Introduction to Jesus Christ in the Scriptures

By V Rev. George Gray

A look at the prophecies of the Christ and their fullfillment   in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for teens and young adults

Introduction   / O.T. Prophecies / The Messiah   / Conclusions

Introduction
  This guide is intended to serve as a “map” to help us find our way   through some of the New Testament. Every map has a specific way of presenting   information. Some maps show political boundaries. Other maps show physical   characteristics such as mountains and valleys. Still others indicate what   natural resources can be found in any given locale.

This   “map” is intended to help you see the connection between many of   the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the Messiah (i.e.,   the anointed one of God) — and how they have been fulfilled by Jesus   Christ (the word “Christ” is from the Greek, meaning anointed) as   recorded in the New Testament.

Remember:
  As an Orthodox Christian, the Old Testament and the New Testament are not   just books. They are your history with God. The stories they contain are your   stories. The people they speak of are your ancestors.
  The message they contain respond to your concerns. They are your Scriptures.

Let’s   begin by reading a lesson we hear at the Divine Liturgy on Tuesday of Bright   Week (and also at Sunday Matins, Gospel selection # 5):

Luke   24:13-35
  13: That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma’us, about   seven miles from Jerusalem, 14: and talking with each other about all these   things that had happened. 15: While they were talking and discussing together,   Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16: But their eyes were kept from   recognizing him. 17: And he said to them, “What is this conversation   which you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still,   looking sad. 18: Then one of them, named Cle’opas, answered him, “Are   you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened   there in these days?” 19: And he said to them, “What things?”   And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet   mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20: and how our chief   priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified   him. 21: But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides   all this, it is now the third day since this happened. 22: Moreover, some   women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning   23: and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even   seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24: Some of those who   were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but   him they did not see.” 25: And he said to them, “O foolish men,   and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26: Was it   not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his   glory?” 27: And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted   to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 28: So they drew   near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further,   29: but they constrained him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward   evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.   30: When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke   it, and gave it to them. 31: And their eyes were opened and they recognized   him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32: They said to each other, “Did   not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he   opened to us the scriptures?” 33: And they rose that same hour and returned   to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were   with them, 34: who said, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared   to Simon!” 35: Then they told what had happened on the road, and how   he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

This   passage tells us that the Lord Jesus discussed with Luke and Cleopas all the   Old Testament scriptures of the law and the Prophets that concerned Himself.   But just what are these?

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Review   of the Old Testament prophecies
  It is said that there were over 300 prophecies (spoken by different voices   over 500 years) that the Lord Jesus fulfilled, including 29 major prophecies   fulfilled in a single day — the day He was crucified. (While some of   these prophecies may have found fulfillment on one level in the prophet’s   own day; they found their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ.)

Look   briefly at some of the prophecies about the Messiah from Isaiah. Note the   prophetic expectation. (The texts marked with ° indicate that they are   taken from the lectionary appointed for the Nativity services.)

Isaiah   2:1-5
  1: The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.   2: It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house   of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall   be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, 3: and many   peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the   LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and   that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law,   and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4: He shall judge between the nations,   and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,   and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against   nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 5: O house of Jacob, come,   let us walk in the light of the LORD.


  ° Isaiah 7:10-15

  10: Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, 11: “Ask a sign of the LORD your   God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” 12: But Ahaz said, “I   will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.” 13: And he said,   “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men,   that you weary my God also? 14: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a   sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call   his name Imman’u-el. 15: He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to   refuse the evil and choose the good.


  ° Isaiah 8:9-10; 9:1-7
  9: Be broken, you peoples, and be dismayed; give ear, all you far countries;   gird yourselves and be dismayed; gird yourselves and be dismayed. 10: Take   counsel together, but it will come to nought; speak a word, but it will not   stand, for God is with us.

1:   But there will be no gloom for her that was in anguish. In the former time   he brought into contempt the land of Zeb’ulun and the land of Naph’tali, but   in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond   the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2: The people who walked in darkness have   seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has   light shined. 3: Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased its   joy; they rejoice before thee as with joy at the harvest, as men rejoice when   they divide the spoil. 4: For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his   shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, thou hast broken as on the day of Mid’ian.   5: For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment   rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. 6: For to us a child   is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder,   and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting   Father, Prince of Peace.” 7: Of the increase of his government and of   peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom,   to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from   this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

°   Isaiah 11:1-10
  1: There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch   shall grow out of his roots. 2: And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon   him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might,   the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 3: And his delight shall   be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide   by what his ears hear; 4: but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,   and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth   with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the   wicked. 5: Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness   the girdle of his loins. 6: The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard   shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together,   and a little child shall lead them. 7: The cow and the bear shall feed; their   young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8:   The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child   shall put his hand on the adder’s den. 9: They shall not hurt or destroy in   all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the   LORD as the waters cover the sea. 10: In that day the root of Jesse shall   stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings   shall be glorious.

Isaiah   29:17-19
  17: Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into   a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest? 18:   In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom   and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. 19: The meek shall obtain fresh   joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah   35:1-10
  1: The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice   and blossom; like the crocus 2: it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with   joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of   Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our   God. 3: Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 4: Say   to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, fear not! Behold, your   God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and   save you.” 5: Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears   of the deaf unstopped; 6: then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the   tongue of the dumb sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,   and streams in the desert; 7: the burning sand shall become a pool, and the   thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,   the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 8: And a highway shall be there,   and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not pass over it, and   fools shall not err therein. 9: No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous   beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall   walk there. 10: And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion   with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain   joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Reflections


     
  • So, briefly,     what are some of the basic clues to recognize the Messiah from Isaiah’s     prophecy?
  •  
  • How do these     compare to other possible expectations?
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  • To what extent     do you acknowledge your need for a savior? Why do think this is the case?
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Some
  background information on the Prophet Isaiah


  Isaiah — whose name means, “The Lord gives salvation,” most likely
  grew up in Jerusalem, the city where the Temple of the Lord stood. He lived
  around 742-701 B.C. He was primarily interested in the idea that the Messiah
  would come from the line of King David. Jerusalem was the capital of the Kingdom
  of Judah where the southern tribes lived, and Isaiah prophesied of God’s protest
  to Judah for their wicked ways. Shechem was the capital of the tribes of the
  northern Kingdom of Israel.


Now   look at these prophecies:

°   Micah 5:1-4
  1: Now you are walled about with a wall; siege is laid against us; with   a rod they strike upon the cheek the ruler of Israel. 2: But you, O Bethlehem   Eph’rathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall   come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of   old, from ancient days. 3: Therefore he shall give them up until the time   when she who is in travail has brought forth; then the rest of his brethren   shall return to the people of Israel. 4: And he shall stand and feed his flock   in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.   And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the   earth.

Jeremiah   23:5-6
  5: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise   up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely,   and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6: In his days Judah   will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which   he will be called: `The LORD is our righteousness.’

Baruch   4:21-22; 5:7-9
  21: “Take courage my children, cry to God, and He will deliver you   from the power and hand of the enemy. 22: For I have put my hope in the everlasting   to save you, and joy has come to me from the Holy One, because of the mercy   which soon will come to you from your everlasting Savior.”

7:   For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be   made low and the valleys filled up, to make level ground, so that Israel may   walk safely in the glory of God. 8: The woods and every fragrant tree have   shaded Israel at God’s command. For God will lead Israel with joy, in the   light of his glory, with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.”

Ezekiel   34:11-16
  11: “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for   my sheep, and will seek them out. 12: As a shepherd seeks out his flock when   some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek
  out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been   scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13: And I will bring them   out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them   into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the   fountains, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14: I will feed   them with good pasture, and upon the mountain heights of Israel shall be their   pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on fat pasture   they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15: I myself will be the shepherd   of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. 16: I will   seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled,   and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will watch over;   I will feed them in justice.

Background   information on the Prophets
  Micah was from the country. He came from a little village about 25   miles southwest of Jerusalem called Moresheth-gath. Micah spoke up for the   poor farmers who suffered injustice at the hands of the rich landlords. He   prophesied from 725 – 701 B.C.

Jeremiah   was from a priestly family. He lived in Anathoth, a village about 4 miles   to the northeast of Jerusalem. Jeremiah was called by God to prophesy in 626   B.C. when he was just a boy. Jeremiah was convinced that it was God Who was   coming to execute judgment against Judah through Judah’s enemies.

Baruch   was Jeremiah’s scribe or secretary. His prophecy was sent from Babylon back   to Jerusalem in order to give the inhabitants there hope that ultimately God   will bring about justice and overthrow the evil empire of Babylon.

Ezekiel   was one of the first exiles to Babylon in 593 B.C. He was one of the cream   of the Jerusalem crop. He was of priestly lineage. Ezekiel believed that the   fall of Jerusalem was divinely willed as a punishment for evil.

Now   look at these:

Isaiah   40:1-11
  1: Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2: Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,   and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that   she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. 3: A voice   cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight   in the desert a highway for our God. 4: Every valley shall be lifted up, and   every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level,   and the rough places a plain. 5: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,   and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”   6: A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?”   All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. 7:   The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon   it; surely the people is grass. 8: The grass withers, the flower fades; but   the word of our God will stand forever. 9: Get you up to a high mountain,   O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem,   herald of good tidings, lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah,   “Behold your God!” 10: Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and   his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense   before him. 11: He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the   lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those   that are with young.

Isaiah   42:1-9
  1: Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights;   I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations.   2: He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3:   a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;   he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4: He will not fail or be discouraged   till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for   his law. 5: Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched   them out, who spread forth the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath   to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: 6: “I am the   LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and   kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations,   7: to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,   from the prison those who sit in darkness. 8: I am the LORD, that is my name;   my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to graven images. 9: Behold, the   former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they   spring forth I tell you of them.”

Isaiah   50:5-6
  5: The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not   backward. 6: I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pulled   out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

Isaiah   52:13-53:12
  13: Behold, my servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up,   and shall be very high. 14: As many were astonished at him—his appearance   was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form
  beyond that of the sons of men—15: so shall he startle many nations; kings   shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them   they shall see, and that which they have not heard they shall understand.

1:   Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been   revealed? 2: For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root   out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him,   and no beauty that we should desire him. 3: He was despised and rejected by   men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men   hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4: Surely he has   borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten   by God, and afflicted. 5: But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was   bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,   and with his stripes we are healed. 6: All we like sheep have gone astray;   we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the   iniquity of us all. 7: He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened   not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep   that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. 8: By oppression   and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered   that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression   of my people? 9: And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man   in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in   his mouth. 10: Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise him; he has put him   to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring,   he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand;   11: he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by   his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted   righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities. 12: Therefore I will divide   him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;   because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors;   yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah   60:1-6
  1: Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has   risen upon you. 2: For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness   the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen   upon you. 3: And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness   of your rising. 4: Lift up your eyes round about, and see; they all gather   together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far, and your daughters   shall be carried in the arms. 5: Then you shall see and be radiant, your heart   shall thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned   to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. 6: A multitude of camels   shall cover you, the young camels of Mid’ian and Ephah; all those from Sheba   shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the   praise of the LORD.

Isaiah   61:1-3, 10
  1: The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed   me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,   to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those   who are bound; 2: to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of   vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3: to grant to those who mourn   in Zion—to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead   of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may   be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be   glorified.

10:   I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall exult in my God; for he   has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the   robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as   a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Zechariah   9:9
  9: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!   Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding   on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass.

Background   information on the Prophets
  “Second Isaiah” is likely not actually Isaiah at all. This   prophet was likely one who prophesied during the Babylonian Captivity / Exile   — about 540 B.C. — and whose message was attached to the end of   the
  prophecy of Isaiah. His concern is with the “man of sorrows” —   the Messiah.

Zechariah,   who prophesied about 520-515 — was very interested in rebuilding the   temple of Jerusalem once the exiles returned from Babylon. He sought to have   a restored Jewish state under the co-leadership of the king and the high priest.   The Messiah was to come and herald this new kingdom.

Now   that we have looked at the major prophecies of the Messiah, try to summarize   the basic expectations and characteristics you have discovered:

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The   Messiah
  We will investigate the “seven signs” found in the Holy Gospel according   to St. John the Theologian. St. John tells us at the very end of his Gospel,   “There are also many other things which Jesus did. Were every one of   them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the   books that would need to be written” (Jn. 21:25).

The   number 7 is an important number in the Bible. It usually indicates a certain   fullness, completion, totality, etc. St. John has chosen only seven wonders   (miracles or signs) to include in his Gospel, but these seven simply point   to the fact that all that the Lord Jesus did fulfils the prophecies about   the Messiah. The Hebrew people looked for signs and wonders (Exod. 7:3; Deut.   4:34; Isa. 8:18; Jer. 32:20) as a test for the presence of the Anointed One.

St.   John wrote his Gospel around A.D. 100. The Synoptic (meaning they see things   in much the same way) Gospels of SS. Matthew, Mark and Luke were written up   to 50 years earlier. St. John’s Gospel is written more as a well-thought-out   presentation of what he was an eyewitness of: giving us a contemplative interpretation   of the “things, which Jesus did.”

1st   Sign / 2nd Sign / 3rd Sign /   4th Sign / 5th Sign / 6th   Sign / 7th Sign

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The   First Sign: The Wedding at Cana — John 2:1-12.
  1: On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother   of Jesus was there; 2: Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples.   3: When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have   no wine.” 4: And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do   with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5: His mother said to the servants,   “Do whatever he tells you.” 6: Now six stone jars were standing   there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty   gallons. 7: Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And   they filled them up to the brim. 8: He said to them, “Now draw some out,   and take it to the steward of the feast.” So they took it. 9: When the   steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where   it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward   of the feast called the bridegroom 10: and said to him, “Every man serves   the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but   you have kept the good wine until now.” 11: This, the first of his signs,   Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples   believed in him. 12: After this he went down to Caper’na-um, with his mother   and his brothers and his disciples; and there they stayed for a few days.

We   hear this at every celebration of Holy Matrimony as well as at the Divine   Liturgy which is celebrated on the Monday after the Sunday of St. Thomas (9   days after Pascha). Although this is not directly a fulfillment of one of   the Old Testament prophecies, the fact that the Savior changed water into   wine is an indication of the blessing of the Messianic age. Wine makes glad   our hearts (Ps. 104 (3): 13) and its abundance will mark the Messianic Kingdom   (Gen. 49:11, ff.; Isa. 62:8, ff.) This sign, together with the multiplication   of the loaves (the Fourth Sign recorded at 6:1-13), is an obvious verbal icon   of the Sacramental Mystery of Holy Communion and a fulfillment of the Passover   Meal (Exod. 12:11, ff.) and the Manna in the Wilderness (Exod. 16:15, ff.).   The Marriage Feast is also one of the single most important images found in   the Old and New Testaments. It is a symbol for the Kingdom of God — the   union between God and His People (see Isa. 62:4-5; Mt. 22:1-14; 2 Cor. 11:2;   Eph. 5:23; Apoc.19:7-9).

There   is no active action on the part of the Lord; His Word is sufficient to work   wonders. (See Gen. 1:3, 6, 9; Isa. 55:11; Jn. 4:49-53; Mt. 8;8.)

Reflections


     
  • Why was this     first Sign particularly important? (vs. 11)
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  • How is the     Lord Jesus revealed to be God in this event? (vs. 9)
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  • Can you think     of any specific significance for us today in the changing of water into     wine at the wedding at Cana?
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  • Relationships     develop, as people grow to know each other better. How does this fact affect     and relate to your relationship with Christ?
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The   Second Sign: Healing the Nobleman’s son — John 4:46-54
  46: So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine.   And at Caper’na-um there was an official whose son was ill. 47: When he heard   that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come   down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48: Jesus therefore   said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”   49: The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”   50: Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed   the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. 51: As he was going down,   his servants met him and told him that his son was living. 52: So he asked   them the hour when he began to mend, and they said to him, “Yesterday   at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53: The father knew that was   the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live”; and he   himself believed, and all his household. 54: This was now the second sign   that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.

We   hear this passage at the Divine Liturgy for the third Monday after Pascha.   As with the previous Sign, the Lord Jesus’ might is shown here as a verbal   power: the power of His creative Word. The prophecies
  stated that the Messiah would be able to heal (Isa. 35:5-6; 61:1-2; Joel 2:28-31).   The Kingdom at the End of the Age will be characterized by healing (Apoc.   22:2). Even the Lord’s disciples will be empowered
  with the gift of healing (Lk. 9:6; Acts 2:16-21; 1 Cor. 12;10; James. 5:14-16).  

Reflections


     
  • How did the     Lord Jesus test the faith of the nobleman? (vs. 50)
  •  
  • How did the     man respond to this test? (vs. 50)
  •  
  • How is faith     connected to healing? (vs. 50)
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  • How can faith     be a result of healing? (vs. 53)
  •  
  • Can you think     of any significance for us today regarding this miraculous healing?
  •  
  • How do you     think Christ would have defined “healing”?
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  • What is there     about yourself that you would like to be “healed”?
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The   Third Sign: Healing of the Paralytic — John 5:1-15
  1: After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.   2: Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Beth-za’tha,   which has five porticoes. 3: In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind,   lame, paralyzed. 5: One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years.   6: When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he   said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7: The sick man answered   him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled,   and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8: Jesus said to   him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.” 9: And at once the man   was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. Now that day was the sabbath.   10: So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, it   is not lawful for you to carry your pallet.” 11: But he answered them,   “The man who healed me said to me, `Take up your pallet, and walk.’”   12: They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, `Take up your pallet,   and walk’?” 13: Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was,   for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14: Afterward,   Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin   no more, that nothing worse befall you.” 15: The man went away and told   the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.

This   passage is proclaimed in the Church on the 4th Sunday of Pascha. Once again,   the prophecies of healing apply to this Sign. But this takes place at the   Pool of Bethesda, near the Temple in Jerusalem. The water from this high-ground   pool gurgled up from underground springs. Among other uses, the water from   this pool was taken to wash down and quench the thirst of the sacrificial   lambs before they were slain in the Temple liturgy. There are a number of   levels of significance here. First: Christ is the Passover Lamb (Jn. 1:29,   36; 19:17-37). Second, the pool is a symbol or figure or type of Baptism in   which the faithful are washed and cleansed and healed — Acts 22:16 (This   is why this passage is proclaimed in the Church during Paschaltide.) Finally,   this event occurred near the Jewish Feast of Pentecost — i.e., 50 days   after the Passover. The theme for Pentecost was the giving of the Law on Mt.   Sinai. The Law declared : “Keep the Sabbath day holy;” — that   is, no work; dedicate the day to God alone. Jesus, He Who Is the Lord of the   Sabbath, instructs the paralytic who is now healed to carry his mat. To the   super-orthodox Jews, this was considered to be unlawful labor. But Jesus states   that the Sabbath was made for mankind, not mankind for the Sabbath. He taught   that meeting the needs of people can be more important than following the   letter of the law.

Reflections


     
  • The sick people     (vs. 3) were physically ill and waiting for a miraculous cure. How might     those who are not physically ill be in need of healing and health?
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  • What are some     ways that we might be excused from formal dherence to the rule, according     to St. Basil (who calls these things “reasons worthy of a blessing”)?     Why is this? (See Mt. 25.)
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  • What might     some significance be for us today regarding this particular healing?
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  • What does this     act tell us about Jesus Christ?
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  • Taking these     things into consideration, how can I and should I respond to Him?
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The   Fourth Sign: Feeding the Five Thousand — John 6:1-13
  1: After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which   is the Sea of Tiber’i-as. 2: And a multitude followed him, because they saw   the signs which he did on those who were diseased. 3: Jesus went up on the   mountain, and there sat down with his disciples. 4: Now the Passover, the   feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5: Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that   a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, “How are we to buy   bread, so that these people may eat?” 6: This he said to test him, for   he himself knew what he would do. 7: Philip answered him, “Two hundred   denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”   8: One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9: “There   is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among   so many?” 10: Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there   was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand.   11: Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed   them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12:   And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up   the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost.” 13: So they gathered   them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves,   left by those who had eaten.

(There   are parallel stories in Mat. 14:13-21, Mk. 6:30-44 & Lk. 9:10-17.)

This   passage is proclaimed in the Church at the Divine Liturgy on the 5th Wednesday   of Paschaltide. In Isaiah 51:3 we learn that the Lord God will make the desert   (i.e., the wilderness) a place of joy and
  gladness like Eden. (See Ps. 23.) We read in John 6:31 that the people ate   manna in the wilderness (see Exod. 4;15; 16:15-21; Numb. 11:8; Ps. 78:24 &   Ps. 105:40). In this story we read that the Lord Jesus
  took the loaves, gave thanks (“eucharisto”) and distributed them.   There is an obvious connection with the events of the Last Supper (Mt. 26,   Mk. 14, Lk. 22 and Jn. 13) as well as with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist   in the Church (1 Cor. 11:23-26). “Our daily bread” (Mt. 6:11) may   refer to the Bread of the Holy Communion. “Daily” is an unfortunate   translation of the original word which means “essential.”

This,   then, would refer to the Bread of Life, the living bread, Christ Himself,   given in the Holy Eucharistic Mysteries to those who believe in Him and who   receive Him. The giving of this bread in the wilderness is an image of the   heavenly Bread. The bread and fish are reminiscent of the post-resurrection   appearance on the shore of Galilee (Jn. 21:9), where the Risen Lord prepares   breakfast for Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John. All of this is a foretaste   of eating in the Kingdom (see Apoc. 19:7-9). Refer, again, to the First Sign   above for the Eucharistic connections. In 2 Kings 4:42-44 the Prophet Elisha   fed 100 with 20 loaves. The Lord Jesus surpasses even that wonder.

Reflections


     
  • Why did many     in the multitude follow the Lord Jesus? (vs. 2)
  •  
  • He went up     on the mountain to perform this sign. What are other events on or near mountains     that took place in the Bible?
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  • What thoughts     come to mind about the significance of this extraordinary event for our     lives today and our relationship to Christ Jesus?
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The   Fifth Sign: Christ walks upon the water — John 6:16-21
  16: When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17: got into   a boat, and started across the sea to Caper’na-um. It was now dark, and Jesus   had not yet come to them. 18: The sea rose because a strong wind was blowing.   19: When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking   on the sea and drawing near to the boat. They were frightened, 20: but he   said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21: Then they were glad   to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which   they were going. (There are parallels in Mat. 14:22-33 and Mk. 6:45-52.)

We   hear this Gospel passage proclaimed on the Second Saturday of Paschaltide.   Chronologically, it took place immediately following the feeding of the multitude   (the Fourth Johannine Sign, above). The Church has seen in this event a reenactment   of the Hebrews crossing the Red Sea to freedom (Exod. 15), and of their crossing   the Jordan River into the Promised Land (Numb. 35; Deut. 12; Josh. 4; 1 Sam.   13), for the Savior also leads His disciples to the land where they were going.   Additionally, we understand this as an image also of the Baptism of Jesus   in the Jordan (Mt. 3:13-17). Here the Savior tells the Apostle Peter “Fear   not, I AM” (at least this is the literal Greek of the Gospel). This is   a divine statement (Gen. 15:1, 26:24; Isa 41:10, 43:5; Apoc. 1:17 and especially   Jn. 8:58), and St. Peter (well versed in his Scriptures) recognizes it as   such. God the Word manifests his lordship even over the cosmic elements —   in this case, water (see Job 38:8-11; Pss. 65:5-8;107:29; Lk. 8:35-41). It   is significant that a story such as this comes from John, the son of Zebedee,   a fisherman with experience of the lake and all its moods — accustomed   very well to sudden storms.

Reflections


     
  • Why was the     Savior not with the disciples in the boat?
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  • What was the     reaction of the disciples when they saw Jesus walking on the sea?
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  • What is the     significance of His response to them?
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  • What is the     significance of this story for us today?
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  • What type of     relationship would be appropriate with someone who has such power and authority?
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The   Sixth Sign: Christ heals the man born blind — John 9:1-41
  1: As he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. 2: And his disciples   asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born   blind?” 3: Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or   his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him. 4: We   must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when   no one can work. 5: As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”   6: As he said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and   anointed the man’s eyes with the clay, 7: saying to him, “Go, wash in   the pool of Silo’am” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came   back seeing. 8: The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar,   said, “Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?” 9: Some said,   “It is he”; others said, “No, but he is like him.” He   said, “I am the man.” 10: They said to him, “Then how were   your eyes opened?” 11: He answered, “The man called Jesus made clay   and anointed my eyes and said to me, `Go to Silo’am and wash’; so I went and   washed and received my sight.” 12: They said to him, “Where is he?”   He said, “I do not know.” 13: They brought to the Pharisees the   man who had formerly been blind. 14: Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made   the clay and opened his eyes. 15: The Pharisees again asked him how he had   received his sight. And he said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and   I washed, and I see.” 16: Some of the Pharisees said, “This man   is not from God, for he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said,   “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” There was a division   among them. 17: So they again said to the blind man, “What do you say   about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”   18: The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight,   until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight, 19: and   asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does   he now see?” 20: His parents answered, “We know that this is our   son, and that he was born blind; 21: but how he now sees we do not know, nor   do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.”   22: His parents said this because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already   agreed that if any one should confess him to be Christ, he was to be put out   of the synagogue. 23: Therefore his parents said, “He is of age, ask   him.” 24: So for the second time they called the man who had been blind,   and said to him, “Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner.”   25: He answered, “Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I   know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26: They said to him, “What   did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27: He answered them, “I   have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it   again? Do you too want to become his disciples?” 28: And they reviled   him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29:   We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know   where he comes from.” 30: The man answered, “Why, this is a marvel!   You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31: We know   that God does not listen to sinners, but if any one is a worshiper of God   and does his will, God listens to him. 32: Never since the world began has   it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33: If this   man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34: They answered him, “You   were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.   35: Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said,   “Do you believe in the Son of man?” 36: He answered, “And who   is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37: Jesus said to him, “You   have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.” 38: He said, “Lord,   I believe”; and he worshiped him. 39: Jesus said, “For judgment   I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those   who see may become blind.” 40: Some of the Pharisees near him heard this,   and they said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41: Jesus said to them,   “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, `We   see,’ your guilt remains.

We   proclaim this Gospel passage on the Sixth Sunday of Pascha each year. It has   obvious baptismal allusions: washing (see Jn. 3:5), healing, faith, conversion,   salvation, seeing (see Isa. 35:5), illumination (see Heb. 6:4), and anointing   (in this case, spittle and dust from the ground — i.e., clay: see Gen.   2). Here we can see that the Savior rejects the universal assumption that   malady and trouble are ecessarily a consequence of sin. The two can be (and   often are) connected, but this is not always the case, as seen here. The man’s   blindness provides the occasion for God’s mighty signs and wonders to be revealed.  

The   Savior also uses the divine statement again: “I AM” in verse 5.   The Jewish leaders, says St. John Chrysostom, cast this man out of the Temple   and the Lord of the Temple found him. We see in this story a progress of faith   on the part of the blind man. At first he simply declares that ‘a man called   Jesus” is the healer. Then he states that Jesus is from God. Next he   declares that He is a prophet. Finally he says that he believes in Jesus as   Lord and he then falls down in worship. In this passage we see Jesus as the   Light of the World.

Reflections


     
  • How do the     Jewish authorities try to discredit this miracle? Why is this?
  •  
  • What is the     position that this man’s parents take concerning this whole event?
  •  
  • Is there any     significance for us today in this story?
  •  
  • Do you ever     feel that you have ever been punished by God for something you have done?    
  •  
  • Do you ever     feel as though you have brought about your own punishment?
  •  

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The   Seventh Sign: The Raising of Lazarus — John 11:1-54
  1: Now a certain man was ill, Laz’arus of Bethany, the village of Mary and   her sister Martha. 2: It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped   his feet with her hair, whose brother Laz’arus was ill. 3: So the sisters sent   to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4: But when Jesus   heard it he said, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory   of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.” 5: Now   Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Laz’arus. 6: So when he heard that he   was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7: Then after   this he said to the disciples, “Let us go into Judea again.” 8: The   disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you,   and are you going there again?” 9: Jesus answered, “Are there not   twelve hours in the day? If any one walks in the day, he does not stumble, because   he sees the light of this world. 10: But if any one walks in the night, he stumbles,   because the light is not in him.” 11: Thus he spoke, and then he said to   them, “Our friend Laz’arus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out   of sleep.” 12: The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen   asleep, he will recover.” 13: Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they   thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14: Then Jesus told them plainly,   “Laz’arus is dead; 15: and for your sake I am glad that I was not there,   so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16: Thomas, called the   Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with   him.” 17: Now when Jesus came, he found that Laz’arus had already been   in the tomb four days. 18: Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off,   19: and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning   their brother. 20: When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met   him, while Mary sat in the house. 21: Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you   had been here, my brother would not have died. 22: And even now I know that   whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23: Jesus said to her, “Your   brother will rise again.” 24: Martha said to him, “I know that he   will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25: Jesus said to   her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though   he die, yet shall he live, 26: and whoever lives and believes in me shall never   die. Do you believe this?” 27: She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe   that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.”   28: When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying quietly,   “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29: And when she heard   it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30: Now Jesus had not yet come to the   village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31: When the Jews   who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go   out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there.   32: Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, fell at his feet,   saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”   33: When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping,   he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled; 34: and he said, “Where have   you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35: Jesus   wept. 36: So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37: But some of   them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept   this man from dying?” 38: Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb;   it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39: Jesus said, “Take away the   stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by   this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40: Jesus   said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see   the glory of God?” 41: So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up   his eyes and said, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42: I   knew that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people   standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me.” 43: When he   had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Laz’arus, come out.” 44:   The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face   wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”   45: Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he   did, believed in him; 46: but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them   what Jesus had done. 47: So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the   council, and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs.   48: If we let him go on thus, every one will believe in him, and the Romans   will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.” 49: But one   of them, Ca’iaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know   nothing at all; 50: you do not understand that it is expedient for you that   one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.”   51: He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he   prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, 52: and not for the nation   only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53:   So from that day on they took counsel how to put him to death. 54: Jesus therefore   no longer went about openly among the Jews, but went from there to the country   near the wilderness, to a town called E’phraim; and there he stayed with the   disciples.

We celebrate   this Gospel passage each year on the day just before Palm Sunday: Lazarus Saturday.   This is the Savior’s last and greatest sign. Jesus is the Source of eternal   life and resurrection for all. In this passage we see Jesus as the Life of the   World. Although Lazarus will die again (this is simply a resuscitation of his   body), it is a first installment, so to speak, of the Resurrection and the Life   (see Jn. 5:21, 25, 28). Again we hear the divine statement: “I AM”   — there should be no mistake this time about just Who Jesus says He Is.   Nonetheless, He groans in the spirit and is “deeply moved, troubled”   because He was face to face with the realm of Satan, here represented by death.   He weeps. He undoubtedly knows that this ultimate and greatest Sign would bring   about His own Passion and Death. The Father has given over to His Son the power   over death and life (see Jn. 5:24-29). This last and greatest sign has two different   effects: an outburst of faith in Jesus as the Messiah and an outburst of hostility   on the part of the Jewish authorities. This leads to two “outcomes.”   The authorities sentence Him to death — but ultimately this only paves   the way to His (and our) Resurrection.

Reflections


     
  • What is the     statement Martha makes of Jesus before He declares to her “I AM’?
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  • What are the     three things that Martha declares about Jesus in verse 27?
  •  
  • Caiaphas the     evil high priest prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation. This is     actually something that corresponds to prophecies in the Old Testament.     Can you find it?
  •  
  • Are there any     implications for us today in this awesome wonder worked by God?
  •  

Conclusions
  Take some time to pray and reflect upon the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.  
  What have you learned about Him?
  How would you describe Him to someone who may have never heard of Him?
  What are the dynamics of a relationship with someone Who is both the very Son   of God and the ultimate loving and selfless servant.
  How would you describe your current relationship with Him?
  In what way(s) would you like to improve that relationship?

O   Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.