Monday, June 26, 2017

Jonathan Goforth-Missionary Couples Are Not Perfect

By Mary Vee
Year: October 1902
Jonathan Goforth-43 years old


Jonathan Goforth's Journal


My name is Jonathan Goforth. My wife, Rosalind and I are missionaries to China. Even when we had to leave because of the Boxer Rebellion, that was really rough, we knew God wanted us to be missionaries to China.

Those were scary times when we escaped the country. Sigh. We almost died. Some missionaries did. I'm not going to lie, memories of being beaten and left for dead pop in my head a lot. But God helped us arrive in Canada safely. A time for us to heal and prepare to return. 

While in Canada, I couldn't stop thinking about the Chinese Christians left behind and the millions of people who never heard there is a living God who loves them. I had to go back. And I did, alone. I couldn't bring Rosalind and the children until I knew they would be safe.

The last two times you sat with me, Mr. Ho told us what happened while I was gone. Such stories. You can scroll down to last Monday and read them. 

Mr. Ho and I got busy rebuilding. I went to the city square and talked about the living God who loves. Men soon saw that I had returned and came to hear the words. The work kept me busy before sun up and long past sun down. I was tired but pushed to work more. So many people needed to hear about the God who loves them.

One morning I woke with a terrible fever. I had no strength to get out of bed. My friends came, wondering where I was and found me laying in bed. I remember something about a doctor visiting me. He said typhoid fever. I slept most of the time. The few moments I happened to be awake, I thanked God for not letting Rosalind arrive yet. I didn't want her or the children to get this sick.

Day and night went by me. Sometimes fast. Sometimes slow. I'd sent for Rosalind before the illness hit. Hopefully she won't arrive until I was better. I hoped. I prayed.

During the long hours I lay in bed awake, ideas for the work in China popped in my mind. It was like God used the time to tell me His plan. The church here in Changte could be run by Mr. Ho and the other Christian Chinese men which would free me to go to a new community. I could start a work there, teach new Christians how to help others and leave that group to grow while starting a new one in another place. Ten churches could be started in one year. In the last two months I could visit all ten churches and see where they need help. 

Yes. This is a great idea. I couldn't wait for Rosalind to get here and tell her the news!

She arrived not long after the doctor said I was well enough to work. I was so happy to see them. I'd missed them all so much. Each one of those kids got a big daddy hug. They'd grown so much in the short time we were apart. And Rosalind. Sweet Rosalind, my wife, my partner in missionary work. 

The children played with their Chinese friends the next day. Rosalind organized the house. That night, after the children were in bed I told her the plan to go into the country side. Build a small home. Start a church. After a month we'd turn the leadership over to the local Chinese and go to the next village. I was so excited I could barely get the words out fast enough.

But Rosalind didn't smile. She didn't hug me or say this was an exciting idea like she had before. She said, "This would be good if only you and I were going. But we have small children. The older ones can go to missionary school, but what about the younger ones?"

That was easy to solve. "They'll come with us. They'll be fine."

Then the tears came. She gently shook her head. "We can't do that to them." She kept her voice low. "You know there is small pox, typhoid, dysentery. I can't let that happen. We've already buried four children in China. I won't go tromping around the countryside with these children and watch them die. You can't ask us to do that, Jonathan."

She must be tired from the journey. She knows God wants us to tell people in China about the God who loves them. I wrapped my arms around her. "Honey, the children will be fine. God will keep all of us safe. The best place to be is where God asks us to go, you know that."

That's when the tears stopped and the stubborn anger rose. She kept her voice soft and said, "I don't care. I won't go and I won't let our children go. You should know better than to ask us."

I honestly didn't know what to say next.



There is more to this story. Come back next time.

Jonathan has many stories to share. Come back each Monday to find out what happened next.



Resources Used for This Series
Being, Janet, and Geoff Benge. Jonathan Goforth: An Open Door in China. Seattle. WA: YWAM Pub., 2001.Print
Doyle, G. Wright. Builders of the Chinese Church: Pioneer Protestant Missionaries and Chinese Church Leaders. Eugene Oregon: Pickwick Pub, 2015. Print.
Goforth, Jonathan, and Rosaline Goforth, Miracle Lives of China, London" Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1931, Print.
Goforth, Jonathan. "By My Spirit" Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1942. Print
Goforth, Rosalind. Climbing; Memories of a Missionary's Wife. Chicago: Moody Pub, n.d. Print
Goforth, Rosalind, How I Know God Answers Prayers; The Personal Testimony of One Life-time, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1921. Print
Goforth, Rosalind. Jonathan Goforth. Minneapolis, MN: Bethan House, 1986. Print
Goforth, Rosalind, How God Answers Prayer: The Mighty Miracles of God from the Mission Field of Jonathan Goforth. USA: Revival, 2016. Print Original copyright not stated.
Jackson, Dave, and Neta Jackson. Mask of the Wolf Boy: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1999. Print.
McCleary, Walter. An Hour with Jonathan Goforth: A Biography. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1938. Print.
Meloche, Renee Taft., and Bryan Pollard. Jonathan Goforth: Never Give up. Seattle, WA: YWAM, 2004. Print.

.

Let Jonathan hear from you!
Leave a comment below.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Samaritans: This Man Really is the Savior of the World


By Mary Vee
John 4



From The John's Journal 

Photo by Mary Vee
Shepherd and his sheep
Samaria, Israel
My name is John, I am a disciple of Jesus. The other disciples and I followed Him from Jerusalem along the Jordan River and north. We stopped to rest in Sychar of Samaria at the well known place named Jacob's Well.

Jesus looked really tired. I had to admit we all were a bit hungry. Jesus sent us to town to buy food while he stayed there, sitting by the well.

When we returned, a woman stood speaking with Him. She clearly was a Samaritan. How odd to see them talking because Jews didn't speak to Samaritans and men would not speak to women at a gathering place like a well. Their conversation ended shortly after we arrive with her leaving her jar and running, seriously, she ran back to her village. I couldn't figure out why she did that.

What I knew was that Jesus was probably as hungry as we were. We offered Him food, "Rabbi, eat something."

He answered with the strangest thought, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."

I turned to the others and we said together, "Could someone have brought him food?" We were confused.

Jesus said, "My food comes from doing the will of him who sent me and to finish his work." He turned to face all of us. "You've said that four months will pass before the harvest. I say, open your eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages. Even now he harvests the crop for eternal life. This makes both the sower and reaper both happy. I sent you to buy food, to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work and you have reaped the benefits of their labor."

I could barely speak. His words plunged into my heart. We spent the next few days with those Samaritan villagers. Many of them believed in Jesus the Christ because of her words, "He told me everything I ever did." They came out to great us in a mass and after meeting Jesus and us they urged us to stay with them. We did, spending two days listening to Jesus teach. 

Then because of Jesus' words, many more became believers. The villagers said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said. Now we have heard for ourselves and know this man really is the Savior of the world."

I witnessed this event, and even if I had not written it down, I would have always remembered it and told my sons because seeing God's work through Jesus is just that powerful.


Come back to read the next story.

From Mary Vee, the day our tour group was scheduled to see this well, there was a skirmish. For our safety the police did not allow us to go there. So today's photo is of a place near there.

*********************************************************************************************


sources: 
*A Harmony of the Gospels for Historical Study, An Analytical Synopsis of the Four Gospels by William Arnold Stevens and Ernest DeWitt Burton, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1932
*New International Version, New King James Version. 
*My Bible College training.
*My notes and walk through classes I've taught in Children's church. Answers to student questions, etc.
*Pastoral sermons on this time
*Matthew Henry Commentary
*F. LaGard Smith Commentary
*My notes from my trip to Israel.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Woman Who Met Jesus At the Well


By Mary Vee
John 4



From The Woman's Journal 

Photo by Mary Vee
Shepherd and his sheep
Samaria, Israel
I am known to most people as the Woman at the Well. I, like other women, go to the well at Sychar each day to get water and bring it back to my home.

Last week, I told the first part of my story about this man who sat at the well. He clearly was Jewish which was a problem for two reasons: he was a man and he was a Jew. He surprised me when he spoke. As a Samaritan and a woman, I didn't expect this. 

Any way, He told me about some special water. Those who drank this water would never be thirsty again. I live in a desert land. To never be thirsty was something I really wanted. So I asked him for this special water. 

He said, "Go, call your husband and come back."

I couldn't. "I have no husband," I said.

He nodded like He knew! He said, "You are right when you say you have no husband. The truth is, you have had five husbands, and the man who lives in your home is not your husband. So you spoke the truth."

How could He have known? As a Jew He would not have gone to my village and talked with the people there. I decided to test him. "Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."

He leaned back against the well and said, "A time is coming when you will not worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You worship what you don't know. We worship what we know because salvation is coming through the Jews. The Father above is Spirit. He is seeking those who worship in spirit and in truth whether you are in Jerusalem or on this mountain. So, if you don't search for and worship the Father in spirit and in truth, you do not worship."

"I know that the Messiah is coming," I said. "When He comes, He will explain everything to us."

Then the man said, "I who am speaking to you am he."

Can you believe it! Could he really be the Messiah? As he finished saying those words a group of men came up to him like they were his followers. They brought food for all of them and not one got after the man for talking to me.

I ran back to the town, leaving my water jar behind. I waved my hand to get the villagers to come listen to me. When they came close they asked me what was wrong.

"I met a man at the well," I said. "He was a Jew. You must come see him. He knew everything I had ever done without me telling him a single thing. Could he be the Christ?"

"The Christ? Here? At the well? And he spoke to you?" They didn't wait for me to answer any of their questions. Instead they ran to greet him.

I know I'm telling this story fast. I'm just so excited. There is more to tell. Be sure to come back.


Come back to read the rest of this story.

From Mary Vee, the day our tour group was scheduled to see this well, there was a skirmish. For our safety the police did not allow us to go there. So today's photo is of a place near there.

*********************************************************************************************


sources: 
*A Harmony of the Gospels for Historical Study, An Analytical Synopsis of the Four Gospels by William Arnold Stevens and Ernest DeWitt Burton, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1932
*New International Version, New King James Version. 
*My Bible College training.
*My notes and walk through classes I've taught in Children's church. Answers to student questions, etc.
*Pastoral sermons on this time
*Matthew Henry Commentary
*F. LaGard Smith Commentary
*My notes from my trip to Israel.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Jonathan Goforth-It Was A Repeat of Job's Blessings

By Mary Vee
Year: October 1901
Jonathan Goforth-42 years old


Jonathan Goforth's Journal


My name is Jonathan Goforth. My wife, Rosalind and I are missionaries to China. I left my family safely in Canada until I knew if China was safe for them to return.

Mr. Ho finished telling what happened to him while I was gone. He was hung! Yes, he was hung. Some local bad guys took him and strung him up to a tree. He hung high above the ground with ropes tied to his thumbs left to die. After the bad ones left, some good people came and cut him down. 

After sharing our stories with each other, we went into the town to see how the other Christians were doing. They told their stories of suffering. The good news: we were alive.

The agreement made between the Chinese government and other nations to settle the Boxer Rebellion included the reimbursement of cost to replace damaged foreigner's belongings. 

I received a letter from the government asking me to list the items damaged and the cost for the replacement. Since I bought most of the items in Canada, I wrote the cost in Canadian dollars.

The money didn't come right away. Actually something interesting happened. In the time it took for the Chinese government to process my request, the exchange between Canadian and Chinese currency changed. I ended up getting almost twice what I asked! 

After I got over the surprise I didn't feel right about keeping the extra money. I also knew that sending the money back to the Chinese government would be like stuffing it in the pockets of a dishonest official. 

I prayed, asking God what should be done with the extra money. He gave me the idea to build a Peace Village. In the past, Chinese workers who came to help our mission left their families at their home for a time, worked here for months, then returned home. 

The Peace Village would have small homes and land for gardens. The worker's family could come with them and live here. They would be with other Christian families and live in peace.

I moved forward with the project and soon had families moving in. Everything had gone so well. The country was mostly safe. I wrote Rosalind and asked her to bring the children here. She wrote me back saying she and the children would set sail July 1, 1902. Yes. All is well. I can't wait to see them.

There is more to this story. Come back next time.

Jonathan has many stories to share. Come back each Monday to find out what happened next.



Resources Used for This Series
Being, Janet, and Geoff Benge. Jonathan Goforth: An Open Door in China. Seattle. WA: YWAM Pub., 2001.Print
Doyle, G. Wright. Builders of the Chinese Church: Pioneer Protestant Missionaries and Chinese Church Leaders. Eugene Oregon: Pickwick Pub, 2015. Print.
Goforth, Jonathan, and Rosaline Goforth, Miracle Lives of China, London" Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1931, Print.
Goforth, Jonathan. "By My Spirit" Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1942. Print
Goforth, Rosalind. Climbing; Memories of a Missionary's Wife. Chicago: Moody Pub, n.d. Print
Goforth, Rosalind, How I Know God Answers Prayers; The Personal Testimony of One Life-time, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1921. Print
Goforth, Rosalind. Jonathan Goforth. Minneapolis, MN: Bethan House, 1986. Print
Goforth, Rosalind, How God Answers Prayer: The Mighty Miracles of God from the Mission Field of Jonathan Goforth. USA: Revival, 2016. Print Original copyright not stated.
Jackson, Dave, and Neta Jackson. Mask of the Wolf Boy: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1999. Print.
McCleary, Walter. An Hour with Jonathan Goforth: A Biography. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1938. Print.
Meloche, Renee Taft., and Bryan Pollard. Jonathan Goforth: Never Give up. Seattle, WA: YWAM, 2004. Print.

.

Let Jonathan hear from you!
Leave a comment below.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Woman Who Met HIM


By Mary Vee
John 4



From The Woman's Journal 

Photo by Mary Vee
Shepherd and his sheep
Samaria, Israel
I am known to most people as the Woman at the Well. I, like other women, go to the well at Sychar each day to get water and bring it back to my home.

I am a Samaritan, which means Jews keep as far away from me as possible. I won't take the time to say why at this time other than the Samaritans and the Jews don't get along.

The well that I go to is well-known among the Jews. This well is said to be the one that Jacob gave to his son, Joseph. 

I carried my pot like usual, left home to get water, and was alone, as I usually am. I'm the kind of lady who has a bad reputation. Anyone seen talking with me is usually in trouble by the end of the day. So when the others saw me walk toward the well at the sixth hour, they stayed away.

As I left the city and continued down the road, I saw a man sitting by the well. He looked very tired. I knew I shouldn't go near the well when a man happened to be nearby, but I needed water. He stayed seated as I stepped close to the well. This was not a Samaritan, this was a Jew. 

In my culture, I knew I should not speak to this or any other man in situations like this. I also knew I should not speak to a Jew. I decided I would walk straight to the well, fill my pitcher, and leave without saying a word. I didn't want any trouble. Just water.

Honest, I didn't do anything to encourage him to speak to me. On His own He said, "Will you give me a drink?"

I answered, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" If anyone heard this conversation, I knew I'd be in a lot of trouble, but I looked around and didn't see anyone.

The man said, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

What he said took me completely by surprise. This gift of God he mentioned, I didn't understand it at all. And how could I know who he was? Of course I didn't know him. But I was really curious about this living water he spoke about. 

"Sir," I said, "you don't have anything with you to draw up water, and this well is deep. Where can you get this living water you speak about?" 

I think he must be trying to trick me. "Are you greater than our father, Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it himself? You know, his sons, flocks, and herds drank from this well too!" I laughed. I'm not the foolish one here.

The man didn't pause to think about his answer. Instead his eyes had this compassion look, like he cared that I understood what he meant. He said, "Everyone who drinks the water from this well will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst again. In fact, the water I give him will become like a spring of water welling up inside him as eternal life."

I was amazed. I have longed for something like this for so long. Just think, I won't ever have to walk all the way from my home to this well and carry the heavy pitcher of water back. I said, "Sir, give me this water so I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water."


Then he said something that surprised me even more. And yes, you must wait until next week. But I will tell you what the man said then.



Come back to read the rest of this story.

From Mary Vee, the day we were scheduled to see this well, there was a skirmish. For our safety we were not allowed to go there. So today's photo is of a place near there.

*********************************************************************************************


sources: 
*A Harmony of the Gospels for Historical Study, An Analytical Synopsis of the Four Gospels by William Arnold Stevens and Ernest DeWitt Burton, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1932
*New International Version, New King James Version. 
*My Bible College training.
*My notes and walk through classes I've taught in Children's church. Answers to student questions, etc.
*Pastoral sermons on this time
*Matthew Henry Commentary
*F. LaGard Smith Commentary
*My notes from my trip to Israel.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

John-Jealous Pharisees Wanting Attention


By Mary Vee
John 4



From John's Journal 

Photo by Mary Vee - The Jordan River, farther south
than is talked about in today's story.
My name is John. I am a follower of Jesus the Nazarene. Many people followed Jesus because John the Baptizer said to. John had spoken of a man who would come who sandals he was not worthy to loosen. A man who was sent from God to save us. 

Crowds of people heard John the Baptizer say this. Many left him because he asked, and followed Jesus.

Other followers came because they first heard Jesus. A few Jesus spoke to and asked them to follow Him.  

So, I am John the disciple and follower of Jesus the Nazarene, not John the Baptizer. It will take a while to explain why I follow Jesus, but for now I'll just say there are many people who have heard Jesus' message and have come back to hear more or have stayed with him to not miss any of his words. 

Jesus has spoken about many topics so far. The Pharisee have sat in on some of the talks. I don't think they are interested because they like what Jesus says. The look on their face is  more like they're trying to collect evidence. 

Jesus speaks of God's law. He teaches using stories about things we know. It is at this time that I, along with many in the crowd realize the Pharisee and priests demand more than what is in the law. See, most of us can't read. We depend on the priests to tell us what God wants.

We should have done a better job of passing the Sacred words from father to son, but many have become lazy, depending on the priests and the learned Pharisees. 

It is these Pharisees that said to each other, loud enough for others to hear, "Jesus gathered and baptized more disciples than John." They didn't even say that right. I saw. While it is true more people had chosen to follow Jesus than John the Baptizer, Jesus did not baptize those who repented. His followers, His closest disciples did the baptizing.

The Pharisees acted like this was a popularity contest. They didn't want the people following Jesus any more than they wanted them following John. They wanted the people to stay loyal to them. 

Most, not all the Pharisees clung to a long list of rules that had been added to the laws of Moses. They demanded the people follow these rules as well and resorted to punishing those who did not. 

When Jesus heard them grumbling, He decided to leave Judea, knowing the Pharisees would not want to go away from their jobs or homes. He lead those who wanted to follow Him north toward Galilee. We didn't have cars or any other motor vehicles like you do now and the distance was about 70 miles, so we didn't walk it in one day.

To get there, we walked through Samaria and that is where the next story takes place



Come back for the next story.

*********************************************************************************************


sources: 
*A Harmony of the Gospels for Historical Study, An Analytical Synopsis of the Four Gospels by William Arnold Stevens and Ernest DeWitt Burton, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1932
*New International Version, New King James Version. 
*My Bible College training.
*My notes and walk through classes I've taught in Children's church. Answers to student questions, etc.
*Pastoral sermons on this time
*Matthew Henry Commentary
*F. LaGard Smith Commentary
*My notes from my trip to Israel.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Jonathan Goforth-The Shocked Magistrate

By Mary Vee
Year: October 1901
Jonathan Goforth-42 years old


Jonathan Goforth's Journal


My name is Jonathan Goforth. My wife, Rosalind and I are missionaries to China. I say to because things aren't going as I had hoped.

I returned to Changte on my own, leaving my wife and children in Canada for their safety. The first person I met was my friend Mr. Ho. He told me the first half of what's been happening here while I was gone in the last post and left off with him being dragged to the magistrates office where he expected to be killed.

"So, what happened next?" I asked.

He took a bite of the bread I shared with him. "I was beaten before they asked any questions then dragged to his chambers. The magistrate asked me why had I decided to worship the God of the foreign devils. He said I must have been poisoned and forced to believe the teachings.

"The weird part is, I didn't feel afraid. They could have beaten me until I died and I wouldn't have had been afraid." He patted his chest. "Because God is living here, inside of me. I trust Him."

"So...what did the magistrate say?"

Mr. Ho laughed. "I told him he misunderstood. I was not following the foreigner's and their teaching, I am a follower of the one true living God. I told him all about what God has done for us, like how He loves us so much that He sent His Son to pay the punishment for our sins. He he listens to our prayers and helps us.

"I reminded him that I use to make gods for people to buy and worshipped. I made a lot of money making big gods and to be nice, I made small gods for people who couldn't afford much. These objects were not real gods but the people worshipped them anyway. Wood carved into shapes. Shapes that couldn't hear or help anyone.

"I reminded him how bad I used to be. All the laws I use to break when I worshipped the gods made from wood. Since I have believed in the one true living God, I have not been brought in for any crime." He laughed again. "The magistrate's eyes went wide as he listened to the whole story. Finally, he told me to go home."

"He said for you to go home? Just like that?"

"Yes. He even said he would protect me."

"It looks like he has. You're in good shape." 

He nodded and ate more bread.



There is more to this story. Come back next time.

Jonathan has many stories to share. Come back each Monday to find out what happened next.



Resources Used for This Series
Being, Janet, and Geoff Benge. Jonathan Goforth: An Open Door in China. Seattle. WA: YWAM Pub., 2001.Print
Doyle, G. Wright. Builders of the Chinese Church: Pioneer Protestant Missionaries and Chinese Church Leaders. Eugene Oregon: Pickwick Pub, 2015. Print.
Goforth, Jonathan, and Rosaline Goforth, Miracle Lives of China, London" Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1931, Print.
Goforth, Jonathan. "By My Spirit" Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1942. Print
Goforth, Rosalind. Climbing; Memories of a Missionary's Wife. Chicago: Moody Pub, n.d. Print
Goforth, Rosalind, How I Know God Answers Prayers; The Personal Testimony of One Life-time, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1921. Print
Goforth, Rosalind. Jonathan Goforth. Minneapolis, MN: Bethan House, 1986. Print
Goforth, Rosalind, How God Answers Prayer: The Mighty Miracles of God from the Mission Field of Jonathan Goforth. USA: Revival, 2016. Print Original copyright not stated.
Jackson, Dave, and Neta Jackson. Mask of the Wolf Boy: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1999. Print.
McCleary, Walter. An Hour with Jonathan Goforth: A Biography. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1938. Print.
Meloche, Renee Taft., and Bryan Pollard. Jonathan Goforth: Never Give up. Seattle, WA: YWAM, 2004. Print.

.

Let Jonathan hear from you!
Leave a comment below.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

John the Baptist- That Man-On the Other Side of the Jordan


By Mary Vee
John 3



From John's Journal 

Photo by Mary Vee - The Jordan River, farther south
than is talked about in today's story.
My name is John. I am often called John the Baptizer. My job has been to prepare the way for the One who is coming to save the world.

The number of people who had come to hear me speak about matters of God and the One who'd come to save grew to large crowds. They journeyed from cities near and far using camels and donkeys to travel. 

Because there were so many people, I moved up the river to Aenon near Salim where there was plenty of water for their animals to drink and for me to baptize those who repented of their ways.

The sad part about the large crowds was they should have been able to hear these words from the priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees. These men were not doing their job. 

I didn't teach about rituals, I told those who came to hear my words about the just and loving God, the only living and true God, His expectations, and the One he was sending to save us. 

One time there was an argument among those who followed me and other Jews about the idea of ceremonial washing. They came to me to have the issues resolved. During the discussion, one said, "Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan, the one you spoke highly about, well, he is baptizing, and everyone is leaving you to follow him."

They were talking about Jesus of Nazareth. The One who the dove landed on after I baptized him. The One who a voice said from heaven, "This is my Son, whom I love, and am pleased." 

I answered the men, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You heard me say, 'I am not the Messiah but have been sent to prepare the way for him."

"Yes, but we don't understand. What about that man? The one people are leaving you to follow?"

"He is the one I have been preparing the way for. Think of it this way, the bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who takes care of the details and prepares for the bridegroom waits and listens for him to come. The friend is really happy when he hears the bridegroom's voice because his work is finished. The joy I speak of is mine, and it is now complete. The man you speak of must become greater like the bridegroom. I must become less.

Then words of explanation came to me from God, so I spoke them. "The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He tell of what he has seen and heard. Sadly, few believe him. But those who accept his words show God is truthful. The one whom God has sent speaks the words of God.

"Remember I said the Voice from heaven called him Son? Well, the Father loves the Son and has put everything in his hands. If you believe in the Son, you will have eternal life, but if you reject that man, the Son of God, you will not see life." I rubbed my beard and finished saying God's message, "and God's wrath will stay on you."

I listened to myself speak these words, words God told me to say, and knew my work was nearly finished. My job was not only to tell people that the Messiah was here, but to encourage them to leave me and follow Him.

I hope you will follow Him, too.



Come back for the next story.

*********************************************************************************************


sources: 
*A Harmony of the Gospels for Historical Study, An Analytical Synopsis of the Four Gospels by William Arnold Stevens and Ernest DeWitt Burton, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1932
*New International Version, New King James Version. 
*My Bible College training.
*My notes and walk through classes I've taught in Children's church. Answers to student questions, etc.
*Pastoral sermons on this time
*Matthew Henry Commentary
*F. LaGard Smith Commentary
*My notes from my trip to Israel.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Man Who Sneaked Up to the Roof At Night


By Mary Vee
John 2-3



From Nicodemus's Journal 

Photo by Mary Vee
Taken in Joppa, Israel. This was typical
housing used even in Jesus' day.
See the one section of roof above the light?
I was in Jerusalem during passover week. My name is Nicodemus and I have studied many years to become a Pharisee and be called one of the ruler of the Jews. I know a lot about the Scriptures, can quote words and tell you what they mean. There are many requirements and tests to pass before someone earns the right to be a Pharisee and I placed high in my class. But I must admit I have unanswered questions.

I've listened to the priests, read the Scriptures everyday, and spent so much time trying to find the answers to my questions. Then I saw this man who came to Jerusalem whose name was Jesus. From the moment I first saw him I knew this passover week would be different. 

People watched Jesus. They saw Him do miracles. They followed Him wherever He went and said things like they believed on His name. Jesus didn't seem moved by their words. It was as if He knew those people said those words just so they could see more miracles. 

I liked His honesty.

I wanted to speak with Him alone, maybe ask Him my questions. I didn't want to be seen by any of the other Pharisees so I went to the place where Jesus stayed. I waited until it was late at night. He was with a few other disciples on the roof. In Israel the weather is warm enough to use the roof as a room. Some use it for a bedroom, some use it for dining, or a gathering room.

Photo by Mary Vee
Taken in Joppa, Israel.
This shows how close the houses were
and the narrow streets. 
I went up the stairs to the roof and asked to speak with Him. He offered me a place to sit and patiently waited for me to speak. "Rabbi," I said. Rabbi means teacher. I know, a learned man such as myself wouldn't normally call someone he didn't know, Rabbi, but it just seemed to be the right thing to do. 

The other Pharisees had talked about Jesus and they seemed to agree that He was a teacher who had come from God based on the miracles he did and the words he spoke. I said, "Only someone who had God with him could do the miracles you do."

Jesus said to me, "I tell you the truth, unless a person is born from above, it is impossible to see the kingdom of God."

I heard his words but didn't understand what He meant. "How can a man be born when he is old? No one can go back inside his mother and be born again."

Jesus patiently spoke, "I will explain it differently. No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. As a human, you were given your human birth by your human mother, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. Look now, you can't be surprised at my words about being born again. All right, let's try again. The wind blows wherever it pleases, right?"

"Yes."

"You hear the wind, right?"

"Yes. At times more than others."

"Right. But can you tell where it comes from or where it is going?"

"No. It seems like we could but the wind changes without any reason, blowing in every direction."

"Life in the Spirit is like the wind of God."

All of this was new to me. I wanted to hear more. "I'm still not sure how this can be."

Jesus shook his head. "You are one of Israel's teachers and you do not understand these things? It is this way, we talk about what we know, and we tell others what we've seen, but even after the miracles and the words I've spoken people don't accept what I'm saying. I've even explained using things from the earth and you still don't believe. How then will you be able to understand the heavenly things?

He said, "No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven, that is the Son of Man." Jesus paused. 

I was thankful because I really wanted to understand. I really did. 

He said, "Think of it this way, Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

He smiled gently and said, "God didn't send his Son into the word to condemn the word, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in his Son is not condemned. Those who don't believe in God's Son are condemned already."

Jesus said, "I have another way to explain, Light has come into the world. Men, though loved darkness instead of light because the things they did were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light because they know their evil deeds will be seen. Those who live by the truth aren't afraid to come into he light because the things they have done have been done through God."

I finally understood. "Thank you, Rabbi."  I walked back to my home that night and replayed all the words Jesus said in my mind over and over. I was so glad He was willing to answer my questions.

Note from Mary: Jesus knew which explanation Nicodemus would need but he also gave the other explanations because He also knew many people like us would read or hear this story and would need one of the other explanations. He thought of all of us when He answered Nicodemus.

Come back for the next story.

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sources: 
*A Harmony of the Gospels for Historical Study, An Analytical Synopsis of the Four Gospels by William Arnold Stevens and Ernest DeWitt Burton, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1932
*New International Version, New King James Version. 
*My Bible College training.
*My notes and walk through classes I've taught in Children's church. Answers to student questions, etc.
*Pastoral sermons on this time
*Matthew Henry Commentary
*F. LaGard Smith Commentary
*My notes from my trip to Israel.