< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Review of Living the Spirit-Formed Life

This book, 'Living the Spirit-Formed Life' is so practical!

The author, Jack Hayford, says that living the Spirit-formed life is when we allow the Holy Spirit to set the structure for our lives and get our lives organized, under control and disciplined. To bring fullness to ourselves. To get maturity under Christ's Lordship by linking our souls to timeless practices and principles set forth in Scripture and proven valid.

He says we are to learn God's grace, but live Christ's laws.

And to do this he says first we have to have faith. And it doesn't have to be a lot of faith; only a basic, foundational trust in Jesus. Faith in who He is and confidence in what He has done for us as man-kind's only Savior.

We are to be a strong support to others also. A faithful church worker, a dependable employee, loving spouse, wise parent, good pastor, considerate boss, helpful neighbor, etc. When we put our faith in Jesus, HE makes us dependable disciples who work for the Kingdom.

Next we are to spend time in God's Word. And every time we read it we are to listen. Listen to what He wants us to do. And then do it! God's Word has been given to increase growth, fruitfulness and blessing both in and through our lives. So we should listen with a heart ready to be taught and to obey. Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice and they FOLLOW me."

God's Word is essential to everything in our lives. Every issue is covered by the truth and wisdom contained in His Book. And simply giving the Word a place in your life every day is taking the oath of allegiance. This invites His direction.  "In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths." He is a lamp today and a light for tomorrow. Details for today, discernment for tomorrow. Daily reading keeps us pure.

I liked what the author said about communion too: "Communion is a celebration of victory won! Our salvation is complete, our sins are forgiven and we are justified by His death. So we give thanks! We are proclaiming His coming back!

These are just a few of the golden nuggets in the book. I recommend it highly.

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Sunday, November 05, 2017

Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father, except through Me"

John 13:18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.”

In Middle Easter culture there was no treachery worse that to eat at a person’s table and then betray him, because to eat together shows true friendship.

Jesus knew Judas completely: his mind, his desires and disappointments. And Judas had witnessed the miracles, heard all the teachings and Christ’s promises, prophecies and warnings.

But he wasn’t satisfied, and he succumbed to the devil’s influence. But Jesus washed his feet along with the other disciples. But when He spoke of them being clean and promised blessing for following His command, He continued, I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. 

And Jesus not only knew Judas completely, He knew His betrayal would fulfill prophecy from the words and the life of His human ancestor King David. David wrote in Psalm 41:9 Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.

John 13:19-30 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me. After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”
22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”
25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.
The table around which they gathered was a low, solid block, with couches grouped around it in a half-circle. As host, Jesus would have been in the center with a disciple on each side. Each man reclined on his left side with his left arm on a cushion for support, leaving his right arm free for eating. They stretched their feet out behind them. This meant the head of each person was near his neighbor’s chest on the left.
During the Passover meal, it was customary for the father of the family to give the honored guests pieces of bread or meat dipped in a juice made from fruit boiled in wine, a symbol of the fruits of the Promised Land.
Jesus gave this to Judas. This should have really touched Judas. But now Satan had entered him. Matthew 27 records Judas regretted his decision to betray Jesus and tried to return the 30 pieces of silver the chief priest paid him. But remorse isn’t the same as repentance. Remorse is wishing you hadn’t done something, usually because of the consequences, but refusing to confess and ask for forgiveness. Repentance is a deliberate change in mind, spirit and life direction following the receiving of forgiveness. Judas didn’t ask for forgiveness from Jesus or God. In fact, in choosing to take his own life he shut the door to reconciliation with Christ.
John 13: 31-38 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
The disciples needed to understand that Jesus was not a victim. He willingly laid down His life. And the cross would bring Jesus glory.

Jesus made four statements about His glorification. He spoke of divine glory as well as human glory.

1.     How the Son of Man is glorified. Son of Man was Jesus’ most-used title for Himself. Jesus’ perfect human life fulfilled all God’s purpose in creating people in His own image.

2.     God is glorified in Him. Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension brought lasting glory to God the Father through His triumph over Satan, sin and death. The cross displays the perfection of God’s mercy, justice and wisdom.

3.     God will glorify the Son in Himself. Jesus was preparing to return to Heaven as Son of God in a glorified body.

4.     God will glorify Him at once. Jesus’ hour had come. God glorified his Son as man by His bodily resurrection from the dead and His ascension into heaven in His human body.
Jesus calls His disciples “my children” here. God’s children are those who trust in His Son. Brought into His family forever by faith in Him. This seems to have made an impression on John because he often called his readers my children.

He tells the disciples (and us) to love one another as He has loved them (and us!): selflessly, humbly and sacrificially.  We may not feel Jesus’ loving look or touch, but we can feel it when another believer does it. Believers now put the skin on Jesus!

John 14:1-7 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Everyone knows this passage. It’s quoted ALL the time. We love to hear that Jesus is preparing a home for us and he’s coming back to get us, don’t we?

And Jesus meant for it to be a comfort. His disciples were worried. They didn’t know what was happening. So, Jesus told them. But He started out by commanding them to not let their hearts be troubled. He is showing us that worry is a choice! He told them to stop worrying and replace worry with trust in God.

After that He told them His purpose for leaving – to prepare a place for them where they would live with Him forever. When He returns for us we’ll never be separated again.

Some translations say, “many mansions” instead of houses. That doesn’t mean large houses like we would picture now. Back then a “mansion” referred to a permanent dwelling place.

Jesus pictured a king’s son, his father’s heir and the ruler of his kingdom returning to His Father’s house and to His proper place on His throne. And the Father welcomes all His Son’s friends. Within the king’s home is room for all who trust Him. In Christ, the Father adopts each believer as His child.

Jesus talked about His coming back a lot. 1 out of every 20 verses in the New Testament relates to His return. He will return personally, physically, visibly and in the same way he went up into Heaven.

When He returns He will: judge and bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. He will evaluate the character, personal relationships, thoughts, motivations, words and work of every day of each person who has ever lived. But he will never accuse any who repent and trust Him. Everyone who trusts in Christ can be confident the Father has laid on His beloved Son all our punishment. The book of Romans says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

And His righteous judgment will vindicate His people and end all questions about the seeming victories of wrong over right or the suffering of the innocent.

Where Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He didn’t say, He knew, taught or revealed the way the truth or the life. He didn’t say He was one way among a bunch of other good choices. He said NO ONE else can lead us to God.

John 14:8-14 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Jesus reveals God perfectly to us. To see Jesus is to see God.

Twice each day, Jesus, Philip and the other disciples would have recited the Shema. Deuteronomy 6:4Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

That’s why the Jewish leaders were trying to kill Him. Because He was claiming equality with God. They sort of got it, but apparently Philip still didn’t.

Jesus is the only one who came from Heaven to tell us about Heaven.

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Saturday, November 04, 2017

Review of Choosing A Life That Matters

Author Dennis Rainey came up for the idea for "Choosing A Life That Matters" after being asked to speak at the commencement ceremony for a prominent divinity school. He wondered what he could say to a group of folks who had studied the world’s great theologians.

After much prayer, he realized that each student would be stepping out of the spiritual incubator of the classroom into the real world. And all the challenges that entailed.

His goal for his talk (and later this book) was to give, in one message, the essence of what the Bible teaches us about what who God is, what God expects of us and how to relate to Him. How to live a life that matters.

He came up with 7 decisions we should make. To seek God, not sin; fear God, not men; love God, not the world; believe God, not the deceiver; obey God, not your feelings; worship God, not comfort; and serve God, not self.

Dennis makes each of these a chapter in his book, giving us Biblical viewpoint, a life story and then a bit of “homework” or “challenge”.

I received this book from Bethany House for my honest review.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet

John 13: 1-9 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Look at the first verse again: Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. Jesus loved His people since the beginning of time. He loves us intensely and will love us forever.
Jesus, the Savior of the world who held infinite power, undertook the task of the lowest-ranking servant to train His disciples. He would soon be leaving them, completing the mission for which He came. He wanted them to know His love and His provision for joyful, productive lives in the face of a hostile world.

To appreciate the depth of Jesus’ humility, we must recognize the height of his greatness. First, He is one with God. Everything in the universe was created by Him and for Him. He knew who He was and where He was returning to. He knew He would die on a cross and that He would rise again and ascend back into Heaven.

But instead of showing pride about who He was and what He had accomplished, He humbled Himself and took the form and demeanor of a servant. You know, a lot of “high up” people feel too important to do menial tasks. Even the disciples had argued about who would be greater in Jesus’ kingdom.

In a world in which seeking power, prestige and renown is the priority, Jesus gives this God-ordained example of humble leadership in loving service.

At the same time the devil had already prompted Judas to betray Jesus.

And of course Jesus knew that too.

The disciples were probably uncomfortable as Jesus worked His way around the group. Finally, when He came to Peter, the disciple said, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus, at first, didn’t explain. He just said, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

Peter probably intended to honor Jesus with his next remark, “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” but really he was refusing to submit in obedience to Jesus.

Jesus’ reply, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” broke Peter’s resistance. Above all, Peter wanted to be with Jesus. So retracking his never comment he said, “Then Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Whatever Jesus was offering, Peter wanted it all!

John 13:10-17 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Jesus was of course talking about spiritual cleansing here, and that was something only He could accomplish. And He was also setting the example for His disciples for the way they should serve each other. Humbly meeting the needs of others.

We must embrace opportunities to take a lower position of service rather than desiring and competing for higher positions of leadership. If we ARE called into leadership we are still to be humble, not acting like we’re better than anyone else.

The disciples were clean because they had completely submitted their lives to belief in Jesus. In God’s sight they were already washed, in view of Jesus’ work on the cross, soon to be accomplished. However, they also continuously needed cleansing from the specific sins of daily life. Maybe one of their sins was lack of humbleness to serve one another!

If you are a believer you are clean through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. You are cleansed from sin, forgiven and justified in God’s sight. You are declared righteous by God and accepted by Him because you are covered by the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.

But we must also recognize sin when it appears in our lives. The more we mature in Christ, the more we perceive attitudes and habits of speech and behavior that violate God’s perfect standard. As we become aware of them, we confess them and again know we are cleansed and forgiven.

The Bible says if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

So how can we wash the feet of others?

First, we can show genuine love for others in practical ways. 1 John 3:16-18 says: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Next, put others first. The Bible tells us to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others.

We can also forgive each other. Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Strengthen one another to overcome sin and bear one another’s burdens. Galatians 6: 1-3 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.

Surrender your rights for the sake of others.  Romans 14:15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.

Pray for one another. James 5: 13-14  Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.

And finally, encourage one another to live for Christ. Hebrews 10: 23-25 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Christ, Our Example

Philippians 2:5-7 says, “Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus; who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing."

Here He is, the king of Glory. He can stay anywhere; He can go anywhere and do anything. He knows who He is. Yet what does He do – for us and for our sake? He empties Himself until He becomes nothing. The King of Glory allowed Himself to be born in a stable with goats and chickens. He had to learn a language. He had to be clothed and fed by someone. He just gave Himself away, always putting others first. He left His Kingdom, left His glory behind to show us how to live.

While we try to hold on tight to things, He is saying, Give it away. He humbled Himself and made Himself obedient even to death. What a teacher! All we have to do is follow the leader, be in unity with Him, see what He sees, go where He goes, do what he does, pray what He prays, love as He loves.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

John 12

John 12:1-11 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.

It was six days before Passover. Since the raising of Lazarus, Jesus had lived quietly at Ephraim with His disciples. But now it was time…

The crowds in Jerusalem were so great for the Passover it was impossible to accommodate Jesus, His friends and disciples in the city itself. Bethany was close enough to go back and forth. When they arrived, Lazarus’ family entertained them with a dinner.

Mary was the one who poured pure nard, an extremely expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. Matthew and Mark say she poured it over His head first, breaking an alabaster jar to do it. Then Mary let down her long hair that, in Jewish custom, was always bound in pubic. John may have focused on the anointing of Jesus’ feet because of the great humility Mary showed. She poured on His feet the most precious ointment possible as a token of honor and worship and then lovingly dried His feet with her hair.

This touched Jesus deeply. The act came at a time of hostility toward Him was reaching a climax, and He didn’t hesitate to defend and praise her.

Judas criticized the act – and we’re told why. But what he said also implied that Jesus wasn’t worth it!

Jesus said Mary’s act would be remembered. And it has been. The Lord promises that when His people stand at the throne of God, He will reveal every act of generous devotion, of suffering for His sake, or self-sacrificing generosity. Although these acts often aren’t noticed at the time, He preserves them like jewels.

And while we can’t pour out perfume on His body – He lives in all His believers so every act of kindness, service, compassion and the comfort of the gospel on His people is like doing it to Him.

John 12:12-19  The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:
15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
    see, your king is coming,
    seated on a donkey’s colt.” 

16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word.18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

Jesus had never put Himself out there in public demonstrations and attempts to honor Himself. But now was the time to fulfill prophecy.

It was Zechariah 9:9 that said, Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

As pilgrims continued to enter the city for Passover, news that Jesus was leaving Bethany for Jerusalem spread from person to person. Excited men, women and children began to join with Jesus’ procession and walk alongside Him as he approached the city. Palm branches were used in the Feast of Tabernacles. Since the victory of the Maccabean Jews over the Syrians in 166 BC, palm branches had been a symbol of the nation.

People even threw their own cloaks to make a royal carpet for Him. Using the Messianic words from Psalm 118:26, people shouted, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.

Hosanna probably means something like “save us now” and Jesus was on His way to complete His people’s salvation.

John 12:20 – 50 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”

35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going.36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:

“Lord, who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 

39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

40 “He has blinded their eyes
    and hardened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
    nor understand with their hearts,
    nor turn—and I would heal them.” 

41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

This is really something! Never had Jesus been so popular and yet it’s His condemnation that would save the world!

Not just Jews were coming to Him, but Greeks sought Him out through His disciples. They represented the Gentiles who would be coming to Him and saved through Him.

It seems like everything was working out for Him to lead His people. He even said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” But His version of glorified didn’t match anyone else’s.
The ONLY way He could accomplish His glorification as Savior of the world was through His death on the cross. With no death there could be no reproduction of His life in men and women from all nations. He illustrated this great truth with a picture of “kernel of wheat” – seeds planted in the ground. Without “death” and burial of the kernels, there would be no fruit or productivity. But when each kernel dies, its life is reproduced over and over in new life.

In His illustration He is the first grain of wheat from which comes every other seed of His new humanity. Jesus is the Bread of Life by which each believer lives.

And each grain in the head of wheat is like the original kernel that died. God infuses Jesus’ life into their own. Christians are predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son. This is the ultimate glorification of God, of Jesus and of all those who receive eternal life.

Jesus calls His people to identify with Him in following God’s will, not our own. This means a death to yourself, setting aside your inclinations and submitting to His will. For Jesus, the cross meant denial of His natural human desires. It meant betrayal, accusation, loss of reputation and more. The death of self must be the experience of anyone who follows Jesus.

What does this dying to self look like? It may mean we accept our circumstances as God’s will, and we look for ways to serve Him in those moments rather than be resentful and complain. It may mean we speak to others about Jesus and His gospel even though we know we may be rejected and ridiculed, or even persecuted as He was. It WILL mean we live according to His Word, loving others, even if those same people misunderstand us or treat us badly. Putting others before ourselves.
In verse 27 Jesus said, “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
John doesn’t record the events in the Garden of Gethsemane, but here he showed the Lord’s deep inner struggle. Jesus knew how He would die, but He knew God’s will for Him and He never strayed from doing His will.

Then God spoke out loud. As He did at Jesus’ baptism and at the Transfiguration. This time He said, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

Before the extreme humiliation of the cross, God publicly gave His Son His loving approval.
People standing by heard the voice of God. Some of the people thought it had thundered others thought an angel spoke. And this was done for the people’s benefit. So they would see the relationship between God and His Son.

But before the glory would come the cross. The cross represents God’s judgment on humanity because of sin. He took on all of our sins – all of BELIEVER’S sins.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

John 11:1-54 Lazarus

John 11:1-16 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light.10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Mary, Martha and Lazarus were some of Jesus’ closest friends. We have more information on this family than any in Scripture other than Jesus’ own.

The two sisters were sure Jesus would come immediately when He heard, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

But Jesus said the sickness would not end in death. That it would glorify God and His Son. And they would be blessed because Jesus was giving them a lesson in steadfast faith. God promises that steadfast faith would never be put to shame. Trust in trying circumstances produces in a believer a new vision of God’s character and strong reassurance of His constant presence with them.

John 11:17-27 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem,19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Jesus was in Bethany a lot. He and His disciples stayed at Mary and Martha’s home since it was so close to Jerusalem. This is where Jesus started out His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and it was to Bethany He returned for the night during the few days before His crucifixion. AND it was near Bethany that Jesus ascended into heaven.

So, Lazarus had been in the tomb for 4 days when Jesus arrived. Jewish tradition taught that the soul of the deceased lingers close to the body for three days after death, but departs at the onset of physical decomposition. Because it was the fourth day there was no hope he could be revived.
So there would be no question about the great miracle. Also, the house and grounds were filled with crowds of people who had come to be with Mary and Martha. So lots of witnesses and people who the miracle might cause to believe in Jesus.

Martha believed in the resurrection of the dead. But Jesus was going to show her who had the power to resurrect! He told her, “I AM the resurrection and the life.”

John 11:28-37  After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Both Mary and Martha said the same thing to Jesus. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

They both believed in His ability to heal. He was about to show them something more. Even though He knew He was going to bring Lazarus back, Jesus wept. He wept as a man does because His friends were suffering. Jesus cared about everyone. Hebrews 5:7 says, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears.”

John 11:38-44 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

So, they all walked over to the sealed tomb. Lazarus had been in there for 4 days and was wrapped in burial cloths. Israeli tombs were either natural caves or caves carved from solid rock. There would have been several chambers in there with shelves for more than one body. Jews clothed their dead in a linen garment then tied up the arms and legs with bandages and wrapped the head in a towel. The stone across the entrance was probably round and flat like a wheel, so it could be rolled to tightly cover the entrance.

Martha hesitated. To a Jew, any form of contact with a dead body meant ceremonial defilement. Martha believed everything the Lord said, but now He was calling on her to act on her faith. When she hesitated He reminded her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
When Jesus thanked God for hearing Him, He wasn’t so much asking God for help as acknowledging His complete dependence on His Father.

Can you imagine being in that crowd that day? Hearing Jesus say, “Lazarus, come out!” and then seeing him come out?

Lazarus’ gratitude. Mary and Martha’s JOY! The crowds’ shock!

John 11:45-54 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
54 Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.

The people were divided. Hard to imagine someone seeing that great miracle and falling on their knees to worship Jesus and God!

And isn’t it interesting what Caiaphas said, “it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” Because that’s exactly what Jesus did!

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