Knysna Methodist Church

22 May 2022

Knysna Methodist Church Lectionary Notes – 22 May

Acts 16:9-15
Paul was invited to go west from Troas to Macedonia, across the Aegean Sea. So he and his companions left Asia and moved across to Europe, in the first missionary journey to that continent. The man in Paul’s vision wanted help – so Paul offered him Jesus Christ – the best help he could ever receive – and Paul and his party did not hesitate to respond to the invitation. The account turns from the third person plural to the first person plural, indicating that Luke, the author of Acts, had joined the group. God had said ‘No’ to Paul and his party when they wanted to go into Asia; but now they began to see God’s plan unfold as He guided them into Europe.

They sailed straight to Samothrace, covering a distance of roughly 250 kilometres in about two days, which indicated that the wind was at their back. Coming back later, it took them five days (Acts 20:6).
They continued on to Philippi which had a sizable Roman community but only a small Jewish community. There was no synagogue in the town so there would have been less than ten Jewish men, the minimum number required for a synagogue to exist.

People would meet on the banks of the river outside the city for prayer. Paul and his party went there to pray and met Lydia – a seller of purple. This was an extravagant product. The dyes were expensive, so Lydia was a wealthy woman. She came from Thyatira which was known for its purple die and the fabric made from it. (Thyatira was one of the seven churches John wrote to in Revelation 2:18-29). As Lydia listened to Paul, God opened her heart and she became the first woman convert in Europe. She begged them to stay with her in her home, which they duly did.

Psalm 67
This psalm is written for the Chief Musician and is to be played on stringed instruments. Some scholars think the Chief Musician may be God Himself, whilst others think he is a leader of the choirs or musicians who played in David’s time. The psalm begins with a request for God’s mercy and blessing. The words originate from the blessing given by Aaron (Numbers 6:24-26) when the High Priest would bless the people of Israel. When God looks at those who follow Him, His face shines with love and joy. To be looked upon by God in this way is one of the greatest gifts people can receive. Spurgeon said such a look creates a deep, delightful calm within the soul. It is believed that the word Selah indicates a pause for meditation on what has just been said, or for a musical interlude in the case of a song being sung.

The request for God’s blessing is so that those who do not know Him may see His work on the earth through the blessing received by the people who do follow Him so that God Himself may be glorified. As a result, every person would see God’s way being lived out and come to Him for their own salvation. The psalmist asked God to draw people close to Him so they can praise Him. He emphasised his prayer by repeating the phrase but requesting that all people are drawn close to God. The fact that God will come to judge people righteously and rule every nation when He does come is the reason for the songs of joy the people are to sing. Once again the reader/listener/singer is asked to pause and consider what has been said, and then praise God.

Once the earth knows God’s way, it will give up its harvest – this may be the grain harvest because the psalm was written in that season – or it may be the harvest of souls. When people recognise the way and the salvation of their Creator and praise Him, all is well and the people are blessed. There is a circle of blessing. People are blessed and use that blessing to pray for a broken world. This brings others into step with God’s way and so He blesses them even more and the cycle continues. The psalmist ends his song by emphasising that this blessing is for everyone on earth who will give God the honour, praise, respect and glory He deserves.

Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5
In his vision John is now carried away by an angel who shows him the holy city of the New Jerusalem as it descends from heaven. There was no temple in this city. This would have amazed John’s readers. Every great city had many temples to different gods. To the Jews, the Temple in Jerusalem was the dwelling place of God. But here, in the holy city, it was not necessary to have a temple, for God and the Lamb themselves are everywhere. Every single centimetre was holy for God lived there. There was also no sun or moon, for they would now be obsolete. The temple, the sun and the moon have been distractions for many people in the history of the human race, but now there will only be pure worship of the Creator Himself – the Lord God Almighty and The Lamb. Jesus is the Light of the World, and so there will be no need for any other source of light.

There will still be nations and ‘kings of the earth’ who will be present, but whether they will be in the form people recognise now, or whether they will be changed is not known. Scholars vary on their opinions of who these kings will be. John’s readers are warned that if they reject God in any way they will not be able to enter this holy city. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be allowed to enter. The fate of those who reject God right to the end (of their life or of time) is to be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15). John was urging his readers to turn to God there and then so they would not be amongst that number and be shut out of heaven for eternity.

As John looked, the angel showed him a pure river flowing with the water of life directly from the throne of God and the Lamb. The image of a river was used several times by the prophets (Isaiah 48:18; Zechariah 14:8; Ezekiel 47:1-9). The people who received John’s letter lived in dry and dusty areas. The thought of a crystal clear, running river would have been very appealing. John continues as he describes the city. Here, at last, after the entire existence of humankind, is the tree of life! It was mentioned in the very early chapters of Scripture and it is mentioned now in the penultimate chapter. People have been restored to the condition God originally planned for them. Everyone’s picture of this scene will be different as the river and the trees are described. The crystal river provides water for every tree which continually bears fruit.
No further explanation is given in regard to the brief comment about the leaves of the trees providing healing for the nations. The question has to be asked why the nations would need healing in a place where there is no pain or any other negative factor. There is no answer at present. The curse, under which the human race has lived since the Fall (Genesis 3:16-19) has now been removed. Instead there will be the throne of God. His people will serve Him with joy without any sense of duty or hard work. It will be a blessing to do so. At last they will be face to face with God and have a clear understanding of the character of Christ in a way that is not possible now. God’s people will be identified with God by His name on their foreheads. They will live in His light and will reign forever in His presence.

John 14:23-29
The other disciple named Judas (ie not Judas Iscariot) had asked Jesus why He planned to show them who He was, but not show the world. Jesus replied that He would be revealed through the love, obedience and unity of the disciples with the Father and the Son. Those who loved Jesus as He instructed would have the Father and Son with them. He emphasised, once again, that He was speaking the Father’s words who instructed Him what to say. Jesus promised the disciples that as He left them He would ask the Father to send them the Holy Spirit, the Helper and so not leave them alone. The Spirit would come in Jesus’ name and would continue the teaching and guiding of the disciples in future. Here is proof of the truth of the Trinity, working hand in hand with God’s people.

Jesus’ blessing for His disciples when He offered them peace was a common farewell greeting, just as we today say goodbye to one another. We rarely say it with the full phrase ‘God be with you’. But Jesus wanted them to know it was more than a casual leave-taking. His parting gifts to His disciples were the power of the Holy Spirit and true peace. The shalom He offered meant the highest good, not just an escape from lack of trouble or a refusal to face bad news. In this way those who follow Him can have untroubled hearts.

Jesus’ departure was not a cause for sadness but for rejoicing. He was leaving them for their own sake and for the sake of the world. It was good news. He was going back to the Father who, He said, was greater than He was. Jesus always deferred to the Father, even though they are one in essence.
Jesus knew that Judas was arranging His arrest which would take place later that evening. Yet He was still concerned about His friends. Jesus assured them that even though Satan was coming for Him, he could not force Him to go to the cross. He went willingly because He loved and obeyed the Father and did it for love of the world. The disciples now prepared to leave the Upper Room and make their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. Instead of seeking time alone with God on the walk to the Garden, Jesus could not leave His friends alone and so they went there together.


John 5:1-9
This feast is not specified but it was probably one of the three major feasts when people were required to make their way to Jerusalem – that is Passover, Pentecost or Purim. The pool of Bethsaida has been excavated and five porches are evident. It lies just north of the temple area. Whether the healing that was purported to take effect around this pool was factual or legend, many people gathered there in the hope of being healed. It was said that the first one into the water when the waters were stirred would be healed. It may well be the ‘certain time’ John referred to was during the feasts The man Jesus spoke to had been going there for a long time. He had an undefined paralytic condition that meant he could not move easily. Why Jesus spoke to him and not to others is not recorded. Even though there were many people there, no one asked Jesus to heal them. They seemed to have been blind and deaf to His work. They were concentrating on the water so they could be the first to enter and be healed. Jesus was aware that not every person really wanted to be healed, so he asked the man if that was what he wanted. The man was used to his life and may have received enough through begging to make him satisfied with the familiar situation.

The man replied that there was no one to put him in the water and someone else always got there first.
Jesus did not sympathise but told him to take up the mat on which he lay and walk. This was something the man had not been able to do for thirty eight years! But Jesus challenged him to do the impossible – and without question – the man did just that. His healing was confirmed as he picked up his bed and walked with it. It was no flash in a pan moment. It was permanent healing. In a sort of footnote, John ends his account with the comment that that day was the Sabbath. No healing was allowed on the Sabbath and Jesus’ act at the Pool of Bethsaida was the reason for the controversy that was to come.

Points to Ponder
• How big is your church? How active is it? Does its size affect the work it does for Jesus? What impact does
it have on the surrounding community? What one change would you like to happen in your church to make it
more effective? How can you help to implement that change (other than just telling your minister or one of
the church leaders about your ideas)?
• Who would you like God to bless in special ways today? Name these people to one another (and so to God) and
spend time asking Him for His blessing upon them. Take it in turns to do this. Do not specify what you want
the blessing to be. Leave that decision open to God who knows what is best and who loves them even more
than you do. Watch, in the coming days, for answers to the prayers you have prayed together.
• Describe your idea of heaven. Why do you think it will look like this? Does each person’s description
differ in some way? Why would that be? We do not know exactly what it is like, so respect one another’s

John 14
• When you are facing a difficult challenge would you rather face it alone or do you take a few friends with you? Why? How does the support of your friends change the situation for you? How much do you rely on Jesus in such a situation? What happens when Jesus’ shalom fills you as you approach such a challenge? What difference does it make to you?


John 5
• Do you want to be healed? That’s quite a question. Hear Jesus say to you today ‘Do you want to be healed?’
Share with the group how you feel about His question to you. What do you need to be healed of? How would
His healing change your life? What is your answer? Pray with one another for any struggles that have been
expressed in answering these questions.


Bible Commentary

Acts 16; Psalm 67; Revelation 21; John 14 or John 5

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