You’re Not Alone (John 7)

It’s a violent world we live in.  People are filled with hatred and malice towards each other.  But even in the midst of all the wickedness there are windows… windows that open to a world of love and truth.

We see an example of this in the end of John 7.  The leaders of the people, along with some of the crowds, they had a burning hatred towards Jesus.  And we know that Jesus did not deserve it.  None the less, they wanted to kill Him.

But not all of the people in the crowd were filled with sin.  Many put their trust in Him.  The temple guards refused to arrest Jesus.  Even one of the leaders, Nicodemus, stood against the evil.

And Jesus Himself was a window to a better world.  He brought love to His enemies, and we still receive that love.  It’s a love that conquers.  It’s a love that truly gives life.

There are people out there that love the Lord.  If you are a Christian who feels alone in the world, look for the windows.  Look for the view into a better world.  You’ll come to find that they are all around us.

I like the song by Andrew Peterson, “Windows in the World.”  Give the song a listen, and you may find it a little easier to see the other side.

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.

Loyalty of Authority (John 5)

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes:

Do not be scared by the word authority. Believing things on authority only means believing them because you have told them by someone you think is trustworthy. Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority. I believe there is such a place as New York. I have not seen it myself. I could not prove by abstract reasoning there the must be such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of the blood on authority — because the scientists say so. Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada. None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics. We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority. A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life.

There are good reasons to accept many of the things we believe.  But none of them are as good as the reasons we have to accept Jesus.  How can we expect to know and believe truth if we don’t consider where authority truly comes from? 

A Scientists come to us and says we should believe him because he personally studied a thing out.  Scholars, politicians, judges, presidents, neighbors, loved ones, everyone does it.  But who are they?  They are only men, susceptible to the same sins of compromise that all men fall to. 

And even if a person is right on a thing, the very thing they’re right about would itself testify for Christ.   And if a man is against Christ then that thing in which he put his hope will betray him and side, as it always has, with Christ.  Creation makes no allegiance to that which opposes the Creator, nor does it pretend to.  It will oppose us if we are against the Living God.

As we examined in the previous post, Jesus’ witness have rightful claim to authority.  We would do good to listen to them… and to listen to God.

Hebrews 12:1-3:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

 

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.

 

 

Pool at Bethesda (John 5)

This is one of those passages that always draws out a lot of questions.  It’s quite the picture, with angels coming to stir the water… and then the first person in being healed from it.

God’s ability to work in this manner is not what one should wonder about when reading this passage.  God can do much more than this.  The question is why would He work in this particular way.  It almost seems out of character.  But then the end of Romans 11 comes to mind…

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
       How unsearchable his judgments,
       and his paths beyond tracing out! 
   “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
       Or who has been his counselor?” 
   “Who has ever given to God,
       that God should repay him?” 
   For from him and through him and to him are all things.
       To him be the glory forever! Amen.

We must be careful when we think that something is outside of God’s will simply because we’ve never heard of it before.  Obviously we must filter things through the Bible, but what we don’t want to do is limit God when He never told us He would not do the type of thing in question.  The leaders did just that in response to this same event, and it drove them to persecute Jesus.  We must be careful.

On the other side of the coin, there are indeed many things the world falsely credits to God.  God hates it… it’s called using His Name in vain.  We do not want to join in with that either.

Instead, let us take the straight and narrow path.  Let us join in on proclaiming what we do know about Him.  And let us continue to treasure up His Word in our hearts, that we may grow in our knowledge of Him.  That we may experience and enjoy one of the greatest things God has placed into all of creation… an ever deepening love between man and the Almighty.

Romans 12:2-3

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

Daily Bread (John 4)

One of my favorite passages is here in John 4.  Verses 31-34:

Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.

We often make it a point to eat at least three meals a day.  We constantly think about what we’re going to do for fun either when we get off of work, or over the weekend.  We save money to buy things that we think we’ll enjoy.  With 168 hours in a week, we think mostly of self fulfillment.  It seems God gets the leftovers, maybe 8 hours if we’re feeling generous.

Leftovers are such humble things,

We would not serve to a guest,

And yet we serve them to our Lord

Who deserves the very best.

We give to Him leftover time,

Stray minutes here and there.

Leftover cash we give to Him,

Such few coins as we can spare.

We give our youth unto the world,

To hatred, lust and strife;

Then in declining years we give

To him the remnant of our life.

-Author Unknown.

Jesus smacked this idea in the face with His life here on earth.  He was sustained by doing the Lord’s work.  We must change our minds and our hearts so that we are sustained by doing His will.

Don’t be fooled by the devil’s schemes.  He wants us to try to get bread out of stones, but we must remember… man lives by every word that proceeds from the Father’s mouth.  True life can only be found in Christ.  We live in Christ by doing the will of the Lord.  It’s how Jesus found His nourishment.

God said in 1 Timothy 5:6 that those who live for pleasure are dead even while they live.  They constantly go to the earthly wells, just like the Samaritan woman did in our John 4 text.  But Jesus pointed out that those wells cannot satisfy.  He said we must drink of the eternal well.  Ever notice how He gave this message twice in this passage?  Both to the Samaritan woman and to the disciples.  It’s the same idea. 

Self service leads to death.  Doing God’s will brings life.

Job 23:12 says I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.  

I’ve mentioned food a few times in this post.  

Is your mouth watering and your belly rumbling from hunger? 

Are you full to the brim from your last meal? 

Are you devouring a gourmet meal right now?

 

feast1

 

I’m speaking of spiritual food.  What portion of His will are you putting on your plate?.

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Do you look away? (John 4)

I found a pretty cool Keith Green video today on Arron Chambers’ blog, and I thought it fit in well with the story here in John 4.

What do you do when you meet the Samaritan at the well?  They all have the need for living water…