The Life and Teachings of Jesus – Week 5 – February 3-7:
If you haven’t downloaded your copy of The Life and Teachings of Jesus 2020 Reading Plan it’s not to late. Take this opportunity as the first of the month to get started on a journey of discovery and of faith. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
Monday – John 1:19-28: In John’s prologue (1:1-18), he tells us that John the Baptist came “to bear witness of the light” (1:7). Now the gospel writer fleshes out John’s testimony in three-parts. Part one (today’s reading) is for a religious delegation and is negative in nature. Part-two (tomorrow’s reading) is for a general audience with a positive message. Then, part-three (Wednesday’s reading) John’s testimony specifically targets two of his disciples. The negative testimony in vv. 19-28 has a specific setting in an encounter between John and a delegation from Jerusalem to question him. John’s preaching and baptizing had come to the attention of the Jewish religious leaders. A group of priests and Levites were dispatched to investigate. John answered each question with great humility. The popular preachers go so far as to state that he, unlike a slave who was required to remove his master’s sandals, was not even worthy of performing this action in relationship to the Messiah.
In your own words, restate John’s mission. In what way(s) is this to be your own personal mission as a believer?
Tuesday – John 1:29-34: Following the religious delegation’s departure, John saw “Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (v. 29). This is the second testimony of John regarding Jesus. Unlike our previous reading, John’s declarations here are positive in tone. The use of a lamb for sacrifice was very familiar to Jews. John uses this expression as a reference to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for the sins of the whole world.
How did Jesus take away the sins of the world like a sacrificial lamb? (see John 19:17-30; Romans 3:21-26; Hebrews 9:1-10:18)
Wednesday – John 1:35-51: As the sequence of days continues (cf. 1:29, 35), John’s testimony targets the hearts of two of his disciples, Andrew and an unnamed man (presumably John, the author of the gospel). These two seek out Simon Peter, Philip, and Nathanael to come see Jesus. Together this group of men becomes Jesus’ first disciples. This is the “call” of the disciples according to this gospel account, not by their fishing nets and boats such as in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Moreover, in contrast to the other gospel accounts, their reason for following Jesus are given.
In today’s reading, Jesus gathers His first disciples. How does each man respond to the testimony he hears about Jesus? What factors do you think influenced each man’s response? In what way(s) can you relate?
Thursday – John 2:1-12: John relates the first great sign performed by Jesus to demonstrate His deity, the turning of water to wine. Only God can create something from nothing. John uses the word “sign” (v. 11) to show that Jesus’ miracles were not merely displays of power but had significance beyond the mere acts themselves. There are seven signs in John’s gospel (see: 2:1-12; 4:46-54; 5:1-17; 6:1-14, 5-21; 9:1-41; 11:17-45). According to John, he records these signs “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).
According to v. 11, the purpose of Jesus’ miracle is not to save the groom from embarrassment but to display Jesus’ glory. What aspects of Christ’s glory does this miracle reveal to you?
Friday – John 2:13-25: When you picture Jesus what do you see? Perhaps you see a Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild. (Or maybe you see Jim Caviezel.) Regardless, the picture that we have of Jesus, in today’s reading is an angry Jesus with a whip in His hand. During the Jewish feast, worshipers came from all over Israel and the Roman Empire to Jerusalem. Because many traveled long distances, it was inconvenient to bring their sacrificial animals with them. Opportunistic merchants sold over priced animals, while money-changers charged exorbitant fees to acquire the proper coins for the temple tax. The religious leaders (no doubt getting a kickback) allowed the temple to become “a house of trade” (v. 16) instead of “a house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13). Jesus corrected the situation in dramatic fashion.
How does John’s picture of Jesus thrashing a whip either fit with, or not fit with, today’s popular concept of Him? Explain your own reaction to this picture of Jesus.