10/18/19

John 7:25-29

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25 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.” John 7:25-29


The opposition and threats of the Jews toward the Lord Jesus is now on a rapid rise, and the people are taking note of the desire of the religious community to kill Him. Yet in the midst of all this the Lord Jesus openly preaches in the courts of the temple.


According to Malachi 3:1, it was long expected that the Messiah would suddenly appear in his temple in Jerusalem. The Rabbis took that to mean that no one would know his background. So these people are saying, "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.


In the minds of the gathered Jews, Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah because He was from Nazareth. They didn’t realize that He was born in Bethlehem fulfilling the prophesy in Micah 5:2.  Little did they know that, by saying those words about Jesus in v.27, they were fulfilling prophesy.  The prophet Isaiah says in Isaiah 53:3 writes, “He was despised and forsaken of men . . . He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”  The Lord Jesus was not surprised by the response of these people.


The rest of v.27 tells us what caused the people to change their minds in such a hurry.  They reverted back to what they had been taught by the religious leaders. The Rabbis taught that the Messiah would make Himself known suddenly and without warning.  They held the popular belief that the ancestry of the Messiah would not be known.

In spite of all the prophecies of Scripture that the Lord Jesus has already fulfilled by His birth, His life, His words, and His miracles, these Jews of Jerusalem believed in sayings and speculations that aren’t even found in the Scriptures. This was yet another reason they did not recognize the Lord Jesus as the Messiah.

In v.28, the Lord Jesus ignores these mistaken conclusions and identifies the heart of their problem. “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." In essence, the Lord Jesus underscores, once again, the reason they did not recognize Him as the promised Messiah: they didn't have a personal relationship with God.


Rather than argue with them about His human origin, the Lord Jesus reminds these gathered in the Temple of His mission.  There’s more to the story than just human geography.  Before He was born, He was sent.  That makes Him greater than the prophets, who were called by God at a specific time in their lives and sent out to proclaim His message, whereas Jesus was sent before He was born.

Once again, the Lord Jesus adjusts the focus of our attention, moving it away from Himself and placing it upon the Father. He describes His Heavenly Father with these words:  “He who sent Me is true.”  The word “true” means “real”, “authentic”, “genuine”. To know Him personally and intimately is the reason the Lord Jesus came to the earth. There are many today who discourage this kind of a relationship with God, citing arrogance as the motivation  for someone speaking as if they have this intimate and personal relationship with God. Yet, this is why the Lord Jesus came.


This revelation about God is followed by a rebuke, as the Lord Jesus reveals what’s true concerning His listeners.  After describing the Father who sent Him, the Lord Jesus looks around at them and says “you do not know Him.”  He has said this many times before and He’ll be saying it again.  They did not know God because they did not know the Lord Jesus. We can’t know one without the other.  They are inseparable.


In v.29, the Lord Jesus gives the basis for this kind of a relationship with God.  He says, “
I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” Notice that everything begins with the Father and is carried out by the Son. This is the posture of the one who believes. This disposition of the believer is discovered in the bowing of our will to the Father. 

I close this study with the words of J.I. Packer, “Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life's problems fall into place of their own accord.” 

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10/17/19

John 7:19-24

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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.” ~ John 7:19-24

In today's text the emphasis is on the difference between saving faith and unbelief. The Lord Jesus redirects our attention back to the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath. In response, the religious leaders of the Jews were accusing Him of being a lawbreaker because He healed the man on the Sabbath. 

In v.19 the Lord Jesus questions the religious leaders, essentially saying, "You break the Law as much as you accuse me of doing." In v.20, the crowd enters the conversation by saying, "You are demon-possessed. Nobody is seeking to kill you."

In v.21-24, the Lord Jesus reminds these accusers that they were equally guilty by circumcising eight day old boys on the Sabbath. Then the Lord Jesus informs these ill-educated onlookers that they fail to observe life in a realistic way by God's definition of things. Only then can a correct judgment be arrived upon. 

The difference between belief and unbelief is a matter of eternal life and death. Of course the object of our faith is of ultimate importance, and this is what makes us right before the just God of the Bible. 

In addition, the only faith that saves anyone is the type of faith that endures. This kind of faith lasts by feeding on the word of God. We come to faith through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17), and we remain in the faith through the word of Christ. This is the subject of abiding as seen in John 17.

In v.24 of today's text, the Lord Jesus gives us the where with all to size up something as true or not. He is answering the question: How can you know if anybody is true? The answer is when our desires are God’s desires, when our pursuits are God’s pursuits, then our minds will be able to see the Lord Jesus for who He really is. When our will is aligned with God’s will, we will be in sync with the truth.

The evidence that we have arrived upon the truth is when we have a passion for God-exaltation rather than self-exaltation. When we stand for the will of God, we will grow in our love to live for His glory. This is why these religious leaders did not know the Lord Jesus as the Messiah. They couldn't because their will was not surrendered to God.

Finally, rather than focusing on the failure of these religious leaders, we do well to take inventory of our own souls. The deepest obstruction to knowing the truth is heart-obstruction rather than head-obstruction. 

This is an issue of our will, not an issue with our understanding. This is why the Lord Jesus puts such emphasis on our need to give safe haven in our souls to humility. We need to will God-exaltation more than we will self-exaltation. We need to love making much of God more than we love making much of ourselves. Being opposed to this is the greatest obstacle to knowing God. We can not know the Lord Jesus until our will is to do God’s will.

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10/16/19

John 7:14-19

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14 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?” ~ John 7:14-18

In our text we learn the Lord Jesus went to Jerusalem in the middle of the feast of Tabernacles, privately, not "out there" as his brothers had suggested in the previous verses. Instead of performing miracles, He goes into the temple and begins to teach which prompted the Jews to ask, "How did this man get such learning without having been taught?"  

In Jesus' day a Jewish boy went through a process that qualified him to be a disciple and then maybe a Rabbi. The first step to becoming a disciple involved the memorization of the first five books of the bible – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The second step involved the memorization of the rest of the Old Testament from Joshua to Malachi. The third step, the budding disciple would seek out a Rabbi who would grill the fourteen year old and find out what he knew because the Rabbi wanted to know if he had what it took to follow him. Many would be turned down. Only the best of the best of the best were invited to come and follow the Rabbi. Those chosen would leave EVERYTHING behind, his family, trade, home and village, to be taught by the Rabbi. 

It appeared to those who asked the question in v.15 that the Lord Jesus had not gone through this process. Of course, He qualified because His Father wrote the whole Old Testament and He was intimately familiar with it. He was/is the word, the truth, and had the people known His identity, they would have not asked such a question. They asked the question, in part, because every Jewish Rabbi began his teaching with words such as, "the sages say," or, "the Talmud teaches," or, "the Mishnah explains." But Jesus never quoted an authority other than the Scriptures. 

According to v.16, the Lord Jesus responded with, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me.Then in v.17, the Lord Jesus gives the key to understanding His words: "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." This is to say, "when we have trouble understanding what the Lord is saying, He tells us to obey his words, to walk in His truth. Then we will know from this inside knowledge that no one can take away that which He says is true, because His teaching is in line with reality. In actuality, reality is in line with the truth.

This underscores a principle that serves us in every area of life: we learn by doing. When we do what Jesus says, we begin to understand with a deep conviction that He knows what life is all about and what is best for us. Intimacy with the truth is dependent upon deciding to be intimate with the truth. When truth defines us, we are granted more truth. 

Have you ever wondered why some people who have been exposed to the truth for years and years never seem to grow? We grow and become strong in the faith after we have given the faith/truth safe haven in our souls.

According to v.18 we learn the mark of an authentic follower of Christ: "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." If someone is seeking to advance himself, much of what he says is to be questioned. Self advancement is always be an alarm of someone who is not following the will of the Father, such was the case of the Lord Jesus. This is why the favor of the Father was upon Him.

According to v.19, the Lord highlights the fact that they who cannot uphold truth are trying to undermine the truth. The truth will break us one way or another. Either our volition will be broken to the point of surrendering our definition to the truth or our unbroken volition will discover the ultimate consequence. It is better to be broken now while we have a choice in the matter rather than later when our unbroken volition will render the worse outcome for us for eternity.

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10/15/19

John 7:1-13

JOHN 7:1-13 PODCAST

1 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. 10 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 7:1-13

Some six months after the feeding of the five thousand, and the Lord Jesus' discussion with those who stopped following Him, the desire to kill Jesus by the unbelieving Jews in Judea is growing. It is the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. This week long feast of Israel occurred in early October. During this time the Jews built tents out of tree limbs, and many families actually moved out of their houses and lived in them. This feast was a reminder that the Lord led the people of Israel through the desert out of Egypt for forty years.

According to v.4-5, the four brothers of Jesus came to Him with advice. They told him, "You need a larger arena. Galilee is too small for you. Why stay here in the sticks? You need to get down to Judea, to Jerusalem. That's the capital, the heart of the country."

"In addition," they said to the Lord Jesus, "Your followers in Judea need to see you again. Their faith needs to be encouraged by your miracles." They said, "No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret." They meant, "If you want to be recognized as the Messiah, you have got to move out onto a real stage."

This kind of reasoning sounds normal, but, there is one missing element, which John highlights in v.5: "For even his brothers did not believe in him." Faith in the Lord Jesus as the promised Messiah was missing and that is why his brothers argued the way they did. If they had believed, they would have followed His advice and trusted in His plan.

Many Christians have this same problem today. We do not believe that God knows best. We plan and ambitiously pursue own will rather than His. I truly appreciate what the late Mike Yaconelli had to say along these lines. He said, "We'd like to have it all neat and orderly. We want to be able to measure it and control it, but the reality is that Jesus is a mystery. The Christian faith is a mystery. The disciples spent their entire time following him going, "Uhh, what the heck are you doing? We don't understand what you're doing and we don't know why you're doing it." And when he would explain why he was doing it, they still didn't get it. Such is the nature of our relationship with Him, and yet, this is what makes it exciting and worth pursuing Him. We do not know what to expect from Him next, and yet, it is the best for us. 

In response in v.6-9, the Lord Jesus describes the difference between His thoughts and the thoughts of puny man. The Lord Jesus understood what God had appointed, not only for Him but for all, including you and me. Our lives are in His hands, and the key is to follow His lead, even when it seems crazy. The Lord Jesus knew that His time would not be at the Feast of Tabernacles, but at the Feast of Passover. Tabernacles is in October, while Passover is in March or April, thus there were six months left before his time was to come. He knew the ceremony in the book of Exodus of the offering of a lamb and sprinkling its blood over the doorposts so that the Angel of Death would pass over the houses of Israelites and spare them from the judgment of God, was picturing that event in which he would be the central character. This is why John the Baptist's first words when he saw Jesus coming toward him were, "Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world," (John 1:29). 

According to v.10, we learn why the Lord Jesus did not want to go to Jerusalem with His brothers: because that would have attracted attention to Him. Did you notice the polarization of the crowd? Some believed and others didn't. Yet no one talked openly about Him. Everyone was afraid of being hauled in before the religious leaders, so they did not speak openly but merely whispered about him.

This is the emphasis in our text: do we openly believe in the Lord Jesus or not? I have discovered that I have no choice in this matter. Well, I have a choice, but my heart has been captured. I love the Lord too much to remain quiet about Him. And, to add to this, those who walk in darkness need to see the light. This is why God has placed you and me on this earth ... to point others to Him. There are two things in this world which will endure through eternity: the word of God and the souls of people. We must be involved in bringing these two together. Will you do it?

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10/14/19

John 6:60-71

John 6:61-70 PODCAST

60 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. 67 “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.)  John 6:60-71

We come to that turning point in John's gospel where due to the teachings of the Lord Jesus, many followed Him no longer. They were turning away due to His metaphoric teaching regarding His blood and His flesh. On this side of the cross, it is not difficult for us to recognize the elements of the Lord's Supper or that memorial meeting of Believer's where we remember the Lord and His work on the cross til He returns.

I have discovered that this is frequently true of those who stop following the Lord Jesus: they are bothered when difficult doctrines are taught.

At this the Lord Jesus asks the twelve a penetrating, and searching, and heart gripping question, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Of course, they were as committed to following Him as they could be at this point. However, miracles and doctrine are not what captures our hearts for the Lord. No, it is His love that causes us to continue following Him, along with the abiding Holy Spirit.

Those choosing to follow Him no more said in v.60, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” To this response the Lord Jesus draws our attention to the workings of the Holy Spirit in v.63. It is the Holy Spirit who imparts life. It is the flesh (the evil desires within humans) that profits us nothing spiritually. In fact, the flesh is out to destroy us (see Galatians 6:8). 


God always, in the Scriptures, places little upon large numbers, in contrast with the American church today. Annually, many churches set goals for growth, usually in specific terms of percentage of increase, or even an arbitrary number, arrived at out of the blue, that they are aiming to achieve. They do not get this from the Lord and we should be leery of this, for this is not the leading of the Holy Spirit.

According to v.68, Peter puts his finger on the real issue in this passage: God's definition of life. The words of the Lord Jesus are truth about life, and if we miss them, if we follow the distortions of the world and think we have adequate wisdom of our own to work out the difficulties of life, we will be so far removed from reality. 

In contrast, the words of the Lord Jesus which "are full of the Spirit and life," these who were turning away from the Lord Jesus were turning away from that which provides substance in our lives, the truth. God's words always open our eyes to truth. When we respond to the truth we see, then we will be taught more truth. Scripture warns that if we resist the truth, then we lose the capacity to see and to hear more truth. 

In v.68-69, Peter, in effect says, "Lord, we have investigated what you offer and the alternatives, and we have found that you have the words of eternal life. Where else would we go?" Like Peter, we know we have come to know the One who has shown us His way and His love that is unlike any other.

According to v.70-71, the Lord Jesus chose the twelve. I find it amazing that even though Judas had been with the Lord Jesus for three years and he had seen His lifestyle and His miracles, he still chose to leave the Lord Jesus in the end. Equally, I am amazed that I continue to follow the Lord Jesus on a daily basis. I shouldn't be amazed though, for the secret is discovered in His abiding presence in my life via the Holy Spirit. As Augustine said, “He who falls, falls by his own will; and he who stands, stands by God's will.” 


10/11/19

John 6:52-59

JOHN 6:52-59 PODCAST
52 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. John 6:52-59

The Jews turn from arguing with the Lord Jesus to arguing among themselves. According to the Law, the Jews were not permitted to eat any meat that had not had all the blood drained from it. Thus the thought of drinking blood was most offensive to these Jews. They were offended because they didn't realize the Lord Jesus spoke in figurative language. 

These Jews did not think, as most do today, that they were all that bad. Thus, they couldn't accept the fact that the Lord Jesus was sent to die for mankind's sin, partly because they thought they were pretty good people. Yet everywhere in Scripture, there is this emphasis upon the necessity for blood to be spilt, in order to render God's forgiveness and deliver us from the evil grip of sin and death. This is why the Jews were arguing among themselves.

In addition, the Lord Jesus largely taught and spoke in metaphors. A metaphor is a figure of speech used to describe, illustrate or apply something to a lesson that it does not usually denote. And these "religious leaders" lacked the ability to think deeper, to think metaphorically. As a result, they did not come close to understanding what the Lord Jesus was teaching.

The Lord Jesus used metaphors in His teaching all the time. He did this because He knew that we learn best when we are able to move from what is known to what is unknown. By using metaphors, He made the complex simple and easier to understand. He used figurative language because He knew that we tend to think in terms of comparisons which enables us to see far more deeply than is natural for us. 

According to Matthew 13, the Lord Jesus spoke in metaphors in order to require His hearers to think more deeply about what He was saying. And, if they were not willing to think more deeply, they didn't get what was being given. He shaped truth in ways that people could picture it in their minds and contemplate on its depth. In fact, He taught forgiveness by giving us the story of the Prodigal Son. To bring the point home, the Lord analogized the forgiving father to our heavenly Father who forgives those who turn back to Him for restoration and life.

The Lord Jesus used metaphors because He spoke to people in terms of how much they could understand. He knew just how much to present based on real level life. He realized that many people were not at a high enough level of spiritual maturity to comprehend what He taught. However, when He was alone with His own disciples, He explained everything. 

Most of the time, most people find the teaching of the Lord Jesus difficult to understand. In Scripture a mystery is a truth which cannot be known by the normal exercise of human wisdom and knowledge. It is a truth about life which, if we are to know it, God must tell us about it, because it could never be discovered by the exercise of human intelligence. That is why these religious leaders never understood, they needed God's help.


These religious leaders were too proud to humble themselves for help. They thought themselves to be superior with a special ability which others did not have, therefore, they missed the most important person ever.

This underscores the most important lesson we could ever learn, for without this lesson, we miss God. The lesson is captured in a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “A great man is always willing to be little.” James puts it this way, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Or, as C.S. Lewis put it, “As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”

Nebuchadnezzar went from I, to ME, to MY, to MOO.

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10/10/19

John 6:41-51

JOHN 6:41-51 PODCAST

41 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.” John 6:41-51

These Jews who were conversing with the Lord Jesus illustrate they had so quickly lost sight of the feeding of the five thousand which had taken place just a day earlier. In fact, some of them had eaten the loaves and the fish. Now, they see Him as an ordinary man.

We live in a culture which is much the same. In our history, we have been influenced by the truth of God's word, and we have forgotten its impact. We live among a people who are skeptical of Christianity and its teaching. The reason for this is a lack of personal involvement. The average church has bowed the knee to the plans of man rather than the God of the Bible. Often, at the center of American Christianity is entertainment and we have to strain to see God and a clear declaration of His word. The average American Christian is poorly taught today.

In v.41 the people grumbled at the words of Jesus, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” Had they encountered God, their outlook would have been different. They had a hard time understanding, understanding that God chose to come to earth as a man to enable us to know Him and His ways. They had a hard time squaring up the fact that the Lord Jesus was 100% God and 100% man. Their response in v.42 illustrates this point.

The words of the Lord Jesus in v.44 underlines the fact that it is not enough merely to hear the facts about Jesus or to believe that He was a miracle worker. There is more to it and that something more is the involvement of the Father in the opening of our eyes.

There must be an inner opening of the eyes and the ears of the soul, so that we begin to understand that He is the ANSWER, our ANSWER. This begins most often when we have been marched into the arena of the desperate. We will never be convinced the Lord Jesus is all we need until He is all we have. And, part of being "taught of God," of being "drawn by the Father" is that we see that we are involved in this process. 

In v.45, the Lord Jesus tells how it happens: He calls it, "being taught of God." It is an opening of the understanding. It may happen suddenly, or it may happen slowly. It may happen very painfully. It happens not only to non-believers in order to draw them to the point of faith and conversion, but it happens also to Christians who need continually to be taught of God. Many have had the experience of hearing something they had known for years but had never really understood until something suddenly opened their eyes and they saw what it meant.

In v.46-51, we discover a two-step process by which God brings us to Himself. He draws us through painful experiences sometimes, through hurt and damage, through loss and disappointment, but also through joys, through unexpected blessings and pleasures. Some are drawn through the process of years, while others seem to be awakened suddenly, dramatically. It is all in the control of God. But having been awakened, then our responsibility is to believe, to give ourselves to Him. 

The problem with these Jews was they attributed the provision of the manna to Moses. They thought as men and not as God. Although that manna kept them alive physically, it could do nothing for them eternally. These people were still hung up by ineffective symbols which they were relying on for faith.

Many trust the fact that they were baptized, that they joined a church, that they were confirmed as a child or hoping their goodness outweighs their bad. The answer is coming to the Lord Jesus and believing and depending on Him for time and eternity. 

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10/9/19

John 6:30-40

John 6:30-40 PODCAST 

30 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.” 34 “Sir,” 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.” John 6:30-40


The Jews weren't satisfied with one miracle, they needed a second. The fact is they would never be given to believing in Him after He had performed many more miracles. The real question is: how many miracles constitute belief in our hearts? 


So, the Jews asked the Lord Jesus to match the miracle of Moses during the Exodus. The Lord Jesus responds, "It wasn't Moses who gave you the manna. No, My Father did that."  They say, "manna tastes like frosted corn flakes, like ground coriander seed mixed with honey." The word "manna" itself means, "What is it?" The Jews ate, "what is it" for forty years. 


The Lord Jesus told them manna was not the true bread from heaven, it was only a symbol of it, a picture of the real thing. He told them, "the real bread from heaven is me! I came down from heaven, sent by the Father, to feed the restless hunger of the masses for meaning and fulfillment and satisfaction and excitement and glory in their lives."


In response, the crowd the Lord Jesus“Sir, always give us this bread.” Jesus responded by saying, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."


The Lord Jesus uses hunger and thirst to get His point across: "Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." He is saying, when we come to Him and believe in Him, it is tantamount to eating and drinking. It means to see Him as "the essential" in our lives. The way to lay hold of the gift of bread from heaven, life that is real life, is coming to Him on a habitual basis.


But, as is noted in v.36, not all who see the miracle, will come. These Jews had seen the miracle, yet they did not come to the Lord Jesus. This experience the Lord is speaking of is not an intellectual assent, it is about trusting Him, committing ourselves to Him, being vulnerable to Him.


In v.37 we see that God is sovereign over the work of our salvation. We learn that we are gifts to the Son from the Father, "and whoever comes to me," Jesus says, "I will never drive away." It is true, we would have never come to Him and believed in Him had God not enabled us to believe, but as these Jews illustrate, we can refuse the free gift of salvation by not coming to the Lord Jesus. In this verse we have divine sovereignty, "All those the Father gives me" and human responsibility, "will come to me."


According to v.38-39, this process produces in and for us, life, it puts us into a new and dynamic relationship with God, wherein He becomes our intimate friend. This invitation is to all, the bread of life is ours for the receiving. In the last analysis, the one thing which derails this process, is the defiance of the human heart. Life is there for the receiving or the refusing.


According to v.40, the goal of the Lord Jesus is guaranteed eternal life for the believer. This eternal life begins the moment we come to Him and believe on Him. Central to our relationship with Him is His salvation which will involve, one day, our eventual resurrection from the dead.



Finally, the Lord Jesus Christ will never allow any soul that has come to Him and believed on Him to be lost and cast away. He will keep us safe, in spite of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Not one of His, will ever be abandoned. God blots out His people’s sins (Isaiah 44:22), but not our names (Revelation 3:5).

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10/8/19

John 6:22-29

JOHN 6:22-29 PODCAST

22 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. 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.” 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.” ~ John 6:22-29

The spotlight now turns from the disciples, learning through the storm, back to the crowd who had "benefitted" from the little boy's small meal. The Apostle uses an interesting word in v.23 that is key to the performing of the previous miracle of the feeding of the 5000 on the hillside north of the Sea of Tiberias. The word is "thanks" which illustrates a vert important principle of God.

The ways of God are most profoundly discovered in the insignificant and seemingly unimportant. This one little word, "thanks", is integral to the realization and the recognition  of God's miracles. What is it about giving thanks for something that unleashes the activity and power of God? Whenever we give thanks to God, despite the most difficult of circumstances, the enemy loses. When we give thanks in the midst of difficulty, we bring, we invite God's involvement in the situation. When we do this, the enemy no longer has the ability to hold or manipulate us and our circumstances. Thanksgiving invites the power and presence of God in our lives, in a more profound way.

The large crowd, who had been fed by the five loaves and two fish of the little boy, boarded boats and traveled across the lake to Capernaum. Note: there was no storm. The disciples were being discipled through the storm. Interesting, trials are 1/2 of that which causes our faith in the Lord Jesus to grow. The other is hearing His spoken word (Romans 10:17). There, in Capernaum, the unfulfilled found Jesus and asked Him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”  

In His reply, the Lord Jesus asks why they came to seek Him. The Lord Jesus could read the motives of their hearts, and He tells them plainly, "you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill." Notice He says they were motivated by their emptiness ... "had your fill." Again, we see the emptiness of man. But, we do not know how to truly address our emptiness. It is very clear these people greatly misunderstood what the Lord Jesus was doing. And, I'd say, we most often miss Him and His ways, too.

In order to help these people understand, He says to them in v.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." Food is important. It is necessary for life, and we have to have it. But, we must not let food be the sole reason for our working. Rather, "Work for the food which endures to eternal life."

These people felt that the most important thing in life is to stay alive, to be healthy, strong and economically sufficient. That was what life was all about, they mistakenly thought. 

In addition, these people were mistaken about the Lord Jesus. They thought He was just another prophet. They thought He was a man whom God would use to deliver the nation from the Romans, a man who would feed their bellies and keep them satisfied and happy and comfortable. But the Lord Jesus corrects that, saying, "Work 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.”

God's seal of approval is a reference to the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. Believers in Christ are "sealed by the Spirit," according to Ephesians The presence of His Holy Spirit was a mark of the Father on the Lord Jesus. There has never been anyone like Him, before or since, in all of history. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had the Spirit in His fullness. This is, in part, the means by which He fulfills His followers.

In v.29, we arrive upon the answer: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” This means the gospel is more than merely going to heaven when we die. It means the Lord Jesus is alive, right now, and is available to us. "Believe in him" means to learn to look at our situation through His eyes, to see life as He sees it. That means we must listen to what He has to say; we must pay attention to His words and understand His point of view. 

"Believe in Him" means we must get into the habit of expecting Him to be involved in all of our lives, the good and the bad. Our responses of faith in all of these circumstances in our lives, be they good or bad, is what the Lord Jesus refers to in v.29 as "the work of God." 

10/7/19

John 6:16-21

John 6:16-21 PODCAST 

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. John 6:16-21


The Apostle John wrote his gospel some 30 years after the other gospels had been written, therefore he did not see the need to repeat many of the details that the other gospel writers had given. This is one reason why his gospel is different from Matthew, Mark and Luke. 

In today's text, the disciples were on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. In order to row back to the town of Capernaum, they had to parallel the shore all the way back. They rowed across the northern tip of the lake and were not very far from shore for they expected the Lord Jesus to meet them on the shore somewhere along the way.


It was so late (around 3:00 in the morning) and it was so dark the rowing disciples could not see the shore. To make matters worse, "a strong wind was blowing." To this day, in that area, the wind blows suddenly out of the north, from the mountains, down the valley and across the lake toward the south. 

As darkness settled in, the disciples were rowing across to Capernaum, but the wind was driving them southward and they lost sight of the shore and all possibility of picking up the Lord Jesus. Matthew writes at three o'clock in the morning the disciples found themselves right in the middle of the lake, far south of their intended target.

The disciples were frightened for they thought the Lord Jesus was a ghost. The Lord 
Jesus immediately answers the disciples' fear with, "It is I; don’t be afraid" which is the most repeated command in the Bible, repeated 365 times in the Bible.

This trial in the lives of the disciples teaches us that the Lord Jesus is the One whom we should find peace in amid our turmoil. The disciples were glad that the Lord Jesus got into their boat. Their fear was immediately relieved when they realized it was He who was walking on the water, and was in control of the wind and the waves. The wind not only stopped, but also the waves which speaks more deeply to is power.


The Lord
 Jesus deliberately caused or allowed this trial in order to bring about the miracle in the lives of these disciples. He had sent them off into the dark night and deliberately delayed His coming so that they might learn what He can do in such a time of trouble. If our faith responds, as these disciples did, we will look for Him and welcome Him into our unique circumstances.

Jesus is always saying to His followers, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”  In fact, He always accompanies these words with, "I am with you." That is why we should not fear, because He is with us and He is in control of all things and we can trust that He knows best. When the storms come, as best as we can, we place our eyes on Him and hold on to His truth. The strange thing about the truth is that it seems to leave its deepest imprint on us through the most turbulent moments of life. It is through the storms of life we learn it is the truth that is gaining an increasing hold of us. Such is the purpose of our trials.

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