Bible reading for the weekend March 14-15: Exodus 25-26; John 4-5.
"And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain." (Exodus 25:40)
The tabernacle. It was at the same time a place of worship, a place where God revealed his presence and the way to approach him, and a kind of a map to the new creation. It had to be built exactly according to the pattern God revealed. The author of Hebrews said it was "...a copy and shadow of the heavenly things" (Heb 8:5). As we move further through the book of Exodus I'll write more about the symbolism of the layout of the tabernacle and its objects. Also, as we are reading the Gospel of John we will see that John's portrait of Christ is laid out remarkably in accordance with the very pattern of the tabernacle itself.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life." (John 5:24)
What a contrast (Jn 3 & 4). In chapter three, Jesus deals with a morally upright, influential, educated Jewish male. In chapter four, he interacts with a morally-outcast, marginalized Samaritan woman. One visit is at night; the other in broad day. These two individuals -- both alone in their encounter with Jesus -- could not be more culturally and socially different. What they share in common: both do not "get" Jesus; they have trouble understanding his teaching; both have needs and questions; both need grace. And Jesus patiently talks to them and teaches them. What's different: the woman is more quick to believe and soon declares her faith publicly. Nicodemus does come to faith, but perhaps a little later, and quieter, but he supports a fair hearing for Christ among the Jerusalem leadership, and later he helps take care of Jesus' burial. What we learn about Christ in these stories: that all of us, no matter who we are, need the grace which God offers to us in the gospel. Education and privilege make absolutely no difference in facing a holy God. Also, we learn that Jesus is not at all hindered by social, educational, cultural, sexual, or economic barriers. He is not put off by sincere questions either. With the woman he is unconcerned about any ritual defilement. The Lord Jesus has come to reach every kind and class of person. Are you and I that free and unhindered in reaching out, talking to, and caring for others?
Honoring the Son (Jn 5). Jesus' second sign, according to John, is the healing of the official's son (4:46-53). Here, in the fifth chapter the healing of the disabled man at the pool of Bethesda is the third miraculous sign (5:1-29). Here too is a contrast, the official (like Nicodemus) is influential and personally comes to Jesus. But in the case of the paralyzed man, it is Jesus who comes and seeks out the helpless one (who is looking for help in the wrong places, just like the woman at the well). There's a marvelous variety in the way our Lord works. There's only one way to God (through Jesus), but there are many ways people come to Jesus. One conclusion in verses 22-23 is that "The Father...has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him." The Lord Jesus is the unique Son of God, sharing the very nature and authority of God the Father, and therefore is to be honored just as God the Father is. And verse 24, a great memory verse, tells us that if we have heard the gospel and believe that God has sent his Son, then we have (present possession) eternal life. We will not come into judgment (future promise), but we have passed (already, a past action) from death into life.
Image credit: the above detail of the tabernacle is taken from the ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Crossway, 2011).
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.