What a great week at PCPC! We had Vacation Bible School, Music Camp and Disciple Now occurring all in one week.
I was in charge of one of the groups of middle schoolers at DNOW. The picture in this blog’s header is a couple of the middle schoolers working at Beth-El Farmworkers Ministry. On Monday they packed box after box of bananas, tomatoes and zucchini. On Tuesday, hundreds of families came to Beth-El for this food. These students passed out the bags of food and helped carry it to these families cars.
At the end of our two days at Beth-El one of the students proclaimed “I never knew how much need their was this close to my home. I am definitely coming back.” These students worked extremely hard and I am proud of each and every one of them.
Now on to this week’s chapter!
Jesus, the Son of God
There is a devious undercurrent that runs through this whole chapter. Tracking all of the teachings, healings, and miracles of Jesus is a group of people who are actively plotting his death.
Jesus did plenty of things to upset the religious elite of his day. He routinely put the needs of individuals above the letter of the law (healing on the Sabbath, for example). We see in this chapter two experiences that seem to have pushed the Pharisees over the edge.
- Jesus says that he is God.
- Jesus upends the temple tradition.
Let’s take a look at these in order. If you remember back to our fall series called “Count the Stars” we studied an encounter that Moses had with God. God tells Moses to go and free his people from the slavery of the Egyptians. But before Moses leaves, he asks God his name.
God replies with “I AM.”
Flashforward to a discussion that Jesus is having with the Pharisees. Jesus claims that those who obey his word will never see death. The Pharisees counter that everybody dies, including one of their most revered spiritual leaders: Abraham. “Surely Jesus is not greater than Abraham!” they say.
Jesus replies, “Before Abraham was even born, I AM.”
The Pharisees try to kill him on the spot for claiming to be God in the flesh. But they don’t get that opportunity yet.
Jesus slips away and continues to heal and preach until he finally enters the capital city of Jerusalem for the Passover festivities. What is the first thing Jesus does when he enters the city?
Jesus goes to the temple.
Is it to preach or perhaps perform a sacrifice?
No. Jesus begins overturning tables and kicking out the money changes. Then he invites the blind and the lame into the temple for healing.
Jesus transformed the temple from a market place to a hospital.
This was the last straw for the Pharisees. Not only had Jesus proclaimed to be God but now he is threatening the very fabric of their spiritual expression.
The Pharisees need a way to arrest Jesus without the crowds present (not an easy task considering how much Jesus traveled from place to place). At the end of this chapter, they find their opening: Judas.
Questions for consideration
- In your opinion, why did Judas betray Jesus?
- When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, some said “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” They were confused why God would heal one person and not another. People ask variations of this question still today. How would you respond?