Keep to the facts, especially when arguing.

Keep to the facts, especially when arguing.

John 3: 22-26

“After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

The week begins again.

It will be filled, for some, with the same things as last week, arguments.

Certain people seem to be in a constant argument about something or another.

Here was one of those certain people. A certain Jew who managed to get John’s disciples all worked up about something they held to very dear.

It was regarding ceremonial washing which is what John’s baptism fell into the category of. The Jews all understood this baptism as it seemed like everything and everyone was performing a ceremonial washing each day. John’s baptism was a cleansing and preparing baptism.

It is obvious that this certain Jew told John’s disciples that there was another baptism ceremony taking place where the crowds were bigger than theirs. It is hard to be second when you were once first.

In this heated conversation suddenly we are introduced to something we have never seen before, ‘Jesus is baptising’.

And yet, he didn’t baptise. “… (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptising).” 4:1

In the heat of the argument details became exaggerated. Jesus was clearly instructing his disciples to baptise but he himself wasn’t doing the baptism. People use this to say ‘Look the Bible contradicts itself.’ It doesn’t, it is just that a certain Jew stirred up the disciples of John to get their facts wrong.

Details are important and so for those certain people today who lose their heads here’s a piece of advice, keep hold of the facts. Of course there’s also another piece of advice regarding not losing it in the first place.

Meditative words from the night time conversation

Meditative words of the night time conversation

John 3:13-21 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

 

On my drive home last night I spoke with 2 Pastors who are each facing extremely difficult situations.

One had major health concerns and the other was in a wilderness.

I think and pray for them this morning as I read this part 2 of Jesus conversation with Nicodemus in the night.

Conscious of others who equally may be reading this and facing such challenging circumstances I write down the words I have just been meditating on that have brought strength to my own life this morning. Take a few moments to choose one or two to ponder on for yourself.

  • Another world.
  • Authority on earth is from and out of heaven.
  • Jesus lifted up.
  • Believe
  • Condemnation unnecessary.
  • Jesus is Light.
  • Darkness is a choice.
  • Hate and fear belong in the darkness.
  • Live by the Truth.
  • In the sight of God.

Conversations in the night

Conversations in the night

John 3: 3-12 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. 10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

Nicodemus was a powerful Pharisee, a member of the highest Jewish authority. But he was seeking and he eventually found a true conversion experience.

He is a saint in the eyes of the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic believers.

What brought Nicodemus to Jesus that night? He was at the pinnacle of his career, highly respected, what did he want? Why did he seek out this miracle-worker who had just offended the elite by clearing out the Temple?

We don’t often think of him as a person but we hone in on just a couple of things Jesus said to him about being ‘Born again’ and the famous John 3 verse 16 memory verse.

Here are some thoughts for us to ponder:

  • Nicodemus must have been around 60 years of age and Jesus was approximately 30 years of age. He knew he didn’t have the monopoly on knowledge. He never stopped learning.

Have we?

  • Nicodemus had to learn something new. Most of our learning is a development of previous positions but he had to receive something that was never there. It was the Gentiles who had to be reborn into the faith of Judaism if they wanted to convert. It was them who had to be baptised to remove all the filth of Gentileness off them. That was the conversion. No Jew ever needed conversion. It was a million miles away from their thinking, their belief and their culture. He had to accept correction.

Can we be corrected? Can we be wrong in an area of teaching and practice?

  • Nicodemus was born in the right family. He was a child of Abraham. It couldn’t get more perfect. He had achieved a high level education and leadership position. But Jesus told him he needed to start again, to be born-again and importantly born from above.

Are you as thankful as I am for many opportunities to start again with the gift from above?

  • Nicodemus had spent his whole life soaked in teaching and knowledge. Jesus said to him that he want going to be his rabbi, giving him more education but He was here to give him life.

Is Jesus still your life-giver today?

  • Nicodemus belonged to another kingdom and Jesus spoke of another. Jesus told him there was a culture, a realm, a sphere of life that was poles apart from the kingdom of man that he was part of.

Are we still seekers of that kingdom today?

  • Nicodemus belonged on earth and it is a small world even though we think we have advanced in many ways. Jesus spoke to him of heavenly things that were bigger than his experiences. God and His kingdom is huge.

Look up into the sky can you touch a star? Can you count them? The problems in our corner of this small world are small and we need to realise where we are sitting today, in the heavenly places.

Nicodemus

Nicodemus

John 3: 1-2

“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.’

 

We don’t often think of him though his conversation with Jesus about being ‘born again’ has formed our theology, discipleship and mission.

His name means ‘victory of the people’ and he was a member of a strict regime, the highest Jewish authority, the governing body of the Jewish nation. He was a powerful Pharisee and a member of the highly educated society of Israel.

But he doesn’t fit into his world.

Do you know that feeling? A bit uncomfortable in the group of people you are with, the society you belong to, that activity group, the circle of friends you enjoy laughs with but inwardly you are not smiling as wide? Maybe even the Church you worship with? Something within you wants to explore outside of that group but you daren’t because you would be in trouble if you did. You want to ask questions that would get you kicked out if you did, so you internalise them and you feel alone.

In the regions where I serve I have had a few conversations with Church leaders who would love to explore a conversation about certain issues without the fear of reprimand. So I am planning to facilitate that without me being there. Maybe these meetings will be held during the night!

  • Nicodemus said, ‘we know’ meaning he was not alone, there were some others on the same level who were discussing amongst themselves this man called Jesus.
  • Nicodemus called Jesus, ‘Rabbi’ which shows us that this group though acknowledging the slander Jesus was receiving believed that he was indeed someone very important.
  • Nicodemus came at night. The majority hold to the thought that this was out of fear. If that is the case then the ‘victory of the people’ certainly didn’t behave very victorious! However, his confidence would grow. In 7:50-52 he would be raising doubts about the legitimacy of Jesus’ arrest and of course at the end in 19:38-40 he is with Joseph of Arimathea, a member of his group, taking down the body of Jesus from the cross, embalming it and placing it in Joseph’s tomb. It’s not how you begin that counts but what happens after that.

You may not feel like you ‘fit’ but this may be the beginning of a wonderful chapter for your life.

There will be others asking the same questions as you.

You may be afraid but as you walk focused on getting to know Jesus more then you will grow in confidence.

This is indeed victory and victory for the people!

 

 

Can Jesus trust you?

Can Jesus trust you?

John2:23-3:2

“Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person. Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Have you ever said, “I’m not sure I can truth them?” We all have. We know what to do. We keep a distance. With those we trust we close that distance. When we cannot trust we hold back something of ourselves and what we can give that individual. We are waiting to see if we can trust them before we give to them.

Discipleship may not be the maturing towards a deeper trust in God. It may be growing to be the believer God can trust.

John moves straight into a story about a man and Jesus knows all people. Nicodemus believed Jesus had come from God, he was thrilled with his teaching and believed because of the signs. However, Jesus was yet to believe and trust him.

There are those who only have eyes for the spectacular. The crowds followed Jesus around the hills and countryside because of his miracles and the ability to provide food for them if they were hungry. It is important to note there is nothing amiss in believing in Jesus because of the miracles in fact John states that is why he is writing his gospel:

“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” 20:30-31

These same crowds however would turn from Jesus in chapter 6 because they became unteachable and by the time of the cross they were baying for his blood.

Jesus knew that we are fickle. He knew that “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9.

I am sure we have all read something from Leonard Ravenhill. A classic quote is this, “To the question, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” we answer, “Where He has always been-on the throne!” But where are the Elijahs of God? We know Elijah was “a man of like passions as we are,” but alas! we are not men of like prayer as he was. One praying man stands as a majority with God! Today God is bypassing men – not because they are too ignorant, but because they are too self-sufficient. Brethren, our abilities are our handicaps, and our talents our stumbling blocks!”

Sobering that may be, but true.

When He wants to bring salvation to your neighbourhood, family and friends, can He trust you?

When He wants to heal someone, can He trust you?

When He wants you to be faithful in tithes and offerings, can He trust you?

When He wants you to focus more on Him through prayer and fasting, can He trust you?

When He wants you to be kind and loving, can He trust you?

Can He trust you through suffering?

Can He trust you through the valley of the shadow of death?

Can He trust you at the cross?

Many are waiting on God to move in our nation. There are calls of expectation that God will breathe upon the Church and we will have a harvest of souls and our buildings will be full.

Could it be possible that nothing happens in our generation simply because He didn’t trust us? We had not understood that true discipleship is being a follower that is entrusted with His presence and power.

Will we remain as witnesses of Jesus? Are we tellers?

Will we remain teachable? When was the last time we accepted correction?

Will we love people? Are we genuinely a nice person towards others?

A disciple is not a follower. It is a follower who can be trusted.

The Father’s house

The Father’s house

This morning I have been reading continually the following passage, soaking myself in each word, praying that the Church aligns itself as the Father’s house. By that I don’t mean a building of course, but the people. Those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers, Christians. We are the Father’s house.

This passage is not the evidence needed for anyone in a position to be able to hold a whip to be offensive, rude, to have online anger issues or a soapbox- ranter. This is not the inspiration to be abusive to those who don’t see it the way you do, from pew to pulpit or pulpit to pew. This is not the excuse for abusive, coercive, subversive behaviour in your Church.

If this is righteous anger then it is the either the only time we see it or it could be only twice that Jesus clears the Temple in the 3 years (the other Gospels have Jesus clearing the Temple at the end of the 3 years).This is not a daily occurrence for the compassionate, loving Jesus. There was one other time when Jesus revealed the righteous anger of God and that was when he was on the cross. Oh for more of that kind of expression.

There is so much for me and you in this passage. I am led to simply write short one line notes this morning and if you are reading this then I pray the Holy Spirit will apply this to your life in the way only He can do.

Here is the passage.

 

John 2: 13-22

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” 20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.”

 

In the Father’s house:

There is the Passover Lamb of God.

(Jesus the Passover Lamb enters the Temple where the sacrifices were taking place)

  • The atmosphere of forgiveness and grace.
  • The act of selflessness.
  • The place of standing in the gap for others and for God.

There is Passion.

(Jesus made a whip out of cords and cleared out what was wrong)

  • That drives out prejudices and pretensions.
  • That drives out hypocrisy and the con man.
  • That drives out superiority and injustice.

There is Presence.

(Jesus makes clear He is the Temple and points to the reason for Him coming and later the disciples realise the Scriptures are fulfilled)

  • Revealing the identity of Jesus not our personality.
  • Revealing the Authority found in sacrifice not in persuasion.
  • Revealing the Scriptures to stand on not our thoughts to impress.

May the Church become more aligned as the Father’s house this year!

Turning weddings from hell into weddings of glory

Turning weddings from hell into weddings of glory

John 2: 1-12

“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” 11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. 12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.”

 

We have all heard of the weddings from hell. The closest one to hell that I have officiated at is when the bride was over 30 minutes late due to her father needing another drink to get through the ordeal. They had to be brought through the back door for his friends to try and get him together in order to then walk his daughter down the aisle.

When things go wrong at certain events then the embarrassment and the shame are palpable.

Welcome to the first miracle of Jesus.

  • It was the 3rd

An important little detail that John notes. In the creation order the 3rd day was good because it was the day when all the fruit trees were created. It was a day of blessing. Here at the wedding the wine (a symbol of blessing) was flowing and it was good. Until the blessing ran out.

  • Jesus’ mother was there.

Jesus says to Mary, “My hour has not come”. In 7:40 Jesus is teaching in the Temple courts and the religious authorities tried to seize him “but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.” Later again Jesus teaching near the Temple declares, ’I am the light’ and they were furious, “Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come” 8:20. In 12:23 just after the Triumphal Entry Jesus declares, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Prior to him washing the disciples’ feet in 13:1 “Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.” And finally in what is the most beautiful of prayer moments in 17:1 “he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” In his gospel John does not mention Jesus’ mother after this moment of the wedding from hell until the moment she is very much aware the hour had come, “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother” 19:25.

There is so many more things that you can draw out of this first miracle.

But let me focus your mind and heart on this one wonderful truth.

In the previous chapter we ended being reminded about Jacobs dream at Bethel. The very first miracle where he revealed his glory (v11) and where the divine activity of ‘angels ascending and descending’ 1:51 is at a wedding from hell. Not at one of the Messiah-proof declarations like the healing of a blind man, the leper, the lame and those held in darkness. No.

In seeking after the glory of God to be revealed. In our desire for His presence and power to be known in our lives and in our churches. Why don’t we begin with the simple? Why don’t we just try and help out a family who are so embarrassed and ashamed of what has happened? It doesn’t matter who is to blame. We don’t have to conduct forensics. We just have to reach out a hand to make things better. To cover over other people’s pain and humiliation. Instead of exploiting it let us make things better for people. It may not seem much but maybe it is the road to the glory of God being revealed in us and our churches.

BETHEL

BETHEL

John 1:43-51

43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” 50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

It seems that John very early into his gospel is showing how so many people were experiencing the revelation of Jesus as Messiah. Whether it be Jesus finding people or people telling their friends and family they have been found or have indeed found the Messiah, it is clear there is a momentum of witnessing taking place.

More than that the extraordinary is already taking place. Whatever Nathanael was doing underneath the fig tree Jesus saw and pointed it out and this led to Nathanael choosing to believe and declare so early on in John’s gospel that Jesus is the Son of God.

But there is more.

Mission and making disciples is central and our main focus. It needs to happen and must continue. But there is a greater thing.

Throughout this gospel John clearly connects Jesus as the fulfilment of the Temple on earth. From the commencement, Jesus is the Word become flesh and making his dwelling amongst us to this moment when Jesus uses a phrase which doesn’t mean much to us at first glance but to John’s first readers. To those standing there with Jesus he says, “you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

The image of the angels ascending and descending is the referral to Jacob’s dream. The connection of saying Nathanael is a man with no deceit is also Jacob. The story of Jacob is about a man who knew how to lie. He deceived Esau, his twin brother, out of his birth-right and father’s blessing and has to flee for his life. With absolutely nothing left, a broken man, failed in every way, he goes to sleep one night and has a dream of exactly what Jesus mentions and he names that place Bethel because it means House of God.

The Jews and the Samaritans (who John is trying to reach) all believed that Bethel was one of the main worship centres and where in this House of God activity passed to and from heaven and earth.

Jesus is saying to these early disciples that they would see heaven open over Jesus and the activity of a divine exchange will take place. He was about to take them on an incredible adventure. John is writing his gospel to communicate that Jesus is the fulfilment of the Temple. He still is. Jesus is the presence of God and the centre for all activity under heaven and on earth.

May our lives and our churches be places of Bethel.

Worship centres known as the House of God where divine exchanges take place.

Let our lives be Bethel and here is the Bethel blessing:

I am the Lord God

I will give you

You will spread out

You will be a blessing

I am with you

I will watch over you

I will bring you back

I will not leave you

I will do what I have promised you.

(Genesis 28:13-15)

 

The Church needs to encounter again: note the time.

The Church needs to encounter again: note the time.

John 1: 35-42

“The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ 37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning round, Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What do you want?’ They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which means ‘Teacher’), ‘where are you staying?’ 39 ‘Come,’ he replied, ‘and you will see.’ So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas’ (which, when translated, is Peter)”

 

We don’t know who he was but we do know the time.

The other disciple to Andrew is widely believed to be John who wrote this gospel based simply on the fact that he doesn’t mention his own name.

That detail doesn’t seem important to the writer and yet the time of about 4pm does.

Though John was probably in his 80’s when he wrote the gospel and in his 30’s when the events occurred, he still remembers the time, etched into his ageing memory.

Let me pose the very same question that Jesus asked, “What do you want?”

Many times in the gospels we see invitations asking for Jesus to come to the homes of people in need or just wanting to host him. Maybe you need Jesus in your home today? Maybe you desire your home to be filled with the presence of God.

But I have a better desire.

It was the request of Andrew and the other.

They wanted to see his home.

Can you imagine with me right now, entering the home of Jesus? Seeing the place where he slept, where he ate, the environment that he stayed in.

Nearly 30 years ago we had invited a very important national leader in our Church denomination to preach in our very small church and we subsequently invited him to our home. I remember the time very well it was about 3pm, we had just eaten lunch and the leader was giving a seminar from the settee on ‘if I was you this is what I would do’. My wife having worked the night shift was so tired started to drift off to sleep and my son who was only 2 years of age started pulling on the impeccably pressed trouser leg of the leader which gave him some awkward annoyance as he began to shake him off. That was the moment realising my days in Elim were numbered that I began to pray for the return of Christ! But that was also the day when the important leader began to know who we really were and what our life was like.

When someone visits your home then you will not fully know them. But when you visit their home then you walk into their culture and you encounter them at a whole different level.

It was about 4pm and something happened in the place where Jesus was staying that changed the lives of these 2 men. The result was they encountered the Christ and secondly they went to tell others they had done so. Discovery and strategy for Mission at about 4pm.

We need Christians to articulate again that what they want is an encounter with the Christ. Oh that Churches will gather to encounter Him. The focus not being we want Jesus in our homes and in our lives and in our hearts. All that is good.

But there is more.

We need to step into His sphere, His culture, to know His ways and to move into His existence. Only then will we be changed by discovery into a life of mission and service. Only then will the Church know a baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Are you ready for such an encounter? Note the time.

Is the dove remaining on the lamb?

Is the dove remaining on the lamb?

John 1:29-34

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptising with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptise with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

Since the first person he had baptised, John had been looking.

“How will I know it is Him? How do I know if the Spirit has come down? Is the next person the One? Will it be today?”

There are no indications in the gospels that anyone other than Jesus and John had seen heaven open, the voice from God and the Spirit fall in the form of a dove upon Jesus.

When Jesus met John, something happened in the water that left John in no doubt. Just as the dove was released by Noah several times and finally came to remain on dry ground (Genesis 8) so the Spirit remained on the One who had been sent by God to represent safety, hope, a new day and covenant, peace and a future for the world.

And here is the key: when you have seen the significance of the dove then you will have revelation of the lamb.

John is announcing a new and better Noah story and is now clearly laying out as he will do throughout his gospel leading to the culmination of Jesus’ death on the afternoon when the Passover lambs were being killed in the Temple, Jesus the lamb.

The Christian and the Church needs more than ever to realise that the dove remains on the lamb.

When the dove remains on the lamb then the Holy Spirit is at work.

The outpouring that we all long to see can only come with this combination. Anything else is man-made.

Give me someone who knows they are sent to bring hope not despair, whose words convey peace and the promises of God. Give me someone who is kind and gentle and yet is strong enough to lay their own life down in surrender to God and to others. Give me that person in the pulpit and the pew and I will paint a picture of an outpouring of the Spirit.

Let me ask 3 questions that contain their own answers:

  1. Where is the Spirit? (Where are the miracles? Where is the growth of the Church with souls saved and lives transformed?)
  2. Where is the Lamb? (Where is the sacrifice? Where are the acts of kindness in the public place, the pew and the pulpit?)
  3. Where is the dove? (Where is the deep, abiding, remaining sense of being sent to herald a new day? Where are the messengers of safety?

“How will I know? Will it be today?”

It can be.