Tag Archives: John

That Fig Tree Moment

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” John 1:50

Here is mine – our mother bringing us to church every Sunday, where I look forward not to church but to the street foods she would buy for us after church. This is my fig tree moment. I don’t remember any of the bible readings. I don’t recall any of the priest’s homilies. I believed because a woman of faith planted a seed of belief by encouraging his children to go with her to church. It was a small thing but it was a fig tree moment.

Same as Nathanael’s.

He believed in Jesus because Jesus told him he saw Nathanael under the fig tree. It was a small thing but that started his belief in him. This guy have not seen the waves silenced yet and yet he believed. He hasn’t watched five thousands being fed from a boy’s lunch yet, yet he had faith in him.

Jesus promised him that he’ll see greater things than that and he did! Healing of the sick. Waving to the waves to be calmed. Multiplication of the bread. Feeding the hungry. Fishing bulk of fishes. Casting out demons. Dying on the cross and rising from the dead. Ascension to heaven.

Be reminded of your fig tree moment. Remember your fig tree moment. Recall that small seed which grew into a tower of faith. Look back where it all started for this is where Jesus promises that we will see greater things.

Greater things like – graduating college even coming from a large family with financial struggles, passing the board exam which you did not expect, able to teach and preach the Gospel even without formal training, offered employment after being laid off in three days, able to reach people you don’t know and you’ve not met through this blog. We can go on and on and we are not near the finish line yet.

Believing in Jesus, in small ways or big time – this is the lesson of that moment…that fig tree moment.

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Boxing God

Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. John 6:15

The crowd boxes God with their limited insights.

The crowd wanted to do things on their own route. This crowd has its own plan but this is not God’s plan– force Jesus to be king, a political king. Not king of heaven and earth but a king by their own dictionary. Who does not want to be a king? But Jesus is more than an earthly king, he is Lord and Savior. He is further than a ruler, he came to serve.

You may define him by your bounded understanding. You might expect present proceedings to be the same as past experience but God does not live by fences and property lines. Yes, he is the same God, but don’t limit him because you saw him work in this way.

We boxed God. When we  immigrated, we fixed our eyes that God will work the way he worked in our mission work. We set out to build a prayer group/community the way God has established our group in the past. Obviously, this is our experience so this is our expectation. But God can’t be boxed. He showed us that he can build on a different route. He presented his power in another direction. He utilized us in ways we are not accustomed. He put us in places we’ve never been before, never familiar to us. God showed himself in an un-experienced and unexpected manner.

You can expect that he is the same God. Loving. Faithful. Full of mercy. Forgiving father.

However, don’t expect the same route when following or serving him. He knows various roads going to his kingdom. Don’t limit him. Don’t box him. Don’t force him to your own familiar way.

After all, God’s gifts are not boxed. So is he.

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I don’t want me to be still me

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist… Matthew 14:1-2a

He sees John in Jesus.

Not the other way around — see Jesus in John. And he has all the reasons to get startled. He is the same man who sent John to the valley of death. He is the same ruler who gave orders to put to stop John’s breath. Then Jesus appeared to start his ministry, this tetrarch saw John not Jesus. In every miracle, for every healing, for every driving-out-of-demons, he saw John not Jesus.

Sounds like our neighbors.

When I was starting my relationship with the Lord, they told me that I will, at some point, go back to my old life. That night, our conversation gave me a deeper reflection which is still challenging me today. Though I told them about my new found life in God and the ways I was serving him, the way our discussion went through and as they were predicting I’m about to slip from this narrow road, the bottom line is this — they still saw me in me. They did not see Jesus in me.

This gave me enough time on my knees to pray to God to change me, to turn my life upside down. I pleaded to him to let his face shine upon mine so they will see him not me. I cried out to the Lord to give me grace to repent from my old ways and that I may love him above all else. For no matter how many miracles or healing God can do through me. No matter how many people will hear me and get inspiration from my talks or preaching. No matter how many hours I can dedicate for his service. No matter how many hits this blog can record. Everything is in vain if they still see me in me. It won’t matter if they don’t see Jesus’ life in the way I live my life. Paul confirms this, “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Until today, my prayer still reverberates to his ears, “…change me oh God, make me like you…”

I don’t want me to be still me.

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He Goes Ahead

And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” John 6:25

The question exposes Jesus’ Lordship.

They searched for him, they looked for him. Maybe looking for miracles, more miracles. Maybe wanting for more wisdom. Thirsting for more healing. More demons to be driven away.  He just fed these five thousand and they were looking for him. Across the sea, they found him. He got in there  first. He was ahead of his people. He was there before them. He leads his people.

God never leaves you, in fact, he leads you. He never shows you a way he will never tread. When he tells you to go to a certain direction, he goes ahead of you. Before you blaze the trail, he already has. Before you step on an unfamiliar territory, he goes to test it for you. So you’ll know you can walk that way. So, you’ll know you can make it to the other side. So you’ll know you can cross the sea.

Do you have a sea to cross? A cancer to struggle. An employment to maintain. A marriage on the rocks. Family problems too much to bear. A Christian life, one trial less before to slide. A friendship in opposition of your faith. A dependence on false gods. A natural disaster to survive.

Look ahead. Jesus is there.

He goes ahead of you.

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Behold

…and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” John 1:36

For a long time, the people were beholding John.

Until now.

On this day, Jesus comes and John pointed their eyes to look at the Lamb of God. John was a willing front man converted to a background. For the rest of his years in the desert, the people were looking for him for answers, for wisdom. For about thirty years, his followers were waiting where he would go and where he won’t go. For those years, peoples’ faces were in front of his face. This day, those faces turned to Jesus’ face. He tells them, “Behold…” He directs them to the one who does not only give answers but who is the Answer. He points them to the one who does not only show the way but who is the Way.

We wonder if John prepared himself for this moment. He may have been resolute to do this for he knows he was called to prepare the way but not to be the Way. He may have wrestled with the thought that he will be an afterthought when this time would finally come. Yet, we know what he did. He said, “Look at Jesus, not at me.”

Will you point people to Jesus? Allow their faces to make a turn from yours and behold Jesus. Will you allow yourself to be “second”? Allow Jesus to take the higher podium in your life and in their lives. Know that your ability is limited and his is limitless. Know that your work is bounded and his is infinite. Learn to give the baton to Jesus and finish the race.

Whoever you are in preparing his way, may you do this. You may not be John the Baptist and maybe you are John the greeter. Or John the table setter. Or John the acolyte. Or John the music minister. Or John the food preparer. Or John the church cleaner. Or John the popular preacher. Or John the head pastor. Or John the assistant to the vice member of the parish council.

Let Jesus take the center stage. Be ready and be prepared, as you prepare for him, to say “Behold…”

May you say the same. May you do the same.

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You Come First

The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” John 5:7

He was never first.

Every time he made strides to be the first one, someone beats him by a mile. His sickness has dragged him to the bottom of the pole. For thirty eight years, he was there. It might have encompassed his teens years where he was to be strong bodied and strong willed. It might have slowed his twenty something years where he must have been enjoying life as a bull, being a young man. Notice no wife was with him during this time, and this might have pulled his chances of marrying the woman who caught his heart since some best man won her heart over him because of his health.

Suddenly he comes first.

He comes first for Jesus. No lines to stand up to. No calling of rosters. What he can’t do, Jesus did. He can’t hop into the pool, the Source of living waters came to him. Remember, Jesus ask him if he wanted to get well, and get well he did. He did not need to line up like at the DMV or at the bank. His resume, which was filed down over the years, was not even looked up by Jesus.

This is what Jesus gives you. You line up to all these distractions or less noble things, yet he puts you on the top of his priority list. If you think he is ignoring you as you are in a tight hole in your life, think again. He will enable you. He will heal you. Jesus will go up to you and tells you, you matter to him. Tired of being at the last of the order? Weary of taking chances with zero possibilities? For him, no one comes second or third or at the cellar.

For Jesus, you come first.

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Filling

Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. John 2:7

The jars are for wine, but they filled them with water.

These servers knew they are doing it the wrong way. If you are in a restaurant, it’s like putting milk into those glass wine. However, Jesus tells them so. He told them to put the wrong substance inside the jars. And they did. And the wrong inside became the right inside.

Jesus made the wrong right.

When I was laid off from my job last year, everything was just wrong. As the only person working for our family, I can’t classify this event being right. All seems to be going the wrong way. How will I feed my family? How can we meet our financial obligations? Being in this wrong situation took us to our knees.

And Jesus made the wrong right.

A day after that forgettable day, my current employer called me to arrange an interview in the coming week, and the rest is history or employment. Today, me and my wife look back and say to each other, “We are in a better place!”

Most of the time, Jesus tells you to fill the wine jars with water. It does not makes sense. It’s just not right. It does not taste just like before. Volunteering for a college missions after graduation when you should get a job which pays you. Working everyday for a company where you commute a total of four hours back and forth which opened your career.  Speaking to college students in campus which trained you to speak for God in prayer meetings. You do it because he tells you. You go through it. And he goes through it with you. Thus the wrong becomes right.

Fill yourself with water when Jesus tells you. Surely, he will fill you with wine.

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