John 3:31-4:3, NIV

31 " . . . ; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and
speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven
is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but
no-one accepts his testimony.

33 The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful.
34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for
God gives the Spirit without limit.

35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his
hands.
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but
whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath
remains on him."

1 The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing
more disciples than John, 2 although in fact it was not Jesus
who baptized but his disciples. 3 When the Lord learned of
this, he left Judea . . .



January 3, 2011

I just taught an adult Sunday School lesson yesterday from the
book of Isaiah which contains many verses about the anger of
God. That's not a subject I care to focus on. But the prophecies
of Isaiah are about50% on the compassion and grace of God
and 50% on the consequences of sin and God's wrath. So the
subject can't be avoided.

I began the class by asking what are some things that children
do which anger their parents. There were many responses, most
of which had something to do with lack of respect--for authority,
for others, for themselves, in their speech, in their attitudes and
behavior. We also talked about shirking responsibilities, rebellion,
laziness, half-hearted efforts, and the rush to conform and do
what everyone else is doing. Also mentioned were the amount
of time spent texting and other activities which distract and
side-track from their higher goals.

It was not difficult then to see how Christians, as well as the
people living in Isaiah's day, are/were guilty of missing the mark
by not meeting the standards which our loving heavenly Father
had in mind for us. We understand the anger which parents can
feel toward their children. And that compels each of us to look
at our behavior and try to understand how our own actions and
attitudes look from God's perspective.

We can identify with the disappointment, grief and tears of our
heavenly Father. And yes even the anger God feels when we
waste our time, talents and energy, when we fight with each other,
ignore his grace and loving kindness, try his patience, neglect the
disciplines of prayer and opportunities to read and learn and
practice the ancient words of Scripture which are forever new
for each generation.

God has every right to get angry! It was pure grace that sent his
only beloved Son into this world to reveal the true nature of God,
to show us the way of everlasting life, to be light in our darkness
and bread for the journey, to redeem our losses, heal our
sicknesses, give peace to the frightened, freedom to captives and
wings for our souls, and at the end of the day bring us all home
to our loving Father.

And what does God receive in return? Disrespect, rebellion, neglect,
downright rejection! We think we're so smart and capable--we
don't need the old man!

But to those who look up from what they are doing, who take
time to ponder the precious gift of the Father, who believe and
love Jesus, to them God has given eternal life.

                                                                    More journal entries


August 23, 1982
John the Baptist believed Jesus to be God's Son, come to us
from heaven. Christians have duel citizenship; born naturally to
this earth; adopted by faith into God's kingdom. We can speak
the language of the earth, but also the language of the Spirit.

I remember alluding to this in Jesus' discourse with Nicodemus.
We have earthly feet and heavenly wings. One visible; one
unseen. One apparent; the other apparent only when it's missing,
like salt.
So I have earthly feet but heavenly wings--how will that
make my life different 
today! Certainly an added resource. Like
the movie character E.T, I can fly 
when necessary and call home
because prayer is the telephone connecting me 
to my heavenly
Father.


August 24, 1982
The One from heaven, above all others, bears witness to what
he knows of that spiritual realm, but few, hardly anyone, believes
and accepts his testimony.

How infuriating--to know something is true yet others don't see
it. What shattering disappointment--after hopes are high and all
the accompanying excitement, and then to realize hardly anyone
is on board, and few lives have changed. Imagine someone
coming from Almighty God to save us from ourselves, and
the masses rejecting him with disbelief.

No one accepted his testimony. To be delivered, people must
believe in their Deliverer. What sorrowful words these are. Yet
just a few verses ago John was talking about the bridegroom
and the groom's friend whose happiness was complete. Joy and
sorrow striking together again. Never one without the other it
seems.

Yet if/when a person does accept. . . There's always that ray of
hope. Always a remnant. Always someone who sees with
different eyes, spiritual eyes.

August 31, 1982
Verse 36 repeats and reinforces what Jesus told Nicodemus--
accept, believe, and receive eternal life. Acknowledging that
God is true--is that an intellectual or experiential process? God
is true--what does that mean? Loyal in the sense of faithfulness,
being true to his word? Maybe it's a reference to something you
can only know by faith, and you can believe it with confidence,
knowing you are not believing a lie. It exists; it's not a delusion.

God's truth cannot be measured on a scale. Daring faith discovers
God. Trusting faith can discover God today, in my life, as
I experience my family and preserve those pears and get ready
for our vacation trip tomorrow. Loving faith can accept, believe
and receive eternal life.


September 3, 1982
A description of Jesus: speaks the words of God accurately;
measureless Spirit; loved by the Father; power over everything;
knows and can give eternal life; those who reject him, receive
God's anger.

For God so loved the world . . . . In this passage, the Father loves
the Son. Two loves--yet one would die. The death and destruction
of the world would mean overwhelming grief to God; the death
of the Son meant the same, but also life for the world.

 

November 26, 2001
John was saying: I appear great in your eyes. But now someone
much greater is in your midst. I am from earth, he is from heaven.
That's how much greater he is than I am. He will tell you the
words of God, what he has seen and heard and knows. God has
placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son of
God will have eternal life. Whoever rejects him incurs God wrath.
So go to him and live.


November 28, 2001
Jesus' disciples were baptizing. Did John's disciples baptize also?
If so, then Andrew had experience. Peter the fisherman and
Nathanael, the one without guile, most likely became baptizers.
Sacred, serious work.

The Pharisees were religious leaders and were very interested in
what John was doing. Then Jesus became even more interesting
because he was gaining more followers than John. When Jesus
learned that people were watching all this baptizing as a contest,
which he was winning, Jesus left the Jordan to John and decided
it was time to go back to Galilee.

They say if you're going to start a controversy, make sure the fight
is worth fighting-- Jesus decided this was not the controversy he
wanted to be known for. His fight with the Pharisees would not
be over baptism and who does it, or who baptizes more people
than some else.

The Gospel writer refers to Jesus as "the Lord" in 4:3; this is
another new image John uses to help us understand who Jesus
is. The Word, the Life-Light, the Lamb of God, the Son of God,
God's One and Only, and now, the Lord.


September 9, 1982
Jesus departed from a controversial situation. His presence was
creating problems for others, so he moved on. There was no
point in fighting with or struggling against the divisive talk of
the Pharisees!

Transitions are times for changing course, making new plans,
abandoning
old ways. Controversy caused Jesus to move ahead. This
may not have been
something he necessarily wanted to do, but
circumstances necessitated
decisive action.

Transitions can be a time of hope or fear, because we are forced to
branch out
and meet new people in unfamiliar places. In her role
as a peer counselor, my
daughter said most of the transfer students
she talked to at school yesterday
were there because of their parents'
divorce. Their lives may be more fear than
hope for a while. Jesus
wants the opposite for us--more hope than fear.

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