who thought Jesus wouldn't come to the feast (11:56).  We should learn to wait patiently for God's presence  This is the same anointing recorded in Matthew (26) and Mark (14) both anointings happened before he departed.  The supper did not take place at Lazarus' house (probably Simon the Leper) as Lazarus one of those who "sat at table" with him.  The amount spent on the spikenard is extravagant.  But Judas goes into a rage because he thinks of the money he could have stolen if he had it in the treasury.  Christ usually asks us to be moderate in our expense and stewardship.  He is not saying here that worship should be extravagant.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

3-20-11 John 11:55-57 The Wrong Kind of Seeking

55 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?” 57 But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.

(Pharisees in the Temple, Rembrandt)

Thoughts: In chapter 12 some Greeks came and said, "We would see Jesus."  Some look for His presence out of curiosity.  Some look for Him out of love- like a child longing for his father to come home.  Some look for His presence so that they might embarrass Him (as in these verses).  Many fight against God with all that they are, but they will not win in the end.  The Temple is the place where people came to seek God.  Many were looking for Jesus, even though they didn't believe He was the Messiah.  When we seek Jesus- it shoudl be seeking to worship Him.

Prayer: May my heart long for you, my soul thirst for you like in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 

John Calvin Abridged: The Evangelist wanted us to see that the fame of Christ had spread so that all in the Temple were looking for him after a human fashion.  Yet in seeking Him they discover that it is the tyranny of the priests that is preventing Him from coming. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

3/19/11 John 11:45-54 Reaction to Lazarus's resurrection

45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.  “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” 49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” 51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life. 54 Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.

(Jesus Raising Lazarus- Early Christian fresco in catacombs under Rome)

Thoughts: When the power of God is seen, a dividing point occurs: you believe or you turn away.  Here the ruling body of the Jews of that day not only turned away but sought a way to persecute Jesus so that they would keep their power.  So the Sanhedrin already prejudged Jesus.  They did not care that a resurrection took place.  It was evident that they were much more concerned about political power than the power of God.  In the end, every earthly power must bow to God's power.  So even Caiaphas, who took part in the crucifixion of Jesus, unknowingly prophesied His sacrificial death. Many believed and later would go in the Palm Sunday processional into Jerusalem saying, "Hosanna", but many would shout "Crucify." 

Prayer: Lord, let not me be enthralled with titles, with money, with fame.  Instead, give me a longing to please you above every earthly thing- whether I have much or little.

John Calvin Abridged:  Jesus allowed the miracle of Lazarus to bear fruit.  Miracles have a twofold use: to 1) prepare us for faith or 2) confirm us in our faith.  In contrast, how blind, mad, impious and ungrateful are those who accuse Christ.  The resurrection of Lazarus should have softened even hearts of stone.  But there is no work of God that impiety does not try to corrupt with poisonous bitterness. So, before miracles can bear fruit, hearts must be softened by God.  Those who have no fear of God will never acknowledge a miracle even if heaven and earth were merged together rejecting sound doctrine with impious ingratitude.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

3/18/11 John 11:41-44

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.

(Giotto di Bondone 1267-1337)

Thoughts: Jesus says that He knew God heard Him before he called for Lazarus to come out- meaning God made Lazarus alive before he came out.  Jesus even today prays for us.  He still calls us out of the grave of selfishness into the newness of life.  He calls us from the prison of death into the freedom of life.  He often calls us in the midst of our hopelessness- our disasters- our earthquakes- our losing battles into His hope of life. 

Prayer: Call me today, O Lord, to leave my selfishness and find freedom in service to you. 
John Calvin Commentary Abridged: Why didn't he raise all the dead?  The answer is found in the hidden purpose of God- enough miracles to confirm the gospel.  By not touching him but just reaching out to him, the power of God was more fully demonstrated.  The way the napkin and grave clothes are described, Lazarus went out of the tomb in the same way.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

("Resurrection of Lazarus" Jan Matejko d. 1867)

Thoughts: In Jewish thinking being dead four days meant the absolute dissolution of life.  Jesus had delayed his coming so that there would be no doubt Lazarus was really dead.  Jesus, however, was concentrating on God's glory (11:4,40) more than an instant fix.  In our culture, we want instant fixes more than God's glory.  We understand instant comfort a lot more than God's pattern of resurrection through death. 

Prayer: May I find in you, Lord, grace and patience; peace and purpose.  Help me to see that despite the odor of death around us, the hope of resurrection is nonetheless certain.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

3/17/11 St. Patrick and the Resurrection

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:23-26)

10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. (Philippians 3:10)

(Patrick of Ireland died 3/17/493 this is his gravemarker in Downpatrick)
Thoughts: "The Life and Acts of St. Patrick" says this about Patrick of Ireland: "For the blind and the lame, the deaf and the dumb, the palsied, the lunatic, the leprous, the epileptic, all who labored under any disease, did he in the Name of the Holy Trinity restore unto the power of their limbs and unto entire health; and in these good deeds was he daily practiced. Thirty and three dead men, some of whom had been many years buried, did this great reviver raise from the dead, as above we have more fully recorded." Dublin, Ireland is supposedly named after an Irish princess, Dublina, whom Patrick raised from the dead in the power and name of Christ.  See for more information on Patrick's miracles of resurrection.   Patrick admitted in his own words that he had performed miracles, but quickly noted that it was not by his ability, but by the power and grace of God.Jesus is raised from the dead and ascended to heaven; Patrick is buried in Downpatrick.  In our secular culture, we would prefer to think of Patrick as an excuse for drinking too much green beer, but Patrick was a courageous missionary who was used by God to convert a nation.  He is an example for us as he followed the example of Christ.

Prayer: May I know the power of your resurrection.  May your grace that gives life, give me hope.

Monday, March 14, 2011

3/15/11 I am the resurrection and the life John 11

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

(Lazarus Leon Bonnet 1857)

Thoughts: Martha believed.  But her belief was incomplete, limited by what she could think was possible.  In the midst of our crosses and death, it is hard to see the resurrection and hope.  Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  It is hard to see hope in a cross.  When 1.2 million acres of Yellowstone burned in 1988 it was hard to imagine life coming back even greener.  Yet the next year was the best year for wildflowers and new lodgepole pines ever, and animal and plant populations rebounded quickly.  There is also hope for restoration after the Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster.  The hope is not found in that it has rebounded before, or in the manners of the people- but in God.  God can be a refuge and strength- a very present source of help in trouble- so we do not need to fear the earthquake (Psalm 46).  Jesus is our resurrection and our life- so we should put our trust in Him.  He asks us- in the face of death (as He asked Martha): "Do you believe this?" 

Prayer: May I believe you are the resurrection and the life, Lord. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

3/14/11- Couldn't God Have Kept This From Happening? John 11:21,32,37

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

(The Resurrection of Lazarus by Henry Ossawa Tanner d. 1937)

Thoughts: Three times someone said to Jesus, "If you had been here you could have kept this from happening."  In a twisted way, this is faith.  In another way, it is angry faith.  Why didn't God prevent this good man from dying?  God had a further purpose in mind (God's glory- 11:4).   Why doesn't God ride into the rescue all the time and prevent earthquakes, hurricanes, nuclear disasters, tsunamis?  It would be ridiculous to answer this simply- yet the answer is left in the mystery of the purposes of God.  To complain that God did not perform a miracle to prevent tragedy, is a waste of breath and thought.  A more constructive thought would be to believe He is the resurrection and the life (11:25), and that He loves those who are hurting, sympathizing with their pain- as He did Lazarus's. 

Prayer: May those who wonder where you were, find your help and strength, O Lord.  Especially we pray for the people of Japan and Lybia this day.

John Calvin Abridged:  "Lord if you had been here"- The power of Christ ought not to have been limited to his bodily presence.  We show our ingratitude against God when we complain that He did not save us as we thought he ought.  If He does not grant all our wishes we immediately launch into complaints.  There are two dangers here: 1) We rashly desire what is expedient for us- subjecting God to the perverse desires of the flesh; 2) We are rude and impatient in our ardor. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

3/12/11- John 11:32-37 Jesus Wept

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

(Raising Lazarus- Rembrandt)

Thoughts: "Jesus wept" is the shortest yet one of the most profound verses in the Bible.  Christ wept, not because he had lost hope, but out of sympathy and out of his human friendship and love for Lazarus who went through this devastating sickness and death.  In this- Jesus shows us his humanity, but also his great divine compassion.  He sets an example for us to have weep with those who weep.  So we should have tender hearts toward the people weeping today in Egypt over the deaths of the Christian martyrs who died this week there; or Lybia whose country has divided into civil war; or Japan whose earthquake, tsunami, and now nuclear threat.  However, Jesus did not just weep, He did something about it.  So we should work to help, give, pray for those in need.

Prayer: You who wept, give me a tender heart to weep for those hurting today in Japan, Lybia, and others around me hurting.

John Calvin Abridged: Our passions can be sinful if they are without restraint.  God created us with affections, but in our sin they are often rebellious and out of control.  But Christ's weeping is enough to cast aside all the unbending sternness of Stoicism.

Friday, March 11, 2011

3/11/11 When the Earth Shakes

6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.  (Matthew 24:6-8)

 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since mankind has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. 19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. (Revelation 16:17-20)

Thoughts: Today one of the most powerful earthquakes (remeasured at 9.0 on the Richter scale) hit one of the most prepared places for an earthquake.  This is the fourth strongest earthquake since 1900 (when we started measuring such things)-and the strongest earthquake to ever hit Japan.  The earthquake that hit Indonesia and caused the tsunami that killed 230,000 was the same strength- measuring 9.0.  The January 2010 earthquake in Haiti was a 7.0; the earthquake in Chile in February 2010 was 8.8.  One commentator described it as a "disaster of biblical proportions."  Maybe the proportions were described in the passages above in Matthew 24 and Revelation 16- which speak of earthquakes coming at the end of human history- heralding the second coming of Christ.   In the past- as when the earthquake hit Israel in Amos' day- people turned back to God in repentance.  In our secular day- the strong temptation is to describe the earthquake by measuring damage, length, depth, scale but not asking the question, "why?".  For many secular folk this is an absurd question.  For Christians disasters are alarm clocks waking us up to our need to pray and call out to God.  However, Revelation describes a dreadful day when horror after horror; plague after plague; disaster after disaster comes yet people refuse to repent (Rev. 16:9,11).  Some will go on buying their IPAD2s as if nothing happened.  However, Lent is a natural time for repentance.  Let us call out to God for mercy and help for the people of Japan, and for mercy and help for us.

Prayer: Lord, have mercy; Christ have mercy; Lord have mercy on us.  Be a source of strength and a visible help to the people of Japan.  Strengthen the hands of your church there through this.

See link on devotion about a year ago written after Chilean earthquake:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

3/11/11 Jesus' Peril for Our Life

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”  12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.  14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”  16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

(Fresco inside Church in Bethany- "I am the resurrection and the life"- taken by the author). 

Thoughts: The disciples thought that to go back to Judea would mean death.  Jesus had just escaped from the ones in the Temple who were trying to kill Him (10:31).  Jesus knew that going to raise Lazarus would mean his eventual death.  Yet he went anyway.  His disciples were willing to go with Him.   In a similar way, Jesus comes to earth- at His own peril- in order to give us eternal life.  As His disciples, we are called to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Him (Lk. 9:23).  

Prayer: Thank you Lord, for your willingness to come to earth in order to raise us up.  May we have grace to sacrifice ourselves for others, following your great example. 

Lenten practice: Look to give a hand to someone who needs a hand up today- could be a stranger, or someone you don't know well. 

John Calvin Abridged:  The goodness of Christ is amazing that He was so patient with the disciples who were slow to understand what He was saying.  Lazarus was not asleep, but dead.  His power would be displayed less if he had given immediate assistance to Lazarus.  It is the same today: If God immediately stretches out His hand to help us, we do not perceive His assistance.  When we languish for a long time in our distress, it is to promote our salvation.  Thomas does not refuse to die with Christ, but should not have entertained fears of his own life.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 20113/10/11 Lent 2 John 11:1-10

1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

(The author and his brother, Mark Sloan, entering Church in Bethany (al Eizaraya) commemorating Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, as well as Jesus' anointing for death that took place here).

Thoughts; Everything changes after Lazarus. Many in Judea come to Him; His ministry takes a large upturn; The next thing is He enters Jerusalem with a crowd of supporters; but then the opposition gets fierce and He is killed; but then He is raised from the dead Himself in ultimate triumph. Jesus knew to go back to heal Lazarus into the same place where they threatened Him with stoning just a few days before would mean His death. Some even warned Him (v.s. 8). Jesus was determined to let His light shine despite the opposition. So during Lent, we should determine that the need for people to be helped is greater than our own sacrifice. Lent is not just giving up something, it is giving back to God by giving to someone else. As Jesus gave Himself for Lazarus (and ultimately for us on the cross), so we should take up our cross daily and follow Him.

Prayer: Lord, le my hope triumph over my fears. Let my love for you and neighbor triumph over those who would snuff out you and your hope.

Lenten Activity: What in your life has been dead for days and you are still keeping it around? What in your life is not only uninspiring but despiring? It could be a TV show that is full of gross thoughts. It could be some words you use; It could be some bad habit. Look to transform such things and redeem your time, sharpen your language (maybe even work on learning a new one); don't just give up the bad- replace it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

3/9/11 Ash Wednesday John 10:37-42 Claims of Jesus During Lent

37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

Thoughts: In some ways- this passage is the beginning of Lent, as Jesus retreated beyond the Jordan- and regrouped at the place where John Baptized him. This was similar to what Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, in which he prepared for his death. The people of Jerusalem had just tried to stone him and seize him, but he escaped twice (10:31,39). This was an indication of things to come. At the same time, Jesus’ works and words were bearing fruit. The people who were familiar with John the Baptist came to him, and remembered that John the Baptists had said he was the Messiah and the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn. 1:29). Jesus had done enough to indicate to those who were seeking the Messiah that He was the One. It is the same today. Jesus has done enough to prove to those who are open that He is the One who can provide hope and life for us. There always will be those who oppose Him.

Prayer: On this Ash Wednesday, Lord, may I remember that you were expelled from your own Temple. May I be inspired to be faithful to you for you were faithful unto death for me.

John Calvin Abridged: Jesus calls his miracles “the works of my Father” (vs. 37), and asks them to believe in Him because these miracles make his identity clear. “The Father is in me” indicates that he does nothing contrary to the Father (similar to His saying, “I and the Father are one”). Jesus withdrew beyond the Jordan to escape fighting to no advantage. The large crowd coming to Him indicates He was not seeking solitude, but to make a sanctuary that He could not have in His own Temple. The miracles and the testimony of John confirmed His authority.

Monday, March 7, 2011

3/8/11 John 7:19-24 Healing and the Law

19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” 
20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”
21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

(Circumcision of Isaac- Austrian cathedral)

Thoughts: Circumcision was a symbol of cleansing and healing.  It was a symbol of a covenant relationship between God and His people, and it was often done on the Sabbath.  The relationship with God broken by sin is healed by the covenant symbolized by circumcision.  Jesus knew that he would be killed for a false judgment.  They thought He was breaking Moses' Law by healing on the Sabbath, but healing and living are not incompatible with the Law of Moses.  They were judging, condemning, and eventually would arrest and crucify Christ over a misinterpretation of the Law.  So we must be careful to look at the heart of the Law and not just at the surface.  Jesus was not here rejecting the Law altogether- as some are want to do today.  He is simply interpreting the Law as compatible with healing and mercy.  The heart and healing of the Law is not to abolish the Law altogether, neither is it to legalistically keep every letter.  Jesus here affirms that everyone sins and therefore breaks the Law (19b), yet He does not eliminate the need for it.  The Law convicts us of sin- which leads us to God's mercy.  The Law also guides us to live the way we were designed to live.  But the heart of the Law is love for God and neighbor.  Love is a healing thing.  Healing and the Law are not incompatible- but agree with each other. 

Prayer: Lord, you are the heart of all truth, holiness, and law.  Help me to see things clearly through your eyes. 
John Calvin Abridged: The practice of circumcision was given in such a way that it was necessary to do even on the Sabbath day (the eighth day after birth sometimes fell on the Sabbath).   Yet, the command of the Sabbath is not violated in the works of God.  The works of God fit well with each other. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

3/7/11 John 7:14-18 Unexpected Teaching

14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”  16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

(Jesus teaching in the Temple)

Thoughts: Jesus shows his credentials as messiah not just because of his miracles, but also because of his teaching.  He taught like a famous rabbi without having attended a famous rabbinic school.  Jesus points out that He has God the Father's backing for His teaching, which enables Him to speak powerfully and wisely.  Some of the best preachers in America are not those who have had extensive seminary training- think Dwight L. Moody, Billy Sunday, Schoffield, Billy Graham.  Education teaches us many things- but sometimes limits our thinking.
Prayer: Lord, thank you that your wisdom is not limited to whom we expect.  Your power surprises us in unexpected places and people.
John Calvin Abridged: Christ undertook the office of a teaceher in a time in which teaching had been limited by tradition and corruption.  It was an astonishing proof of the power and grace of God that Christ, who had not been taught by any Master should teach so well.  Yet He was distinguished by His knowledge of the Scriptures not by studying under a scholar. Jesus claimed to be taught by God. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

3/6/11 John 7:10-13 Good or Fake?

10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?” 12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.

(Jewish Council James J. Tissot c. 1894)

Thoughts: The people were afraid of the leaders.  The leaders were putting people out of the synagogue who were following Jesus (9:22; 12:42).  The question about Jesus was "Is he good?"  of "Does he just appear to be good?" It is always a matter of faith in the end.  Will we put our trust in the goodness of the Lord, or do we think it is just a show?  We live in such a skeptical age, that many refuse to believe in any truly universal good.  It is good to be a little skeptical about human beings and their belief systems.  But we can be so skeptical that we eliminate faith, hope, and eventually true love altogether to our own detriment.   Our world today in the west is almost there: faithless, hopeless, loveless. Yet faith, hope, and love are available to us if we will just believe.

Prayer: In such a skeptical world, Lord, help me to put and keep my trust in you. 

John Calvin Abridged: At this time the only Church on earth was in chaos.  They gaped for their redemption like a hungry man- yet when Christ appears they remain in suspense.

Friday, March 4, 2011

3/5/11 John 7:1-9

1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him. 6 Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 8 You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.

(Jesus entering Jerusalem Palm Sunday- James J. Tissot 1894)

Thoughts: Jesus knew the more public He became, the more controversial he became.  When Jesus finally did have a public entrance into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) He was killed within the week.  People are always wanting God to hurry up and do something.  But God knows the future and the consequences of doing things too soon.  This is a bit like keeping a secret in our world full of gossip.  When the second generation Apple Ipad came out this week- there already had been hundreds of reviews generated just on the possibilities- but they had missed some stuff because they hadn't actually seen it.  Or perhaps its like watching a fireworks show waiting for the grand finale.  We want it to hurry up- but when that happens the rest of the show is gone.  So Jesus is waiting- for when He reveals Himself He will be persecuted and die. 
Prayer: Help me to wait on you Lord, and to trust in your timing and deliverance. 

John Calvin Abridged: There is no doubt that Jesus brethren (which could include cousins) were excited by ambition for him to become a celebrity. "His time had not yet come" may refer to when he goes to the feast more than to speak about his death.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

3/4/11 John 6:66-70 March Forth!

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

(James J. J. Tissot 1886-94- Jesus Teaching Disciples)

Thoughts: The old joke is today is "Noah's Day."  Noah after being in the ark forty days and nights with a bunch of animals.  God opened the door and Noah said, "March Forth!" 
Today we are looking at a passage in which some retreated from Jesus.  Jesus said one would betray Him.  He wanted His disciples to know this did not surprise Him.  But then Jesus asked if his disciples also wanted to desert Him.  They responded that He was the only place to go.  He responded, "Have I not chosen you the Twelve?"  They were standing firm on what they had come to believe and know- that Christ had the words of life.  In a time when many are deserting Christ out of rebellion ethically, morally, and theologically, Christ calls His elect to stand firm- knowing that He has the wods of eternal life.  But later Jesus would tell these twelve not just to sit there but to march forth!

Prayer: In a faithless age, help me to be faithful to you, Lord.  Give me energy to march forth in obedience to you.

John Calvin Abridged: After seeing many leave, Jesus directs his discourse to the twelve.  He encourages them to remain steady though they are a remnant that watched a multitude leave.  He confirms their faith and resolve by asking them this, so that they would not join in with the apostates. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

3/3/11 John 6:60-67 Leaving When It's Hard

60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

(Jesus alone by the Sea of Galilee)

Thoughts: The teaching of Jesus was not "hard" in the sense of difficult to understand, but "hard" in that it was difficult to accept (Greek "skleros").  Jesus was claiming his rightful title of divinity- being sent from God to them- not just as a propet but as the bread of life.  The problem with Christianity is not the intellectual problem, or even the moral excuses, but the claim that Christ is God.  This is the great turning away- not by the Pharisees, but by many who liked Jesus' power (the miracles), and liked Jesus' teaching about love and ethics, but did not believe his claim to be the source of life.   To be a lasting disciple means to believe Jesus- as Peter says, "has the words of eternal life."  Yet not long after this the twelve would leave as well- deserting him in the Garden. 
Prayer: Lord, give me grace to be strong and faithful to you in the hard times, when things are hard to understand, and even when many other desert you.

John Calvin Abridged:  It was in their heart and not in the saying that the harshness lay.  Whoever submits with true humility to Christ will not find his sayings disagreeable. This doctrine does not wound them as much as expose the putrid ulcer in their hearts.  Christ is veiled with humility at this point, but later his resurrection and ascension proves the doctrine he had just mentioned.  "The Spirit gives life" reminds us that without the Spirit we will not come to Him. Some say this sermon should not have been preached because it offended many.  But the doctrine of Christ, when truly preached, will be a stumbling block to many (Isa. 8:14).  We should rightly divide God's Word and not be dismayed by its offenses.  If it happens that many apostatize, let us not be disgusted at the word of God, because it is not relished by the reprobate.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2/30/11 John 6:52-59- Jesus the Main Ingredient to Life

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Thoughts:Jesus is the bread of life- meaning that He is the main ingredient to life.  For people in his day, the most common and stable food was bread.  Wihtout Jesus, we will miss the purpose and joy of life.  This is not talking about communion (or the eucharist), but about partaking of Christ symbolically.  Jesus was not telling them to take a bite out of his leg!  But He was encouraging them to make Him so much a part of them that they would live off of Him, find energy off of Him, work for Him.  Jesus is not a secondary ingredient- like icing on a cake.  He is the whole cake!

Prayer: May I find you to be my everything, O Lord.  May I live that way today.

John Calvin Abridged:  Though they despised him, this was the only place where life was found.  Souls feed on his flesh and blood in the same manner that the body feeds on food and drink.  Souls are famished without the sacrifice of Christ.