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.
May 2, 2018
CHRIST’S ATTENTION TO TIMING
When Jesus’ mother brought it to His attention that there was no more wine at the wedding, He replied that it was not yet His time. She may have been His mother, but she was not aware of the details of His mission. It was not yet time to begin His public ministry. He therefore miraculously solved the wine shortage in a private manner, so that only His mother, disciples and the servants knew about it. Even the emcee didn’t know the source and gave credit to the bridegroom (v.9).
This wasn’t the only time Jesus had to correct a family member for suggesting He act before His time. It was His brothers who urged Him to go to Jerusalem and “show himself to the world” (John 7:4). But He responded, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime” (John 7:6).
When the time did come for Jesus to go to Jerusalem and to the cross, He did not hesitate. Jesus said, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory” (John 12:23). Jesus fulfilled His mission in the “fulness of time.” As the apostle Paul wrote, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4-5).
Christ’s timing was perfect.
May 1, 2018
HOW WELL DID JOHN KNOW JESUS?
John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins born six months apart. Both births were miraculous, foretold by the prophets and announced by the angel Gabriel. Yet, John said that he “did not recognize” Jesus as the Messiah until after His baptism. Some suggest that since John grew up in Hebron and Jesus in Nazareth, they had never met before. But this seems unlikely. Mary and Elizabeth were apparently close before their sons were born, but they were no doubt bound together even closer after the spiritual experience they had together during their pregnancies (See Luke 1:39-56). In addition, the gospel of Matthew reported that John recognized Jesus before His baptism and felt unworthy to baptize Him (Matt. 3:14).
So what did John mean by saying he didn’t “recognize” Jesus, if he already knew Him and already considered Him to be greater than himself? Perhaps John did recognize Jesus as his cousin, and as one who was well known in their families as being announced as the long awaited Messiah. But that was thirty years ago and John had seen no confirmation as of yet. So, it was on the day of Christ’s baptism that the Lord spoke to John and revealed to him that Jesus was indeed the Messiah by the appearance of the Spirit descending like a dove upon Jesus. What his mother, Elizabeth, had told him was true. Jesus was the Messiah. John finally saw Him with spiritual eyes and proclaimed Jesus as the Lamb of God, the Messiah, as he had been born to do.
April 30, 2018
THE UNEXPECTED MINISTRY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
Although he was the son of the Levite priest, Zechariah, in the line of Abijah, one of the 24 orders of priests in the line of Eleazar, son of Aaron, John did not serve in the Temple. Instead, led by the Spirit, he preached in the wilderness on the East side of the Jordan. He did not wear the rich flowing robes of the Temple leaders, but was clothed in a cloak of camel’s hair. He lived on a diet of locusts and wild honey. He did not answer to the Jewish leaders, but to the Lord, for his authority came from the Lord. It was this that the Jewish leaders came to question. For their real question was, “Who gives you the right to baptize?” In other words they were saying, “We are the religious authority and we don’t remember ordaining you.”
John knew that they did not recognize him, nor did they recognize that the Messiah was already standing right there in the midst of the crowd (John 1:26). John refused to be cast in one of their expected eschatologies. His only answer to their question concerning his identity was to quote the prophet Isaiah, “I am a voice crying in the wilderness” (Isa. 40:3). It was a voice they had no ears to hear. John’s ministry was not the one they expected. But it was the one the prophets foretold.