Encounters with Christ

August 19, 2018 ~ Richard Britton

In Bethany, Mary shows her love for Jesus by drenching His feet with expensive perfume and wiping them with her hair. She is preparing Jesus for His ultimate glory, which will come when He is lifted up on the cross. His ultimate glory comes through humiliation, a criminal’s death. Yet the crowds think that as a conquering king, Jesus will earn glory through liberating the people from Roman oppression. They run out to meet Him with nationalistic pride. Little do they know that Jesus is not the king they are expecting, but the King they need. A King, who through death, will bring eternal life to all who believe in Him. 

August 5, 2018 ~ Richard Britton

As illustrated in chapter 9, the Pharisees are blind guides who are unfit to shepherd God’s people. They rejected Christ, and therefore have not entered the sheepfold by the door. We saw that the man born blind, after washing in the “pool of mission” became an ideal disciple/shepherd who had faith in Christ and asked others to follow Him. Unlike the Pharisees, this man had no Biblical or theological training, yet understood simple spiritual truths that the Pharisees could not comprehend. This social outcast was more fit to shepherd God’s people than the religious leaders of his day.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd sent by God to lay down His life for the sheep and to protect them against evil.  Anyone who believes in Christ is one of His sheep, and can help shepherd others into His fold. No matter who we are, if we believe in Christ, He has called us to be shepherds.  He has called us to go out, find sheep who are lost, and guide them back into the fold. 

July 29, 2018 ~ Richard Britton

When Jesus encounters a man born blind, He heals him. He not only opens his eyes, but opens his heart and mind as well. The healing takes place on the Sabbath, so the Pharisees know that Jesus is a Sabbath breaker and a sinner. Yet the man whose eyes were opened points out that if Jesus were not from God, He could do nothing. Jesus gave this man both physical sight and spiritual sight, to see that Jesus was the Son of God. Conversely the Pharisees have physical sight, but are left in spiritual darkness as they cannot believe in the one whom God has sent. The Light of the world has uncovered the fact that the deeds of the Pharisees are evil. He invites us to walk in the light and live by the truth, like the man born blind. 

July 22, 2018 ~ Richard Britton

Without Jesus as their light, the Pharisees were lost, without life or direction. Yet all those who believe that Christ is the Messiah will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life. As God led the Israelites through the desert in a pillar of fire, so Jesus as the light of the world will guide us as we journey through life as His disciples. 

July 15, 2018 ~ Richard Britton

All of Israel was required to travel to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles which was a feast of expectation. The people expected that the new wine from the autumn harvest of grapes would flow freely. The people expected that rainfall during the upcoming rainy season would be plentiful, and prayed for it. Finally, the people anticipated the coming of their Messiah, hoping He would re-create the miracle of Moses (water from the rock) and bring the political freedom that Moses did when he led the Israelites out of Egypt.  When Jesus comes to the feast, He fulfills all three of these in ways the Israelites never thought possible. 

July 8, 2018 ~ Rev. Dan Gritter

Jesus performed an amazing miracle of feeding 5,000 people with only five loaves and two fish! It was again another sign in this gospel pointing to who Jesus really is. Later He made it very plain that He really is the Bread of Life, the very life of God that we all need. He is the one who finally and fully satisfies our spiritual hunger. 

June 24, 2018 ~ Rev. Dan Gritter

Pastor Dan Gritter focuses our attention on spiritual thirst. Everyone knows what it is to be thirsty. And everyone has a spiritual thirst whether they know it or not. We try many wells to satisfy it. Jesus met a woman at a well in John 4. An interesting discussion ensued. In the end she came to believe and experience that Jesus offered her what He called living water, the kind that most deeply satisfies our deep spiritual thirst. Encountering Jesus ended up changing not only her own life but that of others as well. Everyone has a spiritual thirst, even very religious people. Jesus invites you to come to the only well that will satisfy yours. 

June 17, 2018 ~ Richard Britton

Nicodemus is Israel’s teacher but he does not understand spiritual things. Jesus, who Nicodemus calls teacher, is Israel’s true teacher. Jesus has seen the kingdom of God because He is born “from above,” and we must be born “from above” or “again” to see God’s kingdom. If we are cleansed from sin through faith in Christ (symbolized by the waters of baptism) and transformed by the Spirit of God, we can have a place in the kingdom of God. Nicodemus asks how this can be. Jesus’ answer is that the Son of Man must be lifted up on the cross. 

June 10, 2018 ~ Rev. Dan Gritter

 This week Rev. Gritter led the congregation in the fascinating story from John 2 of encountering Christ at a wedding in a small town called Cana in Galilee when water was changed into wine.  It was there that the writer John tells us that the disciples saw the glory of Jesus and believed in Him.  So what was this glory they saw?  It was quite different from the idea of glory that we find often in our culture.  It was glory that comes often in life in unexpected places and ways.  It was the glory of selfless service of others.  If we have eyes to see it we will see the glimmering of the kind of glory God values far more than we realize.  This story is an encouragement to live that kind of life reflecting the glory of Jesus in selflessly serving others.  We may think doing this in small ways is not very important, but it is!

June 3, 2018 ~ Seminarian Richard Britton

The Diciples Encounter Christ ~ In John 1, the apostle John presents John the Baptist as the model witness to Christ. John the Baptist denies himself and bears witness that Jesus is the Messiah. The disciples all use titles of Jesus that point to Him being the Son of God. They know who Jesus is after their encounters with Him. Then they go and tell others about Him. Who can we tell about what God is doing in the life of the church, and in our own personal lives? How have we encountered Christ through His word, creation, and in our relationships with others? God’s Spirit will help shape us into model disciples and witnesses like the people presented in John 1. 

Sally Kuipers