Drawing of Naaman washing himself in the Jordan river from Foster Bible Pictures

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  • Whether you believe or not. Part 2 of 3

    Whether you believe or not. Part 2 of 3

    Last time, I mentioned that in John’s gospel, chapter 4, Jesus’ return to Galilee is presaged by the comment: John 4:43-44 But after the two days he went forth thence and went away into Galilee, for Jesus himself bore witness that a prophet has no honour in his own country. Yet, the verses that follow, describing his interaction with the courtier from Capernaum whose son was dying at home, don’t seem to fit this description. And then, if you go on to chapter 5, the scene is no longer Galilee. Is something missing from John?

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  • Whether you believe or not. Part 1 of 3

    Whether you believe or not. Part 1 of 3

    In John, chapter 4, after Jesus leaves the Samaritan village, he continues His journey back to Galilee. I mentioned that His detour to the Samaritan village was prescribed as a divine appointment: It led to the salvation of many. His return to his “own country” is also prescribed as a divine appointment… of a different kind. John gives us the Executive Summary in verses 43 and 44 of chapter 4: John 4:43-44 But after the two days he went forth thence and went away into Galilee, for Jesus himself bore witness that a prophet has no honour in his own country.

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  • Pick your time. (Part 3 of 3)

    Pick your time. (Part 3 of 3)

    Nicodemus came to see Jesus at night. He came because he recognized in Jesus the evidence of a new work of God (after four centuries of prophetic silence). The Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar runs into Jesus in the middle of the day. She had little to recognize in Jesus because she came from a people who had lived in a deeper silence for over seven centuries, since the Assyrians ravaged the northern kingdom of Israel. Over the intervening time, the Jews and Samaritans developed an adversarial relationship. By the time of Jesus, they despised each other. Yet, Jesus shows up at that well as if there were nothing to worry about.

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  • Pick your time (part 2 of 3)

    Pick your time (part 2 of 3)

    Another story from the gospel of John that gets a lot of mileage is Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. When Jesus arrives at the well, it is noontime. It is hot. People avoided doing hard work under the burning sun; yet here comes this woman to fill up her water bucket, and she runs into Jesus. Usually the sermon points out that – as we later find out – she is a woman with a “reputation” in that town. Therefore, we are told, she came at the time when no one else would come to the well, to avoid dealing with glares and snide comments.

    But we don’t know why she came. Maybe we should make no assumptions. Maybe she came there for a divine appointment.

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  • Pick your time. (Part 1)

    Pick your time. (Part 1)

    Sermons have been preached on the fact that Nicodemus went to see Jesus at night. Usually, the implication is that maybe he did not want the other Pharisees to see him going there. And then the sermon might ask us questions like, are you ashamed of being a follower of Jesus? Or, do you hide your faith in the dark?

    But maybe Nicodemus has gotten a bum rap.

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  • The war between the kingdoms begins

    The war between the kingdoms begins

    At the wedding in Cana Jesus told his mother his time had not yet come. What time was he talking about? It was the appointed time which the Herald had come to announce. John the Baptizer had been telling the people: the Kingdom of God is at hand. Now, at the first Passover of his public ministry, Jesus declares by his actions that that Kingdom has arrived. And, as all would have expected, since two kings cannot rule over the same land, that would mean war between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. But the conflict did not turn out to be for the land and freedom of Israel against the Romans. Instead it turned out to be for the heart of the people against the enemy within.

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