Year B – Epiphany 4 – Psalm 111

Psalm 111 – Praise the Lord!  I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. 2 Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. 3 Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the Lord is gracious and merciful. 5 He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant. 6 He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations. 7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. 8 They are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. 9 He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name. 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.

Summary – From A to Z, our Psalmist has no difficulty finding reasons why we should praise the Creator.  Each poetic line begins with and then runs through an acrostic of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.  Our Lord deserves whole-hearted praise and thanks simply because he is who he is:  the Creator of the universe.  His great works certainly include the making and sustaining of this amazing universe; but this Psalm focuses on his redemptive works as an example of God’s upstanding and mighty character.

Insight – Whether as a community or together as a family, each of us should strive for a personal and genuine worship of God.  Connecting our hearts with praise seems only natural.  This Psalm connects worship with wisdom as well.  Biblical wisdom is not so much about how knowledgeable you are, but how well you make decisions.  One key skill when making decisions is what the Army calls situational awareness, understanding where you are.  Each one of us are a part of God’s covenant people.  Each one of us are connected to the stories found in Church history and the Bible.  And each of us have our own stories to tell.  This Psalmist says that as we reflect on all these stories, and share the great things God has done with one another, we will better understand the Lord and how he operates.  And together with his Spirit, we will find a new found respect for our Lord God.  This kind of the fear of God will not only improve our decision making in life, it will improve our worship as well.

Child Catechism – What is the beginning of wisdom?   The Fear of the Lord.

Discussion – How does wisdom help us make better choices in life? How could the fear of the Lord give us wisdom for better choices?

Prayer –  Father, we are so thankful for who you are and what you do we hold fast to your promises give us wisdom to make good choices and to glorify and honor your awesome name in all that we do we praise you in Spirit and True with our whole hearts and minds may we study your ways in the power of your Spirit and in the name of your Son Jesus.  Amen.

Contributed by Malcolm West

Year B – Epiphany 4 – Deuteronomy 18:15-20

Deuteronomy 18:15-20  – The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.  This is what you requested of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the LORD my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.”  Then the LORD replied to me: “They are right in what they have said.  I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command.  Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable.  But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak–that prophet shall die.”

Summary – Deuteronomy is to Moses what Ecclesiastes is to Solomon.  This book contains the words of Moses at the end of his life.  He often looks back on the mighty works God performed for Israel and the lessons they learned from them.  But he also looks forward in hope for the future when he will not be there, but when God will continue to faithfully care for His covenant people.  This is one of those passages.  God promises to raise up another Prophet when Moses is gone.  He will be like Moses, a brother to them, and will continue to speak God’s Word in a way they can hear and understand.  God would judge those who refused to hear and obey his words.  They were to judge those who counterfeited them.
Insight – When he was asked about Tim Tebow’s prayerful quarterbacking, Dave Silverman, the president of American Atheists, said, “The universe has a trillion stars. Ninety-five percent of it is dark matter.  It’s hubris [foolish pride] to think the Creator of all wants the Broncos to win a football game.”  To an unbeliever, the universe is a vast expanse of cold silence – mostly dark matter.  But this is a lie.  To paraphrase Francis Schaeffer, “God is there and He has NOT been silent!”  God has gone to great lengths to speak to His People.  His Word has always been a priority.  It is the food by which He faithfully feeds those who fear Him; He doesn’t forget His covenant.  In the context, Joshua was that prophet to Israel … a lesser Moses.  But this passage points beyond the first Joshua to another Who would come as the Greater Moses.  He would not only bring the Word as one having authority, He would be the Word made flesh.  During Epiphany, we celebrate God Who ‘told the gospel word to the nations who’d not heard.’  In Christ, we who begged for the crumbs from the table have been brought to the feast of the Word as sons.
Children’s Catechism –  How did God promise to speak His word to Israel after Moses died? By sending another prophet.
Discussion – In what ways does God speak to His people today?  Are there prophets that tell the future today?
Prayer – Kind Father, You have exalted above all things Your holy name and Word.  Thank you for giving that Word as a gift to feed us by His death.  Cause our hearts to burn in love of Your Word and to be enlarged to return our gifts to You and to the nations, for Your glory, in the name of Your Son, our Lord, the Word made flesh. Amen.
Contributed by Ben Rossell

John 14 – A Troubled Heart

St John’s Gospel (33): A Troubled Heart (John 14)

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 “And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas *said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” 8 Philip *said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. 15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. .  .

John 14: X Chiastic Outline
Troubled Heart (1)
Going to the Father (2-9)
His Words and Works (10-14)
My Commandments (15)
The Spirit (16-20)
My Commandments (21)
His Words and the World (22-24)
Going to the Father (25-26)
Troubled Heart (27-31)

This passage is a chiastic dialogue (i.e., series of parallel thoughts that circle a center). It begins with Christ’s encouragement to not have a “troubled heart” (v1) and it ends with the same idea (v27). At the center is the promise of the coming Spirit. More than any other Gospel, John reveals the emotions of Jesus through his dialogue with others. In revealing His departure to the Father, Jesus is both pastoral and critical to Thomas and Phillip who question Him. He has both a sinking heart and a commanding voice calling forth faith. He makes plain the “way” to the Father is through Him (v6). Jesus is in the Father and Father is Him, such that to “see” Jesus is to see the Father (v9). Believe this from the words of Jesus, or believe on the basis of the works of Jesus. Those who believe will do even greater works that Jesus did (v12). This means that the works that flow from abiding in the Father will be greater in the apostles and finally the body of corporate believers (i.e., the Church) than even the works in the earthly ministry of Jesus. The works flow from asking in His name (vv13-14). If you love Him you will obey Him in doing His commandments.

The result of this prayerful obedience is that Christ will ask the Father to send the Spirit (another Helper v16). So the Spirit of truth will be sent to the disciples and through this we will know that Christ is in the Father and we are united to Him (v19). In all of this, Judas (not Iscariot) is still concerned about announcing Jesus as Messiah to the world (v23). But Christ makes clear that the task of the disciples is to keep His word, rather than worry about Christ’s publicity. The coming of the Spirit is necessary so that they may be properly taught. The Spirit will bring to their remembrance Christ’s word. Finally, Christ encourages them to not lose heart at His death (going to the Father), but to have His peace.

Year B – Epiphany 3 – 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

Summary – In this passage, Paul is offering the Corinthian church some advice based on their current situation, as well as reminding them of their ultimate destination. To understand this passage correctly, we should understand that Paul is referring to a troubling situation that was happening to the Corinthian church at that time. Most likely it was a famine that was happening in Greek world the time Paul wrote this letter. Because of the present struggle the church was facing, Paul  urges caution in making drastic changes in their lives.  If someone is having a hard time providing for themselves, it might be wise to postpone getting married. But Paul reminds the church that even though things may look bad, our ultimate destination is with God. In the new creation things that trouble us in this world will no longer matter.

Insight – Imagine living in the Great Depression.  You were not sure when your next meal would come; you or your parents would find work.  How would you feel? How would you and your family react? Imagine if you wanted to get married but weren’t sure if you could afford it. But if something like this were to happen, we as Christians should not be troubled. We know that life in this world is not the end. In Christ we will receive new lives, new bodies, a new world. Ultimately it does not matter if you were able to marry, or live lives according to how people think that you should.  No matter what hardships or trials you may face in this life, what will ultimately matte is that you remain faithful to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Catechism – What is the one thing in this world we can always count on?  The Love of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Discussion – If you were in a situation like the Corinthians, or the Great Depression, would you be able to keep looking to Christ?

Prayer –  Merciful Father, We thank you for all the good gifts that you give to us, and we are most grateful for the gift of your Son.  We ask that you would keep us, and that we would remain faithful to you, through whatever trials or hardships this world may give to us. Amen

Contributed by Jared McNabb

Year B – Epiphany 3 – Psalm 62:5-12

5 For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. 6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. 7 On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God. 8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah  9 Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. 10 Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, do not set your heart on them. 11 Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, 12 and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord.  For you repay to all  according to their work.

Summary –  David is confidently expressing his heart felt trust and dependency on the Lord, while encouraging us to do the same.  Indeed, God is our only reliable source of protection in this world.  He alone is fully committed to us.  And he alone has the power to effectively defend us.  God’s active defense has the strength of a mighty fortress.  Everyone and everything else are described as but a single, passing and thoughtless breath of air in comparison.

Insight – Having a silent soul like David does not mean the lack of noisy struggles, it simply means the lack of noisy souls.  Neither does a silent soul stop praying; Instead we are confident in the one who hears those prayers that we speak.  You should always be pouring out your heart before him (v8).  That is, we should always bring our honest and utmost concerns before;  but we should do this because we are already trusting in God.  If our hearts are set elsewhere, relying on worthless and false hopes, we will continue to be disappointed, restless and anxious.

Child Catechism – Who do we rely on for all of our needs?   The Lord God.

Discussion – Have you ever been disappointed? What are some false hopes we rely on?

Prayer – Father, you alone care and protect your people,

      You  alone silence our souls.

      You alone are our hope.

   Give us a confidence and a boldness that could only be from you,

          in the power of your Spirit,

         and in the name of your Son,


Contributed by Malcolm West

Year B – Epiphany 3 – Jonah 3:1-5, 10

 Jonah 3:1-5, 10 – The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying,  “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”  So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across.  Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”  And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.  When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
Summary – After a time of chastening, God’s command is repeated and this time, Jonah obeys [a pattern that plays out dozens of times daily in my home!].  Jonah made the long land journey from whichever coast where he had been abruptly “deposited”.  He was headed to the greater metropolitan area of Nineveh, the heart of enemy territory.  He walked through the region loudly warning of God’s impending judgment.  But rather than being attacked or scorned, his message was sincerely received and the king declared a fast for everyone, from the youngest to the oldest [and even all the livestock!].  When He saw this, God repealed His judgment and spared the people of that land.
Insight – Throughout this book, Jonah comes across as a big whiner.  We often see him plopping down on the ground to pout.  Then God has to tell him, “Get up!”  The really amazing thing is that Jonah seems to keep sulking around during his hike through Nineveh.  His preaching wasn’t really preaching.  It was just announcing the judgment that was to come.  When he finished, he plopped down again under a shady vine outside of town and waited for the brimstone.  But somehow, the people were deeply haunted and moved by his words, despite their messenger.  They repented and began to fast in the desperate hope that – like the pagan sailors who had to deal with Jonah just a chapter before – “Who knows? Maybe God will see and just might have mercy on us.”  God did see … and more than this, He responded by relenting and sparing the land.  This is a glorious Epiphany passage.  It is like the 2-minute movie trailer previewing the way that God’s grace will be fully extended to the Gentile nations one day [and now is!].  It also highlights the mind-boggling nature of God’s grace.  He absolutely loves to show mercy, but He finds no pleasure in the judgment of the wicked.  I find that I’m an expert at talking myself out of speaking gospel words to others because of the fear that I’ll say something poorly or get stumped or come across as overly-judgmental.  The example of Nineveh is an antidote for me.  My tongue may get tied but God’s word can never be chained.  He is able to speak and work mightily through us, weak flawed earthen vessels.  Speak up when the opportunity providentially arises.  It is God Who gives the increase.
Child Catechism – Which people fasted in Nineveh?  [you may need to define “fasting”] Everyone fasted – great and small.
Discussion – When the storyteller says “God changed His mind”, what does it mean?  God’s word produced the fruit of a great revival throughout the land, despite the fact that it came by the mouth of this weak, whiny, and grudge-bearing prophet who actually wanted to see his audience perish.  What principles can we derive from this about revival and our role in evangelism?  Freebie: This little book includes regular references to wildlife, including the one here in our passage [though not printed above] where even the livestock were required to participate in the fast.  We know that God regarded this as a precious thing because of the last lines of the book, where He expresses deep pity for the toddlers and livestock of the land after they endured fasting.  What is a Christian view of the treatment of animals and animal ethics?
Prayer – God of glory, You have shed Your light abroad into the darkness of the world and drawn all nations to Yourself.  Cause us, by Your Spirit, to likewise delight in mercy, forgiving our enemies as You, in Christ, have forgiven us, in Whose great name we pray.  Amen.
 Contributed by Ben Rossell

John 13 – Jesus Serves the Disciples

A Reading of John 13 – “Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. 2 During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, 4 got up from supper, and *laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself…”

A Reflection on John 13 – It is still Epiphany in the Church Calendar, but as we look at the text, we zoom forward to Maundy Thursday. We find Jesus (in Jn 13) at the table. John 13 gives a unique example of simple, lowly service as love. Unlike the other Gospels, John gives us more teachings of Jesus at the Last Supper. The glorious collection of truths in John 13-17 begin with this teaching on love. “A new commandment I give to you.” And this teaching begins with an action, an enacted parable. All of the rich words of John 13-17 unfold just as Jesus unfolds the towel to wash (or “wipe” like Mary did to Jesus) the disciples’ feet. The dirt on their sandal-shod feet was not what we sweep up in the kitchen. It was the build-up of the filth of excrement, decaying animals, rotted food, the “waste” of open sewage which ran in the streets. It was the foul remnants of a defiled world. To clean this was the lowest servant’s work. It could not even be required of a Hebrew slave, in Israel only Gentile slaves could wash feet.

Jesus’s reason for taking this sub-human role is striking: “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God, and was going back to God — rose from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself about.” As the earthly ministry and mission of Jesus was about to reach its climax, as He was fully aware and this crested in His thoughts – What did He do? He arose to do the lowliest service to scrub off the filth of uncleanness.  Jesus unexpectedly provides an action to explain His mission. He made vivid His teaching by this parable. We are to love one another. The next day, Good Friday, Jesus would love them in a more unimaginable way. He would do the work, not of a domestic (Gentile) slave, but of a domestic animal, a sacrificial animal. He would take upon Himself, not the filth of feet, but the blackest wickedness of all the world of evil men. His servanthood with the basin and towel, though shocking to His disciples, is only a small, small example of being the Suffering Servant for us: “And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore … He was pierced through for our transgressions” (Is. 53:3-5).

If through Christ’s crossly and costly work, you have His love in you, What simple actions would show your love to others in your family, church or community?

Year B – Epiphany 2 – Psalm 139

O LORD, you have searched me and known me. 139:2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. 139:3 You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. 139:4 Even before a word is on my tongue, O LORD, you know it completely. 139:5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 139:6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.   139:13 For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. 139:15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 139:16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed. 139:17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 139:18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand; I come to the end—I am still with you.

Summary – Psalm 139 is a memorable Psalm of God’s care and control over our lives. God has searched us and He has known us. He is behind us and before us. Believers can never leave God’s caring presence. All the days of our lives were prerecorded in God’s book. God’s thoughts toward us are like the number of the grains of sand. So much is God’s intentional love for us. God’s care for His covenant people started in the womb for each of us, “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Insight – In light of passages such as Psalm 139, we have no right as Christians to hate ourselves, even in the darkness of sin. God surely calls us to confess our sins, but we owe God love since He first loved us. He first loved us, as the Psalm teaches, in our very creation as persons, as little babies in the womb. We are to live and think as those who are fearfully and wonderfully made. Not only are we special in our creation, but we who believe in Jesus are elected in our redemption. God has made us and saved us from our own sin through Christ. From this we should be fully moved to live graciously, faithfully and “wonderfully.” We should be fully of wonder at God’s love in creation, especially His people.

Child’s Catechism – How were you made? I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Discussion – What are some reasons that people commit suicide? How does this Psalm inform us of the right views of ourselves?

Prayer – O Lord our Maker, You have graciously loved us in knitting us together in our mothers’ wombs and we confess that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Now grant to us the faith to live in light of your care and control in our lives, ever trusting and obeying Your holy will. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Sing this Psalm (to a Common Meter tune, such as Dundee)

O Lord you’ve searched and known me well, you know my going still.
You understand my thought before, I think or do or will.

You scrutinize my path, my way, my rest in night and day;
You know me more than I can know, in all my hidden ways.

Be-fore a word is on my tongue, or words are in my mouth;
Be-hold you know them well before, I speak or lisp them them out.

You have enclosed my life around, before, behind, beside;
And laid your right hand on my head, to hold, and bless and chide.

Such knowledge of your wisdom is, too wonderful for me;
I cannot fathom such a Mind, in all your sovereignty.

Where can I flee from You and hide, where from your Spirit’s eye?
Or flee from Omnipresence’s place, it is futility.

If I ascend to heaven’s heights, or lie in Sheol’s grave;
Be-hold you fill all space and time, e’er omnipresently.

If I could fly on eagle’s wings, across the sea and sky;
Or dive beneath the ocean’s waves, to depths beyond supply.

In such remotest places, lying past what man can know;
There too your right hand leadeth me and never leaves me go. (GS)

St John’s Gospel (31): Jesus Enters Jerusalem (John 12)

Mary Anoints Jesus . . . Again (vv1-11) – The previous chapter makes reference to an anointing of Jesus with costly perfume-oil. But which anointing is the referent (Mt. 26, Mk 14, Lk 7:36, Jn 12)? The puzzling one is in Luke 7:36ff, since it would seemingly be earlier in the ministry of Jesus, perhaps in Galilee (Lk 17:11). The best explanation is not that John “carefully combined details from the two anointing traditions because both stories had details that served his theological purposes” (NIB). Rather, it is like the temple cleansing which fulfills the pattern of cleansing a leprous/unclean House (Lev. 14:33-47; cf. John 2:13), it happened twice. The first anointing in his early ministry pictured forgiveness is fragrant aroma, the second as the basis for forgiveness in a burial fragrance, prior to his final entry into Jerusalem. Note: in Mt, Mk, & Jn it is for “burial,” but in Lk it is about the love arising from forgiveness with no mention of “burial.” This further explains Jn 11:2; this is the Mary who “anointed” Jesus (in the past, aorist vb; e.g., in Lk. 7). It could be objected that “Simon” is also there (in Lk 7), suggesting the same event. However, Simon is very common name (Simon Peter, Simon the Zealot, Simon the half brother of Jesus, Simon Iscariot, Simon the Pharisee*, Simon the leper, Simon of Cyrene, Simon Magus, and Simon the Tanner). The Simon of Luke 7 is “Simon” a Pharisee. The Simon of Mt/Mk/Jn is “Simon the leper.” It is unlikely that a leper is a “pure one” (“Pharisee”). The designation, “Simon the leper” is to distinguish him from the other “Simons” which are legion. With the anointing and “wiping” of Jesus feet, the worshipful Mary does more than sit at his feet to learn, she serves Jesus in the same way Jesus will serve the disciples in the next chapter. Jesus “wipes” (same term) the feet of the disciples. Only Mary, among all of the disciples, “gets” Jesus. This event not only foreshadows Christ’s humble service, it also discloses the haughty disservice traitor Judas. Judas had a “sharp sense of financial values and no appreciation of human values” (EBC). Christ’s proverbial response, “the poor you always have with you…” is an echo of Dt. 15:11, “There will always be poor people in the land.” If one truly desires to serve the poor, there will be abundant opportunity. Christ responds, “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial” (NIV v7; cf 19:39ff). Word spreads that both Jesus and celebrity, mummy Lazarus were present, so crowds formed, preventing the Jewish leaders from killing both of them for the moment. (Poor Lazarus, how many times does this guy have to die?) This pericope at first glance may seem odd, but is an artful transition from the events of ch. 11 (Lazarus, Martha/Mary, and the plot to kill Jesus) to the events of Holy Week. Don’t Judas-ize, using pious reasons for greed.

Jesus Enters into Jerusalem . . . Again (vv12-36) – John alone provides the “Palm Sunday” chronology (“six days before the Passover” + “the next day” 12:1 & 12:12) embedded in Church Time. John’s “triumphal entry” also provides a strong rationale as to why the crowds hailed Jesus waving branches (unique to Jn), namely the raising of Lazarus (vv17-18). These branches under and waving around him provide a symbolic “riding in the clouds” (on the tops of the trees). This entry provides more fuel for the murderous fires in the Pharisees hearts (v19). They proclaim (rightly, but ironically) that the “world” (cosmos) has gone after Jesus; just at this point a group of cosmopolitan Greeks beseech Him (v20). Christ’s words explain the very heart of his mission: “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (v24-25). Christ’s sacrificial and substitutionary death is for the cosmos. His disciples follow this pattern (v26). Jesus prays, “Father, glorify your name” (in all the cosmos v28). As in his baptism, a voice from the sky responded: “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” Christ’s explanation of this powerful word is: the near judgment of the world, the banishment of Satan as coterminous (now is the time) with his being “lifted up to draw all” to himself (v31). Because of the cross, Satan no longer has authority as a “prince” in the world; don’t be a devil-worshiper by believing Satan rules the world. The crowds once again raise doubts and Jesus speaks in “black and white” terms: there is Light in the world now, believe it because soon the darkness is coming. Believe the Light to become sons of Light. Don’t be a devil-worshiper by believing Satan rules the world.

Jesus Summarizes His Teaching . . . Again (vv36-50) – John explains that Jesus spoke these things and then temporarily removed Himself from their clawing grasps (not unlike 6:14ff). John’s summary is that the signs were abundant, but the crowds were faithless. This fulfills the hard words of Isaiah (53) in the rejection of the Servant. He also cites Is. 6:10; God blinded Israel from “seeing” him (Jn 1:11). John emphasizes “seeing” in the quote, cutting out the “hearing” phrases. Seeing is supposed to be “believing” – signs are visible. Amazingly, John identifies Isaiah’s paramount vision of seeing the Lord with seeing Jesus (v41).“I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple” (Is. 6; Jn 12:41). This qualifies as a superlative example of “Jesus = God” teaching in the NT. Despite this glory, John reports that even Jewish believers lacked courage to confess him (v42). Jesus final words of his public ministry sum up his message (vv44ff): believing in Me is believing in the Father; seeing Me is seeing the Father; rejecting my word is judgment by the Father, whose commandment purposed eternal life. Jesus came not to judge the world, but to save the world (v47). Don’t lie about Jesus’s mission which was to save the world.