Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bible Challenge - Do not let your hearts be troubled

This week we have the end of the Gospel of John - basically the last 8 chapters of the Gospel of John are Jesus' death, resurrection and post resurrection appearances

A couple of things to note - while John tells the story of the last supper, it doesn't include the institution of communion - we don't have the "this is my body, this is my blood" scene - but we do have the washing of the disciples feet - for John that is the more important part of that story - that Jesus serves us and calls us to serve others.

Jesus tells his disciples over and over and over again that following him is the way to all that God has prepared for them and that he wants them to be one - to be united as they follow him.  If we love him we will keep his commandments he says - and the Spirit will be with us forever.

John also has quite a lot of post resurrection appearances - he appears first to Mary Magdalene then we have him appearing to the disciples (other than Thomas) then we have the doubting Thomas story then to the disciples while they were fishing and finally the note that there were lots more things - that if they were written down the world couldn't contain all the books.

One of the things that John is focused on is that Jesus' teachings didn't end with his death - that he continues to appear to his disciples and teach them what he wants - which raises the question - where do we see Jesus appearing to us today.

Come to church on December 18 from 5 - 6:30 pm to talk about the Gospels - come even if you can't come right at 5.

We are taking a short break in the Bible Challenge for the holidays - we will start again the week of January 5 with the minor prophets.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bible Challenge - In the Beginning was the Word

For this week's Bible Challenge we are starting the book of John -

Nearly everyone knows the first verse of John:  "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God."  That should give a clue that this is not like the other Gospels.  And that is true.

John's Gospel was the last one written - it dates to about 100 AD - the others are earlier - between 75 and 90 AD.  John's Gospel also has a completely different purpose.  John is writing to a Greek community that already knew the story of Jesus and were devoting themselves to thinking about what the teachings of Jesus meant.  So John's Gospel is less about a chronological telling of the story of Jesus and more about showing the thread of Jesus' teachings.

The first 12 chapters of the book of John contain all of Jesus' public ministry - basically all of his life and teachings before the week of his death and resurrection.

The most famous part of the Gospel of John is probably John 3:16 - it is the best known distillation of who Jesus is and what his life and teachings mean - probably because it is the best "Christian sound bite"

If you combine it with the next verse it wraps all of Christianity up in one package:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  Indeed God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."