< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Jesus Giving Sight to the Man Born Blind

John 9:1-5 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

So, Jesus is leaving the group that had picked up stones to kill Him and He’s just walking along when He saw this blind man.

The word “saw” in Greek indicates Jesus looked closely and carefully at the man. It seems like this man was known because the disciples knew he had been born blind. Likely he was one of the many beggars who would sit at the temple gates hoping worshippers would be generous.

The disciples weren’t really concerned about the man – they just had a question for Jesus. “Who sinned, he or his parents?” Judaism in that day taught that all personal suffering was a result of personal sin or the sin of the parents. Scripture does teach that sin brings personal suffering. However the Old Testament also clearly teaches not ALL suffering can be traced to an individual or parents’ sins.

The entire book of Job shows that. And sometimes you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But suffering is always under God’s perfect, sovereign care. And sometimes a person’s response when they are suffering: if they stay faithful, cheerful, don’t blame God; will bring God more glory than if He miraculously got them out of their trial.

Jesus wasn’t as concerned with what caused it as how to relieve it and use it to glorify God. He would act in divine power to demonstrate God’s love and power.

He would show God’s glory by giving sight to a man who had never seen the light.
No matter what Jesus was doing He recognized that His Father’s will was woven into every encounter with every person.

Then Jesus said, “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me”
He said “we” because His disciples were called to do God’s work. And we are too. We are to do the work of God in the lives of those we encounter while the opportunity is there – as long as we live or until He comes back.

John 9:6-7 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

Often Jesus healed with a mere word. However in this miracle there were two stages in the healing.
This is one of three miracles in which Jesus used saliva to heal. In Jesus’ time, “fasting saliva” or saliva from some distinguished person was believed to possess healing qualities. The famous Roman writer Pliny devoted an entire chapter to the use of saliva for cures. It’s possible that Jesus used current customs to get the man to trust Him. This wasn’t a restoration of sight, but created sight. Kind of like when God breathed into Adam’s clay-formed nostrils the breath of life.

Jesus connected the gift of sight to the blind man’s obedience to His command to wash in the Pool of Siloam. John inserted the meaning of the word Siloam here. Sent. The Father sent Jesus and Jesus sent the blind man for the completion of the miracle.

There’s no coincidence that this took place after Jesus declared Himself to be the light of the world. This man had lived his whole life in darkness and Jesus gave him light.

Humans live like that too. We are in darkness and we don’t even know what we are missing out on until Christ comes into our lives. This man knew he was blind – but he didn’t really know what seeing was like!

John 9:8-12 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that he was.
Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”

But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”

10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.

11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

12 “Where is this man?” they asked him.

“I don’t know,” he said.

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”

16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.

17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”

The man replied, “He is a prophet.”

18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”

20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”

25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”

28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”

30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

The Pharisees were the faction of Jewish leaders who professed to believe in God’s supernatural power as revealed in Israel’s Scripture and history. But the chose not to recognize Christ’s power. Maybe because He interfered with their preconceived ideas and revealed their inadequacy. Probably because if they admitted He was who He said He was they would have to change their way of living. So they attempted to discredit Jesus and crush the healed man’s testimony.

They focused on the fact that it was the Sabbath and Jesus “broke the Law.”

The same thing happened when He healed the man at the Pool of Bethesda who couldn’t walk.
I had a thought here that maybe that’s REALLY why Jesus made the mud. If He had just spoken healing – maybe that wouldn’t have really been considered work, but He actually made the mud…..just a thought.

As the scene unfolds you can see the man changing. He gets more courageous. More bold in his testimony and more insightful in His appraisal of Jesus.

The parents however I thought were pretty awful! Wouldn’t you think they’d be overjoyed that their son could see? Instead they were so afraid they’d be thrown out of the synagogue that they threw their son under the bus by making him answer for himself!

Sometimes we don’t speak up for God. But our actions prove whom we fear most – God or man.
So the Pharisees called the man back. They basically told him to speak the truth as before God. (what they wanted him to then say was that the man was not a prophet and was a sinner.) And this is where he got bolder and more clear. He told the plain truth, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see.”

As the Pharisees argued with him the man began to see his restored sight as God’s sign and approval of Jesus. He logically reasoned Jesus must be of God. God’s wisdom is hidden from the prejudiced “wise and learned” who profess to see but are really blind. He concluded that “if this man were not from God he could do nothing.”

It’s interesting that the Pharisees began to verbally abuse the man by saying he was steeped in sin at birth, implying that his blindness was a curse from God – because that would imply that his healing was God’s blessing. They sort of dug themselves into a hole with that one!!!

Frustrated and with no real answers (to their liking!) they threw him out. Declaring the work and truth of Jesus always carries a cost. It may lead to ostracism, persecution or broken relationships with non-believers. This can hurt because it’s human nature to want to be accepted. To belong. But a relationship with Jesus carries a value beyond measure that is eternal and exceeds all earthly treasure. Jesus is our treasure!

John 9:35-41  Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

Remember the term Son of Man refers to the Messiah. The man seemed to get this, but was still confused. “Who was he?”

And Jesus basically says, “You’re looking at him!”

And faith and assurance replaced confusion. The man knew he was looking into the eyes of the Messiah of Israel, the Son of God!

And he said, “Lord, I believe.”

And he worshipped Him.

So you can see how this man changed. At first he referred to Jesus as ‘the man”, then when he realized a miracle had taken place, he called him a prophet, and then he recognized Him as the Son of God.

Where Jesus says He came so the blind could see, but those who see will become blind, reflect Isaiah 6:9-10:

He said, “Go and tell this people:
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ 10 Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull
 and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
 hear with their ears, understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

This speaks of God’s judicial blinding of those who choose not to see. He’s not going to force us – and if we reject Him the consequences are on us!

The Pharisees WERE blind. They claimed to live by Scriptures, but they didn’t recognize the One to whom the text pointed. In their prideful ignorance they rejected God’s Son.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

John 8: 12-59

John 8:12-18 12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”

14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”

The Feast of Tabernacles was a time of great light in the city of Jerusalem. Every night, four large candelabra were lit. The Jewish historian Josephus recorded that the brilliance of their blaze was enough to light every courtyard throughout all of Jerusalem. Until dawn, men with flaming torches danced before the people and sang praise songs, accompanied with musical instruments by Levites, the authorized temple workers. As soon as the first cock crowed, the Levites blew three blasts on the trumpets as a call to worship the Lord for His gift of light and the new day. This recalled the time Israel left Egypt, and God let them with a shining cloud in the daytime and a pillar of fire at night.

Light manifests God’s glory. From the first day of creation – “Let there be light” to Revelation’s picture of the New Jerusalem – where God’s presence replaces the sun – light displays God’s holiness, truth and splendor.

In this divine light, Jesus boldly proclaimed, “I am the light of the world.”

Just as a sudden flash of light makes you turn your eyes away – the Pharisees turned from what Jesus was telling them. They understood what He was saying. That He was the Messiah, the promised Savior of God’s people. But they didn’t want to hear that – so they interrupted Him with their talk about witnesses.

The law of Moses said there has to be two witnesses to make any testimony valid. So, they said He didn’t have another witness.

First Jesus told them that based on His own unique position and authority His testimony was sufficient.

He also said He judged no one. Earlier, Jesus had said God gave Him authority to judge, because He is the Son of Man, a claim to being the Messiah. But the time for Jesus to act as judge had not yet arrived. He had come to save people in the world, not to judge them. The time will come when Jesus will return to judge but not yet. He wanted them to know His purpose then was Salvation.

And of course He HAS a second witness anyway! God the Father bears witness to Jesus’ words and works as well as the results of His works in the lives of those who believe him.

John 8:19 – 30 19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”

“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.

21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”

22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”

23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”

25 “Who are you?” they asked.

“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied.26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”

27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father.28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.

When the Jewish leaders said, “Where is your father’ it was meant to be an insult. Remember everyone thought Joseph was His father. But Jesus replied, “You do not know my Father.”

Looking back at their history and Scriptures, these leaders should have recognized their Messiah. Yet they refused the very Savior whose coming they were chosen to proclaim to the world. They claimed to serve God, but they truly did not know Him because they refused to recognize His Son.

No matter who they are, anyone who refuses Jesus does not know God.

Jesus had also said earlier He was with them only for a short time, and at this point He repeated this prophecy, but with a stronger warning: “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin.”

This feast was probably the last time He addressed the crowds that had assembled from all parts of the region. The next festival would be Passover. Which is when Jesus would die. So, He’s warning the people here of the importance of this opportunity to believe.

Jesus went back to Heaven and it is ONLY through faith in Him that anyone can follow Him there. If you don’t trust Jesus to take away your sins you will pay for them yourself!

Those who confronted Jesus that day wondered if He were threatening suicide. Maybe that explained why they couldn’t follow Him. Jesus didn’t address that question, but instead pointed to the reason they did not understand Him. They were from the earth: He was from above.

He could not have been any clearer to the people. Over and over He told them who He was and they refused to believe Him!

When He said, “If you do not believe that I AM he” – remember that’s how God made Himself known in the Old Testament. I AM.

The shocking statement that they would die in their sins brought the key question, “Who are you?” Jesus said He had been revealing His identity from the very beginning of His ministry and life. Everything He revealed was directed by His Father who could be trusted in all things.

John 8:31-38  To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.

Jesus said that true discipleship involves holding to His teaching. This means more than admiring Jesus and an inclination to live as He lived.

It means to repent of our old ways and turn to Him in faith.

It means making time to read His Word, the Bible, which reveals Him.

It means applying His Word to life.

It means making Jesus’ words the light-filled atmosphere in which we choose to love to live!

People who do all this will be His disciples and know the truth. To know the truth is to begin to understand God’s great purpose in creation and history, and the meaning of life itself. This begins with a relationship with Jesus Christ Himself.

All of this brings freedom. Freedom was vital to the Jewish people. And you’ll notice Christ’s promise of freedom through believing in Him enraged the Jews. They said they were descendants of Abraham and “had never been slaves”. (Which was wrong of course – they had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years! They had also been in exile in Babylon for 70 years.

Before this time, the key event in their history was their liberation from Egypt. They had just celebrated the Feast of the Tabernacles, remembering God’s faithfulness to them on their journey after that miraculous rescue. But in Jesus’ day the Jewish people were not free as a nation: the Romans ruled them. Every person listening would have been gripped by Jesus’ promise, “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

Of course He wasn’t offering them freedom from Rome. He offered freedom from God’s judgment and freedom from sin’s control of their lives. We can be free from sinful habits, dominating fear, self-indulgence, cultural demands, self-absorption, anxiety, greed, pride, etc.

This freedom comes through the power of the Holy Spirit, which only Jesus can give. This is freedom to live the way God intended – purposefully, effectively and becoming more and more like Christ.
So, Jesus was speaking of spiritual bondage. Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” Good intentions or believing you will start acting a certain way in the future are no match for the presence and power of sin in people’s lives. Every person is driven to obey the impulses that come from our nature.

Next Jesus told them that a slave had no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. It’s believed Jesus was referring to Abraham’s history. Remember, Abraham had a son by a slave woman, Hagar, and that son, Ishmael, lived in his house. But when God gave Abraham a son by his wife, Sarah, the slave woman and her son were sent away. These Jews were Abraham’s descendants and they believed they were sons in God’s house forever. But Jesus was saying their attitude, which reflected their cold hearts, proved they were not true sons. And unless they turned to Him, they would be rejected when the true Son comes into His full inheritance.

Today some people believe they are children of God because they have grown up in the church, or because they regard themselves as “spiritual” or have a commitment to help others. But membership in God’s family comes through new birth through the Holy Spirt and faith in God’s Son. In THAT relationship is freedom, from both God’s judgment and sin’s control

John 8:39-59
39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered .“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 

40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 

41 You are doing the works of your own father.” 
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” 
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 

43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 
44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 

45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 
46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 
47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”

49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 
50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 
51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” 

52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 
53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” 

54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 
55Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” 
57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” 
58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 

59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

The Jews protested about “Abraham is our father.” Abraham had faith. He believed God’s promises – and one of them was a great descendant he would have – the Messiah. And these Jews were planning to kill that Messiah. Abraham was no father to anyone who rejected Jesus. In fact Jesus told them their father was someone completely different!

He answered their next argument by showing them their spiritual darkness. That they were unable to grasp the meaning of Jesus’ words because their father was the devil!

Can you imagine how this made them feel? These righteous Jews? But it was necessary for them to hear so that they would know they had to change and repent.

Jesus said the devil was a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies. In the garden his lie to Adam and Eve caused them to sin which brought death, first to their spirits and then their physical deaths. Everything and everyone after them died. And he (the devil) was behind the plot to kill the Messiah.

Next Jesus gave a tremendous challenge: Was there anyone who could accuse Jesus of ANY sin? Could they point a finger at any evil in His life?

The silence must have been deafening! They had no answer.

Jesus then asked, “Why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says.”
The reason they didn’t believe Him was they didn’t belong to God.

Next they said that Jesus was demon-possessed. Even a demon-possessed Samaritan. By calling Him a Samaritan they accused Him of heresy: Samaritans believed only part of the Old Testament.
Jesus just told them He wasn’t. And that He honored His Father and they dishonor Him. Jesus lived on the earth as a man in humble submission to His Father. He always lived the truth that God, the Judge of all people, rightfully receives honor and glory.

Then He made another huge statement. “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”

And they said, ‘Who do you think you are?” and “You are not yet 50 years old a- and you’ve seen Abraham?”

And here Jesus brought His teaching to a close with the clearest and most direct revelation of His deity. “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!”

When Moses stood at the burning bush and asked God who He was, God answered “I AM who I AM. This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.”

Jesus was saying that before Abraham was born, He was already existing as the divine I AM. God the Son, with God the Father, was living His continuous, timeless existence. God had made a covenant to live with His people and now Jesus was announcing He fulfilled God’s promise to live with them. With absolute clarity Jesus was declaring that He, in fact, was God himself.

This is the central truth of Christianity along with the truth that He came to die in the place of sinners so we could live forever with God, beginning now.

The Jews thought this was blasphemy and following their understanding of the Law picked up stones to kill Him. But His time had not yet come and He eluded them.

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Friday, September 01, 2017

Review of The Wellness Revelation

This isn't a book you just read. It's more of a workbook. And if you do it right it will keep you busy. (You get out of it what you put in to it!)

You can go through this on your own or in a group, but I think it would be worthwhile for just about anyone whether they want to lose weight or not. It's about so much more than losing weight.

You'll need your Bible next to you as you start this - she gives you many verses to look up. And a notebook for your thoughts would help too.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

John 8:1-11

John 8:1-5 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”

The religious leaders who opposed Jesus used the opportunity of Him teaching a crowd to trap and discredit Him in the eyes of the people. They planned to present Him with a problem that would draw criticism no matter what solution He chose.

In Israel’s early history, drastic measures were needed in Israel’s education, so adultery was punishable by death. And the religious leaders believed they had created the perfect inescapable situation for Jesus.

If He answered that the woman should be stoned, He would lose His reputation for mercy and for being a friend to sinners. If He called for her death, He would become a criminal in the eyes of Roman government. Roman law forbade any Jew from exercising the death penalty (except in the case of a Gentile trespassing in the temple.)

If He said the woman should be pardoned the leaders would accuse Him of breaking the law of Moses and permitting a sin that dishonored the bodies God created in His image.

Here’s His answer:

John 8:6-9 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.

What was He writing? Some suggest He was gaining time while He reflected on His answer in dependence on His Father. Some that He was giving her accusers time to think. Another possibility suggested is that the whole scene: the terrified woman, the triumphant looks on the faces of the scribes and Pharisees, the curiosity of the crowd – filled Jesus’ holy soul with so much shame that He hid His eyes.

Yet another suggestion comes out of the Armenian translation, “He Himself bowing His head was writing with His finger on the earth to declare their sins.” Could He have been writing down each accuser’s sins for them to see?

We don’t really know what He wrote – just that after He did it and said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one they went away.

Jesus didn’t dispute the law OR her guilt. But He did turn the situation around and cast light on the character of those who set themselves up as her judges.

John 8:10-11 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Standing in front of Jesus, the woman had no plea. No defense. Only Jesus. He gave her His full attention, asking, who was there to condemn her. And when she said no one, He said then neither do I condemn you.

Was He tolerant of her sin? Was He saying, “It wasn’t your fault”? No – but remember – God didn’t send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it through Him.

There is no condemnation in those who are in Christ.

He didn’t discount her sins, but came to save her from them. Compassionately He told her “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  His will for her was a transformed life.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

John 7:37- 53

John 7:37 – 39 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

On the first seven days of the Feast, people left their tree-branch shelters and went to the temple to worship. After the sacrifice was offered, a priest filled a golden pitcher with water from the Pool of Siloam. As he brought it back into the temple, the crowd shouted and played music on cymbals and trumpets. The rejoicing was so great the rabbis said those who had never seen this ceremony had never tasted true joy. When they returned to the temple, the priest cried, “lift up your hand,” and he poured out the water from the golden pitcher. Accompanied by cymbals and trumpets, the people said, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” According to rabbinic tradition, those words have always pointed to the Messiah.

The last day of the Feast was different from the others. This eighth day commemorated the beginning of a new era – the day the Israelites entered the Promised Land of Canaan. Jewish historians say that on this eighth day there was no water drawn. The water ceremony would show that when the Israelites entered Canaan, they were no longer in a desert but drank from the rivers of Canaan.

It was on this day the Son of God called for those who were thirsty to come to Him, the fulfillment of His Father’s promise. Jesus offered Himself as the living water.

All Temple symbolism pointed to Him. Jesus had once compared His body to the temple itself. He also spoke of Himself as the Bread from heaven. Now He revealed Himself s the Rock that when struck gives not mere water, but living water of eternal life.

To those who are aware of their spiritual thirst, Jesus gives Himself and eternal renewal and satisfaction.

Thirst is mentioned in Old Testament scripture:

David wrote in Psalm 63 You, God, are my God,  earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,  my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land   where there is no water.

And Isaiah called out “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat.”

Fulfillment of God’s great promises is centered on the Person and work of Jesus. And on that day God’s Son called people to come and take from Him rivers of life that overflow with His renewing and loving power.

John 7:40 – 49 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.”
41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.”

Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. 

Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”

46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.
47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.”

The priests pointed out to the guards that no leader from a rabbinical school followed Jesus, only the ignorant would be awed by Him they said. These people, they said, were not trained and therefore didn’t understand the law. We sort of get this from “intellectuals” today too, don’t we!

John 7:50 – 53 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”

52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”

53 Then they all went home,

Nicodemus took the risk of raising a point of law. The other rulers were so furious they ignored the legal question and tried to embarrass Nicodemus. Then they ranted erroneously that no prophet ever came from Galilee. Perhaps they forgot Isaiah had spoken of Messiah’s great light shining there.

Isaiah 9:1-2 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

2 The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

The question, “Who is Jesus and what is your response to Him?” divides people in the world today and will continue to do so until He returns. But those who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith come together in perfect union with the Almighty God, who gives them His Holy Spirit to live fully for Him.

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John 7:1-36

John 7:1-9 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

6 Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 8 You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.

John 7 reveals an atmosphere of open controversy and confused thinking about the person and authority of Jesus. He moved and taught amid a stormy climate of heckling interruptions, accusations and constant danger of arrest and death. This chapter reveals the thinking and emotional attitudes of many groups of people. We hear a controversy between Jesus and His brothers. And that’s just the first group!

What we’ll see when reading this is – the human heart has not changed. We have the same conflicting tendencies, questions and fears of being in the minority. We waver between faith and unbelief. We experience similar attempts to stifle Jesus’ message when we worry about what that group might think of us as His followers. 

As we go through the chapter, try to picture yourself in one of the groups that fits. For instance, are you like His brothers who want Him to show His powers so other people will see how great your guy is? Do you want Jesus to show Himself to the Muslims and atheists today – to prove you are right in your beliefs? And they are wrong?

In this passage, Jesus stayed away from Jerusalem because He knew the religious leaders had determined to kill Him, but His time hadn’t come yet. This was the Feast of Tabernacles, one of the three festivals of Mosaic Law requiring Jewish men to attend. And His brothers presumed He would go and questioned Him about His delay. 

*side note about His brothers. In Matthew we learn His brothers’ names: James, Joseph, Simon and Judas. It also mentions sisters, but without their names.

James became the second leader of the church in Jerusalem after Jesus’ ascension and the beheading of the apostle James. It is Jesus’ brother that wrote the book of James.

His brother Judas – is Jude, the writer of the book of Jude.

But at this time, they didn’t believe in Him. That seems strange because they had grown up with Him – wouldn’t they have seen how perfect He was? And surely Mary and Joseph had talked about His birth (?) They knew about His miracles and most likely heard Him teach. Maybe they were too close!
Or maybe the reason shows up in their trying to get Him to go to Jerusalem to show His power. He wasn’t living up to their expectations. Why wasn’t he doing spectacular acts everywhere, all the time? Overwhelming the Jewish and Roman authorities.

Instead He healed the sick. He spoke God’s truth to ordinary people. And in His life of ministry he set the model of a Christian’s way of life. Followers of Jesus do not seek glory for themselves. They humbly, yet boldly love God. Love others and share God’s Word.

He wasn’t trying to be a public figure. He didn’t have to be. He was (is!) God! And He was committed to an eternal purpose for which there was a definite and divine timetable. And He told His brothers to go without Him. His “time had not yet come.” (We’ll see shortly that He does go to Jerusalem in the middle of the festival and teaches openly in the temple.)  Jesus followed God’s plan step by step.

The Feast of the Tabernacles was the most popular festival of the year. For 7 days in autumn, booths or “tabernacles” made from the branches of trees, lined the city streets and the roads leading to Jerusalem. Staying in these shelters reminded the Jews of God’s presence with them after they left Egypt and traveled toward the Promised Land. 

Every morning in the temple, the priests poured out water in memory of the water God provided for His people through Moses from the rock at Massah and Meribah. Every evening there were two great candelabra representing the pillar of fire by which God led Israel at night. The feast celebrated God’s grace in rescuing the nation and also looked forward to future joy in the time of the Messiah.

John 7:10-13 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?”
12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.”
Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.

John describes 3 reactions to Jesus among the crowds at the feast.

First the hostile leaders searched for Him. They had planned to kill Him since He healed the man at the Pool of Bethseda on a Sabbath. The expected Him to be at the Feast and hoped to arrest Him before those who believed in Him could surround Him.

Second, the pilgrims argued about him. Some said, “He is a good man”. Others, “No, He deceives people.” Not so different from today!

Third, everyone whispered their opinions for fear of the leaders. The Jewish leaders said anyone who openly confessed Jesus as Messiah would be put out of the synagogue.

John 7:14-24 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”

16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”

20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”

21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

Half way through the seven-day festival, Jesus went to the temple courts and began to teach. Even though they were against Him, the Jewish leaders listened. And they expressed amazement at His knowledge and wisdom. They knew Him only as the son of a carpenter from Nazareth, without the formal training of the rabbinical schools. They marveled at His skillful use of the Old Testament Scriptures and His great insight. 

Jesus said in verse 17 - Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. Remember, He also said, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He sent.” So Jesus traced all doubts, concerning the divine source of His authority to what is basically a moral issue – unwillingness to do God’s will.

Vs 18 answers the slander that “He deceives the people.” Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him Jesus always and only honored and glorified God in everything He said and did. 

And remember, He is our model. He made Himself nothing so the Father could be glorified through Him. In the book of Philippians, Paul urges us to imitate Christ’s humility.

Philippians 2:1-4 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

John 7:25-32 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? 27 But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”

28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”

30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?”

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.

The people were amazed to find Jesus boldly defying the authorities as He taught in the temple area. Along the outer “Court of the Gentiles” were two colonnaded porches called “The Royal Porch” and “Solomon’s Porch” where rabbis talked to groups of followers. The people expected someone to appear at any moment to arrest Jesus or at least stop Him. But as He continued they began to wonder if He really could be the Messiah. And did the rulers know it?

Popular belief held that the Messiah would burst suddenly and mysteriously upon His people without anyone knowing where He came from. They thought they knew all about Him – but actually if they knew He was born in Bethlehem (not Nazareth) and to a Virgin, they might have put two and two together!

Jesus infuriated the Pharisees when He said, “You do not know Him” – which was telling them they didn’t know God, because if they did they’d know His Son! Again, Jesus was clearly stating His divinity. And to the Jews that was blasphemy.

John 7:33 – 36 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”
35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”

Jesus’ words were urgent – the people only had a short time to make a decision about Him. We have that same urgency today. Either we’ll die some day or He’ll come back for us – either way, we have to make up OUR minds about Him.

Those who reject Jesus cannot expect to be in Heaven with Him. But for those who DO believe – we have His promise, “I will come back and take you to be with me.”

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John 6:52-71

John 6:52-59 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Jesus gets more challenging here. He brings up His blood. Now He’s not just describing Himself as the bread from heaven, but the Passover Lamb. Remember it was the Israelites placing the blood of the slain lamb over their door that protected them at the first Passover.

But here’s Jesus talking about drinking His blood. In the law of Moses, God sternly forbade drinking or eating meat with blood remaining in it. The only permissible use for blood in the Old Testament was to make atonement for sin. Because of this law, Orthodox Jews today drain all blood from meat before cooking. But Jesus now said, “Unless you drink of this blood you have no life in you.”

This shocked and deeply offended the people who refused to acknowledge the spiritual meaning of His words. But, remember when John the Baptist saw Him in the crowd and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’

God’s grand story of redemption in the Old and New Testaments and Jesus’ historical death on the cross make the spiritual meaning of these words clear. With the pictures of the Old Testament sacrifices in mind, the New Testament states, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness”. Because shed blood points to death, to “drink” Jesus’ blood is to participate personally in His death. It means more than simply knowing He died for sinners. It means trusting that He died for you and for the forgiveness of your specific sins.

Jesus’ blood shed on the cross not only cleanses believers from the guilt of sin, but also delivers us from the power of sin. His very name was given to Him because it means, “He will save his people from their sins.”

To “drink Christ’s blood” is, through faith in His death, to count yourself as having died with Him to your old life. This means you renounce your own rights and all merit, strength and wisdom that come from your own resources. Instead you trust in His sacrifice as the only atonement for your sins acceptable to God and experience deliverance from sin’s power

When we receive Christ “eating His flesh” and “drinking His blood” we share in His nature. We trust His promises, fight our sin in His strength and apply His reactions to human circumstances, to our own lives. Christ gives us His thoughts and feelings, His will, actions and words. Christ is then lived out in every believer.

The way Jesus lived on earth is the way God designed each of us to live – that’s why as believers we are to become more and more like Him – and one day when we stand before Him in Heaven we will be completely transformed.

John 6:60 – 66 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

Jesus’ tremendous statements and personal claims brought His followers to a crisis of decision. We ALL have to make a decision about Christ. Some of His disciples left Him. When they said, “this is a hard teaching,” they didn’t mean difficult to understand. They meant unacceptable, harsh, even offensive.

Jesus was offering them eternal life. But they wanted a Messiah who gave them their earthly desires: miraculous manna, material blessings, political freedom. They didn’t want a suffering Messiah who would die on the cross even though He told them it would save them from their sins.

The Apostle Paul described their mindset when he wrote, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Paul preached that a crucified Savior is “a stumbling block” to the religious Jews and “foolishness” to the intellectual Gentiles.

Jesus answers their grumbling in 4 parts.

First, aware of their heart attitude, He asked, “Does this offend you?”
Second, He mentions His death, “What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where He was before?”
His resurrection and ascension prove He is who He said He was.
He started out in Heaven and came to earth and rose again as a man to His authority back in Heaven.
Third, He mentions the Spirit. It is the Spirit that gives us understanding.
And fourth, He mentions unbelievers. “Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”

John 6:67-71  “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

Jesus seems to have intended to separate those who were swept up by the excitement of the miracles from those who truly believed in Him. The fact many who formerly followed Him no longer wanted to be with Him proved they had never truly believed. They were swayed by the crowds and mere passing desire.

It still must have hurt. You can hear it in His words to the 12, “You do not want to leave, too, do you?”

Peter’s glorious reply marks a turning point in Jesus’ ministry and in the lives of the disciples. Speaking for the faithful 11, Peter and the other 10 committed themselves to follow Jesus all the way to the cross. There would be no turning back, even as His earlier popularity declined and persecution began. The Father had drawn them to Christ, and they were God’s gift to His Son for eternity.

People today still refuse to believe if they think what He calls them to do is “too hard.” They don’t want the new way of life – so they turn their backs on Him.

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John 6:22-51

John 6:22-24  The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.

So the night before was the feeding of the 5000. After which the crowd wanted to make Jesus king and He put His disciples in the only available boat while He went up into the mountains to pray.

The next morning, probably the pilgrims who were on their way to Passover in Jerusalem would have continued on their way. But many would have still been around hoping to see Jesus do another miracle. But they couldn’t find Him.

They knew He didn’t go with His disciples so they hired boats that had arrived from Tiberias on the western shore of the lake, to take them to Capernaum on the northeast shore. There they found Jesus in the synagogue. And of course had no idea how He got there.

John 6:25-27 25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

Jesus ignored their question. But He helps them grasp the true aim of life.

In the Gospels, Jesus introduced key statements with the phrase “Truly, I tell you” more than 100 times. The word translated “truly” is the Greek form of the Hebrew word “amen”, meaning “let it be so” or “it is so.” In the Old Testament and the Epistles “amen” comes at the end of a statement. Christians might say “Amen” when they agree with something or someone.

Jesus alone begins statements with “amen.” And usually He says it twice to stress its importance. He uses this term when He speaks of Himself as the bread of life. So this is REALLY important!

As always, He knows peoples’ hearts. He knows they were coming to Him today because He had fed them free food the night before! They wanted more food! And they wanted healing and political freedom. Few longed for the spiritual satisfaction only Jesus could give them.

But remember from the beginning of our study of the Gospel of John: Jesus’ miraculous works are called signs because the miracles point to Jesus as Messiah and Lord. Feeding them bread represented Jesus as the Bread of Life, given to them for eternal life.

Jesus gives them here a way to change by giving them two definite commands. The first was negative – “Do not work for food that spoils.”

What consumes your thoughts, time, energy and money? Don’t put your whole life’s effort into things that are only material. You really can’t take it with you! We can take stock of our lives and ask God to show us specific ways to alter our daily life toward this eternal perspective.

Jesus tells them that He, the Son of Man, is the source of food that never spoils. And that He will give it to them (and us). It’s a gift! No one can earn it – He freely gives it to all who believe. And “Son of Man” is a Messianic term, so He’s announcing He’s the Messiah here.

Where He says, “For on Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.” Jesus is the only way to God. We receive eternal life only through Christ. Only Jesus can satisfy human hunger for meaning, purpose and fellowship with God. He placed this hunger in the human heart when He created a human personality.

John 6:28-29 28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Our work is knowing who He is, believing everything that means and opening our hands and receive His gift. HE did the work. His perfect life, His sacrificial death on our behalf was the only real work here… Eternal life rests on GOD’S faithfulness!

John 6:30-33 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

The crowd was basically saying, “It is true that you have just fed more than 5000 people. But you did it just once: Moses fed the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years. If you are God’s unique prophet, then prove it. What sign greater than anything Moses did, will you do?”

This seems kind of incredible that they would still ask for more miracles! But don’t we see people doing that today? We have the whole Bible telling of God’s redemption from Genesis to Revelation and still people say, “Well, if God will do this one thing, then I’ll believe.” Sometimes we wait for Jesus to give us more understanding; instead of acting on what we already know.

I’ve heard several theologians and ministers lately say, “You probably don’t need another Bible study. You just need to start being obedient to what He’s told you.”

All of nature and history testify to Him. The unity of God’s Word testifies to its truthfulness. Like these people, many today want a Jesus they can control. One who will keep them well fed and prosperous
John 6:34-40Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

They still don’t get it. They wanted a formula for eternal life, not a relationship with Christ. They asked Him for something and He offered them Himself! Jesus tells them for the 4th time: this time with a bit more information

“I am the bread of life” is the first of 7 statements Jesus makes about Himself, His identity and work in a believer’s life. The 7 statements are only found in the Gospel of John. The other 6 are:

I am the Light of the World
I am the Gate (the door) for the sheep
I am the Good Shepherd
I am the Resurrection and the Life
I am the way, the truth and the life
I am the Vine

We’ll get to each of those in the coming chapters, but just so you know – when He says “I am” – He’s calling Himself Yahweh. Because that’s what God said His name was in the Old Testament.

Where He says we are God’s gifts to Jesus - Scripture teaches twin truths: God “chose us in Him (Christ) before the creation of the world” (We were predestined.) YET, we are responsible to believe. Faith is a gift, but God doesn’t do the believing for us.

But because we are God’s gifts to Jesus – we can know He’ll never turn us away when we come to Him!

It’s God’s will that we believe in His Son and have eternal life! He will raise us up with a transformed body – every trace of sin and sorrow removed, spotless and glorious like His own glorious, imperishable human body.” We will live forever with Him and every other believer, raised by Him to glory that never ends.”

This is WONDERFUL news!! If we come to Christ we will go to Heaven. Because that’s God’s will!!!!

John 6: 41-51 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Nobody could miss that Jesus was claiming divine origin. Yet these people knew His family. He had grown up in the area. From their perspective, how dare He claim to have any origin other than a merely human one.

John said, “the Jews” grumbled. When John, himself a Jew, refers to “the Jews” he means the leadership or Jesus’ opponents. And they didn’t really know all about Jesus. They assumed Joseph was His father. They didn’t know He was born from a virgin. And He didn’t tell them – although things like that and being born in Bethlehem would have pointed to Him as the Messiah they were waiting for.

Instead He showed His authority by the sinless life He lived. By His miracles, By the way He spoke scripture and His bold claim to equality with God.

Any of these things should have caused a seeker to have considered His claims, but their refusal to believe was actually hostility toward God and unbelief in the Old Testament prophets.

Jesus answered their grumbling with essential truth about salvation:

First, God the Father gives and draws individuals to His Son.
Second, God holds responsible those who refuse to believe the truth about His Son.
Third, belief in Jesus brings everlasting life immediately and forever.
Fourth, Jesus would give His flesh, His life, for the life of the world. “The bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

In verse 45 where He said It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.

He’s quoting Isaiah who prophesied the entire community, all Israel, will be taught inwardly and directly by God. The full scope of this prophecy will happen in the future, but still then and today all those who respond to God’s drawing to faith come to Jesus.

And He will never turn away anyone His Father draws to Him. No believer need ever say, “I hope to reach heaven.” Eternal life, by definition, cannot end. It is a permanent possession of every believer. We immediately are with Jesus when we close our eyes on earth.

Jesus could not have been clearer here – that HE is the way to eternal life!

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Review of Questions about Heaven and Hell

In Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz’s book ‘Answering theToughest Questions about Heaven and Hell’ they begin by discussing what different religions believe about after life. This shows that God has placed in all humans a belief in at least A God and that they are eternal.

They also discuss what science: physics and biology show us about after life.

And that Jesus hated death so much He “killed it”.

Most importantly they discuss seven things the Bible says about death. And that Heaven and Hell are real places. And how often Jesus talked about both places.

After every question is answered, the authors list a few questions for the reader to think about.

I’ve read many books on Heaven and am always interested in learning more. This is a good reference book for Christians – not only for their own information, but to help them answer non-believer’s questions.

Bethany House gave me a copy of this book for my honest review. 

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Review of Do Baby Bears Have Mommies?

Do Baby Bears Have Mommies? has a list of questions your child might ask on each page with an answer. (I even learned some things!)

The illustrations are charming and both the questions and answers are in the form of rhymes, so fun to read to your children. And I like how it ends with telling the reader that it's God who makes all these unique animals and bugs.

This is the first in a series of Question books the authors are working on which includes the book Does God Take Naps. These would make a fun and educational edition for your kid’s library.

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