Monday, July 27, 2009
Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock." Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water."
By looking at the structures of John 4:10-15 and John 6:25-34 it is easy to see that these two passages parallel one another. In both cases, Jesus engages his hearers and allows them to fight back with their own questions. After they express their initial confusion, Jesus offers an explanation, even if He does not directly answer their questions. The hearers then express anticipation for the gifts in which Jesus mentions. Finally, John 6:35 serves as a conclusion that ties both these passages together in one statement. After looking at the background of these passages and seeing how they fit in the Gospel of John, it is important to look at the verses themselves, to discover the meaning of the passages. The parallel structure will help aid in understanding the meaning as well.
When Jesus first meets the woman in John 4:7, He asks for a drink of water, to which the woman reverts to cultural prejudices, shocked that a Jew would speak to her, a Samaritan. Then, in verse ten, Jesus introduces the woman to the idea of “living water.” One important idea to point out at the outset of these passages is that “spiritually, Jesus comes to us first.” Jesus initiates the conversation, offering this woman a new kind of water, a gift. This idea of living water will later develop into an image that leads to eternal life, and initially it appears as if this gift is Jesus Himself.” This argument seems reasonable in that Jesus is the one offering the gift of eternal life, which can only be found in Him. But with living water having such a literal meaning in the culture, the woman completely misses the spiritual significance of this gift. As a result, she expresses her confusion.
In verses eleven and twelve, the woman offers a defense to Jesus’ claim. Thinking literally about living water, which comes from a stream or a river, the woman realizes that Jesus cannot physically acquire this water in Sychar. So she reminds him about the depth of the well, “about one hundred feet, and points out that He has nothing to draw with.” She then expresses anger, thinking that if Jesus claims that He can acquire living water in Sychar that He must be greater than Jacob, one of the Patriarchs. In fact in the way that she questions Jesus, the Greek “participle mh (may) indicates expectation of a negative answer.” She thinks highly of Jacob and does not expect anyone to claim to be greater. Again, this confusion arises from her inability to think of the situation from a spiritual standpoint. She challenges Jesus by bringing Jacob into the conversation. However, Jesus does not allow the woman to trap Him in the conversation. He regains control and offers an explanation.
Beginning in verse thirteen, Jesus returns to the topic of water by contrasting earthly water with living water. The woman is thinking on the earthly level. Since Jesus is more interested in “internal or spiritual water,” He meets her at her point of understanding and develops His argument from there. In fact, He argues that “everything that the world has to offer man will not satisfy him in the long run.” The water He references in verse thirteen is physical water that comes from a well. Just as the woman travels to the well each day for water, physical things in life do not satisfy; their pleasures eventually run out. Using this description of earthly things, Jesus now extends His argument by showing her how living water differs from earthly water.
The first half of verse fourteen expresses the eternality of this living water. Whereas the earthly water does not satisfy but for a short time, living water “satisfies man’s thirst forever, because it is that for which man really yearns.” When Jesus tells the woman that whoever drinks of this water “will never be thirsty again,” He shows her how the water will have an eternal effect on her. In fact, this water will be a tool that will lead her to eternal life. The second half of this verse deals with the water’s effects. When Jesus says that the water will well up into eternal life, He shows how the living water itself is not the image of eternal life. Instead, the living water leads to eternal life. Other images that Jesus uses in John show this same trend: “in 4:36 in relation to those who harvest a crop ‘for eternal life,’ in 6:27 in relation to the food that endures ‘to eternal life,’ in and in 12:25 in relation to those who hate their lives in this world but keep them ‘for eternal life.’” This entire discussion finds its focus on an image. Just as the bread, crops, and life are not equated with eternal life, neither is the water. Jesus uses this image of water to directly relate with the woman. He takes a common image from her life, meets her where she is in her life, and presents the truth through that image. Jesus is showing her how to obtain eternal life, and this life does not come through the ways of man, which only last for a time.
But once again, the woman still shows her confusion. In verse fifteen, the woman keeps her focus on the physical, still blind to the spiritual side of the discussion. First, she shows that “she is still seeking literal water… thinking about earthly things” when she requests for Jesus to give her the water. She continues to express this confusion by thinking that the water will “relieve her of the… task of coming to draw water.” She has not come far from her initial confusion, but some of Jesus’ teaching is beginning to make more sense to her. For instance, she now recognizes this living water as a gift, even though she is not quite sure how it will affect her life. Because Jesus continues to lead the discussion throughout the remainder of the chapter, the woman continues to get closer to the truth.
There is still more to come as we look at the significance of these passages in the book of John. We will next look at what happened to the crowd of 5,000 people after they had been fed and then look at an application for our lives today.
 James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary Volume 1 John1:1-4:54 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975) 343.
 Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John I-XII (New York, New York: Double Day, 1966) 170.
 Colin G. Kruse, The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003) 129.
 Andreas J. Köstenberger, John: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004) 151.
 Borchert, The New American Commentary: John 1-11, 205.
 Ernst Haenchen, John 1: A Commentary on the Gospel of John Chapters 1-6 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1980) 220.
 Kruse, John: The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 130.
 Burge, The NIV Application Commentary: John, 144-45.
 Haenchen, John 1: A Commentary on the Gospel of John Chapters 1-6, 221.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Jeff Gordon went for his 5th win at the Brickyard.
Jimmie Johnson looked for his 3rd win.
Mark Martin desired to become the oldest Brickyard winner.
Juan Pablo Montoya wanted to add a Brickyard win to his Indy 500 win.
Tony Stewart tried to get the 14 back into victory lane.
Rookie Joey Lagano ran his first Brickyard race of his career.
With so many story lines, this race promised to be exciting, especially since last year's race was ruined due to bad tires. Goodyear brought much better tires this year, and the cautions were drastically reduced, causing many green flag runs today.
The race began with Gordon, Johnson, and Lagano way back in the pack. But as the race continued, these 3 began working their way back to the front, where they belong. But no one had anything for Montoya's 42 car. With less than 30 laps left it appeared as if Montoya would pull off the win of his dreams. But in the last pit stop, Montoya was penalized for speeding through pit road. This sent him to the back of the pack, and when Jr. blew an engine, Montoya got one last chance.
However, with only 24 laps to go when the race restarted, Montoya did not have enough time to work his way back to the front, leaving Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson to fight for the win. Johnson got the lead on the restart, and despite Martin's attempts to run him down, Martin had nothing for Johnson.
Johnson held him off in the final turn and won the race, making it two in a row for Johnson at the Brickyard. Johnson also became the first to ever win the Brickyard back-to-back, marking his wins up at 3, only 1 behind Gordon's 4 Brickyard wins. All in all, this was an exciting, non-controversial race. I can only hope that Pocono is just as exciting next Sunday.
These images and allusions provide a foundation in that they show where both Jesus and the people He speaks with are coming from culturally. But it is important not only to see where these people are coming from, but also the position of these passages in the Gospel of John can shed light on the meaning as the author’s background is factored in. The structure and images used parallel other stories throughout the Gospel, and these ideas must be considered when looking at these passages.
Prior to Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well, He has a similar encounter with Nicodemus in John 3. Jesus encounters ordinary people from all walks of life. In these two chapters of John, Jesus meets a “learned, religious man” and a “degraded, immoral woman.” They are both in need of eternal life, and Jesus leads their conversations so that they will ask questions, seeking answers to their initial confusion. But Jesus does not answer these questions as they would have liked. Instead, he “berates His audience for looking for physical rather than spiritual blessings.” This similar structure can then be seen in John 6 when Jesus confronts the crowd after feeding the five thousand. And once again, it is important to understand how passages in John are “complexly tied to other passages in the Gospel.” For some would argue that this is “not the same crowd” that was at the feeding of the five thousand. Whether the crowd is the same crowd or not, John purposefully places this passage after the great miracle for thematic reasons.
Along with the common structure, many themes parallel one another as well. In both passages, along with the story of Nicodemus, Jesus speaks about eternal life. He shows Himself to be the only way, an idea presented in John 14 as well. These themes carry over into other parts of the Gospel, and the images that Jesus uses also appear multiple times. For instance, it has already been noted that the water imagery can be seen in both John 4 and John 6. Commentators also point to John 7 as another parallel passage where Jesus tells a crowd to come to Him if they thirst, speaking on eternal life again. The images of bread and water are used on multiple occasions, and John organized his Gospel by placing similar stories with similar images together for a purpose. John groups these stories together by their themes and images to highlight a specific point. In the case of these two passages, John shows the importance of seeing Jesus as the source of eternal life.
 Blair, Living Eternally, 65.
 Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel: Issues and Commentary (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 2001) 122.
 Stephen Fowl, “John 6:25-35,” Interpretation 61, no. 3 (July 2007), http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pd f?vid=7&hid=13&sid=3b853655-aa23-46f3-a02181533080f2ec%40SRCSM2 (accessed February 15, 2009) 314.
 Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel: Issues and Commentary, 123.
 Allison, “The Living Water (John 4:10-14; 6:35c; 7:37-39),” 143.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
This season has been filled with first time winners. Brad Keselowski won Talledega due to a last lap maneuver that was completely legal. David Reutimann and Joey Lagano have also won a race due to rain. Just because of these exciting finishes, the 2009 season has been one that will be remembered.
But there has also been hot-head Kyle Busch who has shot his mouth off on more than one occasion and received much ridicule over the things that he has said during and after a race. He cannot lose graciously, and he never finds fault in himself. He has destroyed a trophy and been caught up in a horrible wreck (which left him soar for a few days). But that is not surprising. The surprising part of his 2009 season is the fact that he is less than 15 points from being left out of the chase. If his luck does not turn around soon, he may find himself outside the top 12 in New Hampshire.
Then there is 50 year old Mark Martin who has made a tremendous comeback, winning 4 races already this year. But due to some bad luck early on in the season, he barely sits inside the top 12 with Kyle Busch. If he can just hold on to the chase (which I am hoping he doesn't, even though I do like him), he will be the leader when we get to New Hampshire.
Hendrick has once again been the story of 2009. Mark Martin has the most wins, Jimmie Johnson is the 3-time defending champ, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has flopped most of the season but may be on a comeback, Jeff Gordon has won a race already and is poised to make a run at the cup, and Tony Stewart's new team (along with Hendrick's help) is at the top of the points. Stewart has won on more than one occasion this season, and his new team took off in 2009 with no problems.
So who will win in the end? Hopefully Jeff Gordon. It is almost certain that he will make the chase, and if he does, I believe he has a good shot at winning it all. But first, he must get past the "old man," the "hot-head," the "teammate" at Stewart-Haas, and the "3-time defending champ." It will take a lot to win championship number 5, but if anyone can do it, Jeff Gordon can.
To better understand the text, it is important to first look at the historical significance of some of the images used and objects that are referenced. For instance, Jesus brings up the image of living water, prodding the woman at the well to mention the patriarch Jacob. Then, when Jesus discusses the bread of life with the crowd that follows Him, they draw a reference to Moses and the manna that fell from Heaven when the Israelites were in the wilderness. Jesus makes use of these Old Testament references to guide His listeners to understanding that the Living Water and Bread of Life refer to eternal life. So first, the historical background must be understood in order to see where the woman and the crowd would have been coming from in the passage.
The idea of water carries many different meanings for the common Jew. It can be a reference to wisdom or teaching, the Spirit, a purification method, bringing healing powers, or a promise leading to salvation. In fact, water is an important necessity for the Jewish citizen. “Water [is] scarce in the hot climates [in] the East” of Israel, forcing people to visit the wells each day. And in the inner cities of Israel, where people are not situated near a main body of water, living water is non-existent. To the Jew, living water flows from a stream or a river and is not found situated “in a well, cistern, or pond.” This fact casts light on why the woman expresses confusion about Jesus’ claim to give her living water. In her town of Sychar, no river or stream provides the city with living water. Instead, the citizens must daily go to the well to receive their water. Finally, in Zechariah 4:18 and Ezekiel 47:9, “living waters…flow from Jerusalem in the end time.” Living water carries the Jewish idea of water one step further, making living water the source of life that will flow from the New Jerusalem.
Since the city of Sychar, did not have a source of living water, the woman’s confusion becomes understandable. She comes to draw water each day from a well that she claims was dug by the patriarch Jacob. The typical well “would have had a short perimeter wall around its mouth, a stone lid, a stone trough nearby for animals to be watered, and perhaps a tripod for attaching a rope/container for drawing water.” But there is some confusion over her claims to Jacob’s presence in Sychar. In Genesis 33:18-20 it is recorded that Jacob moved to the “Shechem area,” so a tradition states that Jacob built a well in the region, possibly at Sychar. Amidst the confusion over Jacob’s presence in Sychar, the text uses this example to illustrate Jesus’ superiority to Jacob. Jesus’ superiority is seen over “most of the cultic or historic symbols in Israel’s faith.” These instances create an important theme seen throughout the Gospel of John.
Similar to the water, Jesus also presents the idea of bread, another vital necessity of life. This image stretches across the Bible as it looks at the manna from the time of the wilderness wanderings and appears to point to the Eucharist, which is still to come at this point in the text. The crowd that follows Jesus after the feeding of the five thousand desire to see more signs from Jesus, thinking that He may be the coming Messiah who would reopen the treasury of manna. But it also appears to point toward a Eucharistic image when Jesus alludes to the fact that those who come to the Bread, which is Jesus, will not hunger. Some of the words that Jesus uses “suggest a specifically Eucharistic meaning.” Like the water, this image may also hold some sort of eschatological significance, stretching even further into the future. It is possible that this image “prefigures God’s eschatological provision for His people.” It is important to realize that this one image that Jesus uses carries so many different ideas, associated with the wilderness wandering of the Israelites, the Lord’s Supper, and events that are yet to come.
If the image of the bread can be drawn back to the manna, which verse thirty-one suggests, then the allusion to Moses must also be considered. Jesus shows His superiority to Jacob when speaking with the woman at the well, and in this passage He explains how He is also superior to the great Israelite leader, Moses. Jesus continuously expresses how He is one with the Father in the Gospel of John, and in verse thirty-two, Jesus shows how the Father provided the manna for the Israelites, not Moses. Augustine suggests that this “is the first passage in which Christ declares Himself to be greater than Moses.” Once again, Jesus places Himself above the historical figures of the Jewish faith, expressing His superiority.
 Dale C. Allison Jr., “The Living Water (John 4:10-14; 6:35c; 7:37-39),” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 30, no. 2 (1986), http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdf?vid=12&hid=13&sid=3b853655-aa23-46f3-a021-81533080f2ec%40SRCSM2 (accessed February 15, 2009) 144-45.
 J. Allen Blair, Living Eternally: The Gospel of John (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers Inc., 1978) 65.
 Gary Burge, The NIV Application Commentary: John (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000) 143.
 Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary Volume One (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003) 604.
 Burge, The NIV Application Commentary: John, 142.
 D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991) 219.
 Gerald L. Borchert, The New American Commentary: John 1-11 (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996) 204.
 Burge, The NIV Application Commentary: John, 197.
 James W. Voelz, “The Discourse on the Bread of Life in John 6: Is It Eucharistic?,” Concordia Journal 15, no. 1(January 1989), http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdf?vid=20&hid=12& sid=ea7de7e7-af56-4283-9fff6d3a1 b9c32695%40sessionmgr8 (accessed February 17, 2009) 29.
 Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary Volume One, 681.
 Mark Edwards, John: Blackwell Bible Commentaries (Maiden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2004) 76.
The situation is still not resolved, but I am praying that things will begin to work out this week. And hopefully that will help this week not drag on so badly. Please pray that the situation will be handled the way it needs to be, and that it will not affect my work performance or my relationship with the kids to which we minister each day.
Other than that, summer is clicking right along. It is nice to keep in touch with some friends at school, which I have also done some this week. But I feel like summer is almost over, and school is not seeming too bad right now. I am going to enjoy these next four weeks though, because I know that it will probably be a challenging semester once again.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Winesburg, Ohio was one of the last books I read at the end of last semester, and it is one of the only ones that I can remember enough about to post about at this point. Sherwood Anderson took a complete different approach to writing when he wrote this novel. He created the fictional city of Winesburg and allowed the main character, George Willard to be involved throughout the many stories.
This novel consists of about 20 different stories, each story with a different set of characters/residents of Winesburg. But George makes an appearance in most of the stories for he is the town's reporter, and many of the residents trust him and are willing to talk to him. So as these characters deal with their various problems (either about their past or their present).
One of the major problems I found in the book is the decision as to where the characters would like to live. Some find faults with living in the small town, dealing with town gossip and other problems that come from small town politics. So some choose to live in the country surrounding the town. But many times, these characters feel disconnected and sense isolation. Therefore, others choose to move to one of the large Ohio cities. But they find that the problems they faced in the small town are only increased when they arrive in the city. Plus they face more problems as well. I feel like the novel concludes (on that topic anyways) that the town is the better place to live, but ultimately it is a person's choice.
This novel is unique because of the various stories that compose the novel. And having a single character that travels in and out of the other stories ties the novel together. But ultimately, the fact that George is dealing with the decision as to where he should live (country, town, or city), helps tie this major theme into the novel.
If you are one who does not like to read or one who cannot read many pages in one sitting, this may be a good book for you. By having these various stories, you could read one story at a time and gradually make your way through the novel.
G'day Mate! Welcome aboard the Boomerang Express as we travel throughout all of Australia to learn about how "it all comes back to Jesus."
This year in Vacation Bible School, our church traveled to the Outback for 5 fun-filled days exploring Australia's wildlife and landmarks while studying about the life of Peter. The Bible stories for the week began with Jesus' calling of Peter. The first day focused on how we should "Follow Him" just as Peter learned to do. We must always trust that Jesus knows the future and that He can lead the way in life. The path is hardly ever clear, and we never know what each day will bring. But we were not created to know the future, and our job is to follow Him, allowing Him to control the rest.
On Day 2, we focused in on worship. When Peter and the disciples were out on the sea after the feeding of the 5,000, they feared that a ghost was coming their way. But to their relief, they soon realized, thanks to Peter, that it was Jesus walking on the water. I think we all know what happened next. Peter wants to leap out and walk to Jesus, and he does begin to walk on the water with Jesus. But once he takes his focus off of Jesus and watches the storm, wind, and waves, he begins to seek. But Jesus physically saves his life and they climb back into the boat. Peter and the other disciples "Worship Him," declaring that Jesus truly is the Son of God.
Salvation day always falls on Wednesday (Day 3) in VBS. So the focus was on Peter's denial and the Crucifixion/Resurrection. The kids learned about how Peter denied Jesus three times that night and how Jesus was killed. But since the story does not end with the Crucifixion, the kids also learned that a physical death was not the end for Jesus. He was raised from the dead, and as a result, many people (including Peter) believed in Him. Like Peter, we too must "Believe Him." And it is as simple as A (admit), B (believe), C (confess).
Yet salvation was not the end for Peter. Now that he truly believed in Jesus, Jesus had a mission for him. Jesus needed Peter's help as He prepared to go back to Heaven. So one morning after the Resurrection, Jesus and Peter had breakfast by the sea, and Jesus asked Peter if He loved Him. After Peter assured Jesus three times that he really did love Him, Jesus gave Peter a command. He asked Peter, to feed and take care of His sheep. Peter was commanded to spread the Good News to those who had not heard and help them to continue to grow in their Christian walk. The same is true for us, for we cannot truly live for Jesus and sit on the sidelines. We must "serve Him" each day, and the best way to serve Him is to spread the Gospel to others.
Finally, we must also "obey Him." Although Jesus commanded Peter to spread the Good News, it was ultimately up to Peter. He could have chosen not to follow through on Jesus' commands. But after denying Jesus on the night of His crucifixion, Peter chose not to make the same mistake again. So he went on the offensive, telling people all across the world. But his boldness eventually landed him in prison. So on the final day, we studied how the angel set Peter free in Acts. And once again, Peter had a choice. He could choose not to obey again and have an easy life or go back out on the offensive and possibly land back in prison. And we saw how Peter did not take the easy road, even after he was freed.
It was a fun week, but it was also a very meaningful week. It was great to take a look at the life of Peter. There is so much to be learned from his life. But we must be careful not to follow Peter. Instead we must learn to follow Jesus. He is the one who guides our lives each day, and He is the one we can trust. In life, it all comes back to Jesus.
That is the end of the Boomerang Express, but join us next year as we head out to Saddle Ridge Ranch.
So to start my first post on this little comeback of mine, I guess I will give you a quick update about my life. Finals week has come and gone, and the semester ended well. I did much better this semester than I was expecting, which made me feel better when the grades came in. And my junior year of college is now a thing of the past.
Just a few days after the end of the semester, I went back to work. As many of you know, I worked at my home church's daycare last summer, and I have returned there again this year. But much has changed in one year. Another local daycare shut down in May, sending many of their kids our way. So although I have many of the same kids that I had last year, there are many new faces to work with this summer. Some of those kids have fell right into place, but several did not. So it has taken half of the summer for my coworkers and myself to get them in our routine. There have been many more disciplinary problems this summer, and I hate to say it, but there have been some days when I have not enjoyed going to work. Thankfully, things appear to be turning around. We only have a few of what I would call "the problem kids."
But aside from the problems that we are having, there is a bright side to the summer. Once again I am teaching the kids the books of the Bible, ten key passages, and nine memory verses. As of now, we are only two verses and four key passages away from being done, and we should finish my planned material in two weeks. After that, there will still be a few weeks of summer left where we will focus on reviewing the material. Even with the disciplinary problems, the kids have done well with learning the information this year, and they have once again impressed me. Now I pray for a great end to the summer.
We also had Vacation Bible School and boarded the Boomerang Express this year, but that could probably be another story.
But why have I not posted? Well between being really tired after work some days, attempting to do some type of reading throughout the summer, which hasn't happened yet, preparing a lesson for the next day, and trying to review Greek, the posts have not come. Hopefully this is the start of many, many more.