i believe in miracles

do you? why not add your miracles too?


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What to Make of this Jesus Fellow? John 7:37-52 (how I would say it)

DSC01931 (Hurrah for Memorable Festival Moments)

At the culmination of the festival, Jesus stood and announced loudly, “If you’re searching for something, come find it in me. If you’ll just believe in me, the promise of your ancient texts will come true and you’ll discover deep reserves of energy within you.” He was referring to the Spirit that was going to be available later to those who believed in him. This personal access to God hadn’t yet been granted because Jesus’ purpose hadn’t yet been fulfilled.

When people heard this, some said, “This man just has to be the Prophet.”

Others said, “He’s got to be the Savior we’re waiting for.”

Still others asked, “How could he be the one we’re waiting for if he’s from Galilee? The ancient texts say our Savior will be a descendant of King David from the town of Bethlehem, where David lived.”

There was no consensus on the matter, and some people even wanted to jump him, but no one laid a finger on him.

When the guards reported back to the religious leaders who had sent them to take Jesus into custody, they were asked, “Why didn’t you arrest him?”

The guards replied, “Have you heard this guy? He’s amazing!”

“So he got to you too?” the Pharisees sneered. “Has anyone of any importance bought this bologna? No! But give him an audience of fools and watch out! They’ve been bewitched!”

Nicodemus, the Pharisee who had snuck out one night to speak with Jesus privately, pointed out, “A man is innocent until proven guilty. Shouldn’t we find out what he stands for before we make up our minds about him?”

His colleagues scoffed, “What? Are you from Galilee too? Do your homework, man; there’s no such thing as a prophet from Galilee.”

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Can’t Touch This: John 7:25-36 (how I would say it)

Then the people put two and two together and said, “Oh, this must be the guy they are trying to kill! But here he in broad daylight and nobody has said a word to him. Maybe they concluded that he’s the Messiah after all. But how could that be? We know where this guy is from and one of the defining characteristics of the Messiah is that no one is supposed to know where he comes from.”

Then Jesus spoke out over the crowd in the temple courts, “Yes, you know who I am and where I come from. What you don’t know is that I’m not here representing myself. I’m here on behalf of the real deal. Him, you don’t know. I but I know him because he sent me here.”

That sent the crowd into a frenzy and they tried to grab Jesus, but he slipped through without even being touched because it simply wasn’t time for that to happen.

Not everyone was out to get him though. There were actually a lot of people in the crowd who believed he was legit. They remarked, “Would the Messiah be able to do anything more to prove himself than this man has already done?”

The Jewish leaders of the Pharisee sect were taking note. Later they conferred with the chief priests and together they sent guards to the temple to try to arrest Jesus.

But Jesus just said, “I’ll be here for a while longer, then I’m going back where I came from. You can look all you want then and you’ll never find me. You simply cannot go where I’ll be.”

People whispered back and forth, “Where does he think he can go that is out of the reach of the authorities? Will he go to Greece and teach the Jews who live in Greece? What do you think he mean when he says, “Look all you want and you won’t be able to find me. You can’t go where I’m going’?”


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Festival Side Show: John 7:12-24 (how I would say it)

The festival crowd was all abuzz with talk of Jesus. Some said, “He’s a good man.” Others replied, “He’s full of it!” Regardless of what was said, it was kept on the down-low because no one wanted to be caught talking about Jesus by one of the Jewish leaders.

About half way through the festival, Jesus showed up in the temple courts and started teaching. The people who gathered around were amazed and asked each other, “How does he know so much, he never even studied under a rabbi?”

Jesus replied, “These aren’t my ideas, they come from the one I represent. If you do what you know God wants you to do, you’ll find out where these ideas come from. If I were just up here spouting my own ideas, I’d be an arrogant spotlight seeker. But when a person shines the light on the one he represents, you know he’s genuine and totally on the level.

“You’ve got the law of Moses, right? But nobody here keeps that law—if so, you wouldn’t be trying to kill me.”

“What are you paranoid?” someone answered back. “Who here is trying to kill you?”

“I did one little miracle on Saturday, the holy day,” Jesus continued, “and everybody is up in arms. Yet Moses instituted circumcising boys on the holy day. (Well, Moses didn’t institute circumcision, the patriarchs did.) But if a boy can be circumcised on the holy day and it’s not against the law, why are you all bent out of shape by my healing a man’s entire body on the holy day? Your assessments are like knee-jerk reactions. You need to think things through and be more consistent.”


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Bratty Little Brothers: John 7:1-10 (how I would say it)

Afterwards, Jesus just hung out in Galilee for a while. The Jewish leaders in Judea were plotting to do him in, so he was steering clear of there. But just before the Festival of Tabernacles, Jesus’ brothers asked him, “Why don’t you get out of town for a while and head over to Judea—let your followers see you in action at the Festival? You can’t become a household name hanging out here. If you’re determined to make a spectacle of yourself, get out there and do it.” You see, his brothers thought he was a phony.

So Jesus replied, “Timing’s not right, but I wouldn’t expect you to understand that. You don’t have any idea of what it’s like to be me. Everybody loves you guys, but people hate me because my very existence proves they need to be saved from themselves. You go on to the festival. I’m not going—it would be premature.”

He stayed in Galilee a while longer, but after his brothers had left for the Judea, Jesus headed out too, keeping a low profile the whole way there.

[So, I guess he changed his mind about going to the festival.]


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Bread of Life Buffet: All You Can Eat. John 6:41-71 (how I would say it)

bread

The Jews in the crowd started grumbling about Jesus claiming to be some sort of cosmic energy source. They said, “C’mon, this  is just Jesus. We know his parents, for goodness sake, his dad is Joseph! How can he claim to be from outer space?”

Stop your grumbling,” Jesus answered. “The only way to believe what I’m telling you is if the Father, who I represent, flips the switch on your faith, which would put you among those that come back to life when time runs out. Like your ancient manuscripts say, ‘God will teach all of them.’ If you’ve heard God calling, and sat under his teaching, you’ll believe I’m for real. Of course, nobody has ever seen God, except, well, me.

“Listen, I can’t be any clearer: Believe me, live forever. I am life-giving energy. Your ancestors ate bread from the sky when they were in the desert, but they died anyway. But here I am, offering bread from the sky to whoever wants to eat and not die. I am a living form of bread from outer space. Eat bread, live forever. When I say bread, I’m talking about my body, which I’m going to offer in exchange for life for this world.”

That really ticked the Jews off. They said, “Is he crazy? Does he expect us to eat him alive?”

Jesus replied, “That’s right, unless you eat the Son of Man’s flesh and drink his blood, you’re a dead man walking. If you want to eat my flesh and drink my blood, then I’ll bring you back to life when time runs out. My flesh is a legitimate source of energy and my blood is the original energy drink. Eat up, drink up, be a part of me, and I’ll be part of you. Just like the living God sent me here, and I’m only alive because of him, if you feed on me, I’ll keep you alive. Here it is, people: bread from the sky. Your grandpappy ate manna and died, but you can eat this bread and live forever.”

Jesus was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum when he said all of this and it caused a lot of his followers to doubt. They were talking to each other saying, “Do you have any clue what he’s talking about? Does he actually expect people accept this?”

Jesus knew what they were mumbling about and he said, “Excuse me, have I offended you? I wonder what you’d think if you actually saw the Son of Man going back to outer space! Forget the whole flesh and blood thing. The analogies I’m using are Spiritual and life-giving, but some of you think it’s a load of bull.” (Jesus knew from the get-go who believed, who didn’t and who would turn on him later.) He went on to say, “That’s why I said you’ll only get this if God has flipped your faith switch to the ‘on’ position.”

That was last straw for quite a few who had been following half-heartedly. They packed up and went home.

Jesus turned to the 12 guys who were left and asked, “Don’t you want to head home too?”

Simon Peter answered on behalf of the rest, “Where would we go, Boss? You’re offering eternal life; we’ll take it! We believe you’re for real and we know you’re God’s official representative.”

Jesus replied, “Yeah, besides that, I chose you, the Daring Dozen! But one of you is a devil!”

He was referring to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son. He was part of the Dozen, but later he would turn on Jesus.


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Psalm 119:1-8, Aleph (how I would say it)

We interrupt our regularly scheduled paraphrasing of John’s Version of the Good News to bring you an infusion of Psalms 119. We will return to our regularly scheduled blogging tomorrow. Thank you.

banana slug flickr sniffette 13492074

Life is good for people who do the right thing.

Life is good for people who play by God’s rules

and are totally consumed with knowing God.

They don’t break the rules; they follow the rules.

You, God, have laid down the law and you expect us to live by it.

Man, I wish I were more consistent in doing things your way.

Then I wouldn’t feel like such a banana slug when I think about your laws.

Anyway, I’m just psyched to be your kid and be learning the family business.

I will get this right! Please don’t give up on me!


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You Just Want me for my Bread: John 6:16-40 (how I would say it)

corn (don’t try to make sense of it)

It was getting dark, so Jesus’s followers went back to the lake, got into the boat and headed back to Capernaum. It was dark by the time they set off, and Jesus had missed the boat. The winds were strong and the water was really choppy. About three or four miles in, they saw Jesus coming toward the boat, walking on the water, and it scared the living daylights out of them.

He hollered out, “Hey, it’s just me. Relax!”

So their knees stopped knocking, and they helped him on to the boat. The very moment he stepped on board, presto, they were on the beach near Capernaum.

The next day, all those people Jesus had fed figured out that he hadn’t taken the only boat back to Capernaum—the one his followers took—but nonetheless, he was nowhere to be found. As soon as some boats from Tiberias landed nearby, everybody piled into them and set off to Capernaum to find Jesus.

When they reached the other side and found him, they asked, “Rabbi*, when did get here?”

Jesus answered, “You know, you’re just looking for me because you think I’m a free meal ticket—not because you recognized some miraculous sign of my divinity. You’re out here chasing food that doesn’t keep from one day to the next. What you need to be chasing is the food that lasts forever, the kind the Son of Man can give you, as God’s official representative.”

“So, what do we have to do for God in exchange?” they asked.

Jesus answered, “Just believe. That’s all God’s asking of you. Just believe in his official representative.”

Then they said, “If you’re his official rep, prove it. Our ancient manuscripts say, ‘He gave them bread from the sky to eat.’ So where’s our bread?”

Jesus replied, “You know, it wasn’t Moses who gave the people bread from the sky. My Father is the one who gives the only real bread from the sky. God’s bread comes from outer space and brings life to people on earth.”

“That’s what we’re talking about! Bring it on, breakfast, lunch and dinner!”

“It’s me, People!” Jesus announced. “I am the bread of life. If you’d just get to know me, you will never be hungry. If you’d just believe I am who I say I am, you will never be thirsty. But like I said, I’m here in front of you and you don’t get it. Who does get it are all of those the Father gives me, and I won’t ever turn any of them away. I didn’t come here from outer space to do whatever I want. I’m here on an assignment. And here it is: Preserve the life of everyone the Father gives me, and raise them up when the clock ticks down to zero. God wants everyone who counts on me and believes in me to live forever, and I get the joy of bringing them back to life when time ends.

*I thought a lot about what to do with this word. As you know, its equivalent in Gentile modern vernacular is “teacher.” The problem is adults don’t go around saying, “Teacher!” We do call people “Professor” but I think that has too many educational denotations to be used here. The Professor on Gilligan’s Island wasn’t actually a professor though, was he? Where was his class? What subjects did he teach? Nonetheless, I’m going with Rabbi, because it’s still in Jewish vernacular. And, well, Jesus was Jewish.