May 12, 2018
FOR WHOM DO YOU SPEAK?
The crowds gathered in the Temple to hear Jesus were amazed at His teaching. They wondered how He had such knowledge and wisdom without training. He responded that His message came from God who sent Him. He did not speak for Himself. He did not seek His own glory, but to bring glory to God. His answer was also an accusation against the Jewish leaders who claimed to be teachers. Jesus accused them of seeking glory for themselves.
I want to be like Jesus. I want to always speak, so that Jesus gets the glory. How ugly is the human temptation to seek our own glory and to care for our own image. May we all grow in our commitment to speak in a way that glorifies Christ and not ourselves.
May 11, 2018
THE “666” OF JOHN’S GOSPEL
In John 6:66, the shocking statement that Jesus made concerning His body and blood as spiritual food, made many so-called disciples desert Him. Just as Moses had led a “mixed multitude” (Ex. 12:38) into the wilderness from Egypt, so a mixed multitude followed Jesus. On this day in the synagogue in Capernaum, Jesus separated those who only followed for the free bread, from those who followed because they truly believed.
In John’s Revelation, he wrote of another “666” (Rev. 13:16-18), the mark of the beast, which in the last days will cause many to turn away from God and turn to the Antichrist, in order to buy bread. Those who receive this mark will come under the “wrath of God” (Rev. 14:9-11), for they will have rejected the Bread of Life in order to eat the temporal bread of this world.
I suppose there are many “666” moments when those who follow Jesus must count the cost. In those moments, true believers will continue to follow Jesus no matter the cost. But false believers will turn away and desert Him.
May 10, 2018
ONLY ONE WORK, NOT WORKS.
Jesus told those who wanted to know what “works” they needed to do in order to please God, that only one “worK” was needed. What was that work? It is the work of faith. It is the “only work God wants,” that we might “believe” in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
May 9, 2018
A LITTLE LAD’S LITTLE LUNCH FEEDS A LARGE CROWD
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was always bringing people to Jesus. Here, he brought a young boy to Jesus with his packed lunch. The boy’s lunch was barely enough for him. It was not only a small lunch, but a poor one. For barley was the bread of the poor. Yet, Jesus loves using the young, the small and the poor to accomplish much! Jesus took the five barley loaves and fed five thousand. Andrew had enough faith to bring the little lad and his little lunch to Jesus. The young boy had enough faith to give the whole of it to Jesus, not asking for even one loaf or one fish back for himself. And Jesus had more than enough power to multiply it to miraculously feed a multitude with twelve baskets leftover.
The young boy had enough for a meager lunch for himself, but giving it to Jesus, there was more than enough for everyone, himself included.
May 8, 2018
THE WRITTEN WORD POINTS TO THE LIVING WORD
Jesus acknowledged that the Jews were a people of the Book, yet He challenged them to see that it was He to which the Scriptures pointed. He was essentially saying, “If you claim to believe the Book, then you must believe in Me.”
This is still true. When we rightly preach the Scriptures, we must always preach Christ and “Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Jesus is the point of our preaching. There is much helpful wisdom in the Scriptures, but eternal life is in the Son. Therefore, we proclaim Christ from the Scriptures! For it is by His Spirit that we understand the Scriptures (1 Cor. 2:14-16), and by His life that we are being transformed in our minds to keep them (Rom. 12:1-2).
Remember the disciples who walked with the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus? They didn’t recognize Him at first. Yet, as they walked, He explained from Moses to the prophets what the Scriptures said concerning Him. As they reflected on this encounter, they said to one another, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).
The written Word points to the Living Word, then the Living Word points back again. Christ causes our hearts to “burn within us” as we encounter Him in the Scriptures.
May 7, 2018
ETERNAL JUDGMENT GIVEN TO CHRIST
Jesus did not come to judge, but to save. Judgment was not the purpose of Christ’s first advent. Yet, Jesus is coming again. At that time, He will exercise His “absolute authority to judge.” Those who made Jesus appear in their kangaroo court and conspired to crucify Him, will one day stand before His judgment seat. And those today, who continue to reject and dishonor Him, will give an account before His Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11).
Why not come to Jesus now? Come to Him in this time of grace and receive His pardon. For there is coming a day when He will exercise His absolute authority to judge.
May 6, 2018
FAITH IN THE PERSON NOT THE PERFORMANCE
A government official from Capernaum came to Jesus in Galilee desperately begging Him to come to heal his son. Jesus pointed out that it wasn’t the man’s faith in Him that moved the man to travel to Galilee, but his hope that Jesus could heal his son. Jesus wanted the man to put his faith in His person, not His performance. So, Jesus sent the man home with the promise that his son would live. The man believed Jesus and immediately went home where he found his son alive and well.
In John’s gospel, Christ’s miracles are called “signs.” For miracles attract, but signs point. Jesus always called people to see His miracles as signs that pointed to His deity, to His identity as the Christ and Savior of the world. Many came to Jesus that He might feed them bread, but only a few had the faith to see Christ Himself as the Bread of Life.
Do you believe in Jesus for who He is, or for what He can hopefully do for you? Do you seek His face before His hand?
May 5, 2018
GO AND TELL THEM TO COME AND SEE
The Samaritan woman that Jesus met at Jacob’s well was ready to share Jesus with others after only one encounter. Jesus had given her the clearest statement concerning His identity that He had given anyone, simply saying, “I AM the Messiah!” The woman ran back to her village, leaving her water jar behind, telling every neighbor and friend to “Come and see!”
In reading this account, I didn’t notice an evangelism class, nor any gospel tracts given out. Certainly, these are good things, but the Samaritan woman didn’t have them. She was just passionately excited about having met Jesus and couldn’t wait to tell others her testimony. She became Christ’s herald to her village, announcing His arrival and identity to everyone.
And what was the result of her simple approach? “Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus” because of the woman’s testimony (John 4:39).
May 4, 2018
THE SPIRIT WITHOUT LIMIT
On the day he baptized Him, John the Baptist had witnessed the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus “like a dove” (John 1:32). He declared that Jesus was indeed the Messiah since that day. Here, he described the fulness of the Spirit that was given to Jesus. He was not only the One anointed by the Spirit (Both “Messiah” and “Christ” mean “Anointed One”). Jesus was given the Holy Spirit “without limit.” Throughout the Old Testament, men and women had been given the Spirit with limit. Some were given the Spirit to judge, some to lead, and some to prophesy. Even John the Baptist was given the Spirit in a limited way in order to “prepare the way of the Lord.” But Christ was given the Spirit without measure. For, as John went on to say, “the Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands” (John 3:35). That the Father had given even the Spirit into”His hands” shows both Christ’s complete possession, as well as His sole discretion, to give the Spirit to those who would place their faith in Him.
After Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead, He appeared to His disciples saying, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21-22). And so, the apostle Paul wrote instructing us to “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18), and to “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:18).
O how we endure needless pain and struggle while walking in the flesh, when we have available to us in Christ, the Spirit “without limit.”
May 3, 2018
NIC AT NIGHT
Nicodemus came to speak with Jesus after dark. Perhaps he wanted a private conference, and night time was the only time Jesus wasn’t surrounded by crowds. Or perhaps it was because Nic didn’t want prying eyes from his sect to see him talking with the Galilean. Whatever the reason, this member of the Sanhedrin came to Jesus humbly and willing to listen, although he didn’t fully understand all of Christ’s teaching. One of the greatest verses in the Bible was given in this conversation between Nic and Jesus, as the Lord taught him of God’s love, God’s Son, faith and eternal life (see John 3:16).
In contrast to the Samaritan woman in John 4, to whom Jesus so gently revealed Himself, He was much harder on old Nic, saying, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?” (John 3:10). But Jesus knew what was inside the human heart. And He revealed Himself in a way that was appropriate to the hearer.
The gospel of John is the only one of the four that wrote of Nicodemus. John mentions Nic on three occasions. There is the dialogue at night in John 3, Nicodemus urging his fellow members of the Sanhedrin to first hear Jesus themselves before judging Him (John 7:50-51), and his helping Joseph of Arimathea to prepare Christ’s body for burial after the crucifixion (John 19:39-42).
Nic may have started out with Jesus by the dark of night, but he came out into the light of day at the end. I think John included these stories in his gospel because old Nic ultimately believed in Jesus.