Jesus, Write Me Into Your Story (John 9)

John 9:3

It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

We focus on what is best for us.  Once in a while we truly pick up our crosses and take a total loss for ourselves that Christ might be glorified.  But we should always be willing to suffer for Him.  And how can we complain, for we caused Him more suffering than we can ever bear in this life.

The truth is that all things are for God, and that includes us.  Even if we choose to reject Christ, He will be glorified in His display of justice.  We can be for noble or ignoble purposes, but we will surely be used.

And because we are His, we should rejoice when we are used by Him.  Even if we have a weakness, or are in a humble situation, or some tragedy has befallen us; we need to desire to be a part of His story.

As you read John 9:3, think about how God’s power can be glorified in your weakness… and not for your sake, but for His.  Look into your heart and see if it cries out with every drop of blood within it as Rich Mullins’ heart cried out in his song “Jesus”…

Jesus
Write me into Your story
Whisper it to me
And let me know I’m Yours

Only If You Flatter Me! (John 8)

The second half of John 8 is spoken to the Jews who believed in Jesus.  But when you read it, you get the impression that their belief was weak.  It would seem that they didn’t like to believe when Jesus spoke to their sin.

It’s hard, as a Christian who tries to give his all to Christ, to hear of others who claim to have a faith but deny Him if He hurts their pride.  To watch people have such a wishy-washy faith in the One who died for them, who suffered for them, who became a man for them.  It’s unreal how unthankful people can be.

But then I’ m reminded of my own struggles.  Sometimes I’m faced with a situation that  requires I be humbled if I’m to follow Christ.  And sometimes I don’t give up my pride like I should. 

It’s never an intentional thing when I forsake Him.  But that’s just it… I should always intentionally follow Him.  I should have nothing less than a fully intentional, moment-by-moment, living for Him faith.

The Holy Spirit convicts His people when they walk in sin.  When I’ve been convicted and rebuked for my forsaking Him I have two choices… I can swallow my pride and address the situation, or I can go on living in my pride.

My belief will not be limited to one who will flatter me, it is only placed in He who has the words of life!

Trust the Light (John 8)

Jesus had silenced the blood lusting Scribes and Pharisees who brought an adulteress to Him.  He showed them their own guilt, and used mercy to do it.  Every guilty person there was shown mercy by Him.

We continue the story, starting in John 8:12:

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The Pharisees challenged Him on this, saying that Jesus’ testimony was invalid because He was testifying about Himself.  But Jesus Himself had been teaching the principle of valid testimony.  He declared to them that one needs a testimony beyond his own.

The Pharisees were so desperate to trap the Son of God that they made fools of themselves in their efforts.  Unfortunately this still happens even in our day.

People want to discredit God.  They want us to disregard the Bible.  But they make major errors in their efforts (not surprising, since their goal is itself a major error).  One of these errors is to say that the Bible isn’t true because it uses a form of circular reasoning in declaring itself to be true.

But one only needs to look a little deeper to find out the truth of the matter.  From early on the honest Bible reader comes to realize a few things.  They realize that the things the Bible does are things no other book has ever done.  The way it brings good life to people.  The way it harmonizes with itself even though it was written by many men, in many countries, in various languages, over thousands of years… perfect harmony!  It speaks in a way that no other book has ever spoken.  And it gives more information than any man, or even mankind as a whole, will ever be able to completely understand.

The reader will also find that external evidence only grows in its support of the Bible as time goes on.  New discoveries continue to be made that uphold the historical truths of the Scriptures.  The truths in our world and the people in the world are constantly proving God’s word to be indeed from God.  Recorded history supports the life of Christ more than some of the most beloved and indisputably historical people we know of.  History also proves the text of the Bible to be more reliable and authentic than any other work of its kind; the extent of this is so incredible that one has to laugh when they see the figures.

It’s a fool’s game they play today.  It didn’t work out for the Pharisees, and it won’t work for people today.  Every man is confronted with the truth of Christ, and His validity is greater than anything they already trust in.  Whether one chooses to accept or ignore that fact, well that’s up to them.  But we will all give an account one day, and at that point it will no longer be possible to ignore the truth.

Christ told the Pharisees that they would know the truth once He was lifted up.  And we see that it happened too, from their bribing the Roman guards to keep quite about what had happened.  It was so completely obvious that Christ was who He said He was.  It’s still obvious.

All men are capable of ignoring or not caring about the obvious reality that engulfs them.  But men don’t have to be fools if they choose to walk in the light that Jesus gives.

And only He has the words of life!

How do we miss Him? (John 7)

Often times those of us who are Christians neglect or forget the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.  We wonder just how exactly He’s working in our lives.  It can be hard to recognize what’s us and what’s Him.  But that is only made worse by our neglecting Him.

What’s easy to recognize is that Jesus spoke of the Spirit as having a powerful and active presence in His people.  Notice here in John 7, Jesus doesn’t tell us that we will have a dripping faucet of the Holy Spirit.  He speaks of the Spirit as One that we “drink” and receive as “RIVERS of living water.”

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, `From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ “  But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

We certainly don’t want to assign our fallen actions to the living God.  But what a tragedy for Christians to not even pay attention to God within.  What a sad thing that we as people can think so highly of ourselves that we cannot even differentiate between ourselves and God.

He works mightily within His people.  Let’s make sure to give proper credit where credit is due.  If we come to Jesus, and if we abide in Him and love Him, we will learn to appreciate the Rivers of Living Water that flow within the Christian soul.

It should be easy to remember when rivers flow within oneself.

The Modern Hypocrite (John 7)

There were a lot of tests that people threw at Jesus.  And there were some big plots made against Him.  All of these were said, that is by their perpetrators, to be in an effort to uphold the law of Moses.

But when one takes that statement and stops to consider the reality of who upheld the Law and who didn’t, they run into a problem.  It doesn’t add up that these people would have been so focused on killing Christ and not on killing others.

They had to try with all of their might, for years, to find something they could hold against Jesus.  And they never did find any legit grounds to punish Him.

But all of the other people broke the law of Moses.  There was no debate about that.  Even the leaders broke the Law, though they would have likely debated any particular instances of this.  But they knew the truth of the matter themselves.

So why were they trying to kill the man who they could find no dirt on?  The man they could find no fault in no matter how hard they looked?  And why did they let everyone else off the hook?  All the others who had clearly broken the Law?

John 7:16-19

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not My own. It comes from Him who sent Me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on My own.  He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.  Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill Me?”

And it still happens today.  It is quite obvious that people are wicked.  Some try to argue against this.  But when faced with the truths of human nature, when shown specific cases (which are available in numbers likely beyond what any man could ever count), the supporters of human goodness are left speechless.  They have no answers that stand the test of reality.

Our sinfulness is undeniable.

Yet today’s world is still doing what it did 2,000 years ago.  It is still persecuting Christ, the only one in which it cannot find any fault.  The only man who never partook in sin, and the only man who could die to save us. 

The only man who is capable of bringing us love, goodness and true life.

We as humans need to toss away our lenses of foolish self righteousness, and we need to observe the truth around us… the truth of what’s within us.  We need to stop trying to twist reality into something that fits our limited understanding and the delusions we desire, and start excepting the way things really are.

Man is sinful… selfish… full of death. 

Christ is good… 

Christ is love…

Christ is life…

Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.

How can we know? (John 7)

In John 7 Jesus answers the question that many people have today.  People wonder how they can really know that Jesus is who He said He is.  They wonder how they can know that His words are true.

Jesus said:

“My teaching is not My own. It comes from Him who sent Me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on My own. “

All one has to do is seek God’s face and do His will.  If they can do that, if they can act upon an earnest desire to know the truth, then it will be made clear to them.

One thing I’ve noticed as a Christian is that this isn’t just something that happens once.  The more I abide in His will, the more I see the truth of what Jesus taught.  I have no doubt that Jesus spoke the truth, but He is proved over and over again the more I walk through life. 

And I am all the more convinced that true life is only found in Him.

Choose to DO God’s will, not your own, and you will come to see the truth of Him too!

My Flesh, My Blood (John 6)

Jesus wasn’t a man chasing the status quo.  He sought God’s righteousness.  And some of the things He said didn’t sit very well with the fallen people around Him.

One crystal clear example of this is the second half of John 6, where Jesus makes a bold statement.  He says to the people that they must drink of His blood and eat of his flesh in order to receive life.

Now the Jews were a people who saw cannibalism as a sin.  And that’s certainly what it sounded like Jesus was teaching them.  But they should have known that He meant something else.  He left no question on whether He followed the Father’s will.

I don’t know what I would have thought had I lived back then and heard this for the first time.  I’m guessing it would have been hard.  But we see that his closest disciples at least understood that Jesus was the one they needed to cling to.  They knew Jesus would direct them in the path of God.

I like the way Rich Mullins talked about this in an article he wrote for Release Magazine back in ’96.  Here’s what he said…

The Communion of Saints

by Rich Mullins

Release Magazine September/October 1996 

 

 

In one of those especially poignant passages that so frequently and powerfully mark the gospels and charge them with the character of Christ, we encounter Jesus and His twelve in a moment of deep sorrow followed by a great flash of glory. (And does glory ever come except on the heels of sorrow?)

Jesus has just alienated many of His disciples by telling them that they must “eat (His) body” and “drink (His) blood.” This directive must have been even more startling to its original audience than to us. They did not hear it through the filter of some 1900 of systematizing theology contrived to intellectualize and cushion us against the blow of His outrageous command. They it head on and felt the full force of it and they were repulsed.

Here, Jesus, who was habitually pushing the margin of reason into the realms of faith, crossed the line. Here, He ventured too deeply into the uncharted territory of the kingdom of God, articulated too clearly the good, yet disturbing news of that kingdom, and called for an obedience too radically opposite the reasonable sensibilities of many disciples at that time. He called them to follow too far outside their well-defined comfort lines…and they ran away in disgust or stood paralyzed in terror as Jesus walked on – walked on into the blinding light of the liberating truth He had just spoken.

The twelve stayed with Him – maybe reluctantly, maybe for reasons that they didn’t know. But when Jesus asked that heartbreaking question, “Will you also leave Me?” it is Peter – the impetuous apostle – who gives us the secret to the hidden heart of discipleship:
“Where else can we go? You have the words of life!”
Peter may very well have been as perplexed over the point of Jesus’ teaching as those who abandoned Him, but he was not confused about the person Jesus. Peter might have misunderstood His methods and mission, but he was certain that Jesus was Messiah. He may have been in the dark about where he was going, but he knew that in Jesus there was light. He may have been scared nearly to death by the demands of discipleship, but he knew that in Jesus there was life. Just before this confession of his dependency on and the sufficiency of Jesus, he had sunk in the storm of intimidating waves and been rescued by the hand of a Master who knew his weakness and the shallowness of his faith (Matthew 14:22- 31).

There is much that we are intimidated by in our walk: doctrines that run counter to our cultures and egos, tasks that seem nearly insurmountable, the weakness of our wills and the seeming severity of God’s. We can get lost in the endless debates over the mechanics of Christianity and sink in the despondency of our powerlessness to grasp the mystery of grace, but in the midst of that, we must do what the writer to the Hebrews advised and what Peter did, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” It is He who calls us and He who enables. His body is our bread; His blood our drink. He has the words of life.

Can I get a witness?! (John 5)

I’m still amazed at how much I’m learning by doing these blogs.  I’ve traveled the landscape of His word many times, yet I’ve dashed right past so many wonderful views.  Views that reach into my heart, my mind, my soul; views that cry the Name of the One who loves me, the name of the one on whom I call.   How can one miss so much testimony?

How can one not hear the overpowering voices of the witnesses?

I don’t know how… but I know its possible.  Both my own life and the Scriptures guarantee to me that it’s possible.  From verse 31 on to the end of the chapter, John 5 tells us about witnesses for Jesus.  Not just one witness, and none of them small or insignificant…

Jesus- He testified about Himself (though He states that this is not His only testimony).  If a man does not state the truth about himself, it may be hard for another to understand who the man is.

John- The people were willing to listen to John, and he was a man like them.  Jesus was a man like them too, but His testimony as a man would not be valid by itself.  Jesus uses this lesser (only a man’s) testimony of John to help convince the people.  He uses one of their own, a man and a kin, to reach them.

Jesus’ Works- One can look to the things that Jesus did (which were all given to Him to do) to see the truth of who He is.  And He did these works in a manner that greatly benefited the people. The works declared that the Father sent Jesus.

The Father- Jesus was declared to all by the Father Himself.  People didn’t hear because they didn’t embrace the Father’s Word as they ought to have, but He was declared to them by the Father none the less.  Jesus calls to the authority that they claim to submit to.

Scripture- The Old Testament (and now also the New) testifies about Jesus.  The words told that life is in Christ, and the words were the hope of the people.

All around them the greatest of witnesses poured fourth speech.  The rocks would have cried out too had none of people heard these witnesses. 

The voices are overwhelming.  And each one has it’s own unique way of reaching people. 

Jesus, John, Jesus’ Works, The Father and the Scriptures all cry out who Jesus is.  If we listen, then we can hear the Holy One they cry out about… we hear Him in our humanity, and in our desire for good works in the world.  We hear Him from He whom we ought to submit to, and we hear Him in that which the people of God hope will bring them salvation.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear…

He who has eyes to see, let him see…

 

Body of Death, Body of Life (John 5)

John 5:25-29:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.  “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;  and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.  “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,  and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

Though I don’t know exactly what Christians’ bodies are going to be like after the resurrection, it’s not difficult to imagine the possibilities.  Bodies of glory.  Imperishable.  Of the new creation.  Something very cool.  Something of awe.

What is harder to imagine is what the resurrection will be like for the wicked, those outside of Christ.  It’s clear from this passage in John 5 that the wicked will also be resurrected, to eternal punishment.  Which means that they too will have eternal bodies. 

Matthew 10:28 –

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

The body of the wicked faces the same fate as the soul.  And this leads to that which is so hard for me to picture… what a body of eternal punishment will be like?  A body that is not ever destroyed, yet is continually destroyed for all eternity.

Thank the Lord, for He has given us the way to eternal life… through His own blood.  We do not have to worry about what that eternal body of punishment will be like if we come to Christ, to the eternal Life.

The Model Relationship (John 5)

John 5:18-24:

For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

 

 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.  “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.  “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.  “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,  so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.