Monday, 22 July 2013

I am the light of the world

John 8:25-40
In the Old Testament God is a God of light.
- appeared to Moses as a bright burning bush       Exodus 3:2
- appeared to the Hebrews as fiery, cloudy pillar  Exodus 13:21
- Shekinah light was seen in the temple                2 Chron 7:1
- Jewish teaching that the Messiah was "Light      Mal 4:2
The commemoration of God’s presence and the hope of the Messiah Light to come was celebrated at the Feast of Lights.
During the festival four large candlesticks called Menorahs’ were lit in the Court of the Women in the Temple. Their light was seen all over Jerusalem.  Jesus was in Jerusalem for this festival with his disciples. The incidents around Jesus’ statement that He is the light of the world help us to understand something of the kind of light.

1. A Penetrating Light                      
The incident
People hear that Jesus was teaching in the Temple and gather to listen to Him. The Pharisees arrive, dragging with them a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery.
-the trap
They used the woman to trap Jesus. If Jesus refused to condemn her they could accuse him of flouting Hebrew law. If he followed Hebrew law he would be breaking Roman law, where stoning was not permitted.
-the Pharisees were:
Astonished at being outwitted
Shocked at his discernment of their inner struggles
Angry at their own exposure
If the Pharisees had believed that Jesus didn’t want to use His knowledge of their hearts to destroy them but to save them, their lives could have been different. 

2. The Transforming Light                    
-the woman
Her extra-marital affair is exposed in the light of day. And her sin is put in the spotlight by the Pharisees. 
The world loves to expose sin but exposure alone does not bring transformation.
The spotlight was on the woman but the light of Jesus’ purity, justice and grace shine brighter.
Everyone stares and points- Jesus looks away and writes in the sand. 
Everyone abandons her - Jesus stays.
Everyone else saw this as an ending- Jesus gave her a new beginning.
Jesus didn’t declare her innocent condone sin or justify her actions but told her to put her sinful life behind.

3. The Undiminished Light
The Menorah lights commemorating the God’s presence and the hope of the Messiah’s return had just been extinguished.  John 8:12 was an unmistakable claim to being the Messiah and that he had exclusive possession of ultimate truth.
Jesus enemies continually try to snuff out his influence through argument but couldn’t do it.  They wanted to argue legalities, discuss theology but not believe. They wanted a legal battle, not a saving moment.
Jesus is a light that those in the dark were so determined to get rid of that they had him killed.  As he died the sky turned black but resurrection brought new dawn. John 1 v 5 “The Life Light blazed out of the darkness and the darkness couldn’t put it out.” (The Message)
The condition for experiencing the full potential of His light in our lives is to follow him.  John 8:12b “He who follows me will never walk in darkness.”
Following implies a commitment of our life to Him
Following the light implies a daily walk.    See also Eph 5:8 & 1 John 1:7 
Unlike the physical sun we do not need to protect ourselves against harmful rays. There is nothing in the Son that can harm us and we need to be more exposed to the light of Christ.

God bless

Thursday, 18 July 2013

I am the bread of life

Jesus and bread.
Bread is a staple.
Jesus is not the icing on the cake of life but our staple diet.
Bread is universal
Bread is everywhere, and so is Christ. He is universally available.
Bread is eaten daily.

Jesus can nourish our hearts daily.
Bread is served in many forms.

Jesus is adaptable to need.

Bible Reading:  John 6:25-40
The large number of people in John 6 are from the 5000 men plus women and children who enjoyed the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

 1. They are excited. 
Their excitement was based upon what they expected Jesus to do for them but this is due to a false assumption of who Jesus was and what he was offering.
Jesus would not accept their invitation to be their king, sent his disciples away from the influence of the crowd and withdrew to a mountain.

2. They are determined
They are passionate and aggressive in their search for Jesus, which is encouraged by Jesus at other times, (Matthew 7:7) however their motives are wrong.

The crowd falls into three categories:

a) Materialists          John 6:25
The people wanted hand-outs and provisions. They lived with material insecurity which exhausted them physically and humiliated them emotionally. A physical struggle can rob a person of the energy to meet needs of the heart and soul.  That is why William Booth said that it was no use preaching to a man whilst his belly was empty and their feet were cold.
Jesus advice           John 6:27
Jesus recognised that these people didn’t recognise spiritual need but assumed material wealth would satisfy them completely.  
In the west today we don’t deal with the fact that we are spiritually starving to death not because we are struggling with poverty but because we are so over stimulated by our outer senses that we can hardly hear our inner soul.  Many fear looking at the hunger within.  We should value our spiritual hunger as we do our physical hunger; a bad appetite leads to under nourishment and malnutrition.

 b) Legalists              John 6:28
This group wanted a list of rules because it is easier to be dominated by a leader than to responsible for your own inward spiritual life.  It is easier to make rules than to build relationships.
Jesus’ reaction: John 6:29
The LEGALISTS wanted the LAW but not the GIVER of that law.

c) Sensationalists  John 6:30
Even though they had witnessed the feeding of the 5,000 by the next day this group were eager for another sensation.

Many in the church today fall into the category of “keep them “wowed” and you’ll keep them around!”  It is fickle.
John 6:34
Jesus replied with, “I am the bread of life.”
The Greek could be translated "I am the bread of life and no one else is.
No more waiting required.  Jesus didn’t say “I’ll get onto the supplier.  I have arrived. Here I am.

Which group of people in the story do you have the most sympathy with?

Why wouldn’t Jesus settle for meeting the economic needs of people and abolishing hunger?

What is the most satisfying thing about your relationship with Jesus at the moment?

If Jesus came to meet all our spiritual hunger, why doesn’t every Christian experience full  satisfaction all the time? 

How do we know the difference between being satisfied with our Christian experience and being complacent?

What do you hunger for spiritually?  

Read the story of the baker below and pray about your own efforts to help people find Jesus the bread of life

 The Story of the Beggar and the baker

There was a beggar who came and sat before a baker. “I want bread,” he said. “How wise you are,” the baker assured him. “Bread is what you need. And you have come to the right bakery.” So he pulled his cookbook down from his shelf and began to tell the beggar all he knew about bread.
He spoke of flour and wheat, of grain and barley. The baker’s knowledge impressed even himself as he cited the measurements and recipe. When he looked up, he was surprised to see that the beggar wasn’t smiling. “I just want bread,” he said.
“How wise you are.” The baker applauded his choice. “Follow me, and I’ll show you our bakery.” Down the hallowed halls he guided him, pausing to point out the rooms where the dough is prepared and the ovens where the bread is baked.
“No one has such facilities. We have bread for every need. But here is the best part,” he proclaimed as he pushed open two swinging doors. “This is our room of inspiration.”
The baker knew the beggar was moved as they stepped into the auditorium full of stained-glass windows. The beggar didn’t speak. The baker understood his silence. With his arm around his shoulder, he whispered, “It overwhelms me as well.”
Then the baker leaped to the podium and struck his favourite pose behind the lectern. “People come from miles to hear me speak. Once a week my workers gather, and I read to them the recipe from the cookbook of life.”
By now the beggar had taken a seat on the front row. The baker knew what he wanted. “Would you like to hear me?”
“No,” he said, “but I would like some bread.”
“How wise you are,” The baker replied. And he led him to the front door of the bakery. “What I have to say next is very important,” he told him as they stood outside. “Up and down this street you will find many bakeries. But take heed; they don’t serve the true bread. I know of one who adds two spoons of salt rather than one. I know of another whose oven is three degrees too hot. They may call it bread,” the baker warned, “but it’s not according to the book.”
The beggar turned and began walking away. “Don’t you want bread?” the baker asked him. He stopped, looked back, and shrugged, “I guess I lost my appetite.”
The baker shook his head and returned to his office. “What a shame,” he said to himself. “The world just isn’t hungry for true bread anymore.”
Pray about your own efforts to share Jesus the Bread of Life with others