Day 11 (March 7), John 5:1-18

John 5:1-18

Context:  Jesus stays in Galilee for an undetermined amount of time before departing once again for Jerusalem for a Jewish festival.  We know from John Chapter 2 his first visit was during the Passover and that his visit in Chapter 7 is the Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths), but we can’t say with certainty this particular occasion.  What we do know is that Jesus did one of the only two recorded miracles he performed in Jerusalem (outside the resurrection)!  The other was the healing of a blind man which we will read about in John 9.  In this instance, he proceeds to the Pools of Bethesda, north of the Temple and near the Sheep Gate (see map below … can you locate the two pools?).  A man who was an invalid for 38 years has an encounter with Jesus that changed his life! But since the healing took place on the Sabbath there was a VERY different response from many of the Jewish leaders.

Observations: Archaeologists have unearthed the actual Pools of Bethesda: they were side-by-side with a partition between them.  How critical is it that the events in the Gospels are supported by historical facts and records?  Why do you think Jesus chose to heal this man at a place where people tried but most often failed to experience healing?  Re-read verse 18:  What does that tell you about Jesus and man-made tradition? 

Application:  Is there a prayer that you have wanted answered for a very long time and it has not happened?  How can you apply this story to it?  What man-made traditions are you elevating to the importance of Scripture?  How can you distinguish between a commandment (honor the Sabbath) and a man-made tradition (they forbid carrying even a bedroll on the Sabbath or taking an object from one house to the next)? 

Prayer:  Ask God to help you be true to Scriptures but flexible and adaptable when it comes to man-made traditions that Scripture does not teach authoritatively.  Pray that Evergreen, like Jesus, continues to do the ‘work of the Father’ and be part of the healing and transformational process in other’s lives.

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Day 10 (March 6), John 4:39-54

John 4:39-54

Context:  Jesus stays in the Samaritan town for two days because the people of the town believed in him and embraced his claims as the Messiah.  John records they believed not only because of the testimony of the Samaritan woman but also because they heard it directly from Jesus.  From there Jesus proceeds back to Galilee where he performs his ‘second sign’ authenticating his Messianic identity … the healing of a Capernaum official’s son.  The official visiting Jesus while he was in Cana and a very amazing miracle took place!

Observations:  Why was the Samaritan town so moved and transformed by Jesus?  What things throughout Chapter 4 did the Holy Spirit use to trigger such a wonderful response?  What was the ‘condition of the soil’ in the hearts of the people?  How did Jesus feel when they invited him to stay longer?  The official was from Capernaum where Jesus did many miracles, but why do you think he did so few miracles in Nazareth, his hometown?

Application:  What can you learn from Jesus’ rather intriguing conversation with the Samaritan woman in your everyday encounters?  When’s the last time you asked Jesus to ‘stay and linger’ within you?  Within your church community?  What can we learn from the example of the official from Capernaum?   Or from the way Jesus healed his son?

Prayer:  Ask God to make you more fruitful and to ‘make the most of every opportunity’ with outsiders … with people who have yet to believe in Jesus.  Is there any area of your life that needs healing (heart, mind or soul)?  Ask Jesus to start that process today!! 

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