Tag: john

Shining white!

Shining white!

The events of Luke 9:28-36 happen just over a week after Jesus told His disciples about His death and resurrection. He had a lot to think about, so He took Peter, James and John, and went up on the mountain to pray. The disciples fell asleep and when they woke up, Jesus was talking about His ‘departure from the earth’ with Moses and Elijah – two of the greatest prophets known to them! They wanted to make them comfortable, and honour them, so Peter suggested they build tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. God came in a cloud and spoke to them and Elijah and Moses vanished, leaving just Jesus and the disciples on the mountain. None of them spoke about the occasion again.

  1. This event is referred to as the transfiguration. Why do you think that is?
  2. Just days before this took place Jesus had been speaking to His disciples about His death and resurrection. Do you think the timing is significant here? If so, why?
  3. Jesus only brought three of His disciples with Him to the mountain. Looking back at previous passages, do you think there was a reason that He brought these three specifically?
  4. What is the significance of Jesus meeting with Elijah and Moses?
  5. What is the relevance of this event for us today?  

Who’s who?

Who’s who?

Luke 7:18-35

This passage is not short nor simple. There are alot of topics covered in a short period of time, and it can be hard to make sense of what is going on. Other than when he baptises Jesus, this is the only passage dedicated to John. We are told in the first chapter of the book that he was born to start the work Jesus would complete but now, John is unsure if Jesus really is the Lord, and sends people out to find out the truth (in Matthew’s book, we find out this is because he was in prison and couldn’t go alone).

  1. What do you think has happened to make John start doubting Jesus’ authority, position and power?
  2. When John’s disciples have left, Jesus flips the question they asked him on its head, asking those around Him who they think John is. Why do you think He did this?
  3. The passage finishes one with one line –”But wisdom is proved to be right by what it does.” What does this mean and what does it have to do with the previous conversations?
Surprise!

Surprise!

We have moved from one surprise in chapter 1 verses 5-25 (the angel appears to Zechariah) to the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary.

When Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, they told him not to be afraid and in this section of the chapter, Gabriel repeats this to Mary. I guess even then if an angel were to suddenly appear in front of you, it would make you jump and run away so this was a necessary phrase for the angel to use.

Just like Gabriel did when announcing the arrival of John to his parents, they went on to say all the great things Jesus would do when He was born – ‘He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of King David, His ancestor. He will rule over the people of Jacob forever and His Kingdom will have no end!’.

Then, the angel goes on to explain that this will happen because the Holy Spirit will come down and the power of God will cover her and make the baby holy – the Son of God.

In a recent session in our house group, we looked at the story of Moses by the burning bush in which Moses tells God he can’t go to the Pharoah and talk to him about God and ask him to let God’s people go because he wasn’t able or confident enough. When the angel Gabriel comes to Mary, she reacts in a similar way, telling them that she is a virgin, therefore, there is no way she could have a baby, but unlike Moses, she is convinced and accepts what is to happen in and with her. ‘I am the servant of the Lord. let this happen to me as you say!’ What an amazing to response to an event that would have sounded completely impossible to Mary, and one that she knew would spread as gossip throughout the area and bring shame on her and her fiance, Joseph.

In the film, Aladdin, there is a scene in which Aladdin falls off a balcony and then appears again stood on a magic carpet. Aladdin reaches out his hand to Jasmine to invite her onto the magic carpet and as he does so, he asks her, “do you trust me?” to which she says “yes” and climbs aboard the carpet with him and they fly off into the distance.
(clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eitDnP0_83k) .
Gabriel tells Mary about some of things Jesus will be and do in His life and announces Elizabeth’s surprise pregnancy, ending their speech by telling Mary that God can do anything! This is the God version of ‘Look what I can do, do you trust me?’ and Mary responds “yes”.

I wonder how we would react today to an event like this? An angel, an impossible situation and a prophesy from God. Have you ever experienced something that made you doubt your experience but knew full well despite that, it was real and God was in it? If so, we would love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Glimpses of Heaven

Glimpses of Heaven

Occasionally, we hear stories either in the news or from people we know, that someone has either seen or visited heaven. This often seems to happen when the person is either very ill or injured very badly (i.e.’Heaven is for Real’ and ‘Miracles from Heaven’). Sometimes we might struggle to know whether these people really have seen heaven or whether they have imagined it or perhaps something in between – maybe God sent them a picture/ sense of heaven for comfort. Although we might argue about this, it is harder to argue that people in the bible who were described as having seen/ been to heaven really did or not. Why would God put those stories in the bible if they weren’t true?

There appear to be only 7 people in the bible who saw heaven, or a glimpse of it, including Jesus who was said to have seen heaven upon rising out of the water following baptism:

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” – Mark 1:9-11 (NIV)

Before Jesus’ time on earth, there were only 3 people mentioned who saw glimpses of heaven, Elisha, his servant and Ezekiel:

15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. 16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. – 2 Kings 6:15-17 (NIV) (thought to be chariots and horses from heaven as they appeared out of nowhere).

Ezekiel saw many glimpses of heaven which are all spoken about throughout his book but it begins with chapter 1, verse 1 which says:

1In my thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. – Ezekiel 1:1 (NIV)

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, there were also Stephen (Acts 7:55-56), John (Revelation 4:11) and Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). If you want to know more, you can read their stories in the corresponding passages.

Have you ever wondered what heaven is like? Perhaps you’ve always imagined it as a place full of clouds and unicorns with big golden gates with a fancy house sat behind them with God in a big throne and angels all around, or maybe the image in your mind is more like those in the Scriptures.

As I write this, it is gone midnight but I am still awake, ironically, not because the pain is too bad, but because for that 1 in every 1000 times I take pain medication, it has really worked and the pain is almost totally gone leaving a calming tingly, relaxation. When you live with chronic pain, this is a rare feeling so when it happens, I like to lie still and enjoy it – which is exactly what I’m doing now! To me this is as close to a glimpse of heaven as I’ve ever had. A life without pain and suffering and with an overwhelming joy and peace. 

There is a song that I first heard back in 2013, at the start of my chronic illness journey, called ‘You Hold Me Now’, which is written by Hillsong and goes, ‘No weeping, no hurt or pain, no suffering, You hold me now, You hold me now, no darkness, no sick or lame, no hiding, You hold me now, You hold me now.’ This song has come back to me recently whilst I have been thinking about this post and I think this is a really good, yet probably simple, description of what heaven will be like. No more pain, suffering, fear, shame, upset, darkness, just joy, hope, peace, love and comfort.

Therefore, although those short moments in my life when the pain is gone are infrequent and irrelevant to most people, to me, those moments are glimpses of heaven. In the same way, I see heaven when I see a rainbow that reminds us of God’s promises of hope and when I hear the birds singing and feel peaceful and even when I taste something good. These are all God’s blessings to us and small bites of what heaven will be like. I am quite content and excited by the things taking place in my life right now, but I am also so excited for the day when I come face to face with God and get to see heaven in all it’s fullness -not just glimpses but full 20/20 vision, luminescent, panoramic fullness!

Have you had any glimpses of heaven this week? No matter how big or small they might seem, they are glimpses of God’s goodness and what is to come for us in eternity.