Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reflections on John 9

    John 09 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who had been blind since birth.
  2. Jesus' disciples asked, "Teacher, why was this man born blind? Was it because he or his parents sinned?"
  3. "No, it wasn't!" Jesus answered. "But because of his blindness, you will see God work a miracle for him.
  4. As long as it is day, we must do what the one who sent me wants me to do. When night comes, no one can work.
  5. While I am in the world, I am the light for the world."
  6. After Jesus said this, he spit on the ground. He made some mud and smeared it on the man's eyes.
  7. Then he said, "Go and wash off the mud in Siloam Pool." The man went and washed in Siloam, which means "One Who Is Sent." When he had washed off the mud, he could see.
  8. The man's neighbors and the people who had seen him begging wondered if he really could be the same man.
  9. Some of them said he was the same beggar, while others said he only looked like him. But he told them, "I am that man."
  10. "Then how can you see?" they asked.
  11. He answered, "Someone named Jesus made some mud and smeared it on my eyes. He told me to go and wash it off in Siloam Pool. When I did, I could see."
  12. "Where is he now?" they asked. "I don't know," he answered.
  13. The day when Jesus made the mud and healed the man was a Sabbath. So the people took the man to the Pharisees.
  14. (SEE 9:13)
  15. They asked him how he was able to see, and he answered, "Jesus made some mud and smeared it on my eyes. Then after I washed it off, I could see."
  16. Some of the Pharisees said, "This man Jesus doesn't come from God. If he did, he would not break the law of the Sabbath." Others asked, "How could someone who is a sinner work such a miracle?" Since the Pharisees could not agree among themselves,
  17. they asked the man, "What do you say about this one who healed your eyes?" "He is a prophet!" the man told them.
  18. But the Jewish leaders would not believe that the man had once been blind. They sent for his parents
  19. and asked them, "Is this the son that you said was born blind? How can he now see?"
  20. The man's parents answered, "We are certain that he is our son, and we know that he was born blind.
  21. But we don't know how he got his sight or who gave it to him. Ask him! He is old enough to speak for himself."
  22. The man's parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. The leaders had already agreed that no one was to have anything to do with anyone who said Jesus was the Messiah.
  23. (SEE 9:22)
  24. The leaders called the man back and said, "Swear by God to tell the truth! We know that Jesus is a sinner."
  25. The man replied, "I don't know if he is a sinner or not. All I know is that I used to be blind, but now I can see!"
  26. "What did he do to you?" the Jewish leaders asked. "How did he heal your eyes?"
  27. The man answered, "I have already told you once, and you refused to listen. Why do you want me to tell you again? Do you also want to become his disciples?"
  28. The leaders insulted the man and said, "You are his follower! We are followers of Moses.
  29. We are sure that God spoke to Moses, but we don't even know where Jesus comes from."
  30. "How strange!" the man replied. "He healed my eyes, and yet you don't know where he comes from.
  31. We know that God listens only to people who love and obey him. God doesn't listen to sinners.
  32. And this is the first time in history that anyone has ever given sight to someone born blind.
  33. Jesus could not do anything unless he came from God."
  34. The leaders told the man, "You have been a sinner since the day you were born! Do you think you can teach us anything?" Then they said, "You can never come back into any of our meeting places!"
  35. When Jesus heard what had happened, he went and found the man. Then Jesus asked, "Do you have faith in the Son of Man?"
  36. He replied, "Sir, if you will tell me who he is, I will put my faith in him."
  37. "You have already seen him," Jesus answered, "and right now he is talking with you."
  38. The man said, "Lord, I put my faith in you!" Then he worshiped Jesus.
  39. Jesus told him, "I came to judge the people of this world. I am here to give sight to the blind and to make blind everyone who can see."
  40. When the Pharisees heard Jesus say this, they asked, "Are we blind?"
  41. Jesus answered, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty. But now that you claim to see, you will keep on being guilty."

    It becomes increasingly clear that the rejection of Jesus by the religious leaders is not out of ignorance, but a willful choice for self-serving purposes. The occasion of Jesus' healing of this man who was blind from birth was another opportunity for those who rejected Jesus to also gain sight, but the refusal of these leaders to accept Jesus had become unreasonable. Rather than accept the obvious truth about this blind man's healing, the Pharisees were grasping at any other possible explanation for what had occurred. First they doubted that the man had really been blind, questioning his parents in this regard. Having rejected Jesus for less than honorable reasons, the Pharisees had found themselves backed into a corner. And as an animal that is cornered goes on the attack, so was the case with the Pharisees, accusing Jesus of being a sinner and the blind man of being born in sin. If they couldn't discredit the healing then they would discredit its source, claiming it came from Satan rather than God, which is the implication from the accusation of Jesus as a sinner.

    Jesus once stated that His coming would cause division, "For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." (Matt 10:35) His coming forces a decision upon all of us to either accept Him or reject Him. The choice we make will cause division, as was the case between the Pharisees and the followers of Jesus. But this choice concerning Jesus would also bring either sight or blindness based on our choice. Jesus said, "I came into this world . . . that those who do not see will see and those who do see will become blind." (9:39) Accepting Jesus as the Messiah will bring spiritual sight and rejecting Him will bring spiritual blindness even though one might think himself to have spiritual sight. Any religious practice that excludes Jesus from the equation is blind spiritually.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reflections on John 8

    John 08 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. but Jesus walked out to the Mount of Olives.
  2. Then early the next morning he went to the temple. The people came to him, and he sat down and started teaching them.
  3. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Moses brought in a woman who had been caught in bed with a man who wasn't her husband. They made her stand in the middle of the crowd.
  4. Then they said, "Teacher, this woman was caught sleeping with a man who isn't her husband.
  5. The Law of Moses teaches that a woman like this should be stoned to death! What do you say?"
  6. They asked Jesus this question, because they wanted to test him and bring some charge against him. But Jesus simply bent over and started writing on the ground with his finger.
  7. They kept on asking Jesus about the woman. Finally, he stood up and said, "If any of you have never sinned, then go ahead and throw the first stone at her!"
  8. Once again he bent over and began writing on the ground.
  9. The people left one by one, beginning with the oldest. Finally, Jesus and the woman were there alone.
  10. Jesus stood up and asked her, "Where is everyone? Isn't there anyone left to accuse you?"
  11. "No sir," the woman answered. Then Jesus told her, "I am not going to accuse you either. You may go now, but don't sin anymore."
  12. Once again Jesus spoke to the people. This time he said, "I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won't be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life."
  13. The Pharisees objected, "You are the only one speaking for yourself, and what you say isn't true!"
  14. Jesus replied: Even if I do speak for myself, what I say is true! I know where I came from and where I am going. But you don't know where I am from or where I am going.
  15. You judge in the same way that everyone else does, but I don't judge anyone.
  16. If I did judge, I would judge fairly, because I would not be doing it alone. The Father who sent me is here with me.
  17. Your Law requires two witnesses to prove that something is true.
  18. I am one of my witnesses, and the Father who sent me is the other one.
  19. "Where is your Father?" they asked. "You don't know me or my Father!" Jesus answered. "If you knew me, you would know my Father."
  20. Jesus said this while he was still teaching in the place where the temple treasures were stored. But no one arrested him, because his time had not yet come.
  21. Jesus also told them, "I am going away, and you will look for me. But you cannot go where I am going, and you will die with your sins unforgiven."
  22. The Jewish leaders asked, "Does he intend to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying we cannot go where he is going?"
  23. Jesus answered, "You are from below, but I am from above. You belong to this world, but I don't.
  24. That is why I said you will die with your sins unforgiven. If you don't have faith in me for who I am, you will die, and your sins will not be forgiven."
  25. "Who are you?" they asked Jesus. Jesus answered, "I am exactly who I told you at the beginning.
  26. There is a lot more I could say to condemn you. But the one who sent me is truthful, and I tell the people of this world only what I have heard from him."
  27. No one understood that Jesus was talking to them about the Father.
  28. Jesus went on to say, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, you will know who I am. You will also know that I don't do anything on my own. I say only what my Father taught me.
  29. The one who sent me is with me. I always do what pleases him, and he will never leave me."
  30. After Jesus said this, many of the people put their faith in him.
  31. Jesus told the people who had faith in him, "If you keep on obeying what I have said, you truly are my disciples.
  32. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
  33. They answered, "We are Abraham's children! We have never been anyone's slaves. How can you say we will be set free?"
  34. Jesus replied: I tell you for certain that anyone who sins is a slave of sin!
  35. And slaves don't stay in the family forever, though the Son will always remain in the family.
  36. If the Son gives you freedom, you are free!
  37. I know that you are from Abraham's family. Yet you want to kill me, because my message isn't really in your hearts.
  38. I am telling you what my Father has shown me, just as you are doing what your father has taught you.
  39. The people said to Jesus, "Abraham is our father!" Jesus replied, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do what Abraham did.
  40. Instead, you want to kill me for telling you the truth that God gave me. Abraham never did anything like that.
  41. But you are doing exactly what your father does." "Don't accuse us of having someone else as our father!" they said. "We just have one father, and he is God."
  42. Jesus answered: If God were your Father, you would love me, because I came from God and only from him. He sent me. I did not come on my own.
  43. Why can't you understand what I am talking about? Can't you stand to hear what I am saying?
  44. Your father is the devil, and you do exactly what he wants. He has always been a murderer and a liar. There is nothing truthful about him. He speaks on his own, and everything he says is a lie. Not only is he a liar himself, but he is also the father of all lies.
  45. Everything I have told you is true, and you still refuse to have faith in me.
  46. Can any of you accuse me of sin? If you cannot, why won't you have faith in me? After all, I am telling you the truth.
  47. Anyone who belongs to God will listen to his message. But you refuse to listen, because you don't belong to God.
  48. The people told Jesus, "We were right to say that you are a Samaritan and that you have a demon in you!"
  49. Jesus answered, "I don't have a demon in me. I honor my Father, and you refuse to honor me.
  50. I don't want honor for myself. But there is one who wants me to be honored, and he is also the one who judges.
  51. I tell you for certain that if you obey my words, you will never die."
  52. Then the people said, "Now we are sure that you have a demon. Abraham is dead, and so are the prophets. How can you say that no one who obeys your words will ever die?
  53. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?"
  54. Jesus replied, "If I honored myself, it would mean nothing. My Father is the one who honors me. You claim that he is your God,
  55. even though you don't really know him. If I said I didn't know him, I would be a liar, just like all of you. But I know him, and I do what he says.
  56. Your father Abraham was really glad to see me."
  57. "You are not even fifty years old!" they said. "How could you have seen Abraham?"
  58. Jesus answered, "I tell you for certain that even before Abraham was, I was, and I am."
  59. The people picked up stones to kill Jesus, but he hid and left the temple.

    John describes, in chapter 8, a heated exchange between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders. By this point in time Jeus was teaching daily in the temple complex and had a regular following. The religious leaders were being forced to make a decision about Jesus. They must either accept Him and His teaching or reject Him. But they couldn't simply try to discredit Him and throw Him out of the temple, denying Him access for His teaching. His claims about Himself were such that if they did not accept Him they must treat Him as a blasphemer of God which was punishable by death.

    The truth about Jesus will not be determined by logic or objective evidence. This does not mean there isn't evidence, but in our pursuit of evidence we will never be satisfied enough with our findings to draw a conclusion. The truth about Jesus can only be discerned spiritually. Jesus gave the key to spiritual discernment in the previous chapter, 7:17: "If anyone wants to do His will, he will understand whether the teaching is from God or if I am speaking on My own." It is through a desire to do God's will that we are able to gain spiritual discernment. This was the obstacle to an acceptance of Jesus by the Jewish leaders. They were more committed to their religious traditions than to doing God's will. And it was this commitment to tradition that kept them from accepting Jesus' claims.

    A claim of rejecting God for intellectual reasons is really just a smokescreen to cover the real reason. We are more committed to our will than to God's. Most of us realize that to accept the reality of God and His teachings might put us at odds with our preferred choices in life. The point we miss, or are unwilling to accept, is that God's choices for life bring much greater meaning and fulfillment in life than our own choices.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Reflections on John 7

    John 07 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Jesus decided to leave Judea and to start going through Galilee because the Jewish leaders wanted to kill him.
  2. It was almost time for the Festival of Shelters,
  3. and Jesus' brothers said to him, "Why don't you go to Judea? Then your disciples can see what you are doing.
  4. No one does anything in secret, if they want others to know about them. So let the world know what you are doing!"
  5. Even Jesus' own brothers had not yet become his followers.
  6. Jesus answered, "My time hasn't yet come, but your time is always here.
  7. The people of this world cannot hate you. They hate me, because I tell them that they do evil things.
  8. Go on to the festival. My time hasn't yet come, and I am not going."
  9. Jesus said this and stayed on in Galilee.
  10. After Jesus' brothers had gone to the festival, he went secretly, without telling anyone.
  11. During the festival the Jewish leaders looked for Jesus and asked, "Where is he?"
  12. The crowds even got into an argument about him. Some were saying, "Jesus is a good man," while others were saying, "He is lying to everyone."
  13. But the people were afraid of their leaders, and none of them talked in public about him.
  14. When the festival was about half over, Jesus went into the temple and started teaching.
  15. The leaders were surprised and said, "How does this man know so much? He has never been taught!"
  16. Jesus replied: I am not teaching something that I thought up. What I teach comes from the one who sent me.
  17. If you really want to obey God, you will know if what I teach comes from God or from me.
  18. If I wanted to bring honor to myself, I would speak for myself. But I want to honor the one who sent me. That is why I tell the truth and not a lie.
  19. Didn't Moses give you the Law? Yet none of you obey it! So why do you want to kill me?
  20. The crowd replied, "You're crazy! What makes you think someone wants to kill you?"
  21. Jesus answered: I worked one miracle, and it amazed you.
  22. Moses commanded you to circumcise your sons. But it wasn't really Moses who gave you this command. It was your ancestors, and even on the Sabbath you circumcise your sons
  23. in order to obey the Law of Moses. Why are you angry with me for making someone completely well on the Sabbath?
  24. Don't judge by appearances. Judge by what is right.
  25. Some of the people from Jerusalem were saying, "Isn't this the man they want to kill?
  26. Yet here he is, speaking for everyone to hear. And no one is arguing with him. Do you suppose the authorities know that he is the Messiah?
  27. But how could that be? No one knows where the Messiah will come from, but we know where this man comes from."
  28. As Jesus was teaching in the temple, he shouted, "Do you really think you know me and where I came from? I didn't come on my own! The one who sent me is truthful, and you don't know him.
  29. But I know the one who sent me, because I came from him."
  30. Some of the people wanted to arrest Jesus right then. But no one even laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.
  31. A lot of people in the crowd put their faith in him and said, "When the Messiah comes, he surely won't perform more miracles than this man has done!"
  32. When the Pharisees heard the crowd arguing about Jesus, they got together with the chief priests and sent some temple police to arrest him.
  33. But Jesus told them, "I will be with you a little while longer, and then I will return to the one who sent me.
  34. You will look for me, but you won't find me. You cannot go where I am going."
  35. The Jewish leaders asked each other, "Where can he go to keep us from finding him? Is he going to some foreign country where our people live? Is he going there to teach the Greeks?
  36. What did he mean by saying that we will look for him, but won't find him? Why can't we go where he is going?"
  37. On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and shouted, "If you are thirsty, come to me and drink!
  38. Have faith in me, and you will have life-giving water flowing from deep inside you, just as the Scriptures say."
  39. Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, who would be given to everyone that had faith in him. The Spirit had not yet been given to anyone, since Jesus had not yet been given his full glory.
  40. When the crowd heard Jesus say this, some of them said, "He must be the Prophet!"
  41. Others said, "He is the Messiah!" Others even said, "Can the Messiah come from Galilee?
  42. The Scriptures say that the Messiah will come from the family of King David. Doesn't this mean that he will be born in David's hometown of Bethlehem?"
  43. The people started taking sides against each other because of Jesus.
  44. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him.
  45. When the temple police returned to the chief priests and Pharisees, they were asked, "Why didn't you bring Jesus here?"
  46. They answered, "No one has ever spoken like that man!"
  47. The Pharisees said to them, "Have you also been fooled?
  48. Not one of the chief priests or the Pharisees has faith in him.
  49. And these people who don't know the Law are under God's curse anyway."
  50. Nicodemus was there at the time. He was a member of the council, and was the same one who had earlier come to see Jesus. He said,
  51. "Our Law doesn't let us condemn people before we hear what they have to say. We cannot judge them before we know what they have done."
  52. Then they said, "Nicodemus, you must be from Galilee! Read the Scriptures, and you will find that no prophet is to come from Galilee."
  53. Everyone else went home,

    The central issue regarding our understanding and relationship to God is our will. Do we desire to live out our own will or God's? We want to start with understanding. We want the things of God to make sense to us before we will accept them. But they will not make sense to us as long as we are committed to living life our own way - to doing our own will rather than God's. This is what was going on with people in regard to Jesus throughout the gospels. They knew He was not just an ordinary person, but was He who He claimed to be? If they accepted who He claimed to be they would have to make changes in their lives and in their religion. Had they truly wanted to do God's will, this would not have been an obstacle to accepting Jesus as the Messiah. But they were committed to following the religious traditions they had established rather than to doing God's will. Thus they could not accept Jesus or His teachings.

    Jesus, on the other hand, was committed to doing God's will. This meant that His time was not His own. It belonged to God. When His brothers wanted Him to go to Jerusalem with them for the Festival of Tabernacles He told them "My time has not yet arrived." (7:6) Since they were committed to themselves, their "time was always at hand." (7:6) Because Jesus was committed to doing God's will He could not fall in with business as usual in regard to religious traditions, for many of these traditions had moved away from God and His teaching. Thus He regularly found Himself at odds with the religious leaders.

    When Jesus finally showed up at the Festival of Tabernacles and began to teach, there was no doubt that He was very learned in the scriptures. But because His teaching was different from that of the religious leaders they were reluctant to accept Him as having spiritual authority. This put them at a quandry as to whether to accept Him for who He claimed to be or to arrest Him or even to kill him. Jesus told them that the solution to knowing whether His teaching was from God or not was the desire to do God's will. "If anyone wants to do His will, he will understand whether the teaching is from God or if I am speaking on My own." (7:17)

    The same is true for anyone. If we want to know whether Jesus' teachings were those of a man who was promoting himself or if they were from God, we will know the difference if we truly want to do the will of God. And if we truly want to do the will of God, we will conclude that Jesus was from God and that He is the source of life, and we will find His claim true that "The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him." (7:38)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Reflections on John 6

    John 06 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Jesus crossed Lake Galilee, which was also known as Lake Tiberias.
  2. A large crowd had seen him work miracles to heal the sick, and those people went with him.
  3. It was almost time for the Jewish festival of Passover, and Jesus went up on a mountain with his disciples and sat down.
  4. (SEE 6:3)
  5. When Jesus saw the large crowd coming toward him, he asked Philip, "Where will we get enough food to feed all these people?"
  6. He said this to test Philip, since he already knew what he was going to do.
  7. Philip answered, "Don't you know that it would take almost a year's wages just to buy only a little bread for each of these people?"
  8. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the disciples. He spoke up and said,
  9. "There is a boy here who has five small loaves of barley bread and two fish. But what good is that with all these people?"
  10. The ground was covered with grass, and Jesus told his disciples to have everyone sit down. About five thousand men were in the crowd.
  11. Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he passed the bread to the people, and he did the same with the fish, until everyone had plenty to eat.
  12. The people ate all they wanted, and Jesus told his disciples to gather up the leftovers, so that nothing would be wasted.
  13. The disciples gathered them up and filled twelve large baskets with what was left over from the five barley loaves.
  14. After the people had seen Jesus work this miracle, they began saying, "This must be the Prophet who is to come into the world!"
  15. Jesus realized that they would try to force him to be their king. So he went up on a mountain, where he could be alone.
  16. That evening, Jesus' disciples went down to the lake.
  17. They got into a boat and started across for Capernaum. Later that evening Jesus had still not come to them,
  18. and a strong wind was making the water rough.
  19. When the disciples had rowed for three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the water. He kept coming closer to the boat, and they were terrified.
  20. But he said, "I am Jesus! Don't be afraid!"
  21. The disciples wanted to take him into the boat, but suddenly the boat reached the shore where they were headed.
  22. The people who had stayed on the east side of the lake knew that only one boat had been there. They also knew that Jesus had not left in it with his disciples. But the next day
  23. some boats from Tiberias sailed near the place where the crowd had eaten the bread for which the Lord had given thanks.
  24. They saw that Jesus and his disciples had left. Then they got into the boats and went to Capernaum to look for Jesus.
  25. They found him on the west side of the lake and asked, "Rabbi, when did you get here?"
  26. Jesus answered, "I tell you for certain that you are not looking for me because you saw the miracles, but because you ate all the food you wanted.
  27. Don't work for food that spoils. Work for food that gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give you this food, because God the Father has given him the right to do so."
  28. "What exactly does God want us to do?" the people asked.
  29. Jesus answered, "God wants you to have faith in the one he sent."
  30. They replied, "What miracle will you work, so that we can have faith in you? What will you do?
  31. For example, when our ancestors were in the desert, they were given manna to eat. It happened just as the Scriptures say, 'God gave them bread from heaven to eat.' "
  32. Jesus then told them, "I tell you for certain that Moses wasn't the one who gave you bread from heaven. My Father is the one who gives you the true bread from heaven.
  33. And the bread that God gives is the one who came down from heaven to give life to the world."
  34. The people said, "Lord, give us this bread and don't ever stop!"
  35. Jesus replied: I am the bread that gives life! No one who comes to me will ever be hungry. No one who has faith in me will ever be thirsty.
  36. I have told you already that you have seen me and still do not have faith in me.
  37. Everything and everyone that the Father has given me will come to me, and I won't turn any of them away.
  38. I didn't come from heaven to do what I want! I came to do what the Father wants me to do. He sent me,
  39. and he wants to make certain that none of the ones he has given me will be lost. Instead, he wants me to raise them to life on the last day.
  40. My Father wants everyone who sees the Son to have faith in him and to have eternal life. Then I will raise them to life on the last day.
  41. The people started grumbling because Jesus had said he was the bread that had come down from heaven.
  42. They were asking each other, "Isn't he Jesus, the son of Joseph? Don't we know his father and mother? How can he say that he has come down from heaven?"
  43. Jesus told them: Stop grumbling!
  44. No one can come to me, unless the Father who sent me makes them want to come. But if they do come, I will raise them to life on the last day.
  45. One of the prophets wrote, "God will teach all of them." And so everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him will come to me.
  46. The only one who has seen the Father is the one who has come from him. No one else has ever seen the Father.
  47. I tell you for certain that everyone who has faith in me has eternal life.
  48. I am the bread that gives life!
  49. Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, and later they died.
  50. But the bread from heaven has come down, so that no one who eats it will ever die.
  51. I am that bread from heaven! Everyone who eats it will live forever. My flesh is the life-giving bread that I give to the people of this world.
  52. They started arguing with each other and asked, "How can he give us his flesh to eat?"
  53. Jesus answered: I tell you for certain that you won't live unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man.
  54. But if you do eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will have eternal life, and I will raise you to life on the last day.
  55. My flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink.
  56. If you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you are one with me, and I am one with you.
  57. The living Father sent me, and I have life because of him. Now everyone who eats my flesh will live because of me.
  58. The bread that comes down from heaven isn't like what your ancestors ate. They died, but whoever eats this bread will live forever.
  59. Jesus was teaching in a Jewish place of worship in Capernaum when he said these things.
  60. Many of Jesus' disciples heard him and said, "This is too hard for anyone to understand."
  61. Jesus knew that his disciples were grumbling. So he asked, "Does this bother you?
  62. What if you should see the Son of Man go up to heaven where he came from?
  63. The Spirit is the one who gives life! Human strength can do nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are from that life-giving Spirit.
  64. But some of you refuse to have faith in me." Jesus said this, because from the beginning he knew who would have faith in him. He also knew which one would betray him.
  65. Then Jesus said, "You cannot come to me, unless the Father makes you want to come. That is why I have told these things to all of you."
  66. Because of what Jesus said, many of his disciples turned their backs on him and stopped following him.
  67. Jesus then asked his twelve disciples if they were going to leave him.
  68. Simon Peter answered, "Lord, there is no one else that we can go to! Your words give eternal life.
  69. We have faith in you, and we are sure that you are God's Holy One."
  70. Jesus told his disciples, "I chose all twelve of you, but one of you is a demon!"
  71. Jesus was talking about Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. He would later betray Jesus, even though he was one of the twelve disciples.

    The events of this chapter mark a turning point in Jesus' earthly ministry. In the opening verses of the chapter we see the extent of His popularity among the people in that a crowd of approximately 10,000 people would follow Him into such a remote region. But the drawing card was His healing of the sick, which John again refers to as signs. The healings were not His primary ministry, but were merely signs to validate who He was. With this huge crowd gathered around Him Jesus performed an even greater miracle which was compared to Moses' feeding of the Israelites with manna during their wilderness travel. However, Jesus pointed out that it was not Moses who did this, but God.  From five barley loaves and two fish, Jesus fed this crowd with 12 filled baskets left over. John said that "When the people saw the sign He had done, they said, 'This really is the Prophet who was to come into the world!'" (6:14)  They didn't know who Jesus was, but they did recognize that He must at least be a prophet who had been foretold.

    After feeding the crowd, Jesus sent His disciples across the Sea of Galilee to the town of Capernaum. During the crossing a storm came up and Jesus joins the disciples by walking on the water. The next day the crowd went looking for Jesus and found Him in Capernaum. Those who had followed Him gathered with Him in the local synogogue where He began to tell them about Himself. This is the most significant event recorded in this chapter. In this discourse with the people Jesus told them not to work for the food that perishes, such as the food He gave them the day before. They should seek the "food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you." (6:27) Then Jesus told them, "'I am the bread of life.'" 'No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.'" (6:35) Furthermore, Jesus said, "'I assure you: Anyone who believes has eternal life.'" (6:47)

    With Jesus' disclosure that He was the One God had sent to be the bread of life, the people asked, "What sign then are You going to do so we may see and believe You?" (6:30) Those who insist on seeing to believe will never be satisfied that they have seen enough. These people had seen Jesus miraculously feed the crowd the day before and yet they are now asking for a sign that they can believe He is who He said He is. This is backwards. We do not see to believe, but believe to see. If we will take Jesus at His word, based on the evidence we already have, more will be revealed to us. At this point the crowd began saying, "This teaching is hard! Who can accept it?" (6:60) So they began leaving Jesus. John tells us "From that moment many of His disciples turned back and no longer accompanied Him." (6:66)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reflections on John 5

    John 05 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Later, Jesus went to Jerusalem for another Jewish festival.
  2. In the city near the sheep gate was a pool with five porches, and its name in Hebrew was Bethzatha.
  3. Many sick, blind, lame, and crippled people were lying close to the pool.
  4. (SEE 5:3)
  5. Beside the pool was a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years.
  6. When Jesus saw the man and realized that he had been crippled for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to be healed?"
  7. The man answered, "Lord, I don't have anyone to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up. I try to get in, but someone else always gets there first."
  8. Jesus told him, "Pick up your mat and walk!"
  9. Right then the man was healed. He picked up his mat and started walking around. The day on which this happened was a Sabbath.
  10. When the Jewish leaders saw the man carrying his mat, they said to him, "This is the Sabbath! No one is allowed to carry a mat on the Sabbath."
  11. But he replied, "The man who healed me told me to pick up my mat and walk."
  12. They asked him, "Who is this man that told you to pick up your mat and walk?"
  13. But he did not know who Jesus was, and Jesus had left because of the crowd.
  14. Later, Jesus met the man in the temple and told him, "You are now well. But don't sin anymore or something worse might happen to you."
  15. The man left and told the leaders that Jesus was the one who had healed him.
  16. They started making a lot of trouble for Jesus because he did things like this on the Sabbath.
  17. But Jesus said, "My Father has never stopped working, and that is why I keep on working."
  18. Now the leaders wanted to kill Jesus for two reasons. First, he had broken the law of the Sabbath. But even worse, he had said that God was his Father, which made him equal with God.
  19. Jesus told the people: I tell you for certain that the Son cannot do anything on his own. He can do only what he sees the Father doing, and he does exactly what he sees the Father do.
  20. The Father loves the Son and has shown him everything he does. The Father will show him even greater things, and you will be amazed.
  21. Just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants to.
  22. The Father doesn't judge anyone, but he has made his Son the judge of everyone.
  23. The Father wants all people to honor the Son as much as they honor him. When anyone refuses to honor the Son, that is the same as refusing to honor the Father who sent him.
  24. I tell you for certain that everyone who hears my message and has faith in the one who sent me has eternal life and will never be condemned. They have already gone from death to life.
  25. I tell you for certain that the time will come, and it is already here, when all of the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen to it will live!
  26. The Father has the power to give life, and he has given that same power to the Son.
  27. And he has given his Son the right to judge everyone, because he is the Son of Man.
  28. Don't be surprised! The time will come when all of the dead will hear the voice of the Son of Man,
  29. and they will come out of their graves. Everyone who has done good things will rise to life, but everyone who has done evil things will rise and be condemned.
  30. I cannot do anything on my own. The Father sent me, and he is the one who told me how to judge. I judge with fairness, because I obey him, and I don't just try to please myself.
  31. If I speak for myself, there is no way to prove I am telling the truth.
  32. But there is someone else who speaks for me, and I know what he says is true.
  33. You sent messengers to John, and he told them the truth.
  34. I don't depend on what people say about me, but I tell you these things so that you may be saved.
  35. John was a lamp that gave a lot of light, and you were glad to enjoy his light for a while.
  36. But something more important than John speaks for me. I mean the things that the Father has given me to do! All of these speak for me and prove that the Father sent me.
  37. The Father who sent me also speaks for me, but you have never heard his voice or seen him face to face.
  38. You have not believed his message, because you refused to have faith in the one he sent.
  39. You search the Scriptures, because you think you will find eternal life in them. The Scriptures tell about me,
  40. but you refuse to come to me for eternal life.
  41. I don't care about human praise,
  42. but I do know that none of you love God.
  43. I have come with my Father's authority, and you have not welcomed me. But you will welcome people who come on their own.
  44. How could you possibly believe? You like to have your friends praise you, and you don't care about praise that the only God can give!
  45. Don't think that I will be the one to accuse you to the Father. You have put your hope in Moses, yet he is the very one who will accuse you.
  46. Moses wrote about me, and if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me.
  47. But if you don't believe what Moses wrote, how can you believe what I say?

    Though the chapter begins with Jesus healing a man who had a long-time illness that left him paralyzed, the real focus of the chapter is his conversation with the Jewish leaders. Jesus' healing of those with physical problems only serves as a sign of who He is, but it is not about the healing. Many get caught up in the physical healing as if Jesus' main work is to make everyone healthy. But Jesus didn't even make everyone healthy during His earthly ministry. On this occasion He seemed to select a man at random, out of the many at the well, and healed only him.

    But Jesus told the Jewish leaders that He has greater works to perform that the healing of people's infirmities. In part, these greater works include the raising of the dead. But neither is this the main work that Jesus came to do. During His earthly ministry He raised only a very few from the dead. As with the healings He did, raising the dead served as a sign of His power to do His main work. Jesus pointed to His main work in verse 24: "I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life." This is what Jesus is all about. Everything else is peripheral.

    Is it not better to go through life with a physical infirmity and have eternal life than to be fully healthy and to have life end with death? Is it not better to have a life that has meaning and is fulfilling and full of joy, though with limitations physically, than to be completely healthy physically but sick in spirit and a life that is miserable? Jesus promises us an abundant life, not a healthy one. But we must be clear in our understanding and acceptance that all God has to offer comes through His son, Jesus Christ. As Jesus told these religious leaders, "You don't have His (God's) word living in you, because you don't believe the One (Jesus) He sent." (5:38)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Reflections on John 4

    John 04 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Jesus knew that the Pharisees had heard that he was winning and baptizing more followers than John was.
  2. But Jesus' disciples were really the ones doing the baptizing, and not Jesus himself.
  3. Jesus left Judea and started for Galilee again.
  4. This time he had to go through Samaria,
  5. and on his way he came to the town of Sychar. It was near the field that Jacob had long ago given to his son Joseph.
  6. The well that Jacob had dug was still there, and Jesus sat down beside it because he was tired from traveling. It was noon, and after Jesus' disciples had gone into town to buy some food, a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well. Jesus asked her, "Would you please give me a drink of water?"
  7. (SEE 4:6)
  8. (SEE 4:6)
  9. "You are a Jew," she replied, "and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink of water when Jews and Samaritans won't have anything to do with each other?"
  10. Jesus answered, "You don't know what God wants to give you, and you don't know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would ask me for the water that gives life."
  11. "Sir," the woman said, "you don't even have a bucket, and the well is deep. Where are you going to get this life-giving water?
  12. Our ancestor Jacob dug this well for us, and his family and animals got water from it. Are you greater than Jacob?"
  13. Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again.
  14. But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life."
  15. The woman replied, "Sir, please give me a drink of that water! Then I won't get thirsty and have to come to this well again."
  16. Jesus told her, "Go and bring your husband."
  17. The woman answered, "I don't have a husband." "That's right," Jesus replied, "you're telling the truth. You don't have a husband. You have already been married five times, and the man you are now living with isn't your husband."
  18. (SEE 4:17)
  19. The woman said, "Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.
  20. My ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say Jerusalem is the only place to worship."
  21. Jesus said to her: Believe me, the time is coming when you won't worship the Father either on this mountain or in Jerusalem.
  22. You Samaritans don't really know the one you worship. But we Jews do know the God we worship, and by using us, God will save the world.
  23. But a time is coming, and it is already here! Even now the true worshipers are being led by the Spirit to worship the Father according to the truth. These are the ones the Father is seeking to worship him.
  24. God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth.
  25. The woman said, "I know that the Messiah will come. He is the one we call Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."
  26. "I am that one," Jesus told her, "and I am speaking to you now."
  27. The disciples returned about this time and were surprised to find Jesus talking with a woman. But none of them asked him what he wanted or why he was talking with her.
  28. The woman left her water jar and ran back into town. She said to the people,
  29. "Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Could he be the Messiah?"
  30. Everyone in town went out to see Jesus.
  31. While this was happening, Jesus' disciples were saying to him, "Teacher, please eat something."
  32. But Jesus told them, "I have food that you don't know anything about."
  33. His disciples started asking each other, "Has someone brought him something to eat?"
  34. Jesus said: My food is to do what God wants! He is the one who sent me, and I must finish the work that he gave me to do.
  35. You may say that there are still four months until harvest time. But I tell you to look, and you will see that the fields are ripe and ready to harvest.
  36. Even now the harvest workers are receiving their reward by gathering a harvest that brings eternal life. Then everyone who planted the seed and everyone who harvests the crop will celebrate together.
  37. So the saying proves true, "Some plant the seed, and others harvest the crop."
  38. I am sending you to harvest crops in fields where others have done all the hard work.
  39. A lot of Samaritans in that town put their faith in Jesus because the woman had said, "This man told me everything I have ever done."
  40. They came and asked him to stay in their town, and he stayed on for two days.
  41. Many more Samaritans put their faith in Jesus because of what they heard him say.
  42. They told the woman, "We no longer have faith in Jesus just because of what you told us. We have heard him ourselves, and we are certain that he is the Savior of the world!"
  43. Jesus had said, "Prophets are honored everywhere, except in their own country." Then two days later he left
  44. (SEE 4:43)
  45. and went to Galilee. The people there welcomed him, because they had gone to the festival in Jerusalem and had seen everything he had done.
  46. While Jesus was in Galilee, he returned to the village of Cana, where he had turned the water into wine. There was an official in Capernaum whose son was sick.
  47. And when the man heard that Jesus had come from Judea, he went and begged him to keep his son from dying.
  48. Jesus told the official, "You won't have faith unless you see miracles and wonders!"
  49. The man replied, "Lord, please come before my son dies!"
  50. Jesus then said, "Your son will live. Go on home to him." The man believed Jesus and started back home.
  51. Some of the official's servants met him along the road and told him, "Your son is better!"
  52. He asked them when the boy got better, and they answered, "The fever left him yesterday at one o'clock."
  53. The boy's father realized that at one o'clock the day before, Jesus had told him, "Your son will live!" So the man and everyone in his family put their faith in Jesus.
  54. This was the second miracle that Jesus worked after he left Judea and went to Galilee.

    Many people withhold faith in God or in Jesus Christ as the way of salvation until they can sort it out intellectually. This could only mean that they want hard evidence that there is a God or that Jesus really was and is who He claimed to be. But in this expectation they are rejecting much profound evidence that God has provided as to His existence and the truth of Jesus Christ. People simply choose to credit other causes to God's evidence or discredit it altogether. No other evidence will be given. Either we accept what God has provided or we reject Him. It is our choice.

    In this chapter of John's gospel Jesus encountered two different people who were unbelievers. Not that they were atheistic, for they believed in God, but they were not believers in Jesus as the Messiah and as their means in coming to God. Though Jesus was physically present to these two individuals, He did not offer them undeniable evidence of His identity. The first person, the Samaritan woman, had evidently not heard of Jesus nor of His reputation for miracles of healing. To her He offered evidence of His identity by telling her, a stranger to him, about herself. Certainly not irrefutable evidence since He might have learned this information from other sources. Jesus also told her more directly than we know of Him telling anyone else, that He was the Messiah. The rest was up to her. She had to fill the remaining gap toward belief with faith. And that she did.

    The second individual Jesus encountered was a "royal official" from Capernaum. He had heard of Jesus' miracles of healing and that Jesus was in Galilee, and since his son was dying, he went to Jesus for healing of his son. Jesus did not cater to him, despite his position of authority. First, Jesus challenged his faith saying, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe." (4:48) But the man was not interested in a theological debate. His son was dying and Jesus was his only hope. This, more than the presence of hard evidence, will cause a person to reach out to Jesus. He is their last hope. Jesus then presented the man with a delimma. Did he really believe Jesus could heal his son? If so, he would return home without Jesus going with him physically, accepting that his son would be healed. The man had never seen Jesus heal, he only knew of His reputation. Meeting Jesus in person, he had only Jesus' words, no further evidence was given him. Now he must choose. Believe or not believe. Return home as instructed, keep insisting that Jesus go with him, or simply give up hope for his son. He chose to return home, as Jesus told him to, believeing that his son would be healed.

    Since most of us are not faced with the immediacy of our crises, as was the official who came to Jesus, we think we have the leisure of weighing the evidence or weighing our options until a later time. We do not consider our choice of belief a matter of urgency or of great importance. But life and death hang in the balance over this choice. Life is dependent on this choice of faith if it is to have meaning, true joy, and fulfillment. Death is dependent on it if death is to be a transition to life eternal or death eternal.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Reflections on John 3

    John 03 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. There was a man named Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a Jewish leader.
  2. One night he went to Jesus and said, "Sir, we know that God has sent you to teach us. You could not work these miracles, unless God were with you."
  3. Jesus replied, "I tell you for certain that you must be born from above before you can see God's kingdom!"
  4. Nicodemus asked, "How can a grown man ever be born a second time?"
  5. Jesus answered: I tell you for certain that before you can get into God's kingdom, you must be born not only by water, but by the Spirit.
  6. Humans give life to their children. Yet only God's Spirit can change you into a child of God.
  7. Don't be surprised when I say that you must be born from above.
  8. Only God's Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going.
  9. "How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.
  10. Jesus replied: How can you be a teacher of Israel and not know these things?
  11. I tell you for certain that we know what we are talking about because we have seen it ourselves. But none of you will accept what we say.
  12. If you don't believe when I talk to you about things on earth, how can you possibly believe if I talk to you about things in heaven?
  13. No one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from there.
  14. And the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as that metal snake was lifted up by Moses in the desert.
  15. Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life.
  16. God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.
  17. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them!
  18. No one who has faith in God's Son will be condemned. But everyone who doesn't have faith in him has already been condemned for not having faith in God's only Son.
  19. The light has come into the world, and people who do evil things are judged guilty because they love the dark more than the light.
  20. People who do evil hate the light and won't come to the light, because it clearly shows what they have done.
  21. But everyone who lives by the truth will come to the light, because they want others to know that God is really the one doing what they do.
  22. Later, Jesus and his disciples went to Judea, where he stayed with them for a while and was baptizing people.
  23. John had not yet been put in jail. He was at Aenon near Salim, where there was a lot of water, and people were coming there for John to baptize them.
  24. (SEE 3:23)
  25. John's followers got into an argument with a Jewish man about a ceremony of washing.
  26. They went to John and said, "Rabbi, you spoke about a man when you were with him east of the Jordan. He is now baptizing people, and everyone is going to him."
  27. John replied: No one can do anything unless God in heaven allows it.
  28. You surely remember how I told you that I am not the Messiah. I am only the one sent ahead of him.
  29. At a wedding the groom is the one who gets married. The best man is glad just to be there and to hear the groom's voice. That's why I am so glad.
  30. Jesus must become more important, while I become less important.
  31. God's Son comes from heaven and is above all others. Everyone who comes from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all others.
  32. He speaks about what he has seen and heard, and yet no one believes him.
  33. But everyone who does believe him has shown that God is truthful.
  34. The Son was sent to speak God's message, and he has been given the full power of God's Spirit.
  35. The Father loves the Son and has given him everything.
  36. Everyone who has faith in the Son has eternal life. But no one who rejects him will ever share in that life, and God will be angry with them forever.

    Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus, a religious leader in Israel, points out that simply being religious does not dispel one's darkness. As He told Nicodemus, we are born physically into darkness. Physically we have no power to change our condition. However, through spiritual birth our darkness is dispelled with light and we are able to see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus was confused by this, for how could a person be born again? Jesus explained to him that this spiritual birth happened through faith in the "Son of Man," that is in Jesus, as the way of salvation.

    To help Nicodemus (and us) understand, Jesus compared it to a historical event with which Nicodemus would be very familiar. When the Israelites were wondering through the desert during their exodus, God punished their sin at one point by sending poisonous snakes. But God also provided a means of escaping death if bitten by a snake. He had Moses place the image of a snake on a pole above the Israelite camp. If one were bitten by a snake he could look up to that image and would not die from the bite. They were therefore placing their faith in the means God had provided for their salvation. So it is with being reborn spiritually. God has provided Jesus as a means of being born spiritually, and if we will lift him up as the means, as Moses did the image of the snake, and look to Him as the means, we will be reborn spiritually.

    There is no neutral ground, however. Jesus made it clear to Nicodemus that failure to believe in Jesus as the way of salvation will result in judgement. We perish unless we believe in Him. Jesus also pointed out that failure to choose Him as the way of salvation is not due to ignorance, but is rather a willful choice. It is because one prefers darkness to light. They do not wish their deeds to be exposed to the light. They do not want to live by the truth. But God does not want anyone to perish or to live in darkness. He wants everyone to have eternal life and to live by truth which sets us free. Therefore He gave His Only Son, Jesus, as a means of salvation for us. But we must choose to believe in Him. We must lift Him up as our way of salvation. Otherwise we remain in our darkness and perish.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Reflections on John 2

    John 02 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Three days later Mary, the mother of Jesus, was at a wedding feast in the village of Cana in Galilee.
  2. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited and were there.
  3. When the wine was all gone, Mary said to Jesus, "They don't have any more wine."
  4. Jesus replied, "Mother, my time hasn't yet come! You must not tell me what to do."
  5. Mary then said to the servants, "Do whatever Jesus tells you to do."
  6. At the feast there were six stone water jars that were used by the people for washing themselves in the way that their religion said they must. Each jar held about twenty or thirty gallons.
  7. Jesus told the servants to fill them to the top with water. Then after the jars had been filled,
  8. he said, "Now take some water and give it to the man in charge of the feast." The servants did as Jesus told them,
  9. and the man in charge drank some of the water that had now turned into wine. He did not know where the wine had come from, but the servants did. He called the bridegroom over
  10. and said, "The best wine is always served first. Then after the guests have had plenty, the other wine is served. But you have kept the best until last!"
  11. This was Jesus' first miracle, and he did it in the village of Cana in Galilee. There Jesus showed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
  12. After this, he went with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples to the town of Capernaum, where they stayed for a few days.
  13. Not long before the Jewish festival of Passover, Jesus went to Jerusalem.
  14. There he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves in the temple. He also saw moneychangers sitting at their tables.
  15. So he took some rope and made a whip. Then he chased everyone out of the temple, together with their sheep and cattle. He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and scattered their coins.
  16. Jesus said to the people who had been selling doves, "Get those doves out of here! Don't make my Father's house a marketplace."
  17. The disciples then remembered that the Scriptures say, "My love for your house burns in me like a fire."
  18. The Jewish leaders asked Jesus, "What miracle will you work to show us why you have done this?"
  19. "Destroy this temple," Jesus answered, "and in three days I will build it again!"
  20. The leaders replied, "It took forty-six years to build this temple. What makes you think you can rebuild it in three days?"
  21. But Jesus was talking about his body as a temple.
  22. And when he was raised from death, his disciples remembered what he had told them. Then they believed the Scriptures and the words of Jesus.
  23. In Jerusalem during Passover many people put their faith in Jesus, because they saw him work miracles.
  24. But Jesus knew what was in their hearts, and he would not let them have power over him.
  25. No one had to tell him what people were like. He already knew.

    John, in chapter 2 of his gospel, records Jesus' first miracle - the turning of water into wine at the marriage feast. John referred to this miracle as a sign, giving it greater significance than merely solving a delimma for those in charge of the feast. Besides referring to the miracle as a sign, John said Jesus "displayed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him." (2:11) No doubt, this, at least in part, was a purpose of the sign provided by the miracle - a validation of who Jesus was.

    After spending a few days in Capernaum following the wedding feast, Jesus went to Jerusalem for the approaching Passover celebration. When He say the profiteers set up in the temple complex with their price gouging of the pilgrims coming to Jerusalem for the observance of Passover, Jesus shut them down. The Jews asked Him, "What sign of authority will You show us for doing these things?" (2:18) Here I believe we see a connection between this event and John's reference of the miracle at the wedding feast as a sign. Jesus' miracles, while benefiting those for whom they were performed, primarily served as signs of His divine authority. These Jews were looking for some such validation, but none was provided them at this point in time. However, in the following days, as verse 23 points out, those signs were provided. Many people "trusted in His name" as a result of these miraculous signs. There is a difference, however, between trusting in His name and entrusting oneself to Jesus. Jesus did not entrust Himself to them likely because they had not entrusted themselves to Him.

    We are very prone to think that if God would only do this or do that we would believe in Him. Or if He would do special things for others they would believe in Him. But scripture makes plain that those who require signs to believe do not believe even when they have the signs. If we do not have a desire to believe in God and entrust ourselves to Him we can always find other explanations for the signs that would otherwise point us to Him. A prime example is the parable of the rich man who died and found himself in "torment in Hades." (Luke 16:23) Seeing Abraham, who was in heaven, the rich man asked that the poor man Lazarus, who had also died, be sent back from the dead to go to his father's house so his five brothers could be warned about this torment in Hades. But Abraham told him, "If they don't listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead." (Luke 16:31)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Reflections on John 1

    John 01 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God.
  2. From the very beginning the Word was with God.
  3. And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word. Everything that was created
  4. received its life from him, and his life gave light to everyone.
  5. The light keeps shining in the dark, and darkness has never put it out.
  6. God sent a man named John,
  7. who came to tell about the light and to lead all people to have faith.
  8. John wasn't that light. He came only to tell about the light.
  9. The true light that shines on everyone was coming into the world.
  10. The Word was in the world, but no one knew him, though God had made the world with his Word.
  11. He came into his own world, but his own nation did not welcome him.
  12. Yet some people accepted him and put their faith in him. So he gave them the right to be the children of God.
  13. They were not God's children by nature or because of any human desires. God himself was the one who made them his children.
  14. The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us.
  15. John spoke about him and shouted, "This is the one I told you would come! He is greater than I am, because he was alive before I was born."
  16. Because of all that the Son is, we have been given one blessing after another.
  17. The Law was given by Moses, but Jesus Christ brought us undeserved kindness and truth.
  18. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is truly God and is closest to the Father, has shown us what God is like.
  19. The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and temple helpers to ask John who he was. He told them plainly, "I am not the Messiah."
  20. (SEE 1:19)
  21. Then when they asked him if he were Elijah, he said, "No, I am not!" And when they asked if he were the Prophet, he also said "No!"
  22. Finally, they said, "Who are you then? We have to give an answer to the ones who sent us. Tell us who you are!"
  23. John answered in the words of the prophet Isaiah, "I am only someone shouting in the desert, 'Get the road ready for the Lord!' "
  24. Some Pharisees had also been sent to John.
  25. They asked him, "Why are you baptizing people, if you are not the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet?"
  26. John told them, "I use water to baptize people. But here with you is someone you don't know.
  27. Even though I came first, I am not good enough to untie his sandals."
  28. John said this as he was baptizing east of the Jordan River in Bethany.
  29. The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said: Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
  30. He is the one I told you about when I said, "Someone else will come. He is greater than I am, because he was alive before I was born."
  31. I didn't know who he was. But I came to baptize you with water, so that everyone in Israel would see him.
  32. I was there and saw the Spirit come down on him like a dove from heaven. And the Spirit stayed on him.
  33. Before this I didn't know who he was. But the one who sent me to baptize with water had told me, "You will see the Spirit come down and stay on someone. Then you will know that he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit."
  34. I saw this happen, and I tell you that he is the Son of God.
  35. The next day, John was there again, and two of his followers were with him.
  36. When he saw Jesus walking by, he said, "Here is the Lamb of God!"
  37. John's two followers heard him, and they went with Jesus.
  38. When Jesus turned and saw them, he asked, "What do you want?" They answered, "Rabbi, where do you live?" The Hebrew word "Rabbi" means "Teacher."
  39. Jesus replied, "Come and see!" It was already about four o'clock in the afternoon when they went with him and saw where he lived. So they stayed on for the rest of the day.
  40. One of the two men who had heard John and had gone with Jesus was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter.
  41. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother and tell him, "We have found the Messiah!" The Hebrew word "Messiah" means the same as the Greek word "Christ."
  42. Andrew brought his brother to Jesus. And when Jesus saw him, he said, "Simon son of John, you will be called Cephas." This name can be translated as "Peter."
  43. The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. There he met Philip, who was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter. Jesus said to Philip, "Come with me."
  44. (SEE 1:43)
  45. Philip then found Nathanael and said, "We have found the one that Moses and the Prophets wrote about. He is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth."
  46. Nathanael asked, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Philip answered, "Come and see."
  47. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said, "Here is a true descendant of our ancestor Israel. And he isn't deceitful."
  48. "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree."
  49. Nathanael said, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God and the King of Israel!"
  50. Jesus answered, "Did you believe me just because I said that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see something even greater.
  51. I tell you for certain that you will see heaven open and God's angels going up and coming down on the Son of Man."

    It is difficult to get our minds around the truths about Jesus revealed in the opening verses of John's gospel. Our temptation is to give our own meaning to various words or statements to develop a concept we better understand. But by doing this we change the intended meaning and also change the reality of who Jesus was and is. We do best to accept by faith what scripture reveals to us about Jesus, understanding what little we might comprehend and allowing Jesus to reveal more to us as we come to Him and learn from Him. This, after all, was His approach with His followers and an effective one.

    When two of John the Baptist's followers heard John point out Jesus as the "Lamb of God," they went after Jesus and asked Him, "Where are you staying?" Jesus' response was simply, "Come and you'll see." (1:37, 38, 39) This is what we must do as well. Follow Jesus by faith with what little understanding we might have, and as we follow Him learn more. For it is only by learning from Him, as a follower, that we will truly come to know Him. As is true in getting to know any person, we can learn many things about them through various sources, but we only get to know the person by being with them.

    John's gospel opens by telling us that Jesus did not just show up in the history of man at a certain point in time. He has always existed from the beginning of time. He was involved in creation and life comes from Him. Whatever darkness comes into this life that that He gives, He is the light that can dispel that darkness. Not too sure you believe all this? Jesus would say, "Come and you'll see."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Reflections on Genesis 50

    Genesis 50 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Joseph started crying, then leaned over to hug and kiss his father.
  2. Joseph gave orders for Jacob's body to be embalmed,
  3. and it took the usual forty days. The Egyptians mourned seventy days for Jacob.
  4. When the time of mourning was over, Joseph said to the Egyptian leaders, "If you consider me your friend, please speak to the king for me.
  5. Just before my father died, he made me promise to bury him in his burial cave in Canaan. If the king will give me permission to go, I will come back here."
  6. The king answered, "Go to Canaan and keep your promise to your father."
  7. When Joseph left Goshen with his brothers, his relatives, and his father's relatives to bury Jacob, many of the king's highest officials and even his military chariots and cavalry went along. The Israelites left behind only their children, their cattle, and their sheep and goats.
  8. (SEE 50:7)
  9. (SEE 50:7)
  10. After crossing the Jordan River and reaching Atad's threshing place, Joseph had everyone mourn and weep seven days for his father.
  11. The Canaanites saw this and said, "The Egyptians are in great sorrow." Then they named the place "Egypt in Sorrow."
  12. So Jacob's sons did just as their father had instructed.
  13. They took him to Canaan and buried him in Machpelah Cave, the burial place Abraham had bought from Ephron the Hittite.
  14. After the funeral, Joseph, his brothers, and everyone else returned to Egypt.
  15. After Jacob died, Joseph's brothers said to each other, "What if Joseph still hates us and wants to get even with us for all the cruel things we did to him?"
  16. So they sent this message to Joseph: Before our father died,
  17. he told us, "You did some cruel and terrible things to Joseph, but you must ask him to forgive you." Now we ask you to please forgive the terrible things we did. After all, we serve the same God that your father worshiped. When Joseph heard this, he started crying.
  18. Right then, Joseph's brothers came and bowed down to the ground in front of him and said, "We are your slaves."
  19. But Joseph told them, "Don't be afraid! I have no right to change what God has decided.
  20. You tried to harm me, but God made it turn out for the best, so that he could save all these people, as he is now doing.
  21. Don't be afraid! I will take care of you and your children." After Joseph said this, his brothers felt much better.
  22. Joseph lived in Egypt with his brothers until he died at the age of one hundred ten.
  23. Joseph lived long enough to see Ephraim's children and grandchildren. He also lived to see the children of Manasseh's son Machir, and he welcomed them into his family.
  24. Before Joseph died, he told his brothers, "I won't live much longer. But God will take care of you and lead you out of Egypt to the land he promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
  25. Now promise me that you will take my body with you when God leads you to that land."
  26. So Joseph died in Egypt at the age of one hundred ten, his body was embalmed and put in a coffin.

    Chapter 50 is the concluding chapter in Genesis and brings the accounts in the lives of both Jacob and Joseph also to a conclusion. The deaths of both Jacob and Joseph are recorded in this chapter.  Both father and son requested to be buried in Canaan. Joseph carried out Jacob's request, returning his body for burial in the same cave in which Abraham and Isaac were buried. Joseph's request to be buried in Canaan would be fulfilled when the new nation of Israel made it exodus from Egypt. Or, as Joseph stated: "When God comes to your aid, you are to carry my bones up from here." (50:25) God's aid would be the exodus from Egypt

    Much of the life of faith in God is lived in expectation of what God is going to do. This was true of all these early patriarchs who lived in expectation of God's promises to them. Genesis closes with the descendants of Israel living in Egypt under the expectation that one day God would come to their aid and deliver them from Egypt to their land of promise. Nothing has changed in this regard today. A life of faith in God is lived in expectation on many levels. We live in expectation of God's fulfillment of His purposes in our lives, of answer to prayers that we pray daily, of life eternal in Him, and ultimately of Christ's return.

    This is the life of faith - living in expectation while we wait on God. The writer of Hebrews defined faith as "the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen." (Hebrews 11:1) We live today with the presence of God's Holy Spirit dwelling in those who have faith in Christ. This indwelling of God's Spirit in us gives us assurance that our faith is not in vain. But if our faith is dependent on seeing what is to be, it is not really faith.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Reflections on Genesis 49

    Genesis 49 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Jacob called his sons together and said: My sons, I am Jacob, your father Israel.
  2. Come, gather around, as I tell your future.
  3. Reuben, you are my oldest, born at the peak of my powers, you were an honored leader.
  4. Uncontrollable as a flood, you slept with my wife and disgraced my bed. And so you no longer deserve the place of honor.
  5. Simeon and Levi, you are brothers, each a gruesome sword.
  6. I never want to take part in your plans or deeds. You slaughtered people in your anger, and you crippled cattle for no reason.
  7. Now I place a curse on you because of your fierce anger. Your descendants will be scattered among the tribes of Israel.
  8. Judah, you will be praised by your brothers, they will bow down to you, as you defeat your enemies.
  9. My son, you are a lion ready to eat your victim! You are terribly fierce, no one will bother you.
  10. You will have power and rule until nations obey you and come bringing gifts.
  11. You will tie your donkey to a choice grapevine and wash your clothes in wine from those grapes.
  12. Your eyes are darker than wine, your teeth whiter than milk.
  13. Zebulun, you will settle along the seashore and provide safe harbors as far north as Sidon.
  14. Issachar, you are a strong donkey resting in the meadows.
  15. You found them so pleasant that you worked too hard and became a slave.
  16. Dan, you are the tribe that will bring justice to Israel.
  17. You are a snake that bites the heel of a horse, making its rider fall.
  18. Our LORD, I am waiting for you to save us.
  19. Gad, you will be attacked, then attack your attackers.
  20. Asher, you will eat food fancy enough for a king.
  21. Naphtali, you are a wild deer with lovely fawns.
  22. Joseph, you are a fruitful vine growing near a stream and climbing a wall.
  23. Enemies attacked with arrows, refusing to show mercy.
  24. But you stood your ground, swiftly shooting back with the help of Jacob's God, the All-Powerful One-- his name is the Shepherd, Israel's mighty rock.
  25. Your help came from the God your father worshiped, from God All-Powerful. God will bless you with rain and streams from the earth, he will bless you with many descendants.
  26. My son, the blessings I give are better than the promise of ancient mountains or eternal hills. Joseph, I pray these blessings will come to you, because you are the leader of your brothers.
  27. Benjamin, you are a fierce wolf, destroying your enemies morning and evening.
  28. These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is how Jacob gave each of them their proper blessings.
  29. Jacob told his sons: Soon I will die, and I want you to bury me in Machpelah Cave. Abraham bought this cave as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, and it is near the town of Mamre in Canaan. Abraham and Sarah are buried there, and so are Isaac and Rebekah. I buried Leah there too.
  30. (SEE 49:29)
  31. (SEE 49:29)
  32. Both the cave and the land that goes with it were bought from the Hittites.
  33. When Jacob had finished giving these instructions to his sons, he lay down on his bed and died.

    The end of Jacob's days had arrived, and he knew it, so he called together his sons to tell them "what will happen to you in the days to come." (49:1) He spoke to each son commenting on the type of person he was and giving a prophecy of what was to come for him and his descendants. Actually, these prophecies were not fully realized until the tribes formed by each son's descendants were settled in their Promised land of Canaan.

    Our choices do make a difference, both for good and for bad. The qualities and characteristics that make up who we are and form our choices not only determine our past but also our future. And, those qualities and choices influence our descendants, thus establishing patterns that also influence the future for our descendants. We often give considerable thought to the legacies we give our children as to assets and prestige, but not as often do we consider the spiritual and character legacy we give them.

    We might read passages such as this and think that God was determining a future for these sons of Jacob over which they had no choice. But they had already made many choices and their influence had already greatly impacted their children. There was no turning back the clock on these choices.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Reflections on Genesis 48

    Genesis 48 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Joseph was told that his father Jacob had become very sick. So Joseph went to see him and took along his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
  2. When Joseph arrived, someone told Jacob, "Your son Joseph has come to see you." Jacob sat up in bed, but it took almost all his strength.

  3. Jacob told Joseph: God All-Powerful appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, where he gave me his blessing

  4. and promised, "I will give you a large family with many descendants that will grow into a nation. And I am giving you this land that will belong to you and your family forever."

  5. Then Jacob went on to say: Joseph, your two sons Ephraim and Manasseh were born in Egypt, but I accept them as my own, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.

  6. Any children you have later will be considered yours, but their inheritance will come from Ephraim and Manasseh.

  7. Unfortunately, your mother Rachel died in Canaan after we had left northern Syria and before we reached Bethlehem. And I had to bury her along the way.

  8. Jacob was very old and almost blind. He did not recognize the two boys, and so he asked Joseph, "Who are these boys?" Joseph answered, "They are my sons. God has given them to me here in Egypt." "Bring them to me," Jacob said. "I want to give them my blessing." Joseph brought the boys to him, and he hugged and kissed them.

  9. (SEE 48:8)

  10. (SEE 48:8)

  11. Jacob turned to Joseph and told him, "For many years I thought you were dead and that I would never see you again. But now God has even let me live to see your children."

  12. Then Joseph made his sons move away from Jacob's knees, and Joseph bowed down in front of him with his face to the ground.

  13. After Joseph got up, he brought his two sons over to Jacob again. He led his younger son Ephraim to the left side of Jacob and his older son Manasseh to the right.

  14. But before Jacob gave them his blessing, he crossed his arms, putting his right hand on the head of Ephraim and his left hand on the head of Manasseh.

  15. Then he gave Joseph his blessing and said: My grandfather Abraham and my father Isaac worshiped the LORD God. He has been with me all my life,

  16. and his angel has kept me safe. Now I pray that he will bless these boys and that my name and the names of Abraham and Isaac will live on because of them. I ask God to give them many children and many descendants as well.

  17. Joseph did not like it when he saw his father place his right hand on the head of the younger son. So he tried to move his father's right hand from Ephraim's head and place it on Manasseh.

  18. Joseph said, "Father, you have made a mistake. This is the older boy. Put your right hand on him."

  19. But his father said, "Son, I know what I am doing. It's true that Manasseh's family will someday become a great nation. But Ephraim will be even greater than Manasseh, because his descendants will become many great nations."

  20. Jacob told him that in the future the people of Israel would ask God's blessings on one another by saying, "I pray for God to bless you as much as he blessed Ephraim and Manasseh." Jacob put Ephraim's name first to show that he would be greater than Manasseh.

  21. After that, Jacob said, "Joseph, you can see that I won't live much longer. But God will be with you and will lead you back to the land he promised our family long ago.

  22. Meanwhile, I'm giving you the hillside I captured from the Amorites."

    Jacob was nearing the time of his death and deemed it time to pass along his blessing to his successor. In doing so, he did intentionally what his father did unintentionally. That was to bless a younger son over the eldest son. This had become the pattern through four generations of Abraham's descendants. We know that God was the guiding hand behind these blessings of the younger sons by looking at history and the fulfillment of prophecy concerning the younger and eldest sons. For instance, in blessing Ephraim, Joseph's younger son, over Manasseh the eldest, Jacob said that Ephraim would be greater. And history held this to be true. So we learn that God's chooses whom He will for His purposes.

    Selection by birthorder or any other automatic system is not God's way. He will not be held to any system designed by man. He knows the heart of man and He knows the future. And He will choose whom He will choose for His purposes. We then have the choice to follow or not to follow His selection of us. And though He may not have selected us for one purpose, He has selected us for a purpose, and we must choose whether to accept His purpose for us or not.

    Besides the selection of Joseph over his brothers to carry on the covenant blessing, Joseph's sons were selected over those of his brothers, even though they were more Egyptian than Hebrew as to their raising. They were of royal birth in Egypt and could have become royalty themselves. But they were chosen, and accepted that choice, to stake their claim with the Hebrews rather than the Egyptians. Foremost, however, it was a choice to follow God who was behind their selection.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Reflections on Genesis 47

    Genesis 47 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Joseph took five of his brothers to the king and told him, "My father and my brothers have come from Canaan. They have brought their sheep, goats, cattle, and everything else they own to the region of Goshen." Then he introduced his brothers to the king,
  2. (SEE 47:1)
  3. who asked them, "What do you do for a living?" "Sir, we are shepherds," was their answer. "Our families have always raised sheep.
  4. But in our country all the pastures are dried up, and our sheep have no grass to eat. So we, your servants, have come here. Please let us live in the region of Goshen."
  5. The king said to Joseph, "It's good that your father and brothers have arrived.
  6. I will let them live anywhere they choose in the land of Egypt, but I suggest that they settle in Goshen, the best part of our land. I would also like for your finest shepherds to watch after my own sheep and goats."
  7. Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and introduced him to the king. Jacob gave the king his blessing,
  8. and the king asked him, "How old are you?"
  9. Jacob answered, "I have lived only a hundred thirty years, and I have had to move from place to place. My parents and my grandparents also had to move from place to place. But they lived much longer, and their life was not as hard as mine."
  10. Then Jacob gave the king his blessing once again and left.
  11. Joseph obeyed the king's orders and gave his father and brothers some of the best land in Egypt near the city of Rameses.
  12. Joseph also provided food for their families.
  13. The famine was bad everywhere in Egypt and Canaan, and the people were suffering terribly.
  14. So Joseph sold them the grain that had been stored up, and he put the money in the king's treasury.
  15. But when everyone had run out of money, the Egyptians came to Joseph and demanded, "Give us more grain! If you don't, we'll soon be dead, because our money's all gone."
  16. "If you don't have any money," Joseph answered, "give me your animals, and I'll let you have some grain."
  17. From then on, they brought him their horses and donkeys and their sheep and goats in exchange for grain. Within a year Joseph had collected every animal in Egypt.
  18. Then the people came to him and said: Sir, there's no way we can hide the truth from you. We are broke, and we don't have any more animals. We have nothing left except ourselves and our land.
  19. Don't let us starve and our land be ruined. If you'll give us grain to eat and seed to plant, we'll sell ourselves and our land to the king. We'll become his slaves.
  20. The famine became so severe that Joseph finally bought every piece of land in Egypt for the king
  21. and made everyone the king's slaves,
  22. except the priests. The king gave the priests a regular food allowance, so they did not have to sell their land.
  23. Then Joseph said to the people, "You and your land now belong to the king. I'm giving you seed to plant,
  24. but one-fifth of your crops must go to the king. You can keep the rest as seed or as food for your families."
  25. "Sir, you have saved our lives!" they answered. "We are glad to be slaves of the king."
  26. Then Joseph made a law that one-fifth of the harvest would always belong to the king. Only the priests did not lose their land.
  27. The people of Israel made their home in the land of Goshen, where they became prosperous and had large families.
  28. Jacob himself lived there for seventeen years, before dying at the age of one hundred forty-seven.
  29. When Jacob knew he did not have long to live, he called in Joseph and said, "If you really love me, you must make a solemn promise not to bury me in Egypt.
  30. Instead, bury me in the place where my ancestors are buried." "I will do what you have asked," Joseph answered.
  31. "Will you give me your word?" Jacob asked. "Yes, I will," Joseph promised. After this, Jacob bowed down and prayed at the head of his bed.

    Jacob and his family became settled in Egypt and prospered. Soon after their arrival in the country they went to meet with Pharaoh. Jacob blessed Pharoah and Pharoah gave them land and the offer of having charge of his livestock. In God's covenant with Abraham He said that "I will bless those who bless you" (12:3 ) which extended also to his descendants. This was applied to Pharoah. He was kind and blessed Jacob and his family, and God blessed Pharoah. By the end of the famine, Pharoah owned everything in his country. The people used all their money to buy food, and when it ran out, they sold their livestock. When the livestock was gone they sold their land and even themselves into slavery. Once all of the land belonged to Pharoah and it was able to produce crops again, one-fifth of the harvests was to go to Pharoah. Joseph was the architect of these proceedings, proving to be a huge asset to Pharoah and serving as God's instrument of blessing to him.

    These accounts of God's dealings with the Israelites give us a picture of God's dealings with all people who covenant with Him to direct their lives. God has a purpose in the lives of all people and desires to bless all who covenant with Him in the fulfillment of that purpose. As with Jacob, our covenants with God may take us over rough road with difficulties involved, but the difficulties we have while in God's hands always have the assurance of His guiding hand to take us through the difficulties and to a good outcome. We do not avoid difficulties by refusing to covenant with God, and we do not have His guiding hand to take us through them to a good outcome.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Reflections on Genesis 46

    Genesis 46 (Contemporary English Version)
  1. Jacob packed up everything he owned and left for Egypt. On the way he stopped near the town of Beersheba and offered sacrifices to the God his father Isaac had worshiped.
  2. That night, God spoke to him and said, "Jacob! Jacob!" "Here I am," Jacob answered.
  3. God said, "I am God, the same God your father worshiped. Don't be afraid to go to Egypt. I will give you so many descendants that one day they will become a nation.
  4. I will go with you to Egypt, and later I will bring your descendants back here. Your son Joseph will be at your side when you die."
  5. Jacob and his family set out from Beersheba and headed for Egypt. His sons put him in the wagon that the king had sent for him, and they put their small children and their wives in the other wagons. Jacob's whole family went to Egypt, including his sons, his grandsons, his daughters, and his granddaughters. They took along their animals and everything else they owned.
  6. (SEE 46:5)
  7. (SEE 46:5)
  8. When Jacob went to Egypt, his children who were born in northern Syria also went along with their families. Jacob and his wife Leah had a total of thirty-three children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, but two of their grandchildren had died in Canaan. Their oldest son Reuben took his sons Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. Their son Simeon took his sons Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, whose mother was a Canaanite. Their son Levi took his sons Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. Their son Judah took his sons Shelah, Perez, and Zerah. Judah's sons Er and Onan had died in Canaan. Judah's son Perez took his sons Hezron and Hamul. Their son Issachar took his sons Tola, Puvah, Jashub, and Shimron. Their son Zebulun took his sons Sered, Elon, and Jahleel. Their daughter Dinah also went.
  9. (SEE 46:8)
  10. (SEE 46:8)
  11. (SEE 46:8)
  12. (SEE 46:8)
  13. (SEE 46:8)
  14. (SEE 46:8)
  15. (SEE 46:8)
  16. Jacob and Zilpah, the servant woman Laban had given his daughter Leah, had a total of sixteen children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Their son Gad took his sons Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli. Their son Asher took his sons Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, and Beriah, who took his sons, Heber and Malchiel. Serah, the daughter of Asher, also went.
  17. (SEE 46:16)
  18. (SEE 46:16)
  19. Jacob and Rachel had fourteen children and grandchildren. Their son Joseph was already in Egypt, where he had married Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, the priest of Heliopolis. Joseph and Asenath had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Jacob and Rachel's son Benjamin took his sons Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard.
  20. (SEE 46:19)
  21. (SEE 46:19)
  22. (SEE 46:19)
  23. Jacob and Bilhah, the servant woman Laban had given his daughter Rachel, had seven children and grandchildren. Their son Dan took his son Hushim. Their son Naphtali took his sons Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem.
  24. (SEE 46:23)
  25. (SEE 46:23)
  26. Sixty-six members of Jacob's family went to Egypt with him, not counting his daughters-in-law.
  27. Jacob's two grandsons who were born there made it a total of seventy members of Jacob's family in Egypt.
  28. Jacob had sent his son Judah ahead of him to ask Joseph to meet them in Goshen.
  29. So Joseph got in his chariot and went to meet his father. When they met, Joseph hugged his father around the neck and cried for a long time.
  30. Jacob said to Joseph, "Now that I have seen you and know you are still alive, I am ready to die."
  31. Then Joseph said to his brothers and to everyone who had come with them: I must go and tell the king that you have arrived from Canaan.
  32. I will tell him that you are shepherds and that you have brought your sheep, goats, cattle, and everything else you own.
  33. The king will call you in and ask what you do for a living.
  34. When he does, be sure to say, "We are shepherds. Our families have always raised sheep." If you tell him this, he will let you settle in the region of Goshen. Joseph wanted them to say this to the king, because the Egyptians did not like to be around anyone who raised sheep.

    Jacob made a stop at Beer-sheba, the former home of his father, on his way to Egypt. There he worshiped God and God spoke to him in a vision. God encouraged him not to be afraid to go to Egypt and confirmed the promise that He would make of Jacob "a great nation." (46:3) Now that promise was tied to this move to in Egypt. It would be in Egypt that the nation Israel would be developed. To this promise of making a great nation, God added two other promises: He would go with Jacob to Egypt, and He would bring Jacob back from Egypt. By that time this last promise was fulfilled, Jacob would be dead and it would be his body that was brought back to Canaan from Egypt. But this promise was assurance that God had not forgotten His promise to Give to Jacob's descendants the land of Canaan.

    Jacob settled his family in Goshen in the northeastern region of Egypt. It would be the first area of Egypt they came to after entering the country. This made them somewhat remote to the governmental center where they could be rather isolated and remain to themselves and relatively unnoticed. Soon after Jacob's arrival, Joseph went to see him and they had an emotional reunion. It had been 22 years since they had last seen each other. God's purposes sometimes require us to endure unpleasant circumstances, but the fulfillment of His purpose brings with it blessings of compensation.