“Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.”
In the heat of the day along a less traveled dirt road, the Son of God had a divine appointment with the most unlikely of people. However, that’s often the way God works, arranging meetings at times and in places that are most uncommon and with the most unexpected people. We must be open and available to take the road less traveled and see the people the world overlooks, because in these opportunities God often has great things in store.
Have you see the above symbol as a bumper sticker on a car or adorning someone’s cap? I remember when I first saw it over five years ago and thought it was some weird rock band symbol or something. However, when I finally found out what it stood for, I’ve loved it ever since
HE>i = He is greater than I
It serves as a constant reminder of the daily decision we must make to humble ourselves so that Christ may be magnified in our lives. It puts into four simple symbols John the Baptist’s succinct but powerful declaration that “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John made this statement when one of his followers noted how Jesus was attracting more followers and taking some of John’s disciples as well. So he asked what John felt about this after so many years of successful ministry. John’s answer was filled with humility and one that would rarely be heard among church leaders in America today. We would do well to learn from John’s example of humble leadership and pursuit of God’s kingdom above personal success.
It is Valentine’s Day weekend. Love is in the air. And I have the honor of standing up as a bridesmaid for a dear friend as she makes a covenant before God and others to love her man for the rest of her days. While marriage is a wonderful thing and the love God ordained between a man and a woman is beautiful, it is just a weak shadow and imperfect copy of what love truly is. Therefore, as we begin this weekend that celebrates love, I believe it is quite fitting that our next couple verses in John contain some of the most famous words on love in the Bible.
Are you a night owl or a morning person? Does the pre-dawn stillness thrill your soul or do you prefer the quietness of the midnight hour after others have retreated to bed before turning into proverbial pumpkins?
As I sit here in the pre-dawn stillness pondering and writing on today’s passage from John, I think you can guess which category of people I belong to. The early bird catches the worm, and I like getting as many worms captured each day. Yet despite my early morning preferences, I find that I often do my soul-searching praying and wrestling with God late at night and into the wee hours of the morning. Can anyone else relate?
After turning water to wine in Cana and quietly exiting that event, Jesus went to Capernaum where He set up a home base before traveling to Jerusalem for Passover. Remember what John the Baptist declared the first time Jesus appeared on the banks of the Jordan? “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). Therefore, I find it fascinating that the Apostle John makes a point of noting the three years Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem to observe the oldest and most important of all the Jewish feasts: the one celebrating and remembering the salvation of Israel in Egypt through the blood of lambs. Each year of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He committed to being in Jerusalem for the ritual God ordained as a foreshadowing of the sacrifice He would eventually make on a hill outside Jerusalem during Passover.
So Jesus went up to Jerusalem for Passover shortly after calling His disciples and starting His public ministry. While He was there an event took place that highlighted the differences between Jesus and the religious leaders of the day and started the tension between them that would ultimately culminate two years later. What was that event? The infamous purging of the temple.
After spending thirty years in obscurity, Jesus stepped into the pages of world history and began His three years of earthly ministry. First, He was baptized and declared the Messiah by His cousin, John the Baptist, and then He started calling the men who would become His closest disciples. As Jesus was gathering His disciples and preparing to start His ministry throughout Israel, He attended a wedding where a hosting emergency came up that would thrust Jesus into the spotlight sooner than he intended. This event was the wedding at Cana where Jesus performed His first miracle.
Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus calling people to Himself. However, during the early days of His ministry, He intentionally called out the men who would become His group of disciples and core group of followers. These men would walk with Jesus throughout His three year ministry, listen to all His teaching, and join Him on the night He was betrayed. While they were a chosen group of men, they were also extremely ordinary people who failed and struggled in their faith just like we do. What set the twelve disciples apart was not only the fact that Jesus specifically chose them, but that they agreed to follow Jesus wherever He would lead.
But how did these men first meet Jesus? How did they become His followers
John the Baptist was obviously known for his ministry of baptism. Born to Zachariah and Elizabeth as a special gift from God—you can read that story in Luke 1—John was destined for greatness. God had given John a special assignment: prepare the way for the Messiah. It was a mission that John took seriously and successfully fulfilled.
By the time he was thirty, John had a thriving, effective ministry. He had many followers and was seeing revival stir in Israel as he baptized people in the Jordan River. His ministry had such an impact that the religious leaders of the day took notice and began questioning if he was the Messiah or at the very least another prophet. As we saw last time, John adamantly denied any claims to being the Messiah or a prophet and made it clear that his role was to pave the way and point people to the Lamb of God
Every king needs a herald. Every victory needs a forerunner. Every Savior needs a prophet to prepare the way. Before Jesus started His earthly ministry, God raised up another man to prepare the people. John the Baptist was a distant cousin of Jesus. Born to two older parents who were most likely beyond childbearing years at the time of his birth, John’s life was destined by God and filled with purpose. He was a man with a special mission to fulfill and job to accomplish, and he executed his divine calling with excellence and boldness.
Living in the northern part of California in the winter, darkness is a very real thing—both literally and metaphorically. The days are short and darkness descends in the late afternoon/early evening. Add in stormy days and the gloom can become oppressive making the metaphoric darkness a real issue. Seasonal depression is a serious issue here and COVID has not helped in this department. But by far the spiritual darkness present is the most dangerous and rampant.
However, spiritual darkness is not just confined to remote, northerly parts of the globe during winter. It has been prevalent throughout the world since Adam and Eve’s fall in Genesis, and it continues to permeate every people, culture, society, and nation. No one is immune or can escape from the dark world we live in, and it is not something we can dispel in our own strength. However, light has come in the person of Jesus Christ.