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 4, 2016
When John’s followers worried that more people were going to follow Jesus than their leader, John rebuked them. He recognized that God determined spiritual results. And he also understood that his ministry was to prepare the way for Christ’s ministry. As John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). To be jealous of another’s ministry or blessing, is to accuse God of wrong. Having a competitive spirit towards other churches and ministries is to misunderstand God’s work in our cities and world. Instead, rejoice that God is blessing His work through whomever He will. Because after all, it is His work to bless, not yours. Our calling is not to make ourselves famous, but to make Jesus famous.
May 3, 2016
All Adam’s children are “condemned already” because of sin and because of sin’s wage, which is death. Every member of the human race is born under the curse of sin. It was this curse, this condemnation that Jesus took upon His own body, so that the judgment that we had earned fell upon Him. As a result, those who “believe in Him are not condemned.” Why? Because there is no longer any condemnation left for those that are in Christ (Rom. 8:1). Jesus took it all upon Himself. But what of those who do not believe? They are “condemned already.” The condemnation of sin remains upon them. They have not afforded themselves of Christ’s payment. They will face judgment without Christ because of their unbelief. What you believe matters.
May 4, 2015
When John’s followers worried that more people were going to follow Jesus than to John, he rebuked them. He recognized that God determined spiritual results. And he also understood that his ministry was to prepare the way for Christ’s ministry. As John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). To be jealous of another’s ministry or blessing, is to accuse God of wrong. Having a competitive spirit towards other churches and ministries is to misunderstand God’s work in our cities and world. Instead, rejoice that God is blessing His work through whomever He will. Because after all, it is His work to bless, not yours.
May 3, 2015
The message concerning Jesus is the good news that God loves us and desires to save us through His Son. He was not sent to “condemn the world.” For the world has been under condemnation ever since Adam’s sin. Jesus came to rescue us from the condemnation that is already present upon us. Not everyone will recognize this. Some will prefer the darkness, blindly stumbling in sin’s chains towards judgment. However, a few will cry out to Jesus, finding themselves not only pardoned, but adopted into God’s family.
May 4, 2014
This was John the Baptist’s confession concerning Jesus, “Anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life.” John said this in response to his own disciples who were concerned that more people were being baptized by Jesus than John. In fact, Jesus wasn’t baptizing. His disciples were. No matter. John rightly understood the point. His disciples were jealous of another’s ministry growth. John rebuked them. He recognized that his ministry wasn’t to build a following to himself, but to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus. He said, “I must decrease and He must increase.” If only more ministry leaders today understood this. Our ministries don’t exist to exalt ourselves. They exist to make Jesus famous! For Christ is the only One who can give us eternal life.
May 3, 2014
Some who know about the gospel, question how God can judge those who haven’t heard it. They offer this question as their own excuse for not believing. Yet, Jesus told Nicodemus that this attitude is based not on reason, but on their passion for darkness and sin. Those who hear the gospel about Jesus and reject it are already under God’s judgment. They have loved darkness and rejected the Light, so God has rejected them. What we do with Jesus has everything to do with what God does with us.
May 3, 2013
Jesus tried to explain being born of the Spirit to Nicodemus by comparing the Spirit to the wind. But Nick didn’t get it. At least not at first. Jesus often used “earthly things” to help explain heavenly ones. Earthly things like: sheep, soil, weeds, wheat, chaff, farmers, sons, coins, fields, barns, houses, rocks, virgins, lamps, banquets, weddings, etc. These things represented greater things. Scientists describe things by subtraction, by autopsy they identify down to the inanimate and unintelligent parts. Earthly things lose their wonder on the mortician’s table. Yet, when Jesus speaks of earth and heaven, those of us who believe, become wide-eyed like a child at God’s creation again.