Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Truth Will Set You Free (John 8:31-41)

In this passage Jesus and the Jewish leaders dispute over whether or not they are sons of God. They say they are Abraham's children and therefore children of God. However, Jesus calls them out saying they are neither because they will not listen to the one who comes from God. Instead, they are seeking to kill him. They do this because he says they are enslaved to sin.  If they would only listen the truth would free them. They may be descended from Abraham, but they are not his children (see Romans 9:6).

In the Bible we see that we live among lost souls who are blinded by their ignorance, enslaved to their sin, and dead in their transgressions. They cannot comprehend what they are doing. They are unable to do what they should. They simply cannot do it. They are incapable, of themselves, to even listen to or understand what is standing right before them.

As Paul prayed, "Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved (Romans 10:1)." Lord, help me to have patience and grace with those who have not yet come to know you. May your word flow through me, and may the example of my life, guided by your Spirit testify to your goodness and glory that those such as these might come to faith in you.

Monday, October 24, 2016

You Will Die In Your Sins If You Do Not Believe (John 8:12-30)

Jesus again speaks to the crowds declaring himself to be the light of the world and that whoever would follow him will never walk in darkness (see also 1 John & Revelation). This bothers the Pharisees. They claim his remarks are not valid because he is the only one making these claims and they are about himself. According to the Law there must be at least two witnesses to any claim. Jesus replies that his testimony is validated by his Father who sent him. He says they don't really know him or his Father. In their own minds they believe themselves to know God because they are descendants of Abraham and they strive to keep the Law of Moses. But, Jesus says basically "I am from above. I have heard from the Father. He is with me. I am going away to a place you cannot come. I have much to say in judgment of you, and you will die in your sins if you do not believe that I am who I claim to be." Many put their faith in him as he spoke.  

Everyday we come closer to the time in which we will see and know the Christ for all that he is. He will truly be the light of the world (Revelation 22:5). Until then, there is still a great darkness and night. Multitudes will die in their sins without faith in Christ and his claim to be who he says he is. We have an active role to play in this until that day comes. May the message of hope that is found in Jesus Christ shine as a light in this dark world to lead God's people home.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sin No More (John 8:1-11)

I was reading an old copy of my great-grandmother's RSV this morning and took note that 8:1-11 is not included in the main text (but it is included in a footnote). So, I grabbed an NIV and used it today. This passage contains the famous story of Jesus and the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees bring her before Jesus at dawn as he was beginning to teach his followers in the temple courts in Jerusalem. They question Jesus about the Law thinking that they might trap him. "The Law of Moses says we must stone such women. What do you say?" Jesus replies saying it is he who is without sin who should cast the first stone. When they hear this, they drop their stones and depart one by one.

More than once I have heard this scripture used as an argument against the use of church discipline. It is often accompanied by a reference to, "Judge not lest you be judged." But, this is not the case. These scriptures will never be in conflict. The main thrust of this text must therefore be a call against hypocrisy and ultimately a pronouncement of grace.

The closing line is the kicker, "Go and leave your life of sin." Jesus has clearly made a judgment about the situation. She has been caught in sin. He offers grace, forgiveness, as well as a call to repentance. Church discipline is nothing more than this: calling upon our brothers and sisters to repent and leave behind their life of sin. As Jesus said in John 7:24, "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment." In instances of known sin, we should not back away from seeking to encourage faith and repentance out of love and a true concern for others.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

No One Had Ever Spoken Like This Man (John 7:45-52)

Amidst the confusion at the Feast of Tabernacles, officers had been sent to apprehend Jesus. They came back to the Pharisees empty-handed. and they were chastised by them. When they were asked why they had not brought Jesus with them, they replied that no one had ever spoken like this man. They were in awe. The officials accused them of being led astray along with the rest of the crowds. Nicodemus challenges them to use the Mosaic Law to determine if Jesus is guilty of any infraction, but the Pharisees accuse him of being led astray as well. Nicodemus had previously visited with Jesus in secret back in chapter three. He had been told by Jesus that he must be born again and that "God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life." Lord, help us all to hear Jesus, trust him, listen to him, and follow him.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Rivers of Living Water (John 7:25-44)

The people in the Temple in Jerusalem were puzzled. They knew the scriptures foretold the coming of the Christ and they knew he would come from an unknown place. He would perform signs to reveal himself. However, Jesus alludes to the fact that he has come from the Father. The Pharisees overhear people in the crowds talking about what Jesus is teaching and they send officers to arrest him. Jesus eludes them. He tells the crowds that have gathered that he will be with them for a while but then he will go to a place where they cannot find him. He stands up on the last day of the feast and proclaims that if anybody thirsts, come to him and drink. This is the same promise he offered to the Samaritan woman at the well. He then claims to be the Messiah saying that the scriptures foretold his coming saying, "Out of his heart would flow rivers of living water." The spirit provides this living water to all who believe in Jesus and receive him. But, this won't happen until sometime later. Again, the people are puzzled. Some want to draw near to him while others seek his arrest. There are things that Jesus will say and do that are hard to grasp. But, he is who he says he is. He is Messiah. All who believe in Him and receive Him will be saved. They will receive the Holy Spirit who provides the water that Jesus and Isaiah describe (Isaiah 44:3)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Judge With Right Judgment (John 7:14-24)

At the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles in Jerusalem in the middle of the celebration Jesus goes up into to the temple and starts to teach the people. Earlier in the chapter he told his brothers that he was going to stay in Galilee away from the crowds because his time had not yet come. He seems to change his mind later and decides to go anyway. He knows that many people want to kill him, but he goes up into the temple and teaches anyway. He will not remain silent. The people are all amazed at his teaching even though he has not formally studied with their leaders and teachers. Then he really starts teaching. He tells them that his teaching is not his own, but it comes from the Father. All who truly believe should be able to understand this. I do not seek my own glory but the glory of God. Moses gave you the Law, but none of you keep the Law.  Why do you seek to kill me? At this, they think he is out of his mind crazy and/or possessed by a demon. Who is trying to kill you? He says they want him dead because he healed a man on the Sabbath. But, they circumcise on the Sabbath to uphold the Law. They judge wrongly. They are hypocrites. "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment (v24)." God has given us a mind. We should use it along with the wisdom he provides us. The teaching that says judge not lest you be judged is perfectly in tune with the above command. We are to use sound judgment, being careful to discern what is right. Jesus is afraid of no one. He does not seek his own status, but glory for God the Father. He is willing to say what needs to be said. The house of God, the Temple in Jerusalem, is governed by those who do not keep the Law. Jesus is challenging them to consider what is right before their eyes. They hear his teaching, they witness his works, they know the scriptures, yet they do not see. Judge rightly. Listen to Christ. Consider God's will.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

They Thought They Knew Him (John 7:1-13)

It was time for the annual celebration of the Feast of the Tabernacles. Jesus' brothers had not believed in him. They told him to go to Judea and perform miracles there. They thought that Jesus had a desire to be famous. At this time there were many in Judea who were plotting to take his life. Jesus planned to wait until the right time, so he told his brothers to go without him. But, he attended the feast in secret. The world was not ready for him yet. He said, "...it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil." Very few believed in him. The Pharisees wanted to have him killed. His brothers didn't know what to do with him. They thought he was crazy (Mark 3:21). The world would soon know who he really is. There is a time for everything. Jesus remained faithful to his calling as well as to the Jewish traditions. His ambition was so much more than wanting to be a public figure. He had something much greater in mind.