Table Worship at the Walters, Sunday, October 2 at 5:30pm

last-supper-isaac-fanousThe Table is gathering this Sunday, October 2nd for a worship gathering. We will again be at the Walters (contact for directions). Starting at 5:30pm we will share a meal. This week’s meal theme is soups and salads, so bring something yummy to share is you are able. We will then look at John 5:16-47, and ask, “What happens when Jesus becomes king?” Invite a friend; everyone is welcome. See you soon!

What Happens When Jesus is King (John 5:1-15)?

paris_-_bibl-_mazarine_-_ms-_0924_f_150vOne of the most unifying statements to the Christian church is the Apostles Creed. This is a confession of the early church, dating back earlier than 400AD. It was written to combat heresies of the day, and affirmed the Trinitarian nature of God. Look at it w/ me:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit

and born of the virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended to hell.

The third day he rose again from the dead.

He ascended to heaven

and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.

From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.

There are 3 general sections: one for the God the father, one for God the Son, and one for God the Spirit. We could spend all year discussing this creed, but for now, look at the section on JC. WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT JC? He was born; He suffered; He died and rose again to power. All of this is true, but what do we gather about the life of JC form the Apostles Creed? WHY DID JC LIVE? Now the purpose of this creed was not to give is a dissertation on the life of JC, but we can admit that they left out almost all of the gospels from this statement. The gospels share w/ us about the life of JC. They pose the question: WHY DID JC LIVE? As I mentioned last time, scholar NT WRIGHT asserts that JC lived to bring in His kingdom – to bring in theocracy, if you will. Not a rule of religious representatives of God, but the reign of God Himself. And so this fall as we look at the book of John, we are asking the question: What happens when this God becomes king? And tonight I want to look at John 5:1-15

 

Text

We will ask John 5:1-15: What happens when this God becomes king? Last week we saw that when JC becomes king the sick are healed and belief is filled in. That is the sort of thing that happens in JCs kingdom, when He reigns. So lets read John 5:1-15. As we do so, pay attention to what jumps out at you.

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie -the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4] 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him: Do you want to get well?

7 Sir, the invalid replied, I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.

8 Then Jesus said to him: Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.

9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed: It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.

11 But he replied: The man who made me well said to me, Pick up your mat and walk. 12 So they asked him: Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?

13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him: See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you. 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.

WHAT ARE YOUR OBSERVATIONS OF THE TEXT?

For starters: Where is v. 4? The earliest Greek manuscripts of the nt do not contain v. 4, but the man’s statement in v. 7 demonstrates that the people around the pool believed something similar to what is said in v. 4. However, v. 7 contains no note about an angel, suggesting that v. 4 may have been a later attempt to explain v. 7.[1] In the KJV, v. 4 reads: For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

What about this pool? One commentator said:

This site was later used as a pagan healing shrine, but the Jewish community in Jesus day probably viewed this pool as a place of healing. The temple authorities undoubtedly did not approve -after all, sacred pools at healing shrines characterized Greek cults, but popular religion often ignores religious contradictions that are clearer to the official religious leaders.[2]

What is interesting is that JC goes out of His way to this place of illness. Another scholar said:

When Jesus went to Jerusalem, he did not spend his time in elite hostels w/ those who could help him politically and financially with his ministry. He concentrated on people in need. In this story he visited the pool below the temple where the helpless dregs of society lay in a pathetic state. Most proper people probably avoided places where they had to pass among the sick and suffering both because it was an uncomfortable setting and because of the potential for violation of ritual purity rules. But Jesus went out of his way to visit such a place.[3]

The bottom line for me, is that people were placing their hope in this pool‘s restorative properties, rather than God. In other words, it was a place of Superstition. In v. 7, it appears that the belief was that when the water was stirred the 1st one into the water received healing. “You better be quick, or have help to get well” (AKA -works based or elite salvation). Superstition When JC asks if he wants to get well, JC exposes the BS of this paradigm. And in v. 8, after the man gives his shame-filled, superstitious response to JC, JC cuts through the BS and directly confronts this false paradigm, asserts who He is, and powerfully commands the man to Get up, Pick up his mat and, and Walk! Enough superstition, the King of creation is here, be well and walk into life. The man is healed, ready for his new life

He is giving everyone high 5s and chest bumps, until he sees the authorities. It turns out the man was healed on the Sabbath, and is breaking rules. The authorities are not happy. Physical labor was forbidden on the Sabbath, but biblical law did not explicitly define what qualified as work So Rabbinic legal tradition defined work according to 39 types of behavior that were forbidden on the Sabbath. Carrying anything out of the house was one of the forbidden activities.[4] Jeremiah 17:22 : You shall not bring a load out of your houses on the sabbath day nor do any work, but keep the sabbath day holy, as I commanded your forefathers. The authorities are not totally bad, they desire Gods favor. They are under Roman oppression, and believe that Holy Law keeping and living will bring about Gods favor. These guys are not the superstitious type. They are men of tradition and logic, seeing a direct correlation b/t humanity’s action and Gods positive or negative response. There is no mystery here; this is precision. But ultimately they are missing the point. The religious leaders are more concerned with the man carrying his mat on the Sabbath than with his miraculous healing.[5] In telling this man to take his mat and walk, JC is confronting the unnecessary religious tradition of the day. The authorities of the day were not comfortable w/ ambiguity or mystery, so they defined every aspect of life. Their heart was to draw Gods heart back to His people. It was a works based salvation. And JC was saying: No, I [I] am the way the truth and the life, not anything else. So get up! , Pick up your mat and, and Walk! But by doing what he was told he violated section 18.7.5 of the religious code. So they want to know who authorized this violation. The man ultimately does not know. And filling in the blanks, we can assume that the authorities told the man to report his healing to the temple authorities, w/ the probable proper sacrifices. It is there that JC finds the guy. JC initiates relationship w/ the man. He wants to follow up. He says: Look at you! You look wonderful! You are healthy! This phrase in the Greek is a perfect active indicative, meaning his healing was permanent. JC is saying: You are not going back to being unhealthy. JC is celebrating w/ the guy. Then, JC tells him to stop sinning. As if He is saying: make this a day of total cleansing. Use this as a moment of worship, declaring the goodness of God. Live into the grace God has given you!

So, WITH ALL THAT IN MIND, WHAT DO YOU SEE JC DISRUPTING IN THIS TEXT? JC is disrupting superstitions and unnecessary traditions. The Good news is that JC is greater than superstition and tradition.

 

Today

So as we consider this text from millenniums past, we see that there is not much that has changed. Today, we have superstitions and traditions. Even among those who claim to be JC followers, there are accepted, overlooked things that displace JC as healer and rescuer. So, WHAT ARE ACCEPTED SUPERSTITIONS or TRADITIONS THAT DISPLACE JC? The Problem is that We trust in the wrong things

Our Series question is: What happens when this God becomes king, and the answer I see from this text is that Superstitions and unnecessary traditions are displaced. So What difference does JC/the good news make? If, JC is greater than superstition and tradition, then we can walk the line of mystery and confidence and trust in the real deal, JC.

 

Amen.

[1] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Jn 5:3). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2] Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Jn 5:3). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[3] Borchert, G. L. (1996). John 1–11 (Vol. 25A, pp. 231–232). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Jn 5:10). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Jn 5:1–18). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Table Family Meeting/Worship at the Walters, Sunday, September 25 at 4:30pm/5:30pm

This Sunday, September 25th, The Table will be having a “family meeting” for all those who consider the Table their home church. We will begin at 4:30pm at the Walters, and discuss leadership and Table vision for the fall.

Then we will continue with a worship gathering at the Walters (contact us for directions). We will begin at 5:30pm with a shared meal. This weeks meal theme is Mexican food. After the meal we will sing, pray, and continue our study of the Gospel of John, asking “What happens when Jesus becomes king?” This week we will be looking at John 5:1-15, if you want to read ahead. Invite a friend and join us; everyone is welcome!

Perception and John 4:43-54

sacks_scourfieldToday I would like to consider the idea of perceptions w/ you. By perception I mean simply the way we see something, or the way we understand something. As I was thinking about this I ran into the work of a neurologist named Oliver Sacks. One of his more famous works is entitled: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. The book was named after a famous case study of a man Oliver Sacks called, Dr. P. Dr. P suffered from a condition called visual agnosia. w/ visual agnosia a person can visually see things but cannot recognize or interpret the visual information their eyes are giving their brain. In other words, Dr. P could, technically, see the world around him, but he did not always understand it correctly. And so w/ this condition, Dr. P saw his wife, but his brain told him she was a hat. Dr. Ps visual confusion did not end with his wife. Oliver Sacks writes this in his book:

“Not only did Dr. P. increasingly fail to see faces, but he saw faces when there were no faces to see: genially, Magoo-like, when in the street he might pat the heads of water hydrants and parking meters, taking these to be the heads of children; he would amiably address carved knobs on the furniture and be astounded when they did not reply.”[1]

This condition obviously affected the way Dr. P perceived the world. But I would advance that one does not need to have a specific condition to see the world differently than their neighbor. Our upbringings, social circles, and media consumption can all affect how we perceive the world. For example, when I was younger, I remember watching 10 hours straight of the Lord of the Rings movies. And when I finally went outside, the world looked more mythical. The people we surround ourselves w/, or the things we consume can even affect our perception of who God is. And so that is the question I want us to consider today: How do we perceive JC?

In the greater Christian world there is a spectrum of answers to this questions. How you might answer this question could likely depend on the conditions you are coming from and surround yourself w/. For example, a Liberal Christian might say that JC is a man like us. He is there to helps us get through this life, and the bringing of His kingdom is up to us to create. A more Orthodox believing Christian might say that JC is the God of the creeds. But in practice, He might feel detached from reality, and therefore when we speak of His Kingdom we would speak more about our spiritual fellowship w/ God, than anything tangible. There is a spectrum of answers to the question of who JC is, and a spectrum of answers to what His kingdom is like and what it is or is not doing. I believe the challenge we all face is that we see JC through the lens of our circumstances, and often miss out on the greater picture of who He is and what He is doing in our world. The problem is that we see JC incomplete.

This fall we will be looking at the gospel of John, picking up where we left off last fall. My hope is that as we study the life of JC our perceptions would be challenged and we will be confronted w/ a fuller picture of who JC is. NT scholar NT Wright asserts that the task of the gospels is to show us how JC is bringing about His kingdom.[2] And so, our question this fall is: What happens when this God becomes King?

 

Text

To help us explore this idea more, I would like us to turn to John 4:43-54. So grab a Bible and turn to John 4:43. The context of this passage finds JC returning to Galilee. JC left Galilee for the Passover in Jerusalem. There, He talked w/ Nicodemus, cleared the temple, and angered the authorities. JC then decides to head back to Galilee, and takes the direct but sketchy route through Samaria. There, He talks to the woman at the well, and converts the town. And now JC is back in His home turf. He left w/ only His new disciples, and returned a minor celebrity, b/c of His actions in Jerusalem and in between. Perceptions of Him were changing. In John 4:43-54 we will see this. We will see the perception of the crowd, and the perception of an official. So as we read our text ask yourselves the question: HOW DID THE CROWD PERCEIVE JC? And, HOW DID THE OFFICIAL PERCEIVE JC? John 4:43-54:

43 After the two days he left for Galilee. 44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there.

46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

48 Unless you people see signs and wonders, Jesus told him, you will never believe.

49 The royal official said: Sir, come down before my child dies.

50 Go, Jesus replied, your son will live.

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him: Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.

53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him: Your son will live. So he and his whole household believed.

54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.

HOW DID THE CROWD PERCEIVE JC? HOW DID THE OFFICIAL PERCEIVE JC? If we are talking about how the crowd perceived Him, from the text we know that many had seen JCs work in Jerusalem – clearing the temple, a signal of God bringing a new era, and performing miracles. This local boy had returned a healer, and the crowd was excited to see the show. The official, who probably worked in Harods court, heard this news that a healer was in the area. And looking at his dying son, he decides to make the 20-mile journey to Cana to ask him to come to Capernaum and heal his son. The perception in this culture was that a healer must be in-person to work their magic on a patient. The official arrives and asks JC to come and heal his son. And the apparent crowd surrounding JC rubs their hands together, ready for the show they have been waiting for. JC responds to this request w/ what seems like a slightly rude response. The Message Bible has JC say: Unless you are dazzled by a miracle, you refuse to believe. What does belief have to do w/ healing this boy? If you are a Liberal thinking Christian you might downplay such a statement, wanting to focus on the tangible sickness. If you are an orthodox thinking Christian you might downplay the miracles, preferring and focus your thoughts on the spiritual beliefs. As we attempt to separate the spiritual from the physical, JC seems to link them here. Either way, JC words seem to lack warmth in His response. But the Greek tips us off to something here. JC is speaking to the crowd, saying yall. Unless yall see signs you will not believe. JC is addressing the crowd from v. 45. They perceive Him as a magician, not messiah. The official would be in this camp of thought. That is why he made the long journey from Capernaum. But he does not care to explore the philosophical connection b/t belief and miracles. He just wants JC to come. So he asks again for JC to come w/ him to heal his dying son. Then in v. 50, JC turns to the man and compassionately says: Go back home, your son will live. And we are told in the NIV that the official took JC at His word and heads home. A more accurate translation says that the man believed the word JC spoke to him. The word “believed” here finds it Greek root in the word for faith. It means to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance, to have confidence in.[3] This is the same word used in the Greek Old Testament in Genesis 15:6, when it says: Abram believed and it was credited to him as righteousness. The man in our text believed JC. And what is interesting is that the man obeyed the word of Jesus without ever seeing the sign, or the proof. This is in stark contrast to what crowd wanted out of JC. They wanted to see a miracle and then they might believe. In this moment the man became more like Abram than the crowd. Abram believed Gods promise of having many descendants, even though in the moment he did not even have a son. Here the man believed the word of JC, even when it was not linked immediately w/ seeing the sign.[4] His perception of JC had shifted. This total trust that Jesus would do what he had promised resulted in the man doing as JC said – he headed home. And we are told that as he was on his way, he encountered a servant from his household, who told the official that his son was alive and doing well. The official quick does the math, and figures that his son was healed the moment JC spoke the words that his son would live. JC was the source of the healing. Unlike the cultural perception that healers had to be physically present to heal, JC exhibited power over creation, over the laws of nature, and brought life to a dying boy. The creator returned to dwell as King, among His creation. And we can assume that as the official returned home, greeted his son, and then shared the good news of redemption through JC. And as a result of this, we are told that the whole household believed in JC.

The good news I see here is that JC is a king who brings fulfillment – physically and spiritually. The sick are made well and belief is filled out. In one sense, the healing of this boy brought belief. The crowd wanted to see a show so they could determine if JC was legitimate, but that was not the order of events for this official. JC desired folks to believe the Creator King was now returning to dwell w/ His creation, and healings would simply reveal the Kingdom reality of restoration. And I believe that something like this was what the official discovered. The official grows in belief. He first heads to Cana in agreement w/ the crowd that JC was simply a local healer. He then takes JC at His word, believing JC would heal his son even though he was not physically present. This is confirmed, and his son is found alive. And as he shares his discovery, his entire household believed. The officials perception of JC changed. He moves from seeing JC as a magician, to believing in Him as Lord. The good news that JC is a king who brings fulfillment is played out.

 

Today

So the question for us remains: How do we perceive JC? Do we see Him as just a good Jewish guy who helps us along today? Do we see Him the distant creator who is only concerned w/ our spirituality? The challenge is for us to consider how the conditions and inputs around us affect our perception of our God. I would advance that JC is far more greater and present than we know. We compartmentalize JC into terms that suit our current perceptions and as a result we often approach JC incomplete. But imagine how our perception would be enriched if we lived into the realty that the Creator King has now returned to dwell among His creation, and is bringing about the restoration of His people and Kingdom.

This reminds me of the story of Bob Edens. For 51 years Bob was blind. He couldn’t see a thing. His world was a black hall of sounds and smells. He felt his way through five decades of darkness. And then, he could see. A skilled surgeon performed a complicated operation and, for the first time, Bob Edens had sight. He found it overwhelming. He said: I never would have dreamed that yellow is so –yellow. I don’t have the words. I am amazed by yellow. But red is my favorite color. I just can’t believe red. I can see the shape of the moon. And I like nothing better than seeing a jet plane flying across the sky leaving a vapor trail. And of course, sunrises and sunsets. And at night I look at the stars in the sky and the flashing light. You could never know how wonderful everything is.[5]

I have a feeling that we do not know how wonderful everything is either. I have a feeling that our perception of the greatness and presence of JC could be expanded. The good news is that when JC is king He brings fulfillment –physically and spiritually. He is not confined to our perception of Him. He is the Creator king who has become incarnate, dwelling among His people, restoring His kingdom and His people.

My prayer today is we would be confronted w/ how we perceive JC. And my prayer is that He would reveal Himself more fully. My prayer is that we would have the power to understand, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is – and that we would live into the reality of how awesome our savior is.

Amen.

 

[1] http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2015/08/7-of-oliver-sacks-most-fascinating-case-studies.html

[2] NT Wright’s Lecture at Calvin, “How God Became King: Why We’ve All Misunderstood the Gospels.” The NT Wright Podcast (July 21, 2013)

[3] Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 375). New York: United Bible Societies.

[4] Borchert, G. L. (1996). John 1–11 (Vol. 25A, pp. 220–221). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Max Lucado, God Came Near, Multnomah Press, 1987, p. 13.

Table with Mosaic at Hovander Park, Sunday, Sept. 18, 4pm-8pm

The Table is celebrating with our sister church Mosaic this week. Come and party with us!

10 YEARS

Ten years ago, the Mosaic Community we know and experience now, was a dream and a prayer.  We started in the backyard, went to Bellingham High School for a while, then to Whatcom Middle School before the fire and eventually ended up at The Majestic.

It’s been an amazing journey and now it is time to celebrate!!!

Come join us on September 18th at Hovander Park in Ferndale for a BBQ Bash to celebrate our journey!  Details below.

PARTY DETAILS

  • Where:  Hovander Park
  • When:  Sept. 18th  4pm – 8pm (or 9, we’ll see 🙂
  • What’s provided:  We’ll take care of the bbq meat, you bring salads, bread, jello, beverages and desserts
  • Activities:  Live music, bouncy house for kids, organized games, baptism (if desired), water balloon toss, etc….
  • Bring:  blankets, chairs, weather appropriate clothing, swim suit if desired, food to share, beverages of choice

 

Locals Only Success

LocalsOnly8x11Thanks to all who came out for The Table sponsored “Locals Only Film Festival.” We featured films from local filmmakers, and were able to raise over $200 for Rebound of Whatcom County and Lydia Place! Here’s to Locals helping Locals, while enjoy the work of Locals!

Table Worship at the Walters, Sunday, September 11 at 5:30pm

Join us this Sunday at 5:30pm for a table worship gathering. We meet at the Walters (contact for directions), starting w/ a shared meal. This week we start our fall study of the book of John, looking at John 4:43-54. Invite a friend, everyone is welcome!

Locals Only Film Festival, Fri/Sat, 7pm at the Firehouse

LocalsOnly8x11

Table Worship at the Walters, Sunday, September 4 at 5:30pm

Stars-in-spaceThis Sunday at our Table worship gathering we will conclude our study series looking at the life of Abram. This week we will be looking at Genesis 15 (if you want to read ahead), and again ask the question, “Who are we in relation to God?” But before all that, we will begin with a shared meal. This week’s meal theme is Asian food. We will start our meal at 5:30pm at the Walters’ (contact for directions). Invite a friend; everyone is welcome!

Hurray for the Day of Plenty!

It was an awesome Blessing event, bringing neighbors together to share the wealth of their farms/gardens. Buckets of plums, bushels of zucchini, barrel-fuls of leafy greens, and gallons upon gallons of apple cider pressed. God is good in His wealth of provision!

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