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89 Day Gospel Challenge

Day Seventy-Eight John Ten

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE

DAY SEVENTY-EIGHT JOHN TEN

 

The Twenty-Third Psalm is the best-known psalm and one of the most recognizable passages in all the Bible.  It brings comfort and encouragement to the weary and the broken and celebrates a personal relationship with God.

David was probably king when he wrote it but he remembered his youth and his first job as a “tender of his father’s sheep.”  He speaks of the shepherd duty from first-hand experience.  The shepherd cares for the sheep (“I shall not want…”).  He feeds the sheep, (“…he makes me to lie down in green pastures…”).  He looks after the safety of the sheep (“… He leads me beside still waters…”).  He encourages the sheep (“…He restores my soul…”)  He leads the sheep (“…He leads me in the paths of righteousness…”).  He never leaves the sheep alone (“…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil…”).  He corrects and protects the sheep (“…your rod and your staff, they comfort me…”).

With all of this in mind, David did not say the Lord is a shepherd.  He said, “The Lord is My shepherd.”   He is up-close and personal.  He is involved in our lives on a daily basis.  He has given us prayer so He is never more than a prayer away.

John recorded Jesus’ discourse in this chapter where He declared, “I am the Good Shepherd and I give my life for My sheep.”  In Hebrews 13:20 He is the “great Shepherd of the sheep” Who sanctifies us and makes us complete.  In I Peter 5:3 Jesus is the Chief Shepherd Who will come for His sheep.  In Revelation 7:16,17, He is the Lamb in the midst of the throne Who will shepherd us and lead us to living waters and wipe away all our tears.”  Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Jesus overlooked Jerusalem and wept as He watched people, weary and scattered, moving with no direction and He said, “How often I would have gathered you to Myself, but you would not.”   With extended heart and hand, He offers to be our Shepherd.  Is He your Shepherd?

 

  1. Jesus: The True Shepherd (v. 1-6)

There is a big difference between a shepherd and a sheepherder.  The shepherd leads the sheep because he has a relationship with the flock.  The sheepherder drives the sheep because he is a stranger and a hireling.

In this paragraph, Jesus used the illustration of the sheepfold, a common pen in most towns used by different shepherds to keep their sheep safe at night.  There was a doorkeeper to regulate the “comings and goings” of the flocks.  Once the sheep were mixed together, there was no way to tell one flock from another.

Each shepherd had his “unique call” to gather his sheep.  In the morning, a shepherd would come to the sheep pen and call his sheep.  The sheep would hear the call of their shepherd, recognize his voice, and would separate themselves from the common flock to follow their shepherd.

In verse twenty-eight, Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me.”  Jesus calls believers out of the world to follow Him.  We must listen and follow.

 

  1. Jesus: The Good Shepherd (v. 7-21)

“I am the Door.  I am the only Way.  Those who believe in Me will be saved and will find pasture, “a safe haven and home with Him.”

Others had come before and had deceived the people but they were all “robbers and thieves” who did not care for the sheep.  The scribes and the priests and the Pharisees had led the mislead the people.  They did not care for them.  They only cared about their own selfish agendas.

Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd.  I give my life for the sheep.”  When the wolves came, the hirelings would run and hide because they did not know the sheep.  But the Good Shepherd stands and defends the sheep because the sheep are His.  “I know my sheep and my sheep know Me.  They follow Me!”

In verse sixteen Jesus said, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold.”  He referred to Gentiles who would one day receive the Gospel.  Jesus said, “I will draw them to Me.  Then they, both Jew and Gentile, will be one flock.”

In verse eighteen Jesus said, “No man takes my life.  But I will lay it down.”  Jesus did not have to die for us.  He was not constrained by the Father.  He was not the victimized by the Pharisees.  He was not overwhelmed by the Romans.  He was not broken by Pilate.  They did not overpower Him to nail Him to the cross.  He extended His hands and received the nails that should have been ours.  They did not take His life.  He gave it!

But the cross would not be the end.  Jesus said, “I can lay my life down but I can take it up again.  I have the power.”  He spoke here of His resurrection.  Peter declared in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost that it was not possible for death to hold Jesus (Acts 2:22-24).

As always, there was a difference of opinion concerning Jesus.  Some said He had a demon.  Others reasoned more clearly.  “Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

 

  1. Jesus: The Intimate Shepherd (v. 22-30)

“Now it was the Feast of Dedication” in the winter revealed that some time had passed.  The Feast of Dedication is what we call Hanukkah, that celebrated the rededication of the Temple after it had been desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes, the king of Syria, during the time of the Maccabees (approximately 164 B.C).

Solomon’s Porch was a colonnade on the east side of the Temple that provided some protection from the weather.  Jesus was teaching there when the Jews asked Him directly, “Are you the Christ?  Tell us plainly.”

Jesus told them, “I have told you before but you do not listen.  You are not my sheep.  If you were, you would hear Me and believe.”  Then Jesus clearly told them:

1) “My sheep hear my voice and follow Me: (v. 27).

2) “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish” (v. 28)

3) “No one can pluck My sheep out of My hand (referring to the preservation of the saints)” (v. 28)

4) “My Father is greater than Me.  No one can take them out of My Father’s hand” (v. 29)

5) “My Father and I are One” (v. 30).

Liberal theologians make the claim today that Jesus never said He was God.  Apparently, they are not reading the same Bible I read.  If you doubt He claimed to be God, consider the reaction to His last statement, “I and the Father are One.”

 

  1. The Jews seek to Stone Jesus (v. 31-39)

The Jews picked up stones to execute Him.  Jesus asked, “For what good work are you do you with to stone Me?”

They replied, “Not for any good work you have done but because you, being a man, claim to be God.”

In verse thirty-four Jesus quoted from Psalm 82:6 which says, “I say, ‘You are gods; you are all children of the Most High.”  This referred to the difference between believers and unbelievers in Israel, and the difference between Israel and the Gentiles.

Jesus continued, “Are you saying that I have blasphemed?  The Father sent Me into the world.  The Father is in Me and I am in the Father.  If I do not the works of the Father, don’t believe Me.”  He confirmed what He had earlier said, “That He and the Father were One.”  He is the Son of God!

They again sought to kill Him, but He walked away.

 

 

  1. The Return to the Jordan (v. 40-42)

Jesus left Jerusalem and returned to the area where John the Baptist had preached and baptized beyond the Jordan River.  Many came from all around to hear Jesus and witness Him heal many.  The people remembered what John had said about Jesus, that He was the Lamb of God and Messiah.  And the people agreed that everything John had said about Jesus was true.

 

Good Friday service is tomorrow at 7:00 PM.  Come and remember Jesus’ sacrifice and celebrate our salvation.

 

Love to all!

 

Pastor

 

 

Day Seventy-Seven John Nine

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE

DAY SEVENTY-SEVEN JOHN NINE

 

The first words God spoke in the Bible was “Let there be light.” He called light out of the darkness. He made the sun, the moon and the stars to give us illumination. He sent Jesus to enlighten us. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world, if you follow Me, you will not walk in darkness” (John 8:12).

In his first epistle, John said, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5). In the introduction to his Gospel, John spoke of the Son and declared, “In Him was life and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Sadly, the Light that Jesus gave was so incredibly different from the darkness they were used to, that the world could not comprehend Him.

In Scripture, light is a metaphor for righteousness and darkness is a metaphor for evil and sin. Light and darkness are at opposite poles. We say, “They are as different as night and day.”

John constantly reminded people of the difference between light and darkness and their consequences. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (I John 1:6). It is impossible to live in sin and have a relationship with a God, Who is light.

Jesus also spoke of the danger of the darkness. In the Sermon on the Mount, He warned about our “eye” being full of darkness. Sin distorts our vision. The “darkness” hides us from “the Light.” If our vision is clouded by the darkness of the world, the darkness drives us further from God and deeper into the depravity of this life (Matthew 6:22-24).

The entire ninth chapter of John is an illustration of light and darkness. John remembered the day when Jesus and the twelve encountered a man who was blind from birth. Just like we are all sinners from birth.

He remembered the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the majesty of Jesus power to heal a man of physical blindness and bring him into the light of salvation. Perhaps John had this episode in mind when he wrote, “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all our sin” (I John 1:7).

 

  1. Jesus heals a Man who was Blind from Birth (v. 1-12)

Jesus is still in Jerusalem. It is apparent that John wrote more of Jesus’ Judean ministry while the synoptic Gospels recorded more of His Galilean ministry.

As Jesus passed by, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. The disciples asked Him, “Teacher, who sinned that this man was born blind? Was it the man himself or was it his parents?” This revealed a common mistake about God and sickness held by the Jews. The rabbis taught that those suffering maladies and afflictions were either being punished for personal sin or for the sin of their ancestors. In Ezekiel 18:2 the prophet writes, “Why do you use this proverb, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’” The idea was that the children suffer for the sins of their parents.

The prophet goes on to say, “You are not to say this anymore. The person who sins is the one responsible.” Ezekiel is in agreement with Paul when he wrote, “ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).

Jesus was quick to refute this erroneous opinion. “Neither did the man is or his parents but this man was born blind so that the word of God would be revealed in him” (v. 3). Then Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day.” What did this have to do with the blind man?

Jesus had an appointment with this blind man before the world was created. It was all in God’s design. Even before the disciples asked the question, Jesus knew what He would do. The blind man was there to give testimony to the power of Jesus and the love of God.

“As long as I am in the world, I am here to give Light.” With that He spit on the ground and made a poultice with clay and put it on the man’s eyes with the instructions to “Go and wash your eyes in the pool of Siloam.” He did as Jesus told him and returned with his sight restored. He was healed! Jesus had given him light.

The people were amazed. Those who knew him said, “Was this the man blind from birth?” Others were not as sure as he spoke up and said, “Yes, I am the man who was born blind.”

They asked, “What happened to you? How were your eyes opened?”

He said, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!” NLT

 

  1. The Pharisees and another Sabbath controversy (v. 13-34)

There are always people who can find a cloud for every silver lining. Instead of rejoicing with the man, a group of the people took the man to the Pharisees. They thought there had to be something wrong with all these other people rejoicing so much.

It did not take long for the negative reaction of the Pharisees. “Tell us your story. What happened?” So the man who was healed told them again what Jesus did. “You mean Jesus healed you in the Sabbath? This man cannot be from God! He has broken the Sabbath!”

What a surprise! The legalists always find something wrong when God is working. They complain about music or different Bible translations and put a damper on the work of God and the moving of the Holy Spirit. They are more concerned about rules than people. They put God in their little box and when He does something extraordinary they gripe and say, “We’ve never done it that way before!”

Not all of the Pharisees shared the same opinion. Some said, “How can this man be a sinner when He does such things?”

So they asked the man, “What do you think about the Man Who opened your eyes?”

The man replied, “He was a prophet!” What could he say? Jesus gave him light for his darkness; sight for his blindness; hope for his desperation.

You can’t pacify a critic. They called the parent’s of the man before them. “Is this really your son? Was he really born blind? If so, how is it that he sees now”?

His parents feared that the Jews could put them out of the Temple if they said anything positive about Jesus. So they said, “Yes, he is our son! Yes, he really was born blind. He has always been blind. And now he sees. We don’t know how. He’s an adult. Ask him.”

So they told the man, “Give glory to God. This man was a sinner.”

The man replied with a simple and magnificent testimony, “I don’t know if He is a sinner or not. I do know this. I was blind but now I see.”

The Pharisees had lost patience. They wanted the man to testify against Jesus. They sought to sway him to their opinion. “Your problem is you are His disciple. We are Moses’ disciples.”

But the man said, “Why can’t you rejoice with me? This is a marvelous thing. We know that God does not hear sinners. Here I am standing before you. I was a blind man. He gave me my sight. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”

When you can’t deny logic or defy evidence, you get man and make a radical decision. The Pharisees rebuked the man with, “You are the sinner. We cast you out of the synagogue!”

 

  1. Jesus Messiah, the Light of men (v. 35-41)

When Jesus heard that the Pharisees had cast the man out of the synagogue, He found Him and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”

The man replied, “Tell me Who He is so I may believe.”

Jesus said, “You have seen Him and you are talking to Him right now.” The man declared, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshipped Him there.

Jesus knew that there were Pharisees listening. He said, “I am come into this world to judge that those who are blind may see and those who see may be made blind.”

The Pharisees who head asked, “Are you talking about us? Are we blind also?”

Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would have no sin. But you know better. You remain in your blindness denying the truth. You like the darkness. It fits you. So your sin remains.”

To whom much is given, much shall be required. The Pharisees were guardians of the Law and should have been the loudest proclaimers of the Truth. They should have recognized Jesus as Messiah. But their religion and their traditions got in the way. Their self-righteousness condemned them.

We have the Word. We need to declare the Truth. If we turn our backs on the needs of lost men and women, we are no better than the Pharisees.

 

Walk in the Spirit today!

 

Love to all!

 

Pastor

Day Seventy-Six John Eight

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE

DAY SEVENTY-SIX JOHN EIGHT

 

          I have every confidence that we have an accurate, authentic, and authoritative Bible.  It is the inspired (God-breathed), infallible Word of God.  It is the sole source for our faith and practice.     

          There are some critics of the Bible that believe there are certain sections that actually do not belong in Scripture.  Martin Luther had his problems with the book of James calling it “a very strawy epistle.”  His problem with it was a misunderstanding concerning James’ position on faith and works.  It was Luther’s problem and not James’ problem.  Luther thought James was saying that “good works were necessary to salvation in James 2:14-18.  James was saying no such thing.  He was saying that if you are saved, your faith will be affirmed by your good works.

          Some Bible commentators consider the story of the woman taken adultery as a spurious or unauthentic passage. In some Bible translations the story of the adulterous woman is omitted completely.  Other translations add an asterisk with an explanation in the margin or in a footnote.  In the King James and the New King James it is included without comment.

          Early Catholic church theologians such as Augustine and Ambrose left the story out because they saw it as Jesus being “soft” on sin, especially adultery.  This opinion cannot be further from the truth.  Jesus was not soft on sin, He was big on forgiveness.  He did not endorse her sin.  He forgave her and instructed her to never do it again.

          I cannot imagine another passage that so wonderfully reveals the compassion of Jesus.  The Samaritan woman (John 4) knew Jesus was different.  He was not ruled by prejudice as were the Jews.  And the woman in John eight knew He was different than any other man she had ever known.  He was slow to judge and open to forgive.  What greater example of love and mercy can there be.  As far as I am concerned, it is right where it belongs.

 

1. A Woman Caught in the act of Adultery (v. 1-11)

          The last verse of chapter seven is probably connected with the eighth chapter.  It should read, “And everyone went to his own house.  But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.”

          He is still in Jerusalem after coming there for the feast of Tabernacles (John 7).  He came secretly for fear of the Pharisees’ plot to kill Him but later revealed Himself to the people and taught them in the Temple.

          His teaching session was rudely interrupted when the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in the act of adultery.  There can be no doubt that they handled her roughly.  There is also no doubt that the religious hypocrites did not care about the woman or the Law of Moses.  Their only goal was to discredit Jesus.  They did not care who was hurt, just so they could dishonor Him.

          Imagine the embarrassment.  There she was, her clothes disheveled, cheeks red, head held low.  Too often we rush to judgment.  Some have said she was a career prostitute, but the Bible says no such thing.  Maybe she had confused love for lust and had made a bad decision.  Perhaps she was a victim of a married man who was unfaithful to his vows and seduced her.  And by the way, if they caught her in the act, where was her partner?  The Law applied to both involved.

          Her accusers speak.  “We caught her committing adultery.  Moses said we should stone her.  What do you say, Jesus?”  They thought they had Him.  They thought they were so shrewd.  If He said, “Let her go” they would have said, “Are the authority over Moses.  Should we ignore his word?”

          If He said, “Go ahead and listen to Moses.  Stone her.”  Then they would have said, “We have Moses.  Why do we need you?”  They waited smugly for His answer.  It was answer that would never come.  Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with His finger. 

          When they continued to press Him for an answer, He stood up and said, “The one who has no sin, let him cast the first stone at her.”  Then He knelt down again and wrote on the ground again.  We don’t know what He wrote.  Perhaps it was a scripture that spoke of forgiveness.  Maybe, as one has suggested, He wrote the name of her partner who was a Pharisee or scribe everyone knew.  What ever He wrote, His words convicted them of their hypocrisy.  One by one they dropped their stones and left.

          Consider the scene.  She stood there alone, embarrassed and ashamed.  Jesus looked up and asked, “Woman, where are your accusers?  Has no one condemned you?”  She answered, “No one Lord.”  But there was one there who was without sin.  He could have sentenced her to death.  He could have picked up a rock and killed her.  Instead, the sinless Son of God spoke to her gently and said, “Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”     

 

2. The True Witness (v. 12-20)

          Jesus spoke and said, “I am the Light of the world.  Follow Me and you will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

          The Pharisees rebuked Him and said, “You bear witness of Yourself.  If you are the only One to bear witness of Yourself, then Your witness is not true.”  They were referring to the standard of the Law which required at least two witnesses to establish a matter as a fact.

          “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true.”  I know where I came from and I know where I am going.  You judge by the flesh.  I do not judge but if I did, my judgment would be true.  I am not alone.  I am with the Father.  I bear witness of Myself and My Father bears witness of Me.  Therefore, I have met the requirement of the Law and My testimony is true.”

          “Where is your Father?” they asked.

          “You don’t know my Father and you do not know Me.  To know me is to know My Father.”       Jesus spoke these words in the treasury of the Temple.  He spoke openly and He spoke truth.  They wanted to seize Him but no one touched Him.  His hour had not come.

 

3. Jesus Predicts His Death (v. 21-30)

          “I won’t be here much longer.  I am going away and when you look for Me, you will not find Me.”  Jesus never came to stay.  Philippians 2:5-11 tells of His downward trek from the glory of heaven to the form of a servant to a sacrifice on the cross.  But His story did not end there.  The Father will exalt Him and give Him a name above all names.  At His name, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord.

          The clock was ticking and the end of His mission was in view.  But the Jews never understood.  “Where is He going?  Will He kill Himself?”  No, that was never in the plan.  He did not come to take His own life.  He came to lay it down.

          They never understood Who His Father was because they never really knew Him.  Their religion and their self-righteousness had blinded them to the truth.

          He came to do His Father’s will and to deliver the Father’s message.  Not all believed in Him.  But those who did believe became the children of God (John 1:10-13).  The invitation is still open to everyone and anyone who will believe.

 

4. The Truth Shall Set You Free (v. 31-36)

          What is the source of freedom?  Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free?”  Their answer bordered on insanity.  They definitely were in denial.  “We are Abraham’s seed and have never been in bondage to anyone.”  Really?  They had been in bondage throughout their history.  The Babylonians, the Persians, the Assyrians all took their turn.  As they spoke these words, the Romans ruled over them.  What were they thinking?  Pride makes fools of us all.

          Before anyone can be free they must first admit their bondage.  Sin is bondage.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  He was, and is, the only way to God.  Believe in Him and you are free.  Abide in Him and you will be His disciple.  The only real freedom that can never be breeched by a conqueror is the freedom we have in Jesus.  “If the Son has made you free, you are free indeed!”

 

5. Abraham’s Seed and Satan (v. 37-47)

          The question in this paragraph is paternity.  “Who is your Father?”

1) Jesus said “I know you are the descendants of Abraham.  But you seek to kill Me?  All I have done is tell you the truth that I have heard from my Father.  That is not the will of Abraham.  If you really were Abraham’s children (spiritually and not just ethnically), you would do the deeds of Abraham.  But you do the deeds of your father.”

2) They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication.”  They insulted Jesus’ parentage.  Perhaps the gossip had arrived from Nazareth that Jesus was illegitimate.  Joseph thought Mary had been unfaithful until Gabriel told him she was carrying God’s Son.  Rumors spread in small towns.  Those who deny the Virgin birth theorize Jesus was the illegitimate son of a mercenary soldier who fought for the Romans.  One day they will answer for that slander.

3) Jesus responded, “If God were your Father you would love Me.  I came from the Father.” 

4) Jesus continued, “You cannot hear and understand My words because you are of your father, the Devil.  The Devil is a liar and has always been a perverter of the truth.  You do not hear me because you do not know God.

 

6. Before Abraham (v. 48-59)

          The situation was close to reaching critical mass.  An explosion was imminent.  The anger of the scribes and Pharisees continued to build.  They accused Jesus of having a demon.  They insulted Him by charging Him with being a Samaritan.

          Jesus responded, “I am not the One Who has a demon.  I honor My Father and you dishonor Me.”  The fact is that to dishonor the Son is the same as dishonoring the Father.

          Jesus told them, “Anyone who keeps my word shall never die.”

          Imagine their reaction.  “We know you have a demon now.  Our father Abraham is dead.  Are you greater than Abraham?”

          Jesus told them that Abraham rejoiced at His coming.  “How can you say that?” they asked.  “You are not old enough for Abraham to have seen your coming.”

          Jesus declared, “Before Abraham was, I Am!”  They understood what Jesus said.  He existed before Abraham.  He said He was eternal and only God is eternal.  They knew He claimed to be God.  It was blasphemy to them.  They picked up stones to kill Him.  But He hid Himself and walked through their midst and left the Temple.  It was not His time.

 

Day Seventy-Five John Seven

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE

DAY SEVENTY-FIVE JOHN SEVEN

 

          We previously established that John’s Gospel records the life of Jesus in chronological order.  Although it is difficult to establish the exact year in history, in order to have a sense of perspective, we can follow the unfolding of His ministry year by year. 

          Considering the fact that His public ministry was approximately three and a half years long, we divide the events of His life into three periods.  The first year was the “year of obscurity.”  This would be from His baptism until approximately chapter five and the healing of the man at the Pool of Bethesda.

          The second year of His ministry is known as the “year of popularity.”  During this year His fame grew throughout the region as He preformed miracles and healings and the multitudes began to follow Him.  During this year He preached the Sermon on the Mount.  Rumors of His messiahship spread and crowds sought Him out.”

          In reaction to His popularity and the waning influence of the priests the third year is known as the “year of opposition.”  The scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Herodians dogged His footsteps and sought occasion to discredit Him before the people.  In the end, they conspired to kill Him and would have done it sooner but they feared the people and knew they had to choose their opportunity wisely.

          They culmination of their sinister conspiracy came in the final week of His life.  Almost one third of the Gospel of John is dedicated to Passion Week, the seven days between the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to the shouts of “Hosanna” to His resurrection one week later.

          In chapter seven we are in the early part of the “year of opposition.”  This will be obvious as we look at this chapter paragraph by paragraph.

 

1. The Opposition of His Brothers (v. 1-9)

          Jesus had a family.  We know Mary, His mother, and Joseph, His surrogate father, but He also had brothers and sisters.  These were younger step-siblings, the children of Mary and Joseph.  Matthew 13:55,56 and Mark 6:3 names four men, James, Joses, Simon and Judas as His brothers.  It also says He had sisters.

          His brothers are not listed with believers until the gathering in the upper room after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.  Two of them, James and Jude, wrote letters in the New Testament and James became a prominent leader in the church of Jerusalem.

          Verse one says that Jesus walked no more in Judea because He knew of the plot to kill Him.  His brothers came to Him and said He should go to back to Jerusalem for the feast of the Tabernacles.  The text declares that His brothers did not believe in Him.  So why were they encouraging Him to go to Jerusalem where He would be put in danger?

          It could have been sarcasm.  They may have been saying, “If you are the Messiah, then go do these miracles openly so your followers can see you and make you King.”  They may have been trying to convince Him to cease and desist His miracles so He would not be killed.  Or they may have been questioning His motives.  “You can’t become famous if you hide from the world.  You must show yourself openly and the feast would be a good time to do it.”

          Whatever the reason Jesus responded and said He was not going to Jerusalem because it was not the time.  He told them to go but He that He would remain in Galilee.

         

2. He has knowledge but He has never been taught (v. 10-24)

          After His brothers had left for the feast, Jesus decided to go to Jerusalem but in secret.  When He arrived, He found that the conspirators had been looking for Him.  They were spreading lies against Him.  It caused a difference of opinion concerning Him among the people.  Some said He was the Messiah and others said He was a deceiver.  But no one supported Him openly for fear of reprisal from the Jews.

          In the middle of the week, Jesus went to the Temple and taught openly.  Even His enemies were astonished at His wisdom.  “Where did He gain all this knowledge?  He has never studied with a rabbi or gone to a school.”  But Who would know the Scriptures better than the One Who owned the copywrite?  It was God’s Word and Jesus was God.

          Jesus declared He did not teach His own doctrine but the doctrine He received from His Father.  He marveled that they were so angry with Him because He had healed a man on the Sabbath while the Jews broke the Sabbath constantly.  Moses had taught them both the Sabbath and the rite of circumcision.  He charged them that they circumcised on the Sabbath and, in doing so, broke the Sabbath.

          He warned them, “Do not judge by appearance but judge by truth.  God does not judge by outward appearance because God looks upon the heart (I Samuel 16:7).

 

3. Is this the Christ? (v. 25-31)

          There was a buzz on the streets of the city as they heard Him.  “Is this the One they are seeking to kill?  He speaks boldly and they say nothing.  Maybe He is Messiah.”  But a contrary opinion said, “We know were Jesus came from.  No one will know where Messiah came from.”

          Jesus cried out in the Temple and said, “You both know Me and where I am from.  I came from the Father.  You do not now Him but I know Him because He sent Me.” 

          His enemies wanted to take Him and murder Him then.  But many of the people believed in Him and said, “When Messiah comes will He do more miracles than this Man?”  They feared to take Him.  His hour had not come.

 

4. The Uninformed Pharisees (v. 32-35)

          When the Pharisees heard the murmuring among the people, they sent soldiers to seize Him and bring Him to them. 

          Jesus told them that He would be with them a little while longer and then they would seek Him but not find Him.  They could not comprehend that He spoke of His sacrifice and resurrection and return to heaven.  They thought He meant He was leaving Jerusalem and Galilee and would preach to the Jews who had left Israel and lived among the Greeks.

 

5. The Promise of the Spirit (v. 36-39)

          On the last day of the feast Jesus invited all to believe in Him.  “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.”  Jesus came to meet the most basic need of all.  Even more critical than water, Jesus came to deal with man’s sin problem.  “If you believe in Me, you will experience the most refreshing thing ever.  It will be like a pure river of living water springing up inside you.”

          John, looking back on what he heard Jesus say explained, “He was speaking of the Holy Spirit.”  But Jesus was not yet glorified and the Spirit would come later. 

 

6. Where did He come from? (v. 40-44)

          The controversy continued to build.  One group said, “He is definitely a Prophet!”  Another group declared, “He is the Christ!”  But decenters said, “He is not qualified to be Messiah.  The Scriptures declare Messiah will be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), but this man, they assumed, was born in Galilee.”  They could have known the right answer if they had just asked the right question.  But they assumed they already knew.  Assumption is the lowest form of communication.

 

7. No One ever spoke like Him (v. 45-52)

          In the meantime, the soldiers sent to bring Jesus to the council returned.  The Pharisees and scribes asked them, “Why didn’t you arrest Him and bring Him to us?”

          The officers responded, “We listened to Him.  No man ever said the things we heard Him say.  No one ever spoke like this man.”

          The Pharisees were irate.  “Are you deceived also?  The Scriptures do not speak of a prophet being born in Galilee.  Don’t you know the Scriptures?  Have any of the council believed on Him?”

          Yes, there was one.  Nicodemus rose to speak.  He was a voice of reason.  He had investigated Jesus and found Him to be truth.  He did not answer directly but said, “Are we going to judge Him without listening to Him.  Is that the way our Law works?  Shouldn’t find out what He is really do?”

          His colleagues shouted him down.  “Are you from Galilee?  Search and look for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.”  True enough.  But Jesus was raised in Galilee but He was born in Bethlehem.

 

I pray you all get a great start to your week.  Plan to attend Good Friday Service and Easter.  Invite a guest to be with you

 

Love to all!

 

Pastor

 

 

 

Day Seventy-Four John Six

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE

DAY SEVENTY-FOUR JOHN SIX

 

          Words like betrayal, desertion and quitting never have a good connotation.  In verse sixty-sixty it says “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”  They were not casual followers.  They had earned the term “disciple.”  They were not the twelve but they were segregated from the common multitude.  A disciple is a learner and a follower.  He is one who propagates the teaching of another. These were men and women who were engaged with Jesus.  They had a made a conscious decision to follow.

          They reveled in the sunlight of His miracles and His wonderful teachings but when the way became difficult and they realized it would cost them something personally, they deserted Jesus, not for a day or a week, but for the rest of the way.  They were fair-weather followers.

          Jesus said, “If you are not willing to carry your own cross daily, you cannot be My disciple.”  No one said living the Christian life would be easy.  It has standards and morals that often go against the grain of modern society.  There are still some who make a commitment to Christ and run their race to the end.  But many, far too many, drop out before their finish line.

          Our prayer should be, “Father, help us to be a finisher.  Don’t let us quit.  Help us to fight the good fight, to the keep the faith and to complete our course.  The reward from our Savior will be well worth the effort we make.

 

1. Feeding the Five Thousand (v. 1-14)

          “After these things” does not mean “the next day.”  The incident at the Pool of Bethesda occurred near the end of the second year of Jesus ministry.  The feeding of the five thousand was in the beginning of the third year.

          The events of chapter five happened in Jerusalem at one of the feasts.  In chapter six Jesus and the twelve are back in Galilee.  They are on the other side from Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee.  The multitudes are following Jesus and, as usual, He healed their sick.

          The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is recorded by all four Gospel authors.  All four were led by the Spirit to include this miracle in their record of Jesus.  That fact alone makes the miracle significant.  The details of the miracle do not vary much.

          One thing that is significant is John recorded it was Andrew, the brother of Peter, that brought the lad with the fish and bread to Jesus.  Other than in the lists of the disciples, Andrew is only mentioned three times.  Each time he brought someone to Jesus. 

          When Andrew first discovered Jesus as the Messiah, he found his brother, Peter, and introduced him to Jesus.  In John 12, some Greeks were at the feast of the Passover and told Philip they would like to meet Jesus.  Philip did not know what to do.  He asked Andrew and Andrew brought them to Jesus.

          That day, the multitude had been with Him for some time.  They were getting hungry.   Jesus asked Philip, “Where can we buy bread so that the multitude can eat.”  Jesus knew what He was going to do but He wanted to see how Philip would handle it.  Philip saw the situation as too great a problem to solve. 

          Andrew spoke up and said, “There is a lad here with five barley loaves and two fish.  But what is that among so many?”  Andrew did not know the answer but he knew the One who had the answer.  He had seen Jesus do miraculous things.  Why should this be too big a problem for Jesus to solve.  Andrew was the disciple of possibilities.  He brought the situation to Jesus, provided the raw materials, and let Jesus do the miracle.

          All we have to do is bring our problems to Jesus.  We can’t work the miracle, but He can.

 

2. Jesus walks on the Water (v. 15-21)

          A situation arose in verse fifteen.  After the crowd had eaten the fish and the bread and were filled, several conceived the idea to take Him by force Jesus and make Him to be their King.

          It was not Jesus time.  This was not why He came.  Jesus left the multitude and the disciples to be alone.  The disciples then got into a boat and launched out onto the sea of Galilee to make their way toward Capernaum.  Jesus came to them walking in the dark on the sea.  At first the disciples were startled and afraid.  But Jesus spoke to them and said, “It is I.”  They invited Him into the boat and they came quickly to their destination.

          Matthew’s account of this event included the story of Peter walking with Jesus on the water.  John chose not to include that part of the story.  This is not a contradiction.  It is only an exclusion by the Holy Spirit.  Perhaps He thought one telling of Peter’s embarrassment was enough.

 

3. Bread of Heaven (v. 22-40)

          John is the only one who tells us of the aftermath of the feeding of the five thousand.  The following day, the people gathered on the other side of the Sea of Galilee near where Jesus performed the miracle.  When they saw the disciples of Jesus had taken their boat to go to the other side and they could not find Jesus, they all got into boats and headed toward Capernaum.

          They found Him in the synagogue in Capernaum.  They asked Him, “Rabbi, how did you get here?”  Jesus knew their hearts and intentions.  He spoke and told them, “You did not come here because you understood the miracle but because you ate the food and have come here looking for another meal.”  It was the hunger in their belly and not the hunger of their soul that motivated them.

          Jesus said, “Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, but they eventually died.  I am the true Bread that came down from heaven.”  They said, “Give us that bread always.”

          “I am the bread of Life.  He who comes to me shall never hunger and shall never thirst.”  This was the reason He came down from heaven.  He came on a mission to do more than feed their bodies.  He came so that anyone who believed on Him would have eternal life and He would raise then up at the last day.  Here He spoke of the resurrection of the righteous dead.

          It is amazing that after all they had seen and all they had heard that they still asked Him for another sign (v. 30).  They had eaten of the fish and bread and yet, it was not enough.

 

4. Rejected by the Jews (v. 41-59)

          The Jews complained because He said He was the true bread that came down from heaven.  They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?  We know His family.  Yet, He said He came down from heaven.”

          Jesus looked directly at them and said, “If you want to have eternal life, you must eat My flesh and drink My blood.”  He was not advocating cannibalism.  He was not speaking literally.  He illustrated this principle in the same way He instituted the Lord’s supper.  “This is my flesh broken for you.  This is my blood shed for you.”     

          “I am the true bread Who came down from heaven.  Your ancestors ate the manna and they died.  But if you accept Me as the true Bread, you will never die but you will have eternal life.”

 

5. Disciples desert Jesus (v. 60-71)

          They heard Him speak.  Whether they misunderstood or just did not believe, many of His disciples (not the twelve) said, “This is a hard saying.  Who can understand it.”  They should have said, “We are not willing to believe.”

          Jesus knew that many were offended and did not trust in Him.  “I have spoken to you about spiritual things but you do not believe.”  Jesus knew who believed and Who did not.  He always does!

          Imagine Jesus watching as many who called Him Master and Teacher, turned their backs and walked away.  Jesus turned to the twelve and asked, “Will you also go away?”

          There was a dramatic pause as if time stood still.  Then Peter spoke.  He spoke with deep conviction and he nailed the issue.  “Lord, to Whom shall we go?  You have the Words of eternal life.  We believe you are the Christ, the Son of God.  There is no place else to go!”

          Though others have arisen and claimed to be truth, Jesus is the only Truth.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No man can know the Father without accepting the Son.

 

It’s the Lord’s Day!  Rejoice!  He is alive!

 

Love to all!

 

Pastor

 

 

Day Seventy-Three John FIve

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE

DAY SEVENTY-THREE JOHN FIVE

 

          Bible chronology can be a tricky thing.  A seventeenth century theologian, James Ussher, bishop of Armagh, Ireland, developed a timeline using Old Testament genealogies and came up with the date of 4004 BC for the creation of the earth.  If you have an old Scofield Reference Bible you will see that date in the center margin above Genesis 1:1. Ussher’s mistake was believing the entries in the genealogies was exhaustive and in strict chronological order. 

          We seem to more be concerned about exact dates than God does.  If the date of the beginning was important, God would have let us know.

          Of course, we all know about the various doomsday prophecies predicting the Second Coming of Christ and, many times, the end of the world. 

          In the secular arena, most of us remember the Mayan scare in 2012.  Someone took an ancient Mayan calendar and predicted the end of the world for December 21, 2012. It gained worldwide attention and a big media build up to the date.  Nothing happened.  The world did not end and many people had to do some very late Christmas shopping.

           Harold Camping, a radio evangelist, made frequent predictions of dates for the return of Jesus.  The last one was for May 21, 2011, calculated to be exactly seven thousand years from the Genesis flood.  When nothing happened, Camping said he had miscalculated and that the real date was October 21, 2011.  Again, Jesus did not show up and the world kept on turning.

          Jesus knew we would be curious about dates and should have ended the speculation when He said, “No man knows the day nor the hour when the Son of man will return (Matthew 25:13).

          Another issue concerning chronology involves the apparent contradictions in dating of events in the Gospels.  It is easily resolved when we understand that Matthew and Mark did not follow a strict consecutive reporting of events in the life of Jesus from beginning to end.  Luke was more chronological and John was exact in his chronology.  Calendars and watches were not as important in the ancient world.  They are not important to God.  A thousand years and a day are all the same to Him.  It was more important to report the event accurately than to pinpoint the exact order.

          Don’t get hung up on the minutia.  See the big picture.  It was always clear what was happening and end results never varied.  Jesus always died on the cross.  He always arose from the grave.  He always ascended into heaven and nothing ever contradicted the promise of His return.

          The Gospel of John only records about twenty different days in the more than fifteen hundred days of Jesus’ public ministry.  The final verse of John puts is all in perspective when he ended his biography of Jesus with “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25).

 

1. Healing by the Pool of Bethesda (v. 1-15)

          In chapter four Jesus had left Jerusalem and returned to Galilee.  In chapter five, He returned to Jerusalem to worship at the Temple for one of the feasts.  It does not specify which feast but was probably either Passover, Pentecost or Purim.  If it was the Passover, then He attended four Passovers in His three-and-a-half-year ministry.  We do know that the event at the Pool of Bethesda took place in the second year of Jesus ministry.

          Bethesda means “house of healing.”  The pool of Bethesda was located to the north of the Temple and was probably outside the city in the days of Jesus.  It became a center for healing possibly due to some medicinal quality of the water. In any case it became a gathering place for the sick and the impaired.  It was surrounded by five porches or colonnades that served as refuge and shade for the sick.  Legend was that once a year an angel would come down and stir the waters.  The first one into the waters was immediately healed of whatever malady that affected him.

          Whether the legend was true is not relevant.  What is relevant is what happened that day.  Jesus encountered a lame man who had been by the pool for thirty-eight years waiting for an opportunity to be healed.  When Jesus saw the man, He knew the man had been in that condition for a long time.

          Jesus addressed the man and asked, “Do you want to be made well?”

          The man began to explain, “I have been here for thirty-eight years but every time the water is stirred, someone else gets to the water before me.  I have no one to help me.” 

          Jesus said, “Take up your bed and walk.”  The man responded in faith and he immediately was made well and did as Jesus told him to do. 

          The Jews said to the man who was healed, “It is not lawful for you to carry your bed on the Sabbath.  After lying there for thirty-eight years on a bed of affliction the man was not about to refuse an opportunity to be made whole.  “The man who cured me told me to take up my bed and walk.  So, I did.”

          They asked him the name of the man who healed him but he did not know as Jesus healed him and them passed on into the crowd.  Later, Jesus found the man and told him Who He was.  The cured man told the Jews it was Jesus.  But he also learned a lesson that day.  It is better to believe in the power of Jesus than to believe in angels and healing waters.    

 

2. The Father and the Son (v. 16-23)

          When the Jews began to harass Jesus for healing this man on the Sabbath, a thing they did frequently, Jesus told them, “My Father is always working.  He doesn’t take a day off.  He is always doing good.”

          His answer did not pacify the Jews.  They began enraged and sought to kill Him, not only because He broke the Sabbath but also because He called God His Father.  They understood what He said.  He had claimed to be the Son of God.

          He told them that everything He did He was following the example of His Father.  “The Father tells me what to do and I do it.  Whatever the Father does, I do and whatever the Son does, the Father does.”  He testified to the unity of the Trinity.  No Person of the Godhead acts independently.  They are always in complete harmony.

          They He told them, “The Father judges no man.  He has committed all judgment to the Son.”  But He didn’t stop there.  He continued, “You are to honor the Son just as you honor the Father.”  Jesus, as the Son of God, claimed complete equality with the Father.

          They did not completely understand that day but to apply His message, you must either accept the Son as your Savior or one day you will face Him as your Judge.

 

3. Life and Judgement and the Son of Man (v. 24-30)

          Jesus continued, “If you believe in My message and believe in God Who sent me, you will have eternal life.  Your sins will be forgiven and you will never face judgment for them.

          Notice in verse 26 that Jesus said, “The Father has life in Himself.”  That means that no one gave life to the Father.  Our parents give life to us.  God did not have parents.  He is eternal.  He is the self-sufficient One.  When Moses spoke to the burning bush he asked God, “What is your name?”  God said, “I AM!”

          Jesus told the Jews, “I am just like My Father.  I have life in Myself.”  No one created the Son.  He existed in eternity past in total equality with the Father and the Spirit.  He is everything God is!

          Then Jesus spoke of the resurrection.  “One day the dead will hear My voice and will rise again.  The righteous, those who accepted Jesus and His message, will resurrect to eternal life (I Corinthians 15:51-58; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 20:4-6).  The unrighteous, those who reject the Son and His message, will rise and be condemned for their sins (Revelation 20:11-15)

 

4. Witnesses (v. 31-47)

          In order to affirm His authority and everything He claimed to be, Jesus presented witnesses.

          He had given witness of Who He was personally.  But He said, “If that is the only witness then My witness is not true.”  In the Law, for anything to be established as truth, there had to be at least two witnesses to authenticate it.  So, Jesus said, “There are other witnesses.”

1) John the Baptist witnessed that Jesus was the Lamb of God and the Savior of the world.  The people knew John was a true prophet.  But there is an even greater witness.

2) The signs and wonders Jesus did bore witness of Who He was.  Who can change the elements and calm the storm?  Who can make blind men see and cripple men walk and deaf men hear?  Who can make the infirmed whole?  Who can cast our demons? Who can bring the dead back to life?  Only Jesus.

3) There is the witness of the Father Who spoke from heaven and declared, “This is my Son in Whom I am well pleased.  Listen to Him!

4) There is also the witness of Scripture.  “Search the Scriptures!  They testify of Me!”

          But they would not listen.  “You honor others who come in their own name.  You honor yourselves.  But I come in the name of the Father and you do not honor Me.”

          Then Jesus called one final witness.  “Moses is your greatest prophet.  Moses spoke of Me.  If you do not accept Me, you do not believe the words of your greatest prophet.  If you do not believe him, you won’t believe Me.”

          So many images of the Old Testament testified of Jesus:  the water from the Rock, the Bread from heaven, the Passover Lamb.  God was speaking but they were not listening.  Sadly, nothing has changed.

 

Enjoy your Saturday.  Worship God in His house tomorrow!

 

Love you all!

 

Pastor

Day Seventy-Two John Four

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE

DAY SEVENTY-TWO JOHN FOUR

         After the death of Solomon and during the reign of his son, Rehoboam, Israel split into two kingdoms.  The northern ten tribes became known as Israel and the southern tribes of Benjamin and Judah would eventually be known as Judea.

         In 722 B.C., Assyria conquered the northern kingdom of Israel and exported many its inhabitants into captivity in other lands.  In turn they imported people from other conquered territories into Israel, most of whom, practiced idolatry and pagan beliefs.  The land they occupied was previously the inheritance of the half-tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.  This area became known as Samaria.

         In time the remainder of the Jews left in Israel intermarried with the people who were imported into the region.  The Jews of Judea considered the residents to be “half-breeds” who practiced a religion of Judaism mixed with idolatry.

         When the southern Kingdom of Judea returned to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, after their seventy-year captivity to Babylon, the Samaritans rigorously opposed their repatriation.  When later Nehemiah came to fortify the walls of Jerusalem, the Samaritans fought against him.  Sanballet, the leader of the Samaritans, was Nehemiah’s chief enemy.

         The Samaritans built a temple for their idolatrous religion on “Mount Gerizim,” which the Samaritans believed was designated by Moses as the place where the nation should worship.  It was that temple and that mountain that the woman of Sychar referred to in verse twenty.

         In addition, Samaria became a refuge for criminals, especially those who violated Jewish law.  They were welcomed and protected by the Samaritans.  All this led to great animosity between Judea and Samaria.

         These irreconcilable differences led the Jews to consider the Samaritans to be the worst of all people.  The greatest insult was to call someone a Samaritan (John 8:48).  Although they shared a common heritage, the Jews refused to have any relationship with Samaritans (John 4:9).

         It is interesting that Jesus used examples of Samaritans who were more righteous in their behavior than the Jews, especially the Pharisees.  In Luke 17, Jesus healed ten lepers.  Only one returned to thank Jesus.  He was a Samaritan (Luke 17:11-19).

         In the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke ten Jesus described the behavior of a Samaritan as more compassionate on the unfortunate man who had been robbed, and beaten, and left for dead by the side of the road, than a priest and a Levite who ignored the man’s condition and left him to die.

         Jesus taught what He had observed in the attitude of the scribes and the Pharisees.  His teachings did not endear Him to the religious crowd.

  1. The Woman at the Well (v. 1-26)

         It was time for Jesus to leave Judea and go back to Galilee.  The Pharisees noticed that Jesus ministry was going faster than John’s ministry and was a cause of concern to them.  At the end of verse four it says, “But He needed to go through Samaria.”

         It does not say why He needed to go there but this was not the normal route of a Jew traveling from Judea to Galilee.  As we have said before, a Jew would choose a longer way in order to avoid contact with the Samaritans.  But on this journey Jesus wanted to make contact.  His interview with the Samaritan woman was no accident.

         Jesus and the twelve came to the city of Sychar.  There was a famous well there that had been dug by Jacob.  They arrived in the city about noon and Jesus decided to rest by the well while the disciples went to buy food.

         While He sat by the well, a woman of the city came to draw water.  This was not the customary time to come to the well. Most would come in the morning to avoid the heat of the day and to catch up on the local news.  As we learn of the woman’s history, we begin to understand why she came at this inconvenient hour.  She wanted to avoid contact with her fellow citizens.  She was an outcast of the outcasts.

         As she approached the well she noticed that Jesus was a Jew.  She was surprised when he spoke to her.  When He asked for a drink of water she responded, “How is it that you being a Jew ask me for a drink of water.  We all know that Jesus have nothing to do with Samaritans.”  She had felt the sting of prejudice before.

         Jesus responded, “If you knew Who I am, you would ask me for a drink and I would give you water that would quench your thirst forever.”

         Her mind whirred as she thought of such water.  “I would never have to come to this well again!  I would never be snubbed by my own people again.”  No wonder she said, “Sir, give me this water that I may not thirst nor come here to draw ever again.”

         Jesus invited her to get her husband so they could drink together.  She responded, “I have no husband.”

         “You have told the truth,” Jesus replied.  “You have had five husbands and now you are living with a man.”  Before jumping to conclusions about the woman, I remind you that only men could initiate divorce in ancient times.  Five men had divorced her.  Jesus said that men divorce their wives due to the hardness of their hearts.  Five times hard-hearted men had given her a bill of divorcement and told her to go away.  Perhaps she was a victim and not an unfaithful woman as most avow.  It’s just a thought.

         As soon as Jesus revealed her past she wanted to talk about religion.  Most people change the subject when their sin is exposed.  “Sir, I perceive You are a Prophet.  Tell me where we should worship?  It is at Jerusalem or in this mountain where we built our temple?

         Worship is not a place.  Worship is a relationship.  The Father seeks those who will worship Him.  But “God is a Spirit and if you worship Him you must worship Him spiritually.”   Lost men are spiritually dead and are incapable of worshipping a God Who is a Spirit.  As Jesus instructed Nicodemus, “If you want to have a relationship with God, you must be born again and your spirit must be renewed (Titus 3:5).

         The light was beginning to dawn.  The woman said, “I know Messiah will come and He will instruct us in all things.”

         Jesus responded, “I, Who speak to you, am the Messiah.”

  1. The Harvest is White (v. 27-37)

         At this point the disciples returned with food from the village.  They saw the woman and they wondered why Jesus talked with her but they did not question Him.  The disciples knew Jesus received sinners but they wondered at Him receiving a Samaritan woman.

         The woman left her water pot and went into the city to tell others that she had found the Messiah.  As she left, the disciples gave Him food to eat.  But Jesus said, “I have other food to eat that you don’t understand.”  The poor disciples thought only of their bellies.  They asked if someone had given Him food.

         “My food is to do the will of the Father.  You say there are four months till the harvest.  I say, look around you.  The harvest is upon us.”          Others have sown the seed, (speaking of the prophets before them), but you will get to share in the harvest of souls.  The harvest He spoke of was, in part, the Samaritans they hated.

  1. A Wonderful Discovery (v. 38-42)

         When the woman returned with the men of the city they asked Jesus to stay with them and He did for two days.  When it came time for Him to depart from the city, many had believed on Him as Messiah and Savior.  They told the woman, “We don’t believe because of what you have said.  We have heard Him and we know for ourselves that He is Messiah and Savior of the world.”

         Salvation is a personal decision.  It is not a second hand possession.  Each of us must come to Jesus on our own.

  1. A Nobleman’s Son Healed in Galilee (v. 43-54)

         Returning to Galilee, He was met by crowds who had heard of His miracles in Judea.  A nobleman whose son was dying approached him.  “Please come to my house and heal my son!”

         Jesus said, “You people won’t believe unless you see signs and wonders.”

         The only sign the nobleman wanted was for his son to live.  “Please come to my house before my son dies.”

         Jesus told him to go home.  “Your son will live.”  Before he arrived home his servants met him and said, “You son lives!”

         Upon inquiring about when the boy got better he discovered it was when Jesus had said his son would live.  He and his entire household believed on Jesus as Messiah.

It’s the end of the week.  Sunday is Palm Sunday.  Don’t miss church!

Love to all!

Pastor

Day Seventy-One John Three

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE

DAY SEVENTY-ONE JOHN THREE

 

          We seldom see a reason to commend a Pharisee.  But in chapter three we are introduced to a Pharisee named Nicodemus.  He is a righteous man.  We see him two other times in the New Testament.  In John 7:49-51, Nicodemus attempted to defend the ministry of Jesus when one of the council inquired, “Have any of the rulers believed on Him?”        

          Nicodemus asked, “Does the law judge any man before it hears Him or knows what He is doing?”  The others dismissed his question and the conspiracy against Jesus continued.

          The next time we see Nicodemus he joined Joseph of Arimathea at the tomb to help bury the body of Jesus.  I wonder if Nicodemus had regrets.  I wonder while they prepared the broken body of Jesus if he wished he had spoken up that day and said, “Yes.  One of the rulers has believed on Jesus.  I have!”  I wonder if he had demanded a proper hearing and told them of his late-night interview with the Prophet, if things might have been different.  What would have happened if he had shared his new-found faith with his colleagues?  But he didn’t.  It would not have changed Jesus’ mission.  But it might have helped Nicodemus to know he had done all he could.  As he helped Joseph wrap Jesus in linen strips for burial, he saw the result of his silence, the murder of the One who had told him the truth about eternity.

          Nicodemus is not the only one to waste opportunity to share his faith.  Perhaps we all have.  Satan tells us lies.  He tells us to wait and do it another time.  He intimidates us and says that we might offend someone by telling them they need to be saved.  So, we back away and wait for another time.  We tell ourselves it will be different next time.  But it seldom is.

          I fear we have lost our sense of urgency concerning our witness.  Maybe we have embraced the philosophy of “optimistic universalism” and believe it will work out good for everyone in the end.  But that’s not what the Bible says.

          The clock is ticking for everyone.  Time is running out.  Eternity waits for no one.  We can make a difference in eternities but we have to speak up.  We have to stop wasting opportunities to tell our family and friends about Jesus.

          An unknown wrote:

Through this toilsome world, alas!

Once and only once I pass;

If a kindness I may show,

If a good deed I may do

To a suffering fellow man,

Let me do it while I can.

No delay, for it is plain

I shall not pass this way again.

 

1. A Late-Night Interview (v. 1-21)

          Some have speculated why Nicodemus waited to come to Jesus at night.  There is no real mystery here.  It was the best time to speak with the Prophet alone, away from the multitudes.  And Nicodemus wanted to talk with Jesus privately.

          Nicodemus began with a statement.  “We know you come from God.  We have witnessed the marvelous things you do.  There can be no other conclusion but that no man can do the signs you do unless God is with Him.”

          There was no question asked but Nicodemus definitely had a question and Jesus answered it.  “Unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus was a good man.  He was a moral man.  He was a religious man, but Jesus told him all of that was not enough if he wanted to see heaven.

          Nicodemus was confused.  “What do you mean by “born again?  I am an old man.  I cannot re-enter my mother’s womb and be reborn.”

          Jesus gently explained the new birth to him.  “You must be born of the water and the Spirit.”  There is a physical birth and a spiritual birth. 

          Let’s get this straight.  To be “born of the water” is not baptism.  It refers to the physical birth.  We are all born the same way.  Our mother and father conceive us.  She then carries us inside her womb in the “amniotic sac.”  We develop there surrounded by fluid.  When her “water breaks” we are born.  This was what Jesus referred to when He said, you must “be born of the water.”

          Jesus made the distinction between the physical and spiritual when He explained, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.  You must be born both physically and spiritually to see and enter heaven.”

          Nicodemus was still confused.  “How can these things be?” 

          Jesus responded, “You are a teacher in Israel and you do not know these things?  How can I tell you heavenly things when you do not understand earthly things?  No one has ever gone to heaven and returned but the Son of Man has come down from heaven.”  Jesus is the Son of Man.  Now Nicodemus began to understand.  Jesus gave him an illustration from Israel’s history of the serpent in the wilderness. 

          Jesus referred to Numbers 21:4-9.  On their journey through the wilderness, the people began to complain against God.  He had delivered them from slavery and had parted the Red Sea.  Yet, they started to criticize Him.  As judgment, He sent poisonous serpents into their midst.  Many were bitten and many died.  The people begged Moses to intervene and ask God to take away the serpents.  God told Moses to make a serpent of brass and put it on a pole.  He told Moses, “If the people will look at the serpent on the pole, they will be healed.”  It was an illustration of salvation by faith.

          Jesus told Nicodemus, “As the serpent was lifted up, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.”  Jesus spoke of His death and sacrifice.

          Then Jesus made the greatest proclamation of all.  “God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son that anyone and everyone who believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.”  That was the answer to Nicodemus’ question.  What religion could not do, faith in Jesus would accomplish.  It is still true today.

          There is no other way.  God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world.  It was already condemned.  He sent Jesus to save the world.  Still, even though God has fully demonstrated His love for the world, many choose sin’s darkness over God’s light.

 

2. He must increase and I must decrease (v. 22-36)

          Most of the ministry of Jesus was in Galilee.  But here we are told that Jesus did make trips into Judea and ministered there as well.  For a time before John was thrown into prison, both Jesus and John the Baptist were preaching and baptizing in the same region.

          A dispute arose between the disciples of Jesus and the disciples of John.  John’s disciples came to him and said, “Jesus is making more disciples than you are.”

          John the Baptist understood his role.  He told his disciples, “I told you before that I am not the Christ. What Jesus is doing is from God.  I prepared the way.  If He was not from God, He would not be doing what He is doing.  He must increase I must decrease.”

          John was a godly man on a God-ordained mission.  He prepared the way.  Now it was time for him to step out of the way.  He knew it.

          John gave an unconditional endorsement of Jesus and His ministry.  Notice what he had to say about Jesus.

1) He came from God and came down from heaven. (v. 31)

2) Those who have received Jesus’ testimony received the true testimony of God.  When Jesus speaks He speaks for God and as God (v. 33, 34).

3) Jesus is the Father’s Son.  The Father loves Him and has given all things to Him.

4) If you believe in God’s Son, Jesus, you will have everlasting life.  If you reject Jesus, you will face God’s wrath for your sin (v. 36).

 

          Job said, ““He directs the snow to fall on the earth and tells the rain to pour down” (Job 37:6).  I hope He’s done.  But to Him be the glory!

 

Love to all,

 

Pastor

         

 

 

 

 

Day Seventy John Two

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE
DAY SEVENTY JOHN TWO

 

          “Whatever He says to you, do it.”  This was more than a mother’s order.  It was extreme wisdom.  She knew her Son was special.  She knew He was God’s Son.  Her knowledge was not complete, but she knew enough to know He could take care of the problem.

          Obedience is essential to spiritual success.  Samuel told King Saul, “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams”

(I Samuel 15:22).  It was disobedience that got Adam and Eve in trouble in the garden.  God said, “Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  If you do, you will die.”  The instructions were simple.  But they chose disobedience over obedience and all mankind suffered for it (Roman 5:19).

          The Pharisees and the priests tried to bully Peter and John.  They attempted to intimidate them with threats.  “You are never to speak again in the name of Jesus.”  Peter threw their threats back in their face and said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).  He remembered that Jesus said not to fear the one who could only destroy your body.  Peter learned that lesson well.

          Pray and seek God’s will.  Take your problems to Him for the answer.  Listen to the Holy Spirit and “whatever He tells you to do, do it.”       

1. The Wedding Feast in Cana (v. 1-12)

          “On the third day” probably means three days after the meeting with Nathanael and Philip.  Jesus and his disciples (Peter, Andrew, Philip and Nathanael) were invited to attend a wedding feast in Cana.  Cana was a small village about seven miles north of Nazareth.  By the time they arrived the celebration had been going on for a few days.

          Mary, the mother of Jesus was there.  It is probable that this was the wedding of a family relation.  This would explain Mary’s knowledge of and concern over the dilemma of bridal couple.

          Weddings were a time of celebration for the entire village.  We don’t know the population of Cana but it was a small town and like all small towns, everyone knew everybody.  To run out of wine at such a celebration would be a terrible embarrassment for the family.  It showed lack of planning or possibly, lack of financial means.  This was not a good way for the new couple to get started in the community.

          Mary goes to her Son and informs Him of the problem.  “They have no wine.”  Jesus’ response revealed that He had a very human relationship with His mother.  “What does their problem have to do with me?”  Mary does not debate the issue.  She turned to the servants and told them “Whatever He says to you, do it.”  She knew what her Son would do.  He listened to Mom and He had compassion on the bride and her family.

          Jesus told the servants to fill the six water pots, to the brim.  The pots were there, not as wine containers, but for water for the ritual handwashing the Pharisees were so concerned about.  The pots contained about thirty gallons each.  Jesus would make certain they would not run out of wine again.

          Jesus told the servants to draw some from the pot and take it to the governor of the feast.  The governor was the “master of ceremonies” for the occasion.  He made sure everything ran smoothly.  He might have been a family member and possibly was aware of the lack of wine.  His reaction to the wine was amazing.  It was the custom of the time to serve the best wine first.  Wine kills the palate.  So, they could bring in the cheaper wine later and the guests would not know the difference.

          As soon as he drank Jesus’ wine His taste buds tingled.  The governor said, “This is unusual.  You have saved the best wine for last!”  Jesus had made a special drink.  It was the best they ever had.  It is my opinion, and just my opinion, that Jesus gave them a taste of a celestial drink.  Did it have alcoholic content?  Probably, but not as intoxicating as today’s wines.  The custom was to “water down” the wine to make it go further.

          Jesus changed the elements.  He turned water into wine.  This was the beginning of His miracles.  It validated the opinion of the disciples who followed Him.  He was Messiah, the Son of God.   

2. The Cleansing of the Temple (v. 13-22)

          There were two times in the public life of Jesus that He ran the moneychangers out of the Temple.  This was the first time.  It was the first Passover He observed after His baptism and the initiation of His ministry.        The peddlers of religious goods had made a mockery of God’s house, that was believed by the Jews to be God’s dwelling on earth among His people.  The Temple was to be a house of prayer.  They made it a business for profit.  Jesus drove the profiteers from the Temple.

          The Jews asked Him by what authority He did this.  “Show us a sign.” They demanded.  He responded, “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again I three days.”

          They scoffed, “It took forty-six years to build this temple and you’re going to tear it down and rebuild it in three days?”  But they were not on the same page.  Jesus spoke of His body.  This was the first time He spoke of His death and resurrection.          

3. Jesus Knows (v. 23-25)

          While Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover, He did many signs and miracles.  Though we are not specifically told what they were, it was enough to convince many to believe in Him.  But Jesus did not align Himself with these people.  Perhaps it was because they believed the miracles but not in Him.

          The final statement in the chapter is very telling.  “He knew what was in man.”  He knew what man was capable of.  Perhaps He thought of the words of Jeremiah who said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?  I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9,10).

          Jesus knows us for who we are.  He looks beyond our masks and sees our hearts.  Be real!  He knows!

 

Be safe!  Stay warm!  Rejoice in Jesus!

Love to all!

Pastor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Day Sixty-Nine John One

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THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE
DAY SIXTY-NINE JOHN ONE

 

Although the author is not mentioned by name, it is almost universally accepted that John, the youngest of the disciples, is the author. The title, “the Gospel according to John” is found in the oldest New Testament manuscripts.

Most conservative scholars date the writing of this biography somewhere at 90 to 100 AD. The opinion is that he wrote his gospel during his time serving as pastor in Ephesus before he was exiled to the isle of Patmos.

John’s gospel contains a great quantity of unique material not found in the Synoptic gospels. While Matthew, Mark and Luke focused greatly on Jesus as the Son of man, emphasizing His humanity, John declares Jesus to be the Son of God, emphasizing His deity.

John is also the author of the book of Revelation which he wrote after he wrote his gospel while he was on the Greek isle of Patmos. John had been exiled there by emperor Diocletian as part of Rome’s program of persecution against the early church. Tertullian, an early church father, said that John had been dipped in boiling oil by the emperor and having survived the ordeal without any visible harm, was then banished from the empire to Patmos.

John was the brother of James, both fishermen of Capernaum, who were in business with Peter and Andrew. He was the last of the twelve to die. Accounts differ with some saying he died on Patmos and others saying he returned to Ephesus and was buried outside the city.

The theme of John’s gospel is found in chapter twenty, verses 30 and 31 where John declared, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

 

  1. The Word (v. 1-5)

The Greek word for “the Word” is logos. In Greek philosophy, the logos, according to Britannica.com “is the divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it form and meaning.” It is quite amazing that a Galilean fisherman used Greek philosophy and applied it to Jesus. Jesus is the divine reason for everything that exists, giving life and reason to the universe. In Colossians 1:16,17 Paul wrote, “Everything was created through him and for him.  He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together” (NLT).

In the prologue to His Gospel, the apostle wastes no time in declaring the power and majesty of Jesus as the living Word.”

1) The Word always existed with God and beside God. The Word is God.

2) All things were made by Him. He was active in the creation of all things and in complete equality with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

3) In Him was life. Literally, with the Father and the Spirit, He breathed His divine breath into man and Adam and all to follow became living and eternal souls.

In Genesis 1:26, the Triune Godhead conversed and declared that man would be invested with the image of God.

4) He brought light out of darkness and He gave spiritual light to our darkened souls.

5) His Light was so amazing that the darkness could not comprehend it.

 

 

  1. A Man Sent from God (v. 6-9)

There was a man sent from God named John (the Baptist). He was not the Light but he was sent to prepare the way for the Light. He witnessed of the Light and this Light was the only way for man to escape the darkness.

 

 

  1. Rejection of the Light (v. 10-13)

Jesus was in the world. He came to His own people but even more, to His own possession. He made man and He made the world but both rejected Him. Even though we rejected Him, He graciously made the offer to anyone who believed in Him to become God’s child.

The new birth they received was different than the natural birth. It did not come by human means. It is more than physical birth. It is a new and eternal birth by the will of God.

 

 

  1. The Incarnation (v. 14-18)

The Word was made flesh. This literally defines the Incarnation. It is the enfleshment of deity. It is the “thirty-three plus” year period when the Second Person of the Trinity wrapped Himself in human flesh. Colossians 2:9 declares, “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

Remember that “the Word” is the reason for being and the One who gives order to the universe. He came to dwell in our flesh. John, who was eyewitness of the Word said, “We beheld His glory.” Perhaps as the Holy Spirit led John to write down his thoughts that he remembered the words Jesus spoke and the miraculous works Jesus did.

1) John the Baptist bore witness of Jesus and proclaimed that Jesus preexisted. John was older than Jesus physically but said, “He is preferred before me because He was before me.” (v.15)

2) We have received “grace for grace.” What does that mean? The NLT renders the phrase, “From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.” This described what John had personally experienced from His relationship with Jesus. Even though John lived in a time when being a Christian often meant persecution, the grace he received was more than enough compensation. Paul wrote that the present sufferings of this world are not worthy to be compared with the wonder things that await us (Romans 8:18).

3) Moses gave the Law. The Law could only condemn for violation of the Law. The Law was necessary so we could realize our sin and our need for grace. Jesus provided the grace.

4) No one has seen God. God is a Spirit and humanity has only seen glimpses of His glory. Isaiah received a vision of God’s glory in Isaiah 6, but the throne was smoky, concealing His full glory. Even at the transfiguration when Jesus was glorified, that was only a small revelation of His full glory.

But if you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. He is God’s unique Son and Jesus reveals God’s heart.

 

 

  1. The Wilderness Ministry (v. 19-28)

John the Baptist had no great cathedral where the “city-folk” gathered to hear him. His pulpit was in the desert even before he became famous (Luke 1:80). But the preaching of John was so powerful that people left the comfort and the security of the cities to go out into the desert to hear John’s message that the Kingdom of God was at hand.

Jerusalem was the center of religious life for the Jews and soon the Sanhedrin sent their “review committee” to the desert to investigate this wild man who was telling everyone to repent.

“Are you the Christ?”

“No,” he replied.

“Are you Elijah?”   Again, He said no.

“Then who are you and by what authority do you teach these things?”

“I am a voice crying in the wilderness for people to put their lives in order because the One Who is coming next is the One.”

Our message is like the Baptist’s message. “We are not the answer. But the Answer is coming soon. Be ready!”

 

  1. The Lamb Revealed (v. 29-34)

The next day Jesus came to John at the Jordan. As He approached, John saw the Spirit descending on Him like a dove and he knew what it meant. Before that day John did not realize that His cousin Jesus was the Messiah. Now John saw Him differently and proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. He is the Son of God.

 

  1. The First Disciples (v.35-42)

John was teaching the next day when Jesus returned. Again he declared, “Behold God’s Lamb that will take away our sin.” Two of John’s disciples heard what He said and followed Jesus. They went to Jesus’ home and spent the day with Him. They left convinced that Jesus was the Messiah.

One of John’s disciples was Andrew who immediately went and found his brother, Peter. “We have found the Messiah.”   When he took Peter to Jesus, the Lord took one look at him and said, “You are Simon, Jonah’s son. But one day they will know you as Cephas, the stone.”

 

  1. Philip and Nathanael (v. 43-51)

Nathanael and Bartholomew are the same person. In the Synoptic Gospels, He is Bartholomew and in John he is Nathanael. Do not let this be a concern. There are other disciples called by more than one name. Simon and Peter are the same person. Jesus even called him Cephas. The disciple Jude is also known as Thaddeus and even Labbaeus. Thomas was also called Didymus.

The following day, Jesus went to Galilee and on the way He found Philip. Philip was a simple soul, trusting and quick to believe. At times he appeared to be a little naïve. But when he met Jesus, he immediately responded to Jesus invitation to follow Him.

The first thing he did was find his friend Nathanael and he told him he had found the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Nathanael responded, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ His response revealed what was probably a general low opinion of Nazarenes.

Philip did not debate with his friend. He simply said, “Come and see for yourself.”

As the two approached Jesus, He addressed Nathanael and said, “Behold, an Israelite in whom is no deceit.”

“How do you know me?” was Nathanael’s response.

Jesus said, “I saw you under the fig tree.” This was a phrase used by the rabbis to describe meditation on God and His Word. It could be that Nathanael had been mediating on a passage in the Law and Prophets and Jesus, being God, was referring to it. What ever it meant to Nathanael, it was enough to convince him that Philip was right. They had found the Messiah. Nathanael declared, “You are the Son of God and the King of Israel.”

 

God be with you today!

 

Love to all!

 

Pastor