The Command, Calling, and Consequences of Following the Christ

June 17, 2019 at 10:06 am | Posted in John | Leave a comment
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Jesus is often referred to as “Jesus Christ,” but Christ is not Jesus’s last name. If Jesus of Nazareth even had such a thing as a “last name” during His earthly ministry it would have probably been something like “Jesus Ben Joseph” or “Jesus Bar Joseph,” “ben” or “bar” meaning “son of.” Most of the people Jesus encountered would have thought Him to be merely the son of Joseph, rather than the Son of God. “Christ” is more of a title than a name. Jesus was the Christos, which was the Greek term for the Hebrew “Messiah.” He was “anointed” with the grace of God. The title “Christ” tells us that He is divine, but that He was also the prophesied human Savior, from the seed of Eve and Adam, descendant of Abraham and Jacob (renamed Israel), prefigured by Moses, of the line of David, who would qualify for David’s earthly throne while at the same time being David’s Heavenly Lord.

And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

John 1:42

This is how Peter got the name by which he would become known.

The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.

John 1:43

Why was such a pedestrian, seemingly-lackluster recruiting pitch so effective? A request or even a command to “follow me” has never been in short supply in the world among those who would seek to use others for profit, fame, power, even companionship, benevolence, or team-building. The typical response to an unadorned “follow me” would be: “Why?” “For what?” “Where?” “What’s in it for me?” or even “No.” The secret to Jesus’s success with this method though, I believe, is not in the “follow.’ The key is in the “Me.” A God-revealed understanding of Who Jesus is makes the “follow” almost superfluous and unnecessary as a command. When the eternal Son of God, the Savior of mankind, the Creator of the universe, the deliverer of your nation, reveals Himself to you, and you truly grasp the import of Who He is and what this revelation means, how could you NOT follow Him? How could they not become literal “disciples” – people who walked around behind a “Master” or Rabbi, an itinerant teacher, listening and learning, and trying to imitate Him? He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life: a path, a person, and a purpose.

Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

John 1:44-46

Nazareth was a disreputable place, ordained as the birthplace and hometown of Jesus, perhaps in order to prepare Him in His childhood for a life of mockery, rejection, and humility.

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

John 1:47

It’s possible that Jesus was making an ironic statement when He referred to Nathanael as being without guile and therefore a true Israelite, since the Jewish people have historically been stereotyped as being especially shrewd in their business dealings, but He was also referencing those who would believe the truth about Jesus as being the true descendants/heirs of Jacob, and therefore Abraham. The true Israelites are manifested by faith in the Messiah rather than by their birth and ethnicity.

Eaten Up with It

May 16, 2019 at 2:27 pm | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

John 2:4

This reference to “mine hour” is what is known is an instance of foreshadowing: the mentioning of a theme that will be developed later. It’s sort of an appetizer (or what my wife might call an amuse-bouche): something to whet the reader’s appetite for more information to follow.

After the miracle at the wedding in Cana Jesus traveled to Capernaum.

After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.

John 2:12

The addition of His mother and His “brethren” (presumably His biological half-brothers rather than His spiritual brothers, because they are distinguished from “disciples”) indicates that Jesus’s family stopped briefly on the way to Jerusalem.

And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

John 2:13

They had gone “down” to Capernaum, and now they were going “up” to Jerusalem. It is possible that Jesus and His disciples (His spiritual family) helped His earthly family move or relocate to Capernaum. Mary and Joseph (likely deceased at this point) had other children after Jesus, proving that Mary did not, contrary to Roman Catholic dogma, remain a perpetual virgin.

And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

John 2:14

The money changers were ostensibly there in the Temple for the convenience of those who came to the Temple to offer animals for sacrifices but did not want to make a long pilgrimage with cumbersome livestock. The selling of oxen, sheep, and doves for this purpose had previously been done on a mountainside area adjacent to the Temple, but now it was being done in the Court of the Gentiles, thereby ruining the reverence and solemnity of what was supposed to be a serious place devoted to spiritual matters, prayer, and witnessing to the gentiles. It had, in effect, been turned into a stockyard filled with lowing, bleating, haggling, the wrangling of smelly animals, and commercial transactions.

And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;

John 2:15

It is easy and somewhat natural to imagine Jesus in a holy rage as we read this passage, and we can’t deny that He was angry. What is portrayed was actually a scene in which He purposefully threw the area into a state of chaos and probably confusion.

And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

John 2:16

The emphasis is not on Jesus’s disapproval of commerce, but on the misuse, and lack of reverence for, His Father’s house.

And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

John 2:17

The disciples remembered Psalm 69:9: “For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.” In Psalm 69 David was in despair due to being encompassed and persecuted on all sides by his enemies. Those who should have been sympathetic to his zeal for pure worship in the house dedicated to God had viciously turned on him. There is something very subtle going on in John 2:17 as the Holy Spirit had John note that the disciples “remembered” Psalm 69:9. At the time they were focused on Jesus’s zeal for the pure worship of His Father, but the other part of the verse – the “eaten me up” (consumed me) – would be later remembered in reference to Jesus’s arrest and death. He would be “consumed/eaten up” by His enemies partly because He challenged their rule in the Temple as being sinful and not truly spiritual and pure. That helps us to understand the “sign” He chose to give them when they challenged His authority to decide how the Temple affairs should be conducted. He Himself WAS the true Temple which would be destroyed but then raised up to replace the old, typological Temple in which God and man could never truly meet together in holy atonement and fellowship.

Rising above the Rules

April 19, 2019 at 2:26 pm | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

John 5:2-3

What made these handicapped folks think that this pool could help them? They thought an angel would come along every now and then and cause a noticeable disturbance in the water, and that the first one – but ONLY the first one – to enter the water would be healed or “made whole.”

And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

John 5:5

Was this man desperate? Or perhaps only resigned? He had been “infirm” – lacking firmness – for 38 years. Some commentators see in this detail a symbolic reference to the inability of the Israelites to heal themselves of the unbelief that kept them wandering in the wilderness for 38-40 years.

When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

John 5:6

Jesus saw him “lie.” He was lying down, but he was also perhaps being less than completely honest when he said:

The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

John 5:7

That wasn’t really an answer to what Jesus asked him: “Wilt thou be made whole?” “Do you want to be healed?”

Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

John 5:8

Jesus did not engage in a lengthy dialogue. He just gave a simple direct command.

And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

John 5:9

He was healed and STRENGTHENED – “made whole” – instantaneously or immediately.

The Pharisees had developed 39 rules concerning the Sabbath. These were not part of Scripture, but were given authority by them AS THOUGH they were part of Scripture. This is one of the meanings of legalism – adding man-made rules or traditions to God’s Word and trying to endow them with binding authority. One of the 39 rules forbade carrying anything.

The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

John 5:10

This gives us telling insight about the Jewish religious leaders and their psychological mindset, their pride, and the object of their praise. They worshiped the Sabbath itself to the exclusion of the Lord of the Sabbath.

Watering Down the Truth about Jesus

April 17, 2019 at 11:54 am | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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In Cana Jesus had performed His first miraculous sign (water into wine at a wedding) at the request of a mother (His own). Now at His return to Cana, He performed another miracle – this time at the request of a father.

So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.

John 4:46-47

This man did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, but he was desperate, so he pleaded with someone he thought of as a well-known faith-healer.

Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.

John 4:50

Jesus was often compassionate in answering the prayers of even those without saving faith. This is similar to – but not the same event as – another healing recorded in Matthew 8.

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Matthew 8:5-13

That time the father was clearly identified as a gentile as opposed to the father in John 4 who was likely Jewish. A belief in Jesus as a miracle worker is not saving faith, but belief in Jesus as the Son of God is.

Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.

John 4:50-53

The key link is that the father – not having seen his son healed – “believed the Word” of Jesus.

After it was established that John the Baptist baptized with physical water, but that Jesus would perform a greater baptism (John 1), and after Jesus turned water into wine (John 2), and after He talked to a religious leader about being born of water and the spirit (John 3), and after He talked to a Samaritan woman about drawing and drinking water from a well (John 4), where do you think He went in John 5? To a pool of water, of course!

Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

John 5:2-3 (emphasis added)

True Fulfillment

April 15, 2019 at 12:07 pm | Posted in John | Leave a comment
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“He told me all that ever I did.” This was the testimony of the Samaritan woman (John 4:39) who met Jesus at Jacob’s well, and the conversation went from drawing and drinking water to a brief survey of the woman’s somewhat scandalous sexual history. But did Jesus really tell her that He knew “ALL” the things that she “EVER” did? How long would such a recitation have taken? How long would it take for someone tell your whole life story? How much would they have to say to convince you that they knew enough about you to know who you really were and what you were really about? Intellectually, we are able to affirm the doctrine of Jesus’s omniscience, so, by default, He must know everything we’ve ever done, said, and even thought. But how sobering is it to think that He might start describing our past aloud to us, to our face? The Samaritan woman revealed something about her own mindset when she said, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did…” (John 4:29).

Her whole identity in her mind was her sinful past. This is not necessarily a correct way of thinking even for a lost sinner. We are all more than our past actions, but it does have an element of reality to it, in that, before we met Christ, we were in bondage to our decisions, which were made in bondage to our sinful natures. In Christ, of course, believers certainly shouldn’t think this way. Our identity in Christ is both new and greater.

In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?

John 4:31-33

As is often the case in the Gospel of John, the narrative is moved forward through misunderstanding in the dialogue, and, as here, it is usually a misunderstanding between the material and the spiritual.

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

John 4:34

This was what “filled Jesus up.” The more He served the Father and accomplished His will, the more satisfied and fulfilled He grew. One of the reasons that we, as Christians, sometimes feel so empty inside is that we have too much material or earthly-minded “junk food” filling us up superficially. Consider Jesus, who was filled with the purpose of God more so than worldly concerns. Which type of “meat” do you prefer? What nourishes your soul and your spirit? Your home, your friends, your family? A trip to Disney? Your hobbies? Or is it ministering in Christ’s name? Sharing the Gospel? Helping believers to grow? Reading your Bible? Doing the will of our Heavenly Father is where we should find our true satisfaction and spiritual nourishment in life.

Lifting up the Son of Man

April 4, 2019 at 12:54 pm | Posted in John | Leave a comment
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Despite Nicodemus’s failure to grasp the concept of the water-spirit birth, Jesus, in His patience, gave him insight into another well-known Old Testament passage of Scripture: the account of the fiery serpents in Numbers 21.

God had sent a plague of venomous and deadly serpents to bite His people in the wilderness. This was because they had been rebelling against Him and complaining about the manna He had provided for them to eat and about the length of time they had been in the wilderness. Every serpent bite was a death sentence, but God, in His mercy, also provided a cure. He had Moses make a snake, of all things, out of brass. Just as the death rate for those bitten was 100%, so the cure rate for those who would raise their eyes in faith and behold the brass serpent was 100%. Many looked and lived, but many also stubbornly refused to look and died.

The brass serpent had been lifted up, just as Jesus would be “lifted up,” an ambiguous term, which at various times could mean physically held aloft, honored, exalted, or even (as in the case of Naboth, who was “set on high”) condemned by the people.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

John 3:14

Nicodemus no doubt knew something of the significance of the title “Son of Man” from the Book of Daniel. It was the title of the then-future heir of David’s throne, the Messiah, so he may have understood Jesus to be saying that the Son of Man would be “lifted up” in the sense of being exalted. However, Jesus was actually revealing a greater truth: that He would be lifted up as the Sin-Bearer, the way the brass serpent in the wilderness was lifted up, to be a symbol of death, but also to be looked to for salvation – the ONLY means of salvation.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:18

Just as those snake-bitten Israelites were already as good as dead – whether they took any further action or not – so those who do believe on Jesus are the ONLY ones who escape that condemnation.

The Water-Spirit Birth

April 2, 2019 at 1:48 pm | Posted in John | 5 Comments
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Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

John 3:5

Not all theologians, Bible commentators, or scholars agree on what Jesus meant by “born of water and of the Spirit.” Some theories include:

1. A contrast between the physical birth, with “water” meaning the “breaking of water” (amniotic fluid) from the mother’s womb. The problem with this interpretation is that “her water broke,” as far as we can tell, wasn’t an expression that was used back then. However, it is possible that Jesus could have meant that this second birth – this RE-generation – was being contrasted with the first, physical birth. Lending weight to this application is the obvious fact that Jesus called it being born “again.”

2. So-called baptismal regeneration. This theory, although perhaps the majority view historically speaking, is wrong. A belief that physical baptism through the immersion in, or sprinkling of, literal water is necessary for regeneration and eternal salvation goes against the vast majority of Scripture in describing salvation as being by grace through faith alone. It is not dependent upon any “work,” rite, ritual, or observable or administered (sacerdotal) initiation. When considering whether Jesus was communicating anything having to do with literal baptism when he mentioned being born of water, it is important to recognize that this concept would have been totally foreign to Nicodemus, the Jewish religious leader to whom he was speaking, and to the Jewish theologians who he represented.

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, WE know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

John 3:1-2 (emphasis added)

Nicodemus may have come to Jesus alone, by night, but he was clearly a representative of a contingent of Pharisees (possibly the Sanhedrin itself) who thought themselves to be the ultimate authority on salvation – on seeing and entering the Kingdom of God. Despite this standing, Jesus, in the following verses, chastised him for not knowing things which he should have known, because they were indicated in the (Old Testament) Scriptures.

Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

John 3:7 (emphasis added)

Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

John 3:10 (emphasis added)

This lets us know that the key to the phrase “born of water and of the Spirit” is found in the Old Testament, and not in some obscure text hidden or tucked away in some genealogy somewhere, but in a major prophecy.

And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

Ezekiel 36:23-25

There’s the mention of water, and, according to Psalm 24, who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord and who will stand in His holy place? Only those who have clean (washed by some supernatural metaphorical water) hands AND pure hearts. Ezekiel 36:25 promises that God will cleanse His people from the filthiness of their sin, not by baptism, but by His own divine hand sprinkling/splashing them with His power.

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Ezekiel 36:26-27

This was a prophecy about the New Covenant, and would have been very familiar to the typical Jewish scribe or rabbi, and certainly to a chief theologian of the Pharisees. It appears right before Ezekiel’s prophetic vision of the valley of the DRY bones – bones which needed to be revived – brought back to life – regenerated by some type of supernatural “water.”

And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.

Ezekiel 37:3-4 (emphasis added)

Son of Man” was the prophetic title which Jesus used to refer to Himself in John 3:14. Clearly regeneration by water and by the Spirit had been indicated and explicitly referenced in Old Testament prophecies.

And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.

Ezekiel 37:13-14

The water and the Spirit are not two separate stages of the new birth. Jesus was talking about a water-Spirit birth – at once cleansing and giving new life – a true heart transplant surgery with antiseptic poured in – eternal antiseptic which eternally prevents infection/corruption.

The Woman at the Well Who Well Said

March 27, 2019 at 3:58 pm | Posted in John | 2 Comments
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If you’ve ever been a fan of old-school Western television shows or movies, you are probably familiar with the bigotry and prejudice that allegedly existed in the Old West against “half-breeds,” a pejorative term for the offspring of Anglo-Saxon people and Native Americans (who were known as “Indians,” but often pronounced as “Injuns” onscreen). These so-called half-breeds were often despised, shunned, or mistreated for no fault of their own. The half-breeds of Jesus’s day were called Samaritans. They were the descendants of the offspring of the settlers who came in to occupy the lands of the northern tribes of Israel after they were conquered by the Assyrians, and the Jewish people who remained there and intermarried with them. To say that the Jewish people in 1st Century Judea disliked them would be an understatement, but, of course, the love of Jesus transcended (and still does transcend today) the prejudices which exist between people of different ethnicities. Jesus encountered a Samaritan woman in John Chapter 4.

Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

John 4:16

Jesus turned the conversation in a direction that would lead to conviction. This not usually difficult to do in evangelism although it can be uncomfortable. Jesus was not indicating that talking to women about spiritual matters was a waste of time. He was not misogynistic or chauvinistic. He knew that the request to meet her husband would lead her to a place of confession.

The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

John 4:17-18

The fact that she had five husbands probably meant that she had been divorced five times, although some of them may have died instead. Jesus apparently considered the second – fifth husbands to still be “husbands,” though, and the sixth man – merely a live-in sexual partner – was not a “husband.”

At this point in the conversation the woman did what many people to whom you are witnessing concerning the Gospel will want to do when the conversation gets too heated or personal for their liking: she changed the subject to religious worship preferences.

The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

John 4:19-20

Jesus responded using the same form of address that He used for Mary His mother at the wedding in Cana – a respectful but formal “Woman” – but He did not ignore her provocation.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

John 4:21-24

The Jewish religion was the correct and true revelation under the Old Covenant, but in Christ the importance of the earthly location of formal worship would be abolished. God must be worshiped in spirit and in truth. He is not a “material” being, limited to meeting with His people only on one mountain at a time, or only in one building, one country, or one place.

The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

John 4:25-26 (emphasis added)

The Samaritan name for their expected “Messiah” was the Taheb, and they believed that, when he appeared, he would function primarily as a teacher. Jesus often discouraged His identification as the Messiah when He was ministering among Jewish people because of the political and military baggage associated with it in their minds. However, among the Samaritans He allowed and encouraged the affirmation that He was the Savior prophesied, typified, and foreshadowed in the Pentateuch, and He even used a form of the “I AM” statements generally recognized as prevalent in the Gospel of John.

Jesus Saves the (Wedding) Day

March 7, 2019 at 4:36 pm | Posted in John | 3 Comments
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And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:

John 2:1

“The third day” is probably referring to the third day after the call of Nathanael (John 1:45-51). Jesus performed the first miracle (sign) of His earthly ministry at a wedding in Cana – a wedding to which He had been INVITED. Jesus (not the pastor or officiant, not the groom, not even the bride!) should be the guest of honor at every wedding. During the wedding celebration, when the wine ran dry, threatening to put a damper on the festivities, and further threatening to embarrass the groom and his family who were charged in Jewish culture with having enough provisions to supply the invited guests for a week, Mary, who would have been a close friend of the family or families, came to Jesus with the problem.

And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

John 2:4

Jesus’s response was a balance between filial respect and a declaration of His own authority – almost as if He knew that one day people would sinfully want to call Mary a redemptrix or mediatrix between human beings and God, or as if they would erroneously claim that she belonged in a similar category of deserved adoration, veneration, or even worship (idolatry/Mariolatry) as Jesus Himself.

Actually, Mary’s response to Jesus’s response is a good example of what everyone’s response should be: Whatever Jesus says to do, do it.

His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

John 2:5

Mary pointed to Jesus, not herself, and He solved the problem, not Mary.

And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

John 2:6

The Greek term translated as “firkin” referred to a container that held about 11-30 gallons, depending upon which commentator you favor. In English “firkin” originally meant a “fourth,” as in a fourth of a barrel (however helpful that may be without knowing the size of the barrel). The point is, though, that they were large containers, and Jesus had people fill them with water, and then miraculously turned the water into wine. There is an interesting contrast here when we remember that Moses turned water into blood (a sign of judgment), whereas Jesus turned it into wine (a symbol of blessings and joy).

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

John 2:11

The phrase “beginning of miracles” indicates that the tales of Jesus supposedly performing miracles in His childhood are myths. The word for “miracles” in the Greek is semeion, meaning that they were miracles performed for a purpose. They were acts of supernatural power done to point to eternal truths so that people “might believe.” “Signs” point to something greater, something more “sign”ificant.

A Greater Ladder

February 25, 2019 at 2:57 pm | Posted in Biblical Greats, John | Leave a comment
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Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

John 1:50-51

Jesus referred to the incident which we often call “Jacob’s ladder” from Genesis 28:12. Jesus is the only one Who can connect Heaven and Earth – in Whom sinful man can come into peaceful relationship with holy God. Jesus did not identify Himself as the fulfillment of what the Angels typified, but as the fulfillment of what the ladder itself typified. This motif – that Jesus would be the longed-for Mediator (daysman, interpreter) between God and man – appears in other Old Testament passages as well.

For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.

Job 9:32-33

Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers. If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness: Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.

Job 33:22-24

The identification of Jesus with the fulfillment of Jacob’s ladder is also a statement of exclusivity. Aside from Christ, there are no other “ladders” or “stairways” to Heaven, no other ordained salvific connections between God and men. Faith in Jesus is the means to accessing this ladder, but no one really has faith in a ladder until he steps on with his full weight and starts the climb up.

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