Archive for March, 2013

honest conversation

There was mutterings amongst the ranks
The disciples – not just the 12 – but the greater mass were muttering

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’

They didn’t say it to Jesus directly. I am not suprised. We often do this don’t we – we reflect outloud and with others.

Jesus didn’t wait for them to come to him though.
Did He overhear? Did someone ‘leak’? Was there discernment from God? Or all three?

What we do know is

61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you?

Did He want to nip it in the bud? Or what?

What we do no is that Jesus didn’t pretend there wasn’t a problem. He didn’t stick His head in the sand. He didn’t get angry or go off in a huff.
No there was honest dialogue. He lost some fickle followers as a result, but was left with a core band – ever aware that there was one who would betray Him in that gang – and a few adherers. The start of a movement


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you are looking for me

Jesus sees the people
Jesus meets with them
He says to them

you are looking for me not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.

It’s rather an odd thing to have said.
First He seems unhappy that they were looking for signs, and now because they’d eaten and got a taste of Heaven.

But I’ve started to see this in a new way
I wonder if it is Jesus’ eyes

But I am starting to think Jesus could see their hunger – not for physical bread, not for more signs (for the signs themselves) but because they wanted more of what the Spirit was stirring , there was a hunger for the things of God.

I see compassion in Jesus
He give them (again) a taste, a glimpse, a partial explanation – they don’t get it but Jesus doesn’t give up on them, and explains more.


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direct speaking

Jn 6 22-end

John’s Gospel is – in some ways – tricky, certainly when trying to read it to see how Jesus saw people it doesn’t give many clues.
Here we have Jesus bombarded with questions, confronted with incredulity for what He was teaching, and a whole lot of grumbling.  Was He impatient with them? I’m not sure He was, but He was very direct.

Today in the church we often hedge our answers, grateful that anyone might show even a glimmer of interest in the ways of God, and if someone new arrives at church well …. ! This passage shows us Jesus isn’t quite like that. He sees that it’s a hard decision for some to follow Him, recognises their struggle, but tells them there is no other way … and loses s few. Do they come back? We never know. They might be amongst the first converts after the resurrection and pentecost – or not.

But what of Jesus’ view of people.
This passage just shows He continued to answer their questions, to challenge them, and to recognise that following Him was a hard decision.

An ah-ha moment for me was in the re-reading of this verse  For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Must have read the passage a thousand times, but I suddenly had a new glimpse – a lightbulb moment -of the connection between manna in the OT and Jesus.  At the moment I’m looking at how Jesus saw other people, but that lightbulb moment was a very real one for some of those who were listening to and watching Jesus that day. They saw Him in a very new light.



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don’t be afraid

“It is I; don’t be afraid.” says Jesus (Jn 6:20)

Fear is a real killer. It paralyses us. It makes us make odd and wrong choices. It is not from God.  Fear of the Lord is different. It’s a respect and awe thing. God is the Almighty. Nothing is too difficult for Him, and we know that He has our best interests at heart – even when we mess up He’s rooting for us to make a u-turn and get back on track.

Here Jesus tells his disciples “It is I; don’t be afraid.”
He sees their fear and puts it to rest.
His walk on water makes them fearful (and why wouldn’t it?) but their assurance comes in Jesus words. “It is I;”



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don’t look at me

Jn 6:1-15 is the account of feeding the 5000. A familiar story. What does is tell us about how Jesus saw people?

In one sense it doesn’t tell us much. John doesn’t fill in the gaps. He doesn’t tell us Jesus had compassion for the crowd. He doesn’t tell us he encouraged the disciples – though it’s clear that in one sense both are true.

What I see as I re-read this passage is Jesus not taking the limelight.  And in one sense though He does feed the crowds – each had their fill- but He also makes them hungry for more. What we can see from this account is Jesus ever faithful to the Father, letting Him set the agenda. The time is not yet ripe – so Jesus doesn’t want the crowds to force anything.  He doesn’t seem alarmed by them,  but just a realisation that this is what they would want, and that it can’t be that way. So he withdraws.

What I like most about this passage is the insightt we have about Jesus investing in the few. He doesn’t talk to the masses. He spends time with the twelve, and we are privy to the dialogue Jesus has with Philip and Andrew.  He sets them a puzzle and then lets them work things out for themselves. He doesn’t dismisss what they say – but sidesteps their realism (there isn’t enough money, there isn’t enough food!) – and takes what Andrew offers (the boys fish and barley loaves) and uses that to feed them all -Jesus and the disciples too.

I wonder too what they did with the left overs. John doesn’t tell us – but that Jesus didn’t want waste offers insight too. People were living in extreme poverty by today’s standards – the poor were all around, and there were lepers were on the fringes of society, dependent on handouts. We don’t know what Jesus arranged to happen to the baskets of bread, but I am fairly confident that others were fed on this miracle too.

Jesus knew who He was … but at this point He didn’t want attention drawn to Himself.

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The second half of Jn 5 is a bit perplexing in that it doesn’t really show us how Jesus saw people, rather we hear Him speak.The way John lets it run makes it sound almost like a rant – but I wonder if it’s more likely that Jesus is patiently trying to explain the seemingly unexplainable?

What I think we do see in Jn 5 is that Jesus saw beyond the surface but he didn’t ignore the surface either.

The Pharisees had seen Jesus heal the lame man on the sabbath. They had seen Jesus break the Law. And they confronted Him about it.  It is into that confrontation Jesus speaks … He has already told  them that He only sees what the Father sees  … in otherwords He tells the Pharisees I see you as Father God sees you and this is what he has shown me…

You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Jesus sees beyond the visible – to the heart of the matter.  It must have make the squirm,  because whenever we are ‘busted’ it makes us squirm!

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Do you want to get well?’

Jesus asks this question at the pool of Bethsida. It was a place of healing because of the properties of the waters there.

Do you want to get well?’
It’s a good question to ask …  but in one way it’s an odd place to start.  This was a place of healing. People gathered there to get healed. Or did they? Had the man Jesus spoken to forgotten why he was there? Had he got caught up in self-pity (‘I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.’), or was he caught up in the being there?

(I think going to worship services can be like that – going to church – we can forget what it is all about really. It becomes an end in itself, rather than a means of grace, a meeting point with God and with the people of God, but I digress …)

It’s easy to imagine what Jesus might have seen at the pool. But what we do know is that he “saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time” (Jn 5:6) … He saw the man, he learned (he inquired about him or of him, or had insight from God) and then he encouraged Him to pick up his mat and walk … and then Jesus slipped away into the crowds.

Passages like this raise so many questions
What of the others who were waiting for healing beside the pool?
What became of the man himself?

What the account does show was that Jesus saw the man, confronted the situation and made a difference – and then didn’t draw anymore attention to himself, He let the man tell and live his own story.

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