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.

Jesus Saves the (Wedding) Day

March 7, 2019 at 4:36 pm | Posted in John | 4 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.

Here’s Your Sign

January 30, 2019 at 4:25 pm | Posted in John | 2 Comments
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Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

John 2:18

The temple leaders almost sound reasonable (rather than the responsive anger we might expect from them) as they ask Jesus, in effect, “What gives you the right to regulate Temple practices?” Their criteria for someone who exercised authority without a history of being a priest or even a known and respected rabbi was that He would perform a “sign” – give them a display of miraculous power that would demonstrate He had Heavenly authority. Of course, He had recently given such a “sign” at the wedding in Cana, so we (the readers of John Chapter 2) know He has the ability, and the apparent willingness to demonstrate it, but Jesus would not be provoked into showing off when such signs, though miraculous, would not engender true saving faith in Him, nor serve to heal or help someone who was in distress.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

John 2:19-20

This is a somewhat common occurrence in the Gospel of John, where Jesus reveals a spiritual truth, and the listeners misunderstand and think He is talking crazy or at least expressing earthly and material, rather than spiritual, ideas. Plus, we have, in this instance, the benefit of an editorial comment from the Holy Spirit through John:

But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

John 2:21-22

This makes for a good segue into how Jesus thought about those who believed in Him merely because He could do miracles, rather than because of His teaching and divine revelation.

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

John 2:23-25

These verses look forward to issues that are about to be addressed in John Chapter 3. First, Jesus had divine omniscient knowledge of what other people thought and what was in their hearts. He could read minds, and He knew people better than they knew themselves. He did not “entrust” Himself or “commit Himself” to superficial “believers” the way He did to His true disciples. This helps to understand a little more about Jesus’s famous encounter with Nicodemus which begins Chapter 3.

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

John 3:1

The idea is that Nicodemus was a chief teacher.

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 3:2

There are various theories as to why Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, other than the possibility that it might just be noted for us as an instance of accurate reporting. Perhaps he was embarrassed, ashamed, or afraid to be seen consorting with this non-Pharasaical rabbi – or with the dangerous loose cannon who caused a scene in the Temple. On the other hand, perhaps Nicodemus merely wanted to speak to Jesus without the interruption that was more likely to occur during a daytime visit. In either case, the darkness of night is most likely a metaphor for Nicodemus’s spiritual darkness, located here in close proximity to passages of Scripture which highlight Jesus as the Light of the World. Nicodemus can probably be classified (because of his statement about teachers who are truly from God being able to do miracles) as one of those who “believed” only because of those miracles.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3

Why does Jesus basically ignore Nicodemus’s initial statement? Because He “knew what was in” Nicodemus. Nicodemus’s real need wasn’t to find out whether Jesus was a true prophet, or truly sent by God to do miracles, or even to learn from His teaching. His real need was a new hearta new birth – some basis on which He could enter – or even see! – the God of the Kingdom of Whom the Pharisees and their chief leaders thought they were the closest and the best representatives!

Don’t Get Too Attached To Your Coat

November 1, 2010 at 10:30 am | Posted in Genesis | 8 Comments
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What was so special about Joseph?

And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

Genesis 39:2, emphasis added

It’s not just that the Lord was all Joseph wanted. It’s not even that the Lord was all Joseph needed. The Lord was all Joseph had. We would all be better off if we realized the same truth. Joseph was a success and hero, but the real cause of it was that he trusted the Lord and wanted to honor the Lord.

It may have looked from a worldly point of view like Joseph was blessed to have Egypt, but from a Heavenly point of view Egypt was blessed to have Joseph. Remember the promise of God’s covenant. He would bless those that blessed Israel.

And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.

Genesis 39:5

Joseph believed the covenant promise. To an Egyptian culture with 2000 gods that seemed to be fixated with death in its worship, Joseph must have seemed like a breath of fresh air as he emphasized life.

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

Proverbs 22:29

Joseph was diligent and hardworking, so God allowed him to work for the top men in Egypt. There is a principle for today in this lesson: If I am a lazy worker, I will probably wind up working for a bad boss. Both Jacob and Joseph had inherited their blessings from rich fathers, but God worked it out so they had to work hard and depend on Him.

And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.

Genesis 39:6

It appears that God made Joseph physically attractive, and, while this is often an advantage in life, it was a cause of trouble for Joseph. Potiphar’s wife lusted after him. Joseph glorified God by rejecting her advances.

There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

Genesis 39:9

Joseph could envision the consequences of sin, but the only thing that kept him from falling into sin was that he knew Who sin was against.

And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.

Genesis 39:12, emphasis added

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

II Timothy 2:22, emphasis added

This was the second time in Joseph’s life he had lost his coat, but he was clothed in Christ.

And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers. And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound. And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward. And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison. And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad. And he asked Pharaoh’s officers that were with him in the ward of his lord’s house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to day? And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.

Genesis 40:1-8

Joseph focused on others – and gave the glory to God.

Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.

Genesis 40:13

Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.

Genesis 40:23

Should we be surprised the butler forgot Joseph?

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:

Psalm 146:3-6

When Pharaoh had his dreams, then the butler remembered Joseph.

Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.

Genesis 41:14

Joseph dressed up for his appointment with Pharaoh. It is important to take care about our appearance, because that is how we are often judged by others.

Joseph lost his coat for the third time. He had been given a coat by his earthly father, and now his Heavenly Father gives him a coat through Pharaoh.

And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;

Genesis 41:42

Joseph was given an Egyptian name.

And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.

Genesis 41:45

Joseph’s Egyptian name spoke of the abundance of life and the Sustainer of life. It pointed to the type of person who enjoys life and lives it with a purpose – who brings life to others. Joseph got a gentile wife, which is a kind of picture of Christ marrying a gentile bride after His rejection by the Jews.

Here is another similarity between Joseph and Jesus:

And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.

Genesis 41:55, emphasis added

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

John 2:3-5, emphasis added

When your provision runs out, look to Jesus, and whatever HE says: DO IT.

And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.

Genesis 42:6

Joseph provided bread to the nations; Jesus Christ provided the Bread of Life.

For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

John 6:33

Jacob’s family had multiplied – often in immorality. Now God showed that He was still in control. It’s great to have a big family – except in a famine!

But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him. And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan. And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.

Genesis 42:4-6

This incident almost fulfilled the prophecy of Joseph’s dream, but one brother was missing. That fact may explain much of Joseph’s thinking in how he dealt with his brothers from that point forward. He knew that all the brothers – and Jacob – needed to bow before him. He also knew that the brothers needed to repent because, for all he knew, they could still hate him.

And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.

Genesis 42:7, emphasis added

The incident reminds us of the two disciples who encountered the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

Luke 24:15-16

Even before Joseph’s brothers recognized him, they started to feel conviction.

And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required. And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.

Genesis 42:21-23

Quarterback Commandment No. 2

March 19, 2009 at 11:37 am | Posted in Quarterback Commandments | 15 Comments
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This is the second in a series of 11 “Quarterback Commandments” which Bill Parcells gave to Tony Romo, quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. The connection between the Quarterback Commandments and this series of Bible lessons can be found in the preface to Quarterback Commandment No. 1.

Quarterback Commandment No. 2: Clowns can’t run a huddle. Don’t forget to have fun, but don’t be the class clown. Clowns and leaders don’t mix. Clowns can’t run a huddle.

Spiritual Application: Christians are supposed to be Christ-like. We are supposed to act the way Jesus acted. There is no evidence in Scripture to indicate that Jesus was generally morose, pedantic, boring, overly austere, or just plain old “no fun to be around.” I know many preachers and teachers like to claim that some of the church fathers, reformers, and Puritans gave Jesus a bad image by portraying Him as somber, serious, and grumpy. Modern evangelicals love to point out that Jesus was not a “cosmic killjoy.”

Let’s be analytical for a second. We know Jesus had a sense of humor. Matthew 7:4 and a few other verses show that He could turn a phrase to humorous effect, and even be a little sardonic at times (Matthew 23:24). After all, He was the Book of Proverbs personified, so He must have been witty, as well as wise. We also know that He went to a wedding (John 2:2), He enjoyed good food (John 21:13), and little children liked to be around Him (Matthew 18:2, Luke 18:16).

However, the instances of Jesus joking around are extremely rare in the Gospel record. We see Him angry (Matthew 21:12). We see Him grieved (Luke 13:34). We see Him challenging the status quo (Matthew 23:33). We see Him teaching the greatest and most valuable truths ever taught. We even see Him crying (John 11:35).

So was Jesus Christ a bitter, discontented grouch? Definitely not! Was He a clown? Definitely not! In Christ Jesus, the supreme example for every Christian, we observe the perfect balance. He could weep with those who wept. He laughed with those whose laughter was not sinful. He sternly admonished those who needed correction. He showed compassion and real solutions to those who were truly hurting. And He never, ever ONCE brought shame or disgrace to His Holy Name, to His character, or to His testimony. He never once stepped even a millimeter outside the will of His Father.

As Christian “quarterbacks,” it is possible to have fun in Christian leadership. But, for a quarterback, there must be a difference between having fun and being a clown. The Gospel is a not a “business,” but we might say that we should consider our duty to preserve, protect, and promote the Gospel message to be “serious business.”

Lester Roloff, before he would begin a sermon, would sometimes sing along with some of the young ladies whom God had used him to rescue from lives of addiction and immorality. In one song, he liked to remind people of the seriousness of our spiritual warfare.

“It’s a battlefield, brother, not a recreation room,” he would sing.
“It’s a fight and not a game.
“When I fall down I’m gonna get right up,
“‘Cause I didn’t start out to play
“Run if you want to, run if you will,
“But I came here to stay.”

Consider what the Bible has to say about the demeanor of Christian leaders:

That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

Titus 2:2

Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,

Titus 2:6-7

Whether we are running a prayer huddle, a Sunday School class huddle, a family worship huddle, or a Biblical counseling huddle, let us remember that “Clowns for Christ” is an oxymoronic idea.


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