Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 8 2013 - John 5:25-47 – The focus of all the Scriptures

As we read yesterday, Jesus healed an invalid on the Sabbath, enabling him to walk and sending him on his way, carrying his mat. This provoked the anger of the Jewish leaders who accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath. Jesus' response is to tell them that they have failed to understand who he is. He is the Son who does only what his Father has sent him to do. The Father has given him power to give life to the dead and to judge the world. His power to give life has been made visible in a lame man walking. His power to judge will be seen when those who oppose him one day stand before him in judgment.

Jesus has little respect for these Jewish leaders who claim to be experts in the Scriptures but who reject him. They search the Scriptures thinking that if they can only master them and catalogue all their detailed requirements they will have life. But they will not come to him who alone can give life. These Scriptures, says Jesus, all testify of me. If you don’t see that, then all of your studious reading is nothing more than a misreading (John 5:39-40).

It is not that every passage of Scripture is a direct prophecy concerning Jesus – though there are many such prophecies. It is rather that the Bible recounts the gracious promises and purpose of God, and that Jesus is the one in whom this purpose is realised and these promises fulfilled. The many threads that make up the tapestry of Scripture converge upon him. What a tragedy that many of those who claimed to treasure these promises and longed for their fulfilment rejected the one in whom they are fulfilled – the one in whom all the promises of God receive their ‘Yes!’ and ‘Amen!’

The warning Jesus gives to these Jewish leaders reminds us that we also need to learn to read the Scriptures correctly. We need eyes to see the Mission of God that runs through all the pages of Scripture and that finds its focus and fulfilment in the Mission of Jesus. We need to understand the Scriptures by knowing Jesus; not some Jesus of our own concocting but this very Jesus who is brought to us in the gospels.

It is this Jesus who claims that his voice will one day summon the dead from their graves. But he also claims that the transition from death to life does not have to wait until that last day. Those who listen to his teaching and who believe that he truly is the one God has sent to be Saviour of the world – those who trust in him and follow him – have already crossed over from death to life. For them, it is as if the coming day of judgment is already history; it’s a done deal.

And not only judgment day but also resurrection day. Jesus has life in himself and gives life to all who come to him. The life of the age to come has broken into our world in him. We who possess life in him become part of God’s big story. We become part of the Mission of God in Jesus as we learn of him, follow him, have life in him and bring that life – life in all its fullness – to a dying world.

Father God, we thank you that all of Scripture finds its focus and fulfilment in Jesus Christ, the word made flesh. We thank you that he is at the centre of your purpose to bring life to a dying world and healing to a broken world. Thank you that the story of Scripture is our story and that you are fulfilling your purposes through us as we are empowered by the Spirit of the risen Saviour. Help us to understand your Word, live your Word and speak your Word that many others may be embraced by your saving purposes in the Lord Jesus.

May 8 2019 - 2 Samuel 11 – David & Bathsheba

"In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army" (2 Samuel 11:1). Evidently David had decided that he no longer wanted to lead his army in battle; he had appointed Joab to go to war in his place. Meanwhile, David idled away his time in the royal palace while he awaited news of the fighting.

One day, as he walked on the roof of his palace, he caught sight of a beautiful woman bathing – no doubt her saw more of her than he should have, and he was filled with a desire to have her. David behaves just like a king from one of the nations around him. He viewed his subjects as his property; he can do with them whatever he pleases. He sent for Bathsheba, slept with her and got her pregnant. Now David's primary concern is to cover up what he has done. First he summoned her husband, Uriah, back from the war in the hope that he will sleep with Bathsheba and assume that the child is his own. When his plans fail, he has Uriah placed in the most dangerous position in the heat of the battle so that he is killed. Now David is free to take Bathsheba as a wife.

The chapter ends with the terrifying understatement, "But the thing David had done displeased the LORD" (11:27).

Sin begins with a little thing; something that catches the eye and captures the attention or maybe the imaginings of an idle moment. It is like a seed that grows and takes over the garden of the soul, smothering our sensitivity to God and his calling upon us. It is a poisonous plant that needs rooting up at first sight. If you nurture it – if you dwell on the pleasure that could be yours just by taking this action – it will destroy you. It is a cancer. We need to wake up to the deadly seriousness of sin.

David seeks to hide what he had done but in doing so compounds the evil – and none of this is hidden from God; "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account" (Hebrews 4:13).

When David had first been chosen by God to be king, Samuel was told that "The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). The Lord had seen something beautiful in the heart of David when he chose him to be king over his people; what does he see now?

How can we stop the temptation to sin from progressing into sinful words and actions? James gives us good advice when he writes, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). We need to be conscious that we live every part of our life in the presence of our loving Father who sees our hearts and knows our weakness. We need to remember that we have a faithful Saviour who has promised to help us in our time of need. When tempted, he resisted the devil and the devil fled from him, at least for a time. We need to seek the help of God's Spirit the moment temptations begin to arise in our hearts and to send the devil packing. We need to keep ourselves busy in the things the Lord wants us to do.

Holy Father, teach me from this sad passage to wake up to the toxic nature of sin. Help me by your Spirit to keep watch over my own heart that it might be a place fit for your dwelling. Help me, in union with Christ my Saviour and by the power of your Spirit, to die to sin and live to righteousness. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you and to continually busy myself in your service.

Peter Misselbrook