TABLE OF CONTENTS

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
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TRADITION MEETS CONVICTION  –  John 9:13-23
HERE’S MUD IN YOUR EYES! – John 9:6-12
WHO SINNED? – John 9:1-5
ANSWERS TO INSULTS – John 8:48-59
WHO’S YOUR DADDY? – John 8:37-47
BELIEF THAT FAILED THE TEST  –  John 8:31-36 
WARNINGS GIVEN, BUT UNHEEDED  –  John 8:21-30 
THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD  –  John 8:12-20 
THE WOMAN TAKEN IN ADULTERY  –  John 8:1-11
DEFENSE WITNESSES ARE SCORNED  –  John 7:45-53
A DIVIDED RESPONSE  –  John 7:40-44
FANNY CROSBY – THE WOMAN BEHIND THE HYMNS
A THIRST-QUENCHING INVITATION  –  John 7:37-39
A PATH TO FRUSTRATION  –  John 7:31-36
DO YOU REALLY KNOW ME?  –  John 7:25-30
GOTCHA!  –  John 7:19-24
LEARN BY DOING  –  John 7:17-18
TEACHING WITHOUT A DEGREE  –  John 7:14-16 
JESUS INCOGNITO  –  John 7:10-13
SIBLING RIVALRY  –  John 7:1-9 
THE AFTERMATH – A FALLING OUT  –  John 6:60-71
FLESH AND BLOOD  –  John 6:51-59
DESIGNED TO WORK TOGETHER  –  I Peter 4:10-11 
THE BREAD OF LIFE  –  John 6:48-50
RESPONDING TO CRITICISM  –  John 6:41-47 
ALL COMERS WELCOME . . . FOREVER!  –  John 6:36-40
SHOW AND TELL  –  John 6:22-35 
NOTHING TO FEAR  –  John 6:16-21 
A MEAL FOR A MULTITUDE  –  John 6:1-15
CAUSES & CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR UNBELIEF – John 5:41-47
THE FINAL THREE PROOFS OF DEITY  –  John 5:36-40 
CALL THE FIRST TWO WITNESSES  –  John 5:30-35 
JESUS CHRIST: RESURRECTED, RESURRECTOR, & JUDGE  –  John 5:26-29
EQUAL IN GIVING SPIRITUAL LIFE  –  John 5:24-25 
YES, YOUR HONOR!  –  John 5:21-23
TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE – HOW AND WHY?                                            
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON  –  John 5:19-20
EQUAL WITH GOD  –  John 5:15-18
THERE’S A LAW AGAINST IT  –  John 5:10-14 
THE HEALING AT BETHESDA  –  John 5:1-9
NOBLEMAN’S SON HEALED  –  John 4:45-54 
WHEN FAMILIARITY BRED CONTEMPT  –  John 4:43-44
GOD”S HARVEST IN SAMARIA  –  John 4:35-42                                      
THE WOMAN AT THE WELL, PART IV  –  John 4:27:34 
Witness, Response, and Lesson

THE WOMAN AT THE WELL, PART III – John 4:16-26
Guilt, Repentance, and Worship
THE WOMAN AT THE WELL, PART II  –  Living Water  –  John 4:10-15 
THE WOMAN AT THE WELL, PART I  –  John 4:1-9
Background and Opening Greetings
THE WITNESS FROM HEAVEN  –  John 3:31-36 
THE WORDS OF A HUMBLE MAN  –  John 3:22-30
CONVERSATION WITH NICODEMUS (PART IV)  –  John 3:19-21
CONVERSATION WITH NICODuiEMUS (PART III)  –  John 3:14-18
CONVERSATION WITH NICODEMUS (PART II)  –  John 3:8-13 
CONVERSATION WITH NICODEMUS (PART 1)  –  John 3:1-7
HE KNOWS THE REAL THING  –  John 3:22-25 
ELIZABETH AND MARY REJOICING  –  Luke 1:39-56 
NINE MONTHS BEFORE CHRISTMAS  –  Luke 1:26-38
JESUS DEFENDS HIS AUTHORITY  –  John 2:18-22 
JESUS CLEANSES THE TEMPLE  –  John 2:12-17
THE WEDDING AT CANA  –  John 2:1-11
THE PRAGMATIST AND THE SKEPTIC  –  John 1:43-51
THE FIRST DISCIPLES  –  John 1:35-42
JOHN THE BAPTIST’S TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST –  Jn 1:29-34  
JOHN THE BAPTIST’S TESTIMONY OF HIMSELF  –  John 1:19-28 
MYSTERY SOLVED, EXPLANATION BEGINS  –  John 1:18 
JESUS CHRIST, IDENTIFIED AND MAGNIFIED  –  John 1:15-17
THE WORD BECAME FLESH  –  John 1:14 
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “RECEIVE CHRIST”?  John 1:12-13
THE TRUE LIGHT:  UNKNOWN AND UNWANTED  –  John 1:9-11
A WITNESS TO THE LIGHT  –  John 1:6-8
JESUS CHRIST:  “Life” and “Light”  –  John 1:4-5 
“THE WORD” – THE INFINITE AND ETERNAL GOD  –  John 1:1-3
BEHOLD YOUR GOD – Background, and Survey of the Gospel of John
OPERATION RESTORATION  –  James 5:19-20
PRAYING LIKE ELIJAH – A True Story in Africa in the 20th Century
GOD, THE RAIN-MAKER:  A True Story from the Life and Teachings      
of Watchman Nee
THE POWER OF PRAYER  –  James 5:16b-18
MAKING OATHS  –  James 5:12 
PATIENCE APPLIED AND EXEMPLIFIED  –  James 5:9-11
BE PATIENT LIKE THE FARMER  –  James 5:7-8 
THE RICH CAN BE ROTTEN  –  James 5:1-6
GOD’S EARTH – OUR EARTH 
ARE YOU LEAVING GOD OUT?  –  James 4:13-17 
REASONING WITH THE JUDGMENTAL  –  James 4:11-12 
“Give Your Brethren a Break”
ON THE WARPATH AGAINST CONFLICTS  –  James 4:1-10
THE RESULTS FROM EXERCISING HEAVENLY WISDOM – James 3:18 
TRUE WISDOM IS WITHOUT HYPOCRISY  –  James 3:17
TRUE WISDOM IS WITHOUT PARTIALITY  –  James 3:17
TRUE WISDOM IS FULL OF MERCY AND GOOD FRUITS  –   James 3:17
TRUE WISDOM IS REASONABLE  –  James 3:17
TRUE WISDOM IS GENTLE  –  James 3:17
TRUE WISDOM IS PEACEABLE  –  James 3:17
HEAVENLY WISDOM  –  James 3:17 
EARTHLY WISDOM  –  James 5:15-16
A WARNING  –  James 3:14                                                                    
EXERCISE GODLY WISDOM  –  James 3:13 
A WORK IN PROGRESS
II TIMOTHY – Background and Survey
PAUL’S EXAMPLE IN WITNESSING  –  I Corinthians 2:1-5
MAN’S WISDOM VERSUS GODS WISDOM  –  I Corinthians 1:18-25 
DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH  –  I Corinthians 1:10-17                              \
THE TRUE MINISTER  –  I Corinthians 4:1-5
THE PROFILE OF A LEADER  –  II Timothy 2:1-7
JESUS ENTERS JERUSALEM  –  John 12:9-19
LOVE – TRUE LOVE 
A NEW YEAR’S COMMITMENT
HAPPY THANKSGIVING 
THE POWER OF THE TONGUE  –  James 3:1-12 
THE RIGHT KIND OF FAITH  –  James 2:14-26
OVERCOMING PREJUDICE  –  James 2:1-13
Pi Sermon for Pi Approximation Day                                                          
TRUE FREEDOM  –  4th of July Message 
THE REMOVAL AND BURIAL OF JESUS  –  John 19:31-42
EVIDENCE FOR CHRIST’S RESURRECTION
CHRIST’S RESURRECTION AND FIRST APPEARANCE – John 20:1-18 
THE SUFFERING AND DEATH OF CHRIST  –  Mark 15:15-39 
PRACTICING THE TRUTH  –  James 1;19-27
IT’S A NEW YEAR
SIMEON AND ANNA MEET THE BABY JESUS
MAKING ROOM FOR JESUS AT CHRISTMAS 
A LESSON ON COMPASSION (Part 2)  –  Jonah, chapters 3 and 4 
A LESSON ON COMPASSION (Part 1)  –  Jonah, chapters 1 and 2 
HOW TO OBTAIN WISDOM  –  James 1:5-8 
REJOICING IN TROUBLES  –  James 1:1-4 
SURVEY OF THE EPISTLE OF JAMES
NEW YEAR’S 2013  –  ARE YOU READY?                                               
CHRISTMAS  –  Why Is It Significant?
THE SECRET OF CONTENTMENT  –  Philippians 4:10-23
THANKSGIVING 
RIGHT LIVING  –  Philippians 4:9 
RIGHT THINKING  –  Philippians 4:8 
DEALING WITH WORRY  –  Philippians 4:1-7
CITIZENSHIP IN HEAVEN  –  Philippians 3:17-21
PRESSING ON  –  Philippians 3:12-16
TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS  –  Philippians 3:1-11
TIMOTHY AND EPAPHRODITUS  –  Philippians 2:19-30
PRACTICING HUMILITY  –  Philippians 2:12-18
JESUS CHRIST EXALTED  –  Philippians 2:9-11 
AN EXAMPLE TO FOLLOW  –  Philippians 2:5-8
CONCERN FOR OTHERS  –  Philippians 2:1-4 
ESSENTIALS FOR VICTORY  –  Philippians 1;27-30
PAUL’S STRUGGLE  –  Philippians 1:22-26                                              
MEANING IN LIFE AND IN DEATH  –  Philippians 1:21
JOY AMID COMPETITION AND CRITICISM  –  Philippians 1:15-20
PAUL’S CHAINS  –  Philippians 1:12-14
TRUE CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP  –  Philippians1:1-11 
PHILIPPIANS:  Background and Survey
ABOUT PAGE 

TRADITION MEETS CONVICTION — John 9:13-23

John 9:13-23, man born blind, Uncategorized

MIGHT MEETS RIGHT!

INTRODUCTION:

When you think of people in the Bible who were bullies, what names come to your mind?  I immediately thought of Goliath, the Philistine giant who defied the army of Israel, challenging them to send a man out to fight against him.  As he shouted at them and taunted them day after day, I Samuel 17:11 says, “Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.”  Verse 24 says, “they ran from him in fear.”  Have you ever been bullied by a person or by a group of people?  Maybe you acted like a bully yourself at some point in your life.

In the previous sermon on John 9:1-12, we studied the healing of the man who was born blind and the negative reaction he received from his neighbors.  They refused to believe what had happened to him but they couldn’t deny or refute his testimony.  In their pride, they were unwilling to give up the fight so they decided to take it to the next level.  This court case isn’t over yet!  They are taking it to the “Court of Appeals”.

I.  ADVANCE TO A HIGHER COURT (verse 13)

Verse 13 says, “They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind.”  By doing so, these Jews disobeyed the Law that God gave to Moses.  Deuteronomy 17:9-11 and Deuteronomy 19:17 states that it is the responsibility of the priests to interpret the law and settle disputes.  Instead, they went to the Pharisees, a sect of “separatists” that wasn’t even in existence when the Law of Moses was written.   The power structure had changed over the years and the Scriptures were no longer the standard by which people were judged and instructed.

From a human standpoint, this healed man’s escort service was taking him to the ones who would come alongside them and fight for their cause.  The Pharisees were the “theological bullies” of that day, and when push comes to shove, they had the arguments, the interrogation tactics and the public status to get the job done.  Let’s see what happens next.

II.  THE SESSION BEGINS (verse 14-15)

Before the questioning begins, the apostle John reminds his readers of an important fact that is going to be the major focus of their questions.  He says in verse 14, “Now the day on which Jesus made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was the Sabbath.”  Jesus had broken “their Sabbath laws”, not God’s when He performed that miracle.

The court is now in session and the healed man has been placed on the witness stand.  The first question the Pharisees ask this man is the same question his neighbors asked him.  Verse 15 says, “Therefore, the Pharisees also asked him how he received his sight.”  How?  They are asking him for an explanation?  This was a miracle!  You can’t explain a miracle!  It’s an impossible event — something that only God could do!

I have a personal, true story of a physical healing miracle that God performed in my life and there was an appropriate response to it.  Many years ago an echocardiogram showed that I had a leaking heart valve [mitral valve prolapse] and a regurgitating aortic valve.  The cardiologist put me on a medication to help relieve the symptoms and said that I would probably need a valve replacement within 10 years.  Fifteen years had passed and the leak did not become worse.  He told me that this happens in less than one-in-a-thousand cases.  One day, while driving home from work, I fainted with no warning other than the sound of a car horn.  When I opened my eyes, there were two paramedics looking through the windshield at me.  My blood pressure was 70/40.  No wonder I fainted!  Another echocardiogram was taken, and at the consult afterward, my cardiologist said the following words to me:  “I am not a believer in miracles but I can’t explain this in any other way.  Your heart valve is no longer leaking.  It’s completely healed.  The medication you take also lowers blood pressure.  When your heart valve stopped leaking, it caused your blood pressure to drop.  I know of no case where this has ever happened before.  There will be an article written about your case for a medical journal.”  That’s a doctor who now believes in miracles!  It’s been almost 25 years since that day and I have had no issues with my heart.  A miracle doesn’t require an explanation!  It just needs confirmation and a celebration!  (MORE TO FOLLOW SOON)

CONSTRUCTION SITE:  A Work-In-Progress

Welcome to this newly opened site:  John 9:13-23.  You are welcome to grab your tools and study this passage of Scripture along with me.  May God open your eyes to new truths in His Word and new applications to your own life.

HERE’S MUD IN YOUR EYES! — John 9:6-12

John 9:6-12, Uncategorized

INTRODUCTION:

There’s a feeling of excitement and suspense in the air – like that of a little child waiting for his parents’ permission to blow out the candles and open the presents on his birthday.  Here in John chapter 9, the main event is about to happen.  This blind man is anxiously waiting to hear this Rabbi’s words spoken directly to him.  So far, neither of them has said a word to each other.  The suspense is growing.  “When is this Rabbi going to say the words and perform the miracle that brings sight to my eyes?”

I.  MUD PIES FOR THE EYES (verse 6)

What he hears isn’t a voice but some movement.  This Rabbi is now seated on the ground in front of him, close enough for this blind man to reach out and touch Him.  Can you imagine the thoughts that must be going through this man’s mind?  “Is He going to ask me a question?”  “Is He going to tell me what He is about to do?”  This beggar still hasn’t heard a word from the Rabbi, but he continues to wait in silence.  Then he hears some unusual sounds.  Verse 6 tells us, “He [Jesus] spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle”.  These were not the sounds that this beggar expected to hear.  It’s been one surprise after another.  He has to exercise faith, believing that all that’s been happening, that all the sounds he is hearing are for his benefit.  We may all agree with the words, “Don’t you love pleasant surprises?”, but most of us don’t like to wait very long for those surprises to happen, do we?

At least this beggar has not had to wait in complete silence.  There are sounds being made.  As he listens to the spitting and the movement of dirt, he must have come to the conclusion that Jesus was making mud.  Does that sound repulsive to you?  Would it have any significance to the blind man?  Possibly.  Human spittle was considered to have healing properties.  His parents or a doctor might have applied some sort of a poultice to his eyes when he was a child, but not one made from mud.  Dirt was considered to be harmful to the eyes.  Once again, this is going to be a unique miracle.  Jesus used His spittle on two other occasions in the Bible: the healing of a different blind man in Mark 8:22-26 and the healing of a deaf man who couldn’t speak well (Mark 7:33-37). However, there was no dirt added in those cases.

Are you wondering why Jesus is going through all this effort to heal the man?  He could easily have said “be opened” or “receive your sight”.  It would have saved a lot of time, effort, and mess, and He’s done that sort of thing before in previous miracles.  That’s true, but Jesus has a reason for everything He does.  Here are a few possibilities.  He may be attracting the attention of people nearby and giving them time to come closer and watch what He is doing.  It is also the Sabbath day, and Jesus may once again be making it very clear to them that He is the Lord of the Sabbath by violating “their Sabbath laws” concerning work.  These are all possibilities but I think there is an overriding reason.  The Lord Jesus can heal a person any way He chooses because He is God.  He is not limited to certain “magic” words or formulas, and He wants to make that obvious to His onlookers.  So far, each of His miracles has been performed in a unique way.

II.  PACKED UP AND SENT ON HIS WAY (verse 6b-7)

Meanwhile, this blind man’s sense of hearing is now on overload, having taken in every sound that has been made.  Now his sense of touch is going to be activated.  Verse 6 says, “and [Jesus] made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes.”  He feels a gob of warm, sticky mud being smeared over each of his eyes and pressed into place by the fingers of Jesus, and he hears Jesus’ words spoken to him for the first time.  “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.”  The word Siloam means “Sent”, so Jesus is sending him to the pool named “sent”.  That pool is almost half a mile away from the temple.  Why is Jesus sending him on a journey when he could have washed his face in the temple area where there were several cisterns and pools?  There are a number of possibilities and all of them might be intended.  For one, this was probably a lesson in obedience.  The story is similar to the account of Naaman the leper and Elisha the prophet (2 Kings 5:9-14).  In both cases, a washing was required, the healer did not accompany the needy person to the water, and the healing took place after the person obeyed.

A second potential reason was to draw a following.  There were a number of people who watched Jesus put the clay on this man’s eyes and decided to follow him.  Meanwhile, the mud was drying.  Others along the route recognized this blind man, saw the mud on his eyes and decided to join the crowd out of curiosity.  The road to the pool of Siloam had now become a parade route and the blind man was the leader of the band.  Another potential reason for the mud was its irritation.  Have you ever gotten dirt in your eyes?  How did it feel?  Awful isn’t a strong enough word, is it?  What did you do about it?  You hurried to find water to splash on your eyes until the irritation went away, didn’t you.    I believe that this blind man was setting a quick pace, not only because of excitement but also because of the irritation.

Probably the most important reason for Jesus’ command was to give Himself time to leave the area and put Himself out of the picture for a while.  Verse 7 describes this blind man’s act of obedience and the result:  “And so he went away and washed, and came back seeing.”  That’s a brief and concise statement!  Do you think he made the return trip in less time?  I should say so!  He probably ran the whole distance, not only because he could now see where he was going but also because of his exuberance to meet the Rabbi who healed him and to see his parents for the first time.

III.  SEEING ISN’T BELIEVING (verses 8-12)

When he arrived in town, this formerly blind man didn’t receive the joyous welcome he expected to receive.  He didn’t see happy faces.  He didn’t hear words of congratulation from his neighbors.  He didn’t see or hear them praising God for the miracle of his sight.  He didn’t hear words of apology from those who falsely accused him and his parents for his blindness.  Instead of welcoming him with joy and thanksgiving to God, he finds them arguing about his true identity.  Verses 8 and 9 say, “The neighbors, therefore, and those who previously saw him as a beggar were saying, ‘Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?’  Some were saying, ‘This is he,’ and others were saying, ‘No, but he is like him.’  He kept saying, ‘I am the one.’ ”  Do you see the irony in this conversation?  Here is a man who has never seen himself before, telling these neighbors who have seen him almost every day of his life, that he is the one they are looking at!  He has to keep saying it over and over again:  “I am the one! . . .  I am the one!” in answer to responses such as:  “You’re an imposter” and “You just look like him.”

Total blindness from birth is a very rare condition.  He was probably the only person in that city who had been born completely blind. There should have been no question and no argument concerning his identity.  This formerly blind man is coming to the realization that there is another form of blindness that has afflicted many people in his neighborhood.  It’s called “spiritual blindness” and he has yet to see the worst cases of it!

Finally, they stop arguing among themselves and demand an explanation from Him saying, “How then were your eyes opened?”  Since they couldn’t refute his identity, they decide to set up their own court of law on the spot and demand that he give testimony about the details of this “miracle”.  I think they are hoping to find some holes in his argument.  Oh, the lengths to which some people will go in order to justify their own beliefs in the face of what is obviously true!

The man cooperates and gives them a clear and concise answer to their question.  In verse 11 he replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes.  He told me to go to Siloam and wash.  So I went and washed, and then I could see.”  It was as simple as that.  There were no holes in his argument.

Did you know that we can find no stories about blind people who received their sight in the Old Testament Scriptures?  However, we do find many prophecies about the blind receiving their sight.  Let’s take a look at some of them.  The prophet Isaiah prophesies in Isaiah 29:18, saying, “And on that day the deaf shall hear words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.”  Later, in chapter 35 and verse 5, Isaiah gives that prophecy again when he says, “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.”  Once again, in Isaiah 42:6-7, the prophet Isaiah speaks on God’s behalf saying, “I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, and I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those who dwell in darkness from the prison.”

All of those prophecies are pointing ahead to the Messiah.  There were no such miracles of blind eyes being opened until 700 years later when Jesus began His public ministry.  Only He is the light of the world.  This miracle was obvious proof that Jesus Christ was the Messiah.  The people knew those scriptures, and they knew that they were referring to the Messiah, yet they refused to believe what their eyes had seen.  Spiritual blindness prevailed.

The man’s neighbors couldn’t argue with the man’s testimony, so in verse 12 they change the focus of their conversation to the miracle-worker by saying, “Where is He?”  I think they mean, “Why didn’t you bring Him along with you so that we could compare His story to yours.”  I like the attitude of this healed man.  He’s not backing down one inch.  He knows what happened to him and he’s not going to let his neighbors intimidate him.  His answer is:  “I don’t know.”  End of conversation.  They have nothing more to say but they aren’t ready to give up yet.  In the next passage of Scripture, they are going to be escorting him to the Pharisees where another conversation will ensue.  This man’s full experience of the joy of his healing and the gift of sight is being postponed once again.

CONCLUSION:

What did you learn from this miracle and from the conversation that followed?  If we look at this miracle and what followed in John 9:6-12, we can’t help but admire the patience of this man both before the miracle and after receiving his sight.  It’s easy to leave this passage of Scripture with our focus on the blind man and how well he demonstrated patience with Jesus and with his neighbors.  He certainly sets us an example, but we miss the bigger picture.  Let’s look at it from God’s point of view.  Who knows, after all the verbal abuse this man has received all his life, he may have been very angry and bitter inside.  The Lord Jesus may have arranged this miracle and the events that followed in order to teach him patience, trust in God, and a commitment to the truth of his healing in spite of opposition.  We don’t know for sure in this case. but how many times has God used circumstances and people to deal with wrong attitudes in our own lives and encourage us to live for Him?  God, in His providence, might be teaching this man how to stand for the truth and defend the One who healed him, even though he has never seen Him and has not yet been told His true identity.

In our study of this passage of Scripture, as we look at the words, actions, and attitudes of the apostles, this blind man, and his neighbors, I have three questions to ask myself and you:  “What do I really believe inside?”  Why do I believe it?” How do I demonstrate it (or try to hide it)?”   Belief is meant to be a learning and growing experience, drawing closer to the Light of the world [Jesus Christ] through a growing understanding of Him in His Word, and a commitment to following Him in obedience.  The neighbors of the formerly blind man demonstrated their lack of belief and unwillingness to believe what they had seen and heard in spite of the evidence.  The unbelief and the intimidation are going to get worse as we study the next passage of Scripture.

Are your spiritual eyes open to the truth concerning the Person and work of Jesus Christ or have you chosen to close them?  It’s your choice, but keep in mind that choosing spiritual blindness in this life leads to eternal darkness in the next life (Matthew 22:13; Jude 10-13).  God is calling you to come out of your present spiritual darkness and into His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9).  Turn to the Light – the Lord Jesus Christ, and live in obedience to the Light for the rest of your days in this life.  You’ll enjoy the light of God’s presence for eternity.

CONSTRUCTION SITE: COMPLETED

Welcome to this construction site.  You are welcome to do some “sight-seeing” while you’re in the neighborhood.

 

WHO SINNED? — John 9:1-5

john 9:1-5, Uncategorized

INTRODUCTION:

Have you ever come in contact with a blind person?  Can you remember the thoughts that came to your mind?  Have you ever been introduced to a blind person?  What did you say, or were you at a loss for words?   A famous blind lady named Helen Keller said, “The chief handicap of the blind is not blindness, but the attitude of seeing people towards them.”  When I was a hospital chaplain, I learned that one of the psychologists who counseled patients in the psychiatric ward was blind.  When I first saw him, I felt uneasy.  A thought that came to my mind almost immediately was:  “Since he can’t see me, I can ignore him and get away with it.”  I felt ashamed of myself for entertaining that thought and I introduced myself to him.  As a result, I learned two things about him:  how kind and gracious he was and how fast he walked.  I could hardly keep up with him!

I.  THE SETTING (verse 1)

In this passage of Scripture, Jesus and His disciples are about to have an encounter with a blind man.  The Feast of Tabernacles was now over.  The last event was the trip to the pool of Siloam by the priests to fill the golden pitcher with water and return to pour it on the steps of the temple.  This water would flow down to the world outside the temple, signifying that the Jewish faith would satisfy the deepest needs of the world.  It was the Sabbath day.  Jesus and His disciples were leaving the temple.  The Jewish leaders had just tried to kill Him in the temple but He walked through their midst unharmed. 

Verse 1 says, “As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.”  That’s a significant statement.  Jesus and His disciples may have been passing through the gate of the temple at that moment.  That’s where many beggars lined up to beg for money.  This blind man may have been assigned a place to beg that was not in the flow of traffic.  Maybe he was in the shadows where the uncaring majority didn’t have to see him.   But the Lord Jesus looked upon this blind beggar and He saw the need.  Jesus had compassion for people.  We see that over and over again in the Gospels.  Even though He had just left the temple to get away from those who wanted to stone Him to death, Jesus still took the time to stop and look at someone in need.  Most people would look away, ignore this blind man, or pretend that he didn’t exist.  Most people don’t like to look at someone who is in misery and without hope.  It’s painful to look at the other side of life, isn’t it?  It’s uncomfortable to think about what could have happened to us or what might happen to us in the future.

II.  THE QUESTION ASKED (verse 2)

Now that they have come to a stop in front of this blind man, Jesus’ disciples take this opportunity to ask Him a deep, theological question.  They offer Him two alternatives to choose from and only one of them can be correct, in their opinion.  Here is their question:  “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  In their minds, his blindness was a punishment for sin, but whose sin?

If you’re familiar with the game of baseball, you will understand this anonymous quote:  “Most of us are umpires at heart.  We like to call balls and strikes on somebody else.”  They didn’t have the game of baseball back in that day, but they certainly had the umpires!

The question asked by the disciples tells us that they were familiar with this man because they knew that he had been born blind.  How did they come up with that question:  “Who sinned “?  Do they have scriptures to back it up?  Actually, this was the teaching of many of the Rabbis during that period of time and the disciples probably heard it explained during the times of instruction in the synagogue.  Some of those rabbis taught that a child could sin while in the womb, and would have to pay for those sins for the rest of his life.  One of the verses the rabbis would use as proof was Genesis 25:22-23, where Jacob and Esau “jostled each other in Rebecca’s womb”.  They interpreted it as fighting and proclaimed that fighting is a sin, even if it occurs in the mother’s womb.  I doubt that any mother in the first century or the twenty-first century would call her unborn child a “sinner” when the child kicked inside her womb.  Many of you mothers may remember times when the child in your womb seemed to be trying to assert control over your body or was getting even for something you did or didn’t do.  After all, the fourth commandment does say, “Honor your father and your mother”! 

Other rabbis taught that such misfortunes were the result of the sin of the parents.  A scripture that was used to defend their argument is Exodus 20:5.  It says, “. . . for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me.”  The rabbis were misusing that verse by taking it out of its context of idol worship.  God is speaking of the nation of Israel as His wife, and she is pursuing other gods.  He will continue to pursue and punish His wife from generation to generation until she (the nation of Israel) comes back to Him.  Verse 6 tells us what will happen when she does return to Him.  It says, “but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”  These rabbis have butchered that passage of scripture and caused untold agony, guilt, and sorrow to this blind man and his parents.  Jesus sees those years of guilt and shame as He looks at the face of this man, and He is ready to give an answer to the question raised by His disciples.

III.  THE ANSWER GIVEN (verse 3)

Jesus begins by saying, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents”.  This answer doesn’t fit within the bounds of their question, so Jesus goes on to give an explanation saying, “but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in Him.”  Jesus is looking ahead to what He is about to do.  God doesn’t make mistakes.  He always knows what He is doing and His ultimate purposes are always good.

Francis I. Anderson, in His commentary on Job, makes an observation based on this verse of Scripture.  He says, “Men seek an explanation of suffering in cause and effect.  They look backward for a connection between prior sin and present suffering.  The Bible looks forward in hope and seeks explanations, not so much in origins as in goals.  The purpose of suffering is seen, not in its cause, but in its results.”

III.  THE URGENT COMMAND (verse 4)

Jesus continues His answer, applying His words, not only to Himself but also to His disciples and to us as well when He says, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day.”  He didn’t say “we should” but “we must”.  There is a sense of urgency in His statement.  He and they are called to do the works that the Father has called Him to do

IV.  A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE (verses 1-4)

Before we go any further, let’s consider this situation and this conversation from the perspective of the ears of this blind man.  Having been born blind, this man would have a very keen sense of hearing.  He has no visual images in his mind to distract him from what is going on around him at this moment.  He would also have a very good memory of activities and conversations that go on around him in the temple area.  Let’s review what He is hearing and consider what he is thinking.  He hears a group of people stop directly in front of him, and he’s wondering, “Are they going to give me some money or are they going to ridicule me?”  The first word he hears is “Rabbi”.  Immediately he realizes that a rabbi and his talmudim (or disciples) have stopped to look at him.  His thoughts:  “you can look but please don’t say anything.”  Because of his blindness, he can’t see them, but he also can’t keep from hearing them.  Then he hears the horrible words that he has heard so many times before:  “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he should be born blind?”  The tears begin to well up as he waits for the derogatory remarks to come from this rabbi and be echoed by his disciples.  To his surprise, He hears an answer that he has never heard before.  This Rabbi says, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.”  He thinks, “This man speaks with the authority of God.”  “Could this be Jesus, the one I’ve heard so much about – the one who performs miracles and claims to be the Messiah?”  “Is He going to display His works in me by healing me?”  Jesus’ words that follow confirm this hope.

In verse 4, Jesus says, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming when no man can work.”  Jesus’ death wasn’t very many days away, and none of us know which day will be our last.  There is work to be done for the kingdom of God and we should be pursuing it as if today was the last opportunity to get it done.  Who knows, it may be our last opportunity to meet a need or to share our faith in Jesus Christ with someone we know.  Thomas Obadiah Chisholm was a songwriter who wrote hymns during the late 1800s through the mid-1900s.  One of the hymns he wrote is entitled “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”.  I’m sure we’ve all sung that hymn many times.  I found a poem written by him about this verse of Scripture, John 9:4.  I don’t know whether or not this poem was put to music, but the words are certainly motivational and inspirational.  Here are the words to that poem.  It’s entitled “I Must”.

To every life, it seems to me,
There should be found a single key;
One central purpose there should be,
One all-controlling aim.
Of Jesus this was surely true;
One passionate delight He knew
And that, His Father’s will to do
And glorify His name.

“I must!  I must!” we hear Him say;
For Him there was no other way
But swiftly, wholly to obey
And do the work assigned.
“I must!”  He counted not the cost,
The raging rivers to be crossed;
He must go seek and save the lost,
His “other sheep” must find.

“I must!”  And on and on He went,
Upon His mighty mission bent;
That whereunto He had been sent.
They crucified Him, as He said,
A cruel crown upon His head,
Accursed, forsaken–in our stead.
At last His work was done.

“I must!”  Oh, may that fervent word
Upon our lips as well be heard.
By nothing may we be deterred
From following “in His train!”
Our meat and drink, to do His will,
Though steep the climb, to follow still
Till death o’ertake us, or until
His coming back again.

Have you ever missed out on an opportunity to be used by God because you waited too long?  It’s discouraging, isn’t it?  We should be saying to ourselves, “God has work for me to do today so I won’t put off doing God’s will any longer.

V.  THE REMINDER IS GIVEN (verse 5)

After stating His compulsion, Jesus reminds His disciples and Himself of what the Father has called Him to be in the eyes of the world.  He has said the following words before and He says them again in verse 5:  “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  Jesus’ words are a fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy.  The prophet Isaiah described the coming of the Messiah with these words:  “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them”  (Isaiah 9:2).  He also prophesied in Isaiah 49:6 saying, “I will also make You a light to the nations so that My salvation will reach to the ends of the earth”.  The Lord Jesus is determined to complete those works and fulfill the calling that the Father has given to Him.  Those prophecies refer to the spiritual blindness of unbelief.  As this blind man listens to those words of Jesus, he may have come to the conclusion that he is not only physically blind but he is spiritually blind as well.  Notice that he hasn’t said a word to Jesus.  He is “all ears” right now, focusing his attention on every word that Jesus says.  Has he come to the conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah?  Does he believe that Jesus can and will heal Him of his physical blindness and remove his spiritual blindness?  I think so.  The veil over his heart is already being lifted, and the stage has been set for what’s to come.  As we begin to study the miracle itself, we are going to see some of the evidence for that persuasion.

CONCLUSION:

There are several lessons that can be learned from this discussion between Jesus and His disciples.  First, we need to be careful not to jump to conclusions about people based upon limited or questionable information.  In this case, it is the relationship between sin and suffering.  Even though suffering is often the consequence of sin, it is not always the consequence of sin.  There was no direct connection between sin and suffering in the case of this blind man.  Therefore, let’s resist the temptation to make negative judgments when we don’t have all the facts.

Secondly, God wants to glorify Himself through the lives of those who have disabilities whether He heals them or not.  God will use anyone who belongs to Him and is devoted to Him.  Our heavenly Father often gives HIs children with disabilities an even greater ministry than they could have had without that disability.  People are watching Christians, especially those Christians who have the most to overcome.  When they see that God has given them the power to overcome and the joy of knowing and serving Him, many will become convinced that Jesus Christ is the One who can meet their deepest needs.  When God gave the apostle Paul a “thorn in the flesh” – a “messenger of Satan to buffet him”, he asked God three times to remove it.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  Paul responded by saying, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. . . . for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  

Thirdly, let’s follow Jesus’ example. Let’s treat those who are disabled with dignity, respect, and kindness.  Let’s be busy doing the work of the Lord each day while we still have the opportunity, and let’s be a shining light to the world around us.

If you are personally living in spiritual darkness, with no real peace of mind or joyful heart, and no real hope after death, only Jesus and His Word can bring your life into proper focus and add the brightness of true peace and joy into your life.  Please, don’t close your eyes to the truth any longer.  Open them wide and see what life is like as a new person in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

CONSTRUCTION SITE:  COMPLETED

 

ANSWERS TO INSULTS — John 8:48-59

insults, John 8:48-59, name-calling, Uncategorized

Two little boys got into an argument and started hurling insults at one another.  The insults kept getting longer and longer.  These two children were new at this sort of thing.  Usually, this name-calling ended up in a fist fight, but one of the boys came up with an insult that was so long and so ridiculous that there was a moment of silence.  The boys looked at each other, started laughing, and then went back to playing with each other again.  I guess he won by an insult and the other boy conceded!  It’s too bad that many little children continue to practice insulting one another and become very good at it by the time they’ve grown to adulthood.

Have you ever been insulted?  Can you remember what it was like and the way you responded to it?  Can you remember hearing a person say something sarcastic and then realized that it was directed at you?  How did you react?  The children’s saying:  “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” isn’t really true, is it?  I recently overheard someone make an insulting remark in the hearing of that person and in the hearing of those around her.  Later, when he tried to apologize, she wouldn’t accept it.  The hurt and embarrassment were too deep and his apology was too shallow.

An insult is defined as an offensive remark meant to hurt the feelings of another person.  Sarcasm is a mocking remark using statements that are usually the opposite of what the person really means.  The word “insult” comes from two Latin words meaning “to leap on”.  “Sarcasm” is derived from two Greek words meaning “to tear flesh”.  Those are good descriptions of what it feels like inside when you’re on the receiving end of an insult or of sarcasm, aren’t they?

In this passage of Scripture, John 8:48-59, Jesus is under verbal attack because of His claims and the statements He made to the Jewish leaders.  Their attitude seems to be:  “If we can’t come up with any winning arguments, then let’s attack His character”.  As we take a look at the words that are said to Jesus by the Jewish leaders, let’s seek to understand His responses to them.  To prepare your mind for what is about to be said, think about and answer for yourself the following two questions.  “What is the worst insult you can ever remember hearing or reading?”  Secondly, what is the most painful insult you have ever personally received from someone else?”  Have you answered both of those questions in your mind?  If so, you are better prepared to understand and identify with the sequence of events in this passage of Scripture.

I.  THEIR INSULTS (verse 48)

The Jewish leaders find themselves on the losing end of their conversation with Jesus.  Their self-glorification, calling themselves “children of Abraham” and “children of God” got them nowhere because they didn’t fit the description.  There was no spiritual resemblance between them and Abraham or God.  They also could not find Jesus guilty of any sin.  In their frustration, they resort to name-calling, and they are very good at it.  In verse 48, the Jews say to Jesus, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon.”  That statement may not mean much in this day and age but in first-century Palestine, it was probably the worst thing a Jew could say to another Jew.  Either one of those descriptions is bad enough, but to put the two together is the ultimate slam.  This is the only place in all four of the Gospels where the words “a Samaritan and have a demon” are used together.

Why is that expression so demeaning?  They have already told Jesus that He had a demon in a previous conversation with Him in John 7.  True, but this time they are saying, “You are a demon-possessed Samaritan”.  The Samaritans were odious to the Jews, who considered them to be heretics because they were of mixed blood and worshipped at a different place and in different ways.  The Jews looked upon them as God’s “rejects” so they despised them and would have nothing to do with them.  To get the full picture, these Jews are saying to Jesus, “You’re not only rejected by God but you’re also controlled by demons!  Only a demon-possessed Samaritan would dare to question our relationship to Abraham and to God!”  After hurling this “mega-insult” at Jesus, I can envision the “victory-smiles” on their faces as they wait for Jesus to respond.

II.  JESUS’ RESPONSE (verses 49-51)

Once again their plan failed.  They expected to see Jesus lose His temper and lash out at them as they did to Him, but they were mistaken.  What Jesus doesn’t say in His response to them is as noteworthy as what He says.  Observe His opening words in verse 49:  “Jesus answered, ‘I do not have a demon’.”  He doesn’t say anything about the word “Samaritan”.  He ignores the word or intentionally overlooks it.  Why would He do such a thing?  Unlike His accusers, Jesus had no hatred toward the Samaritans.  He had no prejudices.

In the rest of verse 49, Jesus says, “but I honor My Father, but you dishonor Me.”  His purpose for coming to this earth was not self-promotion but the salvation of all who believed in Him.  Jesus was here to honor the Father, not Himself.  By trying to disgrace Him, these Jews were also dishonoring the Father whom they just claimed as their own.  He amplifies those words in verse 50 where He says, “But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges.”  The Father’s glory and approval meant everything to the Lord Jesus Christ.  What others thought of Him was immaterial.  His Father would take care of His reputation and execute judgment.  Based upon what we read in the rest of the New Testament, His Father certainly has and He certainly will take care of those concerns.

In verse 51, the Lord Jesus makes a confusing claim and promise.  He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word, he shall never see death.”  That statement must have raised some eyebrows on the faces of His listeners.  It opened some mouths also, as we’ll see in the next verse.  What does Jesus mean by that fantastic, illogical statement?  He’s not saying that those who keep His word won’t die physically.  He is saying what the apostle Paul later said in II Corinthians 5:8.  The person who follows the Lord and keeps His word, when he dies he is “absent from the body  . . . present with the Lord.”  He does not see the consequences of unbelief – a spiritual death described as a separation from God in Hell for eternity (John 5:24; Hebrews 9:27).  Rather, a believer closes his eyes for the last time on earth and opens them in the presence of the Lord in heaven.  He does not see death.  He sees the Lord Jesus and enjoys Him for eternity.  Isn’t that a wonderful thought!

III.  THEIR SARCASM (verses 52-53)

It wasn’t a wonderful thought in the minds of His listeners.  They are still interpreting His words from the wrong point of view.  However, those words became the fuel for more criticism on their parts.  This time it’s in the form of sarcasm.  They respond to Jesus by saying, “Now we know that you have a demon.”  He has removed all doubt in their minds.  They are saying, “Now we KNOOOOW that you are mentally deranged.”  That sort of thing was attributed to demons.  The sarcasm has begun!  Now they explain their reason for making that statement.  “Abraham died, and the prophets also; and yet You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he shall never taste of death.’ ”  They are rudely throwing Jesus’ words back in His face, loudly making fun of Him for making such a ridiculous statement.  “Abraham and the prophets died, and yet YOOOUUU say . . . “.  If someone has ever done that to you, then you know how it hurts inside!

In verse 53 we see that Jesus’ words have also triggered a defense mechanism among these Jews.  They say, “Surely You are not greater than our father, Abraham, who died?  The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?”  Once again they are defending Abraham and the prophets.  Jesus can’t be better than them.   So in our vernacular, they are saying, “Who do You think You are, anyway!  How can You dare to make such statements!”

IV.  JESUS’ REBUTTAL (verses 54-55)

Jesus is calm and clear in His response, saying, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing.  It is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our Father’.”  Once again He tells them that He is not seeking His own glory.  Whatever earthly glory He might have was a gift from His Father.  Did you catch the irony in the last half of his statement?  They claimed that God was their Father yet they display no knowledge of Him or commitment to Him.  The Father desires to glorify His Son, not them.  They seek only to glorify themselves.  In verse 55, Jesus continues to give them a taste of their own medicine.  He says, “and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I shall be a liar like you, but I do know Him, and keep His word.”  The apostle, John, uses two different Greek words for the English word “know”, which means that Jesus must have used two different Aramaic words when speaking to them.  The word that Jesus applies to them means “to begin to know” or “to make progress in knowledge”, whereas the word He applies to Himself means “complete and intimate knowledge”.  He is saying to these leaders, “You haven’t even begun to know the Father, whereas I know Him personally and completely, and I obey His words.”  True knowledge of the Father cannot be separated from obedience.

Can you imagine the anger that’s building up inside these Jews as they listen to Him?  Jesus’ words were meant to be taken as an insult, and there is sarcasm in the wording, but every word of it is true.  They have been calling Him names and now Jesus is calling them by their true name.  They are liars and the Old Testament prophets would have called them by the same name.  Those prophets were used by God to point out the sinfulness of the people of Israel.  Here Jesus, in one of His roles as a Prophet, is being used by the Father to do the very same thing.  By confronting them with their evil desires and actions, Jesus is once again giving them an opportunity to acknowledge their sin, repent, and follow Him.

V.  COMPARISON WITH ABRAHAM (verses 56-58)

Now the Lord Jesus says something very mysterious in verse 56.  He says, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”  When did Abraham see Jesus?  There are many possibilities.  Let me give you three of them.  The first time may have been when he met Melchizedek, the king of Salem and priest of God.  He gave Abram an offering of bread and wine, and Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all he had (Genesis 14:17-20).  Hebrews 5:6 speaks of Jesus as a ” priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”  It must have been a very moving and joyous experience for Abram to respond with such generosity.  In Genesis 15 the Lord appeared to Abraham in a vision.  Later, in Genesis 18, three men came to Abraham to tell him that his wife, Sarah, will have a son by next year.  They also told him about what was going to happen to Sodom and Gomorrah.  But in chapter 19 only two angels came to Lot in Sodom.  That third person may have been Jesus.

As we return to the conversation, the Jewish leaders are still reasoning from a physical perspective only.  In verse 57 they ask, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”  In their minds, they are thinking, “that’s impossible; You’re insane!”  Jesus immediately responds with an amazing proclamation.  In verse 58, “Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am’.”   He uses God’s covenant name:  Jehovah.  This was God’s great name, and it was treated with the utmost reverence by the Jews.  They would not speak it.  Historians tell us that when a scribe was copying the Scriptures and came to that name for God, he would take a new pen just to write that name.  It is also said that when a public reader in the synagogue came to that name in the sacred text, he would not read it.  He would bow his head in worship and the congregation, knowing that he had come to God’s special name, would bow in worship also.  Jesus was saying in this verse that there had never been a time when He had not existed.  He was claiming to be God.

VI.  AN ATTEMPTED STONING (verse 59)

The Jews were so enraged by that statement that they ended the argument.  In their minds, there was only one thing to do.  They must stone Him to death.  Verse 59 says, “they picked up stones to stone Him”.  The word “stones” means “heavy stones”.  This was taking place in the temple, and it’s not surprising that large stones were lying around on the ground.  This temple of Herod the Great was not yet completed and construction was still going on inside the building.  How fortunate for them!  Jesus just offered them another opportunity to turn to Him but they rejected it by preparing to stone Him to death inside the temple without even holding a trial.

It would take a miracle for Jesus to escape and that’s just what happened.  Verse 59 says, “Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple.”  The Greek text says that Jesus “was hidden”   We don’t know whether Jesus became invisible or just walked through their midst undetected.  Either way, He escaped from them again.  It was not yet His time to die, and His heavenly Father overruled their plans again.

CONCLUSION:

As it was in that day, so it is today.  There are many who refuse to acknowledge the claims of Christ and refuse to follow Him.  Many use insults and sarcasm when they speak of Him, and use His name as a swear word.  Nevertheless, knowing all the things that people would say about Him then and now, Jesus willingly chose to die on that cross as a perfect sacrifice for our sins out of love for each one of us.  Would you be willing to reconsider the things you think and say about the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to give you a change of mind and heart?  He has never stopped loving you in spite of your thoughts, your words, and your actions directed against Him.  Don’t continue to deprive yourself of the love, the joy, the peace, the purpose, and the freedom from the fear of death that only He can and will give you if you put your trust in Him.  Ask any committed Christians whether or not this is so from their own experience.

If you are a genuine follower of Jesus Christ, here is a question for you to consider and answer for yourself.  This past year, if someone had paid you ten dollars for every kind word you ever spoke about other people, and also collected five dollars for every unkind word, would you be rich or poor today?  Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

CONSTRUCTION SITE:  COMPLETED

Welcome to this completed project:  John 8:48-59.  I hope you will visit this neighborhood again.

WHO’S YOUR DADDY? — John 8:37-47

Bible sermons, John 8:37-47, Uncategorized

INTRODUCTION:

In 1976, a book written by Alex Haley was published and it became a best seller.  The book was 900 pages long and was entitled “Roots”.  The following year a mini-series based on the book was aired on TV to a huge viewing audience.  Did you read the book and see the films?

That was the beginning of a genealogy craze that swept our nation.  Over 40 years have passed since that book was written but the quest to find one’s ancestors goes on.  With the dawn of DNA testing and organizations such as Ancestry.com, millions of families and individuals are actively researching their family trees.  This preoccupation with who we are and where we came from has obsessed humanity since the dawn of creation.  The first-century Jews were no exception.  They prided themselves in their ancestry and often used it as a reason for boasting or as an excuse to justify their sinful actions.

In the previous passage of Scripture, John 8:31-36, Jesus told the Jews that a true disciple of His was a person who believed in Him and obeyed His words, resulting in freedom.  He stated that only He could give them true freedom.  They responded by saying, “We are Abraham’s offspring, and have never been enslaved to anyone.”  Then they challenged Jesus to prove His point.  The Lord Jesus made it clear to them again, in verse 34, that He was talking about spiritual slavery to sin and, once again, offered them freedom from that slavery.

Jesus hasn’t finished His conversation with them yet.  Let’s see what else He has to say and observe their responses.

I.  A CONTRADICTION IS EXPRESSED (verses 37-38)

I continue to be amazed at the patience of Jesus toward those who are intentionally slow to learn, or who refuse to learn.  He begins by admitting that they are the physical descendants of Abraham, but they bear no spiritual resemblance to Abraham.  Verse 37 says, “I know that you are Abraham’s offspring; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you.”  Abraham wouldn’t try to kill Him.  On the contrary, Abraham welcomed the messengers that God sent to him in Genesis 18, showing them respect and hospitality.  He also gave a tenth of his possessions to Melchizedek, the king of Salem and priest of God, after receiving a blessing from him (Genesis 14:18-21; Hebrews 7:1-3).  The Jews standing before Jesus bear no spiritual resemblance to that description of Abraham.  Instead of welcoming the One whom God has sent, they are trying to kill Him.  Several attempts have already been made to arrest Him (John 7:30, 32, 44).  Abraham was also called “a friend of God” (2 Chronicles 20:7).  Friends don’t murder one another.  That’s the work of enemies.

At the end of verse 37, Jesus states the underlying cause of their actions when He says, “My word has no place in you.” The Greek words might be more clearly translated as, “You have no room for My word” or “My word isn’t making any headway” in your minds and hearts.  To put it into modern-day English, they were “tuning Him out”.  They were unreceptive to Jesus and to His words to them.

Once again Jesus states His source of authority, in verse 38, when He says, “I speak the things which I have seen with My Father”.  Now Jesus is claiming to be with the Father from all eternity.  He was there with the Father when Abraham walked this earth.  His knowledge of Abraham is firsthand.  With that said, Jesus gives them some food for thought.  He makes an incomplete statement, leaving them with the opportunity to think it over and fill in the blank.  Here are His words:  “therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”  Notice what Jesus didn’t say.  He didn’t say “fathers”.  Jesus said “father”,  They are all children of the same father.  Who is their father?  That’s the question Jesus wants them to answer for themselves by process of elimination.  They’ve heard the answer to that question before.  They heard it from John the Baptist.  Let’s see if they remember it and apply it to themselves.

II.  THEIR EXCUSE IS REPEATED (verse 39a)

What do you say when you don’t know what to say?  One option is to say the same thing over again and hold your ground, right?  Have you ever done that?  You may have done so to give yourself some time to collect your thoughts and come up with a better answer.  Jesus just took the wind out of their sails with His reply so “They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father’.”  They must have said it loudly and in anger in order to maintain their sense of control over the conversation.  It’s been said that a person who has nothing to brag about but his ancestors is like a potato plant.  The best part of him is underground (buried, like the potatoes).  After the reminders they were given by Jesus, I’m convinced that His listeners knew what He was talking about, and what He was implying concerning their spiritual parentage.  With some honest reflection on their part, the “mystery” father would no longer be a mystery to them.

III.  JESUS REPEATS HIMSELF (verses 39b-41a)

Jesus responds to their short answer by saying, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham.  But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do.  You are doing the deeds of your father.”  Jesus made that statement earlier, in verses 37 and 38.  Why is He repeating Himself?  Is this a teaching technique?  It may be much more than that.  For example, the repeating of a person’s name is a Hebrew expression of intimacy.  We find that occurring many times in the Scriptures.  God said, “Abraham, Abraham” (Genesis 22:11), “Jacob, Jacob” (Genesis 46:2); “Moses, Moses” (Exodus 3:4).  David cried out in agony saying, “Absalom, Absalom, my son, my son” (2 Samuel 18:33).  Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem” as He wept over the city and those living in it.  There are many other instances where names are repeated.  I suggest that Jesus is repeating Himself here and elsewhere out of love for them.  He’s been giving them opportunity after opportunity to repent of their sins and acknowledge Him as their Messiah, in spite of their continuing hostility and rejection.  He yearns to draw close to them and keeps giving them reasons to respond to Him the way Abraham responded.

IV.  A SARCASTIC REACTION (verse 41)

The Jews react by saying, “We were not born of fornication”.  There are two possible meanings to that statement and both possibilities might be implied.  First, they may have been saying, “Our parents were not idolaters, worshipping other gods.  Secondly, they may have been saying, “we are pure in our lineage, but  we’re not so sure about you.”  This meaning would imply that they were calling Jesus an illegitimate son of Mary and Joseph, born outside of wedlock.  It’s also possible that both of those meanings were intended by their statement.  In any case, their words were intended to be derogatory and offensive.

I think these leaders are beginning to realize that calling Abraham their father wasn’t getting them anywhere.  What do they do now?  The words of the prophet Malachi must have come to their minds.  Malachi asked the question, “Have we not all one Father?  Did not one God create us?” (Malachi 2:10). The Jews may have thought to themselves, “That’s a good idea!  Let’s take our paternity case all the way to the top!”  So they say to Jesus, “We have one Father, even God.”  They thought that, by saying those words, they would get themselves off the hook, and avoid further embarrassment.  However, they are not out of trouble yet!  Further embarrassment is on the way!

V.  WORDS OF CORRECTION (verse 42-45)

The Lord Jesus looks around at them and says, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I came from God and now am here.  I have not come on My own; but He sent Me.”  Once again, the Jews are mistaken.  The practice of their religious observances doesn’t make them children of the Father.  If they truly loved the Father, they would love His Son whom He sent, and who was standing before them at that moment.  The Lord Jesus has proven Himself to be the Son of God by His miracles and they have not been able to refute His claims.  In verse 43, Jesus asks them a question and immediately gives them the answer.  He says, “Why do you not understand what I am saying?  It is because you cannot hear My word.”  I think Jesus asked His question in the form of a plea.  When He looks around at each of them after making that plea, He sees the reason by the expressions on their faces and makes it known to them saying, “you cannot hear My word”.  He’s not implying that they are deaf, hard of hearing or stupid.  On the contrary, they have chosen to ignore His words, refusing to listen to Him or to seek to understand what He is saying. 

The Jews still haven’t asked the question that Jesus prodded them to ask in verse 38 – “Who is our father?”  Since they didn’t ask, Jesus gives them a detailed answer in verse 44, where He says, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  That rebuke by Jesus should have reminded them of the words of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:7, where he said, “You brood of vipers”,  implying that they possessed character qualities similar to the devil.  The words of Jesus in verse 44 are the clearest statement that Jesus makes about the existence and the personality of Satan.  His listeners don’t resemble Abraham, and they don’t resemble God, but they do resemble the devil like a child resembles his father.  Satan lied to Eve in the Garden of Eden, convincing her to disobey God and entice Adam to do the same.  He tempted Cain to murder his brother Abel.  Those standing before Jesus have chosen to believe Satan’s lies about Him and are intent on murdering Him.  The truth can be embarrassing, especially when it is said publicly in the Temple for all to hear!

VI.  A CHALLENGE TO THEM (verses 46-47)

After giving that stinging rebuke to His critics, Jesus establishes His authority by giving them a challenge.  In verse 46, Jesus says, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?  If I tell you the truth, why do you not believe Me?”  His enemies are given an opportunity to find errors in what He just said but He doesn’t get an answer from any of them.  None of His enemies could prove Him wrong.  Everything Jesus said to them was absolutely true.  That question must have really frustrated and angered them.

Jesus concludes in verse 47 by reviewing their spiritual parentage and summarizing it.  He says, “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” The way they act is going to determine their destiny.

CONCLUSION:

Here are several principles I’ve gained from my study of John 8:37-47:

  1.  Spiritually, all people are children of one of two fathers:  either God or the Devil.  Which one is yours?  If in doubt, your spiritual father is the one you obey.
  2. There are only two groups of people on earth:  the children of wrath and the children of God.  If your actions indicate that you are a child of wrath, please reconsider before it’s too late.
  3. There may come a time when you may need to be brutally honest with someone.  Let’s follow Jesus’ example and make sure that it’s our last resort.

The following illustration is an appropriate conclusion to this passage of Scripture.  A preacher had delivered a powerful sermon about the Devil, warning his listeners about his wiles.  Two rude, young ruffians heckled the preacher, shouting, “Don’t you know, Mr. Preacher, that the Devil died last night?”  The old preacher came down and, putting his arms on their shoulders said, “You poor fatherless orphans!  What will become of you?”  And then he said, “Let me introduce you to my Father who has promised, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ ”

CONSTRUCTION SITE: COMPLETED

THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN – Mark 14:26-42

Mark 14:26-42, the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Uncategorized

Does the word “Gethsemane” bring any thoughts or images to your mind?  One Bible scholar made this statement: “In a very real sense, Calvary began in the Garden of Gethsemane.”  We will find that statement to be true as we look at what the Bible says.

THE AGONY:

Verse 26 says, “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”   They were heading for the Garden of Gethsemane, which was called the “place of the olive press”.  The symbolism is pretty gruesome. In Isaiah 53, the prophet Isaiah prophecies about Christ’s death and in verse five he says, “He was crushed for our iniquities”, just as the olives were crushed in the olive press each year.  The olive oil was used both for food and for medicine. Jesus was about to have His life crushed out of Him so that he might be food and medicine for our souls.

Verses 33-35 describe Jesus’ emotional condition.  He was “troubled and distressed”, and described Himself as “exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death”.  Luke 22:43-44 gives some extra details concerning Christ’s agony.  It says, “Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.  And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”  This phenomenon has only been documented a few times.  The person was undergoing extreme mental, emotional and spiritual trauma.  Small blood vessels underneath the skin of Jesus were breaking. That blood came through the pores of His skin along with His sweat.  The sweating and the bleeding must have been profusely as it fell to the ground in large, red drops.

By sending that angel, I believe the Father was saying to His Son, “There is no other way to be the Savior of the world except the path of suffering and death.” Jesus would have to bear the sins of the world upon Himself and accept the cup of the Father’s wrath for sin.

THE SUBMISSION:

In verse 36 Jesus said, “Not my will but Thine be done,”  Once Jesus understood the Father’s will, He submitted Himself to it and His attitude changed.  He was ready to pay the price.

LESSONS:

There are many lessons that can be learned from this experience in the life of Jesus.  The following are a few of them for our consideration and instruction.

First, as we experience the trials, struggles, and temptations of life, remember that we are not alone.   In Isaiah 41:10, God says, “Fear not, for I am with you; do not be anxious for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My victorious right hand.”

Secondly, God is all-powerful, but He is also sovereign.  Jesus said to His Father, “All things are possible with You”, but He also said, “Not what I will but what You will.”

Thirdly, trials come that we might learn obedience and gain victory over them by God’s power.    Hebrews 5:8 says,  “Jesus learned obedience through the things that He suffered.”  Therefore He is qualified to be our High Priest.  Hebrews 2:18 says, “For because He Himself has suffered and been tempted, He is able to help those who are tempted.  

Let’s follow the example of our Lord, Jesus Christ, experience the joy and victory that only He can give, and be used by Him to help and encourage others.  

BELIEF THAT FAILED THE TEST – John 8:31-36

John 8:31-36, Uncategorized

INTRODUCTION:

Towering above the New York harbor is the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of hope for the oppressed people around the world.  Inscribed on the pedestal of this monument are these words by Emma Lazarus:  “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”  This monument is a symbol of freedom, but it is a freedom that has come at a great price.  Thousands of people were killed during the Revolutionary War to obtain that freedom.  Thousands more have given their lives to protect and maintain that freedom in the wars that have followed.

In the passage of Scripture we just studied [John 8:21-30], Jesus issued warnings to the Jews in Jerusalem, and they refused to heed those warnings.  They wanted to be free to do what they pleased, and He wasn’t going to tell them what to do.  In verse 30, the apostle John makes a surprising statement.  After their bitter refusal to heed Jesus’ words, how could John conclude by saying, in verse 30, “As He spoke those words, many believed in Him.”  That sounds like a contradiction to me.  There’s more to the story and we’re going to examine whether or not their belief is real.

Here in John 8:31-36, Jesus is giving instructions to those Jewish leaders who believed the things He was sharing.  In this case, Jesus is talking about another kind of freedom – spiritual freedom.

I.  HIS INSTRUCTION (verse 31)

Verse 31 says, Jesus was, therefore, saying to these Jews who believed in Him, ‘If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine’.”  Jesus addresses Himself to their belief, correcting any misunderstandings on their parts through the use of an “If . . . then” clause. “If you abide in My word”.  If you are continuing in My teachings and obeying them, “then” [and not until then] are you really and truly My disciples.  Abiding in His word is a continuing process.  It is a way of life.  Apparently, these Jews were inclined toward Jesus’ teachings but weren’t ready or willing to put their trust in Him and give Him their full allegiance.  The desire to know and obey God’s truth is one of the marks of genuine belief in Him.  Jesus is challenging them to take that next step as a demonstration that they are true disciples of Him (John 14:21; I John 2:24).

A man by the name of Roger Staubach faced a similar challenge.  Roger was the quarterback who led the Dallas Cowboys to the World Championship in 1971.  He admitted that his position as a quarterback who didn’t call his own signals was a source of irritation to him.  Coach Landry sent in every play.  He told Roger when to pass and when to run, and only in emergency situations could he change the play (and he had better be right!).  Even though Roger considered Landry to have a “genius mind” when it came to football strategy, pride said that he should be able to run his own team.  Roger later said, “I faced up to the issue of obedience.  Once I learned to obey, there was harmony, fulfillment, and victory.”

That is the lesson that Jesus wants these Jews to learn.  Will they be willing to acknowledge His authority and submit to His will?

II.  A PROMISE GIVEN (verse 32)

In verse 32, Jesus makes them a promise if they will respond to His challenge.  He says, “and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  That’s quite a promise!  It brings to mind the words Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, asked Jesus in John 18:38.  He said, “What is truth?”  It’s a question that many people have been asking over the centuries.  Jesus said to His disciples in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  The apostle Paul adds to that description when he says of Jesus:  “In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and insight” (Colossians 2:3).  If Jesus Christ is the source of all truth and life, and is the only way to the Father, wouldn’t it be foolish not to follow Him?  It would be the biggest mistake of our lives!

That’s only half the promise.  The second half of Jesus’ promise makes it even more inviting.  If they commit themselves to Him, not only will they come into a personal relationship with Him, the source of all truth, but the truth will also make them free.  The first sense of freedom usually comes at the moment a person chooses to repent of his sins and follow Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  It is the freedom from the penalty of sin.  In John 5:24, Jesus described the experience clearly when He said:  Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my voice and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life.”  It’s a spiritual event that effects our whole being.

On the night I became a Christian, I experienced an immediate sense of freedom from the penalty of my sins.  I was instantly released from the fear of death and hell.  For three years I was a prisoner to those fears, seeking a way of escape in every religion I looked into.  On Christmas Eve, 1970, when I responded to the Gospel message, God instantly opened my prison doors and set me free with a full pardon in writing.  That was the most amazing experience in my life.  The change was immediate and the effects have been continuous.  God has created in me a desire to know Him and please Him as my Lord and Redeemer.  He has also been delivering me from the power of sin each day through dependence on Him.  What a difference He makes in our lives when He sets us free!

III.  THEIR BOAST (verse 33)

That was my experience.  How did Jesus’ listeners respond after His invitation to them?  They made this ridiculous boast in verse 33, saying, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone.”  What an exaggeration!  Their whole history has been one of bondage.  They’ve been in bondage to Egypt, the Philistines, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and now Rome.  Rather than believe Jesus’ words and commit themselves to him, they draw back in their pride and boast about themselves.  By boasting about their political freedom, they are denouncing Jesus’ offer of spiritual freedom.  They are lying to themselves and to Jesus, ending their boast with a question to Jesus:  “How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?”  I get the impression that they mean, “How dare you make such a statement!  You don’t know what you’re talking about!  We don’t need your freedom because we’ve always been free!”  The greatest offer ever made and the greatest promise ever given is met with complete rejection and scorn.

IV.  JESUS’ RESPONSE (verses 34-36)

The Lord Jesus reminds them, in verse 34, that He has been talking about spiritual freedom, not political freedom.  They want to distract Jesus and get Him involved in a political argument but He stays on topic.  The issue is spiritual freedom, and He makes that clear in verse 34 where He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” Jesus is not talking about a simple act of sin but habitual sin, a lifestyle of practicing sin.  Such people are  slaves, whether they care to admit it or not.

Leon Morris describes how a sin can become an enslavement.  He says, “The first time anyone commits a particular sin there may have been a terrible struggle with temptation.  But if the person gives way, then the next time there is not such a hard struggle.  And if he continues in that path, there comes a time when there is scarcely a ripple of temptation.  The person has become the slave of the sin that once was so strongly resisted.”

Commentator, William Barclay, describes the effects of becoming enslaved with sin.  Here are his words:

“But the point is that a man who sins does not do what he likes.
he does what sin likes.  A man can let a habit get such a grip

of him that he cannot break it.  He can allow a pleasure to
master him so completely that he cannot do without it.
He can let some self-indulgence so dominate him that he is
powerless to break away from it.  So far from doing what he likes,
the sinner has lost the power to do what he likes.  He is a slave to
the habits, the self-indulgences, the wrong pleasures which have
mastered him.  This is precisely Jesus’ point.  No man who sins
can ever be said to be free.”

In verse 35, Jesus gives them a warning.  He says, “And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.”  How is that a warning?  Jesus is saying that the slave has no rights in the household.  At any time a slave could be sold and hauled away to enslavement to someone else because he had no rights of his own.  This was the fear and horror of every slave in the South prior to the end of the Civil War.  A decline in his master’s income, a dislike for a particular slave, or an attractive offer from another slave owner could lead to the slave’s sale.  His wife and family usually didn’t go with him because a slave had no rights, no say in his own fate.  Those who are slaves of sin are in a similar predicament.  Jesus is saying, “Be careful.  You think you are sons of God because of your Jewish heritage, but your actions demonstrate that you are becoming slaves to your own pride and lusts.  That slavery to sin could have disastrous consequences.”

His warning is followed by an invitation:  “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” (verse 36).  The Lord Jesus has the power to do so, at the cost of His own life, and the acceptance of His invitation has everlasting results.  In Romans 8:1-2, the apostle Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”

CONCLUSION:

Will you heed the warning and accept the invitation?  What are you waiting for?  Don’t try to come up with some ridiculous excuse such as the one that these Jews gave Jesus.  Even though you may be tempted to do so, resist that temptation by the grace of God.

Beginning a relationship with Jesus Christ is somewhat like a gift exchange.  Have you ever had a gift exchange at Christmas?  Let’s say you really wanted to give a wonderful gift for someone in the gift exhange this year.  You spent a lot of time thinking about the perfect gift and you even went over the maximum amount for the gift exchange.  When you open up the gift that was presented to you, you find an old, dingy shirt or blouse inside.  It was purchased at a thrift store and has holes in it, stains on it, and it even has a bad odor to it.  It’s useless to you.  Would you be upset?  I would!  That’s not fair!

Now let’s compare Jesus’ invitation to His gift exchange.  He has purchased for you the most wonderful gift that you can imagine at the infinite price of His own blood.  That gift is Himself and He comes wrapped in a package of love, forgiveness, salvation, and freedom from sin forever.  All He wants in exchange is yourself, just as you are, wrapped in a package of repentance and sincere faith.  You don’t have to wait until Christmas.  He wants to make that gift exchange right now if you haven’t made it already.

For those of us who are Christians, let’s make it a practice to thank God every day for the gift of Himself, and for the release from the bondage to sin forever.  I also encourage you to memorize the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30, where He says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you restTake my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.”

CONSTRUCTION SITE:  COMPLETED

Thank you for visiting this construction site, John 8:31-36. If you found helpful instruction and encouragement, please visit some of the other completed sites as well.

WARNINGS GIVEN, BUT UNHEEDED – John 8:21-30

Bible sermons, John 8:21-30, Uncategorized, warnings

INTRODUCTION:

In 1969, in Pass Christian, Mississippi, a group of people was preparing to have a “hurricane party” in the face of a storm named Camille.  The wind was howling outside the posh Richelieu Apartments when Police Chief Jerry Peralta pulled up sometime after dark.  Facing the beach, less than 250 feet from the surf, the apartments were directly in the line of danger.  A man with a drink in his hand came out to the second-floor balcony and waved.  Peralta yelled, “You all need to clear out of here as quickly as you can.  The storm’s getting worse.”  But as others joined the man on the balcony, they just laughed at Peralta’s order to leave.  “This is my land,” one of them yelled back.  “If you want me off, you’ll have to arrest me.”

Peralta didn’t arrest anyone, but he wasn’t able to persuade them to leave either.  He wrote down the names of the next of kin of the twenty or so people who gathered to party through the storm.  They laughed as he took their names.  They had been warned, but they had no intention of leaving.

It was 10:15 p.m. when the front wall of the storm came ashore.  Scientists clocked Camille’s wind-speed at more than 205 miles-per-hour, the strongest on record.  Raindrops hit with the force of bullets, and waves off the Gulf Coast crested between twenty-two and twenty-eight feet high.

News reports later showed that the worst damage came at the little settlement of motels, go-go bars, and gambling houses known at Pass Christian, Mississippi, where some twenty people were killed at a hurricane party in the Richelieu Apartments.  Nothing was left of the three-story structure but the foundation; the only survivor was a five-year-old boy found clinging to a mattress the following day.  What a terrible price to pay for their failure to heed those warnings!

I.  SETTING AND FIRST WARNING (verse 21)

The passage of Scripture that we are now studying is John 8:21-30.  Jesus has been defending Himself in the previous Scriptures by answering their questions, giving instruction, and describing His relationship with the Father.  Now He is going to take control of the conversation and issue some warnings to His listeners.  Verse 21 says, “He [Jesus] said to them, ‘I go away, and you shall seek Me, and shall die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come’,”  Didn’t He just say those words in John 7:33?  Yes, but this time He inserts a warning:  “you shall die in your sin.”  In chapter 7, His listeners were composed mainly of the pilgrim Jews who had traveled a great distance to attend the feast.  They were open to His teaching and many of them were placing their faith in Him (John 7:31).  Here in chapter 8, Jesus is back in the temple on the following day and He is interacting with the Pharisees and the Jerusalem Jews.  They have been opposing Him since the beginning of His ministry, and now it’s time for them to face the music.  There are going to be dire consequences to their actions if they don’t heed His warnings.  When Jesus uses the words “die in your sin”, He is warning that they will die unpardoned.  Only the Messiah can pardon their sins and only He is the Messiah (Acts 4:12).  I don’t believe that Jesus was saying those words and the words that follow, in anger.  He was saying them with sadness and urgency in His voice, pleading with them to heed His warnings.  Before His death, Jesus expressed in words His attitude toward the Jews in Jerusalem.  In Matthew 23:37, He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.”

The word “sin”, here in verse 21, is in the singular and has the same meaning that it does in John 16:8-9, where Jesus says, “And He (speaking of the Holy Spirit) when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin because they do not believe in Me . . . “.  Their sin is that of unbelief.  It is the greatest sin:  the sin of rejecting Christ.

II.  A SARCASTIC RESPONSE (verse 22)

The response of these Jews was not what Jesus wanted to hear.  Instead of heeding His warning of impending danger, we find these words in verse 22:  “Therefore the Jews were saying, ‘Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?”  They say those words sarcastically, and loud enough for Jesus to hear them.  I imagine they were probably laughing as they said them.  In their minds, they are adding up the things they have already said and thought about Jesus and are drawing their own conclusion.  “He’s a deceiver, He’s broken the law of Moses, and He’s crazy, so He must be suicidal also.  That explains why we can’t come where He is going.   He’s going to hell after He commits suicide, and we certainly aren’t going there!”  I must say, they are really stretching their imaginations to come up with that reply!  Ironically, they are the ones in danger of committing suicide spiritually and eternally by rejecting Him.

III.  EXPLANATION AND SECOND WARNING (verses 23-24)

I’m amazed at the patience and mercy of Jesus.  Instead of reacting to their insinuation about suicide, He ignores or overlooks it, gives a more detailed explanation of His first warning and then warns them again.  In verse 23, Jesus says, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.”  There is a major difference between them and Himself:  their point of origin.  He’s from heaven and there is no one else like Him.  No one else can make that statement truthfully.  They, on the other hand, originated on earth.  They are not only in the world but they are also “of” the world.  Their attitude and their words and actions demonstrate their worldliness and their sinful resistance to the truth.

In verse 24, the Lord Jesus gives them a second warning:  “I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.”  He warned them of the consequences of their actions and gave them the only way out of their predicament.  In HIs warning, Jesus is once again claiming to be God.  The Greek text does not have the word “He”Jesus is speaking to them in Aramaic and is saying, “unless you believe that I am, you shall die in your sins.”  He is using God’s covenant name which He gave to Moses in Exodus 3:14.  It was the name the Jews would not pronounce.  When the Scribes copied the Old Testament Scriptures, they would use a new pen to write that name, and then set that pen aside.  Those listening to Jesus knew who He was claiming to be, as well as His authority to give those warnings.  Jesus has warned them again that an eternal disaster awaits them if they do not heed His warnings.  How are they going to respond to His words?

IV.  ANOTHER SARCASTIC RESPONSE (verse 25a)

Verse 25 begins with these words: “And so they were saying to Him, ‘Who are You?’ Those three words may sound innocent and inquisitive, but they are not.  Let me translate those words into a familiar expression:  “Who do you think you are to tell us what to do?”  Have you heard that expression or used that expression before?  It’s certainly not the kind of response you would like to receive after doing somebody a favor!  I think they are acting like bullies, making fun of Jesus and trying to badger Him to the point where He might lose His temper and explode in anger at them.  Do you have that impression also?

Sin’s effects in a person’s life are much like the answer to the following question:  “How does a worm get inside an apple?”  Perhaps you think the worm burrows in from outside.  Actually, the answer is “no”.  Scientists have discovered that the worm comes from inside.  But how does it get inside?  Simple!  An insect lays an egg in the apple blossom.  Sometime later, the worm hatches in the heart of the apple, then eats its way out.  Sin, like the worm, begins in the heart and works its way out through our thoughts, words, and actions.  That principle certainly holds true for these Jews as they interact with Jesus and make jokes about His warnings and His identity.  To them, Jesus was just a poor, uneducated carpenter from Galilee, whose warnings they considered to be ridiculous and unfounded.

V.  A REBUKE (verses 25b-26)

Jesus responds to their question by asking them a question as a form of rebuke.  He says, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning?”.  Jesus has been making those statements since the beginning of HIs ministry.  If we look at John 3:31-34, we find that John the Baptist said similar words about Jesus.  So the issue, here in verses 25 to 26, isn’t lack of information, nor the clarity of that information.  The problem on their parts is a stubborn unwillingness to respond in spite of the information given to them.  Have you ever observed a situation where a person knew that something was true; the explanation was clear and irrefutable but the person refused to believe it.  This is another one of those cases.

Jesus continues in verse 26 by telling them that He has many more things that He could say to judge and condemn them, but He speaks only the things that the Father wants Him to say.  God the Father is making the judgments and Jesus is passing those words on to them saying, “the Father who sent is true; and the things I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.”  He’s pointing out that the remarks they have been making were not only directed at Him but also at God the Father.

VI.  TWO MORE CLAIMS SILENCE HIS LISTENERS (verses 27-30)

In verse 27, the apostle John makes this comment:  “They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father.”  John may be writing those words as one who was there, giving a possible reason for their sudden silence.  Personally, I think they knew what He was saying but couldn’t understand how it could be true.  Therefore, they refused to believe it but didn’t know what to say to Him.  There were no sarcastic remarks this time, but they still refused to acknowledge who He is.  In verse 28, Jesus goes on to say, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.”   Jesus is talking about His crucifixion, and they are the ones who will be crucifying Him.  They will be handing Him over to the Roman authorities and demanding His crucifixion.  How will His death be proof that He is the Messiah?  There will be the miracles that accompany His death and follow His death.  For example, the three hours of darkness in the middle of the day, the earthquake, the words He said while on the cross, and the unusual way that Jesus gave up His spirit.  Add to that His burial, resurrection, appearances, and ascension into heaven.  There is another unmentioned proof that Jesus is truly the Messiah – the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Messiah as the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52-53, Psalm 22, and many other Scripture passages in the Old Testament).  They were fulfilled completely, in every detail.  It was now obvious that these Scripture passages didn’t apply figuratively to the nation of Israel, but literally to Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ second claim, in the remainder of verse 28 as well as verse 29, was His perfect obedience and fellowship with His heavenly Father.  Here are Jesus’ words:  “I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.  And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”  Jesus’ life was consistent with His message.  They would not be able to deny that Jesus’ obedience to the Father was perfect, even to the point of death.

Verse 30 tells us, “many came to believe in Him”.  As we progress through the rest of chapter 8, we’ll learn whether or not this belief was real.

CONCLUSION:

If you are not a true follower of Jesus Christ; if you haven’t experienced a changed life as the result of making Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, please give that decision some serious thought.  Please heed the warnings before an eternal disaster strikes you.  If it happens, it will be no laughing matter!  It’s a matter or eternal life in heaven or eternal suffering in hell.  Please don’t put it off.  There will be no excuses.

If you are a Christian, God has called you to be His ambassador.  As ambassadors of Christ, believers have a responsibility to warn people of the consequences of their unbelief and rebellion against God.

Here’s an example from American history.  “Late one night a salesman drove into a strange city and tried to get a room in a hotel.  The clerk informed him that there was no vacancy.  Disappointed, he started to leave the lobby when a dignified gentleman offered to share his room with him.  Gratefully, the traveler accepted his kindness.

Just before retiring, the man who had shown such hospitality knelt and prayed aloud.  In his petition, he referred to the stranger by name and asked the Lord to bless him.  Upon awakening the next morning, he told his guest it was his habit to read the Bible and commune with God at the beginning of each day, and asked if he would like to join him.  The Holy Spirit had been speaking to the heart of this salesman, and when the host tactfully confronted him with the claims of Christ, he gladly received the Savior.

As the two were ready to part, they exchanged business cards.  The new believer was amazed to read, “William Jennings Bryan, Secretary of State.”  You see, William Jennings Bryan was not only the Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson, but more importantly, he was an ambassador for Christ.

May you consider that role to be both a privilege and a responsibility, and decide to pursue it wholeheartedly.  Let’s be ready, willing, and able!

CONSTRUCTION SITE:  COMPLETED

Welcome to this completed project:  John 8:21-30.  I hope you will come back again soon when you’re in the neighborhood.  There are many completed projects on this site.

 

 

THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD – John 8:12-20

John 8:12-20, Uncategorized

I imagine that most, if not all of us, have been in a tunnel. What’s the best thing about a tunnel? It’s the light at the end of it, right? And the best thing about a cloudy day is when the sun peeks through those clouds and often spreads a rainbow across the sky. Most of us enjoy the light and prefer it over the darkness. This earth would be a cold, dark, lifeless planet if there were no sun in the sky to give it light and warmth. In John 8:12, Jesus makes a statement about Himself, and He couldn’t have picked a more appropriate setting to make His announcement.

I.  THE SETTING (verse 20)

Before we examine His announcement, let’s first skip down to verse 20 for a moment in order to learn the location of Jesus and to find out what is happening around Him.  The apostle John writes, “These words He [Jesus] spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple.” This treasury was located in the Court of the Women.  Thirteen treasure chests were there for the various kinds of offerings.  This was a very busy place, with a constant flow of worshippers coming in and going out.  The Mishnah, which is a lengthy Jewish commentary on the Law of Moses, states that, on every night of the Feast of Tabernacles, the Court of the Women was to be brilliantly lit up.  Historians tell us that four large candelabra burned brightly in the temple area to commemorate the pillar of fire which led the Israelites through the wilderness. 

II.  JESUS’ DECLARATION (verse 12)

It’s in this setting that Jesus declares loudly, “I am the light of the world.”  Another event may have been happening outside the temple at that very same moment.  John 8:2 says that it was early in the morning when Christ came to the temple.  He may have made that claim just as the sun was rising that morning.  The Courtyard of the Women was an open courtyard so the brightness of the sun, dispelling the darkness, would have been observed and welcomed by all who were there.  When Jesus shouted out His claim at that moment, He was comparing Himself to the rising sun.  This would have caused the people to think that Jesus was once again claiming to be God.  For the Jew, the sun was the symbol of Jehovah God.  Psalm 84:11 says, “For the Lord our God is a sun and shield.”  This planet of ours has only one sun and it is the source of our light.  The word “light” is an Old Testament image for the Messiah.  Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in the dark land, the light will shine on them.”

The Lord Jesus not only said that He was the light but “the light of the world.”  He and His light were not just for the Jews only.  It’s interesting that the Court of the Women, where Jesus is speaking, is the only court in the temple that was designed with large openings or windows so that the light could be seen outside by people in many parts of the city of Jerusalem,  I wonder if that thought came to the minds of some of the people who were there and heard Jesus make that claim.

Jesus goes on to say, “he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”  He’s drawing the attention of the people back to the image of the pillar of fire.  In the exodus from Egypt, God didn’t put the pillar of fire in the sky as something for the people of Israel to look at and admire.  It was a light to lead them through the wilderness to the promised land.  Jesus is saying that He is the light who leads them out of the darkness of sin to a relationship with Himself.

In Benjamin Franklin’s day, the streets of Philadelphia were dark after sunset.  Night time pedestrians had to walk cautiously to avoid rocks and holes.  Franklin decided to set a good example for his fellow citizens by placing a lantern outside his home.  As people stumbled down his street at night, they would come to that oasis of light and realize what a blessing it was.  Soon other Philadelphians were setting out their own lanterns.  After sunset,  the whole village became a place of illumined safety.  In a spiritual sense, this world of ours can also be a very dark place.  Have you found that to be true at times?  There is a need for the Light to guide our way. 

III.  THE RESPONSE (verse 13)

As expected, the Pharisees make their reply and give their judgment.  Verse 13 says, “The Pharisees therefore said to Him, ‘You are bearing witness to yourself.  Your witness is not true’.”  Their reference is to Deuteronomy 19:15 and they are using it out of context.  That verse says, “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.”  The rest of that chapter refers to witnesses in a criminal case.  Two or three witnesses are required in court to settle a dispute or pass judgment on a crime.  That command was expressed earlier by God in Deuteronomy 17:6, which says, “On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.”  That law didn’t apply in this situation.  The Pharisees were either unfamiliar with that law or were purposely making up their own rules of evidence in order to gain the approval of the crowd in the temple.    

IV.  JESUS’ FIRST REPLY — I AM MY OWN WITNESS  (verses 14-15)

Rather than point out their mistake, the Lord Jesus responds to their objection.  He begins by saying, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true; for I know where I came  from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from, or where I am going.”  He’s telling them that He has the authority and qualifications to talk about Himself whereas they do not.  If they had recognized the true identity of Jesus, they wouldn’t have made that statement.  They asked the question because they refused to acknowledge His true identity.  Did the Old Testament prophets need witnesses to confirm that they were prophets?  No.  Their words and their actions were proof enough.  Does light need a witness that it exists?  No.  Light provides its own witness as we see it and feel the warmth of it.  In this verse, Jesus has stated His credentials.  A famous surgeon doesn’t need witnesses to testify to his competence every time he performs a surgery.  A well-known and respected judge doesn’t need witnesses to affirm his ability to judge a case in court.  The skills of these two professionals speak for themselves; they are a matter of public record.  Jesus is telling these Pharisees to come out of the darkness of their unbelief and into the light of reality, and then examine His credentials clearly and thoroughly.

In verse 15, the Lord Jesus makes a charge against them when He says, “You people judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone.”  He’s comparing their attitude and their perspective to His own.  They make their judgments based upon externals, relying upon their own human knowledge and personal biases.  Rather than judging on the basis of God’s Word, which reveals the thoughts and intents of the heart, they want to make their own rules and exalt themselves in the process of enforcing them.  Jesus, on the other hand, is not judging anyone.  His purpose for coming to this earth was not judgment but salvation (John 3:17-17; 12:47).  We have already seen that purpose exemplified in Jesus’ response to the woman in John 8:1-12.  He said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way.  From now on sin no more.” 

V.  JESUS’ SECOND REPLY — THE FATHER IS ALSO MY WITNESS (verses 16-18)

In verse 16 Jesus qualifies His previous statement by saying, “But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and He who sent Me.” He is saying, “If My own words and My own works are not enough to convince you, I have a second witness.  That witness is the one who sent Me.”  Jesus is humbly describing Himself as the ambassador of His heavenly Father.  An ambassador is an official representative from one country to another.  In this case, Jesus was sent from heaven to earth with an important message and mission.  An ambassador speaks the message of the one who sent him, with the authority of the one who sent him.  Therefore Jesus says, in verse 16, “My decisions are right.”

Over the centuries, ambassadors have been highly regarded and shown the utmost respect because of the countries and leaders they have represented.  Here is one case in point.  W.D. Dunn, the evangelist, was holding a campaign of gospel meetings in a large hall in the town of Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland, an industrial town about 10 miles from Glasgow.  Having attended the funeral of a friend, Dunn arrived at the Carlisle station just after his train left.  His only hope of making it to his appointment on time was an express train that did not stop in Motherwell.

Approaching the Stationmaster, he asked if the express train to Glasgow could be stopped for a minute or two at Motherwell to enable him to alight and be in time for a very important meeting there.  The Stationmaster said it could not be done.  Lifting up his heart in prayer, the evangelist was turning away when the Stationmaster added:  “But are you a Member of Parliament?  I have authority to have the train stopped for a M.P.”  “No,” replied Dunn, “I am not an M.P.; but I hold a much higher rank.  I am an ambassador.”  “An ambassador,” said the Stationmaster.  “All right, I shall have the train stopped at Motherwell for you.”  Mr. Dunn walked off, thanking him, but on further consideration, he felt he ought to clarify his position to the Stationmaster.  Going back to him again, he said, “I told you I was an ambassador, and that is true.  But I am not an ambassador of an earthly king.  I am an ambassador of the King of kings, and have a message from Him for over 1000 people who will gather at Motherwell to hear it.  Now I have told you frankly my position.  Will the train still stop at Motherwell?”  “Yes”, replied the Stationmaster, “I have arranged that it shall stop and it will stop without fail.”  This ambassador for Christ received the respect and treatment worthy of the One who sent him.

The Lord Jesus has also declared that He is the ambassador of His heavenly Father, and in verses 17 and 18 He continues to use the Scriptures to prove His authority.  These are His words:  Even in your law it has been written, that the testimony of two witnesses is true.  I am He who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.”  Jesus might be called the “Expert Witness” demonstrated by His life, His words, and His miracles.  His Father might be called the “Source Witness” – the One who authorized, sent, and empowered His “Expert Witness”.  According to the Law, this is more than sufficient proof.  The burden is now on His listeners to try to disprove it.

VI.  RESPONSE AND REBUTTAL (verse 19)

What do you say when your accusation has been disproven and there’s really nothing more to say?  How do you keep yourself from saying anything at all?  Have you ever been in that situation?  What was your response (if any)?

In this case, the Pharisees asked for more physical evidence. “Where is your Father”, they ask.  I visualize them looking around as they said those words, seeking an older man with His family resemblance  They wanted Jesus to point him out so that they could interrogate him.

Once again, the Pharisees fail to realize that when Jesus talks about the Father, He’s referring to God.  How many times do they have to hear those words from Him?  They have already tried to stone Him to death for saying those words because He was making Himself equal with God by calling God His Father (John 5:18).  Jesus replies to them, making His point very clear:  “You know neither Me, nor My Father; if you had known Me, you would know My Father also.”  That was a well-deserved, stinging rebuke!

The Pharisees were still in the tunnel spiritually.  They preferred darkness to the light of truth because the truth didn’t agree with their own belief system.  The witness of the Father was not only through Jesus Christ, the living Word, but also through the written word of God, and they rejected both.

VII.  NO ARREST (verse 20)

In verse 20 we are once again informed of the practices of the Pharisees and other leaders of the Jews.  When they can’t disprove or deny the evidence, they seek to destroy it.  In this case, the evidence is Jesus Christ.  Verse 20 ends with the words, “And no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come.”  They wanted to seize him alright, but God restrained them.  The hour when Jesus would be arrested was in the Father’s timing, not theirs.

CONCLUSION:

Are you personally in a “spiritual tunnel” at this moment in your life?  Are you seeking the light at the end of it, or are you content to be in spiritual darkness?  The only light at the end of that tunnel is Jesus Christ.  There is no way to the Father except through the Son (John 14:6; I Timothy 2:5).  You can’t know God except through Jesus Christ.  That is the very core of the Gospel message.  If you choose to believe in Him and follow Him, the Lord Jesus will dispel the darkness and fill your life with the light of His presence (John 1:4-5; II Corinthians 5:17).  I hope that today will be that day, as you let the Son shine in your life.

If you are a committed follower of Jesus Christ, the Lord Jesus wants the light of His presence to shine brightly in the midst of the world of spiritual darkness around you.  As Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).  We are ambassadors for the King of kings.  God wants to use us to bring others to Himself (II Corinthians 5:20).  May our words and our lives be used by God to bring many out of their darkness and into His glorious light!  

CONSTRUCTION SITE:  COMPLETED

Thank you for visiting this completed project:  John 8:12-20.  Now that you know the location, I hope you will drop by for a visit again soon.  There are almost 150 other messages on this site.