Monday, November 9, 2009

John 10:40-42 Jesus' Retreat

(John's baptism site suggested by archeaologists- east of Jericho in Jordan)
Daily devotional on the gospels using an abridged translation of John Calvin's commentaries.

John 10:40-42
40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed 41 and many people came to him. They said, "Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true." 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

Calvin abridged: Christ retreated across the Jordan that he might not have to fight continually without any hope of making progress. He gives us an example of taking opportunities to retreat when they are available. He retreated to Bethabara (1:28). 41- “Many came to him”- This large group shows that Christ did not seek solitude in order to cease from his work, but to erect a sanctuary in the wilderness, when Jerusalem, which was his own dwelling-place, had stubbornly driven him out. While the temple was made a den or robbers (Jer. 7:11; Mt. 21:13), the Church of God was gathered in a despised place. “John never performed a sign”- This infers that Christ is greater than John, because he had distinguished himself by so many miracles, while John did not perform a single miracle. Miracles alone do not make a person great, but when it is combined with great teaching it is not to be taken lightly. In God’s providence, John did not do any miracles to point to the greatness of Christ. “Many believed”- There were two reasons that encouraged them to believe. One was the belief in John’s testimony about Christ; and, the miracles of Christ that showed his greater authority.

Thoughts: Why did Jesus go here? He went to the place where John had preached (Bethany or Bethbara- probably between the Dead Sea and Jericho) to bring attention to John’s ministry. He went there because everyone recognized it was a holy place. Many denominations have retreats- like Montreat (Presbyterian), Lake Junaluska (Methodist), Christmount (Disciples). These are places where prayers have been prayed, lives have been dedicated, and great teaching has been taught. They are a bit similar to the holy places mentioned in the Old Testament. Jesus also went there as an escape from those who were trying to kill him. John tells us that when Jesus was in Jerusalem right before he went here “the Jews picked up stones to stone him” but he escaped (10:31,39). Jesus was rejected in his own temple (10:22). The temple was supposed to be the dwelling place of God, and here was God in the flesh. We should not lightly pass over those who reject our Lord- as if it does not matter to them or to the furtherance of the Gospel. While it is important to not be aggressive or mean toward others (our Lord’s example here is not to fight back), it is also important to answer their accusations and to seek to spread the gospel. In our post-modern world, people are saying that it doesn’t matter what you believe. But it doesn’t take much to know that teachings that advocate hatred over love, violence over respect should not be equated. It is na├»ve to think that society has no stake in those who advocate Machiavellian greed or Epicurean selfishness compared to those who seek to promote the love of neighbor that Jesus taught. We should learn from Jesus that in a hostile environment the best strategy is to go where the gospel will be received and continue the work.

Prayer: Help us, O Lord, to know when to speak up and when to seek retreat. Give us grace in and for our journey.

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