Thursday of Pentecost 3 – Galatians 5:1, 13-25

Galatians 5:1, 13-25 

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

1For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

2If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

My father grimaced in pain and held his leg. We had come to the lake for a day of waterskiing but had entered what would come to be known in family lore as the “cruise into terror.” My father had been injured by the speedboat’s propellor, leaving a great gash on his lower leg. In the emergency room a whole team of people leapt into action, injecting him with painkillers, cutting, sewing, and applying all sorts of remedies to him. The doctors assured us that my father had been very fortunate, narrowly missing tendons and just skimming the bone on his lower leg. He fully recovered. We sold the boat.

As I reflect on the work of those emergency room doctors and the other instances in which I have accompanied people to the emergency room or to the doors of a surgery, I am struck by the fact that in any other circumstance, we would charge the surgeons doing this with a crime. They are taking sharp knives and cutting human bodies, but of course they are surgeons, and such violent actions are in fact intended for the well-being of the patient.  

Did you notice above that Paul has some very specific things we should not do, but when he comes to what we should do it is spoken only in some rather vague generalities. Some of this is just the nature of the Gospel. It resists rules and rule-keeping. But it is also the case that love sometimes does things which in other instances would be hurtful or even hateful, such as a surgeon in an operating theater. Cutting people would normally be on the list of naughty activities above, but in the right circumstance, it is the loving thing to do. Against love there is no law, but there is a great deal of latitude in how you or I love. God has not always told us exactly what to do. But he has told us to love always.

Wednesday of Pentecost 3 – Psalm 16

Wednesday of Pentecost 3 – Psalm 16

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
    in whom is all my delight.

4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
    their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
    or take their names on my lips.

5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.

11 You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Yesterday we read the story of Elijah. He was having something of a crisis in that cave where God found him. He thought he had been a failure. A member of a prior parish I served observed for me that Elijah sounds like a classic case of burnout. She even said that God’s remedy for Elisha comports well with the sort of remedy a mental health professional would seek for a client who was suffering from burnout: Go on a trip (go to Damascus), get some help (anoint Elisha to replace you), and take a step back and see the truth of your successes (7,000 who have not knelt to Baal.) 

But this psalm might also be a remedy for Elijah in his crisis. It might have helped him in his despair, or at least it seems the opposite of what Elijah was feeling. The psalmist notes that all his good comes from God. God cares about the lives of his saints, but the wicked will multiply their sorrows. It is verse 9 and 10, however, that might make this psalm very specifically for Elijah. His soul will not be abandoned to Sheol, and his holy one will not see corruption. Of course, Elijah did not die. You can read about that in II Kings 2. There, Elijah is taken up into heaven in a whirlwind accompanied by fiery chariots and horses.

Elijah really did not see decay. He shows up again at the mount of Transfiguration centuries later. To this day the Jewish people will set a place for him at Passover just in case he shows up. But Elijah is just Elijah. He came to that mountain of Transfiguration because he came to speak with another whose body did not see decay and whose soul was not abandoned to Sheol, Elijah’s Lord Jesus. Because of that Jesus who is greater than Elijah we too get to pray this prayer. Jesus’ suffering and death is our suffering and death, we have been baptized into it. Likewise, we have been baptized into Jesus’ resurrection. Not with fiery horses and chariots or a whirlwind, but with a trumpet and the mighty voice of God we too shall rise.

Tuesday of Pentecost 3 – I Kings 19:9b-21

Tuesday of Pentecost 3 – I Kings 19:9b-21

And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

1So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. 20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 21 And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.

In the Gospel according to John, at several points people recognize who Jesus is because of what he says or does. Often he is doing the sorts of things that only God does. After he changes water into wine, the disciples believe in him (Jn 2). In the ancient world they did not understand yeast and the process of fermentation. Wine making was a mystery, something God did. After he opens the eyes of the blind man, the blind man worships him (Jn 9). After he raises Lazarus from the dead, the religious leaders seek to move against him. John calls Jesus’ miracles “signs.” The people are reading the signs which point to the truth about Jesus.

Did you notice the repetition in this passage from I Kings? The Word comes and asks Elijah a question, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” After that, when God manifests Himself in powerful wind, earthquake, fire, and finally in a stillness, God asks Elijah the exact same question. I think we sometimes pass over these things too quickly as we read our English Bibles. Reading Hebrew is a much more deliberate process which must be done more slowly. Probably because it does not include any vowels in the text, forcing the reader to sound out every word and think about just what it is. The Word and God ask the same question. What could that mean?

I Kings 19 is making a point like what John is making. The Word of the LORD and God do the same thing. Jesus made wine, healed blindness, provided food, and raised the dead. Those are things which God does. The Word in this passage is God. It is the same One who asked the same question, first as the Word and then as the powerful Creator outside the cave. John begins his Gospel account with these words, likely familiar to us, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

The Word comes to us as well, speaking God’s message of judgment on a sinful world and grace in our Lord Jesus Christ. It is God speaking to us in that Word, whether we are reading it, hearing, or swallowing it in the Sacrament. Elijah listened and did what it said. Go and do likewise.

Monday of Pentecost 3 – Prayer of the Day

Dr. Phil Brandt is the author of our daily devotions. I pray they are of benefit for your lives.

Prayer of the Day

Lord of all power and might, author and giver of all good things, graft into our hearts the love of Your name and nourish us with all goodness that we may love and serve our neighbor; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

I have several fruit trees in my back yard. We planted a quince tree this spring since my wife’s source for them has dried up for us. When you plant a fruit tree you will almost always see that the trunk of the tree has a strange angle, just above the soil level. This is where the graft was made. The tree you are planting is really two trees. One of them is a root stock which is vigorous and strong. The above ground part, however, is another tree, a branch which has been grafted onto the strong root. It has the genetics of another tree, a tree which likely does not produce such vigorous roots, but which produces the fruit which we want.

Did you notice that word “graft” in the prayer? We ask God to graft love into our hearts, a love which is directed up toward God and out toward neighbor. The original root stock of that tree I planted would not produce the fruit I want. No matter how well it was pruned, fertilized, and cared for, it just cannot do it. It is the wrong sort of tree.

We can go to all sorts of therapy, read self-improvement books all day long, we can engage in healthy practices and diligently police our words and deeds to the best of our ability, but we will not produce the good fruit that God demands, not that way. It is good to do many of these things, do not get me wrong, but they will never make us acceptable to God or even able to truly love Him. In order for that to happen, God has to act toward us. He must put that love in our hearts. One of my old friends was fond of saying, “If you take the letters for ‘God’ out of the word ‘Good,’ all you are left with is a zero.” God is author of our goodness, such as it is. By the work of the Spirit, by the gift of Christ, he has grafted godly good into you.

Friday of Pentecost 2 – Luke 8:26–39

Luke 8:26–39

2Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.

34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

The recent shootings in Buffalo and then in Texas have reminded us that evil continues to stalk the land. Just a few days ago a group of men was arrested in Idaho. Were they planning the mass shooting which the police allege? We will have to wait for the courts to settle that. We will lock up the young man in Buffalo who has committed this crime, probably with more effective chains than the townspeople of the region of the Gerasenes did with the demoniac, but will we change him? The shooter in Texas will get no opportunity to change, having died at the scene. What about the men who were hauled off that U-haul truck in Idaho?

In 2016 Chris Buckley was filled with hate, serving as a security guard for the KKK in Georgia. He is no more. A forced encounter with an African-American woman in which he could only simply listen to her along with the friendship of a Syrian refugee has completely changed this army veteran. He has repudiated the KKK and covered up the hateful tattoos which once proclaimed his views. Now he works inside the community of racists to bring people out of that trap.

Jesus cast out a legion of demons in the man who raged in today’s reading. But when the man wanted to leave with Jesus, Jesus denied his request. Instead, he sent the man back to the very people whom he had once terrorized and who surely feared and hated him. He told him to tell the wonderful things which God has done for him. Mr. Buckley can speak to racists far better than I can. He knows them. I am sure the demoniac could speak to the people of his community with a certain authenticity. He must have had a great story to tell, and I am sure everyone wanted to hear it.

I read in Philippians 1:23 that even the Apostle Paul wanted to leave and be with Jesus. It is OK to wish that we could get in the boat and go with him to a better place. But Jesus has sent us back into the difficult places of this world, to tell what God has done for us. Heed His call when it comes to you too. Tell what He has done for you. Through sinners He often changes sinners.

Thursday of Pentecost 2 – Galatians 3:23-4:7 

Galatians 3:23-4:7 

2Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

 1 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But 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. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

One day Jesus was approaching the little village of Nain, it is a tiny place. As he drew near the village a procession of people came out, bearing the body of a young man. The deceased had been the only son of a widow. You can read about this story in Luke 7. Jesus looked at the grieving mother and he had compassion on her and raised her son for her. We like to think that He saw her sorrow, which He surely did, but Jesus also saw the reality of her world. Being a widow in the ancient world was tough. There were no pensions or social security programs, no survivor benefits or even food stamps. She was utterly dependent on her family. In a conservative village in Galilee if her husband had owned any property, she could not inherit it. It had to be held by a male relative, and now her son was dead. She was at the mercy of her husband’s family who probably saw her as a liability and may have seen the death of her male relatives as a curse upon her. Jesus has compassion on her in her miserable situation.

This was what it was like to be a woman in the first century. It was not an easy thing. Did you hear what Paul says in vs 28? Before God there is neither male nor female. Yes, there are men and women, but God’s love is not differentiated. He does not have two categories of heirs. He does not make a distinction in his love for Jews or gentiles, men or women, slave or free.

This does not mean that gender, status, and race disappear, and we are rendered into some homogenized uniformity, faceless and identical. It is a statement about God’s love. In fact, He delights in our uniqueness, diversity, and differences. But He loves us all the same. The earliest churches of Christianity were filled with slaves and women. In a world which only saw their inferior status, Paul’s words of equality before God resonated in their aching hearts. Know and believe this today. God’s love for you is never based on the color of your skin, your gender, your past, or your present status. God’s love for you is always based in the objective truth that Jesus died for you. Nothing you are or have done can ever change that fact.

Wednesday of Pentecost 2 – Psalm 3

Psalm 3

O Lord, how many are my foes!
    Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
    there is no salvation for him in God. Selah

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
    my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
    and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

I lay down and slept;
    I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
    who have set themselves against me all around.

7 Arise, O Lord!
    Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
    you break the teeth of the wicked.

Salvation belongs to the Lord;
    your blessing be on your people! Selah

On November 5, 1858, the Scotsman and missionary John G. Paton landed on the Island of Tanna in what was then called the New Hebrides but today is known as the nation of Vanuatu. Tanna is one of many islands in that south pacific nation. John came with his wife Mary and they were soon joined by a newborn son, Peter. But Mary soon grew ill and died, followed shortly by their son. Surrounded by a hostile and cannibalistic native population, John slept on their graves until he was sure they would not be dug up and eaten. John’s efforts to bring the Gospel seemed to fall on deaf ears. Tensions erupted and Paton was barely saved by the timely arrival of a ship which carried him and another missionary couple to safety.

He returned to Scotland and started raising money, eventually enough to build a steamship and return. He married, had ten more children, but returned to that Island nation which had driven him. His second wife, Maggie, soon began teaching the women of the island, both to read and to sew. John had created an alphabet and translated the Scriptures. By persistence he gradually won their trust and eventually those who had sought to devour him became his friends.

He loved this psalm. Its words of God’s care, despite many foes surrounding him, gave him hope. You are not likely surrounded by cannibals today, but we are always confronted by an ugly triumvirate of sin, death, and devil who wish us ill. Our salvation belongs to God. We go to sleep, are vulnerable and helpless, and yet we arise for the Lord sustains us too. Whatever foes you face today, be these enemies within or without, stronger than you can possibly face, know that the Lord fights for you. Not even death will hold you, but with His strong voice Jesus shall slap the grave and break its teeth and free you from its grasp.

Tuesday of Pentecost 2 – Isaiah 65:1-9

Isaiah 65:1-9

I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me;
    I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here I am, here I am,”
    to a nation that was not called by my name.
I spread out my hands all the day
    to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
    following their own devices;
a people who provoke me
    to my face continually,
sacrificing in gardens
    and making offerings on bricks;
who sit in tombs,
    and spend the night in secret places;
who eat pig’s flesh,
    and broth of tainted meat is in their vessels;
who say, “Keep to yourself,
    do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.”
These are a smoke in my nostrils,
    a fire that burns all the day.
Behold, it is written before me:
    “I will not keep silent, but I will repay;
I will indeed repay into their lap
    both your iniquities and your fathers’ iniquities together,
says the Lord;
because they made offerings on the mountains
    and insulted me on the hills,
I will measure into their lap
    payment for their former deeds.”

Thus says the Lord:
“As the new wine is found in the cluster,
    and they say, ‘Do not destroy it,
    for there is a blessing in it,’
so I will do for my servants’ sake,
    and not destroy them all.
I will bring forth offspring from Jacob,
    and from Judah possessors of my mountains;
my chosen shall possess it,
    and my servants shall dwell there.

When I was in high school, my parents regularly took my younger brother and me on road-trip vacations. We had made several similar trips west but had never gone east. We decided to take a Great Lakes tour. Our extreme eastern point was Niagara Falls near Buffalo, New York. I had grown up in the plains of the Midwest. We had some very large rivers near our home, but not a lot of very large waterfalls. I must say that I was impressed with this one. It thundered and roared and the volume of water that tumbled over the edge was stunning.

I think of God’s love like that. The children of Israel had foolishly tried to dam that flow. They had rebelled time and again against the love of God for them. They had done exactly what He had asked them not to do. Not once, not twice, but generations had done so. In the final verses of this reading God expresses his persistent, unrelenting love for us. Though they have been foolish and rebellious, He does not dispossess them or reject them. For His Servant’s sake, that would be Jesus, he brings forth new life and gives His people a home.

Do not try to dam up the love of God. Let it flow over you. But if you have occasional to look back upon your life, as all of us do, and see many times when you have spurned His love, rejected Him, wandered as far away from Him as you thought you could get, do imagine that your sins are greater than His love. That waterfall of His love has never stopped flowing for you. You cannot stop it. Nothing you can do will stop it. Let it flow.

Monday of Pentecost 2 – Prayer of the Day

If you were expecting this devotion earlier today, I’m sorry I disappointed you. It still serves a good purpose no matter what time of day it comes!

Prayer of the Day

O God, You have prepared for those who love You such good things as surpass our understanding. Cast all sins and evil desires from us, and pour into our hearts Your Holy Spirit to guide us into all blessedness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

In his short fantasy book entitled “The Great Divorce,” C. S. Lewis imagines that there is a bus line which runs from hell to heaven. People can board the bus, driven by an angel, and ride to the gates of heaven. There they will meet someone from their own past, but who is a resident of heaven. It is a fanciful story. The grass in heaven is so much more real that the people of hell have a hard time walking on it. It pokes their feet. At the end of the story, the narrator is given to turn around and see hell. It is nothing but a little crack in the ground outside the gates of heaven.

Lewis is asking us to imagine heaven. What do you imagine will be the most different about heaven from earth? Let us dispense with the silly notions of many people that it will be a place of clouds, harps, haloes, and transparent, ethereal people singing in eternal choirs. This is not a biblical picture at all. Indeed, the Scriptures point us toward Eden restored, a place with lions, tigers, and bears, but no one is afraid of them.

I think, though, that the greatest changes we will notice about heaven will be those inside ourselves. We pray in this prayer that God would cast out from us all sins and evil desires, replacing them with a fullness of the Spirit to guide into blessedness. We will simply no longer be fighting or succumbing to the greed, self-interest, and warped understanding of this world. Can you even imagine a world in which people simply keep the Ten Commandments and other rules because they want to? What about a world in which we really did think it was better to give than to receive? What would living in that sort of a world look like?

God has begun a good work in us which he brings to completion on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).  He is making you ready for heaven itself.

Friday of Trinity – John 8:48-59

John 8:48-59

48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

“Why did I ever sign up for this class – I cannot do this!” The young woman was in tears in my office. She had signed up to study Hebrew with me at Concordia University. If you have never studied Hebrew, it is a strange and ancient language, marvelously expressive and, sometimes, very arbitrary in its application of any grammatical rules. My student was doing very well, but we had just covered some difficult material. I was not surprised that she was struggling a little bit. So, we backed up that day and read some simple things that she already knew. I put my hand on her shoulder and reminded her that just a couple of months before, she could not even read a single word of this language. She had come a long way already.

I think John is doing that for us in this reading today. It falls just before the half-way mark in his Gospel, and John is about to tell us some very important things. But before he does, he has the enemies of Jesus come in and just get Him terribly wrong. “You are a Samaritan and have a demon.” Even the simplest of Christians can refute that error. They know more than these men who question Jesus this day. He is not a Samaritan and does not have a demon.  

“See!” says John, “You really are a theologian! You already know a great deal about Jesus. More than these guys did.” He wants to remind us of just how much we really do know. We need to be reassured of that because John is about to bend our minds backwards as Jesus tells us that he knew Abraham, who had been dead for 2000 years at that point. The people of Jesus’ day could not get their heads around that idea, but you can. You know that Jesus is the Word of God, the Word by which the whole world came into being (John 1:1-3). Of course, He was around when Abraham was walking this earth.

It is a good day to thank God that you have been given to know much about Him. He has revealed His nature to us, and we are stronger and better for it.

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