One way to go about shaking ourselves from the interpretive grooves (ruts!) formed by our Western assumptions is to encounter a reading of a well-known text that seems shocking at first, until the “new” reading focuses our eyes upon the biblical words themselves.
I think that we, just like the disciples, try to find our fill with bread that will not sustain us. We live for the “big experiences” in our faith – the mission trips, the conversion experiences, the prayers with first time believers and the miracles that we see in our daily lives.
But we miss the deepest blessing of prayer, of life with Jesus: that is, Jesus himself. Jesus is calling us: “Sit down a while. Eat with me.”
I am coming to believe that Jesus ordered people to keep quiet because Jesus knew if we talked, we would mess up the simple message: Jesus is the Son of God and he was sent to this earth to free the oppressed and bring restoration to the whole of humanity and creation.
My speculation is that Jesus breathed on them, not to pour out the Spirit, but as one more proof that he was alive.
Christ’s ascension is beautiful, but the power didn’t stop two thousand years ago.
In just a few short words, Jesus has revealed his own name, and has thereby shown himself to be LORD. “Before Abraham was, I am.”
Jesus is not interested in solely liberating and proclaiming the kingdom of God on his own; instead, he invites ordinary fishers to leave their places of comfort and provision and to follow him in his plan of redemption and deliverance.
What matters is not necessarily the hesitation, but our willingness to take the next step—to move further into following Jesus, to move further into what is perhaps a broken relationship, a broken faith, a broken heart, a broken identity.
Like light in the darkness, the promises of God bring hope. Like a boat firmly anchored through a storm, we find our firm hope in Jesus, the anchor of our lives.
In this Christmas season, help us be willing to be a person, like Jesus and the Centurion, who shares healing words, reshapes cultural expectations, and encourages others that healing takes on various forms of faith.
For Joseph, there is little comfort in store. He will take in a wife about whom others whisper. He will make a cross-country trek with this wife while she is large with child, walking while she rides a donkey, only to see her give birth to the child not only among strangers, but among animals in a stable—the only place that Joseph could find for her.
God continues to bring people and situations into my life to reveal to me that I still play insiders and outsiders. Yet if Jesus submitted himself to a woman who was a religious and national outsider and allowed her experience of the world to reshape his reality, remembering his mission to bring redemption to everyone, who am I to believe I’ll ever be beyond it?
When I read Jesus miracle about healing the demon-possessed man, I typically have tended to focus on the actions and words of the demons and the pigs. But, I find what happens next in the story quite interesting.
In this passage we read: “He could not keep his presence a secret.” Puzzling, isn’t it? That the King of the Universe could not do this one small thing?
Jesus seems to be at a point in his ministry where he’s drawing both positive and negative attention. So after this very public calling out, he takes the men “indoors” and tests their faith privately by asking, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
One of my seminary professors once said that if you read a passage and it appears boring, or it seems like there is nothing there for you, stay with it longer.
The miracles are one of the ways that Jesus’ knowledge, authority, and power start to be revealed as he begins his ministry. And by the end of his ministry Jesus is offering these same ministry tools to his various followers.
Are you a “I need to see it to believe it” type of person? There are certainly times where I am, which makes me wonder about and even long for the chance to have seen Jesus perform a miracle. To marvel at the site of a dead man returning to life, being dumbfounded as Jesus walked on water or to be astonished as a fig tree withered before my eyes. The Gospel writers have given account but to have been there…
In Jesus’ time, the palm branch held a similar role to the homer hanky. Palm branches were a symbol of victory and triumph.
Jesus—God in human flesh—knows our hungering, both physical, and spiritual. Jesus knows that we need bread to provide us sustenance: the Bread of the Presence, Our Daily Bread, the Bread from Heaven.
If we see any light, which is almost every moment of our lives, we are seeing a representation of Jesus Christ as creator, healer, and redeemer. The truth that Jesus is the light of the world is there all the time for us to see.
I knocked on this “door” when I was 7 years old and the door to life has begun a dance ever since with lots of twists and turns, bumps and bruises.
Jesus, the good shepherd provides and protects his sheep to the point of laying down his life for all of us and then, because he can, he takes his life up again and continues living.
What assurance could this new servant of God give to the people who had been stuck in slavery and who had lost their own identity as God’s chosen people?