John 1:43-51

Today’s Scripture Focus:  John 1:43-51

                 “Come and see”.  This phrase appears twice in the first chapter of John, both times in reference to Jesus’ first disciples, or followers.  What is a disciple?  In the world of the Bible, a disciple is a student who follows a rabbi or teacher as closely as possible, memorizing their teachings and mimicking their actions.  Jesus’s followers take on this learning aspect of discipleship more so in John than in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke).  In the Synoptics, the disciples are called by Jesus to revolutionary action.  In John, the disciples seek Jesus out, see for themselves who He is, then go invite others to come along side them.

 The exception to this is Philip.  He is the only disciple in John who is personally invited by Jesus to become His disciple.  On the first day of Jesus’ public ministry, John proclaimed Him the Lamb of God.  Andrew, John, and Peter were following Him by the end of the day.  Then, Jesus traveled to His new followers’ hometown of Bethsaida, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where he invited to Philip to “Follow me” (become my disciple).  Somehow Philip immediately recognized Jesus’ true identity, because he immediately went and found a friend and proclaimed Jesus of Nazareth was the One (Anointed One, or Messiah).

At first this friend, Nathaniel, scoffed.  He could not accept that any person of importance could come from Nazareth, let alone Messiah.  Nathaniel should know—according to John 21 he was from Cana, another small village near Nazareth.  In the world of the Bible, where you were from told strangers everything about you.  When Jesus met Nathaniel and proclaimed “Ah, here’s a true Israelite in whom in no deceit”, Nathaniel’s reply was basically “how can you claim to know anything about me; you assume I’m from Bethsaida!”  Jesus’ reply—”I saw you under the fig tree” was a way of saying “I know where you are from and who you are.”

The word “see” or some form thereof appears 107 times in the Gospel of John.  To John’s community, “seeing” was another way of saying “believing”.   Jesus said to Nathaniel “you believe because I saw you under the fig tree, but you will see greater things than this.”  The Israelites’ ancestor—Jacob the deceiver—had once had a vision of angels ascending to and descending from the heavens on a ladder.  Nathaniel would now “see” Jesus as bridging the gap between God and humans.  Nathaniel proclaimed Jesus the Son of God.  Jesus replied by self identifying as the Son of Man.  Jesus came to see all of us as we are so we can see God as God is.  Let us all “come and see” greater things today!

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

Describe a time you have seen God at work—not something someone else has told you about, but something you yourself have witnessed (a personal answer to prayer, a beautiful aspect of nature, the birth—physical or spiritual—of a child, etc.)

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

January 18th – 24th, 2015

Prayer of the Week:  

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that Your people, illumined by Your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that He may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—Psalm 103:12-22John 1:43-51

Monday—Psalm 104:1-2John 1:29-24

Tuesday—Psalm 104:3-4John 1:25-42

Wednesday—Psalm 104:5-6John 1:43-52

Thursday—Psalm 104:7-8John 2:1-12

Friday— Psalm 104:9John 2:13-25

Saturday—Psalm 104:1-9John 2:1-11

Prayer List:  Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Joice Shindler * family of Peggy Whitfield, family of Betty Guthrie * Mandell Collins, Sr., Marcus Davis, Timeeka Gentry & family  Michele Raglin, Carl Rider, Faye Doyle, Dexter Jackson, Jasper Gunter, Allene Gunter, Junelle Sims, Vickie Janway * Joy Pennington, Wanda Collins, Jennifer Johnston, Amanda Collins, Michael Davis, Angelo Weda * Katie Lumm, Butch Petty, J’Lynn Synn

January 11th, 2015

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John 1:29-42

Today’s Scripture Focus:  John 1:29-42

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                 “Who are you?” That’s what the authorities want to know about John because of his reputation as a “baptizer”.  Baptism was something done for those converting to Judaism, but John baptized Jews.  What gave him the authority to do this?  When questioned, John makes clear who he is not:  Messiah, Elijah, or the Prophet.  These were three people foretold in Israel’s scriptures who would usher in a new day for God’s people.  John’s message of repentance fit with this theme.  If he were not one of these, then who was he?  John identifies himself simply as a voice preparing the way of the Lord.  If Jesus is the Word, then John is the Voice.

On the very first day of Jesus’ public ministry, John begins his role as the Voice by pointing Jesus out and proclaiming “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”  (there’s that word again).  John’s hearers would have thought of the innocent Lamb led to slaughter as foretold in Isaiah 53, a passage identified with Messiah (“Anointed One”).  Although there’s no account of John baptizing Jesus in the fourth Gospel, we have the Baptizer’s testimorny of seeing the Holy Spirit descend “as a dove” and remain on Jesus, identifying him as the one for whom John has been getting everyone ready.  John was proclaiming Jesus as Messiah.

The next day (another phrase unique to John and harking back to Genesis 1), John again shouts out “Look!  The Lamb of God!”  To whom was John calling out?  We know John had a group of followers—disciples—who viewed John as a rabbi or teacher, traveled with him, and assisted him in his ministry of baptism.  Disciples staked their lives on the teaching of their master—they had to be very sure they were following someone who was telling the truth.  So, if John continued to point out an even greater teacher—one whom John claims he is not even worthy to serve as a slave—perhaps it is time for John’s disciples to change rabbis.

While the other Gospels give accounts of Jesus seeking out followers, in John’s account the disciples seek out Jesus.  The first two are Andrew and an unnamed disciple, most likely John the Apostle himself.  Leaving John the Baptist, they investigate Jesus,  who invites them to “come and see”.  They saw, and never turned back.  Immediately, they invited others to come.  John the Baptist plays a part in the first five chapters of John’s Gospel.  Each time he is mentioned, he is using his influence to point others to Christ.  How about you?  Others will be paying attention to you this week—will you be a voice for the Word to your followers?

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

We all have followers – people with whom we interact and whom we influence.  Add up how many people you will likely speak with this week (family, friends, co-workers, social media, grocery store, etc).  Do you have more followers than you thought?

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

January 11th – 17th, 2015

Prayer of the Week:  

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed Him your beloved Son and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into His Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess Him as Lord and Savior; who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—Psalm 103:1-11John 1:29-42

Monday—Psalm 103:12-13John 1:19-28

Tuesday—Psalm 103:14-15John 1:29-34

Wednesday—Psalm 103:16-17John 1:35-42

Thursday—Psalm 103:18-19John 1:43-52

Friday— Psalm 103:20-22John 2:1-12

Saturday—Psalm 103:12-22John 1:43-52

Prayer List:  Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Joice Shindler, family of Peggy Whitfield, family of Betty Guthrie * Mandell Collins, Sr., Marcus Davis, Timeeka Gentry & family  Michele Raglin, Carl Rider, Faye Doyle, Dexter Jackson, Jasper Gunter, Allene Gunter, Junelle Sims, Vickie Janway * Joy Pennington, Wanda Collins, Jennifer Johnston, Amanda Collins, Michael Davis, Angelo Weda

January 4th, 2015

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John 1:1-18

Today’s Scripture Focus:  John 1:1-18

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 “Light and Life:  Journeying with John from Christmas to Pentecost”.  This will be our theme for the first half of 2015, in which we will cover selected writing from John’s Gospel and epistles.  By “John” we mean the Apostle.  We’ll write more about him in the weeks ahead.  What do we mean by “Christmas to Pentecost”?  This refers to the Christian calendar.  For over 1600 years, the Church has told the story of Jesus each year by observing His birth at Christmas, His ministry and teaching through Epiphany, His suffering and death in Lent, His resurrection and ascension during Easter, and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

The fourth Gospel is different.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke, known as the synoptic Gospels, all follow the same structure, but John uses different language, themes, stories, characters, and an entirely different timeline.  John gives us the perspective of a specific Christian community who already viewed themselves as not of this world.  Having already been cast out of the Jewish community, they saw themselves as “insiders” (those in Christ), and those who rejected Jesus as “outsiders” (the world).  That’s why much of John uses contrast language, such as light vs. darkness, life vs. death, Word vs. world, etc.

Today’s scripture focus is known as the Prologue of John.  It is a poem that introduces the major themes of the Gospel.  In a society which was mostly illiterate, major teachings were often conveyed in poetic form, and great honor was ascribed to those who could memorize and recite poetry publicly.  In this poem the entire Gospel is summarized:  God bridged the gap between Heaven and earth by sending the Son, but most of those to whom the Son was sent rejected Him.  However, those who welcomed Him became God’s children.  John the Baptist served as a witness to this truth.  We’ll talk more about him next week.

Word, Light, and Life are three terms important in understanding the writings of John.  In many ways, John’s Prologue mirrors the creation account in Genesis 1.  The Word was the creative power used by God to create the heavens and the earth.  Here we discover that God’s Word took on flesh and came to the creation in order to reveal God’s love.  Light in John represents truth.  The creation had lived in darkness since the Fall of the first man.  Now, a man would come to reveal God’s truth.  The word Life is used 47 times in John, as opposed to 14 times total in the other three Gospels.  Life will be given to those who receive the Word and the Light of God’s love and truth.  In 2015, let us live in that light!   

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

Many people make resolutions this time of year.  What are some ways we as Christians can “resolve” to walk in more light (be closer to God) this year? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

 

 

January 4th – 10th, 2015

Prayer of the Week:  

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of Him who humbled Himself to share our humanity, Your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—John 1:1-18

Monday—Psalm 103:1-2John 1:1-18

Tuesday—Psalm 103:3-4, John 1:19-28

Wednesday—Psalm 103:5-6John 1:29-34

Thursday—Psalm 103:7-8John 1:35-42

Friday— Psalm 103:9-11John 1:43-52

Saturday—Psalm 103:1-11John 1:29-42

Prayer List:  Marlin Donohoe, Destiny Collins, Sav-a-lot employees, Teneeka Genry & family, Charles Timmons Jr, Pete Childress, family of Maybelle Gilbert  * Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Joice Shindler, family of Peggy Whitfield, family of Betty Guthrie * Wanda Collins, Mandell Collins, Sr., Marcus Davis, Timeeka Gentry & family  Michele Raglin, Carl Rider, Faye Doyle, Dexter Jackson, Jasper Gunter, Allene Gunter, Junelle Sims, Vickie Janway

December 21st, 2014

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Daniel 12:5-10

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Daniel 12:5-10

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                 This is our final Sunday in the section of scripture known as “Major Prophets”.  For five years now, we have spent the weeks leading up to Christmas hearing from ancient voices that called God’s people to repentance and offered them comfort.  Since Daniel was written after the fall of Jerusalem, it is filled with visions the speak to a people who are starting over.  They have already suffered the consequences of prolonged disobedience, have learned to trust God again, and are now awaiting deliverance.  The visions of Daniel let God’s people know the world will get worse, but they will ultimately be protected and triumphant.

Daniel 11 and 12 conclude Daniel’s final vision.  An elderly man at this point, he has been fasting in hopes of success for the Jews who have finally been allowed to return and rebuild Jerusalem.  A fantastic heavenly being appears to him, and tells him of things to come.  The first part of Daniel 11 foretells the events surrounding the Greek Empire, which will be the next great world power on the scene, and will ultimately torment the Jews after they rebuild the Temple.  Such historic figures as Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, and Ptolemy are described.  Ultimately, Antiochus will set up an altar to Zeus in the Most Holy Place.

Under Antiochus, Judaism was outlawed.  Pigs were slaughtered in the Most Holy Place, an abomination to Jews!  Eventually the Jews, under the Maccabees, successfully rebelled against Antiochus and rededicated the Temple.  This event is still celebrated by Jewish people each year during the festival of Hanukah, which is actually going on right now.  At the end of chapter 11, the scene shifts to another world dictator who will be far, far  worse than any seen before.  The events listed here do not correspond to those of the Greeks or any empire that came afterwards.  Therefore, scholars have concluded these verses speak of events yet to come.

Daniel concludes with the elderly prophet still on the banks of the river.  Two more heavenly messengers have joined the first, and between them they discuss when all of these events will occur?  Three time periods are mentioned—times, 1295 days, and 1335 days.  Much has been made of the exact meaning of these days, and the truth is we simply can’t be sure what they mean.  Jesus said in Matthew 24 that “Nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the heavenly angels and not the Son.  Only the Father knows.”  And that is what is important for us today—there is a God in Heaven, and God knows.  Like Daniel, our future inheritance is secure in God’s hands.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

What comes to mind when you hear the phrases “end times”, “prophetic events”, or “Last Days”?  Do these phrases fill you with expectation or dread?  Do you think we are close to the end times? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?