A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/27 John 4:35-38

35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

You have to have some sympathy for Jesus’ disciples. Just in this event with the woman at the well he rocks their world by having a conversation with her. We know from other accounts of the life of Jesus that James and John wanted to call the wrath of God down on the Samaritans and here is Jesus not only talking to a Samaritan woman but being respectful. They are so dumbfounded and confused that they don’t even ask him about it. They are not sure what to say.

Jesus speaks and seems to answer the questions they must have had but his answer is incredibly cryptic and probably caused them to ask more questions. He speaks of the fields being ready for harvest and of building on the work that others have done. What he is talking about is that the Samaritans are ripe for hearing the Gospel and the disciples need to understand that they are called to reach everyone, including the Samaritans, even if they don’t particularly like the Samaritans.

Jesus is also pointing out that the work of reaching people with the Gospel is a group effort. People have already been doing ministry among the Samaritans to make them ready for the message. We don’t know who those people were but it is obvious from the response of the woman and the rest of the village that they are ready to hear about the Messiah.

This continues to be true even today. People all around you are ready to hear about Jesus. There have been other people in their lives who have prepared the ground and tended the garden of their hearts. They are ready. The question is, how ready are you to let people know about the faith you have in Jesus and the difference he can make in their life? How willing are you to engage in conversations like Jesus did with the woman? That is how we are going to reach people and do what Jesus called us to do, by being willing to be with them, come along side them, befriend them, engage them.

A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/26 John 4:25-26

25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

After debating the proper place for worship the Samaritan woman brings up the messiah. She leans into the idea that when the Messiah comes he will settle the issue of the proper place and way to worship. Jesus shocks the woman by making a bold and clear statement that he is in fact the Messiah she is waiting for.

If there is every a statement by Jesus that fits into the famous trilemma proposed by C.S. Lewis, this would be it. Lewis proposed that when it comes to Jesus there are only three options to understand who he is. He is either the Lord, a liar, or a lunatic. Jesus clearly claimed to be the Messiah. A full understanding of that when we look at the rest of the New Testament also includes that he is God come in the flesh.

Jesus makes a claim that is either true or false. If it is false there are two options. One is he knew it was false and that makes him a liar. If it was false and he believed it, then that makes him a lunatic. He thought he was the messiah but he was not. If however what he said was true then that makes him the Lord he claimed to be.

Jesus the Lord, the long promised Messiah, deserves our obedience and worship. So often we are urged to put our trust in Jesus so we can have eternal life and that is certainly true. But Jesus is worthy of our praise and devotion and obedience, not because of what he can do for us but because of who he is. Obedience of Jesus is part and parcel of being a follower of Jesus, because he is Lord. As Lord he has the authority to call us to obedience.

We live in a time when people do not like being told what to do. We want the freedom to do whatever we want, whenever we want. We want to be able to do what makes us feel happy, or pleasurable, or satisfied. In essence we submit to something else as our Lord other than Jesus. Obedience to Jesus the Messiah is the best way for us to live because of who Jesus is. Sometimes that obedience is difficult. But often times the difficult thing to do is the right thing to do. Followers of Jesus can obey Him out of love and devotion for what he has done. However, followers of Jesus must also obey Jesus simply because he is the Messiah and Lord.

A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/25 John 4:16-24

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

A single woman, divorced multiple times, living with the latest man in her life. In the culture of first century Israel she was an outcast of outcasts. Even today there are many who would reject and judge her. What a different encounter she had with Jesus. He not only did not reject her, he actually engaged her in conversation. He treated her with dignity and respect.

Typically we deal in extremes in situations like this. People would either reject the woman or accept he and her lifestyle as being perfectly fine. Jesus did nether of these things. He absolutely accepted her but he also called her life choices into question. He did it without heaping condemnation on her but he did make it clear that her life was not what it could be or ought to be. She knew that was what he was saying, that is why she deflected the conversation. She really didn’t want to talk about her life.

Interestingly, Jesus went with it. He engaged in the conversation she wanted to engage in. He didn’t do it because he didn’t want to talk about her life. He did it because it kept her engaged and allowed that opportunity for further ministry to emerge. And that is exactly what happened. This woman began to feel the love and respect Jesus gave her and as a result she opened up and her life was forever changed.

People often say, hate the sin but love the sinner. Yet rarely to people stay engaged in the relationship long enough for the other person to experience that love. They are already sensitized to being rejected and will sniff out any hint of it and bale. How willing are you to hang in there, over the long haul, with people whose lives are a mess and need Jesus? Do you know how to truly love them while not affirming their poor life choices? The more you watch how Jesus did it the better you will get at it.

A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/23 John 4:7-15

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

Jesus promised the Samaritan woman that he has living water that if she drank it, she would never thirst again. The woman could only think in very tangible, physical terms. She was not thinking in spiritual terms at all. That should not surprise us. Most of us think more in practical, physical terms than we think about things from a spiritual perspective. All the woman could think about was never have to be physically thirsty again and never having to draw water from the well again.

But Jesus knew that she had a deeper thirst. There was an emotional and spiritual thirst in her life. It manifested itself in the multiple relationships she had with men. She was trying to fill some deep emotional need with physical relationships and it wasn’t working. Jesus was offering to quench her spiritual thirst and in the process heal her emotional needs as well.

So often we try to fill the spiritual void in our lives that exists because we are estranged from God. We try to fill it in ways that promise much but deliver little. In fact they usually end up making things worse. That was certainly that case with this woman. She was an outcast on several levels because she was trying to fill he need for love and acceptance in was that only destroyed her relationships.

What Jesus was promising to do for her was heal her spiritual brokenness and give her the hope and joy of a relationship with God that would satisfy her deepest longings. Not only did he promise a changed life now, but he promised that such a life would extend on into eternity. How sad is it that we recognize that something is not right in our lives and when we try solutions of our own design we only make it worse. How glorious is it that Jesus comes to us, even in our most broken moments and offers a life beyond our wildest dreams and he offers it for free.

A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/22 John 4:7-15

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

The parenthetical note in verse 9 is shocking if you understand the context, “for Jews have no dealing with Samaritans”. There was such animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans that a Jew would walk miles out of his way to avoid crossing through Samaritan territory. They were considered half-breed traders to the faith, heretics and idols worshippers who were worse in some ways that the pagans around them, because they once were a part of Judaism in the past.

Not only is it shocking that Jesus spoke to a Samaritan, which the woman acknowledges, but the fact that Jesus is speaking to a Samaritan woman is even more disturbing and confusing to her, because men would not normally speak to a woman they did not know. But here is Jesus breaking all conventions to speak to a Samaritan woman.

So what are we to make of that? The word that comes to mind is dignity. Jesus treated this woman, and all women with dignity. He treated her as a person of value. He did not gloss over her sin as we will see later in the chapter. But he did not interact with her primarily as a sinner but as a person in need of grace and mercy as well as some shocking truth to put her on a path to God.

From the immediate context we can assume that this woman is an outcast in her own village. She is alone at the well gathering water in the heat of the day. Women at that time would do this early in the morning, gathering the water they needed for the day before the heat of the day. They would also make it a social event. Even today woman don’t go to the restroom alone. Back then they would do as much of their chores together as possible. This woman is alone. The other women do not include her in their circle. When we find out about the number of men she has had we understand why the other women don’t want her around. Nobody wants her near their man, just in case.

Jesus pushes all that aside and speaks to this woman and engages in a conversation that quickly takes a turn she did not expect. He focuses on giving her a new life by way of living water. She doesn’t understand what he is offering. She thinks he is offering her some kind of water that will make it possible for her to never have to come to the well again, to never have to be reminded of her shame by being there in the heat of the day, isolated from others and reminded of her sin. What she will find is that Jesus is in fact offering her a way to remove the guilt and shame of her sin and a way to be no longer be isolated and cast out but we welcomed into the fellowship of Christ and a relationship with God.

A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/21

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;  repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15

The ministry of John the Baptist was intended to prepare people for the coming of Jesus. Once John was arrested for preaching that the king needed to repent, Jesus began his public ministry. His message built on that of John who proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was coming. Jesus announced that it was now here.

The reason the Kingdom was now here was because the king, Jesus, was now here. The people were looking for a messiah/king who would re-establish the glory days of Israel. But Jesus came as a king who would make known the glory of God. For that to happen people needed to turn away from their expectations of a military messiah and look for one who would instead conquer sin and death.

They also needed to turn away from every other area of sin in their lives and trust in the Good News message, the Gospel of the Kingdom. That Gospel was and is that we are broken and sinful human beings who have all run after our own personal idols. We are seeking salvation in things that only condemn us. But Jesus came to bring salvation to anyone who would turn from those idols and trust him. That is the heart of the Gospel. The God we reject each day by running after other gods, came into the world to conquer sin and death so we might live forever in his glorious kingdom.

A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/20

19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:19-21

Jesus has stated that salvation comes to those who put their faith and trust in him. But there is a place for good works in God’s economy. They are not something that earns salvation but cane be something that reflects salvation. When we do what is good and true we want those things to be seen in the light of day, so to speak. We want those things to be seen as being done in the context of our already existing relationship with God, the one we have by faith.

When we do evil things, we want those to remain hidden, in the darkness. Evil and wickedness do not want to be exposed for what they are. They is why they hate the light. And they is why they hate Jesus, because he came into the world as the light of the world. His very life reveals the wickedness of the world. Next to his perfection and holiness, evil is clearly seen for what it is.

So often Christians are busy pointing out al the evil that people do in the world when lives lived like Jesus will naturally reveal the evil in the world by simple comparison.That doesn’t mean we should never call evil for what it is. But if we are not seeking to live lives of holiness and obedience in Christ then we will find it .a much more difficult task and the charge of hypocrisy wold be justified.

Followers of Jesus also need to know that they don’t need to fear the light. Even when we stumble and fall, Jesus wants to bring us to repentance and a healthier relationship with him, so that our witness to the world can be all the more compelling.

A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/19

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:16-18

We are all condemned. That is what Jesus is saying in verse 18. Whoever does not believe in him is condemned already. But maybe you object, “I am not condemned!! I Believe in Jesus”. You believe now. But no matter when you came to believe in and trust Jesus, there was a time when you did not. There was a time before believing that you were already condemned and on death row. You were simply awaiting your execution.

But then something happened. As Jesus said earlier in chapter 3, the Spirit moved in a mysterious way and somehow you came to believe in Jesus. In that moment your sentence was overturned and you were set free. It wasn’t that you had a decent life and a better than even chance at heaven and then Jesus made it even better. Before coming to faith in Christ there is no chance and no hope. But once you come to faith in Christ there is life, abundant life, eternal life, joy filled life. The bars of your prison cell are burst open and Jesus invites you to come forth as he invited the dead Lazarus to come forth from the tomb.

The Good News is what it is because without Jesus the news is tragic. We need to remind ourselves everyday that we were condemned already without Jesus. We had nothing with which to defend ourselves or gain our freedom. But Jesus through his death and resurrection made it possible. That reminder is not intended to break us and make us feel shame. Rather it is intended to remind us how deeply God loves us and to stir our hearts to gratitude beyond anything we have ever experienced before, because we have never experienced freedom and forgiveness like this before.

A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/18

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

This may be the most famous passage in the Bible. Yet it seems that very few people realize that Jesus spoke these words. How amazing is it that Jesus declares the greatness of God’s love for the world through his coming into the world. There is a huge amount of comfort to be found in these words and it is deeply powerful that God loves us that much that he sent his son to die for us.

But there is another side to these words of Jesus that are not some comforting. It comes at the end of the passage, whoever does NOT believe in him is condemned. We are drawn to the first line, God so loved the world. But we ignore the last line that God also condemns. We don’t want a God who has a standard of justice. We want a God who only loves and makes our lives wonderful. We want a God who only forgives. We don’t want a God who forgives only if we put our trust in him. But the God of the Bible who is living and merciful is also the God of the Bible who is just and holy.

Years ago Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon that has become infamous. The title was Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. In that sermon Edwards wanted people to understand that the loving God of the Bible is also justly angered over sinfulness and rebellion and that we should not ignore that aspect of God. Many people today look on that sermon and anything like it, with disdain. God would never send people to hell. God is love. Yes but he is also holy, holy, holy and we should never forget that.

We can take comfort in a God who loved the world enough to send his son to die for us. But we should never presume upon that God or think that sin is not serious and must be dealt with. God wants us to also be holy as he is holy.

A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/17

10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. John 3:10-15

We don’t often think of Jesus as calling out someone and being sarcastic. But that certainly seems to be the case with Nicodemus. Jesus is chiding him for being a teacher of Israel, a religious leader, a Pharisee, and not understanding what Jesus is saying about spiritual things. Nicodemus has a lot of head knowledge about things of the Bible but he does not have insight into spiritual truth.

Then Jesus proceeds to tell Nicodemus some of the most deeply spiritual things you would ever hear. First Jesus is saying that he has descended from heaven with spiritual truth. He is the Son of Man that the Old Testament speaks about as the coming messiah. By saying that he has descended from Heaven Jesus is connecting himself with God in a direct and intimate way. He is claiming to be more than a man. He is claiming to have some connection to the divine that is beyond what anyone ever anticipated. But Nicodemus and others should have anticipated it if they would only have searched the scriptures looking for the deeper spiritual truth.

If that is not hard enough to understand Jesus makes reference to Moses lifting up a staff with the form of a serpent on top and miraculously healing people in the wilderness. Just as Moses lifted that serpent Jesus says that he will be lifted up and not only bring healing to people but actually bring eternal life to anyone who puts their trust in him. Nicodemus has no idea what Jesus is talking about until the crucifixion takes place three years later. At that point it somehow sinks in that he must honor and trust in Jesus. Nicodemus and another Pharisee, Joseph of Arimathea take the body of Jesus and place it in a new tomb.

It is somewhat baffling that time and again Jesus says that eternal life comes by faith in him and not by our works or knowledge or effort and yet time and again people refuse to put their trust in Jesus and keep trying to earn God’s favor. Nicodemus as a Pharisee would have taught people about living according to the law to have a right relationship with God and have eternal life. It took standing at the foot of the cross for it to sink in for him that salvation would be by putting his faith and trust in Christ and not his own religious obedience to rules. That is the heart of the Gospel. Jesus preached that Gospel in countless ways from the very beginning to the very end of his ministry. It is Good News. Trust Jesus with all you have and rely on his work on the cross for your righteousness and salvation.

A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/16

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8

The conversation between Jesus and the religious leader named Nicodemus continues. Jesus is following up on his statement that you need to be born again because Nicodemus doesn’t understand the spiritual implications of what Jesus is saying. All he can think about is the impossibility of being physically born twice. Jesus wants him to understand that he is talking about a spiritual birth.

The new birth is something that happens because the Holy Spirit moves. We don’t know why He moves when He does but we can be aware that it is the Holy Spirit just as you can be aware of the wind blowing. What is important is that we respond to that move of the Spirit and place our trust in Christ.

One of the ironic problems with folks who focused on being born again in the 70’s is that they assumed their experience of the Spirit was the norm and anyone who did not have that experience was not really a follower of Jesus. But the reality is some people are born from above with a powerful and dynamic experience. Some people are born from above with a very internal, contemplative experience. Some people are born from above all at once and some seem to be in spiritual labor for years. What matters is not how you came alive in the Spirit but that it has happened.

Can you look back on a time in your life when it was obvious that you were not spiritually alive but today you are? You don’t need to be able to identify the moment of your new birth any more than you need to identify the moment of your physical birth. But you do need to be able to affirm that once you were not alive and now, because of the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit, you are alive in Christ.

A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/15

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

Nicodemus came to Jesus wanting to understand who Jesus was, especially to find out if he was the long awaited messiah. The conversation to a very unexpected turn, something common with Jesus, when he spoke the words of John 3:3, “unless one is born again”. More than 1900 years later the phrase “born again Christian” would be popularized, misunderstood, splashed all over the media, and be the focus of a heated debate about what it means to be a Christian.

The debate was in part because for centuries people in the Christianized west grew up and lived with the idea that they were Christians because of church membership. But something happened, people came into an awareness of what it meant to come to faith in Jesus, to have a spiritual birth and experience the power of God like never before. That is what Jesus was urging Nicodemus to understand. Just because he was a religious leader did not mean Nicodemus had a saving faith in God. Just because he was a teacher of the Scriptures did not mean he was spiritually alive. Jesus urged him to give deep consideration to what it meant to be spiritually alive.

To be born again is to come alive spiritually by placing your faith and trust in Christ. It is about having a relationship in which you grow in your trust of Christ and in your love and devotion for Christ. Following religious traditions, having a head knowledge of the Bible and theology, performing good deeds in the community are not the things that open the Kingdom of God to you. Loving Jesus with all you have and all you are, being alive spiritually because of faith in Christ is what Jesus was calling for when he said you must be born again.

A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/14

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:19

Jesus has just finished clearing the Temple of the money changers and people who had defiled such a holy place. The religious leaders confronted him and demanded that he give them a sign that would prove his authority to cause such a disturbance. They wanted proof that he was a true prophet. His answer only served to confuse them even though it really pointed to the most powerful sign of his authority.

Jesus said that if they destroyed this temple, he would raise it up in three days. understandably the religious leaders thought he was talking about the physical temple that he has just cleared out. It was nonsense to them. First of all they would never tear down the Temple. It was a sacred place. Secondly, there is no way that Jesus could rebuild something in three days that took years and hundreds of people to build in the first place.

With hindsight we can see that Jesus was actually talking about something far more miraculous. He was talking about the temple of his physical body that the religious leaders would become very willing to destroy. If they were to destroy his body Jesus was claiming to be able to raise it up in three days. Bringing himself back from the dead after three days was a far more powerful miracle that being able to stack a bunch of stones back on top of one another.

The resurrection that Jesus predicted is central to the Gospel and a powerful vindication of Jesus. It is the ultimate demonstration of his right to not only do what he did in the Temple that day, but his right to claim allegiance of all humanity to him as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The fact that the Father raised Jesus from the dead following the crucifixion should be seen as proof that he alone is the messiah and the one to whom we should bend the knee and worship.

A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/13

And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” John 2:13

I saw a meme that said, Remember, “when doing what Jesus did, turning over tables and cracking a whip is not out of the realm of possibilities”. Sometimes we get so focused on gentle Jesus, meek and mild, that we forget he could also exhibit righteous anger. People turning a place of worship into an idolatrous den of thieves was one of the things that provoked his wrath. A place that was intended to draw people closer to the Lord had become a place that actually drew people deeper into sin.

We don’t like to talk about the wrath of God or his righteous anger. A sweet, gentle, grandfather of a God. But the good news of the Gospel is good news because Jesus took the hit for us and took God’s wrath on himself so you would not have to. The anger of God, his wrath, was also righteous. We are deserving of punishment because of our rebellion against God. But God’s mercy is such that he made a way for us to avoid that punishment.

The existence of God’s righteous anger raises a question for us. When is it okay to be angry? Lot’s of followers of Jesus think that anger in itself is a sin. It isn’t. Jesus god angry and yet never sinned. In fact one could make the opposite case that to never get angry could be sinful. People who never got angry about the abuses in the Temple were actually sinning by approving of sin. If you never get angry over child abuse, or racism, or a whole host of other evils in the world then you may be guilty of turning a blind eye towards things that grieve God.

The trick to righteous anger is to never let the anger fester within you and take root in your heart. You need to be angry at the right thing, the sin, and always leave room for mercy and grace for the sinner. Sadly, we too often get angry and the sinner and leave too much room for the sin.

A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/12

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. John 2:7-8

Sometimes it seems like God asks us to do things that make no sense and don’t seem to be very spiritual at all. In 2 Kings 5 a man named Naaman has leprosy. He goes to Elijah to be healed and Elijah tells him to bath in the nearby river. Naaman is take aback by this because he expected Elijah to do something more dramatic, more powerful.

I have to believe that the servants Jesus spoke to in John chapter 2 where also a bit confused. If Jesus was going to do something about the wine running out shouldn’t there be something more dramatic? Shouldn’t there be calling down some power from heaven, some long, loud prayers at least. Yet all Jesus tells them to do is fill the vessels with water and then give some to the steward of the wedding. As far as they can tell Jesus didn’t even pray. Yet this miracle happens.

It should be a lesson to us that God doesn’t need to be outlandish in order to do the miraculous. He doesn’t need to send fire from heaven or knock people over with a word, or have someone shout and dance and break into a sweat in order to do something powerful. In fact, often times in the ministry of Jesus, he did the miraculous in very subtle ways. Often, as we will see, when Jesus healed someone he told them to be quiet about it. He wasn’t flamboyant, certainly not like many TV preachers today. That should tell us something. God doesn’t need charisma. He doesn’t need flash and glitz. In fact it seems that most often God works in very normal, everyday kinds of ways. But those are no less miraculous that when he sends fire from heaven.

The trick for us is to see God at work in the little things. We need to see God at work when someone crosses your path that you never expected but it becomes clear that he arranged it. We need to see God in the quietness of breaking bread and sharing it with one another in holy fellowship. We need to see the miraculous in the birth of a child and the rebirth of an adult into faith in Christ. We need to see the power of God at work in the sermon that speaks right to a current need. We need to see the miraculous in forty people showing up to pain the house of a single mom with cancer, even though they never met her before. Just like those servants who listened to Jesus and did a very mundane thing that turned into a miracle, you and I need to obey Jesus in the mundane things in life and let him turn them into powerful testimonies to Him.