Friday, October 5, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Amos 3 and John 3:1-21

Amos 3 – The prophet here addresses all of the tribes of Israel, those whom God has “chosen” on the earth to love in a special way. “You alone, of all the families of earth, have I acknowledged; therefore it is for all your sins that I mean to punish you” (3:2). 

The prophet’s call comes from God. It cannot be resisted and the prophet must proclaim what God has conveyed to him. “Therefore, the Lord Yahweh says this: An enemy [Assyria] is going to invade the country, your power will be brought low, your palaces looted. Yahweh says this: Like a shepherd rescuing a couple of legs or a bit of an ear from the lion’s mouth, so will these sons of Israel be rescued, who now loll in Samaria on the corner-pillows of their divans” (3:12). The altars of Bethel will be brought down; the houses of the rich destroyed.

John 3:1-21 - Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, comes to Jesus secretly, under cover of darkness because he recognizes that the signs Jesus performs shows that he is from God.  Jesus tells him he will never see God’s “kingdom” unless he is “born from above” (3:3). People must be spiritually “born” to see spiritual things. Jesus continues his discussion with Nicodemus.  Even though Nicodemus is a Pharisee, a teacher and a leader of his people he cannot understand what Jesus means when he talks of being born of the Spirit.  And these are “earthly things,”—being born again—Jesus says.  Then Jesus tell him how he (Jesus) must be “lifted up,” like the serpent on Moses’ staff, “that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (3:14-15).  I sympathize with Nicodemus.  Who can understand these things?

Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus continues –“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (3:16). John uses the term “world” in two very different ways in his gospel.  Here it is the “world” of God’s care—his creation. Later it will be “the world” of man’s creation, a tempting but shallow prize that keeps man from God.

Jesus tells Nicodemus that he has come not to condemn us but to save us. “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil” (3:19).

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