May 21, 2018
NO FURTHER NEED FOR RITUAL PURIFICATION
Over 100 purification pools or “mikvehs” have been discovered in the ruins surrounding the Temple Mount. The Jewish pilgrims who came from all over the Roman Empire for Passover would arrive early to bathe in one of these mikvehs, cleansing themselves and putting on clean clothes before entering the Temple. Yet, the Passover week that John wrote of would change everything. For by the end of that week, Jesus would offer His blood for the purification of sin to all those who would believe.
As we read in the book of Hebrews, “Dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:19-22).
There is no further need of ritual cleansing. Jesus is our spiritual mikveh.
May 20, 2018
PUT OFF THE OLD GRAVECLOTHES!
When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He instructed his family and friends to help him out of his graveclothes. Surely the clothes must have smelled of death just as Martha had warned, for Lazarus had been dead four days. Yet, the man Lazarus was raised to life by the call of Jesus. A new man needs new clothes.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” (Eph. 4:21-22, 24).
When we are born again, we must put off the old graveclothes of our former lives and put on the new clothes of the new nature. This is an action taken in the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet, just as Lazarus needed help to get out of his graveclothes, so we need the community of believers to help us with ours. After all, isn’t it our family and friends that let us know when we stink?
So, get out of those stinky graveclothes and clothe yourselves in Christ’s clothes of righteousness.
May 19, 2018
THE DOUBLE-LOCKED GATE
Two of Christ’s seven “I AM” statements are found in John chapter 10: “I AM the Gate” and “I AM the Good Shepherd.” Jesus is both the shepherd who calls to His sheep and the gate by which they enter His fold and are kept safe. Those who belong to Jesus are eternally secure. He saves them and He keeps them. And His Father, who gives them to Him, keeps them safe too.
It’s like Jesus is the gate and the lock, and the Father is the deadbolt. Dear believer, be assured in this.
May 18, 2018
TWO FOLDS BECOME ONE FLOCK WITH ONE SHEPHERD
Jesus infuriated the Jewish leaders with His dual claim to be the only “Gate” by which the true sheep of Israel might be saved, and the “Good Shepherd,” whom only the true sheep of Israel would follow. Those who claimed to be shepherds of Israel, Jesus called “hired hands” who only cared for themselves. In contrast, Jesus said, “I AM the Good Shepherd, I know my sheep and my sheep know Me and I sacrifice My life for the sheep.”
So being born into the Jewish fold wasn’t enough. Jesus was calling out the true sheep from the Jewish fold who would be spiritually born again by believing in Him.
Then, Jesus shocked them further by announcing that He had other sheep not in the Jewish sheepfold. Who are these sheep? They are those who would believe in Jesus among the Gentiles. This is the “mystery” that the apostle Paul described, that “the Gentiles are fellow heirs [with the Jews], members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6).
The mystery called the Church was being revealed by Jesus, namely, that sheep from both the Jewish and the Gentile sheepfolds would become one flock with one Shepherd.
The implications of this were not missed by the Jewish leaders. Being Jewish, having the Torah, the Temple and the traditions was not enough. Even Gentiles who had none of these things would be able to be saved by simply believing in Jesus as the Christ. It was through Jesus that the promise to Abraham would be kept, that “all the nations of the earth would be blessed through his Seed” (Gen.22:18). That Seed, that Shepherd, is Jesus. He is the One who calls His sheep from two folds to become one flock with one Shepherd.
May 17, 2018
WHAT GOD CAN DO WITH DIRT
Jesus noticed a man who had been blind since birth. He spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread it over the blind man’s eyes. He told the man to wash his eyes in the pool of Siloam. When he washed the mud away, he could see. When people asked the man how he came to see, he told them what Jesus had done for him.
I wonder. Did Christ smile as He made the mud with His own saliva, remembering the time He made a man from the dust of the earth and with His own breath, made him a living soul?
May 16, 2018
THOSE WHO BELONG GLADLY LISTEN
Jesus explained to those who refused to believe in Him that their unbelief was based on their willful rejection of truth. This willful rejection of Jesus as Messiah revealed them to be “children of the devil” (John 8:44), rather than children of God. For if they had been of God, then they would have “gladly” listened to the words of God spoken by Christ.
The apostle Paul wrote that the things of God are “foolishness” to those without the Spirit for only those who are spiritual can understand them (1 Cor. 2:14-15). And so, the Lord Jesus still asked, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matt. 11:15).
Do you gladly listen to the Word of God?
May 15, 2018
SEEK HIM WHILE HE MAY BE FOUND
Jesus warned the crowd that he would soon be “going away” and then it would be too late to find Him. Jesus would soon go to the cross and after His resurrection, would ascend to heaven. Those who would not believe in Jesus would ultimately “die in their sins” and therefore be unfit for heaven.
Most of those in the crowd did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, even though He was with them fulfilling every word the prophets had written. After Christ’s departure, they would continue to “search” for the Messiah, but they would not find him, for he had already come and they had not recognized him.
Now is the time to follow Jesus. Tomorrow may be too late. Therefore, listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near” (Isa. 55:6).
May 14, 2018
THE AUTHOR OF ALL CREATION WRITES IN THE DUST
When the religious leaders brought a woman accused of adultery before Jesus in order to entrap him, he stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. Finally, he answered, “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.” Then, he stooped down again to write in the dust once more.
Many have speculated as to what Jesus wrote. Did he merely draw doodles in the dust as many a bored student has done in the margin of their notebook? Did he begin to list the sins of each accuser, so that they lost heart and beginning with the oldest, dropped their stones and departed? Perhaps he was following the test for adultery as found in Numbers 5 and using the dust of the Temple to write the curse for adultery? Truth is, no one knows what he wrote.
Certainly, more words have been penned and books written about Jesus than any other subject. Yet, this is the only record of His writing: “Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust.”
Isn’t this what the Author of Life has done for you and I? He has “stooped down” to erase our sin and write righteousness in its place. We are the dust He has breathed life into and made us living souls, with our names writ large in the Book of Life.
May 13, 2018
THE RELIGIOUS ELITE REJECTED JESUS
When the Temple guards returned to the Jewish leaders empty-handed, they questioned why they didn’t bring Jesus in. But the guards replied that they had never heard anyone speak as Jesus did! At this, the rulers and Pharisees mocked the guards and asked the rhetorical question, “Do you see any of us believing in him?” Their point was that only the ignorant and the foolish would follow Jesus. Those schooled in proper religion, such as they, would not.
The apostle Paul explained how those who considered themselves wise, reject Christ, he wrote, “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:23-24). Paul went on to write, “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful” (1 Cor. 1:26-27).
We may be seen as weak and foolish in the eyes of the world’s elite, but we are blessed to know Christ, “the power and wisdom of God.”
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.