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89 Day Gospel Challenge

Day Eighty-Nine John Twenty-One

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE
DAY EIGHTY-NINE JOHN TWENTY-ONE

 

          Our portrait is finished.  Four artists, led by the Holy Spirit, has painted a Masterpiece.  Matthew painted the King.  Mark gave us the Perfect Servant.  Luke saw Him as the Perfect Man.  John declared that He is God.  The Gospels comprise the only authoritative story of the life and Person of Jesus Christ, our Lord.  He is the most amazing Person in all history.  But He is more than King or Servant or Man or God.  He is the Savior of the world.  I pray He is your Savior.

1. The Fishing Trip (v. 1-14)

          This is the epilogue to John’s story.  Where the other Gospels end with either the Great Commission or the ascension of Jesus, John records an episode where Jesus interacted with seven of His disciples.  We are not told how long after the resurrection this occurred but we know this is the third time the risen Jesus had appeared to them.  They knew He was alive.  They knew the mission He gave them.  But they are moving in the opposite direction.

          Peter was always the leader.  Sometimes he spoke from his heart and sometimes he spoke from his head and sometimes he spoke impulsively.  He always spoke from his humanity.  But no one doubted he was second-in-command.

          We are not told the reason for the gathering.  Maybe they just lacked direction and the others thought they would find it from Peter. Finally, he told them, “I am going fishing.” He was not referring to a casual pleasure outing.  He was saying, “I’m finished.  It’s over.  I’m done.”        

          He had denied his Lord and the pain of his failure was more than he could bear.  The great adventure was over.  There was nowhere else to go but to what he knew best.  He announced that he was returning to his fishing business.  And the other six said, “We quit too.”

          We know Peter was an emotional person.  Sometimes his emotions got the best of him.  What were the others thinking?  Thomas was still struggling with his faith.  He knew Jesus was alive.  He had even acknowledged Jesus as Lord.  But it just wasn’t’ the same anymore.

          Nathanael was a skeptic from the beginning.  Jesus had won him over and he was a great follower.  Now he followed Peter.  He doubted there were any miracles left and the power was gone.  Better to fish than to fail at the “witnessing thing.”

          The sons of Zebedee were there, James and John.  What’s John doing there?  Isn’t he the disciple of love?  He was the closest to Jesus.  Now he is AWOL, absent without the Lord.  But remember Jesus nicknamed these brothers the sons of Boanerges in Mark 3:17 (sons of thunder).  They wanted Jesus to call down fire on a Samaritan village when the village refused to accommodate Jesus (Luke 9:54).  They were hotheads. 

          With that remember that John was at the cross and was eyewitnesses to the abuse and pain Jesus suffered.  He was angry with the Jews and the Romans.  Why should he be concerned with the souls of those who killed his Lord?  Maybe he even wanted revenge.  He missed the point when Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them.”  Maybe Jesus forgave them, but John was not ready.

          There were also two other disciples that were not named.  They may not have been any of the twelve. He had other disciples.  Maybe they were just following the crowd like so many others do today. They went out together and found a boat and worked all night on the lake.  Their venture was not successful. 

          In the morning, Jesus appeared on the shore and called out to them, “Children, have you any food?”  They did not recognize Him at first.  Perhaps He addressed them as children out of affection.  Perhaps because these men were acting like children, hurt and confused and angry.

          They answered Him, “No, we have taken nothing.”  Jesus instructed them to cast their net on the right side of the boat and told them they would find fish there.  They may have experienced a little déjà vu.  This had happened before early in their walk with Jesus (Luke 5:1-5). 

          When they cast their nets where Jesus had instructed, they caught so many fish they were not able to draw the net into the boat.  They all wondered but John spoke up and said, “It is the Lord!”  They were caught in their unfaithfulness and they knew it.

          They never got the fish in the boat but they dragged the net with their catch to the shore.  Jesus had prepared a fire for their meal and told them to bring some of the fish to Him.  They had caught one hundred and fifty-three large fish and they were amazed that their net did not break.

          Jesus called them to “Come and eat breakfast.”  It was a quiet meal.  No one spoke.  But they all knew it was Jesus.  As the seven wayward disciples settled in, Jesus served them and brought them fish and bread.  It was a meal with purpose.  Can you imagine that they remembered the words of Jesus when He taught them, “I am the vine and you are the branch.  Without Me, you can do nothing.”  Their little business venture proved it once again.

 

2. Do You Love Me? (v. 15-19)

          Peter was uncharacteristically quiet that morning.  There was no mention of building tabernacles or talk of the great catch of fish.  He just wanted to blend into the background and be as small and unnoticed as possible.  But it wasn’t possible.

          Jesus broke the silence.  “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?”  It was an ambiguous statement.  What was Jesus asking?

1)  He could have been pointing to the fish and saying, “Do you love me more than you love the fish?  If so, why were you fishing?”

2) He could have been pointing around at the fire and asked, “Do you love me more than you love your friends?  If you love your friends so much, why were you leading them astray?”

3) He could have been inquiring, “Do you love me more than the others love me?  You told me you would die for me.  You said you would never deny me.”

          Peter quietly responded, “Yes Lord, You know that I love You.”  And Jesus did know that Peter loved Him all along, even in the denial.  Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.  We don’t know why Jesus said lambs.  I think He was referring to the disciples who were there with Peter.  “Peter, you must feed and lead these lambs.  They look to you for direction.  You have to be the leader I want you to be.”

          Two more times Jesus asked, “Do you love me?”  It stung a bit.  Peter had denied Jesus three times and Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love me?”  Peter got the point.  He said, “Lord, You know all things.  You know that I love You!”  And it was enough.  Jesus said, “Feed My sheep.  You must feed all those who accept me as Lord.”

          Then Jesus prophesied of Peter’s death.  “You will be faithful but one day, they will carry you where you do not want to go and you will stretch out your hands and glorify me by your death.  You will not deny Me.  Now, follow Me.”  Peter was crucified in Rome. upside down at his request, because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner Jesus died.

 

3. What about John? (v. 20-23)

          As they walk away from the fire, Peter turns and sees John.  Peter questioned, “What about John?  How will he die?”

          Jesus responded, “What is that to you?  What if I said that John would live until I come again.  You stay focused and follow Me.”

          John commented that what Jesus said was circulated among the brothers and sisters that he would not die.  But that is not what Jesus said.  He said, “What if?”

 

4. John’s Final Words (v. 24,25)

          In verse 24, John said, “I am the one who gives testimony to the life of Jesus and I say to you, my testimony is true.  He was the last of the Apostles.  His word was authoritative.

          Then in wide-eyed amazement, John looked back over the years and remembered so many other things Jesus did in his presence.  He ends with the words, “I suppose that if I had written everything down that I saw, even the world itself could not contain the volumes that should be written.

 

          At last, we are finished.  I will post tomorrow to let you know what is coming next. 

Walk with the Lord today.

 

Pastor

 

 

Day Eighty-Eight John Twenty

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE
DAY EIGHTY-EIGHT JOHN TWENTY

          Pastor and author John Ortberg said, “At the heart of Christian faith is the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.”  Jesus’ death alone would have made Him a martyr.  But combined with the resurrection He became the victor.  He defeated the last and greatest enemy of mankind – death.  Take away the resurrection and you destroy the foundation of Christianity.

          Those who try to discredit the resurrection of Jesus will use two strategies. Either they question that He really died or they suggest some variations of the story of the bribed guards (Matthew 28:11-15) who said they were overpowered by Jesus’ disciples who stole His body and then fabricated the story of a risen Jesus.

          There can be no doubt that Jesus was dead.  The beatings and the torture of the cross alone declare He was dead.  The soldier who thrust the spear into Jesus’ side could testify to His death.  The apostle John was at the cross and bore witness of what he saw (John 19:35).  Joseph and Nicodemus would not have entombed a living – man.  As they wrapped Him in the linen strips, they were close enough to know they were ministering to a lifeless corpse.

          The stolen body theory is also amazingly unbelievable.  After the crucifixion, the disciples were in hiding, fearing they too would be arrested and executed.  There was a detachment of soldiers dispatched by Pilate to guard the tomb and it had been secured by the seal of Rome.  Anyone who would break the seal would be put to death.  They fled in the garden when Jesus was arrested.  Are we to believe they returned to do battle with the soldiers over the body of Jesus?

          Arrogant atheist Rickard Dawkins said, “The same thing happened to Jesus that happens to all of us. He decomposed.”  Then show me the body!  Find the DNA!  For over two thousand years the skeptics have unsuccessfully tried to find the remains of Jesus.  But Paul tells us in I Corinthians15:6 that the resurrected Jesus was seen by over five hundred witnesses at the same time.

          So, it all boils down to faith.  You either believe, by faith, that Jesus did not rise from the dead or you believe, by faith, that Jesus did rise from the dead.

          It should be noted that there was a radical change in the disciples who saw the witnessed the risen Jesus.  They turned from a group of cowards to men who willingly gave their lives for the cause of Christ.  Only James, who was murdered by Herod, died in Judea.  The other disciples died taking the gospel to other countries.  Matthew was impaled by spears in Ethiopia.  Bartholomew was flayed by a whip in Asia Minor.  Peter was crucified upside down in Rome.  Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross in Greece.  Thomas was stabbed with a spear in India.  John died in exile on Patmos.  They all died fulfilling the Great Commission that Jesus gave them.  They did it all energized by the reality they had personally seen their risen Savior.

 

1. The Tomb is Empty (v. 1-10)

          The sun had not yet risen when Mary Magdalene and other women made their way to the tomb on Sunday morning.  When they arrived, she saw the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty.  She ran and told Peter and John that the body of Jesus was gone.

          Peter and John, with Mary Magdalene following, ran to investigate Mary’s story.  They found it just as Mary had said.  The grave clothes and the linen napkin that covered His face were there but Jesus was gone.  John believed immediately.  We are not told how long they lingered, but the disciples returned home while Mary stayed.

 

2. Mary Magdalene and Jesus (v. 11-18)

          Mary’s life was a mess when Jesus found her.  She had been possessed by seven demons (Mark 16:9).  Jesus cast them out.  We can only imagine the love and loyalty Mary had for Jesus.  He had saved her life and redeemed her soul.

          Mary was in great distress wondering what they may have done with her Lord’s body.  Had they desecrated it?  Had they burned it?  Had they taken it and thrown it into a pit to rot with bodies of other crucified men?

          She looked into the tomb and saw two angels, one sitting at the foot and the other at the feet where Jesus had lain.  They asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping.”  She replied, “Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

          She turned to see a man whom she assumed to be the gardener.  He spoke to her and asked, “Woman, why are you weeping?  Who are seeking?”  She did not recognize it was Jesus.

          Her heart was breaking.  She spoke to Him and said, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, please tell me where you have laid Him and I will take Him away.”   

          Then He spoke her name, “Mary!”  And she knew.  She turned to Him and replied, “Rabboni!”  She fell to His feet and held Him close. 

          “Mary, do not cling to Me.  I must ascend to My Father.  Go tell My disciples that I will see them soon.”  She did just as He had told her.  She found the disciples and told them that she had seen the Lord.

 

3. The Commissioning (v. 19-23)

          That evening the disciples were assembled, presumably to discuss the reports of Jesus’ resurrection.  The doors were locked for fear of the Jews but Jesus came and stood before them.  He greeted them with, “Peace be with you.”  Then He showed them His hands and His side. The rumor was confirmed.  Jesus was alive and they rejoiced.

          He breathed on them and infused them with the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit would come in power on the day of Pentecost but Jesus had promised not to leave them without comfort.  There would be a ten-day gap between the ascension of Jesus and the day of Pentecost.  When Jesus left, the Holy Spirit was there to lead them and prepare them for the “empowering.” 

          Jesus said, “This is your mission.  As the Father sent me, so send I you.”  They were to be His witnesses and take the Gospel to the world.  Mark 10:45 says that the Son of Man did not come to be ministered to but to minister to others and give His life as a ransom for sin.  That’s what Jesus sent us to do.  We are to minister to others and to give our lives for Him.

 

4. Here’s the Proof (v. 24-29)

          It’s not a good thing to miss Sunday night service.  Thomas did and when he showed up late, the others were rejoicing and telling Thomas they had seen the Lord. 

          “Show me the proof!” demanded Thomas.  “I will not believe until I put my hands into His side and I see the wounds in His hands.”  For the next eight days, Thomas was miserable.  The others rejoiced while he remained in unbelief.  He wanted to believe, but it just did not make sense.

          And then Jesus came.  “Here are the wounds Thomas.  Now, will you believe?”  And Thomas did and he confessed Jesus as His Living Lord.

          “Thomas, you are blessed because you have seen me and believed.  But others, who will not see me in the flesh, will believe even though they have not seen.  They will truly be blessed.”  And we are.  Though we have not seen Him, we believe and rejoice with inexpressible joy.

 

5. John’s Purpose Statement (v. 30, 31)

          We can’t imagine how many wonderful things Jesus did in His three-and-a-half-year public ministry.  We have only seen a glimpse of power.  The Bible only reports a small number of His days.  But John wrote down his memories of walking with Jesus.  The Holy Spirit led him to chose what events to record.  But those He recorded with a specific purpose.  “That you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that, believing you may have life through His name.”

One more day! Listen for the Spirit and follow!

 

Love to all,

Pastor

Day Eighty-Seven John Nineteen

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE
DAY EIGHTY-SEVEN JOHN NINETEEN

         Before Jesus began the walk to the cross, His body was already in a state of distress. From the time He was arrested He was physically abused and battered. The soldiers, who first arrested Him, blindfolded Him and stuck Him in the face and taunted Him with blasphemous slurs. “Prophesy for us Prophet! Tell us who struck You” (Luke 22:63-65).  By the time He appeared before Pilate, He was already bludgeoned and bruised.

Pilate had hoped to appease the council by scourging Jesus and letting Him go. But his attempt was unsuccessful. The Pharisees and scribes were determined for Jesus to be put to death.

The Roman flogging or scourging that Jesus endured before the cross usually consisted of a beating of thirty-nine strips but could have been more at the discretion of the executioner. The instrument used was called a “flagrum.” It consisted of braided leather strips with fragments of metal and pieces of sharp bone woven into or intertwined with the braids. It would tear the flesh and cause contusions and deep bruising. The one who administered the torture would quickly lay the victim’s back open, exposing muscle and sinew and bone. Often it would wrap around the victim’s ribs and stomach and, it is said, that a man could be disemboweled from the beating he received. Sometimes the man would succumb to the beating and never make it to the cross.

By the time Jesus stood before the crowd, He was a gory sight, weakened from the loss of blood and barely able to stand. Perhaps this is what Isaiah saw when through the “eye of prophecy” he wrote, “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquity. He was chastised in order that we might have peace. And by the blood of His strips we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 paraphrased).

  1. Mocked by the Soldiers (v. 1-3)

After the scourging, the soldiers continued to strike Him with their hands. They twisted thorns into a crown and pressed it down upon His brow. They put a purple robe on His shoulders and mocked Him with sarcastic sneers and hailed Him as King of the Jews.

  1. Behold the Man (v. 4-16)

Pilate went out before the people and declared, “I find not fault in Him. There is no evidence that He has done anything worthy of death.” Truer words were never spoken because Jesus was not there for what He had done. He was there carrying the penalty of the sins of all mankind.

Jesus then appeared, bleeding and beaten. Pilate presented Him to the mob and said, “Behold the Man!” Pilate was saying, “Isn’t this enough? He has done nothing wrong but I have punished Him anyway. Can’t we let Him go now?”

But it was not enough to pacify the hatred of the priests and scribes. They were determined to end it all that day.

1) They cried out “Crucify Him! Crucify Him.” The more Pilate declared His innocence, the louder the roar of the crown to extract the price of blood.

2) The leaders of the Temple declared, “We have a law and according to our Law, He ought to die because He claimed He was the Son of God.” Critics today say that Jesus never claimed to be God or the Son of God. But that’s not what His enemies heard. That’s not what the Bible says. That is the reason they gave for wanting Him dead.

3) Pilate turned to Jesus and asked, “Where are you from?” (v. 8) It’s a little late to ask that question. Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said, “Why do you not answer me? Don’t you know I can either crucify you or let you go?”

Jesus responded, “You have no power over Me at all except the power My Father allows you to have.” (v. 10,11)

4) Pilate continued to press to release Jesus. He did not care for the Jew’s Law. But they struck a nerve when they said, “If you let this man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Anyone who makes Himself a king speaks against Caesar” (v. 12).

5) Pilate had been pressed to the limit. He sat down in the judgment seat and presented Jesus to the crowd and said, “Behold your King!” (v. 14).

6) The chant continued to swell with the demand to crucify Jesus. Pilate asked, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar” (v. 15). And with that the rejection was complete. Israel had denied their Messiah. Pilate was finished. He relented and let the mob have their way. They led Jesus out to be crucified.

  1. On the Cross (v. 17-24)

They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha where they crucified Him along with two common thieves. Pilate had a sign prepared that said, “Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews.” It was written in three languages, Latin, Greek and Hebrew for all to see. When the priests objected, Pilate replied, “What I have written, I have written,” meaning, “It will stand as is!”

As Jesus hung on the cross the soldiers divided His garments and gambled at the foot of the cross. John saw this as a fulfillment of Psalm 22:18.

 

  1. Behold Your Mother (v. 25-27)

Mary was at the cross as well as Mary Magdalene and Mary, the wife of Cleopas. John, the disciple who Jesus loved, was also there. Jesus seeing His mother in agony spoke to John and said, “John, take care of my mother.” And to Mary He said, “Mom, John will take care of you.”

John accepted the responsibility in spite of the fact that Mary had other living sons. Some church historians believe that Mary was with John when he was pastor of the church in Ephesus. John was true to his word and faithful to His Lord.

 

  1. “Finished!” (v. 28-37)

Jesus cried from the cross, “I thirst.” This is a symptom of hypovolemic shock, or low blood volume. The loss of blood experienced by Jesus would cause the heart to race to pump blood that was not there. The kidneys would shut down to preserve body fluids. Low blood pressure could have caused Him to faint or collapse as He did on the way to the cross.

They filled a sponge with sour wine and put it to His mouth. After He had received it, He said, “It is finished” and bowed His head and died. The eyes that had looked on Jerusalem and wept for sinners glazed over and went dim. The hands that had fed the multitudes and had healed so many now hung lifelessly, impaled to the cross. The voice that spoke such wonderful words was silent. The heart that loved unconditionally beat no more. Jesus was dead.

No one took His life. Ten legions of angels awaited His command to set Him free. But the request never came. Instead, he laid down His sinless, wonderful life.

  1. The Pierced Him (v. 31-37)

The Sabbath was approaching. The Jews asked Pilate to take the bodies from the cross before it began. Pilate ordered the soldiers to brake the legs of those on the cross to hasten death. With their legs broken, they could not raise themselves up to catch a breath and would quickly suffocate. But when they came to Jesus, He was dead already.

To assure He was dead, a soldier thrust a spear into His side. John was at the cross and testified to what he saw (v. 35). Blood mixed with water gushed from the wound. Fluid had gathered in the membrane around the heart and lungs of Jesus. The spear pierced the heart and the pericardial sac bringing forth the blood mixed with water. No one can doubt. Jesus was dead.

 

  1. The Borrowed Tomb (v. 38-42)

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus claimed the body of Jesus. They gently removed it and carried it to Joseph’s tomb and there they laid their Savior to rest. Both were members of the Sanhedrin. Both had been disciples of Jesus, but secretly. But when it mattered the most, they stood up and did the only noble thing that happened that day. They would never be silent again.

 

Two more days and our journey is finished.

Love to all,

 

Pastor

Day Eighty-Six John Eighteen

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE
DAY EIGHTY-SIX JOHN EIGHTEEN

 

            In this chapter, John reviewed the events of the night Jesus was arrested and the morning of Jesus trial prior to His execution.  What John said is consistent with the accounts in the other three Gospels.  There is very little new material here.  But it is well that we are reminded that Jesus came to die and that is just what He did.

            They played a game with no winner.  How incredible that Pilate, a heathen polytheist, was Jesus’ advocate.  He wanted to let Jesus go but did not have the fortitude to stand by his convictions and, in the end, caved into political expediency. 

            It is just as incredible that Jesus’ accusers were the ones who should have recognized Him for Who He was, the Messiah.  But their jealousy and their fear of losing their position with the Romans they hated led them to blindly reject Jesus.  He had “the signs” to confirm Him as Messiah.  He had the words of life for the people.  But their shallow understanding of the Law and the Prophets and their addiction to ritual and tradition led them to make the biggest mistake in human history.  They rejected their Savior, the only Savior.

 

1. Arrested in Gethsemane (v. 1-11)

Gethsemane was an urban garden located just outside the city walls at the foot of the Mount of Olives.  After Jesus finished His prayer in chapter seventeen, Jesus and the disciples left for the garden, a place they frequently visited to rest and pray.  Judas knew of the garden.  It is probable that Jesus would teach them during the visits in the garden privately, away from the crowds in a more personal setting.

John gives more details than the other accounts of what happened when Jesus was arrested.  Judas left the meal early and returned with a detachment of soldiers and officers provided by the chief priests and Pharisees.  They came with torches and weapons as if to arrest a dangerous criminal.

Jesus met them and asked who they sought.  They said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  Jesus identified Himself as the man they sought and immediately they drew back and some fell to the ground.  They cringed at the authority in His voice.  Fear was in their hearts.  Again, Jesus asked, “Whom do you seek?”

Jesus again said, “I am He.”  And then, in a characteristic manner, He said, “I will go with you but let the others go free.”  Peter jumped to Jesus defense and drew his sword and cut off the right ear of Malchus, the servant of the High Priest.

“Put away your sword, Peter.”  Jesus had not come to fight.  Jesus had come to die.  Peter takes a lot of criticism due to his impulsiveness.  He always led with his heart.  Peter was the only one who came to his Master’s defense.  At that moment, Peter was willing to die.  Jesus asked, “Peter, shall I not drink of the cup My Father has given Me.”  Though his actions were ill-advised, Peter stood while the others fled.

 

2.  Brought to Annas and Caiaphas (v. 12-14)

They arrested Jesus and bound Him and led Him away.  They took Him to the house of Annas first.  He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the High Priest.  Caiaphas was the one who had said it was expedient for one man to die for the people rather than the whole nation perish (John 11:50).  Caiaphas spoke in relation to political expedience and not for the spiritual benefit of the people.

 

3. Peter’s Denial (v. 15-18)

John divides the denial of Peter into two phases.  As they led Jesus away, Peter and another unidentified disciple followed.  The other disciple was known in the household of the High Priest and went into the courtyard while Peter stood outside.  The other disciple spoke a servant girl who kept the door and brought Peter into the courtyard.  When she saw Peter she said, “You are one of His disciples.”  Peter denied it and said, “I am not.”  Peter’s behavior was conflicted that night.  One minute he pulled his sword and cut off a man’s right ear.  In the next moment, he cowered before a little girl.

It was cold that evening and the servants and soldiers made a fire of coals to warm themselves.  Peter stood with them and warmed himself at the enemy’s fire.

4. Jesus Questioned (v. 19-24)

Annas questioned Jesus.  Annas had previously been the High Priest.  He asked Jesus about His doctrine.  Jesus replied, “I have never done anything in secret.  I taught openly in the synagogue and in the Temple.  Ask those who have heard Me.”

One of the soldiers struck Jesus in the mouth and told Him not to speak in that tone to the High Priest.  “If I have done evil then tell Me what I have done.  But if I have done right, you should not strike Me.”

Annas realized he was not getting the answer he wanted to hear and had Jesus sent to Caiaphas in chains.

 

5. Peter Denies Christ Two More Times (v. 25-27)

As Peter warmed himself with the soldiers and officers one said, “Are you not one of His disciples?

“I am not,” Peter answered.  But a relative of Malchus, the one Peter had cut his ear off, was there.  He had probably been with the mob that arrested Jesus.  He too charged Peter with being one of Jesus’ disciples.  A third time Peter denied that he knew Jesus.  And the rooster crowed.

 

6. Jesus Questioned by Pilate (v. 28-38)

Early in the morning, they led Jesus from the home of the High Priest to the Praetorium, where Pilate sat in judgment.  The leaders of the Jewish conspiracy did not go in for fear they would defile themselves and not be able to eat the Passover.  So, Pilate went out to them.  “What is your accusation,” he asked.

Defensively they said, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not bring Him to you.”

“Why don’t you take Him and judge Him by your laws?” Pilate asked.

“Because we do not have the authority to execute Him,” they replied.

Pilate then understood that they wanted Jesus dead.  He went back into the Praetorium to question Jesus privately.  “Are you the King of the Jews.”

Jesus replied with a question of His own.  “Is this your question or did someone else tell you to ask me?”

Pilate said, “Am I a Jew?   Your people have turned against You.  What have you done?”

“My Kingdom is not of this world.  If it were then my disciples would fight and I would not have been delivered to the Jews.”  Jesus was saying that the Jews, and Pilate, had no power over Him except what God had allowed.

Pilate asked directly, “Then are you a King?”  Jesus’ reply was just as direct.  “You are right.  I am a King.  I came to bear testimony to the truth.  Everyone who knows the truth knows Who I am.  Yes, I am a King.”

Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?”  There was no answer to the question.  We know Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life.  Pilate turned from Jesus and returned to the Jews and declared truth as he knew it.”

Pilate said, “I have found no fault in Him.”  That is the truth and two thousand plus years later it is still true.

 

7. Barabbas set Free (v. 39-40)

Pilate sought a logical resolution to the problem.  “I will release a prisoner to you.  Who shall it be?”  Pilate’s attempt at reason failed.  The Jews cried out, “Not Jesus.  Give us Barabbas and crucify Jesus.”  The mob chose a robber instead of the Son of God.

 

Three more days!  God bless!

Love you all,

Pastor

Day Eighty-Five John Seventeen

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE
DAY EIGHTY-FIVE MARK SEVENTEEN

 

          Jesus was a man of prayer.  He prayed as an example to His disciples and others.  He was always in contact with the Father but His prayer life emphasized an intimate relationship within the Trinity.

          Jesus prayed at crucial times when facing incredible situations.  He prayed at the tomb of Lazarus just before He raised Him from the dead (John 11:41,41).  He prayed and blessed the fish and the bread just before feeding the 5000 (John 6:11).   He prayed in Gethsemane just before His arrest (Matthew 26:36-46) and He prayed from the cross (Luke 23:34).

          Upon observing Jesus’ habit of prayer, the disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1).  Jesus responded and taught them using a model for prayer we commonly call “The Lord’s Prayer.”

          The prayer Jesus prayed in John 17 is really “the Lord’s Prayer.”  It is often called “Jesus High Priestly Prayer” and it foreshadows His ministry as our High Priest. It covers the entire chapter and is the longest pray prayed by Jesus in the Bible.  It followed Jesus warning to the disciples to expect persecution.  “In the world, you will have tribulation.  But be happy because I have overcome the world.”  He followed this troubling news with prayer.

 

 

1. Jesus Prayed for Himself (v. 1-5)

          “The hour has come.”  The statement is pregnant with consequences.  It was the hour that had been planned before the foundations of the earth were laid.  It was the hour Jesus had anticipated since His entry into the world via the Virgin Birth.  It was the hour Jesus expected when He was baptized by John and began His public ministry.  It was the hour John the Baptist predicted when he pointed at Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God.”

          Jesus did not withdraw from it.  He welcomed it because He understood it was that “hour” when He would redeem the world.

          He does not pray for deliverance from that hour but for strength and success for His mission.  Notice the petitions Jesus prayed for Himself.

1) “Father, glorify Me so that I can glorify You.”  To glorify, according to Webster, means “to bring praise and worship; to elevate to celestial glory; to light up brilliantly.”  Jesus predicted, “If I am lifted up, I will draw all men to Me.”  God would “brilliantly light up His cross” to draw all humankind to it (v. 1).

2) Jesus was given authority over all men to be saved.  That was the purpose of His sacrifice – to open the door to redemption (v. 2).

3) He declared the source of salvation.  That all may know the Father by knowing the Son (v. 3).

4) He had finished the work of the Father (v. 4)

5) Jesus prayed for the Father to restore Him to the glory He shared with the Father “before the world was” (v. 5)

 

2. Jesus Prayed for His Disciples (v. 6-19)

          Jesus had a special relationship with the twelve.  They had followed Him from the beginning.  He had given them the Father’s Word and they had believed.  They were facing the tragedy with Him.  He had trained them and they would continue the work Jesus began.  Jesus knew that the Devil would resist them in every way possible and so He prayed for His disciples.

1) Jesus prayed specifically for His disciples.  “I am not praying for the world but I am praying for them.  You gave them to Me and they are Yours as well” (v. 9,10)

2) He prayed for the unity.  “I may that they might be one as we (Father and Son) are one” He knew the Devil would try to sow seeds of dissension and bitterness.  They had to understand that they were a team (v. 11).  Their task was greater and grander than any petty differences.

3) He prayed for their protection.  “While I was in the world, I kept them safe.  But I am leaving the world and coming to You.  Father, You must keep them safe” (v. 12).

4) Jesus prayed for His joy to be fulfilled in them.  Don’t let them lose their joy (v. 13).  It is the Lord’s joy that makes us strong.

5) “The world hates them as it hated Me.  I am not asking You to take them out of the world but keep them from the “Evil One.”  Don’t let the Devil defeat them.  Jesus knew they no longer belonged to the world. (v. 14-16)

6) Jesus prayed for them to be sanctified by God’s truth.  Set them apart to serve you.  “I have set Myself apart for this mission so they might be set apart for your Truth” (v.  (17-19)   

 

3. Jesus Prayed for All Believers (v. 20-26)

          Jesus said He was not just praying for His disciples only but for all who would be His disciples in the future.  He prayed that others will come to know God by knowing Him and believing that God sent Him.  He was talking about the Gospel being preached the world.  He was praying for us.

          This was a preview of Jesus ministry as our High Priest.  Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us we have a great High Priest that has passed into heaven, Jesus, the Son of God.  He understands our weaknesses because He was wrapped in our flesh and He experienced every temptation we face except He never sinned.  He can empathize with us.  He understands what we go through and He prays for us.

          We can enter before His throne and know we will be not be turned away.  He is always there to provide grace and compassion when we need it the most.

          He battles the Devil on our behalf.  When we are lured into sin, He stands as our Advocate (I John 2:1) and declares that Satan has no claim on us because we have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.  He is our vigilant Intercessor Who is at the right hand of the Father and prays for us diligently (Romans 8:34).  He is alive and active on our behalf.

          Bill Gaither wrote the lyrics:

 

And He’s ever interceding, to the Father for His children;
Yes, He’s ever interceding, to the Father for His own;
Through Him you can reach the Father, So, bring Him all your heavy burdens;
Yes, for you He’s interceding, So, come boldly to the throne.

 

          Our journey together is almost over.  I pray it has been a blessing to you who have chosen to accept the challenge.  Four more days to go!  Have a blessed day!

 

Love to all!

 

Pastor

Day Eighty-Three John Fifteen

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE

DAY EIGHTY-THREE JOHN FIFTEEN

 

            Have you ever wondered why God left us here on earth after our salvation?  Remember what it was like when you first came to Jesus?  Remember how “clean” you felt and the excitement of your new-found salvation?  Do you remember how all of that waned with time when you settled back down to planet earth? 

            It would have been amazing if God had taken us to heaven right after our salvation event.  We would have been completely free of sin and then be in the presence of Jesus.  But that’s just not the way it works.  He left us here in this world to produce “fruit” for His kingdom.  What was Jesus talking about when He spoke of producing fruit in John chapter fifteen?

            The Bible speaks of three types of spiritual fruit.  Consider these three categories:

1)  In Galatians 5:22,23 (NLT) Paul wrote, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  This is a description of the fruit of the Spirit and not the “fruits” of the spirit.  It is not like a Chinese restaurant menu where you choose one from column A and then something from column B and so on.  It is all or nothing.

            The fruit of the Spirit describes the personality of a mature, Spirit-filled believer.  It is in contrast to the “works of the flesh described in Galatians 5:19-21).  A Spirit-filled Christian is a powerful Christian.  They are overcomers and productive workers in the Kingdom of God.  Spirit-filled believers touch others and recommend the “Christ-life.”  Spirit-filled Christians are always fruitful Christians who reach out to others.

2) Proverbs 11:30 speaks of a different kind of spiritual fruit.  It says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”  This is talking about personal evangelism.  Jesus said we were to be His witnesses.  We used to speak about being “soul conscious.”  It meant to be sensitive to the need of others to know Jesus as Savior and to care for their souls. Believers should be proactive in witnessing to others about Jesus.  Our faith is not something we bury inside us but something we share with others.  We should ask ourselves if we have been part of bringing someone to the redemptive knowledge of Jesus.

3) The third type of spiritual fruit is mentioned in Luke 3:8. Jesus encouraged people “to bear fruits worthy of repentance.”  This type of “fruit” is evidence of true salvation.  If you are the same after you are saved as before you are saved, you have to ask the question, “Am I really saved?”

            In Christ, we are new creations.  Everything changes right down to our attitudes (I Corinthians 5:17).  A carpenter builds buildings.  An artist paints portraits.  A seamstress makes dresses.  What evidence in your life is there that you have truly repented of sin and live a new, spiritual life?

            Jesus said, “By their fruits, you will know them” (Matthew 7:20).  What kind of fruit are we producing for Jesus?

 

1. The True Vine (v. 1-8)

            Jesus would soon finish His mission.  The cross was hours away.  He had told them He is going away.  He is leaving them to produce.

            Jesus is the Vine.  The Father is the Vinedresser.  We cannot produce fruit alone.  We have to have the right connection.  We must be connected to the true Vine.  Without Jesus in our life, we can do nothing.  There are things necessary to bear fruit.

1) A branch that does not bear fruit is “taken away.” Bible teacher and pastor of the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, the late James Montgomery Boice taught that the Greek verb airo, translated here as “takes away” is more accurately translated “lifts up.”  This would refer to the common practice of “vinedressers who would “lift up” low branches to give them “more light” and help them to produce more fruit.  This idea is more consistent with the desire of our Vinedresser (the Father), Who desires His children to bear fruit (v. 2).

2) A “productive branch” is “pruned” so that it might bring forth more fruit.  As a vinedresser will tear away the dead leaves to allow the plant to be healthier and more productive, sometimes our Vinedresser must remove things from our lives that impede growth and productivity. The “pruning process” is not always comfortable but, if we are to continue to grow, it is necessary (v. 2).

3) The branch cannot produce fruit by itself.  It must remain attached to the Vine (v. 4).            We must “abide” in Christ.  We cannot go out on our own and expect to produce anything that is lasting.  We must stay close to Christ.  We do this through prayer and the study of His Word.

4) If a branch does not abide in Christ, they wither and are cast out and burned in the fire.  This does not suggest a loss of salvation.  These branches were never really attached to Christ.  It is like people who join a church and get religious but never really get saved (v. 6).

5) If we abide in Christ, our prayer life will be more effective and we will receive answers to our prayers (v. 7)

6) The Father is glorified by our fruitfulness.  It affirms that are His disciples (v. 8)

 

2. Perfect Love, Perfect Joy (v. 9-17)

            This is an intimate paragraph as Jesus declared His desire for the disciples to be in a close and intimate relationship with Him.

1) Jesus loves us as the Father loves Him.  “Abide in My love” (v. 9)

2) If we keep His commandments it confirms that we abide in His love (v.10).  Jesus kept the Father’s commandment because He loved the Father.

3) Jesus desired that our joy might overflow.  It is the joy that only Jesus can give (v. 11).

4) We are to love one another (v. 13).  Too often Christians fight Christians.  The enemy is the Devil.  We should fight him together.  And they will know we are Christians by our love.

5) We are His friends and we should keep His commandments (v. 14).  The greatest of all expressions of love is to lay down one’s life for a friend (v. 13).  Jesus was headed to a cross where He would lay down His life for His enemies (Romans 6:6-10).

            Jesus chose the twelve and He chooses us to be fruitful for Him.  The fruit that we bear has eternal consequences.  It changes eternities.  It remains forever (v. 16,17)

 

3. The World Will Hate You (v. 18-25)

            All those who propagate the idea that it is fun to be a Christian have not listened to the words of Jesus.  But we must also remember that Christianity is not all doom and gloom.  We cannot expect the secular world to love us.  They have a different agenda.  Their goals are earthly and temporal.  Our goals are spiritual and eternal.

            Opposition to the Gospel should not surprise us.  They hated Jesus and they will hate us.  The Gospel upsets the plans of a lost man whose goals are to eat drink and be merry.  The Gospel demands accountability and restraint.  We are to live a holy life.  This does not appeal to the carnal desires of the lost.

            Jesus said the reason they will hate you is that they do not know the Father.  Israel rejected Jesus.  He said if He had not come and warned them, they would have no sin.  But they had the Word, the Law and the Prophets.  Knowledge demands responsibility.

            Knowing the truth can set you free if you embrace it.  But if you reject it, it will stand as your judge.

 

4. The Helper (v. 26, 27)

            The Holy Spirit was coming.  He was coming to help the disciples to plant the Church and to endure persecution.  He comes to us to teach us and lead us to all truth.  He came from the Father in the name of the Son.  He is not new.  He has been with the Father and the Son for all eternity.  But He will step to the forefront to lead the church and to provide power for the believer.  He is real and He is here with us.  Follow Him today.

 

Walk in the Spirit today!

 

Love to all,

Pastor

Day Eighty-Two John Fourteen

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE

DAY EIGHTY-TWO JOHN FOURTEEN

 

            Thoro Harris wrote the hymn, “All That Thrills My Soul.”  The first stanza says,

Who can cheer the heart like Jesus,
By His presence all divine?
True and tender, pure and precious,
O how blest to call Him mine!  

            Sorrow reigned in chapter thirteen.  But Jesus becomes the comforter in chapter fourteen.  Jesus is our tender and compassionate Lord.  He was so gentle that children flocked to Him.  He embraced them and held them in His arms.  They felt secure and loved there.  He is doing the same thing for the disciples in this chapter.

1. The Way, the Truth, the Life (v. 1-6)

            There is no need for a chapter break between 13:38 and 14:1. It is the same conversation.  Jesus had just responded to Peter’s question when Peter asked, “Where are you going?”  He told Peter he could not follow Him now.  Peter pledged his complete loyalty and said he would lay down his life for Jesus.  But the Master knew of Peter’s future denial and Jesus told him so.

            Jesus spoke of betrayal, death, and denial.  In that environment, He comforted them and said, “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God and you believe in Me.” 

            There is a growing number of those who do not believe in God but believe that this grand design we call creation is just the product of time and chance.  In their hour of tragedy and grief, there is no comfort.  The shallow philosophies of secular humanism cannot ease the pain of loss.  They are alone with no hope beyond this life.

            The apostle said, “If we have hope in this life only, we are of all men most miserable” (I Corinthians 15:19).  But Jesus is our hope.  He soothed their sorrow with the promise of heaven and reunion.  “In my Father’s house are many mansions.”  He spoke of the magnificence of our heavenly dwelling in a place Paul described as beyond our imaginations (I Corinthians 2:9).   

            “I am going away.  But our parting will not be final.  I must prepare your place.  When the time is right, I will come again and get you so you can be with Me forever.”  With all the talk of mansions, we must not lose sight of the truth that mansions and streets of gold and gates of pearl do not make heaven.  Heaven is heaven because Jesus is there and we are with Him.

            “You know the way,” Jesus said.  But Thomas was confused.  “We don’t know where you are going and how can we know the way?” Jesus responded, “I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No man can come to the Father except he comes through the Son.”

            God spoke from the “burning bush” and commissioned Moses to go Egypt and deliver His people.  Moses asked, “What shall I say your name is?  Who shall I tell them sent me?”  God spoke again and said, “I AM that I AM.  Tell them I AM sent you.”

            “I AM” is the covenant name of God.  It is Yahweh in Hebrew and it declared that He is the “self-existent One.”  Jesus claimed the name, “I AM.”

1) I AM the only way to God.  No other path or person leads to God.

2) I AM the only Truth about God that endures forever.  All other “holy books” so-called are not true.  The Bible has no equivalent.

3) In My death, I AM the way to Life.  Jesus died so we can live.  It is a divine paradox.

4) No one came can ever know the Father except by believing in and knowing Me.  I AM.

           

2. Show us the Father (v. 7-11)

            Philip, who always seemed to be a page behind, said, “Lord, show us the Father and it will be sufficient.”  Jesus replied,” Philip, where have you been?  Three years you have been with me and you do not know Who I am? “Philip had heard His words and witnessed His works.  Jesus revealed the Father.  The Father spoke and revealed the Son and said, “This is My Son, listen to Him.”.  “Believe in Me because I and the Father are the same or believe in Me because of the miracles you have seen me do.”

 

3. Greater Works (v. 12-14)

            “If you ask anything in My Name, I will do it.”  The “greater works” we can do is through prayer.  We so underestimate the power of prayer.  We ignore it.  We take it lightly and go through the motions.  We think we can live a sinful life and then expect to go to God in prayer and He will snap to attention to do our bidding.

            Since He is giving us a powerful spiritual weapon, we need to know how to use it.  If we are to be successful in prayer, we must listen to His instructions.  You don’t put a powerful weapon in the hands of a child.

            John gives further instruction in his first epistle.  In I John 3:22 he writes, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”  He gives two conditional clauses in the verse.  He will receive what we ask if:

1) We keep His commandments spiritually.  Do what He says to do.

2) We live a life pleasing to Him morally.  Live like He says to live.

            Prayer is a relationship and a covenant.  If we do as the Father bids, we can tap into His power to do greater things than even Jesus did.  It’s a promise.

 

4. The Promise of the Comforter (v. 15-18)

            Jesus continued to comfort the twelve with the promise of the Holy Spirit.  This was new to them.  What He said is significant to us.

1) If you love Me, keep my commandments.  Obedience is the result of love.

2) The Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus promised would come, would be just like Jesus, referring to the Spirit’s deity.

3) He will help you and comfort you.

4) He is only for believers.  He is the Spirit of Truth and the unbelievers cannot possess Him.

5) He told them, “The Spirit is with you now but will dwell in you later.”

6) I will not leave you as orphans to fend for yourself.  The Holy Spirit will care for you.

 

5. Indwelling Presence of God (v. 19-24)

            In this incredible paragraph, Jesus promised that the Father and the Son would dwell in them and be with them.  The believer has a unique relationship with the triune God.  The Holy Spirit is our connection with the Trinity.  Since the three Persons of the Trinity are One, total God is always connected to us.

            Our relationship with God is affected by our faithfulness to God’s commandments.  If we keep His commandments, our relationship grows.  If we faith to keep His commandments, the Holy Spirit does not leave us, but our power with God will diminish.

            Jesus told the disciples that if they loved Him, they would keep His Word.  You always try to please the one you love.  They who love the Son will also be loved by the Father.

 

6. My Peace I give to You (v. 25-31)

            “The Holy Spirit will be your teacher and your helper.  He will remind you of what I have said.  He will mature you in spiritual things and will lead you to all Truth.”

            Again, Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled.”  And then He gave them reasons to trust Him:

1) I am giving you My peace.  It is not the peace the world gives.  It is the peace that calms the heart in the times of trouble and sorrow.  It is a peace that defies comprehension. 

2) Don’t be afraid.  I am going away but I am coming back to get you.

3) I am going to the Father.  You should rejoice with me.  You will one day be with Us.

4) The time has come and “the ruler of this world (the devil)” is here.  But he has no power over me.

5) In my death, I am doing the will of the Father and not because Satan has won.  Satan will never win.

            Jesus then told the disciples it was time to go.  It was time to do the Father’s will.

Easter is over but Jesus is still alive.  Rejoice!

 

Love to all,

 

Pastor

Day Eighty-One John Thirteen

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE

DAY EIGHTY-ONE JOHN THIRTEEN

 

            The greatest man Who ever lived was also the greatest servant Who ever lived.  Jesus said that the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve others (Mark 10:45).  He submitted His will to the Father’s will and came for our benefit, not for His.

            Paul wrote in his amazing Christological passage in Philippian 2:6-8, that the Son, being every bit God, willingly relinquished His throne, took on the form of a servant and being in our flesh, He humbled Himself and surrendered to death, even the shameful death on a cross.

            Jesus had all authority.  He openly exercised that authority over the demons and over disease and over nature and even over the elements.  But He never “lorded” over anyone.  He led by example and He led in love.  He touched the untouchables and He entered into their pain.

            In the end, He performed the greatest service ever.  He took our sins and the offenses against us and He nailed them to His cross.  He was our Passover Lamb and He died, not as a king, but as a servant in our place.

 

1. Jesus washes the feet of the Disciples (v. 1-17)

            He knew His time had come.  His sacrifice was only hours away.  The affection He held for the twelve was real.  Even at this late hour, there were still lessons He needed to teach them.

            The meal was over.  Satan had been active and had put in Judas’ heart to betray Jesus.  He knew He came from the Father and it was always in the plan that He would return to the Father.  He never came to stay.

            Jesus arose from the dinner, set his robe aside, wrapped a towel around Him and put water into a basin.  Then He began to wash the feet of His disciples and dry them with a towel.  In a Jewish home, this was the job of the lowest servant in the household.   Yet, Jesus took all this upon Himself. 

            The disciples were silent.  They thought, “What is He doing?”  They were under a lot of stress just knowing the Pharisees were plotting against their Master.   Now He was acting like a common servant.

            The silence was broken when Peter confronted Him and asked, “Lord, are you washing my feet?”

            Jesus replied, “You may not understand what I am doing now, but one day you will.”

            Peter was sincere with he refused to let Jesus wash his feet.  He thought it was beneath His Master to do such a thing.  But Jesus warned, “If I do not wash you, you will not belong to me.”

            “Then don’t just wash my feet, wash my hands and face as well,” Peter said.  Peter was definitely a reactionary.  Here he overreacted

            “Peter, you are clean.  But not all of you.”  Jesus was speaking of holiness and not about hygiene.  We can understand this better if we look at the statement Jesus made in verse eleven and John’s commentary in verse twelve.  Jesus said, “You are clean but not all of you.”  He spoke concerning the spiritual condition of the twelve.  One of them was not “clean.”  One of them had not truly accepted Jesus as Savior.  John said Jesus was speaking of the one who would betray Him, Judas, who was never saved.

            The other eleven had no need of justification but they did have a continuing need for sanctification.  If we get “spiritually dirty,” it impedes our spiritual growth and negatively affects our relationship with God.  Our feet are constantly in contact with the world.  If our feet “get dirty,” by being led astray by worldly lusts and other considerations, our heart will be turned from God. We must daily allow Jesus to cleanse our “feet.” 

            John wrote three epistles that bear his name.  All three are written to believers.  In I John 1:9 he wrote, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  All believers are still sinners and we are in a constant struggle against our adversary, the Devil.  Only daily confession and time with Jesus can keep us clean and make us holy.

            Jesus then told the disciples, “You are to follow my example and to wash each other’s feet.”  We are to assist each other in our spiritual growth.  We are responsible for each other to keep us holy before God. 

            How do we wash each other’s feet?  We can start by praying for one another.  The Devil is at war with all of us.  We must not divide our ranks and allow that old snake to get a foothold in our lives and in our fellowship.  Know who the enemy is.  It is not your Christian brother or sister.

            Encourage each other.  Some Christians can light up a room by leaving it.  We are to be salt and light, not just for the lost but for our Christian family as well.  Finally, we are to prefer one another.  What does that mean?  It means we should enjoy time with our church family and other Christian friends.

 

2. Jesus identifies the Betrayer (v. 18-30)

            Jesus quotes Psalm 41:9, “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”  Then Jesus said, “One of you will betray me.”  This greatly disturbed the disciples.  They looked around the room wondering which one it would be.

            John never referred to himself by name in his gospel.  He was always either “the disciple whom Jesus loved” or “the one who leaned on Jesus’ breast.”  The latter term simply meant “the one who sat to the right” of Him.   John asked Jesus, “Lord, who is it?”  Jesus said privately to John, “It is the one who I give the bread to after I have dipped it in the sauce.”

            Jesus dipped the bread and gave it to Judas Iscariot.  Their eyes met and Satan entered into Him.  Jesus said to Judas, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”  No one knew what Jesus meant.  They supposed that Jesus had instructed Judas to give something to the poor because Judas had held the money.  Judas took the bread from Jesus and left the table and went out into the night.

 

3. Love One Another (v. 31-35)

            Judas had departed.  Jesus gave the remaining eleven a new commandment, “Love one another.”  Earlier they had argued over who would be the greatest.  Jesus instructed them not to be divided over petty things.  He told them He was going away.  Jesus knew they would need each other.  “Let people know you are my disciples by the way you love one another.” 

            Peter Scholtes wrote the lyrics of a song popular during the “Jesus Movement” of the late sixties and early seventies that declared, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”  That’s the way Jesus said it should be.

 

4. Before the Rooster Crows (v. 36-38)

            Peter said, “I want to know where you are going.”  Jesus told him that he could not go with Him then, but one day he would follow Him.  Jesus spoke of His death.  Peter said, “I will go anywhere with You.  I would even die for You.”

            “Really Peter?  Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny me three times.”  The room was silent but the conversation was not over.

 

Happy Easter!  Praise the Lord!  The grave could not hold Him

Love to all,

 

Pastor

 

Day Eighty John Twelve

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE

DAY EIGHTY JOHN TWELVE

 

          You can’t change history.  But you can rewrite it.  We see this being done in America today.  Historians are taking things out of perspective and making heroes into villains and villains into heroes.  That’s what some are trying to do with Judas, the betrayer of Jesus.

          In 2006, The National Geographic Society revealed an ancient document from the second century titled, “The Gospel of Judas.”  It was another attempt to suggest that we do not have an authoritative Bible and that there are books missing that tell another story.  This was certainly true of this little manuscript.  It suggested that Judas was a “good guy” and Jesus best friend and that he was aiding the Lord to finish His mission.  It said that Judas made the ultimate sacrifice and betrayed Christ after Jesus asked him to the foul deed.

          There were many extrabiblical writings that appeared in the second century and later.  Though some provided historical perspective, they were all just works of fiction and never to be equated on the level of Scripture.  No New Testament book is older than the first century AD when John, the last of the Apostles, died.

          The truth about Judas is found in Scripture.  That is the only reliable history we have of him.  From the Gospels, we see that Judas was driven by money.  He was the treasurer of the group and John declared that “he was a thief” and stole from his own friends.  He sold Jesus for money.  Perhaps Jesus was directing His words at Judas when He said, “No man can serve two masters.  You cannot serve God and money.”

          In John 17:11, Judas is referred to as “the son of perdition.”  Perdition means one doomed to destruction.  It is sometimes used as a synonym for hell.  Jesus said that Judas was a devil from the beginning (John 6:70).  Judas was always last in all the lists of the twelve and Luke added the comment the comment to his list, “and he became the traitor” (Lue 6:16).  How is it possible to walk with Jesus for three years and witness His miracles and hear His words and then betray Him?  But that’s exactly what Judas did.

          In Matthew 27:3-5, Judas tried to return the “blood money” to the council but they refused.  He knew he had betrayed innocent blood but it was too late.  He had made a conscious decision to lure the Son of God into a trap so the Sanhedrin could arrest and kill Him.  He was remorseful but he was not repentant.  He ended his own life and went out and hanged himself.  Jesus said it would have been better for him if he had never been born (Mark 14:2).

 

1. Expensive Worship (v. 1-8)

          Six days before the Passover, Jesus and His disciples attended a dinner hosted in His honor.  Matthew and Mark told us that the host of the feast was Simon the leper, probably a man who Jesus had healed of leprosy.  Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead, was also there.  What a testimonial to the power of Jesus.

          Mary, Lazarus’s sister, brought her most precious and costly possession, spikenard oil, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair.  It was an amazing act of humble worship.  It may have been her dowry, but it was most certainly the most valuable thing she owned.  She lavished it on Jesus.  It was an act of love and gratitude.  Her gift was her way of saying,” I love you more than anything!”  It was worth three hundred denarii, almost a year of wages.

          Judas sneered and said, “We could have sold this and given it to the poor.”  But John commented, “He didn’t care for the poor.  He was a thief and would have stolen it if he had the opportunity.” 

          At a time when American Christianity has largely become a religion of convenience perhaps we should ask, “What have we lavished on our Savior lately, or ever?

 

2. Get rid of the Evidence (v. 9-11)

          It has always been hard to dispute facts.  Bethany was only two miles from Jerusalem and all the city had heard that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead.  Lazarus’ presence at the dinner was evidence that Jesus had the power over death and was Messiah.  Many of the Jews had believed in Jesus because of Lazarus’ resurrection.

          The chief priests, those holy elitists, had the solution.  They planned to kill Lazarus as well as Jesus.

 

3. The Triumphal Entry (v. 12-19)

          The Triumphal Entry is recorded in all four Gospels making it highly significant.  It is the fulfillment of Zachariah’s prophecy concerning Messiah (Zachariah 9:9).  They had been expecting Jesus in Jerusalem.  The word of His miracles and His wonderful teaching was well known in the capital of Judea.  But the raising of Lazarus “sealed the deal.”  Those who were witnesses of the miracle in Bethany testified of Jesus’ power and all the people proclaimed Him as ‘the blessed One Who came in the name of the Lord.

          As the Pharisees watched their frustration continued to grow.  “What can we do?  The whole world has gone after Him.”  Oh, if only that were true!

 

4. Greeks seeking Jesus (v. 20-26)

          At His birth, Magi came from the East to worship Him.  At His death, Greeks from the West and sought Him out.  These Gentiles had come to this Jewish feast for the purpose of meeting Jesus.  They came to Philip and asked to meet Jesus.  Philip did not know what to do.  Jesus mission had been primarily to the Jews and the lost house of Israel.  So, he asked Andrew.  Andrew simply took them to Jesus.

          You have to love Andrew.  He was not concerned with religion or ritual.  He was not good at protocol, but he was good at getting people to Jesus.  So, he led them trough the crown and took them to His Lord.  It was his privilege.

          Jesus used an illustration of a seed of wheat, which by falling to the ground and dying, produces more wheat.  It was a metaphor for His sacrifice and the paradoxical principle of life by death.  His death brought us life.

          If we live for the world, we have only this life.  But if we believe in Jesus and live for Him, while dying to self, we will live forever.  “If anyone serves Me, My Father will honor them.”

         

5. Jesus predicts the Cross (v. 27-36)

          “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Me.”  He spoke of His death on the cross.  The cross is the beacon that draws men and women to God.  Jesus predicted what the cross would accomplish.

1) God’s name would be glorified.  Jesus prayed that His sacrifice would glorify the name of God.  A voice from heaven spoke and said, “It has already been glorified by Your life and will be glorified by Your death.”

2) All people, nations, and individuals, will be drawn to God for salvation.  God always meant the cross to be for everyone.  It was always His plan to save the world.

3) The Son of Man is revealed.  The people asked, “Who is the Son of Man?”  Isn’t this the same crowd that already proclaimed Him as “the One Who came in the Name of the Lord?”  Why can’t they get it straight?  Why do they vacillate so?  The cross settled all doubts.

4) The Light will overcome the darkness.  Jesus came as Light and the darkness could not comprehend Him. People will believe in the Light and become children of the Light.

 

6. Spiritual Blindness (v. 37-41)

          It was right in front of them.  Jesus’ miracles demonstrated His power.  Jesus’ words declared His authority.  And still, they had questions.

          God told Isaiah eight hundred years before the cross that people would not listen (Isaiah 6:8-10).  Satan blinds the eyes of the lost so they won’t see.  He stuffs their ears with lies so they will not hear.  They walk in spiritual darkness when God offers His light.  It was not new in Jesus’ day.  It continues today.

 

7. Walk in the Light (v. 42-50)

          Live in the Light of God’s word.  Walk in Light of God’s Son.  Jesus came because His Father sent Him.  He is the only path to God.  Jesus declared that He and the Father were One.  To reject Son is to reject the Father.

 

Tomorrow is Resurrection Day!  I hope to see you all in church!

 

Love you all,

 

Pastor

Day Seventy-Nine John Eleven

By | 89 Day Gospel Challenge, Uncategorized | No Comments

THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE

DAY SEVENTY-NINE JOHN ELEVEN

         

          God always answers the prayers of His children.  He does not always answer as we want or even like, but He always answers.  Sometimes He answers “yes” and we feel blessed.  We say, “God is good.  He is for me” and we are happy.  Sometimes He answers “no.  By His grace, we are able to accept it, but often we question “why?”  Satan will tell us that God has failed us and tempts us to become bitter and turn from prayer.  But the Father never withholds “good things” from us.  Father knows best and always has our good and His glory in mind.

          Then sometimes the Father says, “Not now.”  The time is not right or we are not ready. But keep asking.  This is a Divine delay.  We do not always understand what God is doing but we must trust Him and trust His timing.

          God brought the children of Israel out of slavery in the land of Egypt.  His goal was for them to return to the Land of Promise that He had given to Abraham.  It should have taken only a few months to travel from Egypt to the Jordan River to cross into Canaan.  But because of the unbelief of the people and their failure to follow God, they wandered in the desert for forty years. 

          This Divine delay was necessary to prepare the hearts of a new generation to fully trust the Lord.  There was a battle ahead and it could not be entered into without a total commitment.  It was a hard thing to accept.  Two generations of Hebrews died in the wilderness.  But when Israel went into the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, they were ready to conquer their enemies in the strength of the Lord.

          Just before Jesus was ready to ascend back to heaven, He gathered His disciples together one last time.  They did not know what was about to happen.  On their minds was still the idea of Jesus taking power and establishing His throne.  They asked Him, “Lord, will you at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel.”  Jesus said, “That is not for you to know.  That’s in the Father’s hands.  But you will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes and then you will take my Gospel to all the world.”  The Devine delay allowed time to take the Gospel to everyone.

          On a smaller scale, we often experience Divine delays.  We want to move forward but the Spirit says, “Wait!”  We see only what’s in front of us but God sees the “three sixty.”  He knows the pitfalls and the challenges.  He prepares us for victory.   If we push forward in our own strength, we will fail. 

          The story of Lazarus is an illustration of a Divine delay.  Jesus knew all along what He would do.  Which is more glorious, to heal a sick man or to raise him from the dead.

          When you find yourself in the middle of a Divine delay, remember the words of the prophet Isaiah who wrote, “They that wait on the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings of eagles” (Isaiah 40:31).       

 

1. The Death of a Friend (v. 1-16)

          Do not confuse this Lazarus and the Lazarus in Luke 16.  Some have tried to connect them but they are two different individuals.  Both men were literal men who lived very different lives.  In Luke 16, Lazarus is a diseased beggar with no family and no means of support.  He lived off the scraps of a rich man.  He died and was comforted in “Abraham’s bosom,” another name for Paradise.

          The Lazarus we are introduced to in John 11 was a personal friend of Jesus.  He lived in the city of Bethany, a village about two miles from Jerusalem.  He had two sisters, Martha and Mary, who were followers of Jesus.  John tells us that it was Mary who anointed Jesus feet with a fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair.  John does not actually tell her story until chapter 12.

          Lazarus was sick.  It was a serious illness and his sisters sent word to Jesus that His “dear friend” was not well and He needed to come to him.  There was urgency in their message.  It was like a “family member” sending word to a relative that if they wanted to see their loved one alive, come now.

          When the message arrived, Jesus told the twelve, “This sickness is not unto death but for the glory of God that the Son might be glorified through it.”  They should have known something was about to happen.  But there seemed to be no urgency in Jesus so they delayed for two more days.

          John saw fit to emphasize again that Jesus loved this family.  After two days, Jesus told His disciples, “It’s time to leave for Judea.”  They were concerned because the last time they were in Jerusalem the Jews has tried to stone Jesus.

          “But Lord, the Jews seek to kill you there.”  Jesus said, “There are twelve hours of daylight.  While it is the day, we will not stumble.”  This was Jesus’ way of saying that He still had work to do.  In John 9:4 Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him that sent Me while it is day.  Once the night comes, no man can work.”  Jesus knew no harm would come to Him until it was the time.  Remember, “No man could take His life.” 

          Jesus announced to the disciples that Lazarus was sleeping and that He must go to awake him.  They thought Jesus meant he was resting and that he was getting better.  Then Jesus spoke plainly, “Lazarus is dead.”

          The disciples were certainly confused by it all.  “If Jesus loved them, why did we delay?”  Thomas was devastated.  “Let us go and die with him,” he said.  But Jesus had a plan and it did not include death.

 

2. The Resurrection and the Life (v. 17-27)

          When Jesus arrived in Bethany He discovered that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.  It was a small village and the death of Lazarus brought grief to the entire community.  Many of the Jews gathered around Mary and Martha to comfort them.

          When Martha heard that Jesus was near, she left Mary in the house with the others and went to meet Him.  Martha believed in Jesus and in His power to do miracles but now her brother was dead.  She greeted Jesus with her grief and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would still be alive.  But it’s too late.  He’s dead.”

          She wasn’t blaming Jesus, she was just stating what she believed to be the facts.  Jesus could have healed her brother as He had healed others but now it was too late.  He had been dead four days.

          Jesus spoke and said, “Your brother shall rise again.”  Martha thought He spoke of the future resurrection of the righteous dead.  She said, “I know he will rise again at the last day.”  She knew her theology but her theology limited her faith.

          Jesus responded, “Martha, I am the Resurrection and the Life.  Even the dead who believe in Me shall rise again.  Those who believe in Me shall never die.  Martha, do you believe in Me?”

          Martha made her statement of faith concerning Jesus.  “I believe You are the Christ, the Son of God.”  She said the right thing and the true thing.  But her faith could not get past what she knew was true.  Her brother was dead! 

 

3. If You had only Been Here (v. 28-37)

          Martha left Jesus and went to tell her sister.  “Mary,” Martha said, “The Master has arrived and wants to see you.”  Immediately, Mary arose and went to meet Jesus.  Those who were with her in the house thought she went to Lazarus’ tomb to grieve.  But when she saw Jesus she said the same thing Martha had said.  “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would still be alive.”  When Jesus heard this and saw her grief and the grief of those who were with her, He was deeply troubled.  He asked, “Where have you laid him?”  The people responded, “Come and see.”

          When Jesus came to the tomb, His spirit was troubled and John recorded what he remembered.  “Jesus wept.”  The people who saw it knew that Jesus loved Lazarus and said among themselves, “This Man opened the eyes of the blind.  If He had been here, He could have saved him.”

         

4. Lazarus Raised (v. 38-44)

          Jesus continued to grieve.  He said to the people, “Take away the stone.”  But Martha objected.  “Lord, it is too late.  He has been dead four days and by this time he is decaying.  There will be a stench.”

          He turned to Mary and said, “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see God do something glorious?”  Martha consented and they moved the stone that sealed the tomb.

          Imagine the scene.  Mary and Martha weeping.  The people weeping with them.  What would Jesus do?  He prayed.  He did not pray for His benefit but for the benefit of the people.  “Father, I know you always hear Me.  But the people are watching and I want them to know that You always hear Me.  I do this so their faith may grow and they may know that you have sent Me.”

          Then Jesus spoke so everyone could hear, “Lazarus, come forth!”  Lazarus heard the voice of Jesus and arose and came out of the tomb.  And all the people knew that Jesus had the power over the grave.  “Get Lazarus out of those grave clothes.  Set him free.”

 

5. The Conspiracy (v 45-57)

          What a wonder!  All should have been rejoicing but some, those who had conspired to have Jesus murdered, went to the High Priest to tell him what had happened in Bethany.  Caiaphas, the High Priest, knew he had a problem.  There was already an expectation surrounding Jesus that He would claim to be Messiah any day.  Many of the people believed in Him. 

          Caiaphas knew that if Pilate and the Romans got wind of this that they would see Jesus as a threat.  He knew that would mean the Romans would put down any hint of rebellion by violent means.  It could mean the end of the nation.  It would certainly mean the end of Caiaphas’ influence.  Many rich members of the council could lose their wealth.

          Caiaphas proposed a plan to the others.  It is better that we sacrifice one man than for the entire nation to suffer and, perhaps perish.”  So, they made their conspiracy and sought occasion to seize Jesus to deliver Him to the Romans.  “Let them do our dirty work,” they thought.  Little did the High Priest know that he had prophesied that Jesus would die for the people, just as He came to do.

          The Passover was near.  This would be the last Passover Jesus would observe with the disciples.  The chief priests and the Pharisees gave the order for anyone who saw Jesus to report it so they could seize Him.  The end was in sight!

 

Ironic that this is Good Friday.  Hope to see everyone tonight at 7:00 PM.

 

Love you all,

 

Pastor