The bread of life

Jesus’ popularity was growing due to both his miraculous signs and his teaching. When over 5,000 ended up being out too late to find food, Jesus fed them with five barley loaves and two fish. Then Jesus left.

The next day they caught up with him in the synagogue in Capernaum (John 6:59). This developed into a conversation with Jesus talking on a ‘spiritual’ level about who he was but the people understanding his words on a ‘physical’ level. They really could not comprehend what he was saying. Continue reading “The bread of life”

The cart before the horse

There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him” (Mark 7:15, ESV).

Jesus’ disciples were criticized because they did not follow traditions – traditions designed by elitists to help the ignorant mass from furthering angering their God. If only they could get enough of these oblivious people to obey God (John 7:49), they might succeed in ushering in the Messiah and overthrowing the Roman occupation. Continue reading “The cart before the horse”

Kingdom now

Jesus lived at a unique juncture in history. It was a time when God related to his chosen people based upon the old covenant, yet Jesus was about to inaugurate a new covenant relationship from God available to all people.

For centuries God’s rule and kingship had been announced over his chosen people, Israel. Yet Jesus was born king of the Jews. He would die as king of the Jews. With his upcoming resurrection he would ascend to sit on God’s right hand, crowned as Messiah and Lord possessing all authority in heaven and on earth.

Living within this juncture of service and inauguration, Jesus proclaimed that the kingdom, the future hope of the Old Testament prophets, was at hand. He taught how people would respond to this coming kingdom, as well as what kingdom ethics, economics, values, attitudes, and behaviors look like.

Continue reading “Kingdom now”

Credentials

“Master Gardener” — now there’s an oxymoron, if we are being honest. While there is a level of knowledge and expertise that one gains by attending classes and working with plants and landscapes, one never really gains mastery over those plants in general. They’ll just do as they want more often than we care to admit.

In fact, the speaker at the last local Master Gardener event bemoaned the demise of a very expensive Monkey Puzzle tree at the display gardens in Jackson, Tennessee. Apparently, the more pricey the plant, the less likely it will do what you want it to do. Continue reading “Credentials”

Which are we?

“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper” (Genesis 4:9 NKJV)?

 

“Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, ‘My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you” (Ruth 3:1)?

I overheard a conversation in Asia. One asked about how a certain work was going to be done. The reply was, “That is not our headache. It is the contractor’s responsibility; let him take care of it.” On one level, that is not an unreasonable response. We might have better stated it, “It is not really our business, let him do the job his way.” But in the context of the conversation the attitude of the responder was basically, “I don’t care – let them handle their own problems without my help. Continue reading “Which are we?”

It isn’t about numbers

How sad it is when Christians begin to compete with each other. Perhaps we want to have the largest congregation or to baptize the most people. Sometimes Christians will belittle the good work another is doing or even spread gossip and lies about them, all to try to make themselves look better or more important. But this is not what being a Christian is about nor is it what Jesus died for.

There was the potential for this to happen between Jesus’ disciples and John’s disciples when Jesus first began teaching. Both Jesus and John were in the same area and people were going to both to be immersed. John’s followers were concerned about this. After all, John was there first. Surely John should be concerned. Continue reading “It isn’t about numbers”

Zacchaeus’ story provides insight into salvation

Two boys asked a baseball coach the same question, “When can I play ball?” Yet each received a different answer. The first boy was told, “You’ll need to sign up and try out.” The second heard, “Just wait. You’ll be called.” Context enables us to understand why the answers differed. One boy was not yet on the team.

Since scripture provides different answers regarding salvation, Zacchaeus’ story reminds us to interpret messages within their context if we seek an author-centered understanding. Such a reminder promotes an accurate handling of two distinct New Testament messages. Simplistically latching on to either message tempts us to disregard the other. Continue reading “Zacchaeus’ story provides insight into salvation”

Do you love me?

Have you ever made a promise to someone and didn’t keep it? Remember how you felt the next time you saw that person?

Peter and his friends had been fishing all night and caught nothing (John 21:3). The next day, Jesus was standing on the beach. The disciples didn’t know who he was but they heard a voice saying, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch,” (John 21:6). When the net came up with so many large fish and it only came to the surface with much effort, John said, “It is the Lord.” Continue reading “Do you love me?”

Independence comes at a price

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1, NKJV).

On March 26 Bangladesh celebrates its independence as a nation. From the establishment of the British Raj in the mid-18th century until its end in 1947, the land now known as Bangladesh was the East Bengal state of India. With the withdrawal of British control, the entire subcontinent of India was partitioned to form two nations with different religious majorities: India (Hindu) and Pakistan (Islamic). Pakistan was comprised of two widely separated territories, West Pakistan (now simply Pakistan) and East Pakistan (formerly East Bengal). Continue reading “Independence comes at a price”