Sinmaster (John 8)

We often try to think of ourselves as our own masters.  We have free will, sure.  But the things we do with that free will… they’re things that we’re told to do.

Jesus offers us freedom in serving Him.  It sounds backwards, but that’s the way the world wants us to see it… backwards.  However, Jesus wants us to see things just as they are.  He wants us to know the truth.  And to do that, we must continue in His word.

We can, of course, choose to go “our own way.”  But that’s a deceptive way of saying it, because really it isn’t our own way.  It’s sin’s way.  If we reject Christ, we become slaves to sin.  Sin becomes our master.  All of us have sinned, and allowed sin to have dominion in our lives. 

And sin doesn’t like to let its servants go.  It pulls them deeper and deeper into servitude.  It will let them think they are the master if that’s what it takes to keep them.

If we want true freedom, we must become a servant.  Sounds confusing, but if we want to understand the truth of it then we simply need to continue in His word.  We need to love and obey Christ.  Only then will we know the truth that sets us free.

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.

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.

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?