I love the Gospel of John. I find it the most theologically challenging Gospel account, and I appreciate the ways it allows us to look into the intimate relationships and conversations that Jesus had with ordinary people.
John’s Gospel includes the reverent yet warm exchanges between Jesus and his relative, John the Baptist. It gives account of the high-ranking Pharisee, Nicodemus, coming to speak with Jesus at night and then being exposed to the light that truth provides. It speaks of the gentle rebuke and invitation that Jesus offered the Samaritan woman at the well. It informs us of Jesus’ deep love for Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. We learn from the comforting exchanges recorded in John 11 that Mary was not the only one who sat at his feet to learn from him—Martha learned the deep theological truths too. In short, because of his commitment to fulfill his kingdom mission, Jesus took the time to “stop” and “see.”
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There is an old cereal commercial that begins by panning across a field of tall stalks of golden wheat. The viewers then see an image of a large family house and an intimate group of people running through the wheat fields to the home. Before the commercial ends, the narrator reminds us, “If you feed them, they will come.”
I have thought about this commercial many times. As I survey the Gospels, I am constantly reminded of the various ways that Jesus shared food, broke bread and simply was hospitable to those in need of compassion and companionship. This is the mark of Christianity. Indeed, this is what it looks like to make disciples of Jesus. You welcome people to a table, to be present with you and the Father. You break bread together, and you eat the Word of God.
Our suffering servant Jesus goes beyond the miraculous work of feeding the 4,000 and the 5,000, plus more of their companions. Yes, he can create something out of nothing. Yes, he can fill us until we are all satisfied. And yes, there can still be so much more left to give.
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The Holy Spirit is at work in us. The Holy Spirit is at work in and through our personal stories, and testimonies. The Holy Spirit is at work saving souls, orchestrating our time and space, the ways in which we live, breathe, and have our being. This is miraculous, and yet I long to see and experience more of him.
I don’t say this as someone who is just looking for a miracle or ways for God to prove himself. I say this as someone who is completely devoted to the Scriptures, and the ways that God has desired to show up for his people in this way. Doing the impossible like Red Sea departures and delivering people from over 400 years of slavery brings him glory.
Raising people from the dead brings him glory. Making promises and then fulfilling them across generations against all odds brings him glory. Sending a Savior to rescue and right all the wrongs of human history brings him glory. Exploding the church from 120 saved souls to thousands in the book of Acts is glorious stuff. This is the work, expression, and way God longs to reveal himself as active and present in the world. This is the way he ushers in spiritual awakenings.
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