HOPE CHAPEL Sunday Service Notes
Teaching Series: “The Bible - Jesus’ Story”
Today’s Topic: “Week 3: Jesus in the Gospels - the Unexpected Messiah”
For further study (retrieved on Thursday, August 20, 2020):
“Man or Messiah: The Role of Jesus in Judaism” - a Jewish perspective on Jesus as a false Messiah
Today, we are going to look at the story of Jesus contained in the Gospels, but possibly in a different way then you have before. As Christians we believe, based on the Gospel accounts, that Jesus was the long ago promised Messiah, come to save the world from sin. He’s also promised to return and we look forward to that day.
The Jewish people, for the most part, continue to look for the coming of the Jewish Messiah. They do not acknowledge Jesus as Christ; the ‘prophetic proofs’ from the Old Testament that Christians claim apply to Him, are denied as revisionist by nature. Jesus is rejected as a fraud on a number of issues–He just didn’t meet the criteria. He was not what the Jewish nation had been looking forward to. The Gospels tell us of an entirely unexpected Messiah–they tell us the story of Jesus!
Expectation #1 - The Messiah would be a human. God, or YHVH, in the Old Testament was understood as a singular being. The Jews of Jesus’ day held firmly to a faith that was Monotheistic–a belief in the existence of One God. They believed that the coming Messiah would be sent by God, but would be entirely human. Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah and the Son of God would have been as ridiculous a notion to them as if someone claimed to be the fourth person of God in today’s Christian churches. Because of that, every time Jesus affirmed His deity–His Oneness with God–those around Him accused Him of blasphemy.
HOPE CHAPEL Sunday Service Notes
Teaching Series: “The Bible - Jesus’ Story”
Today’s Topic: “Week 2: Jesus in the Old Testament”
For further study (all retrieved on Thursday, August 13, 2020):
“Jesus in the Old Testament: Types”
“Jesus in the Old Testament: Christophanies”
“Where Is Jesus in the Old Testament” by Glen Scrivener
“Is Jesus in the Old Testament: Examples and Their Meaning”
When it comes to “Jesus in the Old Testament,” this morning truly represents just the tip of the iceberg! I have reduced a veritable mountain into a mole hill and for that I apologize, but as I said last week the topic of Jesus in the Old Testament is huge and we can only touch on some of the highlights this morning. I have included a number of online resources for those of you who are interested in pursuing this topic further and I would like to encourage you to “be a Berean” like those that Paul commended, “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). I am not claiming to be Paul, but the principle of checking out what you’re taught has been set and commended!
Today, I want to talk about three different ways that we find Jesus in the Old Testament:
HOPE CHAPEL Sunday Service Notes
Teaching Series: “The Bible - Jesus’ Story”
Today’s Topic: “Week 1: Jesus In the Bible - Introduction”
When we say that the Bible is God’s Word, we are saying that it was written by Him, for Him and about Him. The central character of the whole Bible is Jesus - the Messiah, God-incarnate, the sacrificial Lamb and returning King. During these next five weeks, I want to demonstrate for you how Jesus is found throughout the entirety of Scripture–from Genesis’ very good Creation to Revelation’s Alpha and Omega–the beginning and the end.
Youtube video from “The Bible Project - Messiah”
At the start of our previous teaching series, “In the Beginning” from Genesis 1-3, I began with the subject of God–from whom all things find their source. I would like to begin this series with an introduction that includes a review of the subject of God because Jesus is God; basic Bible facts; the Bible as the book about Jesus; and what Jesus had to say about His connection to the Tanak or Old Testament.
JESUS IS GOD
To disregard the Bible’s claim that Jesus was God is to reject it entirely. We must either believe what it clearly says, or deem it unreliable and throw it away. We may wish to pick and choose which parts of Scripture we prefer, but we do not possess the ability to discern which parts are reliable and which are not. The Bible claims to be “ inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16)–all of it; we must either accept it at face value, including the claims of Christ’s deity, or reject it out of hand.
Daily Devotional - 6 August 2020
“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell...Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:28,32-33).
Yesterday, we left Peter running for his life from the Garden of Gethsemane...in fact, all the disciples were running for their lives. These followers of Jesus had only hours earlier pledged their willingness to die for Him and unhesitatingly declared their allegiance to Him–never would they disown Him. Yet just a short while later they are running, scared witless. Why? Because in that moment they were entirely confused. These were brave men; these were loyal men; but they also found themselves disappointed and confused. The Messiah, the man they thought was going to lead them in military victory over the Romans, had submitted Himself to his captors without a fight! Everything they thought they knew about the future had come unanchored in the aftershock of Jesus’ arrest. This was simply Peter’s first taste of disappointment.
Before we’re too hard on the disciples, let’s take a closer look at what happens next. They may have run, but we know that at least some of them did not entirely abandon Him. In John’s gospel, we read that, “Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus. Peter had to stay outside the gate. Then the disciple who knew the high priest spoke to the woman watching at the gate, and she let Peter in” (John 18:15-16). Both John and Peter stayed close to Jesus during his trial before the high priest; we don’t know how John interacted with the others, but we know that Peter had jumped into self-preservation mode. Prior to being let into the courtyard, the woman who let him in asked Peter, “You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?” And he answered with his first denial, “No, I am not” (18:17).
The gospel writers leave us somewhat confused concerning the exact events that took place over the course of that night–each emphasizing different details–but one thing is certain. By the end of the night, Peter has disowned Jesus not just once, but three times. As the rooster crows, signalling the beginning of a new day, Peter has proven Jesus’ words to be true, but which he had refused to believe, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me” (Matthew 26:34). It’s at this point that Jesus turns and looks directly at Peter and he is thunderstruck by the realization of what he has just done (Luke 22:61). As much as he may have felt confused and disappointed with God, he is overcome by his disappointment with himself. He could no longer face Jesus; he left weeping bitterly (22:62). The Bible doesn’t tell us where Peter spent the days between this moment and when the women came to tell him that Jesus had risen from the dead...we can only guess.
I suspect Peter spent the next days beating himself up, probably depressed, possibly even contemplating suicide. How these words of Jesus’ to the disciples must have haunted him, “everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:33). He was a broken man. Everything he thought he knew had been torn from him. Had the last three years all been a deception? How had he gotten things so badly wrong? What had he missed? Could he ever overcome such great a failure?
We really don’t know, but one thing we do. Early in the morning on the day after the Sabbath, the women traveled to the tomb to tend to Jesus’ body–but found it empty! When Jesus appeared and spoke to the women about telling the disciples, He singled Peter out. Jesus knew the struggle that Peter had endured over the course of the past days; word had probably gotten out about Peter’s denial. Jesus wanted it known that Peter was to be told, too, about His resurrection. Despite what had happened, and Peter’s overwhelming disappointment in himself, Jesus was not finished with him. He still had work for him to do. Peter had been thoroughly humbled–and he would soon be ready to lead The Way!
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 5 August 2020
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31).
We’ve all known someone, who despite professing faith in God, has at some point turned away; people, who despite appearing to have a solid belief in Jesus, have chosen to reject what they had once held so firmly too. Maybe that person is the person we see looking back in the mirror at us. What happened? We hear lots of reasons, but I think that the main one is disappointment with God–He didn’t come through when we needed Him to or in the way we expected Him to. I would suggest that whenever we have been disappointed with God, He is not the problem, but rather a misunderstanding on our parts. For an example, let’s take a look at Peter.
Peter was called by Jesus to follow Him...and after seeing the miraculous catch of fish, Peter hadn’t hesitated. When Jesus asked the disciples who they thought He was, Peter declared, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). When Jesus had predicted that all the disciples would desert Him, Peter was adamant in his loyalty, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you" (Matthew 26:35). He was a member of Jesus’ inner circle. He was with Jesus when Elijah and Moses appeared–he saw Him transform and heard the voice of God, “This is my Son, listen to Him”...and was terrified (Matthew 17). He was one of Jesus’ closest friends, and in His time of anguish, Jesus asked him to lend his support in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37-38).
But it was during this time in the Garden of Gethsamane that Peter had his first real taste of disappointment with God. Judas Iscariot, the traitor, kissed Jesus in greeting; this was the prearranged signal between Judas and those who were going to arrest Jesus, identifying which man they wanted. Peter, sensing his time to act had arrived, pulled out his sword and sliced off the ear of the high priest’s slave. He was fully prepared to put his earlier declaration to action–he was willing to die for Jesus. But what happened next, left him confounded. Jesus rebukes Peter and tells him to put away his sword and then turns and heals the injured man. Jesus doesn’t even try to resist his capture! At this point all the disciples scatter...these men who only hours earlier had pronounced their willingness to engage in a battle to the death for the Messiah, scrambled away as they came to realize that the fight they thought they had signed up for wasn’t going to happen.
Over the next 24 hours they would see the Messiah, the promised Rescuer, the One who they were counting on to overthrow the Romans in a glorious battle and assume the position of King over the Jewish nation...die. How could this be? This was not what they had assumed would happen. Jesus had told them He had come to die, but they had never understood what He was telling them; they had refused to have their expectations of the Messiah derailed by the words of the Messiah. As a result, they suffered a great disappointment and were left floundering...what next? Well, for the answer to that question, you will have to wait for tomorrow’s post. But one thing I would like to leave you with, when faced with disappointment, take care not to allow your limited perspective to reject God and His plans. He is the only One who sees all and what you experience as a disappointment today, might bring about your greatest joy in the days to come...as was Peter’s experience!
~ Pastor Jane
HOPE CHAPEL Sunday Service Notes
Teaching Series: “In the Beginning: Genesis 1-3"
Today’s Topic: “Week 5: Jesus’ Work of Redemption: The Eradication of Sin, The Very Good of God’s Creation Once Again Realized ”
Scriptures: Revelation 20:10; 2 Peter 3:1-14; Romans 5; Romans 8:1-30; 1 Corinthians 15:42-44; Revelation 21; Revelation 22:1-5 (and others contained with the text)
For those desiring to do further study concerning Jesus’ redemptive work and the time frame between his death and resurrection:
Jesus as Redeemer.
Where was Jesus during the three days between His death and resurrection?
We talk of the ‘power of Christ’s blood’ and Christ’s ‘redemptive work on the cross’ but do we fully appreciate the extent of the work accomplished when Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected three days later? What does it all mean? Have we fully grasped what it means when we say that Jesus eradicated sin and its affect on God’s Creation?
“The doctrine of redemption extends even beyond the matter of individual salvation. During his lifetime, Jesus provided abundant proof of his ability to completely restore a fallen world. He demonstrated his lordship over heaven when he calmed the storms on the sea (Mark 4:35-41); he demonstrated his lordship over hell when he exorcised demons from a troubled man (Mark 5:1-20); he demonstrated his lordship over life when he healed a woman of her incurable disease (Mark 5:24-34); and he demonstrated his lordship over death when he raised a young girl from the dead (Mark 5:35-43). With these and countless other miracles (John 20:30-31; 21:25), Jesus...[began the work of making] all things new (Revelation 21:5).”
The work of redemption has been described as, “accomplished, but not yet complete.” Jesus is in the process of making all things new, and the full completion of His redemptive work will be realized when He takes His throne and the last vestiges of sin are finally and unalterably dealt with. Yet all that is needed to accomplish His great work is already done–He died, removing the curse of sin from Creation. Galatians 3:13-14 says, “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’ Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.”
So what did Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead accomplish? LOTS!
GENESIS 3:14-20 ~ CURSES & CONSEQUENCES - Jesus’ work fulfilled the requirements!
Curse on the Serpent / Satan - When God cursed the serpent, He promised that despite its continued ability to strike at the heel of Eve’s offspring, He (singular) would crush the serpent’s head. All through Jesus’ life, we see Satan attempting to bring about Jesus’ demise–as a baby (King Herod killed all the baby boys two years of age and under to eliminate Jesus - Matthew 2:16); in the wilderness (if he could entice Jesus to sin, he could ensure His spiritual and physical death - Matthew 4:1-11); the crowd’s attempt to kill Jesus (the people of Nazareth were intent on pushing Jesus over a cliff for ‘blasphemy’–Jesus had claimed He was the long awaited Messiah–but He was able to simply walk away - Luke 4:28-30). Satan finally succeeded through the religious leaders who had Jesus nailed to a cross–what he didn’t understand was that Jesus’ death was just a ‘heel’ strike. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead and Satan’s destiny was sealed. He is still allowed to roam the earth as a roaring lion, seeking to wreak havoc on humanity (1 Peter 5:8), but John tells us clearly what awaits Satan, “And the devil, who deceived them, [will be] thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).
Curse on the ground - All creation has been ‘groaning as in childbirth’ (Romans 8:22) waiting for the day of Christ’s return and for His revelation of His true children (8:19). It was cursed because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to produce thorns and work against humanity’s efforts to feed themselves. Since then, the earth has been truly defiled–every living thing returns to dust; we have not cared for it as we should; we have used its resources for our gain, and to our own detriment. 2 Peter 3:7 tells us the future of our current abode, “the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.” We are told that Jesus is planning to start fresh. The removal of the curse from humanity was accomplished through His death, and His work of redemption will be further accomplished when the present ‘heavens and earth’ are destroyed to make room for a new heaven and earth–having never been defiled by sin–where God will live with His people (Revelation 20:3).
God’s Discipline of pain & futility - Jesus has fully redeemed us, but pain is a reality that will remain on this earth as part of human experience until Christ comes back and presents us with new imperishable spiritual bodies. Does this mean that we just have to suffer through it or can we take steps to lessen this punishment of pain from God?
Jesus took our sins upon His own body, paying the price for our punishment. And though pain is still very much a part of our human existence, it is my belief that we are free to find means to alleviate the pain imposed on humanity in the garden, just as we are now free to seek forgiveness and spiritual renewal through a relationship with God.
Renewal of our relationship with God - When sin entered the world through humanity’s disobedience, people, who had once enjoyed fellowship with God, now experienced fear of Him. God who had been able to trust sin-free humanity, knew that sinful people could not be trusted. The relationship was broken. In addition, Eve would no longer seek to please God, but would turn her devotion to her husband. We have seen this pattern of people giving loyalty and the worship that should be reserved for God alone, directed at other people throughout our shared history. Jesus’ redemptive work placed God back in His rightful position, at the centre of individual hearts. In the Old Testament, worshipers could not approach God directly, but had to have a priest intercede for them. Through Jesus’ work as our sacrifice and priest, we can now enter into God’s presence with confidence (Hebrews 10:19). A relationship with God is made possible for all people, whether “Jew or Greek, slave or free, man or woman–we are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
Renewal in the balance of power - When God first outlined the consequences for their disobedience, God told the woman that despite her desire to please her husband, he would rule over her. As observed in our previous lesson, power imbalances result in abuse–simply consider the plight of women even today. In India the birth of a son brings great celebration, whereas the birth of a daughter often brings disdain; or consider that of women in ‘custodial’ states where a woman is only permitted to speak and act according to the will of a man. "In Afghan society, the best women are those who are not seen and heard. As the saying goes: 'The sun and moon haven't seen her'" (Retrieved on 07/31/20 from
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-53436335). Women have been behind men in terms of ‘being recognized as persons,’ having the right to vote, hold a job, own property, in pay equity and other societal expectations...just for being born a woman.
Don’t worry, this is not going to turn into a man-hating feminist tirade; but it does beg the question. In light of Jesus’ incarnational life–how He lived as a human–and His work of redemption on the cross, are we stuck living according to the consequences for sin? Is there still a ‘heavenly duty’ of male-rule and female subjugation–otherwise known as patriarchy–owed by women because of sin? Christian leaders are fiercely divided on this subject. I would suggest that Christ’s redemption also worked to allow for the balancing of power–shared by man and woman as God intended when He pronounced His Creation as ‘very good.’ Jesus’ redemptive work makes all things new again.
Jesus showed us the better way, the way God had intended for things to be at Creation. He completely disregarded the societal norms around age, social class, gender and race.
Jesus showed us the way of love–loving God first and loving others as Himself. He did not change how He treated someone based on any of the criteria we often use. He did not teach a hierarchy based on patriarchy, but treated all with dignity–equally worthy, equally called, equally gifted.
Decay & Death the biproducts of sin, will be no more! - The Holy Spirit that raised Jesus back to life is our guarantee that we too will live again (Romans 8:11); our bodies may die, but our spirits will live forever (8:10). When Christ returns, those who have died will be resurrected (1 Thessalonians 4:16) and those who are yet living on the earth will ‘meet him in the air” (4:17). We will receive new imperishable spiritual bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). And we will live forever in God’s renewed kingdom that sin has had no part of and will never be permitted to enter (Revelation 21:27). Revelation 21:1-5 paints a wonderful picture of what is to come, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever’. And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’”
Just as sin changed everything about God’s very good Creation, Christ’s work on the cross eradicated sin and its influence on all that we know. His is a work that is done, yet is still in progress; the full completion of Jesus’ redemptive work will be finally realized at His second coming when He takes His rightful place as King over His fully restored kingdom.
Next week: N E W Study Series, The Bible, Jesus' Story
Daily Devotional - 30 July 2020
“ For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).
A week ago, a few of us met at the church building to do some much needed clean-up work. In the process of cleaning out the furnace room, a white growth on the floor came to my attention. It looked like a combination of snow and ice, but given that the temperature in the basement far exceeded freezing, I knew it had to be something else. After consulting with others, we determined that it must be a type of white mold growing around what was evidently a wet spot in the basement. As bleach ‘kills everything’ it was decided to hit the spot with a good dose of diluted bleach. Done! Three days later, our error in diagnosis became apparent.
When I went downstairs to check on it, I discovered that a whole new healthy case of the snow-ice-like growth had returned and was in fact larger than what had been cleared away three short days earlier. So like most people faced with an unknown dilemma, I went to a commonly used source...I googled it. Turns out it wasn’t mold at all, but rather a substance known as efflorescence. Efflorescence and white mold growth can look very similar. It occurs when moisture leaches through concrete and pulls minerals along with the water. So how do you tell efflorescence and white mold apart? Pour some water on it. If it melts away it’s efflorescence; if it doesn’t it’s mold. One of the suggested remedies was vinegar. So I proceeded to next treat it with the correct remedy. After another three days, the growth has not entirely stopped, but has been significantly decreased. What made the difference? The correct diagnosis!
Reading the news this week, I have been reminded of just how very ‘sick’ this world is and of some of the ‘remedies’ being tried to correct the problems. An Afghanistan woman beaten for having a prescription made out in her name; a Samoan chief sentenced to ten years in prison for his conviction of slavery; a state suing the federal government in the USA; Chinese and American consulates shut due to accusations of spying; Russian online interference charged by the UK and denied. I could go on. Each story identifies a problem and many corrective measures are proffered. But I can’t help but wonder if all our human effort provides little more than a bandage–a solution that will prove entirely ineffective for dealing with our global problems. Ultimately, we are experiencing the consequences of humanity’s poor choices; but the misuse of our freewill is only the presenting problem. The most accurate diagnosis for our problem is sin–our continued disobedience to the will of God. The only remedy that can result in a ‘cure’ is a belief in the work of redemption done by Jesus on the cross.
That is not to say that we don’t work to correct the presenting problems. There is still work to be done to clean away the ongoing build-up as sin leaches through every pore of what was once God’s very good Creation. However, only the correct remedy will provide any real relief. We need God to help us clean up this mess! And in case we are quick to point fingers, remember that the first mess that needs cleaning up is our own. May we not be satisfied with simply scraping away the residual effects of sin in our lives so that we ‘look’ okay...let’s submit to the work that God can do in our lives to transform us, so that we become real change makers!
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 24 July 2020
“For we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7)!
Many people deny the existence of God. Even more refuse to believe that Jesus was the Messiah–the one sent to rescue us. They taunt and even persecute those who profess a faith in Jesus as Saviour. A belief in heaven, forgiveness of sins or any set standard of ‘truth’ is for them entirely nonsensical. If asked, ‘What would it take to change your mind?’ many would undoubtedly answer, ‘Proof.’ But the truth of the matter is that when someone is determined to believe a particular thing, there often is no level of irrefutable proof that will suffice to change his/her mind.
I was reminded of this fact today, as I read Matthew 28. The latter half of the chapter is well-known–Jesus commissions the disciples to continue the work of the Kingdom He has begun, just before ascending to heaven with the angelic promise that He will come again in the same way. The first half is a little less known with some of the details not receiving much attention even at Easter. Jesus comes back to life! But before anyone sees Him, a great earthquake happens as an angel–whose appearance is like lightning–rolls the stone away from the front of the tomb and sits on the boulder, prepared to explain the reason for the missing body. “He’s not here! He has risen, just as He said He would.” There are two groups of witnesses to this event. We most often follow the story of the women that head off to tell the disciples this wonderful news. But they aren’t the only ones present.
Roman guards had been put in place to make certain no one tried to perpetuate the lie that Jesus would come back to life. The Pharisees had heard His pronouncement–that Jesus would be raised from the dead–and wanted to insure that none of the disciples were allowed to perpetrate any further mischief. These same guards saw the angel, saw him remove the boulder, saw the empty tomb...and had become absolutely petrified by what they witnessed. Understandably, they ran off to tell the chief priests. It was in their best interest to report these events; if they were accused of sleeping on the job, their very lives were at stake.
As first hand witnesses, still shaking with fear, the guards would have no doubt presented a believable account, albeit amazing–they obviously believed the story they told. How do the chief priests respond? Here before them is irrefutable proof that Jesus has done exactly as He predicted...He has risen from the dead...an angel of heaven has provided the evidence...He must be the Messiah. Nope! Not these guys.
Their first decision is to consult with the elders and devise a plan...a plan to quash the proof they’ve just been given. They gave the guards a ‘large’ bride to spread the story that the disciples had come in the middle of the night and stolen the body while they slept. The bribe must have been fantastic to convince them...to prevent them from sharing the amazing details of what they had witnessed and to risk punishment for ‘sleeping.’ And of course this false version of events spread simultaneously with the women’s true account of what occurred at the tomb, thus providing a narrative for those who believed and those who didn’t to shore up their opposing beliefs about who Jesus was.
What will it take to convince the unbelieving? Not proof! Those who refuse to believe the truth often dig deeper trenches of denial when faced with it. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day–the ones who had worked so hard to eliminate Him–remained adamant in their unbelief, preferring rather to perpetrate a lie than to admit that they had been wrong...that much of their belief about the Messiah had been off base...that they themselves had been guilty of killing the long awaited Rescuer.
Our faith in God must come through belief and not proofs. It is only as we submit our pride, admit our error and relinquish our need for proof–which will never suffice in the face of our rejection of it–that we will truly experience God. It is good to remember what Jesus said; “Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven’” (Matthew 18:2-4). We need to stop demanding proof–which will never suffice for the one who refuses to believe; instead we need to recognize that we may in fact be wrong and open ourselves to hearing a different version of events. He is Lord!
~ Pastor Jane
Daily Devotional - 22 July 2020
“I know this: I was blind, and now I can see” (John 9:25b)!
One of my favourite Jesus stories comes from John 9, where we read how Jesus healed a blind man. Given that Jesus would later demonstrate that He was capable of raising the dead, healing a man born blind may not have seemed like such a big deal. However, the reason this is one of my favourite stories is not because of Jesus’ healing power–though that is truly incredible–it is the healed man’s response. This man has had to live his entire life up to this point in the dark. He is forced to beg to survive and to be subjected to mistreatment. Jesus and His disciples take notice of the man and he once again hears the familiar question, one that has been plaguing him for years, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins” (9:1).
It was the common supposition of the day, that if an individual was suffering, it was a direct result for sin in his/her life. Naturally, a person born blind–possibly with no eyes at all in this case, for even the disciples could tell this unknown beggar had been ‘born blind’–must have an immense amount of guilt to have to suffer in this way. Jesus’ answer confused the disciples, but lit a spark of hope in the blind man. He may have been blind, but he wasn’t deaf. He had heard about Jesus the miracle worker and here He was stating that his blindness was not as a result of sin, but “this happened so the power of God could be seen in him” (9:3b).
What would Jesus do? The text doesn’t tell us that Jesus asked if he wanted to see; it doesn’t say that the man asked to be healed. It just says that Jesus made a paste using his spit and the dirt, rubbed it over the man’s eye area, then told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam, which means ‘sent.’ The man obeys. There is no hint of hesitation. He goes to the pool a blind man and comes back seeing. And while everyone argues about whether or not he is the same beggar as the blind man they have known, he scans the crowd for the One who has given him sight. He gives testimony and full credit to Jesus for his new condition. He has never laid eyes on the Healer, but he has inexplicably experienced His touch!
He is then taken to the Pharisees. It becomes quite clear that their interest isn’t in the miracle, but the fact that it took place on the Sabbath. Work is not allowed on the Sabbath...not even healing...therefore the one who did the ‘work’ must be a sinner. Jesus, the one the man claims is responsible for his healing, cannot have acted in the power of Holy God for he is in direct disobedience to their understanding of the Old Testament law, “the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work” (Exodus 20:10a).
It is the next part of the story which makes it one of my favourites. This man, born blind, is far less ‘blind’ than those questioning him. He may not have ‘seen’ Jesus, but he has experienced His touch and is ready to obey Him and recognize Him as being from God. In their spiritual blindness, the Pharisees are left groping in the theological dark. This miracle didn’t happen according to their terms and so they reject it...but still cannot deny it! But they remain adamant in their refusal to acknowledge that Jesus may have been acting in accordance to God’s Will. The newly sighted man doesn’t have any of these difficulties. He states with full confidence (and a degree of sauciness), ““Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it” (John 9:30-33).
As a reward for his faith, the Pharisees accuse him of being a total sinner, unfit to instruct them, and turf him out of the synagogue. John tells us that after Jesus heard what had happened to the man, He went out of His way to find him. Jesus introduces Himself. The man born blind now has a face to put with the name. His response is immediate; he bows down in worship. The man believed, not because he had seen Jesus for himself, but because of the work that Jesus had done in his life. His is a faith that should speak to all of us. We shouldn’t need irrefutable proofs–seeing Jesus in the flesh–to believe in Him. As His followers, we experience His work in our lives–beginning with the greatest work of receiving forgiveness and His gift of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives! That should be proof enough...it was for a man born blind.
~ Pastor Jane
“The blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor” (Matthew 11:5).
Do you remember the song lyrics made popular by the Gaither Vocal Band a number of years ago, “get all excited, go tell everybody that Jesus Christ is King?” Back in the 1970s and 80s, many of us sang this song with gusto. But how many of our lives actually reflected that excitement? Think about it. Jesus’ life created a stir, from His conception right through to his visible return to heaven. People were healed...the dead were raised back to life...the hungry were fed. And the word got out. So much so that during a period in His earthly ministry, Jesus was no longer able to travel freely. After Jesus had healed a man of leprosy, He told him not to tell anyone, but like most of us the man couldn’t keep a secret. “The man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him” (Mark 1:45).
Jesus didn’t just amaze people with miracles. He irritated the establishment to the point that they wanted to kill Him. He ignored the conventions of His day...made the Pharisees look foolish...and took it upon Himself to clear the Temple of all the merchants, dumping tables, creating chaos of their commerce. And the word got around! He became a wanted man and a price was put on His head. There wasn’t anyone in His day who had not heard of Him.
If Jesus lived in our time, living out His life as He did in first century Palestine, He would undoubtedly garner the most ‘hits’ and ‘likes’ on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter...far more than some of the stories that have become so prevalent in our day. Some would love Him. Some would hate Him. And while some would recognize His miracles as from God, others would become further entrenched in their skepticism. But there is one thing we would all share in common; we would be talking about Him!
So why aren’t we? If you are a Christian, you should know the stories, or be in the process of learning them through regular reading of the Bible. Those of us who have grown up in the Church and heard the stories all our lives can become too familiar. Yes, Jesus walked on the water. Yes, He fed 5,000 people the biggest picnic with only five loaves and two fish. Yup, He died and rose again...hold on! What was that? JESUS WALKED ON THE WATER?! JESUS FED 5,000?! HE ROSE AGAIN?! These things should absolutely astound us! Just because we can recite the stories doesn’t mean that we know them. We need to remind ourselves of just how amazing and unbelievable much of Jesus’ life was. He was no ordinary man!
Today, I would challenge anyone reading this to contemplate one of the stories of Jesus, anew. Put yourself in it. Imagine the desperation, rejection and chaos turned into joy, acceptance and order through the amazing work of Jesus. As you allow yourself to experience the story in a fresh way, allow yourself to experience the excitement that would have gone along with it. The Jesus we read about in the Bible, is still the Jesus of today. What would happen if His Church allowed Him to work freely in their lives? If we allowed the Holy Spirit to fill us up with His fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)? If we allowed ourselves to get so excited, we just had to go out and tell somebody?
The truth of the matter is that Jesus is still doing exciting work in our world today. If we really believe it, we should be telling others. There shouldn’t be a person alive who knows you that isn’t familiar with your life’s headline, “I am a follower of Jesus!”
~ Pastor Jane
Need some inspiration? Watch this clip from Episode 8 of "The Chosen,"
https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2262755974028732 (access through Facebook)
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!