Expecting Jesus

March 27, 2020 at 9:11 am | Posted in John | Leave a comment
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The final chapter in the Gospel of John teaches us how we, as believers, are to relate to our risen Lord.

First, we must be ready for Him to appear at any moment – both “spiritually” (figuratively) and literally.

After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.

John 21:1

Second, we must obey Him

Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

John 21:5-6

We fish for men, but we must do it according to Jesus’s instructions. He has fish waiting for us to catch, but we don’t catch them with a depth finder, a fancy rod and reel, or a stick of dynamite tossed over the side of a boat. Those methods are exciting, but they are our own contraptions. We simply lower the net of the Gospel message and Jesus arranges it so that we haul in as many as He has prepared to be caught.

Third, we must love Him more and more.

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

John 21:15-17

We love Him more by knowing Him more but also by loving and serving (feeding) His people (His lambs and His sheep).

Fourth, we must follow Him.

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

John 21:18-19

This was not merely Jesus’s recruiting pitch. It is an ongoing command for all of us. Our lives are inextricably linked to Him now. Just as He died, our old selves died with Him; and just as He rose, we are raised with Him to a new life. This may very well mean following Him into pain, sorrow, persecution, trials, struggles, and what we think of as premature death.

Scars in Heaven?

March 23, 2020 at 10:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Question: For Christians, if our bodies have scars in this life, will we still have those scars in Heaven?

Answer: I wish I could be more definitive on this one. I don’t know for sure how this will work. It is clear from Scripture that true Christians will have “glorified” bodies after the final resurrection (I Corinthians 15:42-54). These bodies will not experience pain nor sickness nor aging nor decay nor any infirmities, but they will still be “our” earthly bodies which God will somehow transform into a glorified state or form. Most of what we know about these “glorified” bodies comes from what the Scripture teaches us about Jesus’s glorified body after His Resurrection (Luke 24:39-43). They will be magnificent, but I do not know for sure if they will have scars.

I will speculate a little if you will not hold it against me 🙂. Jesus’s resurrected body still had the places (the “imprints” if you will) where His hands/wrists were pierced by the nails and where the Roman soldier’s spear pierced His side (John 20:24-29). I don’t know if those count as “scars” or not, but it may indicate that scars received in our earthly lives which bring glory to God will remain with us for a joyful testimony in our glorified bodies in Heaven. Perhaps other scars will disappear. I don’t know. As my wife has said, scars are, in a sense, evidence of healing, so we might value having those as eternal reminders of God’s grace in Heaven. Whatever the case, God will do what is best, and everything He does will bring eternal joy to true Christians once He calls us home.

Here is an article my wife wrote several years ago for one of our friends, which contains some great encouragement concerning scars: “From Battle Scars to Beauty Marks.”

Overlooking the Kingdom

January 27, 2020 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Luke 17:20-21

Jesus answered the Pharisees’ question, but He reserved the details for the Disciples. People were especially expectant for a deliverer around the time of Passover. Moses was the deliverer at the first Passover. John the Baptist showed some promise but he had ultimately not panned out as the deliverer. Jesus seemed like a strong possibility, and He was headed to Jerusalem! The Pharisees had been listening to Jesus for about three years and they wanted to know when the Kingdom of God would appear! How sad that they were so opposed or obtuse concerning Who Jesus was. They were like patrons walking into a serve-yourself buffet restaurant, hungry, but just sitting down and waiting for a waiter to bring food.

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:

Luke 17:20 (emphasis added)

The Pharisees’ “observation” amounted to hiding and looking, following secretly, and faithless testing. They acted like James Bond, when any run-of-the-mill investigator could have told them Who Jesus was in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Luke 17:21

The Kingdom was “within” their midst, but it did not penetrate the hearts of the Pharisees. The Deliverer was not some obscure person hiding in a monastery somewhere. He was the one Who had been healing blind people, raising the dead, curing lepers, saying, “I’m the One.

Christians should study future prophecy, but do not let the study of prophecy overshadow ACTIVITY. Expect the coming of the Lord Jesus not by waiting and watching idly, but by staying busy until He comes back.

Humility, Holiness, Happiness, and Hypocrisy

December 31, 2019 at 1:58 pm | Posted in John | 2 Comments
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The events which took place at the so-called “Last Supper” are very different from what is portrayed in Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting of the same name. Running through the conversation and the thoughts of Jesus and His Disciples was a theme of balancing interests: humility, holiness, happiness, and hypocrisy.

Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

John 13:1

There is a big debate about whether the phrase “before the feast of the Passover” means before the food was actually served, or whether this scene takes place at a separate meal. The sign that Jesus’s hour had come was the requested meeting with the gentiles as Jesus traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover. “The world” appears only twice in John Chapter 13, both times in Verse 1, but in Chapters 13-17 it appears 40 times, and is used to describe what Jesus calls His people out of, and to describe where Jesus calls His people to remain and minister. Christians should be IN the world but not OF the world. Jesus loved His Disciples “unto the end” in both senses: to the uttermost degree, and to the end of His earthly life which was right at hand.

And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;

John 13:2

The betrayal of Christ was a conspiracy involving both Satan’s will and Judas’s will. Judas was not a helpless puppet. He intended to do something evil, but the Holy Spirit does not want the readers of John’s Gosple to get the idea that Jesus was fooled by Judas’s act the way everyone else apparently was.

Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;

John 13:3

There is dramatic tension here. The emphasis of functional control has shifted from the Father to the Son, so we would expect Jesus to deal with Judas in wrath and preemptive extermination at this point. Instead, in a mind-blowing display of humility and love, He did this:

He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

John 13:4

This alone is shocking. No “free” person/dinner guest would dress down like this, much less a respected and honored rabbi, and MUCH, MUCH less the Messiah.

After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

John 13:5

The silence from 11 of the Disciples is instructive of how worldview-shattering this act was. There are no recorded instances in Jewish or Greek literature of a master washing the feet of a servant. Even Jewish slaves didn’t typically perform this humiliating task. The practice of foot-washing in a rural environment with unpaved roads and domesticated animals walking around everywhere was considered one of the lowliest, if not THE lowliest, of all menial tasks. 11 of the 12 Disciples were shocked into silence, but one of them eventually found his voice and (characteristically for him) spoke up.

Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?

John 13:6

There were no punctuation marks for grammatical emphasis in the original language, but the Greek construction itself places emphasis on “thou” and “my,” as though Peter couldn’t believe anything about this – from the role reversal to the outrageous degradation to which Jesus was voluntarily exposing Himself.

Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.

John 13:7

This does not really indicate that they couldn’t understand the meaning of a selfless sacrificial act of humble (even this extremely humble) service, but that they couldn’t yet grasp what this act of sacrificial abasement and service was pointing toward: the Cross. Jesus’s actions were reminiscent of some of the Old Testament prophets and their “action sermons.”

Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.

John 13:8

This is where some sacramentalists get themselves in trouble, thinking that foot-washing is a sacrament or even an ordinance. Jesus was speaking figuratively about what this action sermon represented. It was not a petty threat to “let Me serve you, Peter – or else!” He was talking about having “a part” with God – an inheritance of eternal life with the Father – symbolized here by an act of cleansing that would be done with His removal of sin on the Cross, appropriated by grace through faith.

Peter understood enough to know that ANYTHING that would take away His “part” with God in Jesus, was something of which He wanted no part.

Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.

John 13:9-10

This is a great picture of the once-for-all cleansing of salvation and the continual “foot-washing” cleansing of confession and repentance (I John 1:9).

For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

John 13:11

This refers to Judas, and reminds us once again of the amazing grace and humility of the Lord, who would stoop to wash the feet of His own betrayer, knowing full well what was in his heart.

So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.

John 13:12-14

This is the second part of the object lesson. Nothing becomes Christian service quite like genuine humility.

For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

John 13:15-17

We can see the pattern and the order here: Humility must come first – the willingness to sacrificially serve – but holiness must also follow. There is an understanding that Jesus first served us, but not according to our selfish plans or wishes. He served us to make us holy. Make sure your service for others is directed toward making them holy, and that it does not compromise your own holiness. Then, from humility to holiness, comes happiness.

I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.

John 13:18-19

Hyporcrisy is not part of the humility/holiness/happiness pattern, but it must be guarded against, first in our on hearts, then in the lives of brothers and sisters in Christ who we love.

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

December 3, 2019 at 4:45 pm | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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Jesus continued teaching at the Feast of Tabernacles.

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

John 7:37

This may have been the eighth day of the feast, but most likely it was the seventh day when the lampstand was lit and the water offering was poured out.

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

John 7:38-39

He continued using water to illustrate the eternal life that He grants, and now He associated the Living Water that only needs to be drunk once and then becomes an everlasting well in the drinker with the Holy Spirit Who would indwell believers after Jesus’s Ascension.

The response to this teaching was great speculation, conjecture, controversy, and confusion about Who exactly this Jesus was. Was He the Prophet from Deuteronomy 18:15, or was He the Messiah, the heir of David?

So there was a division among the people because of him.

John 7:43

This was very common throughout Jesus’s earthly ministry, not only in John’s Gospel, but in the synoptic Gospels, too. Jesus came to divide between the true and the false, the real and the fake, light and darkness, the devil’s kingdom and His Father’s Kingdom. Here, it provoked a decision to arrest Jesus.

Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?

John 7:45

These Levitical police officers were not Roman centurions. They were unaccustomed to using force in public, especially when the alleged perpertator could actually be the Messiah, or at least a bona fide prophet from God.

The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.

John 7:46

Of course, Jesus was no “mere man.”

Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.

John 7:47-49

The common people were looked down upon by the Pharisees for their lack of religious training or knowledge.

Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?

John 7:50-51

Nicodemus was at least in favor of searching the Scriptures to gauge the truth of what Jesus was teaching. As Christians today, we have access to a fuller revelation of God in our Scriptures than Nicodemus did in his, and we must be even more scrupulous in applying them.

The Joy of Rescuing Lost Sheep

October 14, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Posted in Luke | 3 Comments
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Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He came to this world on a mission, and He has commanded us to be part of this mission, alhtough Jesus is really the one who does the seeking and the saving, and He only seeks and saves that which is “lost.” People need to realize they’re lost in order to realize they need to be found.

Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Luke 15:1-2

“Sinners and publicans” are classified differently from “Pharisees and scribes” not because they are different in substance, but because they are different in attitude. One group recognizes its condition: lost. The other does not think of itself as lost. Those of us who frequently listen to orthodox Christian sermons and Bible lessons are used to hearing that Jesus is willing to save even the most notorious sinners, but sometimes we forget this wonderful truth: Jesus rejoices when He finds and saves what was lost!

And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

Luke 15:3-6

As human beings we are more like sheep than we at first might want to admit. We are helpless, lacking wisdom, prone to wander, prone to separate from others, prone to get into trouble. In Bible times a faithful shepherd would leave a flock of sheep to search for one lost sheep because it cost the shepherd to lose one AND because he loved his sheep. Jesus has paid a high price for His sheep, but He loves them also.

I hope you know the joy of what it means to be saved, but have you ever thought about the joy that Jesus experiences when He saves a lost sinner?

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luke 15:7

There may be a party in Heaven when ONE lost sinner is found by his or her Savior.

 

From Dark Death to Living Light

October 10, 2019 at 4:21 pm | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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Jesus, having learned of a contingent of gentiles who wanted an audience with Him as He made His way to Jerusalem with His followers and those waving palm branches, began to explain that His death would be the necessary fulfillment of all that He came to do.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

John 12:24

A kernel of wheat – a seed – must be buried away, in the dark, alone, in order to fulfill its purpose, and in its “death” it brings forth not only new life, but “much fruit.” This is a key New Testament theme, present in the Old Testament, but now revealed in a greater light. In order to bring forth fruit to the glory of God, followers of Jesus must die to self, both at the moment of salvation, and in ongoing service throughout our lives.

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

John 12:25

It’s not that we hate life itself; it’s that we hate the life that our flesh considers “ours.” We receive a new kind of life – eternal life, “God life” – that is directed unto the service and glorification of God, and the service of others, not self-service. This way, people will recognize God’s greatness and goodness in deeds that He inspires and empowers us to do. This hearkens all the way back to John 3.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

John 3:19-21, emphasis added

It also foreshadows Ephesians 2’s great statement spelling out the distinction between working BECAUSE OF salvation, rather than working FOR salvation.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10

Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

John 12:27

This sounds similar to the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: “If it be possible let this cup pass from Me, but nevertheless, not My will but Thine be done.”

Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

John 12:28 (emphasis added)

“Father, glorify Thy name.” This should be our prayer in even our most extreme trials.

God had already gloried His own name through Christ, primarily through His miracles, and, secondarily, through Christ’s perfect obedience and consistent attribution of His own actions and words as being the same as God’s actions and words. “I will glorify it again” points directly to the Cross.

The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.

John 12:29-30

The people did not have ears to hear God’s voice. It sounded like thunder, reminiscent of God’s revelation at Mt. Sinai:

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

Exodus 20:18-19

This was also a fulfillment of several prophecies throughout Isaiah about God increasing the inability of people who would reject His servant to hear or understand His Words and His teachings, which prompted the Holy Spirit to cause John to close out Chapter 12 with a theological treatise on the cause of the people’s unbelieving response to three-plus years of Jesus’s hands-on in-person ministry, miracles, and manifestation among them:

But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:

John 12:37, emphasis added

Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.

John 12:44, emphasis added

I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

John 12:46, emphasis added

The Smell of Death and the Sound of Life

October 8, 2019 at 9:06 am | Posted in John | 3 Comments
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Jesus informed His Disciples that his friend Lazarus had died. Despite the danger that a trip to Bethany would pose for Jesus, Who had been targeted for arrest and execution by the religious leaders, He nevertheless intended to go.

Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

John 11:14-16

The nickname commonly given to Thomas – “Doubting Thomas” – needs to be tempered with the understanding that he at least showed a courageous resolve in speaking up and calling for active faith as he proposed to follow Jesus into an encounter that could very well result in death.

Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.

John 11:17

There was a Jewish superstition in those days which held that a deceased person’s soul could linger in the vicinty of the body for a period of up to four days, at which time decompsition made it impractical for the soul to consider re-entering the body, and death became “more final.”

Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:

John 11:18

“Fifteen furlongs” indicates a distance of around two miles.

And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

John 11:19

It is possible that the large number of comforters were due to the influence and wealth of Martha’s and Mary’s family, but this also highligted the danger to Jesus in making His visit.

Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

John 11:20

Martha and Mary both acted in accord with their distinctive personalities: Martha rushing out to meet Jesus, and Mary inactively waiting.

Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

John 11:21-22

We must not conflate Martha’s busyness, however, with a complete lack of faith on her part.

Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

John 11:23-24

Martha misunderstood Jesus’s meaning concerning the timing of this interim resurrection that was about to happen, but her statement was nevertheless also true.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

John 11:25 (emphasis added)

This is the fifth of the seven commonly recognized “I AM” statement in the Gospel of John. He is the Bread of Life, the Water of Life, and the Light of Life. Food, water, and light are all necessary for life, but we need to also remember that Jesus IS the Life. Lately I’ve been seeing people post pictures of themseleves, their friends, their family members, even their pets, with the curious caption, “Living my/his/their best life.” If Jesus is truly eternal, abundant Life personified, then, by necessity, you can’t be living your best life apart from Him. Jesus is the Way of life and He gives life (II Timothy 1:10; I John 1:2): eternal, immortal LIFE.

And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

John 11:26-27 (emphasis added)

Martha’s statement is a great confession and profession, and all true Christians should affirm this truth.

And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

John 11:28

Martha called Mary secretly because of the danger in identifying with Jesus. Today we should take advantage of the freedom we have to meet openly with other believers and tell them the same thing.

Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

John 11:38-39

My daughter likes a silly joke where she sniffs the air curiously, and says, “Something around here smells like updog.” Gamely playing along, I ask, “What’s ‘updog?'” in response to which she beams brightly, slaps me on the back, and says, “Not much, dawg, what’s up with you?!” Maybe it’s one of those “you had to be there” moments, but I enjoy it. The miracle of Lazarus’s (who after four days in the grave smelled way worse than any updog, or downdog, for that matter!) resurrection went beyond any human or material agency. It was completely supernatural. No physician played a part, no medication was administered, no sleight of hand or optical illusions were employed. However, here is one of the many truths which we may take from this true historical account of Jesus’s miraculous power: God needs no man to accomplish His will, but He does deign to work through human agency.

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

John 11:43

It has been surmised that, perhaps, Jesus specifically used Lazarus’s name to prevent the emptying out of Abraham’s Bosom, or even sheol.

And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

John 11:44

Lazarus moved without walking. This is a picture of salvation in which spiritually dead sinners are brought to life without any meritorious cooperation on their own behalf.

Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.

John 11:45-47

This “council” was the Sanhedrin.

If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;

John 11:48-51

Caiphas gave a true (albeit unrecognized by him) prophecy.

And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. And the Jews’ passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.

John 11:52-77

The Pharisees, most likely invigorated by Satan deviously working and influencing behind the scenes, did not want Jesus to make it to the Passover alive.

When Kingdoms Collide

September 11, 2019 at 11:02 am | Posted in Luke | 3 Comments
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There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Luke 13:1-5

People like to ask why bad things happen to good people, or why innoncent people suffer, but the only time a truly good, innocent, and sinless person ever suffered was when Jesus Christ willingly suffered and lay down His life for the sins of His people.

He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

Luke 13:6

This fig tree wasn’t doing what a fig tree is supposed to do: it wasn’t bearing fruit.

Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

Luke 13:7

Three years is a long time for a mature fig tree to go with no fruit. Its owner had been pretty patient.

And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

Luke 13:8

The vinedresser proposed giving it another chance, with the idea that growth could be stimulated with manure. Sometimes it takes messy circumstances to stimulate growth and the production of fruit.

And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

Luke 13:9

The Lord is patient, but He does not abide fruitlessness forever.

And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.

Luke 13:10-11

Here was a woman (indicative of Luke’s typical interest in both women and illness) who had a condition which is called “a spirit of infirmity.”

And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

Luke 13:12-13

For the first time in 18 years this woman was able to stand up straight, walk properly, lift her arms, and look people in the eye. She glorified God, and imagine how happy the people in the synagogue must have been… but not the leader.

And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.

Luke 13:14

He was angry because he thought Jesus had made him look bad, challenged his authority, and questioned his teachings concerning the Sabbath.

The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?

Luke 13:15

Jesus accused him of loving his animals more than people. The Sabbath was supposed to be a blessing, not a burden.

And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?

Luke 13:16

The attitude of the religious leaders – even supposing that they HAD the power to heal the woman – would have been, “Wait, let’s not heal her on the Lord’s special day. Let her keep suffering so that it doesn’t interfere with our rule-keeping.”

And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.

Luke 13:17

No one could deny that what Jesus did was right. We can see this theme running through the end of Luke 12 and into 13: the idea of urgency; the need to discern the times; the motivation to get busy advancing the Kingdom. Disasters and suffering remind us to repent. Like a fig tree, we need to be bearing fruit before we are cut down. When God intervenes to stop suffering we should rejoice, not nit-pick. The people who look like they’re in charge of the Kingdom have corrupted it.

Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.

Luke 13:18-19

The Devil has his agents hiding in places where the Kingdom of God is ministering in this world.

And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Luke 13:20-21

This world’s kingdom tries to mix with the Kingdom of God, so we have to be diligent and work hard. We must stay on the narrow way and not quit.

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

Luke 13:23-24

Fight hard to know God and make Him known, and don’t let false religion or laziness or stress get in your way.

The Command, Calling, and Consequences of Following the Christ

June 17, 2019 at 10:06 am | Posted in John | 3 Comments
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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.

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