On Life After Death

Life Without End, part 1                               September 15, 2022

The Bible mentions life after death many times. This story is one of many. It is a story Jesus told to make a point, so it’s not to be taken literally, like a newspaper story.

Read The Rich Man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19-31

What is your initial reaction to this story?

Do you find it fair? – for both the rich man and for Lazarus? For God? For you?

Looking at the last part of the conversation between Abraham and the rich man, what do you think and how do you feel about Abraham’s final answer?

Then read Psalm 19:1-4

Recognizing that most psalms are written as poetry, which then loses its rhyme in translation, how do you understand these verses?

If God’s glory is displayed for all people to see, what reasons might people have for not seeing it, not understanding it, refusing it, etc…

Where do you stand with regard to eternity, belief in God, etc.?

There is truth in scripture, but it has to be understood in a contextual way. It is necessary to learn God’s ways from the stories in the Bible, and then read it all in light of how you have come to understand God – not an easy task. But: John 14:6-7 teaches us that by knowing Jesus, we know God

Observing Jesus’ life, listening to his teachings, understanding his motivation, getting to know his heart all help us to understand what God is like. God cares for the poor, the strangers, the lonely, the outcasts. God heals, restores, and calls people into their family by adoption.

God through scripture, through Jesus, gives us hope that our lives are worth more than is evident to the eye. We all matter. We are here because God made us and loves us, we are a piece of God’s creative genius. However, all of us get damaged in various ways because of the evil that exists. This leads to difficulties in life, requiring healing and restoration to wholeness. One way that happens is through our love of others and gratitude towards God.

Do you see that as being true? How?

Is it easy or difficult? Explain.

 

May the strength of God pilot us, the wisdom of God instruct us, the hand of God protect us, the word of God direct us. Go in peace.

Change, Grow, Live!!

January 2021! Who thought the world would make it? God’s still in control, still here, having the sun rise on new day after new day. What will you do with that? Will you do something new this year? Will you dare to grow? Will you truly live? Follow along on Cornerstone’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Cornerstone-Dunnville-261197864484273, for posts and online events for you and your family. See you there!

Sign 4: Bread of Life

People followed Jesus like paparazzi – they wanted to see the miracles because miracles are exciting. Jesus might have wanted some alone time with his disciples, maybe to teach them, or to pray. But the crowds just kept showing up. Jesus doesn’t send them away. He shows them compassion. He knows they’d be hungry and works on feeding them – notice how much grace is present in these actions alone.

Jesus asks Philip, one of his disciples, where they could buy a LOT of bread, not if. Philip has been with him for months. He’s seen what Jesus is capable of, like at the wedding at Cana, where he turned gallons and gallons of water into wine. And yet, he does not show any faith in Jesus’ abilities to work a miracle.

Maybe Andrew shows a little greater faith. He finds a boy with a peasant’s lunch. Barley bread was definitely poor people’s food. He brings this food to Jesus just in case he can do something with it. It’s not very much at all. But just possibly, better than nothing. [When we bring what we have to Jesus and hand it over to him, Jesus can work miracles with that too. Jesus can take anything and turn it into something amazing.]

Jesus turned 5 loaves and 2 fish into enough food for 5000 plus people. Everyone is fed, they had as much as they wanted. And there were 12 baskets of leftovers! Extravagant generosity! Only the Creator himself could “play” with the very stuff of creation and pull this off.

The people clued in that something miraculous had happened in the feeding. They were waiting for a prophet that was promised to them by Moses who was to set them free. They figured that this miracle working Jesus just might be their man. If he can do something like this, then he can certainly free them from Roman oppression. They do not realize that the freedom Jesus brings is not from Roman oppression, but from the oppression of sin. He leaves quietly to evade them. He didn’t come to be involved in the politics of the world. He did say that his kingdom is not of this world.

Not many of the people who witnessed this miracle came to believe in Jesus as the son of God. They saw a man who had powers and they wanted to use those powers for their own benefit. We sometimes think of God as a miracle working genie too.

But Jesus was not going to be their kind of king, he did not come to deliver them from the Romans. They were faithful people, because when they saw the miracle, they knew he was from God, and “from God” meant to them a mighty prophet like Moses, who would deliver them from Rome and restore Israel to glory just as Moses had delivered the Israelites from Egypt.

 

Going deeper:

We have already learned that the Gospel of John has symbolism all through it. Scholars have studied it extensively. Much of what John writes has deeper meanings. Let’s begin with the leftovers. Why does Jesus care to pick them up? Who are they for, when everyone is full? Why 12 baskets?

There are other places in the Bible where 12 is significant.

In the Old Testament in the Book of Genesis, Isaac has 12 sons who became the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel – God used them to build a nation.

In the New Testament, Jesus picked 12 disciples who were fishermen and tax collectors, essentially nobodies, who became the foundation of Christianity.

Now there are 12 baskets of leftovers that Jesus cares enough to gather up. Not only is nothing wasted in God’s kingdom, but God actually builds his kingdom from that which the world considers useless and throws out.

[What or who do we consider as useless? They are needed to keep, and build a future on…]

This miracle is only a sign of Jesus’ salvation but it is not the same thing. Jesus does not want to be made a king who will just keep producing more wonder bread because Jesus knows that in the long run the business of eating and drinking is quite literally a dead end. Bread or food in general does not keep us alive forever. The people who saw the miracle failed to notice the spiritual significance of it. What they want from Jesus is more of the things he has offered. More food, or more wine, or more healings. And so they want to come and make him their king.

Jesus has supplied for their material needs and material needs are important. But this is not what Jesus came to do, and the glory he will reveal is not the glory of another political regime, not even the most effective and benevolent political regime the world has ever seen. So Jesus withdraws. He refuses to be king on their terms. His word to these faithful people was hard to take; he said “No.” No to all their ambitions and delusions of power and control.

[Jesus said no to the people when they wanted to make him king by force – what do you think about that?]

More accurately, Jesus has come to reveal that God’s essential character is loving and God’s essential desire is to be accessible and available to the people of God. It may not be what we want because we are so convinced that material possessions will make us happy. But it is what we need.

Then as now, we’re altogether too eager to settle for the quick fix. Holy patience insists we stick with Jesus over the long haul, following him all the way to a cross that is definitely not a quick fix, and it even looks like the end of everything. But only when we stay with Jesus that long do we actually discover that he is the beginning of everything.

A little bit later in chapter 6 of John, Jesus says “I am the bread of life.”

[Think about actual bread in your life – what role does it play? Think about bread in Jesus’ day – how might it have been different from today?]

Bread was an everyday staple – an essential item. So when Jesus says “I am the bread of life,” he means that he is essential for life – life in him, eternal life. None of Jesus is wasted. Also, Jesus is modeling a way to create the kingdom of God on earth. For genuine followers of Christ, that is our mission too – to continue doing what Jesus had started. A revolution of turning scarcity into abundance, and fear into love.

Jesus once told his followers, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” When Jesus says “I am the bread of life,” think about eating bread. It enters into your body, you digest it, and your body absorbs the nutrients. It becomes a part of you. Literally, “you are what you eat.” Jesus says “I am the bread of life.” When we internalize him spiritually the same way that we internalize food physically, then Jesus becomes a part of us, a part of our identity. At the same time, we become a part of Jesus and thereby we join him in eternal life. Jesus becomes a part of us, living in our hearts, as some people like to say, and we also become a part of Jesus – we inherit eternal life; we become a part of the Body of Christ. It goes both ways.

Jesus invites us in this passage into as intimate a relationship and communion with him as we can imagine, perhaps a communion and relationship that is even closer than we want!

[Whether you fully understand it or not, can you accept that Jesus is the one through whom God’s character and will are most fully revealed?]