Thursday, October 25, 2012

Oct 25: John 5

Today's reading in our daily plan is John 5. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)

  • In this chapter of John, we follow Jesus back to Jerusalem for one of the five feasts that Jews in that day regularly observed. While he was there, Jesus went to a pool called Bethesda. This was where blind, lame, and paralyzed people would gather in hopes that the mysterious properties of the pool would cure their infirmities. Throughout his life Jesus purposefully sought out people who were hurting, sick, or disabled. And in today’s reading, Jesus heals a man who had been crippled for 38 years.
  • This is the third major miracle in John’s gospel, and Jesus was persecuted by the Jews because it happened on the Sabbath (Saturday). While it is true that, according to God’s fifth commandment (in Exodus 20:8-11), no one should work on the Sabbath day, the Jewish leaders had made further rules that helped keep people from breaking it. However, an unintended consequence was a focus on obeying the rules and looking okay. The result was mere religious action instead of an intimate relationship with God. The breaking of these rules made the Jewish leaders confront Jesus. John records Jesus’ response, which points out multiple aspects of life with God that the Jews were missing.
  • Jesus tells the Jews about his relationship with the Father. He says that God has given him authority and a mission. This kind of talk was radical for the Jewish culture. When Jesus claimed God as his father, he was making himself equal with God. No Jew would’ve done this.
  • In verse 24 Jesus reveals how to have eternal life: “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned.” He shows that life comes from the Father and frees people of condemnation. This eternal life allows us to have a relationship with God.
  • In verse 28 Jesus talks about God’s judgment. God will raise everyone from the dead and judge them based on whether they’ve lived for him or lived for themselves. Jesus is the judge and he will be impartial because he seeks to honor God and not himself.
  • In verse 33 Jesus talks about those who testify about him. The person he mentions is John the Baptist (not the other John, who wrote this book).
  • In verse 45 Jesus says that “your accuser is Moses .” Jesus is emphasizing that the laws the Jewish leadership was trying to follow and enforce were the very laws that point to him.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)

  • Jesus grills the Jewish leaders for missing the point of reading the scriptures. They thought they possessed a relationship with God because they read the Bible, but (ironically) ended missing out on a relationship with God because they got so caught up in the nuances of what the bible said.
  • Jesus takes a hard stance against religion in this chapter. Religion can be a very dangerous thing used by people to leverage power over others.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)

  • God never intended his commands to use for personal gain or tools of power. Instead, every command and interaction recorded in the bible is meant to bring us closer to God. That said, it is easy to miss the author for the story. In what ways has this been true in your life? How can we shed the shell of religion and pursue the passion of relationship with God? What can you do today to be real with God and other people?