November 6, 2017 Bible Study — All I Know Is That I Was Blind But Now I See

I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The” for my daily Bible reading.

Today, I am reading and commenting on John 8-9.

    The story of the woman caught in adultery is not in the earliest manuscripts we have of the Gospel of John, so it likely was a later addition. Nevertheless it is consistent with the other things written about Jesus’ teaching and can teach us some useful lessons. Really the two prime lessons are closely linked. On the one hand, he tells the woman’s accusers that they are only qualified to punish her if they are not guilty of something similar. I like to imagine that after He told them this Jesus wrote in the dust various sins and as each person realized that they had done things which by the letter of the Law would justify them being where the woman was they dropped their stones and walked away. On the other hand, Jesus did not tell the woman, “Well your accusers are gone, go back to what you were doing.” No, He told her, “Go and sin no more.” The love and tolerance which Jesus calls us to have for sinners does not include telling them that it is OK to sin.

    When Jesus tells the crowd, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free,” the crowds denies ever being anything but free. However, Jesus points out to them that when you sin you become a slave to sin. This is a basic truth which we all struggle with. When we sin we become addicted to sinning. The only way to overcome that addiction is to allow the power of the Holy Spirit into our lives where it will direct our behaviors away from that addiction. The Holy Spirit will fill our lives with good behaviors which will displace the sin. As we allow ourselves to become “addicted” to doing good we will have less and less time in our lives to be tempted.

    I cannot leave today’s passage without writing about the story of Jesus healing the man born blind. In particular the contrast between the way the religious leaders reacted to his healing and his reaction. I know I have talked about this before, often, but it is one of those lessons about the Bible which my father taught me which still greatly influences my thoughts about God. The religious leaders questioned the man in an attempt to find something in his story which they could use to diminish Jesus’ role in his healing. Finally, they right out told the man that Jesus should not get credit for the healing because they knew that Jesus was a sinner (notice, they did not give any specific examples of what sins Jesus had committed, just declared that He was a sinner). The man’s response was, “Well, I don’t know anything about that. All I know is, I was blind and now I see!” When the man insisted that Jesus must be from God, the religious leaders dismissed his judgment since the fact that he was born blind indicates that he “must be a terrible sinner”. They never considered that the same logic which said the man must have been born blind because he was a sinner suggests that he was given sight because he had become righteous (I do not agree with the logic here, but the second follows the first). The religious leaders were so caught up in their own belief about how God acts that they were blinded to God acting in their midst. Let us ask God to open our eyes to what He is doing in the world around us.

November 5, 2017 Bible Study — “Eat My Flesh And Drink My Blood” Or “Come And Drink”

I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The” for my daily Bible reading.

Today, I am reading and commenting on John 6-7.

    John’s account of the Feeding of the Five Thousand contains a piece of information the other Gospels do not mention: the crowd He fed was about to declare Him king and start a revolt against Rome (the latter is not stated, but is implicit in declaring Jesus their king). When the crowd caught up with Jesus the following day, He began teaching that He was the bread of life. Taking part in Communion (or the Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper) is a reminder of, and a dedication to, fulfilling Jesus’ teaching about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. What Jesus is teaching us here is twofold. One element is that we must be willing to suffer similar to the way He suffered when He was crucified. The other element is that we must imitate what He did by caring for the needs of those around us. Latter in today’s passage Jesus expresses some of this meaning by speaking of giving Living Water to drink to those who come to Him.

    I believe that Jesus intended to call to mind the River of Healing which Ezekiel spoke about. As a result, my understanding of what He means by a River of Living Water is that He is referring to the way in which experiencing the love of God causes us to show love to those around us and their experiencing our love causes them to show love to those around them. However, the important point in Jesus’ teaching here which is not presented in Ezekiel’s vision, is that for this river of Living Water to continue to flow each person in the chain must become connected to the Source. While it is true that the results of loving action will be multiplied by the actions of those who experience it, that “water” of love will also become diluted and polluted the further it is downstream from God. The only way for it to stay fresh and pure is for each person in the chain to have a direct connection to God. This is why it is important to preach the Gospel along with doing good for those in need. We do not do good for those in need so that they will listen to the Gospel. However, we preach the Gospel for the same reason that we do good for those in need, because they need the Gospel in order to experience the joy which God intends for them.