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.

Consider it Pure Joy (John 6)

In John 6 we have the recording of Jesus feeding the 5,000.  Jesus, seeing the large crowd, took the opportunity to test Philip…

Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?”  This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.

That’s a lot of pressure to just suddenly put on Philip.  Likely he hadn’t been told to prepare for this situation, and he didn’t exactly have the resource on hand to feed all these people… at least not in the way he was looking at things.  But we don’t read about Philip flipping out or getting angry.  Philip simply answers,

“Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Philip was obviously a little bit worked up.  But he didn’t go into a self pity mode and talk about how life is to hard, or how God should make things easier on him.  He just states the situation.

I’m reminded of James 1:2

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

I think Philip could have done better with his attitude, but I also think that the average follower of Christ can do better.  We get so bent out of shape over the difficulties in life, and complain about it to anyone who will listen.  But God allows us to go through those things in a way that builds us up eternally.

I pray we all would consider it pure joy when we face trials, when we are called to the difficult tasks.  Certainly, loving others is something that can be… “trying”.  It sometimes requires that we die to our selves in order to love them.  But Jesus died for us.  It’s ok if we have to die too.

Instead of complaining about having to love people and about God’s “difficult” love for us, may we remember that love is a good thing…

Love Is A Good Thing

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.

 

 

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…

 

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.

Taking Jesus at His Word (John 4)

When Jesus returns to Cana He is met by a royal official who’s son is dying.  Jesus tells the man that his son will live, and the man takes Jesus at His word.  As the man is on his way home, his servants meet him and confirm that the son is well.

And the whole household comes to believe in Christ.

Today we don’t have the miraculous ability to heal.  But that doesn’t mean that Jesus is not working a miracle in our lives.  Now I’m cautious with the word “miracle”.  It is used in vain way to much.  But to describe how Jesus can take a fallen soul and make it clean again, make it fit for His Kingdom again… that is beyond the things of this creation.  Only God can do that.

So why is it that we are not making such an impact on people when we have all the mighty works God is doing in His people?  Sure it’s up to people to make their own choice about whether to come to Christ or not.

But I’m not wondering why we are not converting people.  I’m wondering why we are not even impacting them.  Why we, the Body of Christ, those filled with the Holy Spirit, play possum in the world and then wonder why they don’t seek God.

If we are to tell the world about Jesus, and how He said that He is the life, then we as His Body need to show that life to the world.  We need to be doing His will.  If we do, they will find confidence enough to take Him at His word.

The truths of God are self evident.  No man is without excuse, because God can be seen in all that He has made.  It is plain to all. 

But we are to be His body, we are to be the salt of the earth.  We need to be a light in a dark place.  We need to be life in a dead place.

Jesus is still miraculously saving men from death.

He still grants life to those who seek Him with their all.  His people need to show the world the truth of that, that they are not dead anymore… that they have risen.

It’s Your Ministry… Your Sustenance (John 4)

As I’ve read through the Scriptures over the years I found myself comparing Bible characters, both good and bad, to other people.  I’d commonly read a passage, and tell myself “This is how I should react when dealing with these kinds of people.” 

But as I grow in my walk with Christ, I’m coming to see myself represented by the characters instead.  I’m realizing more and more truth about my own participation in the fall, my own inabilities, and my own heart.  And I’m coming to realize more and more that God is the one responsible for all the good that I’ve done, not me.  And in turn I have a fuller appreciation for the good He has in fact done through me and in me.  I have a deeper reverence and love for He who is able to work so mightily in fallen man.

Today, for the first time, I saw myself as the woman at the well specifically in the passage from John 4:39-42…

From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Though I wish I could say that my influence for Christ has been as great as this woman’s, I cannot.  But I can see yet another picture of my role in the Kingdom of God.  Jesus spoke to this woman, and she was affectly so deeply that she passionately spoke to her people about Him and what He did in her life.  She spoke in a way that touched the people so much that they came to have a belief in Christ.  Then the people met Christ directly, and they came to a belief in Him because of what He Himself did in their own lives.  All these things happened in a matter of only days.

Her role is the role that all Christians are called to.  If a person has truly given their all to Christ then they have come to recognize, in a limited yet overwhelming sense, that God has deeply affected their own life.  And they have something immense to share.

I mentioned in the post before this one that one of my favorite passages is in the verses just before our text here.  It’s where Jesus says that His food is to do the will of the Father.  The specific case of the Father’s will is seen in the context we are now considering. 

Spreading the gospel was His food.  It is our food.  Though we have other duties in regard to His will that are just as important, we cannot therefore forget this ministry of reconciliation.  It is something that gives our soul necessary nourishment.  We need this.

When we consider how much people need Him, how can we remain silent?

When we honestly consider How great He truly is, how can we not shout it from the mountaintops?

Get Personal 2 (John 4)

I’d like to reiterate a point I made in this post a while back.  We need to reach out to people’s hearts, not waste their time with the things that don’t really matter.  Rich Mullins said in a song…

Well you can talk about fashion
You can talk about the weather
It’s all just stuff and it all goes up in flames
Just in case somebody comes askin’
Why don’t you do ’em one better
If you got to talk why don’t you tell ’em
‘Bout the things that remain the same

Please, don’t be scared to talk to people right where they are, however it comes up in the conversation.  And show the world that you truly believe Romans 11:36 by relating their life directly to Jesus…

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

If we are ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of us. 

And always, speak to people with truth and with love.  Just like Jesus did…

The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, `I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

Get personal(John 1)

I’m noticing already a pattern here in John 1.  Jesus seems to directly work towards revealing what’s on the heart of the one He’s talking to.  While that may not be some earth shattering discovery, it does validate a practice which our culture seems to frown upon.

We’re often told that one must develop a close friendship with someone before dealing with them on personal issues.  That we must bow to impersonal religion that, coincidentally, is mocked by the same people who try to force us into it.  But in many of the examples we see in the Bible, the messenger of Christ was direct and so very personal… even with strangers.

If you study and meditate on the Bible, you will more likely have love and the Word of God on your heart when you deal with people.  And if you have His word on your heart then you have the Words of Life, and you can trust that those Words will work their way into the hearts of men.  You don’t need to always focus on working up some great oration on current events or politics or whatever, you just need to point their heart to Jesus.  And when you give a person directions on how to get to Him, remember that they must start that journey from where they are at.

God’s Word will not return unto Him without serving its purpose.  And He does not place you into people’s lives at a particular time and a particular place without expectation that you will use that exact time and exact place to glorify Him. 

Use His words directly with people. 

Reach into their hearts exactly where you encounter them.

Show them that even in the fleeting moments they are important to you and to God. 

And show them they are important by being personal. 

Don’t dance around the hearts of men, be like Christ and dance with them…