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  • The beginning of the escalation

    The beginning of the escalation

    Today I want to wrap up Chapter 5 of the Gospel of John. And we get again to a point where it seems to me that John assumes we are already acquainted with the events in Jesus’ life that are recorded in the other (synoptic) Gospels. If you follow them chronologically, you realize that by the time Jesus heals the man at the pool of Bethesda, he has had several adversarial encounters with the religious leaders: They have even accused him of doing miracles by the power of the Devil. Jesus, in turn, has challenged their hypocrisy openly. We need to keep this dynamic in mind as we come to the rest of Chapter 5.

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  • Whether you believe or not. Part 4 of 3

    Whether you believe or not. Part 4 of 3

    You can tell by the title that I had not planned on writing one more section on this part of my ongoing study through John’s gospel. But in leaving part 3 behind, a nagging question kept coming back to me: How many people were there gathered around the pool of Bethesda? The passage clearly implies there was a crowd there because Jesus disappeared into that crowd after healing the infirm man. Which means there were a lot of people left unhealed that day.

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  • Whether you believe or not. Part 3 of 3

    Whether you believe or not. Part 3 of 3

    Back from a brief detour into the gospel according to Luke, we return to John’s gospel, chapter 5. After spending some time in Galilee, and being rejected in his native Nazareth, we find Jesus again in Jerusalem. In John’s gospel the passage we are about to read is thematically connected to the healing of the courtier’s son in Capernaum (part 1 of this series). That man came to Jesus looking for a miracle and, even though Jesus did not respond the way he wanted him to respond, he took Jesus at his word and received the miracle. We could argue that that courtier had some measure of faith to begin with; after all, he came looking for Jesus. But what about those who don’t even have a tiny bit of faith, who don’t even know there is a Jesus, are they out of luck?

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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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