What Happened Following Jesus’ Birth

GOSPEL MEDITATION

Luke 2:22-35

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture. From memory, determine the central points.

1.        Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the Temple

according to the Law of Moses. (See Ex. 13:2 & Lev.

12:8). They offered 2 pigeons meaning the family was poor.

2.        The obedience of Mary and Joseph indicates also that

they were observant Jews and would be Jesus as he

grew up.

3.        Here now they meet Simeon, Holy Spirit inspired     prophet who is awaiting the arrival of the Messiah.

4.        The remarkable statement about Jesus being the cause of the “fall and rising of many,” among other things, is a preparation for Mary about what was to become of her baby. The Child would be loved and hated, both at once, and so it has remained to this day.

5.        This extreme reaction reveals both God’s holiness and our unholiness, and that Jesus has an enemy.

6.        The sword that will pierce Mary, the trauma that only a mother could experience, likely was meant to be comforting to Mary, in taking away any surprise or false expectation.

7.        Then Anna, another witness to Mary and Joseph, two witnesses thus meeting Biblical requirements (see Dt. 17:6). Mary and Joseph would be comforted by this.

8.        Some 33 years before the cross, God brings two people to the temple to announce that great event that was to come.

The Christmas Story

Genesis 3:14–16; Psalm 22:14–18; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6–7; 53:3–6; 10–12; Galatians 4:1-6

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture. From memory, determine the central points.

  1. In Genesis we see that our Creator made us with the capacity to know Him, have fellowship with Him, but the great tragedy befell us and we were sent east of Eden. Yet, in chapter 3 verse 15, is the proto-Gospel, the first direct mention of the intentions of this Creator.
  2. God addressing the Serpent, who had deceived Adam and Eve, states, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heal.”
  3. The woman’s offspring, as the historic drama in Scripture makes plain is Mary’s son Jesus, who defeats the serpent while the serpent is only able to do minor or temporary damage.
  4. In Psalm 22 then is a portrayal of the damage the serpent does, all under the authority of the Creator. The Psalmist, David depicts a man dying on a cross hundreds of years before the invention of this horrible instrument of execution is invented.
  5. Isaiah the prophet speaks of a virgin giving birth to “Immanuel” which means “God with us.” Then this virgin born son is “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (If you look carefully you will see the Trinity.)
  6. Further along in Isaiah we find this Immanuel as the suffering servant of Israel. The prophet speaks of a person despised and rejected,  but who is “wounded for our iniquities” and upon whom is laid all of our sin.
  7. Isaiah goes on to say that this despised one’s dying is an “offering for sin” yet his days will be prolonged, even that “the will of the LORD prosper in his hand.” This is clearly about Jesus’ resurrection. (see Isaiah 53)
  8. In the first century CE a former Jewish Rabbi, the Apostle Paul, in writing to a Gentile audience, sums up the ultimate intention of God in this manner: When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5).

Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany & The Plot to Kill Lazarus-John 12:1-11

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture. From memory, determine the central points.

  1. Before going further, look at Matthew’s (Mt. 26:6–13) and Mark’s (Mk. 14:3–9) accounts of what most say is the same story.
  2. Likely a Saturday, the last such before Jesus dies, at the home of Simon the Leper at Bethany, and not at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Bethany, on the east slope of the Mt. of Olives, two miles from Jerusalem, is where Jesus felt safe and was among friends.
  3. A dinner is given for Jesus and Martha served, and Lazarus was present: Could it be a celebration of life event?
  4. Mary is present, of course, with a flask of a very costly perfume, that most think came for a plant found in North India. 5         Mary pours the juice on Jesus’ feet (note in Matthew and Mark, on His head) and most think she anointed both head and feet, the head being the common practice. Pouring the nard on the feet is a sign of deep gratitude.

6          Judas, somehow he kept the money box, protests this supposed waste of resources. We see how little he cared for Jesus. And yes, millions of us have wondered why it was Jesus included him amongst His disciples.         But, He did.

7          Jesus stops Judas short and explains, though no one there would have understood His meaning, that this was an anointing like one would anoint a dead family member.  

8          Yes, one can always give to the poor, and it is unlikely Judas cared for the poor in any case, but Jesus would not always be physically present.           

The Plot to Kill Jesus-John 11:45-57

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.

1          The miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection forced the hand of the Jewish leadership. There is no indication or rejoicing by anyone but family members and close friends.

  1. Here we see the utter blindness of many; the miracle worker must be done away with.
  2. It was all based on fear, fear that the Romans would see the presence of a miracle as a threat and work to illuminate that. It would not have been something new at all.
  3. How quickly minds are changed. At one moment no doubt glad to see their friend Lazarus alive, but at the same time a determination to murder the healer/miracle worker not to mention close friend of their friend.
  4. Caiaphas, the high priest, astonishingly leads the way to sanctioning the death of Jesus. He utters a phrase that is ironical in saying that it is best for one man to die for the people. He is not referring to what would take place, the crucifixion of Jesus, but basically says that Jesus must be killed to prevent something worse from taking place.
  5. John tells us that Caiaphas did not say this on his own, but it was instead a prophesy. Here it must be that at that moment the high priest actually uttered a great truth, that Jesus’ death would mean the gathering of the “children of God” that were scattered abroad, people known as those of the dispersion.
  6. Jesus, then knowing these things, travelled north with His disciples, to the area of Ephraim, and thus away from a premature confrontation. But with Passover coming, some thought that Jesus would come to Jerusalem and then He would be arrested.

Jesus Wept and Jesus Raises Lazarus-John 11:28-44

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.

  1. Jesus approaches Bethany where four days before, Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, had died. Martha, having gone out to meet Jesus, returns and informs Mary that Jesus is calling for her.
  2. On her way to meet Jesus, Mary is followed by some of the Jewish leaders. She finds Jesus, falls on her knees and laments that if Jesus had been there, her brother would not have died. Jesus is deeply moved by those in grief, and asked where Lazarus had been laid.
  3. When Mary says, “come and see” Jesus weeps. Observers ask, well, if a blind man can be healed why not Lazarus?, thus displaying their opposition to Jesus.
  4. For a second time, verse 38, Jesus is “deeply moved.” Jesus directs that the stone laid on top of the burying place be moved. Martha, the ever practical one, points out that after four days there will be a bad odor.
  5. Jesus reminds her He told her that if she believed she would see the glory of God in action. Reminds us of our need to be reminded as well.
  6. The stone is lifted off, Jesus lifts up His eyes and thanks the Father for hearing Him. This He did so that the miracle that is to follow would be a witness to the fact that the Father had sent Him, and was then the Messiah of Israel.
  7. With a loud voice, Jesus commands Lazarus to come out of this burial place. John then states Lazarus come out, bound with the burial clothes. Jesus simple directs he be unbound.

Death of Lazarus and “I am the Resurrection and the Life” John 11:1-27

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.

  1. Jesus had become friends with a brother and two sisters who lived in Bethany of Judea, 2 miles from Jerusalem on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. The story in Luke 7:36–50 may serve as the background for this relationship.
  2. After their brother Lazarus became ill, the sisters sent messengers to inform Jesus of the matter. Jesus stated then that the illness would not lead to death.
  3. Two days after hearing the news, Jesus announces He will return to Judean, whereupon His disciples warn against going back due to the fact He had decided enemies there.
  4. Jesus states that He will do the work while there is yet time to do it. Then He states, that Lazarus has fallen asleep and He goes to awaken him. The disciples protest that Lazarus will awaken on his own, whereupon Jesus now announces that Lazarus is dead and He is going to him.
  5. Thomas, the twin, warns that danger awaits them all.
  6. The journey from Perea, across the Jordan, would take two days and upon arrival at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, Lazarus would be dead four days. An ancient popular myth existed that the spirit of a dead person hovered over it for 3 days, and on the fourth, the person was genuinely dead.
  7. Martha charges Jesus that if He had been there sooner, Lazarus would not have died. Martha recounts what most Jews, influenced by the party of the Pharisees, believed in that there would be a resurrection of the dead, perhaps based on Daniel 12:2. Jesus then announces that He is in fact the resurrection and the life. He then asks her, “Do you believe this?”

Jesus states that He and the Father are One- John 10:22-42

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.

  1. At the time of the Feast of Dedication, otherwise known as Hanukkah, commemorating the rebuilding of the temple in 164 BCE, which temple had been destroyed by Antiochus Epiphanes IV in 167 BCE, Jesus was at the Stoa of Solomon, a covered walkway, when His accusers once again found Him.
  2. They demand that He state whether He is the Messiah or not. They not so much want an answer as they want a reason to kill Him.
  3. Jesus replies that He had already answered them, and the trouble is they do not believe Him. His works, especially the healing of the man born blind, is proof enough. If they were part of His flock, Jesus being the Good Shepherd, they would hear His voice and follow Him.
  4. Once again Jesus refers to God as “My Father.” He even states that He and the Father are One, whereupon His enemies pick up stones again. Jesus then asks them for which of His works (signs-miracles) are they about to stone Him.
  5. The accusers say the reason for the stoning is that Jesus had committed blasphemy for making Himself out to be God.
  6. Jesus, in response, refers to Psalm 82:6 where we read, “I said, ‘You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you.’”
  7. These “gods”, as understood by the rabbis, meant that the judges of Israel, passing sentence, are akin to being gods.
  8. Jesus turns the tables, so to speak. He is not only the Son of God but His words and deeds actually bring judgment upon

His very accusers by their rejection of who He is, mainly His doing the works of the Father, who is in Him.

9.         Jesus now retreats across the Jordan to where John the Baptist ministered, thus safely away from His enemies.

I am the Door & I am the Good Shepherd-John 10:1-21

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.

  1. This passage follows the ill treatment given the man born blind and his parents. The religious authorities clearly demonstrate they are concerned more for religious show than for caring for those who are lost and alone.
  2. Two more “I am” sayings follow, both of which depict the work of the Messiah of Israel.
  3. The “shepherd” images are found at various places in the Hebrew Bible, most notably Psalm 23. God is the protector of the sheep.
  4. Jesus’ analogy using sheep, shepherd, and flock reveal the intention of the Godhead. As the owner of sheep, the shepherd guards and feeds his own. Jesus is the good shepherd, and they come into the sheep fold through Him.
  5. The Shepard intends that the sheep have an abundant life, and this is not merely health, wealth, and pleasure. Jesus is looking ahead to the kingdom of heaven.
  6. There will be one flock with many sheepfolds. Jesus is again looking ahead to what the reality of His kingdom here on earth will look like.
  7. In addition, Jesus also has other sheep that He will gather together. These sheep are Gentiles. Jesus begins with the children of Abraham, but will reach out to His sheep, whomever they are.
  8. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, will die for His sheep. He lays down His life willingly and will also rise from death.
  9. Of course, a division among the religious authorities follows. Some go so far as to say Jesus has a demon and is insane. Others completely disagree. Typical then and now.

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind, part 1-John 9:1-23

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.

  1. A man born blind is forced into becoming a beggar on the streets of Jerusalem. We are not certain of his age, but we know his parents were yet living.
  2. One day while walking through the city, Jesus and His disciples come across a blind man and the issue comes up about whose sin caused the man to be blind. There were a number of ideas about on this issue in that day and this.
  3. Jesus rejects all the usual concepts and simply states that this man’s blindness will turn out to be for the glory of God. Jesus thus sweeps aside all philosophical ideas.
  4. Jesus’ focus for His disciples is on the work they will be sent to do, to announce the One who is the Light of the World.
  5. Jesus proceeds to “anoint” the man’s eyes with clay, the product of dirt and His own spittle. We note, that in another account of Jesus healing a blind man, no clay is used. (see Mark 10:46–52)
  6. A controversy arises since it was on a Sabbath when the sign/miracle occurs. A group of Pharisees, not the full Council of Israel, the Sanhedrin, are offended that “work” was done on a Sabbath by someone no less than Jesus who was already in the cross-hairs of the legalists. (Yes, one of the 39 Sabbath laws was broken by Jesus.)
  7. Upon questioning by the authorities, neither the man healed of blindness nor his parents, give any information that might be used against Jesus.
  8. We learn however, that if anyone were to “confess Jesus to be the Messiah,” they would be put out of the synagogue.

Before Abraham Was, I Am John 8:48–59

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture. Reread them. From memory, determine the central points.

  1. The confrontation with religious authorities continues in the temple, likely still in the court of women.
  2. Jesus’ opponents, after hearing Him say that they are of their father the devil, accuse Jesus of being a hated, religiously errant, Samaritan and also of having a demon Himself.
  3. Jesus immediately denies such a possibility and restates that He in fact honors the Father. Plus, that He seeks the glory of His Father and not His own.
  4. Then most shockingly, Jesus states that if anyone keeps His word they will not experience death. And by death, He is referring to eternal and conscience separation from God. (see Luke 16:19–31)
  5. Jesus’ hearers do not understand and retaliate with the fact that Abraham is already dead, which to them confirms their notion that Jesus has a demon.
  6. Once again Jesus states He does not seek His own glory.
  7. If Jesus were to deny His relationship with God the Father He would be a liar like His listeners were.
  8. Jesus even states that Abraham rejoiced that he would see the day when He would be incarnated.
  9. To those hearing Jesus’ words, they cannot possibly grasp the meaning of His words.
  10. Now comes the 3rd of the “I Am” sayings: “before Abraham was, I am.” Here is the ego eimi based on Exodus 3:14. Jesus states He is in fact God.
  11. The reaction, which His opponents thought quite proper in the face of what they considered blasphemy, would be to kill Jesus by stoning.