God-in-a-Box–Your Inbox… for appreciating God
Get a Cosmic View of Jesus' Life in Small Bytes

Jul
05

As Jesus’ friends walk up, the woman leaves.

Forgetting Jesus’ thirst, what she was doing, and her water jug,  she runs to the leading men of the city with her discovery, “Come and see a man that told me my life, could this be the Messiah?”

Only looking at her they perceive a change; she looks different.

At the well, the disciples see Jesus’ face and hesitate to interrupt his meditation, but remember how He needed food and urge him to eat.

He loves their concern, and reassures them that he’s been nourished.

They wonder did the woman give him something to eat?

So he shares with them the effect he feels from having one person respond to him with faith. As a mother delights in the smile of recognition from her baby, so he delights when we “get” who He is.

Jesus knows the woman believes in Him, and as he sees the sun reflecting white on green fields, he comments, “You think there’s four months to harvest, but there is one ready here now.”

The Samaritan men come to the well and crowd him with questions, begging him to stay and teach them. What a difference from the skepticism at home!

For two days Jesus and his friends stay, eat, and sleep as guests of Samaritans, who don’t even need miracles to believe.

The disciples are stretched–extremely uncomfortable, but years later were so grateful for the experience and Jesus’ example to them.

John 4:27-42

Jul
04

Jesus’ answer to the Samaritan woman is full of courtesy but he doesn’t hide. He allows her to steer the conversation away from her, and he steps right into centuries of controversy with decisive words, watching for an opening to get back to her heart.

“The time is coming when the place of worship won’t matter, what matters is knowing God. Your idols show you don’t know Him; but we know Him because Messiah comes through the Jews. It’s time for true worship to show itself in delighted obedience. These are the worshipers God wants, and it requires your willingness and God’s working.”

She has never heard anything like this from any religion. But never has she felt such a “thirst” for something better. She has read scripture and desired to understand it. Could this man be the Messiah? she wonders, as Spirit opens her inner eyes.

“I know Messiah is coming and will make everything plain,” she says.

“I am your Messiah.” Jesus reveals.

God trusts his clearest revelation to an outcast woman because she is receptive. He can’t be this open with the self-satisfied priests and rabbis back home. But he knows the heart he has given his secret to, knows she will share the honor and the joy bubbling up like a spring inside her.

Just then his disciples return, amazed that he is speaking with a woman–a Samaritan. Even though shocked, they say nothing, and it is months before they understand Jesus’ actions.

John 4:20-21

Jul
03

Jesus knows this woman is seeking. So his answer engages her, “If you knew what God has for you, and who I am, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
She is intrigued and takes the bait. “How can you offer me water when you have nothing to draw with? Are you greater than our father Jacob…?” (She’s spiritual and open.)

“Everyone who drinks here, gets thirsty again. The water I give satisfies. In fact, it becomes a spring inside you making new life.”

“Sir,” she replies, “give me your water, so I don’t have to come here to get water…” (alone, at noon–obviously avoiding others).

“Call your husband and come back.” Jesus invites.

“I have no husband,” she answers, hoping to end this turn of conversation.

“Well said,” he notices, as if reviewing her life, “you’ve had five husbands, and the one you’re with now isn’t your husband.”

She stares at him; a shiver runs through her, “You must be a prophet.” she reverently observes. “So why do you people say we should worship at Jerusalem?” she asks. (Changing the subject to distract him from her past.)

The Samaritans had been denied the privilege of helping rebuild the temple at Jerusalem in the days of Ezra. Rebuffed and insulted, they built their own temple, and the two groups had hated each other–and had not spoken–since. But Jesus shows he holds no prejudice.

God singles out a woman, a Samaritan, an outcast in her society (a three-time loser) for her ability to draw others!

John 4:10-20

Jul
02

When Jesus hears about the Pharisees stirring up jealousy, he and his few disciples leave Judea and go to Galilee. He “needs” to go through Samaria to meet someone, and avoid dissension.

In the beautiful valley of Shechem is a well, the pride of the people, built by Jacob. Jesus is thirsty, tired, hot, and hungry after walking all morning. It’s noon, so his friends offer to go into the city and buy food while he rests.

This they will do, but no other reason would get them to converse with a Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans hate each other–a feud over identity and the place of worship dating over a thousand years.

Jesus rests by the well, the heat of the sun and the inaccessible cool water intensifying his thirst. He has nothing with which to draw water.  He who created water is dependent on another’s kindness for a drink!*

Fortunately, a woman comes to draw water. (Most women come in the cool of the morning or evening–for friendship. Her timing suggests her unpopularity, or shame.) She pretends not to notice him, and as she prepares to leave, Jesus asks for a drink.

Easterners call water “the gift of God”, and no one refuses it to another. She intends to comply, but is so surprised when she looks at Jesus, that first she has to ask, “How can you, a man and a Jew, ask me for a drink?”

A divine appointment, set up by God and shown to Jesus early that morning, because God sees honest hearts, and He is not prejudiced.*

John 4:1-9   *John 1:1-3   **John 5:20, Isaiah 50:4

Jun
29

John’s popularity is waning, and Satan sees an opportunity to stir up rivalry. Some rabbis “notice” Jesus’ crowds are growing, while John’s are dwindling daily. So they ask John’s disciples why Jesus’ disciples should baptize, since that is John’s thing.

Upset and defensive, John’s disciples ask him if he is aware that Jesus’ disciples are baptizing–that Jesus is stealing the show.

John is human, subject to entertaining their suggestions, their feelings. But he chooses to live on a higher plane of perception, above debilitating jealousy.

He says, “A man can only have the honor God gives him.  Jesus is from heaven, and I am not.”

Then he helps them understand. “I am the friend of the groom bringing his bride to him. Now my job is over, and I rejoice at his happiness. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John knows himself–a result of knowing God intimately. God wants that relationship with you, too. And besides giving self-worth and Identity, it makes you emotionally bullet-proof. Hurt feelings won’t destroy you.*

John ends with, “He is the only one who has the Spirit without measure. If you don’t see God in Him, God’s wrath is all there is.” Or said another way, God has nothing better to attract you.

“God’s wrath” is defined in scripture as “letting go” of us. He doesn’t torture us; He lets us have our way. We destroy ourselves with His enemies’ help.**

John 3:22-36   *2 Corinthians 7:10, Romans 8:28   **Many scriptures define God’s wrath as God letting go, or giving over to the enemy, (over 30 in Isaiah and Jeremiah, and Romans chapter 1 has three).

Jun
28

Nicodemus left Jesus a changed man.

He began studying scripture in a new way–not for discussing theory, but for knowing God–for receiving life and transformation.

Right at the beginning of his ministry, Jesus gives a detailed outline of His mission to a respected teacher of the Sanhedrin. Never again does He lay out such a complete picture of the process of choice and transformation that takes place in one who believes.

The best-known scripture, “God so loved the world that He gave His only born son…” (John 3:16) was spoken to Nicodemus, who told John, much later, about his visit with Jesus that night.

If you’ve never read John 3, verses 17-21 are rich but not often quoted. God made himself into a Son of Man (Jesus’ favorite title) and came to redeem us from the curse of the law of sin and death. God didn’t have a son so He could condemn us, but to rescue and restore us.*

The problem is that we don’t all want to be rescued, and that is what Jesus shared with Nicodemus. He says, “Here is the condemnation: No one likes to be corrected, but everyone who loves darkness hates The Light and will not come to it to be healed…”

From the Sanhedrin Nicodemus protected Jesus as long as he could, and after His ascension, when Jesus’ followers became a scorned and persecuted religion, Nicodemus was there, like a rock, with his money and influence. He was happy to become materially poor so that he might become truly rich.

John 3:16-21, *see also Romans 7-8:1

Jun
27

In Jesus’ presence Nicodemus feels his need of change. The cloud lifts from his mind and he begins to understand Ezekiel’s promise that God gifts the new heart. He had never understood that the most meticulous obedience is worthless without a love relationship to God. He had read all the scriptures with a righteously closed mind.*

Jesus helps him with symbolism familiar to him, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up…”**

Nicodemus knows Israel’s history, that in breaking faith with God, the Israelites had forfeited God’s protection and were bitten by the serpents that lived in the wilderness.

Many were dying. So God had Moses make a brass serpent, and lift it high on two cross pieces of wood. All they had to do was acknowledge why they were dying, look at the cause, and acknowledge God’s provision for them. If they looked, they lived.

They knew there was no power in the serpent; it was a symbol of God’s enemy who had ruined His creation, but also a symbol of God’s provision–Messiah would come and die requiring only a look of faith.

Nicodemus gets it. Jesus is telling him that He is the Messiah and will die, becoming the redemption-offering for separation from God, to conquer death. By absorbing the serpent’s venom and dying, he defeats the destroyer. He can offer us the choice of healing and life.

Obedience doesn’t save. Even faith doesn’t save–but faith is the necessary link, “the look” or choice, the hand reaching to accept the gift of life offered.

John 3:10-15   *Psalm 51:10, Isaiah 64:6, Ezekiel 36:26-27   **Numbers 21:4-8

Jun
26

Jesus knows Nicodemus feels secure in God’s favor, believing that his good deeds and liberal giving earn him a place in God’s kingdom. So Jesus goes deep, saying, “You can’t enter God’s kingdom unless you are born again.” Birth was a common metaphor used for converts to Judaism. This isn’t a foreign concept to him, but confrontation is.

Nicodemus is surprised and momentarily his composure slips. He shows his irritation in irony. “Seriously? Can a man get back into his mother’s womb when he is old?” He is astonished that his “righteousness” isn’t good enough.

Jesus saves his own irony for later, now He simply says, “Seriously, unless you are born of water and Spirit, you can’t even see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus knows that Jesus is talking about baptism and the Holy Spirit. He and his peers had rejected John’s baptism. They felt no need of repentance; they felt secure in doing everything right.

He is convicted that John’s message was preparation for Messiah. But he is confused.

So Jesus, loving this honest-hearted seeker, illustrates heart-religion using the wind. “Spirit works like the wind; you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes; you can hear it, but you can’t see it. You only see its results.” He knows Nicodemus has read about Ezekiel’s “new heart.”

Nicodemus can only reply, “How can this be?”

Now, Jesus’ irony, “You are a teacher, and you don’t understand this?”

Even though Jesus confronts him, his tone is kind, his look so full of love, it draws the rabbi to him.

John 3:1-9   Ezekiel 11:19, 18: 31, 36:26

Jun
25

Nicodemus was  wealthy, educated, and  talented. An honored member of the Sanhedrin and a man of influence, he found himself drawn to this poor Galilean.

He had been concerned about the racketeering, and was there when Jesus cleared the temple. Secretly moved with gratitude, he had watched the people come and be healed, he saw their joy and heard their words, and his heart was stirred.

He had studied the prophecies again. A conviction was growing: He must be the Messiah! But he wasn’t ready to endorse Jesus. While most of the priests and rulers hated Jesus for his boldness, he and others in the Sanhedrin warned about their history of killing prophets, and fighting against God. They knew they were under Roman rule because of rejecting reproofs sent by God, and they advocated caution.

Nicodemus greatly wants to talk with Jesus one on one, and to avoid ridicule he secretly inquires, and goes to Jesus at his night retreat while the city sleeps.

Finding Jesus on Mount Olivet, he means to compliment him by calling him a “teacher sent by God.” But he does not recognize him as The Sent of God–the Messiah, exposing his fear and unbelief.

Jesus knows Nicodemus has come to play it safe and discuss safe things, like theory or doctrine, so he cuts straight to the heart of his need. Kindly, but with breath-taking directness, he honors him as a true seeker.

John 3:1-3

Jun
22

Finally the terrified priests and temple officers regain their composure and return to the temple.

What a difference they find! The temple is now filled with the praise of the healed. The blind see Jesus face, the deaf hear his voice, the mute shout his praise–the first healings of his ministry. Smiling children come and press in to touch him, eager to be noticed.

The priests are angry, embarrassed that they ran from a poor carpenter. For moments they are convicted and see themselves and their actions clearly; Jesus has given evidence that he is Messiah, fulfilling prophecies they know–the Holy Spirit bringing them to mind. But they choose to take offense, and with hate growing, they come back to question his authority.

They stifle their convictions about him as this scene of true worship with its joy and thanksgiving, its hope and peace, confronts them.

“What authority do you have? Show us a sign,” they demand. (As if he hasn’t!)

“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it,” Jesus answers with a parable, exposing their hatred.

He doesn’t intend for them to understand that he speaks of his body, but he knows his words will be repeated by them and his believers, and will be carried to many countries. After he has risen from death, it will be remembered and understood.

He protects his disciples who aren’t ready to understand the pain and the power ahead. His death will destroy their dreams and their sacrificial system, and conquer the powers of darkness.*

John 2:18-2   *Colossians 2:15