Sunday 5th March, 2023: Lent 2: John 3 1-17
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs You are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time to be born?”. Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh is born of flesh, but spirit is born of the Spirit. Do not be amazed that I said, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes. You hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, and yet you people do not accept our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.
Because he was a Pharisee, Nicodemus wanted to see Jesus ‘by night’;. There had already been the beginnings of the Pharisees’ hostility towards Jesus, but Nicodemus was drawn to him and wanted to learn more from him. He misunderstood Jesus’ expression ‘to be born again’, thinking he meant physical rebirth. Jesus explained that he was talking about spiritual rebirth. In this passage we read, as part of Jesus’ explanation, one of the most well-known verses in the New Testament – “For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life”. It is that love of God which calls us to ‘be born again’ spiritually.
How can we deepen our relationship with God during this Lent – and beyond?
Sunday 12th March: Lent 3: John 4 5 – 14
He came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Since Jacob’s well was there, Jesus, weary from His journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) “You are a Jew,” said the woman. “How can You ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God and who is asking you for a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman replied, “You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where then will You get this living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.”
The Jews and Samaritans avoided contact with one another where possible. However, Jesus and his disciples were travelling through Samaria because it was a shorter route to Jerusalem. It was Jesus who entered into conversation with the Samaritan woman, and she would have been extremely surprised. ‘Whoever drinks the water I shall give shall never thirst again’ he said to her. He did not mean water in its literal sense. What he offered was love and forgiveness – the real life-giving gift.
Pray for someone you know that he/she will turn to Jesus and receive the life-giving spirit.
Sunday 19th March: Mothering Sunday John 19 25-27
Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother and her sister, as well as Mary the wife of Cleopas and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” So from that hour, this disciple took her into his home.
Today is known by the Church as Mothering Sunday. The word ‘mothering’ conjures up thoughts of loving, caring, and deep relationships. It is a great privilege to be a mother, but it often means making sacrifices. Although Jesus left his mother’s home when he began his ministry, we have glimpses of her, supporting him throughout the Gospels. Sometime try to look up Luke 2, verses 21-42; John 2 verses 1-5, Acts 1 verse 14. What does each tell us about what we have learnt about Mary as a mother – and what it was like for her to be the mother of Jesus?
Pray for all mothers and all those who have the care of children. Think about the responsibilities of being a good parent.
26th March: Lent 5: John 11 17-44
When Jesus arrived, He found that Lazarus had already spent four days in the tomb. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, a little less than two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them in the loss of their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet Him; but Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give You whatever You ask of Him.” “Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her. Martha replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me will live, even though he dies. And everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she answered, “I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” After Martha had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside to tell her, “The Teacher is here and is asking for you.” And when Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to Him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met Him. When the Jews who were in the house consoling Mary saw how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary came to Jesus and saw Him, she fell at His feet and said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirited and troubled. “Where have you put him?” He asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they answered. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” But some of them asked, “Could not this man who opened the eyes of the blind also have kept Lazarus from dying?” Jesus, once again deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” Jesus said. “Lord, by now he stinks,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man. “It has already been four days.” Jesus replied, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus lifted His eyes upward and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me, but I say this for the benefit of the people standing here, so they may believe that You sent Me.” After Jesus had said this, He called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The man who had been dead came out with his hands and feet bound in strips of linen, and his face wrapped in a cloth. “Unwrap him and let him go,” Jesus told them.
In this story, we learn much ab out how Jesus related (and still relates) to so many different people. Lazarus had died and both his sisters reacted in the same way when Jesus arrived. “If you had been here, by brother would not have died” they both said. However, Jesus responded to each sister differently.
Martha was the active sister – always busy. To her Jesus explained about resurrection, inviting her to stop, listen and think; to reflect on what had happened. Mary was the quieter, more reflective sister. To her he responded with action. He took her to Lazarus’ tomb to watch what he did next. Although Mary doubted his decision to open the tomb, she watched as he did so, seeing the action he took, and the result.
Try to remember an occasion when you have felt angry or upset. How did God deal with you – either directly or through someone else? He loves you so much that he knows how best to respond to all your feelings.