Know your roots
In this second week of Easter, we start into the Gospel of John. With a few exceptions, we will work our way through the entire story. It's an interesting dichotomy. Why would the readings each day include the story of the church after the Pentecost through the book of Acts and go back into Jesus' ministry in the Gospel of John?
I have to wonder if it doesn't have something to do with knowing where you're going, while remembering where you're coming from. Who is this Jesus that we proclaim? What is this good news that people are willing to die for?
We start out with the basics this week, as Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born of water and Spirit. Nicodemus asks, "How can this be?" and immediately hears about the death Jesus will die and the famous line from John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son."
How can we be born of water and Spirit? Only after Jesus dies can that happen. Only when the love of God is expressed to it's greatest degree. Only when the Holy Spirit comes as it does at Pentecost can that happen. In the other readings of this week, we see clearly the effect of that rebirth.
Then we move into the feeding of the five-thousand. It is so easy to slip into a passive listening to this story. We've heard it so many times. This time, though we're going to see it in light of the story that comes right after. The bread has been multiplied and distributed. The baskets have been collected, the people are amazed, and evening has fallen.
The disciples get into their boat and head across the sea. Suddenly they see Jesus walking on the water next to them, and then they miraculously arrive at the other shore.
Miraculous bread to feed the masses, miraculous crossing of the sea and arriving safely on the other side. Have you heard that story before? Do the Red Sea and manna in the desert ring a bell?
Keep this in mind as we go through the next week. It will come into play in a significant way. Jesus has not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. He has not come to replace the stories of the Old Testament, but they will help us to understand what Jesus is telling us and what He is doing.
The Easter season is upon us, and just like the disciples on their way to Emmaus, we will break open the Scriptures and discover what it all means.