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Paul Hodge

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About Paul Hodge

  • Birthday 05/07/1951

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    Queensland, Australia
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    Making short video documentaries on a variety of interests like exploring spirituality, the wonders of nature and the human condition + more.

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  1. Q1. (John 3:3, 5) What does Jesus teach here about the nature of the Kingdom of God? Do you think Nicodemus understands him? Why or why not? Given that the central message of Jesus is more about the spiritual mysteries contained in this discussion between Nicodemus and Jesus I am not sure what this question means by the nature of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, I am going to answer as follows: My thoughts turn to the other times Jesus attempts to describe what the Kingdom God is like and it is fair to say that he is teaching about the nature of the Kingdom of God. Here are some examples: And He was saying, "The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; Mark 4:26-29 "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44-46 He presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; Matthew 13:31-43 and the same parable is mentioned in Mark 4:30-32. However, in this meeting with Nicodemus Jesus does not use this kind of language to help him understand the nature of likeness of the Kingdom of God. Instead Jesus is teaching Nicodemus how to enter or immerse oneself into the Kingdom of God. 3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. To see something it must exist in a form that is real to the observer. So was Jesus referring to an earthly kingdom that is possible to build if mankind can partake in a new approach to how it can be achieved? Is it possible for all of mankind to rethink their history (be reborn) before God offers them a second chance at replicating the kingdom of God here on earth? To my mind, Jesus was saying it was necessary for a man to have a change of heart or attitude before he could understand the will of God in his life. Jesus was stressing that such a change of heart had to be so significant as to be equal to such a dramatic transformation similar to being born again. As individuals, and as a collective society, we are being asked by Jesus to lay aside any bias, prejudice, pre-conceptions, single-mindedness, and narcissism – any thought, action or persuasion that opposes the Kingdom of God. If this was to happen there is not mistaking that this transformation is being born again. 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. It is now we read that Jesus is using the words “can enter the kingdom of God”. Listened carefully to how Jesus explains how a man can enter into God’s kingdom “unless they are born of water and the Spirit”. Then Jesus follows with the words, Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. I take that to mean that any matter that is corruptible and temporal i.e. our bodies cannot make the transient step into the spiritual realm of God’ s kingdom. However, when God gave the first man Adam the breath of life He also gave man a spiritual element that actually ignites and sustains life. It is this same incorruptible, everlasting, non-changing Spirit that is in mankind today. Stand in the sunlight. Your eyes tell you that it is the sun that is giving out heat but it is not until you feels its warmth that you are somehow held in the bosom of its life giving power that encompasses all living beings on earth. The Word [Light] of God gives us the insight to knowing God but it is the Holy Spirit that enables us to feel His presence, His love and His mercy – feel His warmth. As for the meaning of being born of water has a symbolic importance because water has the power to cleanse. Wash away all stain caused by our transgressions. This brings to mind the time when my first child was baptized. My wife and I had him dressed in a pure white garment having no stains before he was presented to the priest to have the water poured over his tiny head. Jesus could see a worried look on Nicodemus’ face and told him that in time he will come to realise the full understanding of the words, ‘You must be born again.’ The response of Nicodemus was somewhat off the mark when he interpreted the word of Jesus as meaning a physical re-birth of the body. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
  2. Before entering adolescence my favorite pastime was going to the movie theater for the afternoon show. I would enjoy watching the action and adventure portrayed in Western Movies. Then there were the mythological and legendary movies about past heroes fighting evil and always winning. I would eat popcorn, drink sodas and eat ice ream. I would hang out all week to do the same over again. Little did I know at the time that the pleasure I got from the movies was all in my brain. Yes that’s right the human brain has a reward system made up of the mesolimbic dopamine pathway. Its main function is to flood the brain’s reward system with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. Once a person activates this pathway the behavior is reinforced and the person over time can become addicted or the behaviour becomes habitual. In other words the brain can hijack our reasoning to gratify itself. I am giving you this introduction to the brain’s rewards system because this is one way to “know thyself” and to avoid *********** becoming an addiction that will eventually make a once healthy person dysfunctional. Reality itself can become skewed. So what I am suggesting is that a person would be better off if they chose alternative pleasure activities, that have wholesome outcomes, and have a high level of sociability, to take the place of ***********. The **** watcher is always cut off from others and keeps to themselves - not healthy. There are plenty of excellent Internet sites that are attempting to help young men/women break the addictive cycle of being imprisoned by ****. This unhealthy addition will slowly deteriorate the moral values that are needed to be successful in healthy couple relationships that are 100 times more rewarding. There are new and startling facts about the harm *********** can cause both in the short and long term. Look around for the right counselor to get help and sound advice. In the case of adolescents and young male adults the counselor should preferably be male and a strong Christian. Understand that when Jesus is telling us no to do something he is saying that there is something much better if we chose to follow his teachings. Finally pray for the grace and strength to set yourself free.
  3. I was having a telephone conversation with a Christian friend and the subject of miracles was raised because she had a close friend (also a Christian and wife of a local Pastor) who was fighting cancer. Every Sunday the congregation would pray for this woman to be healed. This had me thinking what would happen to the ‘Faith’ within the congregation if the Pastor’s wife was not healed and she had a premature death because of cancer? And what happens to those Christians who come to church and walk up to the front to have the congregation pray over them in the hope of being healed and are not? Then it dawned on me a event in Jesus’ life – his death on the cross? As Jesus hung on the cross dying, his divinity was mocked a number of times by onlookers. 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 So also the chief priests mocked him to one another with the scribes, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him. Mark 15:29-32 Revised Standard Version (RSV) I was left contemplating why Jesus didn’t come down from the Cross. I came to the conclusion that dying on the cross did have a purpose. Yes suffering does have a purpose. In the case of Jesus if he had come down from the cross would have undermined the greater miracle of his resurrection. Recall the time Jesus had the opportunity to visit the house of Lazarus to heal him but instead delay his arrival and allowed Lazarus to die. He could have prevented the pain of grief experienced by Lazarus’ family but there was a purpose behind his neglect to come sooner. Likewise, in our daily lives we are faced with the same questions – why does a loving God allow those who are seeking his help to continue to suffer? In the moment of suffering we have two choices – curse God or honor God by the way we live alongside suffering. We can walk away from God or walk closer to God. To walk closer to God takes a tremendous amount of faith. It is the most difficult path to walk down. But is it as difficult and painful as walking the road to Calvary? In Hebrews 2:18 “Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those that are being tested”. I have witnessed and experience suffering in my life. My faith has been tested time and time again. Yes I wanted to see a miracle to reinforce my faith especially when it came to seeing innocent children suffering from hunger, disease and war. As I am writing now I can sense a miracle is happening. I would not have become the person I am if I had not gone through periods of doubt and suffering. I would not have been so inspired and blessed by those people who have taught me valuable lessons on how to appreciate life and live it to my full potential. By another’s suffering I have been healed spiritually and my Faith strengthened. "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell". Matthew 10:28 [ Some may disagree with me but I see hell as being a state where the soul is forever denied experiencing the divine presence of God] When I was young I became very attached to the idea of giving priority to enjoying the pleasures of life. This required me to have a healthy body to get around and have fun. Now some 40 years on my body has aged and although I have no terminal illness my attitude to life has undergo many changes. What kept me going was the Faith I was gifted with as a young boy. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me". Ps 23:4
  4. First I would like to say that I grew up being taught that anger was a bad emotion and even thought of as committing sin. So what am I thinking when I read about Jesus becoming very angry? If I was standing in the courtyard at the time Jesus arrived, and not knowing who he was, I would run for cover to avoid being tangled up with what was going on. I would certainly think there was a madman let loose in the courtyard and the police should do something to stop him. I find the behavior of Jesus in cleansing the temple as somewhat out of character. By that I mean he comes across in the gospels as a man of peace who is capable of exhibiting patience and kindness. As I read the words he spoke I imagine hearing a voice echoing love, hope and encouragement to those around him. Then I read in Mark’s gospel 3:1-5 about the occasion Jesus was about to heal a man who had a withered hand and was at risk of being accused of breaking a Jewish law regarding the Sabbath. And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. And now I am feeling uneasy to see this once peaceful man display his outrage in the temple courtyard. Am I to use this behavior of Jesus to justify the times I become angry? Am I to assume that Jesus is saying that in some situations anger is very necessary? The question is not a matter of if anger is necessary but how do we express this potentially volatile emotion appropriately. This question demands serious contemplation. Imaging what would happen if each person who felt anger reacted in rage. If anger is left unchecked it would dismantle the law and order of our society. I have read in St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians - "When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day" (Ephesians 4:26, NCV). And again in James 1:19–20, (ESV) - "Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God". Now I am left thinking that if we were all happy to remain docile and not get angry then I would imagine a world where evil could flourish. Looking back in history anger has been a powerful motive tool for social change as evidenced by the feminist, civil rights, anti-war and other rights movements. Underling each of these movements was a feeling of being unheard and cast aside. Using anger effectively has essentially changed the course of history and if expressed aptly has a positive outcome and has even avoided all out violence and war. In closing I would like to say this is a tough question. Anger is a double edge sword – one side can be used to harm or kill the other side can be used to protect and rectify wrong.
  5. Q1. (John 2:14-17) What was going on in the temple? Why was Jesus offended by it? What action did Jesus take? Jesus Cleanses the Temple 13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. The Passover is one of the central festivals of high importance by the Jewish religious and the Jewish community in general. The Holy Temple in Jerusalem was the central place for all local Jews and those from afar to offer burnt offerings to atone for their transgressions against God. The act of going to the Temple was the most sacred way a person of the Jewish Faith could be made right with God. A Jew was required by law to make a least one pilgrimage in their lifetime to Jerusalem at Passover. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. It was easy for a local Jew to bring their animal sacrifice to the temple. However, for the traveling Jew they had to purchase an unclean animal from sellers operating in the Temple courtyard. The traveler also had to purchase the approved sacrifice with the currency that the Priests of the Temple demanded. So there were tables set up to exchange their foreign/unclean money. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” If you ever been to a foreign country where you have an open market place with dealers scattered around in a somewhat orderly line of stalls and tables, the place is very noisy and people are roaming here and there bustling up against each other. It is also a good idea before you go to the market to have the local currency on hand to make your purchase. This is similar to what Jesus saw when he entered the Temple courtyard. However, the Temple represented something extremely holy and sacred to Jesus. He referred to the Temple as his “Father’s House”. So imagine yourself returning to the house you were born in and grew up in only to find it occupied by people who turned into a market place. Would you calmly walk over to them and say, “Please take your trade elsewhere this is my father’s house and you have no right to be using it as a market place”. What reaction would you expect from the traders? “ O very sorry Sir we will pack up right away and leave”. Not likely! If they continue to resist what would be your next course of action? Get angry? 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for thy house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign have you to show us for doing this?” However, the traders in your house stand their ground and shout back at you, “ How do we know that you are the son of the man who is the rightful owner of this building?” So us some proof. 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” Shock! Horror! What did Jesus say? “ Destroy the temple and in three days I will raise it up.” On hearing those words the crowds would have been silenced the all trade in the courtyard would stop; you could hear a pin drop. 21 But he spoke of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. These two verses hold such profound meaning to the Christian Faith - The foretelling of his resurrection three days after his death on the cross - AND something else just as important. Jesus identified his body as a temple of God. Likewise, our bodies should be seen a temple of God and not used solely for the gain worldly profits. Instead “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own”. 1 Corinthians 6:19 "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice..." (Rom. 12:1)
  6. Q4. (Acts 16:6-10; Psalm 27:14) Why does God sometimes not talk to us? Is it always because we aren’t receptive? What should we do when we don’t hear anything from God? To have a sense of being in contact with God we need to “Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18. And how should we pray and be heard by God? For instance, when Jesus took time to pray, he would go to a place by himself and spend considerable time in prayer (Matthew 14.23; Mark 1.35, 6.46; Luke 6.12,). Indeed, Luke tells us that Jesus didn’t pray like this on the odd occasion, but that he “…often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, Matthew 14.23 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. Mark 1.35 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. Luke 6.12 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:5-6 In Luke 18, you will find a story Jesus told about two men who both prayed to God, and how God received their supplications. When Jesus prayed the night before he died on the cross, there was a moment when he himself thought God his Father was not listening to him. He made three attempts at praying. Jesus throws himself with complete confidence and trust upon the love of his Father. In Hebrew 5:7 Jesus was described as a man who “offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard [the angel appeared] because of his reverent submissions. To give us hope when we pray, God the Father did answer his Son’s first pray by sending an angel to comfort him. Even so, Jesus still went ahead to the cross knowing that His Father will not abandon him as he suffered and died on Calvary. The same can be said of those you pray today following the example of Jesus and not give up hope when we are faced with suffering.
  7. Q4. (John 2:6-10) Why did Jesus perform this miracle behind-the-scenes? Who was he trying to protect? What does the quantity of the wine tell us about Jesus' glory? What does the quality of the wine tell us about Jesus' glory? Jesus had said to his mother that his hour had not yet come. That is to say it was the not the right time to announce the beginning of his ministry. Besides the people at the wedding feast were well on the way to becoming drunk. He therefore did not want to bring attention to himself. Jesus was trying to protect himself as well as his new disciples. They had just recently been introduced to Jesus and he needed more time with them to teach them about his true mission on earth. If Jesus had publicly performed the miracle of changing a rather large volume of water into wine there was a risk that He may have be accused of being a sorcerer. This would certainly attract the wrong kind of attention. As I stated in a previous question the quality of the new wine represents the arrival of Jesus into the world. His new wine (ministry) will out rank the quality of all past wines known to mankind. I also think that there is a relationship between the wedding feast at Cana and the parable of the wineskins in the Gospel Matthew, Mark and Luke. He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will tear the new garment as well, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wine skins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will spill, and the wine skins will be ruined. Instead, new wine is poured into new wineskins.
  8. Alcoholics may think to themselves, “If it was good enough for the Son of God to turn 80 gallons of water into wine then it is a sure sign that God is overlooking my drinking problem”. It takes a fair amount of wine to reach the stage you can’t remain standing or walk in a straight line. Also by this time you would not be enjoying the wine as much as you did when you started. So not only are you harming yourself with possible alcohol poisoning you are also wasting good wine. Moderate drinking as recommended by health professionals and always have a good friend to let you know when you are making a fool of yourself. Otherwise enjoy the fruit of the vine. Footnote: Jesus is associated with sharing wine at the last supper and asked his disciples to do the same in memory of him.
  9. What came to mind while contemplating on this question was recalling the words that Jesus spoke during the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel? “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 Of course, Jesus, knew what Mary was going to ask him but his response to Mary was questioning her motive behind asking him to use his power to make more wine for the wedding feast. Sometimes, we have expectations when we ask God in prayer to give us what we need. Often times we are blind to our selfish motives behind or prayer. Jesus is not saying to Mary a straight out No! Instead he was asking her to assess her motive behind her request. If I was at a celebration and the people around me were well on the way of getting drunk and I was asked to go down to the hotel and buy more alcohol I would have second thoughts if I would be doing the right thing by everyone. Recall the scripture in James 4:3 – “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions”. Now in the context of the wedding feast Mary was not asking Jesus for selfish reasons but to have the people she cared about to benefit.
  10. What came to mind while contemplating on this question was recalling the words that Jesus spoke during the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel? “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 Of course, Jesus, knew what Mary was going to ask him but his response to Mary was questioning her motive behind asking him to use his power to make more wine for the wedding feast. Sometimes, we have expectations when we ask God in prayer to give us what we need. Often times we are blind to our selfish motives behind or prayer. Jesus is not saying to Mary a straight out No! Instead he was asking her to assess her motive behind her request. If I was at a celebration and the people around me were well on the way of getting drunk and I was asked to go down to the hotel and buy more alcohol I would have second thoughts if I would be doing the right thing by everyone. Recall the scripture in James 4:3 – “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions”. Now in the context of the wedding feast Mary was not asking Jesus for selfish reasons but to have the people she cared about to benefit.
  11. Q1. (John 2:1-2) Why are we sometimes “too busy” to spend time with friends and relatives? What does Jesus’ attendance at this wedding tell us about him? How can we apply that learning in our own personal lives? Jesus was respecting the social customs that united the community. His willingness to be inclusive gave a sign to the people who knew him that he was walking alongside them. It was important that Jesus demonstrate the Divine is prepared to walk in the company the ordinary folk living in Cana. He was prepared to share their joy and sorrow when it counted for something in their eyes. Likewise, in our own personal relationships it is important that we demonstrate empathy is a sincere and authentic manner and not be superficial. This will count for more even if we are not around more than we should on social occasions. But be there in the the thick of it when the chips are down.
  12. With the deepest respect to everyone on this forum and to Pastor Ralph, the miracle of turning water into wine is one story I have little interest in. In the past, when it comes to that part in John’s Gospel I skip over it. I think to myself why is this account of a wedding feast so important as to be mentioned in such a deep and spiritual gospel. I am asking all readers to understand that I am sincere in finding an answer that helps me on my spiritual journey. Jesus had returned from Judea and had arrived at the small village of Cana. It was a time for celebration as there was a Jewish couple being married at the house of the bridegroom. Mary, the mother of Jesus approached Jesus to see what he could do to provide more wine as the reserves had run dry. After speaking with his mother he agreed to perform his first miracle to mark the beginning of his ministry. When he turned water into wine the only people who witnessed the miracle were some servants and maybe his mother. There is mention that his disciples may have seen what had happen and this sign of Jesus’ power was the first of many signs that was to follow to convinced them to believe in him. The one line of scripture that stands out to me as having a message to the story is when the steward calls the bridegroom and said, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now”. There has to be a hidden meaning under these words otherwise John would not have mentioned the conversation between the steward and bridegroom. I may be wrong but I am suggesting the wine represents the word of God. The wedding feast to unite the bride and bridegroom represents the covenant God made with the Israelites mentioned in the Old Testament or the Hebrew Torah. The servants are substitutes for the Minor Prophets whereas the steward represents an unnamed Major Prophet still active at the time of Jesus. Back when God made his covenant with Abraham and the arrival on the scene of Moses the Israelites were indeed receiving (drinking) the word (wine) of God and celebrating the promise God made to His people. Given what had transpired before the Exodus and the favourable changes that followed it would have been an on-going festive season for the Israelites. Plenty of wine would have been flowing and intoxicating the people. Consuming more wine until everyone was drunk bolstered the feasting. When that point was reached people were prepared to drink inferior wine. The taste of good wine was no concern to them as their ability to discern between fine wine and inferior wine was absent. While everyone was loosing his or her cognitive ability to reason, the wedding steward (unnamed major Prophet) was on the job sampling the new wine that appeared out of nowhere. The taste of this new wine (word of God) was so above the ordinary and of high quality, the steward went to congratulate the bridegroom (God) for saving the good wine until last. The discovery of untapped supplies of new wine represents the arrival of Jesus into the world. His new wine (ministry) will out rank the quality of all past wines known to mankind. Footnote I also think that there is a relationship between the wedding feast at Cana and the parable of the wine skins in the Gospel Matthew, Mark and Luke. He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will tear the new garment as well, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37And no one pours new wine into old wine skins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will spill, and the wine skins will be ruined. 38Instead, new wine is poured into new wine skins.…Luke 5:36-37
  13. My thoughts are that Jesus was implying that he was just as much a human being as anyone else by identifying himself as the Son of Man. However, he was holding back on identifying himself as the Son of God at this early stage in his ministry. Daniels’ prophecy arising from his vision states that he saw before him “one like to son of man”. Therefore his prophecy was foretelling that a certain man is coming in the future. This man will be given authority and sovereignty over all “nations and peoples of every language”. The reign of this man is an “everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed”. Unlike the kingdoms of Daniel’s time that were being conquered and destroyed time and time again. One question left unanswered is whether this future kingdom is a worldly kingdom made up of fortified cities, temples, armies and immeasurable wealth or something that has never occurred in human history -past or future. The son of man in Daniel’s vision was given a very high rank and the privilege of being allowed to stand in the presence of the Ancient of Days a name ascribed to mean God in Daniel’s time. Now for a human being to stand in the presence of God and live was unthought-of in the Old Testament. …But," he said, [speaking to Moses]"you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live." Exodus 33:20 So this son of man was extremely unique according to Daniel. Jesus Christ is telling Nathanael that he was one of a kind, the first and only son of man appointed by God to live on earth and to fulfill Daniel’s prophecy. Jesus also foretells that all nations on earth will, in time, see greater things. "Heaven will open and the angles of God ascending and descending on the son of man". It is these words spoken by Jesus that give us some idea of knowing when his ministry on earth comes to completion. Footnote It is worth noting that Jesus' favourite designation, in referring to Himself, was the "Son of Man." The Gospels record some seventy-eight times that Jesus used this title for Himself. Another point worth mentioning is the referring to Jesus as the “Son of God,” it comes as a shock to me to realize how rarely Jesus assigned this title to himself. In the Gospels “Son of God” is used more often for Jesus by Satan and demons than by Jesus himself (e.g. Matt 4:3, 6; 8:29). Only twice in the biblical Gospels does Jesus refer to himself directly as Son of God. Also, I was reflecting on the time when Jesus was on trail “They all shouted, "So, are you claiming to be the Son of God?" And he replied, "You say that I am." Luke 22:70 And again when Jesus asked Peter “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. Matthew 16:13-17
  14. When Philip came to Nathanael it would be fair to assume that he was excited about what he had to say. Rather then just come out and say, “there is someone I think you should meet”, Philip had to convince Nathanael that this person was special and important. “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law and about whom the prophets also wrote”. However, when he was told it was only a man called Jesus (a common name of that time) son of Joseph and who lived in Nazareth Nathanael thought to himself that Jesus was a peasant from a predominate farming community. If he did know of Joseph as a carpenter this would only support his low opinion of people from the small outlining village of Nazareth. “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Then to Nathanael's surprise Jesus addresses him saying, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” Imagine yourself meeting a stranger for the very first time and during the conversation you discover he/she knows your background and even more surprising they mention things that were private to you alone. – as though this stranger could read your thoughts before you spoke them. With Jesus telling Nathanael that he saw him under the fig tree does not seem to means much to us today, but it does leave open what significance Nathanael placed on this response from Jesus. It is unknown the why, when, what that places Nathanael under the fig tree. It could be asked of Nathanael, “ What were you doing under the fig tree when Jesus was nearby?” Maybe he was having a conversation with another Rabbi? Could have Nathanael been praying? These probabilities are conjecture only known to Nathanael alone. It is possible that Jesus and Nathanael shared a very private and intimate revelation and this is the reason he replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” The final outcome of this meeting shows that the presence of Jesus alone is enough to convert non-believers and doubters and reveal his true divinity. Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.”
  15. Why doesn't Jesus tell his inquirers where he is staying? Suppose I was to meet a stranger for the first time and he invited me to follow him I would be sure to ask, “where are you taking me?” “Is it far from here?” I may be thinking, “are you leading me into a trap?” Now switching roles to be the stranger I would be wondering if the person I am speaking to is prepared to trust me. If I questioned over and over again I would reply “ Don’t you trust me?’ So I would do the same as Jesus – walk ahead a little distance and say, “come and see”. Then if the person starts to follow me it would confirm that I am to be trusted. The person is willing to take a calculated risk. The person has courage to walk into the unknown. He/she would demonstrate a character that is up to the task at hand. Why was it important for disciples to "be with" Jesus? Staying with the line of thought as above, I would want to be with Jesus not so much to hear what he had to say, but would want to find out if he could be trusted also. If I were being led into a dark cave, or a dead-end canyon, I would be backing away and not going further. But more likely the inquires were curious to find out superficial nonentities about Jesus – like his living standards, social status and his lifestyle in general. Finally, there is so much information we can glean about a stranger and his true intentions by monitoring their body language – tone of voice, eye contact, body stance/positioning, hand motions etc. Building rapport is that much easier when you are able to spend one-on-one time with someone you just met. What does "being with" Jesus mean today? When a new friendship is formed the more time you can spend together goes a look way to strengthen the relationship. It is important that the two of you can feel relaxed around each other. Acceptance and tolerance grows and you are both able to be more authentic.
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