Jesus Saves His Leftovers

Yesterday I was reading in John 6 with a desire to be filled. I asked, “God, show me something new from Scripture.” And he did.

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Part 1

In the middle of the wilderness, Jesus goes up on a mountain, surrounded by this massive crowd. He takes loaves and fish, gives thanks, breaks them, and gives them to the disciples to hand out.

Toward the end of the story, Jesus says, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost” (v. 13).

Huh. Okay. So I guess Jesus loves leftovers?

Part 2

The next day, Jesus and his disciples are on the other side of the Sea of Galilee (read more in John 6:16-21). Many people from the same crowd make the trek on foot to see Jesus.

There’s a lot of good dialogue, like where Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (v. 35). The whole paragraph is great (vv. 35-40), but I want to stress verse 39.

John 6:39
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

Part 3

Let’s put those two verses side by side.

“Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”

“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me.”

What’s going on here? A seemingly insignificant detail in a story may tell us something important about the nature of God. 

Jesus is the bread that came down from heaven (feeding the 5,000 from his place on the mountain). He came into our desolate wilderness world to crowds of people hungry for life. He took his one body, gave thanks to God, and broke it to feed our hungry souls.

What about all those leftover pieces? (Interestingly, only the bread is mentioned as being collected.) Jesus cares about each leftover piece because each represents a piece of him and his saving care for each who receives him. Like twelve baskets, twelve men would go on to do the same thing—passing on the life of Jesus through their own lives.

Jesus saves his leftovers so that they too (so that we, too) can become broken agents of healing to a starving world.

What I got wrong about the Sword of the Spirit

When I was a kid, I literally wore the armor of God.

Does anyone else remember these kits? A big plastic shield had a plastic red banner over the center of it that read “Faith.” A helmet with a sliding plastic visor and the word “Salvation” on the top. And I fought off all manor of imaginary evil with the sword of the Spirit.

All of God’s armor is meant to strengthen and help us—but perhaps the most misunderstood item in the set is that shiny sword.

Continue reading “What I got wrong about the Sword of the Spirit”

Honest Reflections on Morning Devotions

It happens more mornings than not. My phone alarm goes off at 5AM. I hit snooze. It goes off again. I snooze it again. Usually by 5:30, I’ve rolled out of bed. 

Photo by Rhema Kallianpur on Unsplash

With a blanket wrapped around me, I sit down with my Bible and journal. I open my Bible to the passage for the day, say a quick prayer, and start reading. Slowly, I read the passage a few times, looking for spiritual insight, trying to encounter God in the pages of Scripture. Too often, I feel like I’m just trying to stay awake in the garden with Jesus.

Continue reading “Honest Reflections on Morning Devotions”

Toward Simpler Blogging in 2019

It always happens around this time of year. I get the itch to start fresh, to scrap the blog and begin again. Photos need updating, layouts need changing, and golly I could sure use a splash of color.

Photo by Mike Tinnion on Unsplash

Part of this desire is good, I’m sure. It’s right to ask, “How can I make my work good and beautiful?” However, there’s one little problem that lingers at the back of my mind: More time fussing about the layout and design means less time writing.

Continue reading “Toward Simpler Blogging in 2019”

God Has a Name

When you read the Old Testament, do you see God’s titles—or do you see his name?

Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash.

I love listening to The Bible Project podcast. But almost every time Tim (one of the co-founders) reads from the Old Testament, he says, “Yahweh” instead of “Lord.”

This difference made me scratch my head. Is it okay to call God Yahweh? Shouldn’t I say “Lord” because it’s written in my Bible?

A Hidden, Holy Name

You can trace the origin of the name “Yahweh” back to Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush. We find this episode in Exodus 3:

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The LORD [literally, Yahweh], the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations” (Exodus 3:13-15).

I remember reading this in the intro to a Bible once—whenever the Bible says L-O-R-D in all caps, that’s the divine name “Yahweh.”

The trouble is, I didn’t call God Yahweh. That was an Old Testament thing. A Jewish thing. A thing for Pentecostal Christians who blew shofars.

What I didn’t know is that the change from “Yahweh” to “LORD” isn’t a modern or New Testament move. Instead, it was an intentional choice by Jewish authors to honor the name of God.

Rather than writing “Yahweh,” to honor God’s name, they changed “Yahweh” to “Adonai,” taken from the Hebrew word for “lord.”

I’m used to reading the word “LORD” as a title instead of a name.

This is all great, with one major hitch—because of the English language, I’m used to reading the word “LORD” as a title instead of a name. That may seem insignificant to you, but this barrier prevented me from reading Scripture in a more intimate way.

 “In my home, call me Dr. Marvin.”

Titles are important. They help us understand someone’s status or rank. Titles are important in the military to help you understand who you command and who commands you. But titles aren’t names.

I’m reminded of a scene from the movie “What about Bob” where Bob has landed himself at the Marvin’s house for dinner. After flaring up at Bob, Dr. Marvin stands up from the table. Watch the interaction below.

In Dr. Marvin’s office, he told Bob to call him “Leo,” making their relationship appear more personal. But once Bob invaded his life and drove him up a wall, he created distance by asking Bob to call him “Dr. Marvin.”

See the difference? A title shows status, but a name shows intimacy. 

This hit home with me as I read Psalm 116 a few nights ago.

“I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy” (Psalm 116:1). With my wife sitting next to me, I realized: It’s one thing for me to say, “I love my wife” (any married man can say this). It’s another for me to say, “I love Kaylin.”

It’s one thing for me to say, “I love the Lord,” and another to say, “I love Yahweh.”

A title shows status, but a name shows intimacy.

God has a Name

So where does this leave us? It’s not wrong for your Bible to translate “Yahweh” as “LORD”—this comes from an ancient tradition of honoring God’s name as holy.

But we shouldn’t (as I’ve done for so long) read the all-caps “LORD” the same as “Lord.” Both appear in your Bible. One is a title, the other a name.

Maybe this reminder is enough to help you make God’s name more personal. But for me, thinking “Yahweh” when I see “LORD” in my Bible has opened my eyes to the Old Testament in new ways.

God wants you to know more than his status.

He wants you to know his name.

Want more?

The Bible Project has a great video explaining the name “Yahweh” and the evolution of the name over time. Check it out!

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