Wrestling with Belief

In this tender scene, Jesus gently beckons Thomas towards the place where Thomas has honestly wrestled with belief. This poignant interaction can fuel our courage to be honest with our questions of faith and allow Jesus to meet us there. He invites us to come close enough to touch and see him for ourselves. Our prayer helps us draw close. Watchful waiting in the ordinary moments of our lives will train us to see.

John 20:24-31 (NLT)

One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Place yourself into this scene. Who are you? What feelings and thoughts are going on inside of you as this scene unfolds? Talk it over with Jesus in your prayer.

Where have you or long to experience Jesus loving you in such a humble way? Journal about that experience or your longing.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

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Just Who Are You, Jesus?

The question and answer session carries on between Jesus, the Pharisees and the crowd in John 8. Can you imagine being a first time participant in a rabbi study with Jesus, where the Scriptures, the questions and the answers are the learning process?
In the search to know Jesus, they and we may find his answers to the questions not easily understood or comprehended. Can we be compassionate with ourselves in the process of seeking understanding? Or give ourselves permission to wrestle with the questions, the answers, and the lack of immediate or understandable answers? Or with the very person of Jesus himself? It is in the wrestling that we come to discover the presence and trustworthiness of God - Father, Son and Spirit.

John 8:21-30 (NLT)
Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.”
22 The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going’?”
23 Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. 24 That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.”
25 “Who are you?” they demanded.
Jesus replied, “The one I have always claimed to be. 26 I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” 27 But they still didn’t understand that he was talking about his Father.
28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. 29 And the one who sent me is with me—he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” 30 Then many who heard him say these things believed in him.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened or read the text? Did something particular catch your attention? Bring it into conversation with Jesus.

Give yourself room for the word to affect you. What are you feeling or sensing? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

What Offends You?

Six weeks ago we entered John Chapter 6 which launched us into the miraculous multiplication and feeding on the loaves and fishes. 71 verses later, we are still chewing on the words of Jesus and trying to digest what he is saying. Jesus knows that this is "hard teaching" and he responds with a poignant nuance of the Greek word for "hard" with the question, "does this offend you?". Stepping back from the dialogue we notice at least two responses to being offended - either going away from it or becoming curious and staying present to what the offense might teach us. Be compassionate with yourself as you listen and wrestle with this text. Give yourself permission to hold your questions and keep bringing them into prayer. The answer may not come quickly or easily. 

John 6:60-71 (NIV)
 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[e] and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened to the text? Have a conversation with Jesus about what you heard.

Place yourself in this conversation. Who are you? What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What do you want to say to Jesus? What does he in turn say to you?

Savor any consoling words or pictures God gives you. Simply rest in God’s presence.

Chewing On the Words of Jesus

We have the opportunity to read labels before we purchase what we eat. We have the freedom to eat things that will bring health and energy to our bodies or just give us a quick satisfaction with no lasting food value. What is Jesus saying as he talks about this true food and true drink that brings eternal life? Are we any more ready than the Jews in the synagogue to chew on this truth that he is offering? Once again we are given the opportunity to use our free will to choose. Will you ingest the reality of Jesus and his words into your daily life and allow it to nourish and satisfy you?

John 6:52-59 (ESV)
 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

John 6:52-59TMG
At this, the Jews started fighting among themselves: “How can this man serve up his flesh for a meal?”  But Jesus didn’t give an inch. “Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you. The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day. My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you. In the same way that the fully alive Father sent me here and I live because of him, so the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me. This is the Bread from heaven. Your ancestors ate bread and later died. Whoever eats this Bread will live always.” He said these things while teaching in the meeting place in Capernaum.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

What feelings – either comfortable or uncomfortable - are rising up in you as you listen to this teaching? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus. Listen for how he meets you in these feelings.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.