Thursday, October 1, 2015

John, His Gospel and Jesus

I read a couple of blogs on Stan Porter's forthcoming book on John's Gospel. It is the only book I taught twice as a day-time MDiv course at TTC, Singapore. It is a Gospel more than the book of Revelation or any other biblical book that holds my interest and admiration. Only in John you have two cryptic numbers, 153 large fishes in the Gospel and 666 in Revelation. Last night I preached about Jesus going up to the Feast of Tabernacles from John 7. In the midst of the Feast (7:14), Jesus went up to the Temple and taught there. I guess John the beloved disciple recorded many of Jesus' teachings in the Jerusalem Temple during Feast Days that were not found in the Synoptic Gospels. One simple explanation is that Jesus often took his three closest disciples on his journeys, Peter, James and John. John, who laid at Jesus' bosom at the Last Supper probably knew the heart of Jesus more than any disciple, Peter included. Jesus would have in private conversations told John many things now recorded as part of the fourth Gospel. I would not blink an eye to purchase when I come across books like Porter's (only USD30.00) but converted to Ringgit plus postage it will be close to RM250.00. That's half a month's salary for many of my fellow pastors here in Sabah. But last night I preached a powerful message on John 7. I think I made some people felt uncomfortable. Sometimes it is good to stir things a little instead of feel-good sermons and therapeutic messages. The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged word. It cuts both ways.

For the genuine and poor in spirit, it brings repentance. For the hard-hearted, it brings condemnation and often wrath and fury directed to the messenger like what happened to Jesus - "the world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I declare that its works are evil". I spoke about three things from John 7. Waiting for the right time, the time ordained by God "My time is not yet but yours is always ready" Jesus said to his brothers. Second, to be witness requires courage to challenge the wickedness of the world and its people. I spoke about a couple of things how wickedness can even come into the church and related an experience how some people took religion as a means of gain. Taking the church's money and not finishing certain church projects and running away from responsibility. When I rebuked some of these people, it was returned in kind with hatred. Third, I spoke about why some people can accept the Word of God and some can't. If any man would do His will He will know whether my teaching is from God or from myself... Often our problem is not lack of understanding or knowledge of Scripture, it is the lack of desire to do God's will and to seek His glory.

The Gospel of John is profound, simple Greek with limited vocabulary and straightforward syntax (as Porter mentioned) but yet deals with matters profound spiritually and theologically. Besides Revelation, there is surely this Gospel that I would love to write a book on, be it a commentary (unlike) or more likely a theology of John's Gospel or themes in John's Gospel. I better don't get ahead of myself. Several bloggers (pastors and scholars) suggest and I agree that you can only do one thing well whether as a scholar or a pastor. On average since the June 5th earthquake, I preach 5 times a week; it's coming to 4 months now and there is no end in sight. I will be a pastor according to the will of the Lord, if indeed that is His will.

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